Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of Sha Arap. Section of Inscription inside the Mausoleum


This photograph shows a wall fragment of the interior of an unidentified mausoleum in the northern cluster of shrines at the Shah-i Zindah necropolis (Samarkand, Uzbekistan). The photograph is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album, a six-volume survey 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. 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. Although the patron of this mausoleum has not been conclusively identified, it was built in 1360-61, most likely for a maiden of noble birth. The collapse of the dome--probably due to an earthquake--enables a clear view of the interior walls, which were covered in polychrome ceramic ornamentation. This fragment consists of a mosaic panel (the center of which is lost) with intersecting geometric patterns. The panel is framed by decorative bands, including carved terracotta, with floral, geometric, and inscriptional figures.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Гробница святаго Куссама ибни Абасса (Шах-Зиндэ) и мавзолеи при ней. Мавзолей Ша-Арап. Часть надписи внутри мавзолея

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 53.

Last updated: September 30, 2016