Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of Emir Timur Kuragan. View of the Northern Facade of the Mausoleum


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, who had built a madrasah (religious school) and khanaka (memorial complex) on the site in the late 14th century. With Timur’s own burial there in 1405, Gur-Emir became in effect the mausoleum of the Timurids. This view of the mausoleum’s north facade shows the effects of major damage over the centuries, including the collapse of the upper part of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch. Nonetheless, much remains of the rich polychrome ceramic ornamentation, including portions of tile cladding on the ribs of the main dome. Particularly impressive are the sides of the arch and its niche facade, surfaced with an array of faience panels containing intricate botanical and geometric figures. Above the pointed portal arch are inscriptions in elongated Perso-Arabic script.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Мавзолей Эмира Тимура Курагана. Вид севернаго фасада мавзолея

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 116.

Last updated: September 30, 2016