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Tughra (Official Signature) of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–66)

Object Name:
Tughra
Date:
ca. 1555–60
Geography:
Turkey, Istanbul
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
H. 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm) W. 25 3/8 in. (64.5 cm) Mat: 25 x 30 in. (63.5 x 76.2 cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1938
Accession Number:
38.149.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 460
The Ottoman tughra is a calligraphic emblem of the sultan's authority that was included in all official documents, such as firmans (royal decrees), endowment papers, correspondence, and coins. Used by the first Ottoman sultan in 1324, it later developed into a more complex form that included three vertical shafts and two concentric oval loops on the left. It consists of the name of the reigning sultan, his father's name, his title, and the phrase "the eternally victorious." This unique calligraphic emblem was not easily read or copied. Therefore, a specific court artist was designated to draw the undecorated, standard tughra. A court illuminator assisted him in the exquisite decoration of the tughra on certain imperial documents. The illuminator's delicate scroll design and naturalistic flowers enhance the harmonious lines of calligraphy, creating a colorful voluminous effect.

Inscription: The calligraphy in Ottoman Turkish is translated as: "Suleiman, son of Selim Khan, ever victorious." Below, in gold, it reads: "This is the noble, exalted, brilliant sign-manual, the world-illuminating and adoring cipher of the Khaqan [may it be made efficient by the aid of the Lord and the protection of the Eternal].
His order is that [...]"
[ E. Beghian, London, until 1938; sold to MMA]
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 78, ill. fig. 45 (b/w).

Grube, Ernst J. "The Ottoman Empire." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 26, no. 5 (January 1968). no. 36, p. 217, ill. (b/w).

Bowie, Theodore Robert. "An Exhibition Prepared by Theodore Bowie." In Islamic Art Across the World. Vol. no. 1970/3. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Art Museum, 1970. no. 26.

Atil, Esin. The Age of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Washington, DC: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1987. no. 4, pp. 41-42, ill. pl. 4 (color).

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 114-16, ill. fig. 85 (color).

de Montebello, Philippe, and Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 6th ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992. p. 325, ill. fig. 33 (color).

Schimmel, Annemarie. "Islamic Calligraphy." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. (Summer 1992). pp. 52-53, ill. fig. 63 (color).

Burn, Barbara, ed. Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York; Boston: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. p. 83, ill. (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 205, pp. 16, 286, 294-295, ill. p. 295 (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, and Claire Moore, ed. "A Resource for Educators." In Art of the Islamic World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. pp. 128-129, ill. fig. 23 (color).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 139, ill. (color).



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