Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Main Facade (Eastern). Middle of the Inscription


This photograph of a detail of the east facade 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 extant madrasah on Registan Square is named after the scholar-king and grandson of Timur, Ulugh Beg (1393?-1449), who built it in 1417-20. The madrasah was long considered a leading center of Islamic education. Shown here is the pointed stone arch above a portal within the niche of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch that contained the entrance to the madrasah courtyard. Despite severe damage to the facade, this fragment displays polychrome ceramic ornamentation, including complex geometric figures (on either side of the arch), as well as floral and tendril motifs. Above the arch is an intricate horizontal ceramic inscription in Perso-Arabic cursive script. Such detailed photographs suggest a dedication to the careful study of Islamic monuments.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Улуг-Бек. Главный фасад (восточный). Середина надписи

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 109.

Last updated: September 30, 2016