Journey Beyond the Three Seas

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Journey Beyond the Three Seas


a major work of Old Russian literature of the 15th century. Written by Afanasii Nikitin, a merchant from Tver’, Journey Beyond the Three Seas consists of Nikitin’s notes on his journey to India from 1466 to 1472. It is the first work of Russian literature that depicts a commercial, rather than a religious, journey. The author visited the Caucasus, Persia, India, and, on the return trip, the Crimea. Nikitin died near Smolensk.

In 1475 the manuscript came into the possession of Vasilii Mamyrev, a d’iak (official secretary) in Moscow. Its text was incorporated into the Chronicle Codex of 1489, which was reflected in the Second St. Sophia and L’vov chronicles. The work has also been preserved in 15th-century collections. Nikitin, an ardent patriot and well-educated for his time, described the natural features, political structure, trade, agriculture, customs, and rituals of India. His work abounds in lyric digressions and autobiographical sketches; the language is close to the conversational speech and legal speech of Moscow. Journey Beyond the Three Seas has been translated into many languages.


Khozhenie za tri moria Afanasiia Nikitina: 1466–1472 gg., 2nd ed. [With an article by V. P. Andrianova-Peretts, “Afanasii Nikitin—puteshestvennik-pisatel’.”] Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.


Gudzii, N. K. Istoriia drevnei russkoi literatury, 7th ed. Moscow, 1966. Pages 276–81.
Lur’e, Ia. S. “Podvig Afanasiia Nikitina.” Izvestiia Vsesoiuznogo geograficheskogo obshchestva, 1967, vol. 99, no. 5.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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