Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Section of Column on the Exterior of the Facade of Kutuluk Turdi Bek Aka's Mausoleum


This watercolor of a facade ornament from the Shadi Mulk mausoleum at the Shah-i Zindah necropolis in Samarkand 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, in 1867-82, of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The primary compilers for the visual material were Aleksandr L. Kun, an Orientalist attached to the army, and Nikolai V. Bogaevskii, a military engineer. They devoted special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architecture, such as 14th- and 15th-century monuments from the reign of Tamerlane and his successors. Built on the site of an ancient settlement known as Afrosiab, Shah-i Zindah (Persian for “living king”) is revered as a memorial to Kusam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. The mausoleum of Shadi Mulk Aka was built in 1372 for the burial of Uldjai Shadi-Mulk, the daughter of Tamerlane's elder sister, Kutlug-Turkan-Aka. This sketch shows a fragment of one of the carved, glazed terra-cotta columns that frame the arch niche of the main facade. Such sketches provided color information unavailable in the photography of that period. Nonetheless, the sketch does not fully convey the intricacy of the interwoven tendril motif in the original design.

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Гробница святого Куссама ибни Абасса (Шах-Зиндэ) и мавзолеи при ней. Часть колоны на наружном фасаде мавзолея Кутулука Турди Бек-Аки

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 drawing : watercolor


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 26.

Last updated: September 30, 2016