Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Congregational Mosque (Friday Mosque). View of a Partially Damaged Cupola


This photograph of the dome 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 centered on the enormous 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. The view shows not only the partial collapse of its great dome (41 meters in height), but also the crude measures undertaken to stabilize the remnants, still bearing large cracks. Despite the losses, much of the original decoration remains, including patterned inscriptions in the Kufic style and “honey-comb” (mocárabe) detailing along the cornice.

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым. Соборная мечеть (мечети джами.) Вид полуразрушеннаго купола

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