Bzyb’ River


In 1905 Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled and photographed extensively in the Caucasus region. In 1912, Prokudin-Gorskii returned to photograph the dramatic landscape and ancient monuments of the mountainous interior of the Caucasus region.  Much of the Transcaucasian region was dominated by the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. The Turks were expelled from Abkhazia (located in the northern part of Georgia) in 1810, but Russian settlements remained subject to attack by Circassian warriors. In 1864, Abkhazia was formally annexed to the Russian Empire. Seen here is the Bzyb’ River; at 110 kilometers, it is the longest river in Abkhazia. Originating in the western Caucasus Mountains (between the Gagra and Bzyb’ ranges), the river includes Lake Ritsa in its basin. The river outlet is at Pitsunda Cape, south of Gagra on the Black Sea. This view shows rugged karst cliffs in a sunny haze. The river valley, home to the Bzyb’ Abkhaz ethnic group, is rich in flora diversity, including box willows, from which the name of the river is derived. Valued fish of the river include trout and salmon. 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

Река Бзыбь

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