In April 1904 and again at the beginning of 1905, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhalovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled to Dagestan in the Caucasus region. Dagestan was ethnically one of the most diverse territories of the Russian Empire. Shown here are an Avar man and his wife photographed on a background of mountainous terrain. He is wearing a dark military cloak with pouches for rifle cartridges. He has a long dagger in a scabbard distinctive to the region and a sword, located on the side. The medals on his chest include the Saint George cross for military valor, seen on the left side, and a medal for exemplary service in the police. This region witnessed frequent conflicts and placed a high value on prowess in combat. On his head is a tall hat of karakul sheepskin known as a papakha. The head of his wife is swathed in a black shawl, and her dark gown has a decorative pattern. The lower hills show the straight cut of a major road. The wooden bench suggests that this was a cleared space for viewing scenery. 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