Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. General View of the Madrasah from the Southeast


This photograph of 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, the ensemble was designated the city’s main mosque. It is also 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 shown here includes the enormous ruined form of the domed main mosque (visible on left), a madrasah and mausoleum that also served as mosques (left and right center), and an entrance structure to the courtyard (right). All of these structures suffered major damage from seismic activity over the centuries, but the monumental scale and design are still evident. In the foreground are typical examples of local houses built of soft brick, with flat roofs supported by embedded log beams. Also visible are small courtyards.

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым. Общий вид медрессэ с юго-востока

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