In this portrait, Prokudin-Gorksii captures the traditional dress, jewelry, and hairstyle of an Uzbek woman standing on a richly decorated carpet at the entrance to a yurt, a portable tent used for housing by the nomadic peoples of Central Asia. After conquering Turkestan in the mid 1800s, the Russian government exerted strong pressure on the nomadic peoples to adopt a sedentary lifestyle and settle permanently in villages, towns, and cities.
Russian Turkestan, c.1907-1915. At this point, it is likely that the term “Uzbek” referred to the descendants of the actual nomadic Uzbeks who had become the ruling class of the Central Asian khanates and emirates in the 16th century. This is in contrast to the settled “sarts,” who did not live in yurts and whose nomadic heritage had given way to settled life many centuries earlier in the case of both Turkic and Iranian sarts.