Tughra (Official Signature) of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–66)
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
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)
Rogers Fund, 1938
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]
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