Small Mosque of Shah-i Zindah. Samarkand


The Hazrat Hyzr Mosque in Samarkand is located on a hillside near the ancient fortress settlement of Afrosiab. Legend states that the mosque was built following the Arab conquest of the city by Qutayba ibn Muslim in 712. Destroyed during the Mongol conquest in 1220, the mosque was rebuilt over the centuries. In 1854 the core structure (left center) was rebuilt on the presumed original foundation and enlarged in 1884. In 1899 the iwan (columned veranda) was expanded, and a darwazahana (vestibule) was added. Work on the mosque continued to 1919. Crumbling adobe walls surround the structure, and adobe tombs are visible at the crest of the hill. In the lower right is a pile of hay. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire. Prokudin-Gorskii was particularly interested in recently acquired territories of the Russian Empire such as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), which he visited on a number of occasions, including two trips in 1911. He gave special attention to the rich Islamic architecture of Samarkand.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Малая мечеть Шах-Зинде. Самарканд

Type of Item

Physical Description

Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)


  • Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at

Last updated: September 30, 2016