December 3, 2012

Antiquities of Samarkand. Inner Courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah (Western Side). Inscription inside the Main Niche

This photograph of the interior courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah in 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. In the center of Samarkand is the Registan ensemble, composed of three major examples of a madrasah (religious school). The second madrasah in the ensemble, the Shir Dar, was built in 1619-36, during the Astrakhanid dynasty. Despite significant damage over the centuries, it remains one of the most lavishly ornamented monuments in Central Asia. The form of this madrasah is typical for the region, with a rectangular courtyard enclosed by a two-story arcade. Visible here is the main arch niche of the west wall, which centers on a large window with a hexagonal lattice pattern (partially blocked). On either side of the window are elaborate polychrome panels that include faience mosaic work. The panel designs consist of botanical motifs in geometric arrangements. Also visible are horizontal ceramic inscriptions in the Thuluth cursive style.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Inner Courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah (Western Side). Inscription along the Left Side of the Main Niche

This photograph of the interior courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah in 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. In the center of Samarkand is the Registan ensemble, composed of three major examples of a madrasah (religious school). The second madrasah in the ensemble, the Shir Dar, was built in 1619-36, during the Astrakhanid dynasty. Despite significant damage over the centuries, it remains one of the most lavishly ornamented monuments in Central Asia. The form of this madrasah is typical for Central Asia, with a rectangular courtyard enclosed by a two-story arcade containing rooms for scholars. Visible here is the first bay on the left (south) side of the west wall, with surfaces covered in polychrome majolica tiles. On the right are vertical ceramic strips that form the south corner of the main entrance arch. To the left of these strips is a vertical band of script in the Thuluth cursive style. Also visible are geometric and floral patterns.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Inner Courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah (Western Side). Inscription along the Right Side of the Main Niche

This photograph of the interior courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah in 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. In the center of Samarkand is the Registan ensemble, composed of three major examples of a madrasah (religious school). The second madrasah in the ensemble, the Shir Dar, was built in 1619-36, during the Astrakhanid dynasty. Despite significant damage over the centuries, it remains one of the most lavishly ornamented monuments in Central Asia. The form of this madrasah is typical for Central Asia, with a rectangular courtyard enclosed by a two-story arcade containing rooms for scholars. Visible here is the first bay on the right (north) side of the west wall, with surfaces covered in polychrome majolica tiles. On the left are vertical ceramic strips that form the north corner of the main entrance arch. To the right of these strips is a vertical band of script in the Thuluth cursive style. Also visible are geometric and floral patterns.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Inner Courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah (Western Side). Ornamentation Carved into the Marble Slab

This photograph of the interior courtyard at the Shir Dar Madrasah in 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. In the center of Samarkand is the Registan ensemble, composed of three major examples of a madrasah (religious school). The second madrasah in the ensemble, the Shir Dar, was built in 1619-36, during the Astrakhanid dynasty. Despite losses over the centuries, it remains one of the most lavishly ornamented monuments in Central Asia. This view shows a carved marble panel set within the main arch niche of the west wall. With remarkable detail, the panel represents the niche with its curved vault composed in a manner known as mocárabe--also referred to as a “stalactite” vault because of the appearance of the suspended decorative elements. The actual niche, located not far from the panel, was surfaced in polychrome ceramic tiles. The panel also displays elaborate floral and geometric patterns characteristic of ceramic decoration.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Congregational Mosque (Friday Mosque). Inscription on the Left Side of the Marble Reading-Stand (Lau)

This photograph of a part of the marble Qurʼan holder at the main mosque of the Bibi Khanym ensemble in 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. Built in 1399-1405 with the spoils of Timur’s campaign in India, the Bibi Khanym ensemble was the location of the city’s main, or Friday, mosque, named in homage to Timur’s senior wife, Sarai Mulk Khanym. The ensemble centers on the mosque, one of the largest in the Islamic world. Inside the mosque was an enormous Qurʼan holder (rihal) donated by Timur’s grandson Ulugh Beg and consisting of two massive triangular marble blocks resting on a marble plinth. Shown here is the left half of the rectangular side of the right block, with carved decoration consisting of scrolls and a pointed foliate pattern of remarkable complexity. The surface is framed by a band of cursive script. In 1875, a few years after this photograph was taken, the lectern was moved into the courtyard in front of the mosque.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Bibi Khanym. Congregational Mosque (Friday Mosque). Inscription on the Left Side of the Marble Reading-Stand (Lau)

This photograph of a part of the marble Qurʼan holder at the main mosque of the Bibi Khanym ensemble in 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. Built in 1399-1405 with the spoils of Timur’s campaign in India, the Bibi Khanym ensemble was the location of the city’s main, or Friday, mosque, named in homage to Timur’s senior wife, Sarai Mulk Khanym. The ensemble centers on the mosque, one of the largest in the Islamic world. Inside the mosque was an enormous Qurʼan holder (rihal) donated by Timur’s grandson Ulugh Beg and consisting of two massive triangular marble blocks resting on a marble plinth. Shown here is the right half of the rectangular side of the right block, with carved decoration consisting of scrolls and a pointed foliate pattern of remarkable complexity. The surface is framed by a band of cursive script. In 1875, a few years after this photograph was taken, the lectern was moved into the courtyard in front of the mosque.