Antiquities of Samarkand. Inner Courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah (Eastern Side). Inscription around the Right Side of the Main 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 madrasah consists of a rectangular courtyard enclosed by a two-story arcade with an iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) and a mosque on the eastern side. This photograph shows the left side of the iwan arch in the center of the east wall. The surfaces are covered with polychrome majolica tiles in elaborate geometric and botanical patterns, with particular prominence given to the six-pointed star. The horizontal panel contains an inscription in the Thuluth cursive style. Visible at left is the beginning of the arcade extending from the central arch.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Шир-дар. Внутренний двор (вост. сторона). Надпись поправую сторону главной ниши

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 97.

Last updated: September 30, 2016