January 29, 2013

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Inscription in the Main Niche in Its Upper Part. End

This photograph of ceramic panels at the Ulugh Beg 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 oldest madrasah on Registan Square is named after the astronomer-king and grandson of Timur, Ulugh Beg (1393?-1449), who built it in 1417-20. During Ulugh Beg’s reign, some 100 students attended the madrasah, considered a leading center of Islamic education. The ceramic panels shown here are from the upper part of the courtyard niche of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch. The delicate polychrome work includes an inscription panel in elongated Perso-Arabic script with intertwined floral motifs. Beneath the inscription is another faience panel with geometric figures set within a tendril pattern. Both panels are bordered with strips of geometric and floral patterns. Visible at the very top of the photograph are ceramic elements that compose the base of the niche vault. The dominant color is dark blue.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Inscription in the Main Niche in Its Upper Part. Right Side

This photograph of ceramic panels at the Ulugh Beg 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 oldest madrasah on Registan Square is named after the astronomer-king and grandson of Timur, Ulugh Beg (1393?-1449), who built it in 1417-20. During Ulugh Beg’s reign, some 100 students attended the madrasah, considered a leading center of Islamic education. The ceramic panels shown here are from the upper left of the courtyard niche of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch. The delicate polychrome work includes an inscription panel in elongated Perso-Arabic script with intertwined floral motifs. Beneath the inscription is another faience panel with botanical figures in a geometric arrangement. Both panels are bordered with strips of geometric and floral patterns. Visible at the very top of the photograph are ceramic elements that compose the base of the niche vault. The dominant color is dark blue.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Shaybani Khan and Ruins of the Tomb of the Kuchkunji Khans. View of the Inner Courtyard and Crypt of Shaybani Khan

This photograph of the Madrasah of Shaybani Khan 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 architectural heritage. Muhammad Shaybani, subsequently known as Shaybani Khan (1451-1510), was the founder of the short-lived Shaybanid Uzbek dynasty. In 1500, and again in 1505, he captured Samarkand from the Timurid ruler Babur. Shaybani Khan was killed in 1510 at the battle of Merv with the Persian Shah Ismail I. His headless body was returned to Samarkand for burial. The madrasah (religious school) founded in his honor included a courtyard enclosed on three sides by a one-story cloister of cells (khujras) for scholars. A segment of the roof vaulting of these khujras is visible in the lower right of this view. In the center is a raised plot with stone sarcophagi in some disarray. On the left is the courtyard facade of an entrance structure with its own arcade. Nearby is the ruined mausoleum of Kuchkunji Khan, successor to Shaybani Khan. In the background is a warren of courtyards and houses of sun-dried (adobe) brick whose flat roofs are supported by wooden beams.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Inner Courtyard of the Shir Dar Madrasah (Eastern Side). View of Two-Storied Cells Surrounding the Inner Courtyard

This photograph of the eastern side 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. Shown here is the courtyard view of a two-storied structure with arches flanked by polychrome ceramic strips with intricate decorative figures. Beyond these arches were rooms designated for scholars.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Tillia Kari. Main Facade (Southern). Detail of Corners in Window Niches

This photograph of a detail of the main entrance to the Tillia Kari 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 third Registan component, the Tillia Kari Madrasah, was built in 1646-60, on the site of a former caravanserai. The entrance to the rectangular courtyard is framed by a great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open). This view shows a detail from the arcade in the upper part of the polygonal iwan niche. The triangular corner is on the left side of a pointed arch that forms one of the arcade niches. The mosaic of polychrome majolica work contains not only floral, tendril, and geometric patterns, but also displays cursive Arabic script within an eight-lobed figure. The mosaic is framed by ceramic tiles that outline the structure. Such detailed photographs indicate the serious documentary purpose and technical mastery of the album’s photographers.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Tillia Kari. Main Facade (Southern). Middle. Inscription along the Inside of the Main Niche and Its Upper Part

This photograph of the main entrance to the Tillia Kari 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 third Registan component, the Tillia Kari Madrasah, was built in 1646-60, on the site of a former caravanserai. The entrance to the rectangular courtyard is framed by a great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open), flanked by a two-story arcade with rooms for scholars. This view shows the upper part of the iwan niche, including a portion of the arcade set within the polygonal niche. The pointed arches frame doors and lattice pattern windows. This complex surface is covered with polychrome majolica tiles that form intricate geometric and botanical patterns. The arcade culminates in a horizontal inscription band in a cursive style. Despite the relatively good preservation of the ceramic work, the vaults above are devoid of decoration.