Antiquities of Samarkand. Ishrat-Khan, Ruins of the Summer Palace of Tamerlane. Lateral Facade (Southern)


This photograph of the Ishrat-khan shrine 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 architectural heritage. The caption for this photograph states that Ishrat-khan (“house of joy”) was the summer palace of Timur (Tamerlane), and there have been recent claims that such was indeed the structure’s purpose. Generally accepted research, however, proposes that it was built in 1464 (perhaps at the command of Habib Sultan Begum, a wife of Abu Said) as a mausoleum for the women and children of the Timurid dynasty. Its design adheres to a cruciform plan prevalent in mausoleums during this period. Although the interior was capped with a low dome, the exterior dome was elevated on an unusually high drum decorated with geometric patterns formed by a relief of shaped brick. The brick forms were filled with polychrome faience mosaics. The main facade and its iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch also displayed elaborate ceramic work, and the dome was surfaced with azure tiles. Despite severe damage from earthquakes and neglect, Ishrat-khan retained its extraordinary monumentality.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Ишрат Ханэ. Развалины летняго дворца Тамерлана. Боковой фасад (южный)

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 136.

Last updated: September 30, 2016