Zeravshan Mountain Ridge from Chapan-Ata. Samarkand


This spectacular photograph shows part of the Zeravshan (Zarafshan) Mountain Range, located some 40 kilometers southeast of Samarkand. The view is taken from the hilltop location of the Chapan-Ata mazar  (mausoleum), located on the outskirts of Samarkand. This north flank of the range, with snow visible on the peaks, is indented with valleys created by tributaries of the Zeravshan River, which is the main source of water for the verdant Samarkand oasis. In the foreground is pasturage marked by sheep tracks. 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 different parts of the empire. Prokudin-Gorskii was particularly interested in recently acquired territories of the Russian Empire such as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), which he visited on a number of occasions, including two trips in 1911. Turkestan appealed to him not only for its Islamic architecture but also for the landscape in places such as Samarkand.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Заравшанский хребет с севера с Чапан-Ата. Самарканд

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 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: September 30, 2016