Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. View of a Southern Classroom


This photograph of the south 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 designated the city’s main mosque and named in homage to Timur’s senior wife, Sarai Mulk Khanym (bibi meaning “lady” or “mother”). Intended to be one of the largest mosques in the Islamic world, the ensemble included not only the main mosque and entrance structure to the primary courtyard, but also two flanking mosques. Like the other structures in the ensemble, the south mosque suffered major damage over the centuries in this active seismic zone. Its dome had partially collapsed, and much of the ceramic wall decoration had fallen from the basic structure. Intended for use as a madrasah, the mosque at the time of this photograph was largely abandoned and converted for use as storage space by the bazaar that occupied the central courtyard.

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым. Вид южной классной

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 74.

Last updated: September 30, 2016