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date: 21 October 2019

Tughra [Turk. tuğra]locked

  • Annemarie Schimmel


[Turk. tuğra]

Imperial monogram of the Ottoman sultans (reg 1281–1924). It consists of the sultan’s name, patronymics, titles and the formula ‘ever victorious’. Since the Ottoman sultans did not sign their decrees, the tughra was the ultimate authentication, and it fell to the nişanci, a high official with the rank of pasha, to draw the tughra after the copy had been checked for accuracy and calligraphed. In the narrowest sense, the tughra is distinguished by three high verticals and one large elliptical curve extending to the left and enclosing a smaller, similar curve (see fig.). Many theories have been offered to explain the development of this form. The widespread tradition that it represents the three fingers and the thumb of the ruler that Murad I (reg 1360–89) allegedly put on a document in Ragusa has been challenged; the tughra has also been connected with the tūgh, the yak or horse tail that served in Central Asia as a sign of sovereignty or high military rank and the flourishes at the end of the three verticals do resemble yak tails....

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Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden, 1954–)
Encyclopaedia of Islam, 8 vols and suppl. (Leiden, 1913–36/R 1987)