Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Congregational Mosque. Column Base


This photograph of a ceramic column at the main mosque of the Bibi Khanym 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 campaign in India, the Bibi Khanym ensemble was the location of the city’s main, or Friday, mosque, named in homage to Timur’s senior wife, Sarai Mulk Khanym. The ensemble centers on the mosque, one of the largest in the Islamic world. Like other structures in the ensemble, the mosque suffered major damage (clearly visible here) in this active seismic zone. This view shows the bottom of the ceramic column attached at the left corner of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch that frames the main facade of the mosque. Resting on a marble base (recently excavated), the ceramic column displays intricate geometric patterns intertwined with cursive script. On the left, the iwan facade extends to the base of an octagonal minaret. On the right are remnants of the interior face of the iwan.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым соборная мечеть. База колоны

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 78.

Last updated: September 30, 2016