Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Congregational Mosque


This photograph of a ceramic panel on the facade of the main mosque at 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 center of the ensemble is the vast structure of the mosque, one of the largest in the Islamic world. As with all structures in the ensemble, the mosque suffered major damage in this active seismic zone. This view shows a ceramic panel on the upper right of the facade, situated within the great arch of the entrance iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open). Displayed here is an array of ceramic ornamentation, including complex geometric figures integrated with block Kufic script, as well as vertical decorative strips with geometric and floral patterns. Visible on the left is the peshtak (facade arch) over the portal to the domed interior.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым соборная мечеть. Часть минарета

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 77.

Last updated: September 30, 2016