Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Gate on the Main Entrance


This photograph of a gate 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 flanking mosques (a mausoleum and a madrasah), but also a grand structure that served as an entrance to the primary courtyard. This view of a gate within the entrance shows the effects of damage over the centuries in this active seismic zone. Yet much ornamentation survived, including fragments of Kufic script in tile patterns over the brick walls (visible at right). The pointed arch of the portal culminates in “stalactite” vaulting, and high above the arch is a decorative panel with Naskh script.

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Биби-Ханым. Ворота в главном входе

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 73.

Last updated: September 30, 2016