Zeravshan Valley from the East, from Chapan-Ata. Samarkand


This view, taken from the summit of Chapan-Ata, shows the Zeravshan River valley near the city of Samarkand. Chapan is a local word for shepherd (ata means “father”), and the name of the hill indicates the importance of sheep-raising in this semi-arid region. The Zeravshan, once a tributary of the Amu-Darya, originates from a glacier of the same name in the Zeravshan mountain range of Tajikistan. Within Uzbekistan the river flows past the ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. The valley is suitable for essential grain crops. The glass negative for this photograph has significant damage, which was partially corrected in a black-and-white print. 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 in Central Asia (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), which he visited on a number of occasions, including two trips in 1911.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Долина Заравшана с востока с Чапан-Ата. Самарканд

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 30, 2016