Dome of the Gur-Emir Mosque from West (Cracked). Samarkand

Shown here is Gur-Emir ("tomb of the ruler") in Samarkand, the burial place of the great Timur (Tamerlane). Timur began the shrine in 1403 in memory of his grandson Muhammad Sultan, who had founded a madrasah on this site in the late 14th century. Following Timur's own unexpected death from pneumonia in 1405, his body was also placed in the structure, which became the mausoleum of the Timurids. It was completed by another of Timur's grandsons, the astronomer-king Ulugh Beg. This view from the west side shows severe damage to the lavish ceramic ornamentation of the ribbed dome. The cylinder beneath the dome as well as the facades of the structure are adorned with sacred inscriptions. 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 a trip in January 1907 that focused on the ancient city of Samarkand.

Fruit Stand. Samarkand

This photograph shows two fruit vendors at their stalls in one of Samarkand’s markets. Wearing a white turban and colorful striped robe, the vendor in the foreground is surrounded by carefully arranged piles of fruit. Among them are lemons, pomegranates, and several types of apple. On the left is a woven basket filled with white eggs. In the foreground are flat baskets with dried fruit and raisins. Some of the fruit was grown locally, but produce could also be imported via Samarkand’s important rail link. Suspended in the background are clusters of Russian sushki—hard, baked rings of dough, often consumed with tea. 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. He was 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 scenes of local life in places such as Samarkand.

Shepherd. Samarkand

Seen here is a chaban (shepherd) in the hilly country near Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan). Leaning on a long staff, he is protected from the cold by a turban, scarf, and a heavy overcoat, beneath which is a striped, brightly-colored cloak. The sun picks out details of the pockmarked terrain, with grass patches that have been closely cropped by grazing sheep—a common characteristic of the region. The pattern of stones in the left foreground suggests a seasonal rivulet. 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 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) in Central Asia, 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 scenes from traditional life.

Water-Carrier. Samarkand

Seen here is a water carrier on a street in Samarkand. The lowly status of this occupation is suggested by the man’s tattered, worn robe and hat. His right hand holds a thin cane. The water is kept in a skin container held on the shoulder with two straps. In the background is a high daubed wall of adobe brick on which is suspended another container, probably of sheepskin. Even in an oasis such as Samarkand, water was a valuable commodity, and one easily contaminated. Residents of any means would have had their own source of water. 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. He was 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 ethnic types and scenes from traditional life in cities such as Samarkand.

Flat Breads Vendor. Samarkand

Seen here is a vendor of round flat bread, related to lavash and Russian lepeshki. In this carefully posed photograph the youth is wearing a striped padded robe and holds a tray with the bread arranged on a patterned cloth with tassels. His colorful turban supports a flat wicker tray with piles of the bread. The bottom of the large head tray is covered with a striped cloth that extends backward over the shoulders. The draped cloth, intended to offer protection from the sun, provides a sartorial flourish. In the background is a wall of adobe brick partially covered with stucco. 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. He was 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 ethnic types and scenes of traditional life in cities such as Samarkand.

Emir of Bukhara. Bukhara

Between 1785 and 1920 Bukhara was ruled by eight emirs in the Manghit dynasty. After the Russian conquest of Samarkand (1868), the Emirate of Bukhara became a Russian protectorate. Seen here is the last emir of Bukhara, Said Mir Mohammed Alim Khan (1880–1944). Following the death of his father, Abdulahad Khan, in late 1910, Alim Khan assumed power in Bukhara. He initially flirted with ideas of reform, but self-interest and the opposition of conservative clergy led him back to despotic rule. Overthrown by the Red Army in September 1920, he went into exile and eventually settled in Kabul, Afghanistan. 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 trips in January 1907 and 1911 to the ancient cities of Bukhara and Samarkand. Prokudin-Gorskii made this and a number of other portraits of Said Mir Mohammed Alim Khan in 1911.

In Little Russia i.e. Ukraine

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. 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.

In Little Russia i.e. Ukraine

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. 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.

In Little Russia i.e. Ukraine

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. 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.

In Little Russia i.e. Ukraine

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. 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.