Prokudin-Gorskii made two trips to Russia’s Central Asian territories. In 1906 -1907, he traveled to the Tian-Shan Mountains to document a solar eclipse and explore the ancient Silk Road towns of Bukhara and Samarkand. Again in 1911, Prokudin-Gorskii visited Central Asia, this time under the commission of Tsar Nicholas II.

The Imperial government provided him with a specially equipped railroad car, as well as permits and passes to access restricted areas. Prokudin-Gorskii traveled along the recently constructed Trans-Caspian Railroad and visited the towns of Merv, Bukhara, and Samarkand, capturing masterful images of the nomadic peoples, legendary buildings, residents and merchants at the heart of the Silk Road.