Field of White Durra. Golodnaia Steppe


In Russian Turkestan, large irrigation projects, such as those sponsored by Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich (1850-1918; grandson of Nicholas I), were intended to provide arable land to Russian settlers. Shown here is a field of dzhugara (white durra, or Sorghum cernuum) in Golodnaya Steppe, or “Hungry Steppe.” Dzhugara is a drought-resistant species of grass that can be used both as edible grain and as feed for livestock. 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. This area, located mainly in present-day Uzbekistan, appealed to him not only for its monuments of Islamic architecture but also for the agricultural development stimulated by the Russian presence. Prokudin-Gorskii often photographed plants to define the regions he visited.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Джугара. Голодная степь

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