Madrasah-i Shah-i Zindah
Samarkand, Uzbekistan
The Madrasa of the Shah-e Zindah Complex was located at the southern end of the Citadel of Afrasiyah, directly across the roadway from the Mausoleum of Qusam b. Abbas. It was constructed around 1066 (458 A. H.) for Ibrahim b. Nasr Tabghach Bughra Khan, ruler of the western kingdom of the Qarakhanids from approximately 1052-1067 (444-459 A. H.). The madrasa was most likely destroyed by the Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century. Despite its stature as one of the largest buildings in the group and that several mausolea had adjoined its foundations to it, the madrasa was replaced in the fourteenth century during the first major Timurid restoration of the funerary complex when the Tuman Aqa Complex and the Amir Burunduq Mausoleum were built on its foundations.

Remnants of the south-eastern quadrant give the madrasa's approximate measurements and architectural elements. Built of brick, the madrasa was rectangular with four rounded corner buttresses and a four-iwan courtyard aligned to the cardinal points. The exterior measurements were approximately fifty-five meters by forty-four meters. Entered from the east, the pishtaq was flanked by three blind niches decorated with brick bonding. The pishtaq was decorated with terra cotta Naskhi inscriptions and framed a small porch which lead to the iwan and the courtyard. The courtyard measured approximately thirty meters by twenty meters and was probably lined with cells.


Crowe, Yolande. "Central Asia and Afghanistan." In Architecture of the Islamic World: Its History and Social Meaning, edited by George Michell, 221. Thames and Hudson: London, 1978.

Nemtseva, N. B. "Istoki kompozitsii i etapy formirovaniya ansamblya Shakhi-zinda." [The Origins and Architectural Development of the Shah-i Zinde.] Translated with additions by J. M. Rogers and 'Adil Yasin. Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies XV, 55 (1977): 60-65.

Waugh, Daniel C. "Shah-i-Zinda." Silk Road Seattle. Accessed October 22, 2013.
No longer extant; under the Tuman Aqa Complex and the Amir Burunduq Mausoleum, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
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Associated Names
Part of Site
ca. 1066/458 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Madrasa of Shah-i Zindeh
Madrasa-e Shah-e Zinda
Building Usages