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- In the center of Samarkand is the Registan complex, consisting of three madrasah (religious schools). The second madrasah is the Shir-Dar, was built in 1619–36 during the Bukhara Astrakhanid dynasty. Rectangular in plan, the two-story arcaded structure contained scholars’ cells along an interior courtyard. This view shows the northwest corner of the yard, with a ribbed dome over an instruction hall. Despite losses in this active seismic zone, the surface displays profuse ceramic decoration that includes geometric and botanical motifs, as well as a vertical Perso-Arabic inscription band. Visible within the arches are geometric tile figures with patterns of block Kufic script forming words from the Kalima, the basis of the Shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith. 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. During a trip in 1911 he gave special attention to the Islamic architecture of Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan).
Title in Original Language
Внутри м. Шир-Дор. Самарканд
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/.