Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of Emir Assad. View of the Preserved Upper Section of the Entry Niche


This photograph of 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”), 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). This view shows the left side of the niche formed by the large facade arch. The array of ceramic ornament includes: a polychrome band with Thuluth (cursive) Arabic script; a strip of majolica tiles with raised lines in a geometric crossing pattern; decorative strips with foliate and geometric forms; intricate faience panels with floral motifs; and, at the upper right, the remnants of the “honey-comb” (mocárabe) decorative vaulting over the entrance.

Date Created

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. Вид на сохранившуюся верхнюю часть входной ниши

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