February 25, 2013

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Entrance to the Congregational Mosque

This photograph of the mosque 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, which was considered a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch of the mosque, located at the west wall of the madrasah courtyard. Although severe structural damage (most likely from earthquakes) led to the loss of the ceramic surface in the upper part of the iwan, the facades still show large areas of polychrome decoration, with a mixture of geometric and botanical motifs. The arch is framed by ceramic columns, while the outer edges of the iwan display richly ornamented vertical bands. On either side of the iwan are remnants of a two-story arcade that contained rooms for scholars.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Inner Courtyard (Northern Side). Column Base at the Main Portal Niche

This photograph of a detail on the north side of the inner courtyard 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 his reign, the madrasah became a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows the base of a column framing the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch at the center of the north wall of the madrasah courtyard. The complex, segmented base at the corner of the arch is of carved marble incised with simple geometric and foliate motifs. Above the base is the bottom of a polychrome ceramic column shaft containing intricate geometric and botanical patterns. Some of the leaf-like ornamental segments of the column have been lost. The photograph shows limited attempts to repair the lower brick walls, which lack most of their original decorative surface.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Inner Courtyard (Northern Side). Section of a Column (Pillar) beside the Main Niche

This photograph of a detail on the north side of the inner courtyard 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, which was considered a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows a ceramic column framing the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch on the north wall of the madrasah courtyard. Despite damage to the surface, the intricate polychrome work is preserved and includes both geometric and botanical patterns. The intersecting strapwork on the column contains floral motifs, while the dimly visible wall on the left seems to include inscriptions.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Inner Courtyard (Northern Side). Inscription along the Right Side of the Main Portal Niche

This photograph from the north side of the inner courtyard 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 his reign the madrasah became a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows the right (east) side of the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch at the center of the north wall of the madrasah courtyard. Despite damage to the surface, the intricate polychrome work is still visible, displaying both geometric and botanical patterns. The complex ceramic column (left) at the corner of the arch niche has floral motifs set within intersecting strapwork. On the main wall to the right of the column is a vertical inscription band with stylized, elongated script. Farther to the right are ornamental strips framing ceramic panels over an arcade that contained rooms for scholars.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Marble Column

This photograph of a portion of the courtyard arcade 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. This view shows one of the rooms, or cells (khujras), for scholars on the ground-floor of the courtyard arcade. The facade displays polychrome faience decoration with geometric and floral figures, while the pointed arch springs from a ceramic column with a marble base. The flanks of the niche are covered in a hatchwork of rectangular tiles creating block Kufic inscriptions from the Kalima, the basis of the Shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith. The niche wall is also covered with ceramic tiles in a geometric pattern.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Detail of the Smaller Niches Within Them

This photograph of one of the lesser iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arches 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, which was considered a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows the upper part of an iwan arch, partly blocked, along one of the sides of the madrasah courtyard. The facade is decorated on the sides with vertical bands that display complex geometric patterns formed by raised monochrome tiles. These bands frame polychrome ceramic panels on the sides and around the pointed tip of the arch. The interior surface of the niche is embellished with tiles forming patterns in block script. At the top of the facade is another monumental inscription composed of ceramic tiles.