Trader in the Registan. Samarkand


Seen here are money changers, probably near Registan Square, site of a bazaar in the center of Samarkand. The brick ledge on which the men are seated extends from a wall with traces of ceramic tile patterns typical of the three madrasahs (religious schools) that bounded the square. The heads of both men are covered with brilliant white turbans, and the well-maintained appearance of their attire is an indication of prosperity. On the left is a chained metal box for the money. Russian currency was the standard in Samarkand, but due to the city’s status as a trading center, there would have been ample demand for money changing. On the far right is part of a Russian poster advertising boxing and wrestling as well as circus acts. 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Меняла на Регистане. 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