The Shad-i Mulk Mausoleum is located within the Shah-i Zinda funerary complex; mausolea built between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries that form a string of spectacular tilework down the southern slope of the Afrasiyab hill, north of Samarkand.
An inscription on the portal notes in Arabic that Turkan Aqa (Timur's older sister) built this well-preserved mausoleum for her daughter Ulja Shad-i Mulk, who died in December 1371. Other inscriptions identify three artists: Ustad Birr al-Din; Ustad Shams al-Din; and Zayn al-Din.
Typical of the mausoleums within the complex, this structure is square in plan, with a pishtaq facing the Shah-i Zinda corridor. The pishtaq rests on a decorated socle, and is detailed with semi-attached columns at the outer edges and underneath the entrance arch. A muqarnas half-dome covers the entrance portal. The interior plan is also square, with three shallow niches on each wall. An octagonal zone of transition includes muqarnas squinches and arched panels that crown the wall recesses. The dome is decorated with eight 'ribs' that emanate from an eight-pointed star within the crown. A diaper pattern fills the sections between the ribs; a teardrop medallion centered within each wedge-shaped field. Brick ribs clad the exterior of the dome, terminating with an unusual pointed cap.
The mausoleum is remarkable for the extensive employment of tile revetment. Surfaces of the interior and the pishtaq bear complete coverage executed in a diverse range of techniques including carved glazed terracotta, faience mosaic, haft-rangi, and polychrome underglaze painted tile. Other than the pishtaq, the exterior surfaces bear no trace of decorative revetment.
Brandenburg, Dietrich. Samarkand: Studien zur Islamischen Baukunst in Uzbekistan (Zentralasien), 56-62. Berlin: Bruno Hessling Verlag, 1972.
Golombek, Lisa, and Donald Wilber. The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan, 238-240. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988.