Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Marble Column


This photograph of a portion of the courtyard arcade 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 Ulugh Beg’s reign, some 100 students attended the madrasah, considered a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows one of the rooms, or cells (khujras), for scholars on the ground-floor of the courtyard arcade. The facade displays polychrome faience decoration with geometric and floral figures, while the pointed arch springs from a ceramic column with a marble base. The flanks of the niche are covered in a hatchwork of rectangular tiles creating block Kufic inscriptions from the Kalima, the basis of the Shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith. The niche wall is also covered with ceramic tiles in a geometric pattern.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Улуг-Бек. Мраморная колона

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 113.

Last updated: September 30, 2016