Four People Seated on a Carpet, in Front of a Backdrop of Textiles


This photograph, taken in a yurt located near the Murgab Oasis in the region of Bayramaly (present-day Turkmenistan), shows a family of the Teke ethnic group. Seated in the center is the young married son of the family. The woman on the far right is presumably his mother, while his young wife is seated to the left. All of them are dressed in colorful festive attire. The wife wears profuse costume ornaments that indicate social status. In the background are richly patterned woven carpets. (The center of the front carpet is overexposed by light.) Although nomadic in origin, part of the Teke adopted a settled existence and served as cavalry in the Russian armed forces. 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 (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), which he visited on a number of occasions, including two trips in 1911. Turkestan appealed to him for its examples of traditional culture.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Четыре человека сидят на ковре на фоне текстильных материалов

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