Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of the Emir Timur Kuragan (Gur-Emir). Column Capital and Section of Detail on the Northern Facade


This photograph of a detail on the north facade of the Gur-Emir mausoleum 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, including Gur-Emir (Persian for "tomb of the ruler"). Although known primarily as the burial place of Timur (Tamerlane), Gur-Emir was begun by Timur in 1403 to commemorate the death of his beloved grandson Muhammad Sultan at the age of 27. The shrine was still not complete at the time of Timur's own death from pneumonia in 1405. With his burial, Gur-Emir became in effect the mausoleum of the Timurids. Shown here is a segment of the north facade, decorated with polychrome ceramics. The lower part includes the top of an attached ceramic column supporting a segmented capital. Both column and capital display floral motifs. Despite significant damage to the surface of the brick wall, the vertical panel above the column epitomizes the delicacy of these intricate botanical patterns, symmetrically arranged and connected with a web of tendrils. These hexagonal arabesques suggest an organic, universal logic.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Мавзолей Эмира Тимура-Курагана (Гуремир). Капитель колоны и часть отделки на северном фасаде

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 118.

Last updated: September 30, 2016