Tatars by a Campfire


From 1909 to 1912, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) made several trips to the territory around the Ural Mountains, where he photographed railroad installations, factories, urban settings, and natural scenes. In September 1909 his journeys took him to the southern Urals, including the region of Chelyabinsk. Before intensive Russian settlement in the late 18th century, much of the area was inhabited by Bashkirs, who were subdued in a series of campaigns known as the Bashkir War in the late 1730s. The two men seated by a campfire are referred to as Tatars in the original caption for this photograph, which was taken near Miass Station. The town of Miass served as the western launching point for the construction of the original path of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The men seen here wear wool hats and are well-wrapped against the evening chill. In the background is a primitive wooden cart (perhaps for carrying hay) with poles raised. A blackened pot rests near the dying embers of the fire, enclosed by stones at the edge of a grove. An abandoned broken wagon wheel indicates that the site was frequently used. The wheel of a second cart is visible at the right edge of the image. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of his 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Татары у костра

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 28, 2016