Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Congregational Mosque (Friday Mosque). Inscription on the Middle Section of the Niche


This photograph 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 mosque, named in homage to Timur’s senior wife, Sarai Mulk Khanym. The ensemble centers on the vast structure of the main, or Friday, 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 the main facade and the upper part of the portal situated within the great arch of the entrance iwan, whose sides frame the photograph. The facade displays an array of ceramic ornamentation, including complex geometric figures, decorative strips with floral motifs, and a horizontal inscription band in the Thuluth style. Above the damaged facade looms the monumental cylinder supporting the dome.

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым. Соборная мечеть (мечети джами.) Надпись на средней части ниши

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 76.

Last updated: September 30, 2016