Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Hegira, end of the 8th–beginning of the 9th / AD end of the 14th–beginning of the 15th century
Yellow dyed silk.
Length 100 cm, chest (from cuff of sleeve to cuff of sleeve) 120 cm
Early Ottoman period
The front of the shirt has a round collar and is open down to the level of the abdomen. The entire surface of the shirt is decorated with Qur'anic verses, prayers, magic formulas and numerological charms. The back part of the shirt features a design of naturalistic flowers executed in coloured pigments.
The inscriptions on talismanic shirts consist mostly of chapters and verses of the Qur'an. In addition to these, the names and epithets of God (the Asma al-Husna), the names of various prophets and the four major angels, the seal of the Prophet Muhammad and poems praising him, and occasionally the hilya (Description of the Prophet) are written. Sometimes the names of Fatima, her sons Hasan and Husayn, the first four caliphs and the signs of the zodiac are encountered. Almost all talismanic shirts have magic formulas and numerological charms made up of letters and numbers, which are thought to have magical powers and meanings. The Museum has many talismanic shirts from different tombs.
The Qur'anic verses, which are the words of God, were not only read for prayer but were also perceived as talismanic symbols. Sometimes they were carried as an amulet necklace and sometimes they covered entire costumes known as 'talismanic shirts'.
The shirt's yellow colour, inscriptions, and naturalistic floral decoration suggest that it was made in the early years of the Ottoman dynasty and used by Sultan Bayezid I ('the Thunderbolt').
Brought in 1332 / 1914 from the tomb of Sultan Bayezid I ('the Thunderbolt') at his complex in Bursa.
ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, pp.248–9.
Alev Özay "Talismanic shirt" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;18;en
Prepared by: Alev ÖzayAlev Özay
Alev Özay is an expert at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul. She was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1942. She graduated from the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Cultures of the Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University. She first worked at the museums of Tekirdağ and Kayseri. She attended Ottoman language courses in 1976–7 and restoration and conservation courses in 1982 organised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. She published an article on the “Turbe of Sultan Ahmet” in 1979 and in 1983 prepared the catalogue for the Exhibition on Islamic Arts in the 15th Century of the Hijra.
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 33
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Echoes of Paradise: the Garden and Flora in Islamic Art | The Role of Individual Plants and Flowers
MWNF GalleriesAmulets and Talismans
Related MWNF Tour Related MWNF Travel Book
Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail
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