Antiquities of Samarkand. Tomb of the Saint Kusam-ibn-Abbas (Shah-i Zindah) and Adjacent Mausoleums. Mausoleum of Sha Arap. Section of Column (Pillar)
This sketch of a facade fragment of an unidentified mausoleum in the northern cluster of shrines at the Shah-i Zindah necropolis (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. Of particular note is Shah-i Zindah (Persian for “living king”), built on the elevated site of an ancient settlement known as Afrosiab and revered as a memorial to Kusam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. Although the patron of this mausoleum has not been conclusively identified, its date of construction is known to be 1360-61. The mausoleum facade is distinguished by its vibrant ceramic ornamentation. The facade arch, or peshtak, is flanked by glazed terra-cotta columns carved in geometric patterns. This sketch shows a column shaft with hexagonal “cells” containing a symmetrical foliate pattern of six components and a six-pointed star in the center. Although simplified, these watercolors conveyed color information unavailable in the photography of that period.
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Title in Original Language
Самаркандския древности. Гробница святаго Куссама ибни Абасса (Шах-Зиндэ) и мавзолеи при ней. Мавзолей Ша-Арап. Часть колоны (стержень)
Type of Item
1 drawing : watercolor
- Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 54.
Last updated: September 30, 2016