A remarkably simple and yet profoundly deep narrative, this translation is an introduction to the remote world of the 19th-century Altai: a mountainous region of southern Siberia possessing unique flora and fauna and peaks rising to nearly 15,000 feet. Native Altai tribesman Mikhail Chelvalkov vividly describes the physical beauty of the region while chronicling many of the encounters that took place throughout his life as the population transformed from competing nomadic pagan tribes to a settled and harmonious Orthodox Christian culture. One of the first native disciples of the Russian Orthodox missionary priest Makarii Glukharev-who was made a saint in AD 2000-Chelvalkov's testament provides invaluable insights for students of Christian mission, ethnography, geography, and botany.
Mikhail Chevalkov was a pioneer both in his missionary work and in the establishment of the Altai language as a vehicle for literature. He served as a deacon and priest and his translations of the Bible, prayer books, religious songs, and service books were published in the 1840s. John Warden is a translator and a former lecturer in Russian and Soviet studies at the University of Coventry in central England.