Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Entrance to the Chartak


This south view of the upper passage chamber, or chartak, in 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, in 1867-82, of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devoted special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architecture, such as 14th- and 15th-century monuments from the reign of Tamerlane and his successors. Of particular note is Shah-i Zindah (Persian for “living king”), revered as a memorial to Kusam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. The Burunduk mausoleum, apparently built in the 1380s, commemorates one of Tamerlane’s leading military commanders. This chartak--a square chamber with a passageway through arches—was built around 1405 and is the third in the necropolis ensemble. The monumental arch creates a niche for the secondary arch of the passageway, and the vibrant ceramic ornamentation on the facade serves as a frame for the cluster of shrines adjacent to the Kusam-ibn-Abbas mausoleum. Above the arch point is an Arabic inscription in the block Kufic style. Visible through the chartak is the Khodzha Akhmad mausoleum. To the right is a small minaret, built perhaps as early as the 11th century.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Гробница святого Куссама ибни Абасса (Шах-Зиндэ) и мавзолеи при ней. Вход в Чаар-Таг

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 40.

Last updated: September 30, 2016