Spinning Yarn. In the Village of Izvedovo


In May 1910, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed in the Ostashkov area of Tver’ Province, including the lake region on the upper reaches of the Volga River. This photograph—one of his most famous—shows a peasant woman seated on the porch of a log house in the village of Izvedovo. She is using a large wooden distaff (prialka) to create thread from flax fiber. Her right hand holds the part of the spindle with the thread while the left guides the fibers in this ancient process. In many parts of Russia, particularly in the Russian North, distaffs were richly decorated, but here the linden wood is unpainted and clearly visible. The woman has a black wool scarf on her head and is dressed in a printed cotton blouse and apron over a dark skirt. The weathered pine log walls demonstrate the remarkable close detail possible with the large camera. Izvedovo is located on Lake Peno, one in a chain of lakes at the origins of the Volga. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of his 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

За пряжей. В деревне Изведово

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: January 13, 2017