Legend of Leopard: The Samarkand Symbol
“By a legend, when Samarkand was built, a palyang-leopard came down from the Zerafshan mountains. The leopard roamed about the streets, approved buildings and came back to the mountains. Since that time Samarkand residents were called leopards. And all Samarkand’s flags and arms had an image of the leopard.” This legend is told by Abu-Sand Abdu-Rakhman Ibn Muhammad Idris.
Indeed, in Samarkand there are a lot of monuments featuring images of leopard or lion as a symbol of the greatness and power of Samarkand people. The symbol of leopard can be found not only in the architecture, but also in the handicrafts and national currency.
The most famous images of leopards are made on the portal of the Sherdor Madrassah. “Sher” in Persian means “a lion”. They say that the symbol of the lion was brought by Iranians, but during the Arab and Turkic periods it was changed to the leopard. Since that time it represents the power and strength of Great Samarkand.