Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of Shirin Bika. Section of Inscription of the Left Side of the Facade


This photograph of the facade of the Shirin Bika Aka Mausoleum at the Shah-i Zindah necropolis in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) 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. Of particular note is the Shah-i Zindah (Persian for “living king”) ensemble, revered as a memorial to Kusam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. The Shirin Bika Aka Mausoleum was built in 1385-86 for Timur’s younger sister and shows Persian influence. Despite significant damage, the facade has preserved profuse ceramic ornamentation, including early examples of composite mosaics in colors ranging from orange and red to deep blue. This fragment is located to the left of the entrance arch and displays two inscriptional bands in cursive Thuluth letters intertwined with floral motifs. Some of the inscriptions have been attributed to Socrates, including: “In truth the people of this world are like birds rejoicing.” Between the inscriptions is a strip with delicate floral motifs.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Гробница святаго Куссама ибни Абасса (Шах-Зиндэ) и мавзолеи при нем. Мавзолей Ширин-Бека. Часть надписи с левой стороны фасада

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 65.

Last updated: September 30, 2016