Mugan. Cotton


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. Prokudin-Gorskii’s caption mistakenly identifies this plant as cotton. In fact, the photograph shows a pomegranate, a fruit-bearing shrub that has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. Originally from Persia, the pomegranate is used for juice and as an ingredient in various dishes. The hot and arid climate of the Mugan Steppe (present-day Azerbaijan), where this photograph was taken, is not suitable for most fruit trees, with the notable exception of the pomegranate.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Мугань. Хлопок

Additional Subjects

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