Art Moment: A Royal Ottoman Turgha

Tughra (insignia) of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (r. 1520-66), Turkey, circa 1555-60. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Ottoman tughra is a unique calligraphic emblem of the sultan’s authority that was included on all official documents – royal decrees, coins, correspondences and other items. Turghas were used by the Ottomans starting in the early 14th century and became standardized in the 16th century under Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent whose elegant tughra is featured here. It is emblazoned with his name, his father’s name, his title and the phrase ‘the eternally victorious’.

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