At the Saliuktin Mines. On the Outskirts of Samarkand


Seen here is the path to the Saliutkin Mines in the Tian-Shan Mountains. 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 photographer of this view joined a Russian group sent to observe a total solar eclipse on January 1 (14 in the Gregorian calendar), 1907, at the Cherniaevo Station settlement near the mines. The high elevation and clear dry air were ideal for astronomical observation. In the foreground is a small horse-drawn cart. In the background is a massive outcropping of sedimentary rock. The compressed contours of the rock are tinged with snow, an effect that helps convey the enormous weight of this geological feature. 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. He was particularly interested in recently acquired territories of the Russian Empire such as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states).

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

На Салюктинских копях. В окрестностях Самарканда

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: September 30, 2016