Photographer to the Tsar: Revealing the Silk Road

Khan of Khiva Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur

Prokudin-Gorskii, Sergei Mikhailovich. Khan of Khorezm (Khiva) Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, 1906-1911. 1 negative (3 frames) : glass, b&w, three-color separation. Library of Congress, Prokudin-Gorskii Collection.

Nicknamed the Pearl of the Desert, Khiva is an ancient oasis town on the edge of the fearful Kyzyl Kum (‘red sand’) desert. The Khan of Khiva, Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, from the Genghis Khan dynasty, ruled the khanate between 1910 and 1918, when Khiva was controlled by Russia. The khans of Central Asia had close connections to the Imperial government in St. Petersburg and often received awards for their service to the state. Khan Bahadur was enlisted in the Russian Army as a Major General. He is shown with his Imperial decorations and military insignia attached to a traditional silk robe, or khalat. In celebration of his nomadic ancestry, the Khan wears a shaggy black fur hat. Khan Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur was assassinated by his political rivals during the revolutionary upheaval of 1918.