Antiquities of Samarkand. Shir Dar Madrasah. Inscriptions in the Main Niche of the Facade


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. This view shows the rich ceramic ornamentation on the wall within the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open). At the bottom is the pointed arch over the main portal, above which is a horizontal inscription band in the Thuluth cursive style. The spaces on either side are decorated with intricate geometric and botanical figures. Visible on the right is a pointed niche with a window on the second story. Like the rest of the facade, this niche is surfaced with elaborate ceramic work. Above the arches is another horizontal band of cursive script, framed by ornamental bands. The view culminates with a surface composed of large intersecting geometric patterns.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Шир-Дар. Надписи в главной ниши фасада

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