Palitsa with a Picture of Abraham and Sarah. In the Vestry of the Ipatevskii Monastery. Kostroma


In 1911, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) visited the town of Kostroma and photographed at the Trinity-Ipat’evskii Monastery. This photograph shows a richly embroidered vestment from the monastery treasury known as a palitsa (epigonation), which is worn as a symbol of high office by an Orthodox prelate. The palitsa, with tassels at the corners, was suspended from the waist and worn over the knee. This remarkable example has a scarlet velvet base framed with an embroidered inscription. The outer edge is lined with miniature pearls. The center, also embroidered, depicts one of the most sacred themes in Russian Orthodoxy, the Old Testatment Trinity, or the three angels representing God who visited Abraham and Sarah in the book of Genesis, chapter 18. In this version, Abraham and Sarah are included among the angels. The halos of the five central figures are outlined in pearls. The main image is flanked by Apostles Peter and Paul, with seraphim at the corners. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire on the eve of the Russian Revolution. 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Палица с изображением Авраама и Сарры. В ризнице Ипатьевскаго монастыря. Кострома

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: January 11, 2017