December 23, 2011

Tea Plantations. Chakva

By the beginning of the 20th century, the plantation and processing plants at Chakva, Georgia, north of the port of Batumi, had become one of the main suppliers of tea to the Russian Empire and an alternative to imports from China. Seen here is a hillside planted with rows of young tea bushes. The natural amphitheater formed by the terrain was well suited for cultivation of the plants, which required careful tending. In the 19th century the Russian Empire expanded into the southern Caucasus, particularly after the conclusion of the Caucasus War in 1864. Previously, this area was dominated by the Ottoman Empire, which subjugated the different kingdoms of the southern Caucasus in the first half of the 16th century. With its mild, humid Black Sea climate, this region was suited to the cultivation of semitropical plants such as 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 parts of the empire. In 1905 and in 1912 Prokudin-Gorskii traveled in the Caucasus, including the territory of Georgia and the Black Sea coast.

Group of Workers Harvesting Tea. Greek Women. Chakva

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 shows workers harvesting tea from plants spreading over rolling hills near Chakva, on the east coast of the Black Sea, in present-day Georgia. The workers were identified by Prokudin-Gorskii as Greek. The southwestern part of the Russian Empire had a significant Greek minority, with families claiming ancestry going back many centuries, to the classical and Byzantine eras.

Chapel in the Settlement of Spassky. 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 initiatives, including a vast irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe,” present-day Uzbekistan) a productive area for raising cotton and wheat. Conditions in the region were harsh, and it was sometimes difficult to attract Russian settlers by providing arable land. Shown here is the primitive structure of an Orthodox chapel at the settlement of Spasskii (Savior) in the Golodnaia Steppe. Built of adobe brick with a metal roof, the Savior Chapel has a crude wooden frame for a single bell. 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. In 1911 he traveled to the region of Central Asia then known as Turkestan, where he photographed Islamic architectural monuments as well as Russian development projects.

Volyn Levee on the Emperor Nicholas I Canal. Volyn Bridge in the Distance. Golodnaia Steppe

Among the primary initiators of development in Russian Turkestan was Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, who moved to Tashkent in 1881. There he sponsored a vast irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”) a productive area for cotton and wheat. A related goal was to provide arable land to attract settlers. This photograph shows the Volyn embankment, with water regulator, on the irrigation canal named in honor of Tsar Nicholas I. In the background is a wooden bridge near the Volyn settlement. The name Volyn is associated historically with a region in northwestern Ukraine on the border with Poland. Settlers from that region likely chose the name for this area. 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 his travels took him to Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), where he photographed Islamic architectural monuments as well as Russian development projects.

Migrant Farmstead in the Settlement of Nadezhdinsk with a Group of Peasants. Golodnaia Steppe

Among the primary initiators of development in Russian Turkestan was Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, who moved to Tashkent in 1881. There he initiated a vast irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”) a productive area for cotton and wheat. A related goal was to provide arable land to attract settlers from European Russia. Seen here at the settlement of Nadezhdinsk (from the Russian for “hope”) is a group of settlers in front of a stuccoed brick house with a thatched roof. The women and men are finely dressed, with the women in long skirts and scarves. The house is surrounded by young birch trees, which grow rapidly and most likely reminded the settlers of their home region. 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 his travels took him to Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), where he photographed architectural monuments as well as Russian development projects.

Full-Length Profile Portrait of a Woman, Possibly Turkman or Kirgiz, Standing on a Carpet at the Entrance to a Yurt, Dressed in Traditional Clothing and Jewelry

This photograph shows a young married woman of the Teke ethnic group, near the Murgab Oasis in the region of Bayramaly (present-day Turkmenistan). Settlements along the Murgab River and the city of Merv (now Mary) were annexed by the Russian Empire in 1884. The woman’s festive attire includes a patterned robe and elaborate headdress. Her shoulders are draped with strings of beads. She stands on a woven carpet at the entrance to a kibitka (wattle yurt) made from reeds. The ribs of the frame under the felt cover are visible above the decorated door lintel. 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.