On the Road from Chapan-Ata to Samarkand (Village)


This photograph shows a kishlak  (village) on the road to the venerated Chapan-Ata mazar (mausoleum), located several kilometers northeast of Samarkand. The homesteads are bounded by high adobe-and-mud walls. Within the center compound is an array of dwelling and service structures. A section of the central wall has been replaced by vertical logs. In the foreground are the ruined walls and remnants of an abandoned plot. The dense groves of trees reflect that Samarkand is an oasis, fed by the Zeravshan River, which has its origins in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan. 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 in Central Asia, 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 everyday scenes in places such as Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan).

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

По пути с Чапан-Ата в Самарканд (кишлак)

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