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.

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