HEDIN, Sven Anders. Stockholm 19.2.1865 — Stockholm 26.11.1952. Swedish Explorer and Central Asian Scholar. Made several journeys of exploration to Iran, Central Asia and Tibet. Son of Stadsarchitekt Abraham Ludvig H. and Anna Berlin. Matriculated 1885 from Stockholm. In 1886-88 studied geology at Stockholm and Uppsala (M.A.). In 1889-90 studies under von Richthofen at Berlin. Ph.D. 1892 Halle.

Hedin made his first journey to Iran and Mesopotamia during his stay in 1885-86 as tutor in engineer L. I. Nobel’s family in Baku. As interpreter of the Swedish embassy to Iran in 1890-91, he travelled in Chorasan and Turkestan. In 1893 from Orenburg through Kirgiz Steppes to Tashkent and during winter through Pamir, Murghab and Mustagh-ata to Kashgar. In summer and fall 1894 explored the Pamir, in winter 1895 Taklamakan Desert, then again the Pamir and in 1896 Taklamakan upto Lobnor. Then through Kunlun to Tibet, reached Lake Kukunor and in March 1897 arrived at Peking and returned to Sweden. In summer 1899 again through Russia and Pamir, in 1900 found Loulan’s ruins and explored North-East Tibet. After explorations in Lobnor region attempted in 1901 to penetrate Lhasa in disguise of Buddhist monk, was discovered five days before Lhasa and expelled. In the fall 1901 via Ladakh to Calcutta, in 1902 back to Sweden via Karakorum and Kashgar. In 1905 travelled through Armenia and Iran to India, in 1906-08 explorations in Tibet (sources of the Indus and the Brahmaputra, Middle Tibetan lake region), in fall 1908 to Simla and back to Sweden. In 1915 visited German Eastern Front and the Near East. In 1923 a tour round the world, and in 1927 a new expedition from Peking to Mongolia and Central Asia as the beginning of the Sino-Swedish expedition 1927-35, headed by Hedin.

The discovery of Loulan and Lobnor are mentioned as his most important achievements, while the repeated attempts to reach Lhasa were unsuccessful. He was explorer, but no archaeologist. He was knighted 1902 and became member of Swedish Academy in 1913, then also of several other academies. In his later years his fame seriously suffered of his strong engagement in international politics. After having been eager pro-German during the WW I he welcomed the rise of Hitler and wrote on behalf of the Nazis even during the WW II. Hon. dr. 1944 Munich. Unmarried.

Publications: Diss. Personal Observations of Damavand. 28 p. Halle 1892.

Genom Persien, Mesopotamien och Kaukasien. 461 p. Stockholm 1887.

Genom Khorasan och Turkestan. 290 p. Stockholm 1892-93; Genom Asiens öknar. 333 p. Stockholm 1899; Die geographisch-wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse meiner Reisen in Zentralasien 1894-1897. Gotha 1900; Zu Land nach Indien – durch Persien, Seistan, Belutschistan. 1-2. Lp. 1910.

Asien. Tusen mil på okända vägar. 1-2. Stockholm 1903, German Im Herzen von Asien. 10,000 km auf unbekannten Pfaden. Lp. 1903, 2nd ed. 1-2. Lp. 1910, part separately as Abenteuer in Tibet. 414 p. Lp. 1904; Scientific Results of a Journey in Central Asia. 1-10 & 2 map vols. Stockholm 1904-07; Transhimalaya. Discoveries and adventures in Tibet. 1-3. L. 1909-13 & Lp. 1912-17 (German?); Öfver land till Indien. 1-2. 564+533 p. Stockholm 1910.

Från pol till pol. 1-2. Stockholm 1911, Von Pol zu Pol. Rund um Asien. 1-3. Lp. 1919.

Southern Tibet. Discoveries in former times compared with my own researches in 1906–08. 1-11 & 3 map vols. Stockholm 1917-23; Eine Routenaufnahme durch Ostpersien. 1-2. Stockholm 1918-24; Durch Asiens Wüsten. 1-2. Lp. 1923.

