The Turkmenistan Travelogue of Armin Vambery and Notes Regarding the Karakalpak Turks
Keywords: Armin Vambery, Reşat Efendi, Mehmed Sadık Rıfat Paşa, Istanbul, Turkestan, Ottoman, Karakalpak Turks, Aral Sea
This paper looks at one of the world's leading Turcologists, the Hungarian man of letters, traveler, and spy, Armin Vambery. After staying for four years as a guest in the Istanbul residence of the famous Ottoman pascha, Mehmed Sadık Rıfat Pascha (under the pseudonym and clothing of 'Reşat Efendi'), he traveled to the Turkish homeland of Turkmenistan. This work is the story of his three-year (1862-1865) trip and his research and observations into the lands of the Karakalpak Turks, who today live in the environs of Lake Aral. Following this three-year long travel, Armin Vambery wrote a rather detailed report. This present article only concerns his writings about Karakalpakistan and the Karakalpak peoples. The Hungarian man of letters, Vambery, who wrote in the 19th century is known to be the first western European to write about the Karakalpaks and Karakalpakistan. He visited the lands of the Karakalpaks during the 19th century and later gathered his observations into a book. Most of the articles give a great deal of information about the history and ethnography of the Karakalpak people. In the 19th century Vambery's very valuable works were also published in English and in German and then later were translated into Russian for the benefit of intellectual circles. Our aim here is to collect these writings together and to present them to the Turkish world and the Karakalpak people. Because Vambery's writings about the Karakalpaks and Karaltalpakistan were not published in one separate book, information from a number of books has been gathered and is being published here.