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


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. Located at the end of the necropolis passageway in the northern cluster of shrines, this partially damaged monument displays vibrant polychrome ceramic work with floral, geometric, and inscriptional patterns. The facade arch, or peshtak, is flanked by glazed terracotta columns carved in elaborate geometric patterns. This fragment on the left side of the arch shows the upper part of the column shaft and its capital. Both the shaft and the inscription band flanking the column contain exquisite terra-cotta work. The inscription is composed of raised Kufic letters with an intertwining tendril motif.

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. Капитель колонны

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