Detail of Gate from Left Side of the Interior. Gur-Emir. Samarkand


The majestic Gur-Emir ("tomb of the ruler" in Persian) suffered major damage over the centuries. Known primarily as the burial place of Timur (Tamerlane), Gur-Emir was begun by Timur in 1403 to commemorate the death at the age of 27 of his beloved grandson, Muhammed Sultan. With Timur’s own burial there in 1405, Gur-Emir became in effect the mausoleum of the Timurids. Gur-Emir included the main domed structure, as well as a madrasah, khanaka, four minarets, and a large entrance structure to the courtyard. This detail of the interior facade of the entrance gate shows traces of polychrome ceramic decoration in floral and star patterns. 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 parts of the empire. Prokudin-Gorskii was particularly interested in the ancient city of Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan), which he visited a number of times, including two trips in 1911.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Деталь ворот с внутренней левой стороны. Гур-Эмир. 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

Last updated: September 30, 2016