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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:
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
  • Description

    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.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    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

  • Provenance

    [ E. Beghian, until 1938; sold to MMA]

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
449534:2

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