The name of the Russian merchant and explorer of distant lands, Afanasy Nikitin, became famous in Russia thanks to his travel records made by him during a long journey through mysterious southern countries in the second half of the 15th century. These records, later combined into the collection «Voyage across the Three Seas», became the first scientific-geographical work in Russia in which the religious subtext, obligatory for those times, faded into the background, giving way to a descriptive documentary narration.

It is noteworthy that this journey itself was largely spontaneous. Initially, Nikitin planned to carry out a profitable, albeit somewhat risky, trade voyage in the Caucasus, for which he borrowed money, bought goods, equipped ships. However, when they, leaving Tver, reached the lower reaches of the Volga, they were attacked by hostile Tatars, who took away from him almost all the goods intended for sale.

Afanasy Nikitin

Merchant Athanasius, like many members of his team, was not given credit debts to return with empty pockets. And then Nikitin decided not to return to Tver, but to go further south. His only commodity, which he later sold with difficulty to one Indian khan, was a horse.

So Afanasy Nikitin, whose surname came from a patronymic, swam across the Caspian, crossed the lands of Persia, passed through the Arabian Sea of ​​the Indian Ocean and ended up in a mysterious country – «Ynday» (India). He lived in it for three years, never ceasing to be amazed at its miracles: the belief of local residents in the mysterious «buta» (Buddha), their custom of walking naked down the street, and especially all kinds of exotic creatures – elephants, monkeys, snakes, parrots.

He carefully wrote down all his impressions in a travel diary. The book «Voyage across the Three Seas», compiled from these records, became a valuable geographical, ethnographic and scientific-historical material that helped to determine the policy of the Russian Empire in the Middle Ages beyond its southern borders. From the notes, you can also compose a portrait of their author, Afanasy Nikitin, as a person, although inclined to adventurism, but at the same time strong-willed, determined, educated and greedy for new knowledge, fluent in many languages, familiar with the customs of many countries, but remains a patriot of his homeland.