The Shakhi-Zinda ensemble is set out in a unique way. All the structures of 11 mausoleums, that had been built at the period of the 14th – 15th centuries, are arranged along a downward path, displaying different facets from different angles. This unique and mysterious ensemble was located nearby Afrosiab.
Shakhi Zinda is also called a cemetery path. Blue cupolas of mausoleums, rushed out as a small chain and from the bird’s eye resemble elegant necklace. All these square-shaped cupola constructions were variants of the customary design: a square with a heavily ornamented portal and interior. Decorations usually consisted of glazed brick, carved terracotta, majolica tiles and intricately carved mosaics.
The Shakhi-Zinda group is a popular sight not only for Samarkand but for the whole Central Asia. Its development began as early as the 14th century when the first mausoleums were built. This particular sight was held sacred because it was believed to be the burial site of prophet Muhammad, Kusam ibn Abbas’s cousin.
The Shakhi-Zinda. Samarkand
The entrance portal of Shakhi Zinda completes the whole ensemble and appears the latest construction. The inscription on the entrance portal reads: ”This magnificent building was constructed by AbdulazisKhan, the son of Ulugbek – grandson of Amir Temur in 1434”.
Passing by 36 stairs of the old ladder the traveler finally finds himself in the spare gallery. On both sides of the gallery, the mausoleums of Temur’s close relatives are located. The gallery ends with the round courtyard and the arch with the old carved door on the right. It leads us to the oldest ensemble building – the mausoleum of Kusam ibn Abbas. His tomb is decorated with Arabic inscribed tiles. Kusam ibn Abbas was called “Shakhi-Zinda” - “The alive emperor” by translation. He preached Islam there, so this complex had become the place of pilgrimage, considered to be the public relic. Kusam ibn Abbas was known to be the guardian of all women.
The legend of Shakhi Zinda Necropolis