Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Tughra (Official Signature) of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–66)

Object Name:
Tughra
Date:
ca. 1555–60
Geography:
Attributed to Turkey, Istanbul
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
20 1/2 x 23 1/2in. (52.1 x 59.7cm) Mat: 25 x 30 in. (63.5 x 76.2 cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1938
Accession Number:
38.149.2
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 460
A tughra is a stylized royal seal and signature applied by the Ottoman sultans to every royal edict. Different types were used by the early rulers. Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–66) introduced a standard calligraphic design, starting from right with two to three horizontal lines, drawing a large oval to the left, and ending in the center with intervening letters at the bottom and three vertical undulated axes at the top. Each sultan’s tughra is slightly different, but typically comprises the name of the reigning sultan as well as his father’s name, his title, and the phrase "the eternally victorious." In this example, administrative function and artistry have created a masterpiece of Ottoman calligraphy, where the designed surface is filled with ornaments such as the scrolling floral vines in gold and blue.
Inscription: The calligraphy in OttomanTurkish 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 [...]"

The inscriptions in Persian and Arabic.
Tughra:
سلیمان بن سلیم خان المظفر دائماً؟
Sulaiman, son of Selim Khan, ever victorious.

Below in gold and diwani script:
نشان شریف غالي الشأن سامي مکان سلطاني و طغراي غراي اقبال نماي و سعادت فزاي و جهان ستان خاقاني لا زال نافذ في الاطراف و الاکناف بعون الله الملک خفي الالطاف و ساریاً بعنایة الرحماني حکمي و اشارتي

The calligraphy in Ottoman Turkish is translated as: "Sulaiman, 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].
my order and my ensign "

A.Ghouchani

Marking: Yes
[ E. Beghian, London, until 1938; sold to MMA]
Museum für Islamische Kunst, Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the M.M.A.," June 15, 1981–August 8, 1981, no. 99.

Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent," January 25, 1987–May 17, 1987, not in catalogue.

Chicago. Art Institute of Chicago. "The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent," June 14, 1987–September 7, 1987, not in catalogue.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent," October 4, 1987–January 17, 1988, not in catalogue.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Perfect Page: The Art of Embellishment in Islamic Book Design," May 17, 1991–August 18, 1991, no catalogue.

Mexico City. Colegio de San Ildefonso. "Arte islamico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York," September 30, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 9.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Nature of Islamic Ornament Part I: Calligraphy," February 26, 1998–June 28, 1998, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rumi," October 15, 2007–March 5, 2008, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Balcony Calligraphy Exhibition," June 1, 2009–October 26, 2009, no catalogue.

Portland, ME. Portland Museum of Art. "Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture," June 15, 2013–September 8, 2013, p. 74.

Dimand, Maurice S. "Turkish Art of the Muhammadan Period." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n. s., vol. 2 (1944). p. 211, ill. (b/w).

"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 99, pp. 238-239, ill. p. 239 (color).

Grabar, Oleg. "1989 Andrew W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts." In Intermediary Demons Toward a Theory of Ornament. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1989. p. 78, ill. fig. 52 (b/w).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daniel S. Walker, Arturo Ponce Guadián, Sussan Babaie, Stefano Carboni, Aimee Froom, Marie Lukens Swietochowski, Tomoko Masuya, Annie Christine Daskalakis-Matthews, Abdallah Kahil, and Rochelle Kessler. "Colegio de San Ildefonso, Septiembre de 1994-Enero de 1995." In Arte Islámico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1994. no. 9, pp. 62-63, ill. p. 63 (color).

Al Khemir Sabiha Dr. "Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture." In Beauty and Belief. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 2012. pp. 74-75, 205, ill. (color).



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