Mikluho-Maclay of our time


Most people nowadays have an interest in restoring and studying family genealogy. And the reason for this is not only interest in the fate of ancestors, but also an attempt to establish what unique properties of nature and occupation were passed down from generation to generation.

From Mikluho to Maclay

One of these people was the great-great-grandson of the elder brother of the famous Russian scientist and traveler, ethnographer, and zoologist Nikolai Nikolayevich Mikluho-Maclay.  Director of the Fund for the Preservation of Ethnocultural Heritage named after Mikluho-Maclay – his descendant and full namesake – Nikolay Nikolayevich Mikluho-Maclay:

Yes, I am a descendant of the elder brother of the scientist, Sergei Miklukha, a well-known lawyer in his time. Sergey, with whom they were born in the Yazikovo-Rozhdtesvenskiy, Novgorod region, while their father Nikolay Ilyich supervised the construction of this section of the Nikolayevskaya railway there. Where did our double surname come from? Scottish Baron MacLean fought on the side of the Poles, was captured by the Cossacks in the Battle of Yellow Waters. Mikael Maclay settled with the Cossacks and married the daughter of the captive Cossack, named Mikluho. Their children took the mother’s name as it was more euphonious for the Russian ear. One of the descendants named Stepan Mikluho glorified his name during the second Russian-Turkish war: He was the first to burst into the Ochakov fortress. Mikluhos received hereditary noble title for this feat. And the future famous scientist spent his childhood and youth with the name Mikluho. He added himself the second part of the surname when he studied in Germany and began writing articles in German and English, but he received a passport with a full restored surname – Nikolai Nikolayevich Mikluho-Maclay – before the trip to New Guinea.

Save and send to descendants

The Foundation, as a public organization that unites people with similar goals and values, was conceived many years ago, but began its activity in 2016, after I was able to devote myself entirely to work in this direction. We can say that the start was given by an exhibition dedicated to the 170th anniversary of the scientist in the St. Petersburg headquarters of the Russian Geographical Society.  These two bright events – the 170th anniversary and the exhibition – showed how important and relevant still is the legacy of Mikluho-Maclay, and this united many people who understood that it is important now to preserve the heritage of the great scientist who Influenced the development of many areas of science and the worldview of future generations due to the proposed theory of equality of races, which later proved as a scientist. He showed to all mankind that all people, regardless of skin color and nationality, are equal and there are no people of the highest and lowest race.

One of the most important tasks of the Foundation is working with archives, studying the legacy of Mikluho-Maclay. We make a bibliography to systematize all the works of the great scientist. As a result, we publish the information: In which libraries which publications can be found, with a brief description of each one. This will be useful for future researchers and will save a lot of time for people interested in finding the right literature or diaries.

It is important to recreate the portrait of Maclay against the backdrop of the era, because there are still disputes over who was Mikluho-Maclay first of all – a biologist, zoologist, ethnographer, public figure?

The popularization of Russian scientists and travelers throughout the country is in our plans. Recreation of geographical and ethnographic knowledge, the history of our country, especially associated with great researchers. Not by accident it’s not a Mikluho-Maclay’s Foundation, but be a Foundation named after Mikluho-Maclay. We want to develop the humanistic ideas of the scientist and contribute to the preservation of the ethno-cultural and historical heritage of the peoples of Russia, the preservation and formation of a positive image of Russia in the international arena.

The Supervisory Board of the Foundation was headed by the academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the scientific director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Valery Tishkov, the board included the director of the Federal Agency for Nationalities Igor Barinov, the Agency itself became a partner of the Foundation and its events, like the Russian Geographical Society, the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography “Kunstkamera”, Museum of Anthropology and Historical Faculty of Moscow State University.

What is done?

Several exhibitions of Mikluho-Maclay’s drawings in Moscow already have been held : Each time they gather representatives of the scientific community, students and ordinary passers-by who are interested in the history of our country. The Foundation became a partner of the “Call of the Earth” project – a cycle of ethnographic lectures. We organize meetings “Dialogue Through the Centuries”, showing Nikolay Nikolayevich’s drawings from the 19th century and photographs taken by modern scientists and travelers on the Maclay Coast. This allows us to emphasize the importance of Mikluho-Maclay’s discoveries, to trace changes in the customs, appearance, structure, and aboriginal life of Papua New Guinea.

