Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of the Aine Khane (Emir Mussa). Detail of Corner above a Window on the Northern Facade


This watercolor of a facade ornament from the Tuman-Aka 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 album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architecture, such as 14th- and 15th-century monuments from the reign of Tamerlane and his successors. Shah-i Zindah (Persian for “living king”) was built on the site of an ancient settlement known as Afrosiab and is revered as a memorial to Kusam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. The Tuman-Aka mausoleum (together with a small attached mosque) was built in 1405 to commemorate the youngest wife of Tamerlane. It is located to the left of the chartak in the northern cluster of shrines. The ensemble is distinguished by vibrant ceramic ornamentation with floral, geometric, and inscriptional patterns in colors that range from deep blue to yellow, green, and turquoise. The exquisite ornament shown here is located above a window on the mausoleum’s north facade and consists of a cartouche surrounded by floral tendrils. Such watercolor sketches convey color information unavailable in the photography of that period.

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Гробница святого Куссама ибни Абасса (Шах-Зиндэ) и мавзолеи при ней. Мавзолей Айнэ-Ханэ (Эмира Мусси). Отделка углового пространства над окном в северном фасаде

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 drawing : watercolor


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 46.

Last updated: September 30, 2016