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Fabric Merchant. Samarkand
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. 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.
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Melon Vendor. Samarkand
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. 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.
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Emir of Bukhara. Bukhara
Between 1785 and 1920 Bukhara was ruled by eight emirs in the Manghit dynasty. After the Russian conquest of Samarkand (1868), the Emirate of Bukhara became a Russian protectorate. Seen here is the last emir of Bukhara, Said Mir Mohammed Alim Khan (1880–1944). Following the death of his father, Abdulahad Khan, in late 1910, Alim Khan assumed power in Bukhara. He initially flirted with ideas of reform, but self-interest and the opposition of conservative clergy led him back to despotic rule. Overthrown by the Red Army in September 1920 ...
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General View of the Shah-i Zindah Mosque (Evening Photo). Samarkand
This remarkable view, taken in the light of the setting sun, shows the middle group of mausolea in the Shah-i Zindah necropolis, located at the outskirts of Samarkand. Built on an ancient burial ground, Shah-i Zindah (Persian for “living king”) is revered as a memorial to Kusam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. From left to right are seen the Octagonal Mausoleum, the Shirin Bika Aga Mausoleum, the Shadi Mulk Aga Mausoleum, the Emir Zade Mausoleum, and the double domes of the Kazy-Zade Rumi Mausoleum, built in 1437 by Ulugh ...
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Turkmen Man Posing with Camel Loaded with Sacks, Probably of Grain or Cotton, Central Asia
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 ...
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Sart Fields. Samarkand
Seen here are fields carefully cultivated by local inhabitants identified in the caption as Sarts. Sart was a term used in the early 1900s to refer not only to town dwellers but also to people who inhabited this area before the coming of Uzbek tribes in the 16th century. These fields were used for grains such as wheat, which flourished in the oasis setting of Samarkand, fed by the Zeravshan River that flows from the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan. The terrain reflects ancient erosion patterns. The image is by Russian ...
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Samarkand. Portion of Shir-Dar Minaret and Its Dome with Tillia-Kari
At the center of Samarkand is the Registan complex, composed of three major monuments of the madrasah (religious school). Seen here is the Shir Dar Madrasah, built in 1619–36 during the Bukhara Ashtrakhanid dynasty. This view shows part of the main facade and imposing entrance arch, or iwan (on right), with a flanking minaret, behind which is a ribbed dome over an instruction hall. Despite structural damage, the ceramic work is relatively well preserved. The minaret displays geometric figures integrated with words in block Kufic script from the Kalima ...
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Nomadic Kirghiz. Golodnaia Steppe
This remarkable photograph shows a nomadic Kyrgyz family resting in the steppe grasslands. The Kyrgyz are a Turkic ethnic group widely spread over the area of eastern Turkestan. The man, with weathered face, is dressed in a skullcap and a frayed traditional striped coat. He is burdened with padded blankets and probably a small tent. The woman, with brilliant white turban, wears a tattered cloak and carries smaller bundles of blankets and clothes. Their small boy wears a colorful skullcap and a sparkling green silk jacket in the Chinese style ...
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Camel Caravan Carrying Thorns for Fodder. Golodnaia Steppe
The Russians developed an irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”) in Turkestan a productive area for raising cotton and wheat. Despite such projects, life adhered to ancient traditions for most of the local ethnic groups. This photograph shows a camel driver in a tattered cloak leading a small caravan in the midst of the vast steppe grasslands. The camels are carrying cut thorn bushes for fodder. The severe continental climate—cold in the winter and extreme arid heat in the summer—made camels the primary beast of burden ...
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Nazar Magomet. Golodnaia Steppe
Among the primary initiators of Russian development projects in Turkestan was Grand Duke Nicholas Konstantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, who in 1881 moved to Tashkent. There he sponsored a number of ventures, including a vast irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe,” present-day Uzbekistan) a productive area for raising cotton and wheat. This photograph shows a local inhabitant, Nazar Magomet, on horseback near a simple settler’s hut in the grasslands. The hut is of adobe brick surfaced with mud, while the roof consists of log ...
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Sart Cemetery near Syr-Darya. Golodnaia Steppe
Seen here is a Sart cemetery in the steppe near the Syr-Darya River (just visible in the right background). “Sart” was a term with various ethnic meanings in the late 19th century, and was often used to refer to inhabitants of this area before the coming of Uzbek tribes in the 16th century. The burial mounds were a widespread practice not only in the country but also in cities such as Samarkand. On the right the burial place of a venerated sage is marked by a mazar (ancient shrine) covered ...
