Outstanding Scientist and Traveler

Tuva. Photo by Anton Agarkov
Tuva. Photo by Anton Agarkov

Feb 17 was the 158th anniversary of the birth of outstanding geographer, zoologist and traveler Grigory Yefimovich Grumm-Grzhimaylo who was born on 5(17) February, 1860 in St. Petersburg in the family of an employee of the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Finance. Most of his life he spent to study of Central Asia - Western China, the Pamirs, the Tien Shan, Western Mongolia, Tuva and the Far East.


Grigory Grumm-Grzhimaylo. Photo from the archive of the Russian Geographical Society
Grigory Grumm-Grzhimaylo. Photo from the archive of the Russian Geographical Society.

Grigory Grumm-Grzhimaylo graduated from the natural department of the Physics and Mathematics Faculty of St. Petersburg University and chose entomology (a section of zoology studying insects) for in-depth study. Grum-Grzhimailo began his scientific career with the description and systematization of lepidopterous insects.

His first scientific work (1884) about some butterflies of the Middle Volga basin drew attention of the Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich. He offered the scientist to finance his expedition to Central Asia. Grumm-Grzhimaylo spent 3 months in the mountain and collected over 12,000 butterflies, thirty of which were new to science. He also made height and thermometric measurements. In the following three years (1885-1887) the researcher made a few more expeditions to the Pamirs and  the pripamir countries, and then visited the Tien Shan. Regarding the results of these expeditions Grigory Grumm-Grzhimaylo was admitted as a member of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society.


Photo from the Russian Geographic Society archive
Photo from the Russian Geographic Society archive

In 1889 - 1890 Grigory Grumm-Grzhimailo led the Society's expedition to Central Asia. During this expedition they discovered the Beishan mountain range and defined the topographic location of the surface of the Turfan Depression.

In 1903 - 1914 the researcher made several trips to Western Mongolia, Tuva and the Far East.


Photo by Alexander Permyakov
Photo by Alexander Permyakov

The scientist decribed the results of his work in numerous publications: "Essay on the Pri-Pamir countries" (1886), "Description of the Amur Region" (1894), "Description of the Journey to Western China" (1896-1907), "Western Mongolia and the Uryanghai Territory" (1914-1930).

He was awarded the Constantine Medal in 1907 by the Imperial Russian Geographical Society. In 1920- 1931 he was the Vice-Chairman of the Society.

A mountain pass in the Sikhote-Alin chain, a glacier in the Pamir and a glacier on the Bogdo-Ula mountain range were named after the scientist. In addition, the biography of the scientist found reflection in the novel by Vladimir Nabokov - "Gift". The writer, who was also interested in entomology, called Grumm-Grzhimailo "a genius naturalist.