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


This photograph of 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, the madrasah was considered a leading center of Islamic education. Shown here is the back facade of the courtyard niche of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch. Much damage is visible, including the reconstruction of the central area with a loss of ceramic tiles and a reduction in size of the lattice window. Nonetheless, much of the delicate polychrome work has survived, including a horizontal inscription band in elongated Perso-Arabic script. Above the inscription is a row of faience elements with a symmetrical arrangement of botanical patterns. The lower part displays an array of decorative ceramic bands, inscriptions, and panels in the form of a pointed arch.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

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

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