A Rare Ethnographic Map of Russia
German edition of the 1875 Ethnographic map of Russia by Lieutenant Aleksandr Fyodorovich Rittikh.
Originally published in St. Petersberg, the Russian title of the map is: Ethnografischeskaia karta Europeiskoi Rossii.
Rittikh was an Imperial Russian general, cartographer, ethnographer and journalist, adherent of the Panslavism. In 1875, he prepared the first edition of his map, which is focused on assimilation processes. The map was presented at the International Geographical Congress in Paris and awarded a first-class medal. E. G. Ravenstein noted that the map:
exhibited in a most striking manner, the gradual absorption of the minor nationalities of the great Russian race, and showed clearly that the time is not far distant when the whole of the vast empire will be inhabited by one people speaking the same language . . .
Rittikh himself wrote:
if our literacy becomes obligatory and all-embracing, if the Russian school becomes strong among 25% of our non-Russian population, within just 100 years, within three generations, there will be no other language in all Russian territory by Russian, which is only desirable from the state and ethnographic perspectives.
Rittikh produced an atlas of Russian ethnography in about 1878. As noted in the May 18, 1878 edition of The Saturday Review of Politics, LIteratrure, Science and Art (Vol 45, p. 639):
The last part of Petermann's Geogrnphische Mittlmilungen' is devoted to the ethnography of Russia, and contains a reproduction of Rittich's recent atlas of Russian ethnography, the highest authority on the subject. The text contains an account of the various races inhabiting the Asiatic portion of the Empire. There are, it appears, forty-six nations altogether among the Czar's subjects, excluding Arabic, Chinese, and other stragglers. Twenty-seven of these are Indo-European, eighteen Turanian, and one (the Jewish) Semitic. It would be an extravagant compliment to place the Russians proper at the head of these races, either intellectually or morally. they afford a remarkable instance of an inferior people ruling by dint of numbers, and the brain power of allies or subjects.
August Heinrich Petermann (1822-1878) is a renowned German cartographer of the nineteenth century. Petermann studied cartography at the Geographical Art-School in Potsdam before traveling to Edinburgh to work with Dr. A. Keith Johnston on an English edition of Berghaus’ Physical Atlas. Two years later he moved to London, where he made maps and advised exploratory expeditions as they set off to explore the interior of Africa and the Arctic.
In 1854, Petermann returned to Germany to be Director of the Geographical Institute of Justus Perthes in Gotha. There, he was the editor of the Geographische Mittheilungen and Stieler’s Handatlas. The Royal Geographical Society of London awarded him their Gold Medal in 1860. He continued his interest in exploration in Germany, fundraising for the German Exploring Expeditions of 1868 and 1869-70, which sought an open Arctic sea. Tragically, he committed suicide in 1878.