Village of Nizhnii Gunib in Dagestan


This photograph of Nizhnii Gunib aul (village) was taken in Dagestan in the Caucasus, in April 1904. The village was the last stronghold of the Iman Shamil. During the Caucasian War of 1817–64, Russian forces engaged in a costly campaign to subdue Muslim tribes in the Dagestan area. Shamil (1797–1871) was a charismatic leader who united Chechen and Dagestani tribes in a prolonged and often successful opposition to the Russian army throughout the 1840s. His movement waned in the 1850s, but Shamil continued to resist until August 1859, when he surrendered to Prince Alexander Bariatinskii at Gunib. Visible here are lanes bordered by slender poplar trees and a Russian Orthodox Church constructed for the Russian garrison and administration after 1859. In the background is the massive upward thrust of the layers of sedimentary rock of Gunib Mountain. 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. The dramatic landscape, which so challenged Russian forces, gave Prokudin-Gorskii a superb opportunity to demonstrate his photographic technique.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Аул Нижний Гуниб в Дагестане

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