Jews. 1902. Bukharian Jews: Expedition Photographs by S. M. Dudin




The album was created as part of the REM project – the winner of the Second Competition of Museum and Exhibition Grants of the Russian Jewish Congress for the development of projects in the field of Jewish culture. Samuil Martynovich Dudin made three expeditions to Turkestan and the Emirate of Bukhara to form collections and to take pictures of “types of the multiethnic population of that region.” Photography was an important part of the prominent scientist’s activity. An artist by education, Dudin possessed the skills of both shooting itself and its practical preparation; he was an expert in photographic equipment. For his trip, the researcher selected two large-lens cameras, Derogy and Suter, and a curtain linear shutter by the English firm Thornton-Picard; he also purchased, on the Museum’s money, glass plates by Ilford Empress. The very list of photo accessories prepared for the expedition (cameras, heavy tripod, boxes with packaged negative glasses, and a field tent/laboratory with photo reagents) indicates that the preparation was elaborate. Apart from the technical fitting, Dudin got ready for the forthcoming shooting by thinking the subject scope over in advance, and drafting a list of themes and subjects. However, having faced in the expedition difficulties with shooting live scenes and costumes in the contrast of natural lighting (bright sunlight – shade), Dudin asked the Museum’s permission to buy two more Zeiss lenses, a wide-angle and a high-speed one, “for group and landscape types.” Due to such scrupulous and professional approach to everything within his view, in 1902 the Museum received, along with valuable ethnographic and archeological collections (over 3000 exhibits), also collections of photographs: nearly 1,900 negatives and prints made from them. They all were systemized and described by the collector himself, who laid in the early 20th century the foundation of scientific acquisition of artifacts and photographs for the Department of Ethnography. These are the first collections to be included in the museum's photo archive. A special place in Dudin’s heritage is held by the photo collection (31 pictures) dedicated to the Bukharan Jewish culture. It is a peculiar visual story of the early 20th century on the Jews who resided in the Jewish quarter of Samarkand. The documentary attitude combined with artistic expression in conveying the atmosphere of life of the Bukharan Jews make each image inimitable and unique, be it photography of the quarter’s houses, cheder, or the Bukharan Jews themselves: family, men’s, women’s, and children’s portraits. In this section of the album we publish some photographs from Dudin’s collection first introduced into scholarly discourse by T. G. Yemelianenko, on whose articles the captions to the photos are based.


Karina Solovyeva, Head of Photography Department, curator