Harvesting Tea. Group of Greek Women. Caucasus. Chakva


In 1905 Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled and photographed extensively in the Caucasus region. In the spring of 1912, Prokudin-Gorskii returned to photograph the Caucasus region, including in the territory of Georgia and along the coast of Ach’ara, on the Black Sea near the Turkish border. In the 19th century the Russian Empire expanded into this area, particularly following the conclusion of the Caucasian War in 1864. With its mild climate along the Black Sea and well-drained hilly terrain, this area of southern Georgia was suited to the cultivation of semitropical plants used to produce tea. By the beginning of the 20th century, the plantation and processing plants at Chakva (to the north of the port of Batumi), had become one of the main suppliers of tea for the Russian Empire. Seen here are pickers—mostly women, identified as Greeks in the caption—engaged in the laborious process of gathering tea leaves. To assure the best quality, only the top leaves of mature plants were picked. On the left stands a male supervisor, wearing a white cap and tunic. 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

Сбор чая. Группа гречанок. Кавказ. [Чаква]

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 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: September 28, 2016