Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Inner Courtyard (Northern Side). Column Base at the Main Portal Niche


This photograph of a detail on the north side of the inner courtyard at 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 madrasah on Registan Square is named after the astronomer-king and grandson of Timur, Ulugh Beg (1393?-1449), who built it in 1417-20. During his reign, the madrasah became a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows the base of a column framing the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch at the center of the north wall of the madrasah courtyard. The complex, segmented base at the corner of the arch is of carved marble incised with simple geometric and foliate motifs. Above the base is the bottom of a polychrome ceramic column shaft containing intricate geometric and botanical patterns. Some of the leaf-like ornamental segments of the column have been lost. The photograph shows limited attempts to repair the lower brick walls, which lack most of their original decorative surface.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Улуг-Бек. Внутрен. двор. (северная сторона). База колоны у главной ниши

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 112.

Last updated: September 30, 2016