Turkestan Album

Post image for Turkestan Album

by Nathan Hamm on 2/3/2012 · 5 comments

For at least the last seven or eight years, the Prokudin-Gorskii collection of color photos of the Russian empire taken in the early 20th century, gets noticed and reported by journalists, history buffs, and photography enthusiasts. Less well known is that the Turkestan Album, a series of volumes on the people, architecture, history, and economy of Russian Turkestan commissioned by General von Kaufman, the Empire’s first Governor-General in Turkestan, was also digitized by the Library of Congress and made available several years ago. (Many thanks to Fergana News for writing about this, which reminded me that I had a draft post on this from 2007.)

The bulk of the photos in the collection were taken in 1871 and 1872, while some images in the historical volume date back to 1853. The collection contains well over 1,000 photos and is a phenomenal resource not only for a glimpse into Central Asia of the mid- to late-19th century, but also into how the Russian Empire viewed the people of these territories.

(P.S. — Fergana News also recently posted some interesting photos of clay structures in Uzbekistan taken between 1974 and 1989.)

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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J Korowicz February 9, 2012 at 11:06 am

Does anyone else find it interesting to look at these rows of photos and wonder if they might know some of their present-day descendants in Central Asia? It got me thinking about a friend of mine who met by chance Stalin’s grandson, Joseph Alliluev, in the 1990s. He remarked on the mundane awkwardness of the man, although there was no denying he had had to deal with the shadow of his granddad’s legacy for the preservation of his own sanity.

There’s something fascinating (or maybe it’s an irony fetish on my part) in the lives of the scions of power or the dynastic jetsam of history. The last Emir of Bukhara, Said Mir Mohammed Alim Khan’s daughter ended up producing the Voice of America’s Dari service, while his son joined the Red Army. The descendants of Muhammad Rahim Bahadur Khan (Feruz) and Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur Khan (of Khiva) were exiled to Ukraine. Although, Feruz’s grandson Abdurasul Madyarovich Madyarov did return for a visit in 1990, which is mentioned in Theodore Levin’s ‘The Hundred Thousand Fools of God’. Perhaps someone knows if Nasir ad-din Abdul Karim, the last Khan of Kokand, has any descendants?

Michael Hancock February 9, 2012 at 11:38 am

I’ve been meaning to write some more History-flavored posts on Registan, and one of the ideas I wanted to run up the flagpole would be interesting for you: Tracking and following some of the descendants of Ablai Khan. I would focus on the fact that while some branches more-or-less embraced Russian domination and rose up the ranks of Tsarist administration (Chokan Valikhanov, for example), their cousins were involved in both passive and violent resistance to Russian control (Kenesary, or Khan Kene).

J Korowicz February 10, 2012 at 8:47 am

A good soap opera, for sure! “Dynasty” or “Talas”? In the case of Kenesary and Valikhanov, nature & nurture played their part. On the nurture side, Valikhanov’s father Chingis and Kenesary were of the same generation, one the Russians could do business with, the other less so – you might be tempted to say Valikhanov’s father learned a little more about the weather-vane of history from Ablai Khan (even if Kenesary could also invoke Ablai as an inspiration). Kasym Ablaev (Kenesary’s father)’s murder of forty Tashkent inhabitants in 1836, the year before his son’s rebellion, convinced the Russians they wanted little to do with protecting him at the expense of their trade relations with Tashkent. On the nature side, Valikhanov was a diplomat, inclined towards negotiation (he wasn’t happy at Colonel Cherniaev’s attack on the Khanate of Kokand at Aulie-Ata). He was well-educated (Russian-style), open-minded, and obviously loved learning. Kenesary, on the other hand, was resolute, head-strong and, well, I don’t believe he minded breaking eggs, and his omelette by all accounts wasn’t to the taste of all Kazakhs.
By the way, what’s the latest on Kenesary’s skull?

J Korowicz February 11, 2012 at 6:43 am

Oh dear, Page Not Found, what I really meant was Kenesary’s skull?

saglik February 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm

thank you verry good bir paylaşım.

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