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 Daghestan in the Caucasus region. During his journeys he photographed the region’s spectacularly rugged terrain, which was effectively utilized during the Caucasian War of 1817–64 by Imam Shamil (1797–1871), a charismatic leader who united Chechen and Dagestani tribes in prolonged opposition to the Russian army throughout the 1840s. Not precisely identified, this photograph possibly shows the road between the villages of Arakan and Arkas to the north of the Gunib region of Dagestan. Low trees and bushes cover the plateau in the foreground, while the background is marked by steep cliffs formed by the upward thrust of ancient limestone strata. This area is now in Daghestan’s Buinaksk region, formerly known as Timur-Khan-Shura (“Tamerlane’s Lake”) after the conqueror Tamerlane, whose forces made camp there in 1396. 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

Additional Subjects

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