Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Inner Courtyard (Northern Side). Inscription along the Right Side of the Main Portal Niche


This photograph from 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 right (east) side of the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch at the center of the north wall of the madrasah courtyard. Despite damage to the surface, the intricate polychrome work is still visible, displaying both geometric and botanical patterns. The complex ceramic column (left) at the corner of the arch niche has floral motifs set within intersecting strapwork. On the main wall to the right of the column is a vertical inscription band with stylized, elongated script. Farther to the right are ornamental strips framing ceramic panels over an arcade that contained rooms for scholars.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Улуг-Бек. Внутрен. двор. (северная сторона). Надпись по правую сторону 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