Elderly Sart Man (Babaika, Samarkand)
This evocative winter view shows an elderly Babaika (Sart man) with a silver beard and white turban, framed by trees lined with fresh snow. The man is holding a brace of birds for a meal. The bright sunlight creates a shadow pattern throughout the photograph. In the left background is a shed wall made of mud applied to wattle latticework. (A roll of wattle is in the center.) The term “Sart” has various meanings and was used at the time to refer to town dwellers, as well as to people who inhabited this area before the coming of Uzbek tribes in the 16th century. 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. He was 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 a trip in January 1907 and two trips in 1911. Turkestan appealed to him not only for its Islamic architecture but also for scenes of local life in places such as Samarkand.
Title in Original Language
Старик сарт (Бабайка). Самарканд
Type of Item
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