Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of Sha Arap. Section of Inscription on the 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 (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 Timur (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, is revealed within a pattern on one of the ceramic tiles. The facade arch, or peshtak, is framed by a terra-cotta band of script in the cursive Thuluth style that reads in part: “Let Allah prolong their eternity to make the tomb a garden of happiness for Khodzha Akhmad.” This view shows a fragment of that inscription with raised letters on the lower right side of the facade.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Гробница святаго Куссама ибн Абасса (Шах-Зинде) и мавзолеи при ней. Мавзолей Ша-Арап. Часть надписи на фасаде

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 48.

Last updated: September 30, 2016