This photograph of a Tajik wedding ritual is from Turkestan Album, one of the richest sources of visual information on the cultural monuments of Central Asia as they appeared in the 19th century. This multi-volume work was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of Konstantin P. von Kaufman, a Russian army general and the first governor-general of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire's Central Asian holdings were called. Kaufman held that position from 1867 to 1886, during which time he played a major role in establishing Russia's dominant position in Central Asia. The forces of conquest were followed by administrators and entrepreneurs, as well as scholars interested in documenting the region's cultural heritage. The Tajiks, many of whom came into the Russian Empire after the conquest of the Khanate of Kokand, are related by both culture and language to the Iranian peoples. They are known for elaborate wedding rituals that can last an entire week. The bride in this photograph is almost completely covered, with a small opening in the veil for forehead and eyes. The bride's relatives offer a ceremonial libation to the groom. The women attending to the ceremony wear brightly-patterned cloaks. To the left is a detail of a carved wooden column characteristic of the region's architecture.
Place: Central and South Asia
Institution: Library of Congress
Physical description: 1 photographic print : albumen