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Migrant Farmstead in the Settlement of Nadezhdinsk with a Group of Peasants. Golodnaia Steppe
Among the primary initiators of development in Russian Turkestan was Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, who moved to Tashkent in 1881. There he initiated a vast irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”) a productive area for cotton and wheat. A related goal was to provide arable land to attract settlers from European Russia. Seen here at the settlement of Nadezhdinsk (from the Russian for “hope”) is a group of settlers in front of a stuccoed brick house with a thatched roof. The ...
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Camel Grazing in the Steppe. Golodnaia Steppe
Located to the southeast of the Kyzyl Kum Desert, Golodnaia Steppe is composed of the loess variety of soil suitable for growing grass and small shrubs in semi-arid conditions. This photograph shows a dromedary camel (with a single hump) grazing in the midst of the steppe grasslands. The harsh continental climate of Golodnaia Steppe—cold in the winter and extreme heat in the summer—made camels the primary beast of burden in this area. In the background is a cow. In the hazy distance is the Turkestan Range. The image ...
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Transit Farmstead in Nadezhdinsk Settlement. Golodnaia Steppe
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. 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.
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Volyn Levee on the Emperor Nicholas I Canal. Volyn Bridge in the Distance. Golodnaia Steppe
Among the primary initiators of development in Russian Turkestan was Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, who moved to Tashkent in 1881. There he sponsored a vast irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”) a productive area for cotton and wheat. A related goal was to provide arable land to attract settlers. This photograph shows the Volyn embankment, with water regulator, on the irrigation canal named in honor of Tsar Nicholas I. In the background is a wooden bridge near the Volyn settlement. The ...
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Chapel in the Settlement of Spassky. Golodnaia Steppe
Among the primary initiators of Russian development projects in Turkestan was Grand Duke Nicholas Konstantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, who in 1881 moved to Tashkent. There he sponsored a number of initiatives, including a vast irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe,” present-day Uzbekistan) a productive area for raising cotton and wheat. Conditions in the region were harsh, and it was sometimes difficult to attract Russian settlers by providing arable land. Shown here is the primitive structure of an Orthodox chapel at the settlement of Spasskii ...
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Policeman in Samarkand
Shown in this winter view is a local policeman dressed in a Russian-style winter uniform with a karakul hat adorned with a badge. The long coat has shoulder boards indicating a rank equivalent to sergeant. He is armed with a sabre (right) and a pistol on a red lanyard. He is standing guard at the gated entrance to the territory of the Namazga Mosque in Samarkand. The entrance, probably erected in the late 19th century, is built of fired Russian brick, rather than the usual soft adobe. The attached column ...
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Near Samarkand. Study
Russian forces took Samarkand in 1868, and in 1886 the city became the capital of an oblast within Russian Turkestan. Two years later the Trans-Caspian Railway reached the city. Seen in this autumn view (which the photographer called an “etude”) is a rutted lane flanked by adobe walls in a state of wear. In the center is a mulberry tree. This area has long been known for the quality of its silk, produced from the cocoons of silkworms that feed on the leaves of the mulberry. The image is by ...
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Dzhugara (near Samarkand)
In Russian Turkestan, large irrigation projects, such as those sponsored by Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich (1850-1918; grandson of Nicholas I), were intended to provide arable land to Russian settlers. Shown here is a field of dzhugara (white durra, or Sorghum cernuum) near Samarkand. This drought-resistant species of grass can be used both as edible grain and as feed for livestock. 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 ...
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Village. On the Outskirts of Samarkand
This photograph shows a kishlak (village) on the outskirts of Samarkand. The loess soil has been eroded into a gully, perhaps by the small Siab River. High adobe and mud walls in a good state of repair enclose homesteads probably belonging to local Sarts—a term referring to town dwellers, but also to inhabitants of this area from before the coming of Uzbek tribes in the 16th century. The dense groves of trees—birch, plane, and poplar—remind the viewer that Samarkand is an oasis, watered by the Zeravshan River ...
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At the Saliuktin Mines. On the Outskirts of Samarkand
This unusual photograph shows camels and their drivers on the way to the Saliutkin Mines in the Tian-Shan Mountains. They are laden with equipment for a Russian group sent to observe a total solar eclipse on January 1 (14 on the Gregorian calendar), 1907, at the Cherniaevo Station settlement near the mines. Located in Central Asia near the border between present-day Kyrgyzstan and China, the Tian-Shan range derives its name from the Chinese for “celestial mountains.” The first Russian to study the mountains was the geographer Peter Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky, who explored ...
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