TURNERELLI, Edward Tracy. Russia on the Borders of Asia. Kazan, the Ancient Capital of the Tartar Khans; with an Account of the Province to which it belongs, the Tribes and Races which form its Population, etc. London, Richard Bentley, 1854.
Two volumes, 8vo. Original blue ribbed cloth, spines lettered and ornamented in gilt, covers ornamented in blind, front cover with Arabic script in gilt; pink endpapers, pp. viii, 338; vii, 316, two tinted lithographic frontispieces after the author (one retaining tissue guard); cloth a little rubbed, light offsetting to paste-downs, two hinges strengthened, 20th-century ownership inscriptions to front fly-leaves, a near-fine set of a great rarity.
First edition. The author, tired of reading English accounts of summers spent in the ‘two capitals’ of Russia (St. Petersburg and Moscow), decided to travel to less reported parts of the country. These volumes relay his ’sketches’ of ’the land which constituted in former days the Kingdom of Kazan’ (modern-day Republic of Tatarstan). He interweaves his experiences with the history of the territory and makes a number of interesting observations on how the past of various religious sects and ethnic groups had determined their contemporary existence. The passage on the ’Raskolniki’ affords an astonished view of religious practices common in the Russian Orthodox Church before the reforms of the mid 17th century. Edward Tracy Turnerelli was the son of a celebrated Irish-Italian sculptor, who had been trained as an artist as well. 'In 1836 he went to Russia where he spent eighteen years travelling to remote parts and drawing its ancient monuments' (ODNB). Turnerelli deals in detail with a variety of Western Central Asian peoples - Turcic and other - and their ancient capitals, such as Astrakhan, Sarai, the capital of the Golden Horde, Vyatka (now Kirov), the main city of the Vyatichi, a people of Eastern Slavonic and Finno-Ugric descent, whose social structure was that of a self-governing democracy. He further visits the provinces of Orenburg, Perm, Simbirsk and Saratov.