In the Mountains of Dagestan


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. During his journeys he photographed the region’s spectacularly rugged terrain. Seen in this photograph taken near the village of Gunib is a view of the Khindak Valley. To the right is the gorge carved by the Karakoisu River, a right tributary of the main Avarskoe Koisu River. The region is defined by a geological feature known as the Khindak anticline, a type of formation in which ancient sedimentary layers are thrust upward in a mountain range. Erosion has revealed the limestone layers in the upper part of the photograph. The Khindak village is comprised of farmsteads with large garden plots delineated by trees and shrubs. The Gunib area is known as the home of Imam Shamil (1797–1871), a charismatic leader who united Chechen and Dagestani tribes in opposition to the Russian army throughout the 1840s. 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

В горах Дагестана

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: November 1, 2016