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Tughra (Official Signature) of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent from Istanbul

Met curator Deniz Beyazit on the art of control in Tughra (Official Signature) of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent from Istanbul, c. 1555–60.

Raised to a high art form within the Ottoman chancery, the tughra served as the official seal of the sultan. Affixed to every royal edict, this stylized signature is an intricate calligraphic composition comprising the name of the reigning sultan, his father’s name, his title, and the phrase "the eternally victorious." Its bold, gestural line contrasts with the delicate swirling vine-scroll illumination used to ornament the seal.

View this work on metmuseum.org.

Are you an educator? Here's a related lesson plan. For additional educator resources from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, visit Find an Educator Resource.

შემქმნელია მეტროპოლიტენის ხელოვნების მუზეუმი.

გსურთ, შეუერთდეთ დისკუსიას?

პოსტები ჯერ არ არის.
გესმით ინგლისური? დააწკაპუნეთ აქ და გაეცანით განხილვას ხანის აკადემიის ინგლისურენოვან გვერდზე.

ვიდეოს აღწერა

This is the tughra of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent made towards the end of his rule. made towards the end of his rule. Written is Suleyman Sah, Ibn Selim Sah, Han, Al-Muzaffer then usually it ends with Dimen which means the victorious forever. But the funny thing is it is really hard to read. This signature is attached to every administrative document. One can read it as a real symbol of the Sultan himself representing his power. When I was a child I was always getting lost within these flowers. I was always intrigued. By looking closely I really discovered that there is a system. That there is a beauty. There is a sense of music even behind how these flowers work together. Then besides this of course there is all the historic context. It’s not only an artistic language, but it’s a world of man. It’s a world of ruling powerful warriors who were rivals of Europe. The calligraphy looks actually like a large snake. This all goes together with these flowers, which to me is rather a symbol of a woman not the symbol of the ruling sultan. The flowers are out of control, but to draw them in such details in this artwork everything is under control. It’s the art of controlling. And each section is different. You have the Sadz leaves, the split palmette, the carnations and you’ll find them everywhere. And the whole vibration of the gold your eye tries to figure out which section is in front and which is behind. Suddenly the painting gets three-dimensional. When you look at it more and more the colors start living. I can stand back and discover it in a different way. I still have a little bit that naïve perception of getting lost, which is not really academic but that’s at the end what makes us enjoy the art and let it get into you.