Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of Emir Kutuluk Turdi Bek Aka. Tiles from Different Sections of the Mausoleum


This watercolor of ceramic facade details at 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. 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. Its facade displays an array of vibrant ceramic work, including majolica tiles and rosettes, carved terra-cotta columns, and patterned Arabic script in the cursive Thuluth style. The polychrome fragment shown here reveals a pattern of curvilinear floral details and geometric elements. 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 Эмира Кутулука-Турди-Бек-Ака. Изразцы с разных частей мавзолея

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 drawing : watercolor


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 30.

Last updated: September 30, 2016