The Foundation is also a partner and organizer of the large-scale festival “Russian traveler” named after Mikluho-Maclay, who brought together famous travelers, representatives of state structures and tourism business. A complex of significant events was concentrated in one place for the first time : festival, exhibition, gallery, fair, forum, premium, museum, library,  olympiad, quest. The sculptural composition “Dedicated to Russian travellers … The Wheel of History” was opened within the framework of the festival, whose authors figuratively expressed the continuity of generations of Russians in the achievements of knowledge of unexplored corners of the Earth and the Universe. Also, the world’s first “Alley of Glory” was opened with the laying of 44 commemorative compass stars from brass to distinguished travelers of different ages with the participation of their descendants, and the “Zero verst” sign of travelers.

Most recently we organized a conference “Maclay Coast” with the participation of Valery Surin and his wife Irma Bruni, who financed a memorial on the Maclay Coast together with Ser Peter Burter of Papua New Guinea. Right now we have a contest of children’s drawings dedicated to Soviet and Russian travelers, researchers, scientists.

The Foundation has just started its work – it has not even passed a year yet, and socially significant projects that resemble our fellow citizens about the history of a great country, enlightening the younger generation, uniting through the centuries, emphasizing the significance of Russian researchers, are already glittering in the piggy bank.

To the Maclay’s shores

Miklouho-Maclay is called the first ethnographer, he singled out ethnography in science as a separate discipline and showed that this is really an interesting science. Why New Guinea?

Nikolay Nikolaevich chose the second largest island of the Earth, because the region was not known by anyone and people lived there in the “Stone Age”. There are more than 800 tribes speaking different languages.  It is unique from the point of view of science,.

In addition, no one dared to visit this region  in the XIX century: There were a lot of cannibals, the danger of disease, the unfavorable climate, the unknown culture of the people of the Stone Age. Many missionaries who tried to opened it up, disappeared without a trace. There were no cannibals in the tribe where Nikolay Nikolaevich lived, but, of course, there was a danger. He wrote in his diaries that his safety was his defenselessness. He said that he had no aggression against the Papuans, so they did not try to kill him.

After almost a century and a half we will go on an expedition to Papua New Guinea on the northeast coast of the island of New Guinea and plan to make the expeditions of the “Mikluho-Maclay XXI century” yearly.

Despite previous studies, the interest of the scientific community to this island has not faded until now. The route will take place on the island of New Guinea, we fly to the capital of Papua New Guinea Port Moresby, then to Madang, from where we will reach the Maklay Coast by boat or yacht, after the scientists complete their works, we will fly to Australia, Sydney, to meet our relatives from Australia, to visit the university, where they give out the Mikluho-Maclay Award every two years from a society founded by Rob Maclay, my great-uncle.

The expedition lasts about a month and we leave on September 11 from Moscow. After the Soviet expedition under the direction of D.D. Tumarkin in 1971 and 1975,  we will conduct complex scientific research on the Maclay Coast for the first time in Russian history, studying the Stone Age tribes, making a photo and video recording and filming a documentary.  To be as productive as possible, I attracted the best specialists in the direction of Oceanology and the legacy of Maclay in which the experts of the Foundation will participate: Specialists of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology named after Mikluho-Maclay, Moscow State University named after Lomonosov, Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography named after Peter the Great (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

We will study the cultural dynamics and changes in the lives of local residents, beginning with the first expedition of my ancestor in 1871, we know very little about Russian people who honored Maclay as God, and now still respect both Maclay and great Russia, which he represented, in spite of the fact that we have practically no connections with this remote Maklay Coast for Russians.

What else will be in expedition in addition to science?

In fact, I became an ambassador of goodwill, did not expect that my great-great-grandfather is so loved and remembered in this far-off country. And all this was clarified after I found good contacts among the local residents, together with whom we have now planned a teleconference with Russia and  we will organize the broadcast on the day of landing on the island of Mikluho-Maclay on September 20, thus the two countries will reach out to each other and I hope our interactions will be regular later . We are waited at the National Museum of the capital Port Moresby, where we will hold a press conference. And of course, the main thing is the descendants of those Papuans who keep the legends about Maclay. They still live in those villages and a similar meeting for me and I think for them is a reunion through the centuries. There is something mystical, and I’m waiting for that with great trepidation.

This will be a big holiday for me and for Papua and I’ll try to convey it with the help of the film that I will be shooting, that is priceless-traditions, culture, love.

I admit that right now I understand that life was preparing me for the main event, which will take place in September 2017.

Follow the expedition in social networks @fundmaclay or #mmexp

on the site https://mikluho-maclay.ru/