Hedin, Sven


Swedish Central Asian explorer, geographer, topographer & author



Autograph ID: 3098
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1865-1952) Swedish geographer, topographer, explorer, travel writer, photographer, illustrator of his own works. Posthumous publication of his Central Asia atlas marked the conclusion of his life’s work. He was the last person to receive a Swedish knighthood (1902). Member of the Swedish Academy from 1913. Hedin wrote several very popular accounts of his journeys, inc. his classic 1898 work, “Through Asia”. Born in Stockholm, the son of the Chief Architect of Stockholm, at 12 decided to pursue the life of an adventurer. He studied at the University of Stockholm and accepted work as a tutor in Baku, on the Caspian Sea, learning to speak Tatar and Persian. After returning to Sweden in 1889, Hedin studied geography and geology at the Universities of Uppsala and Berlin. In 1890 served briefly as an interpreter with the Swedish/ Norwegian embassy to the Shah of Persia and started a 3 600 mile long journey through Asia though blinded in the early 1890s in one eye (after an operation at age 82, sight was restored). He returned home in 1891, in 1892 received his Ph. D. Between 1893 and 1935 Hedin made 4 expeditions to Central Asia and discovered the Transhimalaya (once named the Hedin Range in his honor) and the sources of the Brahmaputra, Indus and Sutlej Rivers, Lake Lop Nur, and the remains of cities, grave sites and the Great Wall of China in the deserts of the Tarim Basin. In 1900-01 he made 2 attempts to reach Lhasa. He met Taši Lama in 1906, the most powerful man in Tibet (the Dalai Lama had fled in 1904 when British troops entered Lhasa). In 1909 he returned to Stockholm and in 1913 became a member of the Swedish Academy. During WW I Hedin was on Germany’s side. The War prevented further journeys but in 1923 he traveled round the world. Between 1927 and 1935, he traveled in the Gobi Desert and Turkestan with German, Danish, Chinese, and Swedish scientists. Hedin met Chiang-Kai-shek, and, in 1933, helped the Chinese government retain control of the Sinkiang province by mapping out the old Silk Road of Marco Polo so that it could be motorized. Hedin’s China expeditions provided material for 3 books, The Flight of Big Horse (1936), The Silk Road (1936) and The Wandering Lake (1940). In 1930 he received the first Hedin medal, founded the same year for significant geographic, especially cartographic, research of less known areas. From 1937 to 1949 he worked on the 35 volumes which detailed his expedition to Northern China. Hedin was politically active, warning of Russian expansion and spoke for strong military defense and a political orientation towards Germany. He kept warm relations with Germany all his life, and was a supporter of the Nazi regime. His excellent panoramic drawings have been of significant help, even up to the latest decades, in interpreting satellite photographs.

5 ¼ x 3 ½ card with sepia magazine portrait of Hedin neatly mounted, boldly signed by Hedin below the portrait.”
Type: Signed Portrait

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