Kush-Medrese. Outer Entrance. Bukhara


A distinctive feature of the Islamic architecture of Bukhara (in present-day Uzbekistan) is the kosh madrasah, consisting of two religious schools facing each other. Shown here is the Madori-khan Madrasah, built in 1566–67 to honor the mother of Abdulla-khan II (1534–98), the last effective ruler of the Sheibanid dynasty. Despite significant losses, the facade and iwan (main arch) show an elaborate array of ceramic work, including intricate geometric and floral patterns with intertwining tendrils. On the sides and top are remnants of large Perso-Arabic inscription bands in the Thuluth cursive style. The facade is flanked by columns with geometric tile patterns composed of Kufic letters that form words from the Kalima, the basis of the Shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith. 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. In 1911 his travels took him to an area of Central Asia then known as Turkestan, where he photographed the ancient monuments of Bukhara.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Куш-медрессе. Наружный вход. Бухара

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 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: September 30, 2016