Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Tillia Kari. Inner Courtyard (Northern Side). View of One-Storied Cells Surrounding the Courtyard


This photograph of the north wall of the courtyard of the Tillia Kari 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 third Registan component, the Tillia Kari Madrasah, was built in 1646-60 on the site of a former caravanserai. This view shows a one-story arcaded structure that contains rooms for scholars and that is situated to the left of the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch at the center of the courtyard’s north wall. Despite substantial losses, the facade and the arch niches display remnants of the original polychrome ceramic ornamentation that includes complex geometric figures as well as botanical motifs. The niche facades also contain inscription bands. Each arch niche has a lattice window above the door for improved ventilation, and the arcade itself protects the chambers against the sun. The niches culminate in curved vaults composed of ceramic components in a manner known as mocárabe or “stalactite.”

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Тилля-Кари. Внутренний двор (сев. сторона.) Вид одноэтажных келий окружающих двор

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 106.

Last updated: September 30, 2016