Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of Chuchun Bek. Section of Inscription Around the Former Entry Door


This photograph of ornamentation on the Emir-Zade 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 primary compilers for the visual material were Aleksandr L. Kun, an Orientalist attached to the army, and Nikolai V. Bogaevskii, a military engineer. They devoted special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architecture, such as 14th- and 15th-century monuments from the reign of Tamerlane and his successors. Built on the site of an ancient settlement known as Afrosiab, Shah-i Zindah (Persian for “living king”) is revered as a memorial to Kussam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. The Emir-Zade mausoleum was built in 1386 by a member of Tamerlane’s court. Despite losses to its polychrome ornament, the facade remains a major example of the accomplishments of Central Asian decorative art. This view shows a facade section to the upper right of the portal. The ceramic work includes majolica, glazed tiles, and mosaics in geometric patterns. Of special interest is the band of raised Kufic inscriptional forms. The basic colors are dark blue and turquoise, with white detailing.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Гробница святого Куссама ибни Абасса (Шах-Зиндэ) и мавзолеи при ней. Мавзолей Чучунь-Бика. Часть надписи идущей вокруг вывшей входной двери

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 24.

Last updated: September 30, 2016