Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Inscription in the Main Niche in Its Upper Part. Right Side


This photograph of ceramic panels at the Ulugh Beg 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 oldest madrasah on Registan Square is named after the astronomer-king and grandson of Timur, Ulugh Beg (1393?-1449), who built it in 1417-20. During Ulugh Beg’s reign, some 100 students attended the madrasah, considered a leading center of Islamic education. The ceramic panels shown here are from the upper left of the courtyard niche of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch. The delicate polychrome work includes an inscription panel in elongated Perso-Arabic script with intertwined floral motifs. Beneath the inscription is another faience panel with botanical figures in a geometric arrangement. Both panels are bordered with strips of geometric and floral patterns. Visible at the very top of the photograph are ceramic elements that compose the base of the niche vault. The dominant color is dark blue.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Улуг-Бека. Надпись в главной нише в верхней ея части. Начало

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 114.

Last updated: September 30, 2016