The 18th of January there took place in the Great Hall of the Headquarters of the Russian Geographical Society in Saint-Petersburg closing ceremony of the exhibition dedicated to the 170th anniversary of the birth of the great traveler and ethnographer Nikolay Miklouho-Maclay.
Nikolay Nikolaevich Miklouho-Maclay is a Russian ethnographer, anthropologist, biologist and traveler, having been studying the indigenous population of South-East Asia, Australia and Oceania, including Papuans of the north-east coast of the New Guinea, later called the Maclay Coast, the author of about 160 scientific papers.
Having lived for several years among the indigenous inhabitants of the island of New Guinea, the scientist ever became an advocate of colonial peoples and a staunch opponent of racism, rejecting the idea of Papuans as people, standing on the lower level of development.
The scientist had been making field notes and sketches throughout his travels – his archives totally have more than 700 pictures. The works of the explorer are characterized by high accuracy and clarity, which can not be conveyed by even the most detailed description. That pictures until now are being the only historical source for a number of nations reproducing the features of their culture and way of life, which by now have disappeared or are disappearing.
One of the key events of the evening became presentation of the large scale expedition «From Miklouho to Maclay», which was held by a descendant and a full namesake of the famous traveler Nikolay Miklouho-Maclay.
The start of the expedition is planned for the end of May of this year. The explorers are planning to overcome 30 thousand kilometers, to visit 3 parts of the world, and 8 countries, amongst which there are the following: Russia, China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia. The expedition will last 100 days, during which the participants will move only by cars, overcoming the marine areas by ferry. Besides the head of the travel Nikolay Miklouho-Maclay there are the following participants: scientists Arina Lebedeva and Andrei Tutorskiy, doctor Constantin Bezpalko, consultant Sergey Permitin, and Nikolay Smirnov and Vlad Balandinsky, - who are responsible for photo and video software.
The main objective of the expedition – is hosting events, dedicated to the Russian explorer Miklouho-Maclay and popularization of his achievements, the most important of which is being the proof of the theory of the equality of races.
The team will visit 20 Russian cities in the beginning of the way. The citizens of these cities will give the inhabitants of distant shores the gifts, symbolizing the cultural diversity of our country and friendly intentions of its peoples. There will be held cultural and educational activities in each locality.
The travel is organized by the Foundation for the Preservation of ethno-cultural heritage named Miklouho-Maclay with the support of the Russian Geographical Society and Federal Agency for Russian nationalities.
The route is developed in such a way, that the crews should arrive at the Maclay Coast in September. This month, 146 years ago, Nikolay Nikolaevich landed on the island. In honor of this event the great-nephew of the scientist is going to meet and to exchange gifts with the descendant of the Tui Papuan, who was the first to meet Miklouho-Maclay on the shore which became famous. Our compatriots will bring and install memorable bas-relief, as a gift, cast in bronze. The inscription on it reads the following: «To Maclay, Russian scientist and humanist, who made the culture of Papua known and recognizable worldwide».
According to the organizers of the expedition, the numerous people, inhabiting New Guinea, are still in the Stone Age, - there are communities that live on trees, and there are residents of some races, familiar with the taste of human flesh. For the first time in 40 years the Russian researchers will conduct a scientific study of the culture change of the Papuans of the Maclay Beach from the end of the XXth century, and the stories and legends of the locals about the brave ethnographer.
The result of the hundred-day journey will become the release of the documentary and the publication of a collection of legends of the Papuans about Maclay.
You may watch the movement of the team of «From Miklouho to Maclay» in real-time on the expedition's website: http://expedition170.mikluho-maclay.ru/
The pictures are provided by N.N.Mikloho-Maclay