Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of the Emir Timur Kuragan (Gur-Emir). Inscription over the Door in the Corridor


This photograph of an arch niche at 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. When Timur was buried there in 1405, Gur-Emir became the mausoleum of the Timurids. Shown here is the upper part of a portal arch (peshtak) niche, apparently on left side of the north facade. Fragments of ceramic ornamentation are dimly visible on either side of the portal, above which is a ceramic band containing a sacred text in elongated cursive Arabo-Persian script bordered with decorative figures. Above the inscription is a faience pattern of intersecting geometric forms including pentagons, triangles, and six-pointed stars. This interconnected complexity can be interpreted as a reflection of cosmic order. The brick vaulting of the arch was originally surfaced with ceramic work.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Мавзолей Эмира Тимура-Курагана (Гуремир). Надпись над дверью в коридоре

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 120.

Last updated: September 30, 2016