Two Men near Stone Structure, Yurt in Background


This photograph shows two men of the Teke ethnic group near the Murgab Oasis in the region of Bayramaly (present-day Turkmenistan). The oasis takes its name from the Murgab River, which flows from Afghanistan into Turkmenistan and forms part of the border between the two countries. The men are wearing high sheepskin hats and traditional robes of dark red. The seated man has a dagger tucked in his belt. Next to the men are outdoor pits for cooking pilaf in iron containers. Pilaf, or plov, is a dish known throughout Central Asia and consists of rice mixed with meat or vegetables and dried fruit. On the left is part of an irrigation canal, newly dug for the purpose of cultivating cotton. In the background, to the right, is a yurt made from reeds, with a felt roof cover. 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 not only for its Islamic architecture but also for examples of traditional culture.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Два человека рядом с каменными сооружениями, вдали юрта

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