Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Congregational Mosque. One of the Inscriptions on the Main Niche


This photograph of a minaret 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 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 bottom segment of the minaret on the left side of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch that frames the main facade of the mosque. The shaft of the minaret is composed of rectangular panels framed by bands of masonry decorated with ceramic tiles. Each elongated panel culminates in a pointed arch and contains a polychrome mosaic of intersecting geometric figures forming star patterns, many of which have evidently been pilfered.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым соборная мечеть. Одна из надписей на главной нише

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