Dagestan. Village of Nizhnii Gunib


During the Caucasian War of 1817–64, Russian forces engaged in a costly campaign to subdue Muslim tribes in the Dagestan area. Imam Shamil (1797–1871) was a charismatic leader who united Chechen and Dagestani tribes in a prolonged opposition to the Russian army throughout the 1840s. Shamil resisted defeat until August 1859, when he surrendered to Prince Alexander Bariatinsky at Gunib. Although the caption states that the village is Nizhnii (Lower) Gunib, the ruins have been identified as Verkhnii (Upper) Gunib, which belonged to Shamil. In the background is the massive upward thrust of Mount Gunib. 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 April 1904 he traveled to Dagestan in the Caucasus, where he photographed the area around Mount Gunib, last stronghold of the Imam Shamil. The dramatic landscape, which so challenged Russian forces, gave Prokudin-Gorskii an opportunity to demonstrate his photographic technique.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Дагестан. Нижний Гуниб

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