A detail of an imperial signature (called ‘tuğra’).
A ‘tuğra’: a calligraphic monogram, seal or signature of an Ottoman sultan, that was affixed to all official documents and correspondence. It was also carved on his seal and stamped on the coins minted during his reign. Very elaborate decorated versions were created for important documents that were also works of art in the tradition of Ottoman illumination. They could become quite big too; the one shown in the 1985 Fukuoka Exhibition (Japan), dated March 1587, measures up to 163 cm (the Christmas tree-like decoration included). All official documents were produced/created in the calligrapher workshop at the imperial court, the more important ones by the court head calligrapher himself.
Each sultan generally chose the precise form of his ‘tuğra’ on the day of his accession from specimens prepared for him in advance by the court calligrapher. The first ‘tuğra’ belonged to Orhan I (1284–1359), the second ruler of the Ottoman Empire and it evolved until it reached the classical form in the ‘tuğra’ of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1494–1566).
Correspondent: J.M.Criel, Antwerpen.
Sources: Internetsite of the British Museum, Wikipedia & Catalogue of the Fukuoka Exhibition (Japan), 1985.