Antiquities of Samarkand. Inner Courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah (Western Side). Inscription on the Left 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 form of this madrasah is typical for Central Asia, with a rectangular courtyard enclosed by a two-story arcade containing rooms for scholars. Visible here is the left side of the main arch niche of the west wall, with surfaces covered in polychrome majolica tiles. The main surface has large intersecting geometric figures that contain block Kufic script from the Kalima, the Islamic statement of faith. In the middle of this view is a horizontal cursive inscription. The surface is framed by vertical strips with floral patterns.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Шир дар. Внутренний двор (зап. сторона). Надпись на левой щеке главной ниши

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 92.

Last updated: September 30, 2016