Flowering Apricot Tree in the Emir's Shir-Budung Garden. Samarkand


This photograph shows apricot trees that have begun to flower at the Shir-Budun Park of the Emir near Bukhara (present-day Uzbekistan). Although often associated with ancient Armenia, the origins of apricot cultivation remain unclear. Apricots were known in Persia several centuries BCE, and their presence may be as old in Central Asia. To this day Uzbekistan is one of the world’s largest producers of apricots, as the region’s cold winters and dry climate are conducive to proper maturation of the fruit. The flowers have five petals and appear in early spring. In the background of this view is a large stone wall to protect the valuable trees. Also located in the park was the palace of the emir. 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. In 1911 he made two trips to an area of Central Asia then known as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states). There he photographed not only architectural monuments but also scenes of local nature.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Урюк в цвету в саду Эмира Шир-Будунг. 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