Group of Jewish Children with a Teacher. Samarkand


This photograph shows five Jewish schoolboys in Samarkand being instructed by their rebbe, or teacher. Most of the boys are wearing colorful traditional robes and skullcaps. The teacher, whose dignified face is framed by a silver beard, is dressed in a simple dark robe and a fur hat. The school table is placed in a well-kept courtyard, which improved the lighting for the photograph. The Jewish diaspora in Central Asia is thought to date at least from the Babylonian Captivity (6th–7th centuries BCE), and perhaps even earlier. By the end of the 20th century most of the Jews of Uzbekistan (Bukharan Jews) had emigrated to Israel or the United States, where many of their traditions continue. 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 two trips in 1911. This image is one of the best known in the Prokudin-Gorskii collection.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Группа еврейских мальчиков с учителем. 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