Bagdad – Babylon – Ninive. 410 p. Lp. 1918; Jerusalem. 342 p. Lp. 1918; Meine erste Reise. 159 p. Lp. 1922; An der Schwelle Innerasiens. 159 p. Lp. 1923; Persien und Mesopotamien, zwei asiatische Probleme. 68 p. Lp. 1923.

Tsangpo-Lamas vallfärd: Nomaderna. 382 p. Stockholm 1920-22, also in German Tsangpo Lamas Wallfahrt. 1-2. Lp. 1922; Mount Everest och andra asiatiska problem. 246 p. Stockholm 1922, in German Lp. 1923; Jehol kejsarstaden. 288 p. Stockholm 1931, English Jehol City of Emperors. L. 1932, German Jehol, die Kaiserstadt. Lp. 1940; several books on history and politics.

Från Peking till Moskva. 380 p. Stockholm 1924, German Lp. 1924; Grand Canyon. 295 p. Stockholm 1925, German Lp. 1926.

Åter till Asien. 336 p. 36 pl. Stockholm 1928; Auf grosser Fahrt. Meine Expedition mit Schweden, Deutschen und Chinesen durch die Wüste Gobi 1927–28. 12+347 p. Lp. 1928; Gobiöknens gåtor. 354 p. Stockholm 1930, German Rätsel des Gobi. Die Fortsetzung der Grossen fahrt durch Innerasien in den Jahren 1928 bis 1930. 9+335 p. Lp. 1931; Die Flucht des grossen Pferdes. Expedition Mongolei-Ostturkestan. 261 p. 117 ill. Lp. 1935.

History of the Expedition in Asia 1927–1935. 1-4. The Sino-Swedish Expedition Publ. 23. Stockholm 1943-45; Eroberungszüge in Tibet. 329 p. 240 ill. Lp. 1940.

Mitt liv som upptäcktsresande. 1-5. Stockholm 1931, English tr. My life as an explorer. 544 p. L. 1926, German Mein Leben als Entdecker. Lp. 1942.

Erövringståg i Tibet. 437 p. ill. Stockholm 1934, then German transl; Karavan och Tarantass. Ed. by G. Montell. 287 p. Stockholm 1953.

– På svensk mark. 296 p. Stockholm 1944; Stormän och kungar. 1–2. Stockholm 1950.

To the Forbidden Land. Discoveries and Adventures in Tibet. Selected and adapted from Sven Hedin’s Trans-Himalaya. 157 p. Lucknow 1986.

Sources: *Alma Hedin, Min bror Sven. 389 p. Stockholm 1926, also in German: *Mein Bruder Sven. 172 p. Lp. 1927; B. Häggman, Literature of Travel and Explor. 2, 2003, 550-552; *A. Odelberg, Äventyr på riktigt. Berättelsen om upptäckaren Sv.H. 620 p. Stockholm 2008; *L. Petech, E. & W 3, 1952, 220f.; *G. de Roerich, JUHRI 3, 1933, 1-16; long account with photos and further references in several Wikipedia versions (e.g. English and Swedish); photo in Sardesai. Several 20th century books in Swedish have been here left unmentioned.

*S. Grieder, “Für mich heisst Leben: Arbeiten. Ferdinand Lessing und Sven Hedins sino-schwedische Expedition in Briefen und Zitaten”, Baessler-Archiv N.F. 50, 2002, 121-155; *H. Walravens, Ferdinand Lessing (1882–1961). Sinologe, Mongolist und Kenner des Lamaismus. Material zu Leben und Werk. Mit dem Briefwechsel mit Sven Hedin. Osnabrück 2000 & “Die Hedin-Expedition 1930/1932. Briefe Sven Hedins an seinen sinologischen Mitarbeiter Ferdinand Lessing”, Nachrichten der Ges. für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens 173-174, 2003, 227-254.

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