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- The resting camel seen here bears large sacks of cotton grown in the irrigated fields of the extensive Murgab estate near the town of Bayramaly (present-day Turkmenistan). Camels were the primary beast of burden for heavy work in this hot, arid climate. The youth next to the camel wears a bright robe and a shaggy sheepskin hat. Visible in the background are hundreds of other sacks awaiting delivery to the cotton gin. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire. Prokudin-Gorskii was particularly interested in recently acquired territories of the Russian Empire such as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), which he visited on a number of occasions, including two trips in 1911. Turkestan appealed to him not only for its Islamic architecture but also for the transformation brought by Russian settlement. Large parts of Turkestan were suitable for the raising of high quality cotton, and cotton production rapidly became a priority in the Russian development of this area.
Title in Original Language
Туркмен, позирующий с верблюдом, загруженным мешками, вероятно зерна или хлопка, Средняя Азия
Type of Item
- Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)
- Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.