Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Congregational Mosque. Section (Pillar) of a Column


This photograph of a ceramic detail 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 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 an attached column on the right side of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch that frames the peshtak (facade arch, partially visible on left) containing the entrance to the domed main structure. The column shaft is composed of a polychrome mosaic of intersecting geometric figures forming star patterns. The decorative strip to the right displays intricate eight-pointed stars alternating with square ceramic tiles.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым соборная мечеть. Часть (стержень) колоны

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