Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of the Emir Timur Kuragan (Gur-Emir). Inscriptions around the Frieze of the Entire Front


This photograph 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. When Timur himself was buried there in 1405, Gur-Emir became the mausoleum of the Timurids. Shown here is the northwest corner of the structure, with one surviving minaret of the original four. The minaret is embellished with spiral Kufic inscription bands containing words from the Islamic declaration of faith. Despite massive damage to the wall surface, the bays with pointed arches still display polychrome ceramic ornamentation consisting of geometric and floral motifs in symmetrical arrangement. Above the arches are fragments of a monumental Perso-Arabic ceramic inscription band extending for much of the length of the main facade. At the top is a makeshift parapet of narrow brick.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Мавзолей Эмира Тимура Курагана (Гуремир). Надписи идущия по фризу всего фасада

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 119.

Last updated: September 30, 2016