Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Tillia Kari. Inner Courtyard (Western Side). Prayer Niche (Mihrab) inside the Main Mosque


This photograph of the interior of the mosque located at the west wall of the Tillia Kari 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 third Registan component, the Tillia Kari Madrasah, was built in 1646-60 on the site of a former caravanserai. This interior view shows the qibla wall containing the mihrab, or niche indicating the qibla, the direction of Mecca toward which Muslims pray. The lower walls display carved stone elements (probably marble), including panels and a projecting ledge. The walls above the ledge are covered with elaborate polychrome ceramic ornamentation. The decorative system includes complex geometric figures as well as botanical motifs. The large arch culminates in a curved vault composed of suspended ceramic components in a manner known as mocárabe or “stalactite.” Partially visible on the far right are the steps leading to the minbar, or pulpit.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Тилля Кари. Внуренний двор (западная сторона). Ниша для моления (михраб) внутри главной мечети

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 105.

Last updated: September 30, 2016