Persian Tatars. Saatly. Mugan Steppe


Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph was taken in the town of Saatly on the Araks River on the Mugan Steppe. Located in present-day Azerbaijan, the steppe covers a large area between the Araks River on the west, the Kura River on the northeast, and the border with Iran (Persia) to the south. The area is generally hot and dry in the summer, but the land along the Kura and Araks rivers is fertile and rich. The men depicted in the photograph are either Azerbaijani Turks or Kurds. The eastern part of Mugan was conquered by Russia during the Russian-Persian War (1826–28). Control of the border was not strictly enforced and crossing the border into Russia was easy. During the winter season, nomads from Persia were allowed to use pastures on Russian territory.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Персидские татары. Саатлы. Мугань

Type of Item

Physical Description

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

Last updated: November 7, 2017