Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Akhrar. Prayer Niche (mihrab) in the Mosque


This photograph of the Khodzha Akhrar 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. Dedicated to the memory of the renowned 15th-century mystic Khodzha Akhrar (1403-89), the shrine contained several structures, including a winter and a summer mosque, as well as a minaret and cemetery. Seen here is the mihrab niche (showing the direction to Mecca) in the summer mosque, so called because its pavilion has one side open to the courtyard. The mihrab is set within a lavish display of polychrome ceramic work including faience mosaics. The primary color is dark blue, with details in yellow, orange, and white. This sacred space is defined by a network of ceramic inscription bands in an elongated cursive Perso-Arabic script (Thuluth). The pointed arch is framed by an outer inscription that extends to the top of the wall. The pointed arch leads to a faience panel with floral motifs, above which is an inscription square that, in turn, contains a smaller square with a sacred text in Arabic. The panels are bordered with patterned strips.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Мечеть Ходжи-Ахрара. Ниша для моленья (михроб) в мечети

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 139.

Last updated: September 30, 2016