Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Inscription inside the Niche to the Left of a Window


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 apparently located to the left of the main window in 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 bordered by geometric arrangements of floral motifs connected by tendrils. Beneath the inscription is another faience panel with an elaborate botanical pattern.

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медресэ Улуг-Бека. Надпись внутри ниши с левой стороны окна

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