Sven Hedin

by Nathan Hamm on 9/27/2004 · 5 comments

I’m currently reading My Life As an Explorer by Sven Hedin, and been meaning to post a passage about Mustaghata. Circumstances seem to be conspiring against that happening.

Dan Waugh’s Sven Hedin Bibliography and Chronology have good summaries of his travels in Central Asia. The Sven Hedin Foundation has a wealth of information including photos from the expeditions, maps, and some of his sketches.

I also want to thank the reader whose name I can’t recall who brought Hedin to my attention by mentioning that he had a dog (well, a number of them actually that were) named Yoldash–“travelling companion.” That’s a fitting name for a dog, whether canine or the kind holed up in Waziristan.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Tatyana September 27, 2004 at 11:41 am

That’s an interesting interpretation. As far as I remember from my [long] living in Tataria, yuldash meant “comrad”[E], or “tovarisch”[R].

Nathan September 27, 2004 at 12:10 pm


That’s doubly interesting. Much as I suspected, the Tatar word for road is ёл (almost identical to the Uzbek yo’l). It can kind of mean travel in a phrase like the Uzbek “Oq yo’l” (literally: “White road”). I don’t remember my Uzbek suffixes or word construction too well (and honestly, I never learned that much of it in the first place), so I can’t really tell you what “dosh” means.

I have seen Yoldash (or Yoldosh or Yuldash or, you get the picture…) translated by more than just Hedin as “travelling companion.”

I would suspect that the Tatar version has the “comrade” connotation to it. “Travelling companion” really isn’t all that different, but can (and apparently did at one time) have a pretty literal meaning.

Tatyana September 27, 2004 at 1:39 pm

Also, given what traditional Islamic cultures think about dogs, naming your dogs “Comrads” seems pretty strange choice for a Central Asian traveller…

Nathan September 27, 2004 at 1:47 pm

Hedin never talks about it, but I keep on wondering what his Muslim companions thought of his affection for his dogs. At the point I’m at, he’s gotten all of his dogs from local Muslim populations. Hedin often let his dogs sleep in his tent. I never met an Uzbek who would consider letting a dog into the house.

I did know plent of Uzbeks with dogs, but they seemed like something one would have for home security, herding, etc., but never companionship.

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