Museum complex


Nicolas Daourkin
Isle of Nonyakhmun and American shore
July 15, 1791
Inscription: “In June of 1791 was on the Nonyakhmun island awaiting ships of secret expedition. Same June was on the American shores and islands Namyakhlin and Ineldin on 17 kayaks with trustworthy Chukcha people. A companion sotnik Ivan [Kobelev], a Siberian gentry and an interpreter Nicolas Daourkin had written this same day June 30 still waiting…”. At the top of the fang is a circular opening with an ink inscription around it: "1852 from the Public. Library to the Armory Chamber."
Walrus fang; engraving, ink
36,0 х 6,0 cm
Receipt: from Roumyantsev museum in 1923; earlier the Armory (till 1868; earlier in Public library in 1852)
Showcase 11

This unusual letter carved on the carefully polished surface of the slice of walrus Fang reveals one of the episodes of the history of Russia's exploration of its farthest outskirts – the Chukotka Peninsula.
The author of the letter, Nikolai Daourkin, was a renowned explorer of the North Pacific Ocean. Chukcha by origin Daourkin served as an interpreter to the head of the Anadyr fortress Lieutenant-Colonel F.C. Plenisner. At his commander’s order in October of 1763, Daourin made a trip to the island of Koglin near Alaska. The report on that visit contained so important and interesting information that academician P.S. Pallas has published it in German in one of the scientific journals. Daourkin also made a handwritten map, which marked the Chukchi Peninsula, the coast of the American continent, as well as the mysterious land lying to the North and East of Chukotka. Daourkin repeatedly visited the Islands of the Bering Strait in search of a mysterious land.

In 1785, the Russian government sent there the North-Eastern sea secret geographical and astronomical expedition. Captain-Lieutenant I.I. Billings and Lieutenant G.A. Sarychev were appointed in charge of that expedition. The task of the expedition was to explore Chukotka and adjacent seas and Islands, as well as unknown land marked on the map of Daourkin.
In 1788 Daourkin and the Anadyr Cossack sotnik (commander of a hundred) Ivan Kobelev were sent from Okhotsk to Chukotka in order to prepare the local population for a friendly meeting of the expedition. For two years they waited for Billings on the shore of the Bay of St.Lawrence. Within that period with the help of the Chukchi population they visited the American mainland and the Islands, as Daourkin reported in his letter. Probably Daourkin and Kobelev had a quarrel so the sotnik left Daourkin, and his name was scraped off the letter.