Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of Akhmad Khodzha. Section of Detail from the External Facade


This photograph of a facade detail of the Khodzha Akhmad mausoleum at the Shah-i Zindah necropolis in Samarkand is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general, in 1867-82, of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architecture, such as 14th- and 15th-century monuments from the reign of Tamerlane and his successors. Shah-i Zindah (Persian for “living king”) is revered as a memorial to Kusam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. The Khodzha Akhmad mausoleum was built in the 1360s, presumably for a local spiritual leader. Situated at the end of the necropolis passageway in the northern cluster of shrines, the monument displays vibrant ceramic ornamentation with floral, geometric, and inscriptional patterns. The name of its designer—Fakhri-Ali—was revealed within a pattern on one of the ceramic tiles. Of particular note is the glazed terracotta work on the facade. This view shows part of the carved terracotta bands that frame the main facade arch, or peshtak. Located to the upper right of the arch, this fragment demonstrates a mastery of intricate floral detail, both in terra-cotta and polychrome majolica tiles.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Гробница святого Куссама ибни Абасса (Шах-Зиндэ) и мавзолеи при ней. Мавозлей Ахмет-Ходжи. Часть отделка с наружного фасада

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 47.

Last updated: September 30, 2016