Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Abdu-Berun. Prayer Niche (mihrab) on a Panel of the Main Arch of the Facade


This photograph of the mausoleum at the Khodzha Abdu-Berun memorial complex 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. The Khodzha Abdu-Berun memorial complex (khanaka) was dedicated to a revered 9th-century Arab judge of the Abdi clan, with the word berun (outer) added to signify its location adjacent to a cemetery on the outskirts of Samarkand, and to distinguish it from another complex commemorating the sage that was located within the city. The khanaka mosque was built in the first half of the 17th century by Nadir Divan-Begi, vizier to the Bukharan ruler Imam-Quli Khan. Shown here is the qibla wall with the mihrab, a prayer niche indicating the qibla, the direction of Mecca. The mihrab niche is surfaced with ceramic tiles. Above the ceramic decoration around its pointed arch is a sacred inscription in cursive script. The mihrab is framed by an inscription band in block Kufic letters. At the top is another inscription in elongated cursive (Thuluth) Perso-Arabic script.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Мечеть Ходжа Абду-Бирун. Ниша для моления (михраб) в щеке главной арки фасада

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 149.

Last updated: September 30, 2016