In April 1904 and again at the beginning of 1905, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled to Dagestan in the Caucasus region. Dagestan was ethnically one of the most diverse territories of the Russian Empire. Among its peoples are the Lezgins, who live in what is today the southern part of the Republic of Dagestan, which is part of the Russian Federation, and the northern part of Azerbaijan. Before the 1917 Revolution, the term “lezgin” often referred to any number of tribes in southern Dagestan. This portrait on a rocky hillside shows a Lezgin who served in the Russian police force. He is wearing a typical black cloak with pouches for long rifle cartridges. His hands grip a dagger and scabbard. The medal on his chest displays a bust of Emperor Alexander III (1845–94) and was given for exemplary service. Like other peoples of the region, the Lezgins were known as fearless warriors in an area that witnessed frequent conflicts and highly valued skill in combat. 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.
Title in Original Language
Type of Item
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: November 1, 2016