December 23, 2011

Entrance into the Gur-Emir Mosque. Door. Samarkand

Among Samarkand’s major monuments is Gur-Emir ("tomb of the ruler"), begun by Timur (Tamerlane) in 1403 in memory of his grandson Muhammed Sultan. Following Timur's own unexpected death from pneumonia in 1405, his body was also placed in the mausoleum. It was completed by another of Timur's grandsons, the astronomer-king Ulugh Beg. This view, mistakenly identified as an entrance to the “Gur-Emir Mosque,” shows remnants of intricate ceramic ornamentation, including mosaics of five and six-pointed star motifs. Above the portal is a Perso-Arabic inscription panel in flowing Thuluth (cursive) script. 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 two trips in 1911 that focused on the ancient city of Samarkand.

Carpenter. Samarkand

This photograph shows a carpenter in a colorful padded robe using a long-handled adze to shape a log. Stripped but unshaped logs lie to the right. Behind the man are gnarled plane trees. In the background is an imposing white-stuccoed wall, probably built for the Russian compound in Samarkand. The wall appears to be capped with turf. Many ethnic groups lived in Samarkand. 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 winter trips in January 1907 and February 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. This same man is shown in another photograph by Prokudin-Gorskii.

At the Estate. Denmark

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.

At the Estate. Denmark

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.

At the Estate. Denmark

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.

Sart Fields. Samarkand

Seen here are fields carefully cultivated by local inhabitants identified in the caption as Sarts. Sart was a term used in the early 1900s to refer not only to town dwellers but also to people who inhabited this area before the coming of Uzbek tribes in the 16th century. These fields were used for grains such as wheat, which flourished in the oasis setting of Samarkand, fed by the Zeravshan River that flows from the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan. The terrain reflects ancient erosion patterns. 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 bucolic scenes in places such as Samarkand.