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Kazakh Khan through the eyes of a British traveler

27 may 2014, 11:44
Abulkhayir Khan. Photo courtesy of e-center.asia
Abulkhayir Khan. Photo courtesy of e-center.asia

An English translation of historically significant John Castle’s diary about his travels to the Kazakh Steppe is in preparation in the UK, Tengrinews reports citing the head of British-Kazakh Society Gauhar Bramley-Fenton.

She said that the organization was closely involved in preparing the upcoming publication. "Works about Kazakhstan, especially from primary sources, reflecting the history of the country, for a long time have not received sufficient attention from researchers. The British-Kazakh Society strongly supports the interest of British experts in this field," Bramley-Fenton said.

John Castle visited Abulkhayir Khan a Kazakh ruler of the first half of the 18th century during the early years of the annexation of the Kazakh lands to the Russian Empire. The book describes the events of the Orenburg Expedition of 1734, the objectives of which included laying the foundation of the town of Orenburg, construction of fortifications on the border of the Kazakh nomads and Bashkirs to suppress insurrections and expand trade with the nomads. According to the document, John Castle negotiated with Abulkhayir on behalf of the Russian Empire. He used an interpreter in this task.

Castle, who was of mixed British-Prussian origin, wrote his diary in German. He also made sketches, which are now included in the new translated book. Little is known about the traveler himself. It is believed that he was born into a military family from Hamburg. After his trip to the Kazakh lands, he presented his notes in St. Petersburg. Later, he went to Persia. 

Beatrice Teissier is the author of the translation. Teissier said that the diary provided exclusive information on the complex political dynamics of the time, ethnography, geography and natural resources of Kazakhstan, as well as about the difficult relations with the Russian Empire. 

The diary, in which one of the most significant figures in Kazakhstan history Abulkhayir Khan is described from the perspective of a European, will be published in November 2014. 

Reporting by Alisher Akhmetov, writing by Dinara Urazova

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