Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mosque (khanaka) of Shah-i Zindah. Reading-Stand with a Qurʼan Donated by Emir Nasrullah of Bukhara


This interior photograph of the mosque at the Kusam-ibn-Abbas memorial ensemble in the northern cluster of shrines 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. The Shah-i Zindah (Persian for “living king”) complex is revered as a memorial and pilgrimage site for Kusam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. This view shows a worshipper in front of a wooden rihal (Qurʼan holder) in the largest structure of the ensemble, the memorial mosque, or khanaka, which dates from the first half of the 15th century. The rihal supports a large Qurʼan donated, according to the album caption, by Emir Nasrullah of Bukhara. The walls behind the rihal are partially covered by polychrome ceramic work with a geometric motif formed by intersecting lines that create six-pointed stars. The upper part of the middle wall displays remnants of an inscription. The door to the right leads to other chambers in this mausoleum complex.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Гробница святаго Куссама ибни Абасса (Шах-Зиндэ) и мавзолеи при ней. Мечеть (ханака) Шах-Зиндэ. Пюпитр с Кораном пожертвованным бухарским эмиром Насруллой

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 62.

Last updated: September 30, 2016