Ottoman Tughra

Tughra .. everything you need to know

The Tughra is one of the important fonts in which an inscription is written at the top of the Ottoman Sultan’s letters, some in gold, some in beautiful bright colors, and they are written at the top of the books above the basmalah with a thick pen, and its content is the name of the Ottoman Sultan for whom the book was issued, his epithets or titles.

The Tughra is also employed as an Ottoman royal sign, signature, seal, or royal emblem, and it is sometimes drawn on top of royal patents and firmans.

Ottoman Tughra

Origin of the word “Tughra”

In his 11th century y Dīwān Luġāt at-Turk (“Collection of the Dialects of the Turks”) , Mahmūd al-Kāschgharī  mentions the Oghus term tughragh for the seal (bi) and signature (taw) of the Oghus ruler (malik).

The dropping of the guttural Oghuz ending gh, which is common in Ottoman, explains the form tughra. Mahmud al-Kshghar also understands the verb tughraghlanmak (based on a document it means a Tughraghto get). This corresponds to the Arabic tagh-ghara (“to place a tughra on it”) attested by Muhammad al-Makrizi in 1270.

İt can be assumed that tughra is of Turkish origin, though the primary meaning is unknown.

ottoman tughra

Shape of the Ottoman Tughra

The Ottoman tughra, in its classic form dating from the 16th century, combines the name of the Ottoman ruler and that of his father with titles borrowed from Persian and Mongolian as well as Arabic words and uses Arabic script. Its origins can be traced back to Ottoman and Arabic calligraphy.

A steady progression can be traced from the first preserved, simple Tughra Orhan Ghazi to Suleiman the Magnificent Tughra,  The tughras are becoming increasingly text-heavy and elaborate, particularly since Bayezid II. 

tughra of sultan

Simultaneously, their size grows, from about 7 cm wide for Orhan Ghazi to about 40 cm wide for Suleiman the Magnificent, corresponding to the width of the records in which they were used.

What they all have in common is that the text’s words are written on top of and within each other using calligraphic criteria.

ottoman tughra

Who painted the Tughra?

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