Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Congregational Mosque (Friday Mosque). View of the Main Facade


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 (bibi meaning “lady” or “mother”). 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 main mosque suffered major damage in this active seismic zone. This view of the main facade shows the arch of the monumental entrance iwan, as well as remnants of the flanking minarets. Beyond the iwan is the portal arch, or peshtak, above which rises the drum supporting the great dome. Despite the losses, much original decoration remains, including geometric designs in glazed tiles, floral mosaic patterns, and ornamental inscriptions in the Kufic style.

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым. Соборная мечеть (мечети джами.) Вид главнаго фасада

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 75.

Last updated: September 30, 2016