Further slides from a hunter’s journey through Central Asia

Regular readers will know that I have been posting copies of magic lantern slides taken by a hunter on a journey through Central Asia in the early 1900s. I have not yet been able to identify the hunter with any certainty, although there are several good candidates. We know he started off from Bandipur in Kashmir before making his way up the Astor Valley, crossing the Burzil Pass to Gilgit and then on to Hunza. From there he travelled to Atabad and across the Killik Pass onto the Pamirs. Then onwards to Kashgar, Maralbashi, Aksu and into the Tekes Valley where he hunted ibex, wapiti and roedeer in Burra Girgalam nullah and Amba nullah.

A yurt on the Pamirs

He then moved on to Koksu nullah, Kuldja, Sairam Nor lake, crossing into the Russian empire at Chuguchak. From there he travelled to Sergiopol (now Ayaguz in Kazakhstan) and Omsk in Siberia, the latter part of this journey in sleighs over deep snow. This was a tough journey by any standards. All that remains is to identify the hunter, who remarks that one of the Ovis Ammon Littledalei he shot was a record specimen at 57.5 inches.

A polo gathering in Hunza. Note the drummers.
A snow leopard shot in the Pamirs

Once again, I urge anyone who can help identify the hunter to get in touch.

More on mystery Central Asian hunter

Thank you to those of you who have made suggestions as to the identity of the hunter whose collection of slides I recently obtained. We are getting closer, but I am not yet sure who he may be. I am adding a couple more portraits to see if they may prompt any further suggestions. The first is captioned “After wapiti in the Amba Nullah, Tien Shan“.

After wapiti in the Amba Nullah, Tien Shan

The second slide is entitled “Me with a poli on the Pamirs“. A ‘poli’ means an Ovis Ammon poli, ie Marco Polo sheep.

Once again, any assistance you can provide in identifying the hunter would be much appreciated.

A hunter’s journey through the Tian Shan – can you identify the traveller?

For some time I have been collecting early photographic images of Central Asia. They are not easy to come by, not least because few people travelled in these remote regions and even fewer of them carried cameras. However, this week I was fortunate enough to obtain a stunning set of 86 magic lantern slides that illustrate a hunting trip through Central Asia and which date from about 1900.

Magic lantern slides

For those of you who do not know, the magic lantern was a precursor to the slide projector. A very thin photographic ‘positive’ measuring 3.25 inches x 3.25 inches was sandwiched between two sheets of glass and bound at the edges with tape. It was a primitive system, but often the quality of the photographs, mostly taken with plate cameras, was superb.

From what I can work out from the captions attached to each slide, the expedition leader – who I have not yet identified – set off from Srinagar in Kashmir, northern India, before heading north to Gilgit and Hunza. From there he crossed the Pamirs and then travelled on to Kashgar in modern-day Xinjiang. From there he headed to Aksu and then into the Tekkes Valley in the Tian Shan Mountains to hunt. He then made his way via the border crossing at Chuguchak (now Tacheng) into what was then Russian-controlled Turkestan, but which is now in modern-day eastern Kazakhstan. He passed through Sergiopol (now Ayaguz) before heading north into Siberia. By any account, this was a remarkable journey that required great stamina and determination.

In the Tekkes Valley, Tian Shan

Throughout this journey our traveller was hunting. The slides include his trophies, including ibex, Marco Polo sheep, roedeer, huge Asiatic wapiti or maral (red deer) and, sadly, snow leopards. One of the slides says that his Ovis littledalei had horns that measured 57.5 inches across, which he says was a record. But the real question is who is this person. Can you help? I know that it is not Captain HHP Deasy, who published In Tibet and Chinese Turkestan in 1901. Nor does it appear to be Percy Church, whose In Chinese Turkestan with Caravan and Rifle was published the same year, even though the route was very similar, as were the hunting trophies. However, I am reasonably sure that he is English.

A camel caravan that the traveller came across on the outskirts of Kashgar

So here are some pictures of the hunter. If you can help to identify him, please let me know. He is shown here with some of his hunting trophies.

Ovis ammon trophies
Asiatic wapiti or red deer

As you can see, his features are very clear. Please get in touch if you can put a name to the face.

Alatau’s ‘Christmas Bells’ is now on Spotify

Almost exactly a year after it received its world premiere at St Bartholomew’s church in Somerset, Alatau Atkinson’s beautiful little Christmas carol, Christmas Bells, has now been released on Spotify. It was performed again at St Barnabus’ Church in London SW18 last Sunday.

If you would like to download a copy of the carol, you can find it here.