Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Tillia Kari. Inner Courtyard (Northern Side). View of the Large Middle Niche


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 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 upper part of the facade displays remnants of the original polychrome ceramic ornamentation. The decorative system includes complex geometric figures as well as botanical motifs. The large arch culminates in a curved vault composed of suspended ceramic components in a manner known as mocárabe or “stalactite.” The arch is flanked by vertical inscription bands, while the top of the facade is marked by a horizontal inscription in an elaborate cursive style. On either side of the arch structure is a one-story arcade containing rooms for scholars.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Тилля-Кари. Внутренний двор (сев. сторона.) Вид середней (большой) ниши

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