January 29, 2013

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Tillia Kari. Inner Courtyard (Western Side). Entrance to the Congregational Mosque (Friday Mosque)

This photograph of the mosque at 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. This view shows the facade and entrance iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) of the mosque, located in the west wall. Despite substantial damage, the facade has rich ceramic decoration, including attached columns on the side and interior corners, as well as panels of majolica tiles in intricate geometric and botanical patterns. The facade also displays ornamental patterns composed of Kufic letters that form words from the Kalima, which is the basis of the Shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith. Above the portal is an inscription band in cursive script. Partially visible at the top of this view is the cylinder supporting the dome.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Main Facade (Eastern). Section of Inscriptions on the Wall of the Minaret

This photograph of a minaret on the east facade of 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, mathematicians and astronomers were among the scholars at the madrasah, which was long considered a leading center of Islamic education. The minaret and wall fragment shown here extend from the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch to the medrese courtyard. Despite severe damage to the facade, this view displays ceramic ornamentation, with geometric patterns formed by interlocking lines. Within the geometric figures are Kufic letters that form words from the Kalima, which is the basis of the Shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith. The angled placement of the tiles creates a textured surface that emphasizes these monumental forms.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Main Facade (Eastern). Inscription in the Panel of the Entry Niche

This photograph of a detail of the east facade of 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, mathematicians and astronomers were among the scholars at the madrasah, which was long considered a leading center of Islamic education. The wall fragment shown here is adjacent to the portal within the niche of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch that contained the entrance to the madrasah courtyard. Despite severe damage to the facade, this fragment displays polychrome ceramic ornamentation composed of geometric forms juxtaposed at complex angles. Within the geometric figures are Kufic letters that form words from the Kalima, which is the basis of the Shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Main Facade (Eastern). Inscription above the Entry to the Inner Courtyard

This photograph of a detail of the east facade of 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 extant madrasah on Registan Square is named after the scholar-king and grandson of Timur, Ulugh Beg (1393?-1449), who built it in 1417-20. It was long considered a leading center of Islamic education. Shown here is a ceramic detail from the wall within the niche of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch containing the entrance to the madrasah. Despite damage to the facade, this fragment, located above one of the main portals, displays rich polychrome ceramic ornamentation, including faience work. Such ornaments were often composed of complex geometric figures such as this extraordinarily intricate 12-pointed star within a star, which appears to include script at the edge of the circle contained by the outer star. The surrounding surface reveals traces of floral and tendril motifs.

Ancient Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. View of the Middle (Large) Niche and Sections of the Preserved Two-Storied Cells

This photograph of the inner courtyard facade of 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. This view shows the courtyard side of the great iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) entrance arch, wracked by severe structural damage due in part to earthquakes. Above the central portal (bricked up) is a faience panel with a remarkably complex star pattern -- perhaps a reflection of Ulugh Beg’s fascination with astronomy. The walls of the iwan niche are surfaced with monumental geometric tile patterns. The corners of the niche have attached ceramic columns rising to the ruins of the arch vaulting. The arch is flanked by polychrome ceramic strips with intricate decorative figures. On either side of the iwan are remnants of a two-story arcade that contained rooms for scholars.

Al-Zaura, No. 422, February 28, 1874

Al-Zaura was the brainchild of the pro-Western, progressive Ottoman wali (governor) of Iraq, Midhat Pasha (reigned 1869–72). He established the newspaper when he brought with him from Paris a printing press, the first in Iraq, upon his assignment to Baghdad in 1869. Al-Zaura’s name was taken from a nickname for Baghdad, literally meaning a bend or curve, as the city sits within a wide bend of the Tigris River. The paper is arguably the most important source on Iraq’s history during the last 50 years of the Ottoman Empire, from Al-Zaura’s inception in 1869 until Baghdad fell to the British in 1917. The paper’s reformist slant, especially during Midhat Pasha’s short reign, reflected his vision for modernizing Iraq, both as a country and as a society. It was a comprehensive paper, published twice weekly on Saturdays and Tuesdays, which employed some of Iraqi’s leading writers and intellectuals of the time. With content in Ottoman Turkish and Arabic, it covered a wide range of domestic issues, including official decrees and appointments, health, education, crime and the courts, transportation and communication, urban development, taxation, and literature. In all, the paper appeared 2,607 times, from its first issue on Tuesday, June 15, 1869, to its last, on Tuesday, March 13, 1917. The issues have the Hijra dates on the right and the Rumi (Ottoman) calendar dates on the left. Occasional date discrepancies occur.
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