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Russian traveler Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay

Russian traveler Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay artist Konstantin Makovsky

Artist Konstantin Makovsky. Portrait of Russian traveler Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay (1846-1888)

Russian traveler Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay – an outstanding scientist and humanist, anthropologist and zoologist, widely known in Russia and abroad. In 1871 Miklouho-Maclay went to New Guinea, where he spent 15 months. The people of New Guinea remember the first European who stepped on their land and lived among them as their devoted friend. The bay where he lived has been named “Maclay Coast”. Stamps have been printed in his honor and there are many legends about him among the Papuans. Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay won the trust and admiration of the local people in New Guinea. And, in spite of the fact that he caught malaria in New Guinea and was very ill, he wrote, “…in no other corner of the globe where I have had to live during my wanderings, have I ever felt such an affection as to the coast of New Guinea.”

Ernst Haeckel (left) with his assistant Miklouho-Maclay in the Canary Islands. December 1866

Ernst Haeckel (left) with his assistant Miklouho-Maclay in the Canary Islands. December 1866

Miklouho-Maclay was often diverted from his scientific work by his campaign against white injustice. He became concerned for the native people of the Pacific through his anthropological studies and was disturbed by the consequences of their contact with whites.

His continuing ill-health forced Maclay to move to the more temperate climate of Australia. In Sydney in 1878, he took part in the intellectual and scientific life of the city. Also, became interested in the well-being of the native Aboriginal people in Australia and sought protection for them. Besides, he proposed the establishment of a marine biological station in Sydney and worked there for several years. Miklouho-Maclay was married in 1884. His two sons were born in Sydney.

Miklouho-Maclay eventually returned to Russia to supervise the publication of his works. His diaries, letters and documents have been published and several books have been written about him. There is a collection of his papers in Sydney. The rest of the scientific and ethnographic material is now housed in Russia.

Russian scientist Miklouho-Maclay died in Russia in 1888 at the age of 42. The Institute of Ethnography in St. Petersburg is named in his honor and many streets in Russia and the Ukraine are named after him. In honor of the 150th anniversary of Miklouho-Maclay birth a bronze sculpture was brought to Sydney from Russia.
After his death Miklouho-Maclay’s wife returned to Sydney. Now, his grandsons live in Australia with their families.

Russian traveler Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay

From textbook “Enjoy English” by T. Klementieva