Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Congregational Mosque. Inscription on the Anterior of the Marble Reading-Stand


This photograph of an anterior triangular side of the marble Qurʼan holder 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 mosque, one of the largest in the Islamic world. Inside the mosque was an enormous Qurʼan holder (rihal) donated by Timur’s grandson Ulugh Beg and consisting of two massive triangular marble blocks resting on a marble plinth. Shown here is the anterior triangular side of the right block, with carved decoration consisting of floral patterns and bands of cursive script. (Background detail was eliminated to highlight the carving.) In 1875, a few years after this photograph was taken, the lectern was moved into the courtyard in front of the mosque.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым соборная мечеть (мечети джами.) Надписи на передней части мраморного пюпитра (лау)

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 79.

Last updated: September 30, 2016