Doctors. Samarkand


Shown here are two doctors wearing skullcaps and padded robes. Arrayed on the carpet between them are medicinal preparations in stoppered vials, as well as an assortment of powders. The steps lead to the shadowy space of a cavernous entrance arch to a sacred building—perhaps the Gur Emir, mausoleum of the Timurids. The lower walls are covered with carved stone tablets, while fragments of ceramic tiles are dimly visible above. The figure in the background appears to be a mullah in white turban and patterned robe. 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. Prokudin-Gorskii was particularly interested in recently acquired territories of the Russian Empire such as Turkestan, which he visited on a number of occasions, including two trips in 1911. Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states) appealed to him not only for its Islamic architecture but also for scenes from traditional life in cities such as Samarkand.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Доктора. 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