Antiquities of Samarkand. Shir Dar Madrasah. Inscriptions along the Walls and above the Foundation


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 earliest Registan madrasah was built in 1417-20, by the scholar-king Ulugh Beg, grandson of Timur. 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 decorated monuments in Central Asia. This view shows carved white marble blocks on the lower part of the right (south) wall of the arched niche that frames the 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 carved cursive inscription rests on receding rows of a “stalactite” form of dentilation. Above the inscription are traces of ceramic ornamentation in a botanical pattern.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Шир-Дар. Надписи постенкам и над цокулем

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 89.

Last updated: September 30, 2016