Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Minaret on the Northwest Corner


This photograph of the northwest minaret at the Bibi Khanym Mosque ensemble 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 architecture, such as 14th- and 15th-century monuments from the reign of Timur (Tamerlane) and his successors. Built in 1399-1405 with the spoils of Timur’s victorious campaign in India (fall of 1398 to January 1399), the ensemble was designated the city’s main mosque. It is also traditionally named in homage to Timur’s senior wife, Sarai Mulk Khanym (bibi meaning “lady” or “mother”). Intended to be one of the largest mosques in the Islamic world, the ensemble contained a madrasah, a mausoleum, and an entrance structure to the courtyard, all of which suffered major damage from seismic activity over the centuries. The complex also included four minarets (only one of which survived at the time of the Russian conquest). The northwest minaret shown here is missing its uppermost structure, but its monumental design is still evident, with a decoration of tiles forming block Kufic letters that signify words such as “Allah.”

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым. Минарет на северозападном угле

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 71.

Last updated: September 30, 2016