Antimens Sacramental Cloth from the Time of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna Kept in the City of Cherdyn Assumption Church


This photograph depicts an antimension (sacramental cloth) dating from the reign of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna (1742–61). The antimension (derived from the Greek for “in place of a table”) is an essential part of administering the Eucharist in the Orthodox liturgy and must be blessed by a bishop, whose property it remains. It indicates that the church is authorized to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, during which it is unfolded on the altar. As illustrated here, the square cloth usually contains images of the Descent from the Cross, the four Evangelists, and the instruments of the Passion of Christ. This example was copied from an engraving and was kept in the Church of the Dormition in the town of Cherdyn (in the northern part of present-day Perm Oblast). 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 parts of the empire. In 1910 he photographed throughout the Ural Mountains region, where this picture was made. Prokudin-Gorskii took numerous photographs of liturgical objects, which he was interested to capture in color.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Антиминс времен Императрицы Елизаветы Петровны, хранящийся в Успенской церкви, г. Чердынь

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