Nikolsk Settlement from Kiata across from Lake Lebed. Golodnaia Steppe
In the late 19th century Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, initiated a development project in Russian Turkestan to create an area for raising cotton, wheat, and livestock in the Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”) by diverting water from the Syr Darya River. The long-term goal was to provide arable land to Russian settlers in villages such as Nikolsk, named after Saint Nicholas. This view of Nikolsk taken from Kiat near Swan Lake shows fields of hay. Also visible are mounds of earth with white salt deposits, an indication of the heavy work necessary to prepare the soil in this semi-arid region. In the distance winds the tree-lined Tsar Nicholas I Canal, which served the lands of the grand duke. 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 traditional culture as well as the development brought about by Russian settlement and investment.
- acku Afghanistan
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