December 23, 2011

Nazar Magomet. Golodnaia Steppe

Among the primary initiators of Russian development projects in Turkestan was Grand Duke Nicholas Konstantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, who in 1881 moved to Tashkent. There he sponsored a number of ventures, including a vast irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe,” present-day Uzbekistan) a productive area for raising cotton and wheat. This photograph shows a local inhabitant, Nazar Magomet, on horseback near a simple settler’s hut in the grasslands. The hut is of adobe brick surfaced with mud, while the roof consists of log planks covered with thatch topped with a layer of mud. This technique provided insulation during the severe winters characteristic of this continental climate. A second horse attached to a cart stands at the corner of the dwelling. 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. In 1911 he made two trips to an area of Central Asia then known as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), where he photographed Russian development of the area.

Nomadic Kirghiz. Golodnaia Steppe

This remarkable photograph shows a nomadic Kyrgyz family resting in the steppe grasslands. The Kyrgyz are a Turkic ethnic group widely spread over the area of eastern Turkestan. The man, with weathered face, is dressed in a skullcap and a frayed traditional striped coat. He is burdened with padded blankets and probably a small tent. The woman, with brilliant white turban, wears a tattered cloak and carries smaller bundles of blankets and clothes. Their small boy wears a colorful skullcap and a sparkling green silk jacket in the Chinese style. To the left is a desert thorn bush. 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. In 1911 he made two trips to an area of Central Asia then known as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), where he photographed Islamic architectural monuments as well as Russian development projects, such as an irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”) a productive area for raising cotton and wheat.

Camel Caravan Carrying Thorns for Fodder. Golodnaia Steppe

The Russians developed an irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”) in Turkestan a productive area for raising cotton and wheat. Despite such projects, life adhered to ancient traditions for most of the local ethnic groups. This photograph shows a camel driver in a tattered cloak leading a small caravan in the midst of the vast steppe grasslands. The camels are carrying cut thorn bushes for fodder. The severe continental climate—cold in the winter and extreme arid heat in the summer—made camels the primary beast of burden in this area. In front of the lead camel is a boy (perhaps the man’s son) bundled in a quilted jacket and riding a donkey. 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. In 1911 he made two trips to an area of Central Asia then known as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), where he photographed Islamic architectural monuments as well as Russian development of the area.

On the Saimaa Canal. Finland

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph by Prokudin-Gorskii shows a lock on the Saimaa Canal in Finland. The canal, which links Lake Saimaa with the Gulf of Finland near Vyborg, Russia, was constructed from 1845 to 1856. The Grand Duchy of Finland was part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917.

Alley of Chamaerops Excelsus, Windmill Palm

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.

Weighing Section. Chakva Tea Factory

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph by Prokudin-Gorskii shows the interior of an operation for weighing and packaging tea at the Chakva tea farm and processing plant, just north of Batumi, close to the Black Sea coast in what is now the Republic of Georgia. The Chakva farm and plant was one of the main suppliers of tea to all parts of the Russian Empire.