The most popular image when one googles majolica tiles or Uzbekistan tourism is the mausoleum of Shirin Bika in the Shah e Zinda necropolis in Samarqand.
Shirin Bika was Amir Timur’s sister and her tomb befits her status. Amir Timur built it in the 14th century.
An inscription at the entrance identifies her:
This is the tomb of the great and noble Shirin Beg Aqa, daughter of Taraghay, (may) the light of God (be upon) her spirit, AH 787 (1385-86).
There is a quote of the great philosopher , Socrates, in Persian on the facade.
Like so many medieval monuments in Uzbekistan this too had become ruinous but in the 1990’s under a project of restoration of monuments in Uzbekistan, the Soviets painstakingly repaired & restored it, after detailed studies of what the original looked like.
This is also the first tomb where cut tiles were used instead of large ones. After all, no expense is spared for the ruler’s sister.
This innovation is attributed by a few scholars to the arrival of Iranian craftsmen.
Today it dazzles the onlooker.
Another thing that touched me was that groups of locals come every morning and recite fatihas in the tombs, reminding us that these are graves and the soup needs prayers for afterlife.
note: majolica tiles are very colourful with a rich, lustrous color hued glaze.
Image 1&2 archival photos before restoration