Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of Akhmad Khodzha. Detail of the Inner Arched-Niche Panel


This photograph of a facade detail from an unidentified mausoleum in the northern cluster of shrines 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. Of particular note is Shah-i Zindah (Persian for “living king”), built on the elevated site of an ancient settlement known as Afrosiab and revered as a memorial to Kusam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. The patron of this mausoleum has not been conclusively identified, but it is known that the structure was built in 1360-61. The mausoleum facade is distinguished by an array of ceramic ornamentation that displays floral, geometric, and inscriptional patterns. The colors range from deep blue to yellow, violet, and turquoise. Shown here is part of a carved terracotta panel located on the side of the niche created by the main facade arch (peshtak). Seven-pointed stars are placed in a web of intersecting strips that form intricate, star-like geometric patterns.

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. Отделка внутри ниши

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