In the Service of the Colonizer: Leon Barszczewski, Polish Officer in the Tsarist Army

in “Masters” and “Natives”


Leon Barszczewski came from a country which had suffered from tsarist Russian colonization and invasions. A descendant of a patriotic family, he combined his interests and passions with service in the tsarist army in Turkestan. This “tireless and passionate traveller” spent twenty years in Samarkand, during which he organized or took part in over twenty expeditions to the mountains of Turkestan. During his expeditions and excursions, he found many geological and botanical specimens that have been sought after by the museums in Russia and Samarkand. He was also a history and archaeology enthusiast and his collection of antiques was one of the largest private collections in the region - part of it became the nucleus of a new museum in Samarkand. During his long stay in Turkestan, he got to know many of the indigenous people. The closest ties linked him with Jacob Izmaildžanov, his servant and travel companion.

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