Turkey, probably Istanbul
Silk, metal-wrapped thread; lampas, brocaded
L. 115 3/4 in. (294 cm), W. 85 1/2 in. (217.2 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1976 (1976.312)
This banner is related to a select group that survives in European and American collections. They are assumed to have been captured in war after Ottoman defeats. These banners consist of a large panel of silk to which patches brocaded with different designs have been added. They have inscriptions from the Qur'an, and often the double-headed sword depicted here. Referred to as the Dhu'l Fiqar, this sword is said to have belonged to the Prophet and bequeathed to cAli. It came to be associated with Muslim holy war and was thus an appropriate symbol for the Orthodox Ottomans to carry into battle. A closer examination of the inscriptions, though, reveals that some of these banners may have been carried by pilgrims to Mecca and thus might not have been booty gained in battle.
This banner, in red and green silk, can be dated by the form of the sword. In later banners, the hilts are of a dragon form and the lobed medallion at the base of the handle became rounded and calligraphic, as in this example. The text is typical, with invocations to Allah, Muhammad, and the first four caliphs, and a quotation of Sura 112 of the Qur'an on the purity of faith.