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


This photograph shows the interior corner of an unidentified mausoleum in the northern cluster of shrines at the Shah-i Zindah necropolis (Samarkand, Uzbekistan). The photograph was included in 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. This northeast corner bay culminates in a “honeycomb” (mocárabe) vault, whose ceramic facets are covered with profuse decoration. The vault elements arise from small attached columns with strapwork capitals. The columns frame decorative panels containing lotus figures set within intricate floral patterns.

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. Отделка углов 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