Antiquities of Samarkand. Inner Courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah (Northern Side). Inscription to the Left of the Niche


This photograph of the interior courtyard 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 Astrakhanid dynasty. Despite significant damage over the centuries, it remains one of the most lavishly ornamented monuments in Central Asia. The form of this madrasah is typical for the region, with a rectangular courtyard enclosed by a two-story arcade containing rooms for scholars. Visible here is the niche of the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) in the center of the north wall, together with one bay of the arcade (on the left). The surfaces were originally covered with polychrome majolica tiles in geometric and botanical patterns. The iwan is framed with decorative strips of geometric motifs as well as a broader inscription band in the Thuluth cursive style.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Шир-дар. Внутренний двор (северная сторона). Надпись на левой стороне ниши

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 95.

Last updated: September 30, 2016