Khiva to Samarkand - The remarkable story of a woman's adventurous journey alone through the deserts of Central Asia to the heart of Turkestan

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9781906393175: Khiva to Samarkand - The remarkable story of a woman's adventurous journey alone through the deserts of Central Asia to the heart of Turkestan
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Ella Robertson Christie, traveller and gardener, travelled widely in Asia and visited many countries including India, Ceylon, Malasia, China, Japan and Borneo. Her most significant trips were to Russian Turkestan in 1910 and 1912 and she was the first British woman to visit the state of Khiva. Her amazing journey is expressed very vividly in this book. Her two adventurous journeys describe Turkestan in the years leading up to the First World War: one from Moscow and the Aral Sea to Kokand and the second farther south from Constantinople (Istanbul) and the Caspian Sea to Andizhan.

Ella Christie was a member of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for 44 years and a Vice-President of the RSGS from 1934 until her death in 1949. She was elected a Fellow of the Society in 1911. She also created in Scotland what was known as the best Japanese gardens of the Western Hemisphere in the 20th century.

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About the Author:

Isabella (Ella) Robertson Christie , traveller and gardener, was born on 21 April 1861 at Millbank, Cockpen, Edinburgh. She was raised at Cowden, near Dollar in Clackmannanshire in Scotland. It was a beautiful property where she was to recreate many years later what were considered at the time the best Japanese gardens in Europe after her sojourns in Asia during the early 20th century.

Ella Christie started travelling with her sister and father from 1870 onwards. They visited Italy, Spain, Germany and the Low countries. After her sister married and her mother died, Ella continued to travel, first with her father and then with a friend. After her father died in 1902, she travelled widely in India and Tibet (1904), China and Japan (1907), Central Asia on two separate journeys (1910 and 1912) and America (1914). Her most significant trips were two adventurous journeys into Turkestan in the years leading up to the First World War: one from Moscow and the Aral Sea to Kokand and the second farther south from Constantinople (Istanbul) and the Caspian Sea to Andizhan. This book is based on her experiences during that period.

In 1916 Ella Christie became "directrice" of a canteen "La Goutte de Café" established by the Red Cross at Bar-sur-Aube and staffed by five scotswomen during the battle of Verdun. In 1917 she returned to Cowden but went back to France during 1918-19 to take charge of another canteen in Alsace. Then she resumed her travels and role as mistress of Cowden Castle where she created what in its time was regarded as one of the best Japanese gardens in the Western Hemisphere following her return, in 1907, from a three year journey through Asia. The garden was set out over an area of seven acres with a large loch and three islands created by the damming of a burn. The garden was named Shah-rak-uenor, or place of pleasure and delight. Taki Honda of the Royal School of garden design at Nagoya transformed a once marshy hollow at Cowden and was engaged to lay out the numerous stone groupings and shrubs from all over the world. Later came the carefully designed footpaths, bridges, tea-house, gateways and lanterns. In winter, the carefully pruned trees and shrubs delighted the eye while in summer azaleas, cherries and irises were a glory of colour and scent. Queen Mary visited in 1932. The garden was maintained by a Japanese gardener named Matsuo until his death in 1936 and then by Ella Christie herself until her death in 1949. Although the garden was kept up for some years after her death, neglect and vandalism eventually saw its destruction. The castle was demolished in 1952 and the garden opened to the public for the last time in 1955 after which, it fell into disrepair and neglect.

Ella Christie was a member of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for 44 years and was elected a Fellow of the Society in 1911. She also served on RSGS Council and was Vice-President from 1934 until her death.

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