Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of Emir Assad. Section of Detail on the Facade


This photograph of an ornamental detail from an unidentified mausoleum in 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 devoted 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. Among the shrines in the necropolis is an unnamed mausoleum whose basic structure collapsed. Surviving parts of the facade reveal a complex decorative program similar to that of the nearby Usto Ali mausoleum (circa 1380). The ornamental strip shown here appears on both the main facade and in the niche formed by the large facade arch. It is composed of glazed tiles with raised lines in the form of an “X” crossed with bent lines. When joined, the tiles form a diamond pattern, with the cross lines suggesting a hexagon.

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 Эмира Ассада. Часть отделки (бордюра) на фасаде

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 39.

Last updated: September 30, 2016