Antiquities of Samarkand. Shir Dar Madrasah. View of the Madrasah from the East


This photograph of the Shir Dar Madrasah 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. In the center of Samarkand is the Registan ensemble, composed of three major examples of a madrasah (religious school). The second madrasah in the ensemble, the Shir Dar, was built in 1619-36, during the Bukhara Astrakhanid dynasty. This view from the east shows the east wall of the quadrangle, with a mosque in the center marked by a lattice window. Although the structure was relatively well preserved in this active seismic zone, the east wall’s layer of ceramic tiles shows substantial losses. The wall decoration consists of intersecting geometric figures with block Kufic inscriptions such as “Muhammad the Prophet of Allah.” In the background is the back of the massive structure of the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open), flanked on either side by ribbed domes (over instruction halls), and minarets. In the foreground are brick houses with flat roofs supported by log beams.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Шир-дар. Вид медресэ с восточной стороны

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 88.

Last updated: September 30, 2016