Antiquities of Samarkand. Shir Dar Madrasah. Main Facade (Western). Corner to a Column Based at the Central Facade (Maloi) of the Niche


This photograph of the Shir Dar 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 second madrasah in the ensemble, the Shir Dar, was built in 1619-36, during the Astrakhanid dynasty. Despite significant damage over the centuries, it remains one of the most lavishly ornamented monuments in Central Asia. This view shows the southwest corner of the arched niche that frames the main entrance. It is known as the "small niche" because of its location within the center of the much larger iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open). The corner is marked by an intricately decorated ceramic column, on the right side of which is an arched panel in a geometric pattern and a flanking entrance niche, also covered with ceramic work. To the left is the south wall of the central niche, whose surface of majolica tiles rises from white marble blocks with a carved inscription.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Шир-дар. Главный фасад. (западный). Угол с колоной образуемой на фасаде средней (малой) нишею

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 90.

Last updated: September 30, 2016