Old Iron Marriage Crowns from the Seventeenth Century. Museum Inventory Number 10869. In the Rostov Museum. Rostov Velikii


The ancient city of Rostov the Great (present-day Rostov in Yaroslavl Oblast) was known as early as the 9th century. Between 1670 and 1690 Metropolitan Jonah Sysoevich created on the north shore of Lake Nero a remarkable complex known as the Rostov Kremlin (formally “Metropolitan's Court”) that included several churches as well as walls and towers. By the time this photograph was taken in 1911, the Rostov Kremlin had become one of Russia’s most notable historic sites, with an excellent museum of antiquities. Identified here are 17th-century “iron wedding crowns,” used in the Orthodox marriage ritual. The crowns show intricate floral ornamentation as well as sacred figures, either painted or in low relief. The crown on the left displays polychrome medallions of Christ, Mary, and John the Baptist. Despite the use of the word “iron,” the surfaces suggest either copper or bronze. 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Древние брачные венцы железные, ХVII века. Муз. описи № 10869. В Ростовском музее. Ростов Великий

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: September 23, 2016