Laurus Camphorae. Camphor Laurel. Chakva
In 1905, and again in the spring of 1912, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled and photographed extensively in the Caucasus region. Much of the southern Caucasus was dominated by the Ottoman Empire beginning in the first half of the 16th century. In the 19th century the Russian Empire expanded into the area, including the southern region of Ach’ara and its port city, Batumi. With its semitropical climate and its location along the Black Sea near the Turkish border, this area of southern Georgia was home to a variety of exotic flora unknown elsewhere in Russia. The settlement of Chakva, to the north of Batumi, was especially known for its cultivation of new plant varieties. Among them was this large camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora), an evergreen tree whose leaves are known for their fragrance. Native to southern China and southeast Asia, the camphor laurel was valued for its oil. The background of this photograph appears suffused with a mist, perhaps resulting from a combination of sea air and diffuse sunlight. 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.
Title in Original Language
Lauras Camphorae. Камфорный лавр. [Чаква]
Type of Item
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 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.
Last updated: September 28, 2016