Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Detail of the Smaller Niches Within Them


This photograph of one of the lesser iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arches 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, which was considered a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows the upper part of an iwan arch, partly blocked, along one of the sides of the madrasah courtyard. The facade is decorated on the sides with vertical bands that display complex geometric patterns formed by raised monochrome tiles. These bands frame polychrome ceramic panels on the sides and around the pointed tip of the arch. The interior surface of the niche is embellished with tiles forming patterns in block script. At the top of the facade is another monumental inscription composed of ceramic tiles.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Улуг-Бек. Отделка малых ниш внутри их

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