Thursday, 28 July 2011
On the Silk Road: Tashkent
Special photography display now showing in the Archives hallway of the Penn Museum
A collection of albumen prints from the early 1890s illustrating the manners and customs of the Kyrgyz people, and localities in the vicinity of Tashkent and Samarkand in Uzbekistan. Photographed by Bolojinsky, the images were purchased in 1896 by a Penn Museum representative attending the coronation of Czar Nicholas II and the Czarina Alexandra. These rare images offer a glimpse into a world now remote.
Photo: Saiyid Muhammad Rachim, Khan of Khiva (ruled 1864-1910). Photograph by Bolojinsky, ca. 1890. Penn Museum Image 195123.
The albumen photographs exhibited in On the Silk Road: Tashkent were purchased in 1896 by Zelia Nuttall at the annual Pan-Russian Industrial and Art Exhibition held at Nijni-Novgorod (modern Gorki) east of Moscow, where exhibitors brought artifacts, products, and other types of merchandise from all over the Russian Empire for sale or display. They illustrate the manners and customs of the Kyrgyz people, and localities in the vicinity of Tashkent and Samarkand in Uzbekistan. They were photographed by Bolojinsky, whose studio was located in Tashkent. No details of this photographer's career are known to the Archives staff, but his skill is self-evident. These rare images offer a glimpse into a world now remote.
The Story of the Collection
In 1896, Zelia Nuttall, a well-known scholar, was engaged to travel to Russia as a representative of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. The purpose of the trip was to set up exchanges with Russian museums, and to help sponsor archaeological excavations in Russia.
This opportunity came about when Phoebe Apperson Hearst (mother of William Randolph Hearst, newspaper magnate) was forced to cancel her trip to attend the coronation of Czar Nicholas II and the Czarina Alexandra. At the suggestion of Dr. William Pepper, Jr., President of the Museum's Board of Managers, Mrs. Hearst put her reservation and accommodations in Moscow at the disposal of the Museum.
Zelia Nuttall attended the coronation ceremonies and visited a number of museums. The collection she amassed comprises over 400 objects from Russia, Finland, Poland, and Russian Turkestan, including items of clothing, household implements, pottery, tools, and photographs. As a personal gift to the Museum Nuttall presented color lithographs of the coronation ceremony, as well as other coronation souvenirs such as mugs, a plate, and handkerchiefs.
Timur (1336–1405), known as Tamerlane in English, was a fourteenth-century leader and founder of the Timurid Empire in Central Asia. Through intelligence, military skill, and sheer brutality, Timur conquered an empire stretching from Russia to India, and from the Mediterranean Sea to Mongolia. His grand plan was to control the Silk Road, the central land route between Europe and China. Timur is also known as a great patron of art in Central Asia and the Middle East, especially in his capital city, Samarkand.