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Through Shên-Kan: The Account of the Clark Expedition in North China, 1908-9
Robert Sterling Clark & Arthur de C Sowerby
Major C H Chepmell (ed)
T Fisher Unwin, London & Leipsic, 1912.
Hardback; 205 x 260 mm; light brown boards with titles in black on spine, and on front cover with a pictorial of a mounted rider; 247 pages. No dust jacket. Fifty-eight monochrome plates, plus 6 coloured plates with tissue guards. Two maps, one a general sketch of the route followed by the expedition, facing the title page; the other a large map showing the route of the expedition through Shansi, Shensi, and Kansu 1908-9, folded and stored in a wallet attached to the inside of the back cover.
The book is in good condition. The binding is sound. The covers are a little grubby. The spine is bumped at both ends. The page ends are irregularly cut, tanned, and foxed. Some foxing internally. There is some tanning and foxing of the large map but it is otherwise complete and undamaged.
Before he was an art collector, Sterling Clark was an explorer and adventurer. In 1908–9 he led an expedition across China’s northern frontier, covering nearly 2,000 miles of largely uncharted territory, primarily on mule and horseback. Beginning in Taiyuan in Shanxi province, Clark and his team, which included the young naturalist Arthur de Carle Sowerby, traversed “Shên-kan” (the provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu). Over the course of the yearlong trek, they collected wildlife specimens and compiled scientific data of lasting interest and significance. Three years later, Clark and Sowerby published Through Shên-kan: The Account of the Clark Expedition in North China, 1908–9. Part travelogue and part scientific record, the book greatly expanded Western knowledge of the terrain, climate, ecology, and culture of northern China.
There is much of interest here in terms of history, ethnography, natural history, etc, presenting as it does a picture of the area as it was over 100 years ago. It is therefore likely to appeal to those working and researching in a variety of fields as well as being of general interest.
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