The Russian expedition of 1874 with images of gravures in the report by Dr. P. Piassetsky


Rapids on the Han River


Col. Sosnovsky’s Russian Expedition of 1874 (also see Introduction to Shu Roads):


Russian travellers accompanying Col. Sosnovsky’s expedition came to Hanzhong from Hankou along the Han River by boat in 1874 and then travelled to Gansu and Lanzhou via Mianxian, Lüeyang, Huixian and present day Tianshui (Qing period Qin Zhou) along what is today Highway G316. A personal report of the expedition by Dr. Pavel Piassetsky, including gravure productions of his sketches from the places visited was published in 1880 in Russian [R.1] and was quickly translated and published in French (1883) [R.2] and English (1884). The English title is “Russian travellers in Mongolia and China.” (Piassetsky, [R.3]). Apart from the linking roads through the Han Valley, they did not travel by the main Shu Roads but did leave significant information on the secondary roads through Gansu that became so important near the end of WW2. The description of the Han River route from Hankou to Hanzhong is detailed and valuable. The interactions between the Upper Han and the Lower Han and the shipping information from these times are all important in Shu Road research. The difficulties of river travel were recorded in the shipwreck that nearly finished the expedition just north of Shiquan. The expedition included a professional photographer (A.E. Boyarsky) some of whose early photographs of Hanzhong have been included in a recent publication in Chinese by Sun Qixiang [R.4].


[R.1] Павел Яковлевич Пясецкий. Путешествие по Китаю в 1874-1875 гг. (Через Сибирь, Монголию, Восточный, Средний и Северо-западный Китай). В двух томах. Тома 1-2. Типография М. Стасюлевича, 1880. (Russian).


[R.2] Piassetsky. P. (1883). Voyage a travers la Mongolie et la Chine. Traduit du Russe par Aug. Kuscinski et contenant 90 gravures d’après les croquis de l’Auteur et une carte. Paris, Libraire Hachette et Cie. (French).


[R.3] Piassetsky, P. (1884). Russian travellers in Mongolia and China. Translated by J. Gordon-Cumming. London: Chapman & Hall. Two volumes with folding maps. (English).


[R.4] Sun Qixiang (2013). Hanzhong in Old Photographs. Hanzhong Archival Material Research Collection, Sanqin Press, Shaanxi, China. (Chinese).



Table of Gravure Prints of the Upper Han (use "back" to return to Table)


Piassetsky Gravures

French Caption

English Caption


Le Docteur P. Piassetsky

Dr. Pavel Yakovlevich Piassetsky


La Ville de Lao-Ho_Keou

The Town of Laohekou (老河口)


Vue prise dans le Han Supérieur

Upper Han scenery


Vue de la Ville d’Yun-Yang-Fou

View of the Town of Yunyang Fu (鄖陽府)


Quai de la Ville d’Yun-Yang-Fou

The quay at Yunyang Fu


Vue générale de Bai-Ho-Sian

General view of Baihe Xian (白河县)


Fabrication du papier

Paper making (Zhangjia Ba?)


Navigation à travers les rapides

Navigating through the rapids.


Ville de Sin-Añ-Fou.

City of Xing’an Fu (兴安府).


Plate-forme du mur d'enceinte et temple d'un club à Sin-Añ-Fou

Ramparts and Temple of a Club at Xing’an Fu.


Vue de la ville de Tsy-Yan-Siañ, prise le soir

View of Ziyang Xian (紫阳县) in the evening.


Tsy-Yan-Siañ. Temple et jardin

Ziyang Xian. Temple and Garden.


Pêcheurs dans le Han supérieur

Fishermen of the upper Han.


Tordage de cordons

Making laces.


Tour de la ville de Che-Tsouen-Chien

Tower in the city of Shiquan Xian (石泉县).


Le naufrage

The shipwreck.


Halage de bateaux et rencontre d'un radeau

Hauling the boat and meeting a raft.


Sillon creusé dans le fond de la rivière

Digging a furrow on the river bottom [to make a passage for the boat].


Entrée de la ville de Han-Tchong-Fou

Entrance to the City of Hanzhong Fu (汉中府)


Temple de Fou-Miao

Fo (Buddha) Temple (佛庙).


Service dans le temple de Tchen-Houan-Miao

Service in the Zhen Guan Temple (镇关庙?).


Une école à Han-Tchong-Fou

A school in Hanzhong Fu.


Portrait de "madame la Générale"

Portrait of "Madam General".


Diner envoyé par les autorités chinoises

Food provided by the Chinese authorities.


Vue prise à Lo-Yan-Siañ

View of approach to Lüeyang Xian (略阳县).


A 12 MB zip file containing this document and the Jpeg images of the gravures can be downloaded HERE.


If you have sufficient bandwidth, a very LARGE 170 MB zip file containing the Jpeg images of the gravures at full 600 dpi resolution can also be downloaded HERE.
(Do not try to open this file - select download to your computer).


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