Seven Journeys Eastward

Seven Journeys Eastward, 1898-1912, Among the Cheremis, Kalmyks, Mongols and in Turkestan and to Afghanistan

Gustav John Ramstedt was a Finnish linguist and ethnographer described as “one of the great linguistic investigators of Altaic peoples.” Concerned with the question of whether the Finns were descended from Mongols, Ramstedt travelled extensively in the regions of Central Asia. His memoirs, dictated to a stenographer after he retired in 1943 at the age of seventy, tell of his research expedition in 1903 to the heavily Kalmyk town of Sarepta (now part of Volgograd, Russia), where he collected traditional Kalmyk folk songs and epics.

Though Ramstedt did not dictate any tales of falconers amongst the Kalmyks, a photo from his time there is labeled “A falconer. To the right of the horse can be seen argal (horse dung) drying in the sun.”