Nikolaevka. Ordinary Tower and Winter Home. Mugan Steppe


In 1905, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled and photographed extensively in the Caucasus region. Among the areas he visited was the Mughan Plain, located in the southeastern Caucasian region near the lower reaches of the Kura River (the largest river in the Transcaucasus). This semiarid area was intended by the Russian government as land for resettlement, primarily by Ukrainian peasants. At the turn of the 20th century, development of this area was impeded by a high mortality rate among settlers. Settlers endured harsh conditions, which included intense heat and flooding along the Aras River (the primary tributary of the Kura). This photograph was taken in the village Nikolaevka (or Novo-Nikolaevka), established on the Aras. The image shows a “winter” house with wattle and mud walls, adjacent to a similar structure supporting a wooden “tower.” The “tower” house has an open floor and a high pitched roof to allow relief from the summer heat. The floor is enclosed by a decorative painted railing. A reed, or wattle, fence separates the yard from the road. 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

Николаевка. Заурядная вышка и зимний дом. [Муганьская степь]

Additional Subjects

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: October 7, 2016