Manuscript/Mixed Material Tughra of Sultan Ahmed III

About this Item

Tughra of Sultan Ahmed III
Created / Published
c. 1700-30 A.D.
Subject Headings
-  Calligraphy, Arabic
-  Calligraphy, Ottoman
-  Manuscripts, Ottoman--Washington (D.C.)
-  Turkey
-  Arabic script calligraphy
-  Illuminated Islamic manuscripts
-  Islamic calligraphy
-  Islamic manuscripts
-  Tughra
-  Ottoman Turkish work, recognized by Turkish speakers as Turkish.
-  Dimensions of Written Surface: 19.8 (w) x 15 (h) cm
-  The tughra included here has a long tradition as a royal calligraphic emblem in Turkic cultures. From the time of the Oguz, Seljuks, and most especially the Ottomans, it became the blazon of a ruler that included his name and titles, sometimes in highly stylized form. Although it appears in this case as a kind of royal signature (imza'), the tughra typically initiated an imperial decree (ferman) and various legal documents such as property deeds (vakfiyahs). It also appears on Ottoman buildings, coins, calligraphic panels, and postage stamps. It symbolizes a "noble mark" (nishan-i sharif) of possession and thus often takes on the role of a seal impression (hatam or muhur), which grants permission or endows ownership (Sertoglu 1975: 3-8).
-  The tughra is composed of a variety of structural elements that make up the names and titles of a ruler. In the case of Ahmed III, the tughra reads: Shah Ahmed bin Mehmed han, al-muzaffer daima (i.e. "King Ahmed, son of the Ruler Mehmed, forever victorious"). Although the ornate interlacing of Sultan Ahmed III's titles makes it difficult to identify the ruler in question, other extant tughras help identify and distinguish the compositional elements that make up this particular imperial cipher (Umur 1980: 240-5; Binark 1994: 19-45; and Derman 2002: 36 and 252-5).
-  This tughra (imperial emblem) belongs to the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III and appears on the verso of a 16th-century Safavid Persian single-sheet fragment of a Fal-i Qur'an, or divination of the Qur'an by means of letters selected at random (for a further discussion of the topic, see 1-84-154.42 R). Sultan Ahmed III ruled from 1115-43/1703-30, and so it is probable that the Qur'an in question traveled from southwestern Iran to the Topkapi Palace Library in Istanbul sometime during the 17th cenutry. The largely effaced date of 1111/1700 on the verso further supports the hypothesis that the Qur'an arrived in Istanbul by the turn of the 18th century. The tughra thus serves as a sort of ex-libris for Sultan Ahmed III. He also may have ordered removed and pasted certain areas of the recto to conceal the real purpose of the sheet, as prognostication by means of the Holy Book was, and still remains, a problematic practice in Islam.
-  Script: tughra
-  1-84-154.42 V
1 volume ; 28.7 (w) x 48.8 (h) cm
Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
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Rights & Access

The contents of the Library of Congress Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions and are free to use and reuse.

Credit Line: Library of Congress, African and Middle East Division, Near East Section Persian Manuscript Collection

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Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Tughra of Sultan Ahmed III. -30 A.D, 1700. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

(1700) Tughra of Sultan Ahmed III. -30 A.D. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Tughra of Sultan Ahmed III. -30 A.D, 1700. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.

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