My Collection of Ermakov Photographs

Tbilisi 1969 – 1989



The history of my collection

During a series of assignments of teaching physics in Tbilisi in the 1980s I made the acquaintance of the director of the Georgian State Museum of Fine Arts in the basement of which the more than 2000 glass plates of the Ermakov Collection were stored at the time. He graciously allowed me to take a number of large photographic prints home. These were scraps from various projects (i.e., a calendar, prints for an exhibition in Akademgorodok-Novosibirsk 1984), which had been discarded for various reasons. I was delighted and they have been my Georgian treasure ever since.

The majority of the Ermakov glass plates are 7 x 9 inch in varying condition of preservation. Each negative has a Russian caption by the photographer, which I used. They have not been scanned or published. Obviously the plates badly need some professional attention. The Museum has no money for this task.

In 2000 several of my friends persuaded a Dutch non-profit organization to establish and fund a rescue mission for the photographic plates in Tbilisi. The curator of this “Georgian Museum of Photography” was Hans de Herder from an Institute of Photography in Rotterdam, Holland. De Herder was dismayed that I was in the possession of so many of of his precious photographs and implored me not to publish them in the near future. Except for a few single photos on my Georgian web pages - which promptly and without my knowledge made their way into the internet – I kept my promise.

Ten years later (2010) de Herder's project seems to have gone into limbo. To my knowledge nothing has been published, there is still no catalogue for and no internet presence of the Ermakov Collection. The time has come to open my personal collection to a limited number of people. Maybe this will provoke some institution to act to the benefit of this unique collection.

I own no rights to these photos. The copyrights to the photos are in the public domain. Still professional ethics would demand that their origin be documented. Please use them for non-commercial purposes with a customary reference to this website.

Pacific Palisades, California, September 2010
rolf357(at)gmail.com

Tiflis

1882-1915


The Town

Baedeker Map of Tiflis and Vicinity1914 (1.5 Mby)
Baedeker Map of Central Tiflis 1914 (1.5 MBy)



The “modern” town around 1900. In the foreground the Russian cathedral and administrative buildings



Center of the “old” town. The Bridge over the Kura, the Azeri mosque (Shiite), since disappeared. Various Georgian and Armenian churches. The Narikala fortress on the hill.



The Narikala around 1860. On the Trinity hillside the Monastery of St. George. The “funicular” has not been built.



The bridge over the Kura to the old center of town.



Waterstreet and numerous floating water mills on the Kura



Waterstreet sporting a horse-drawn tramway!


Tiflis, The Bazaar



A Russian customer buying carpets from a Persian merchant



A vegetable vendor



Cloths and vestments



Greengrocer. Melons and grapes on sale. Melons and watermelons will last till late winter if one hangs them on a hook without wrapping. The method is still used in the countryside in Georgia



 



Any kind of earthenware water jugs



A fishmonger



Bread stall. The Georgian bread is baked on the wall of a “tonne”, a vertical circular oven common throughout central Asia



Making chains



A tin-smith



A knife smith and a customer from the mountains



Fruit vendor



Socks and robes



Wine merchants. Their wines were stored in skins.



Camel caravan from Persia. Tiflis was an important Caucasian trade center and transfer station.


Tiflis, the Variety of its Ethnic People



A Gurian from Southwestern Georgia



Wife of a rich Armenian merchant



An Osseti from the mountains. The Osseti are the last remnants of Gothic tribes.



A Georgian priest and his wife



Georgian sharpshooter



Head-wash in the Hamam



Georgian Heroes in chain mail – posing in the studio...


Georgian Tribes


Khartli, the Heartland of Eastern Georgia



Local Saints Day in Mtskheta (Mtskhetoba)



All the women loaded on a Georgian Arba - the prerogative of the Christian Georgian women!



The ancient cave city of Uplistikhe near Gori



Mtskheta, the old Georgian capital. The Georgian kings are buried in its cathedral Tsveti Skoveli


The Georgian Military Road and Mount Kazbeg



The mail coach to Vladikavkas on the Georgian Military Road built by the Russians in the 19th century.



Mount Kazbeg and the church of Mtatsminda Kazbegi, one of the landmarks of Georgia


Western Georgia



Old Priest



Kutaisi, the Jewish quarter



Oxcart in Kutaisi



Tiflis, The Asian method of shoeing an ox, lying tied up on the ground.


Svaneti, The Mythical High Valley in the Western Caucasus



Svaneti, Repussé icon of St George



Svaneti, Family portrait of the princely Dadeshkeliani, the Knyaz of Svaneti



Svaneti, Two Dadeshkeliani princesses



And if you didn't believe it, in Chevsureti they still wore chain-mail in the early 20th century!