Name of Object:

Tuğra of Sultan Osman III


Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Holding Museum:

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

About Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Sultanahmet

Date of Object:

Hegira 1170 / AD 1756–7

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Kaptan-ı Derya (Grand Admiral) Karabağlı Süleyman Pasha, court tuğra artist (dates of service: AH 1168–71 / AD 1754–57).

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Wood, watercolour and gilding.


Height 125 cm, width 90 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Istanbul, Turkey.


The Sultan's official monogram or tuğra (tughra) is drawn in gold outlined with black ink on a blue ground. The areas between the letters in the lower part of the tuğra, the 'arms' of the tuğra, and its flaring bow are filled with floral decoration. These floral compositions show two different styles: one following the Chinese influence hatayi-style, and the other reflecting the appearance of baroque designs in Ottoman illumination under European influence. In the upper right-hand corner are depictions of the Ka'ba in Mecca and of Medina rendered in an oval frame. The paintings of Mecca and Medina resemble similar compositions in AH 11th–12th- / AD 17th–18th- century decorative arts, manuscript painting and tiles. In the lower left-hand corner is a medallion containing the signature of the artist who drew the tuğra, Karabağlı Kaptan-ı Derya Süleyman Pasha, phrased thus: 'The slave of the court, Süleyman Pasha, made the tuğra of the Sultan of the world'. The date AH 1270 (AD 1854) is also given. This is surprising and possibly incorrect for Kaptan-ı Derya (Grand Admiral) Süleyman Pasha does not appear in the historical sources for that year. He was promoted to that rank by Sultan Osman III in AH 1168 / AD 1754 and remained in that position until he was removed from it in AH 1171 / AD 1757. In the same year he was restored to his post by Sultan Mustafa III (r. AH 1171–87 / AD 1757–74) and remained in it until AH 1172 / AD 1759. Since the work has undergone much restoration in various periods, the date must be AH 1170 / AD 1756–7 rather than AH 1270 / 1853–4.

Sultan Osman III, who ascended the throne at age fifty-five, was the oldest Ottoman prince to become sultan, and his reign lasted only three years. The tuğra reads 'Osman Khan, son of Mustafa, ever-victorious'. The tuğra was a kind of signature of the Ottoman sultans, drawn by a special official of the Imperial Chancery (Divan-ı Hümayun) or under his instruction. Because of its size and the fact that it is executed so as to display in detail all the aspects of a tuğra, this example must have been made in the Imperial Chancery as a model with the aim of ensuring that tuğra copies could be made without any mistakes.

View Short Description

Tughras, official monograms of the sultans, are one the first things to come to mind when Ottoman art or history is mentioned. The size of this tughra of Sultan Osman III makes it an interesting example and it has features peculiar to the art of the AH 12th / AD 18th century.

Original Owner:

Sultan Osman III (r. AH 1168–71 / AD 1754–57)

How date and origin were established:

Dated according to the signature, in which the name of the Grand Admiral Süleyman Pasha appears; he was Grand Admiral during the reign of Sultan Osman III. (No other Grand Admiral by that name was found in the historical sources for reigns other than that of Osman III).

How Object was obtained:

Transferred to the Museum in 1916 from the library of Kılıç Ali Paşa in Istanbul.

How provenance was established:

Only the Imperial Chancery (Divan-ı Hümayun) was allowed to print the sultan's tuğra. Large examples like this one were prepared as models to ensure that the tuğra was drawn correctly when added to official documents. Thus, it must have been produced in the Topkapı Palace, Istanbul.

Selected bibliography:

Ölçer, N., et al, In Pursuit of Excellence: The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Istanbul, 1993, p.43, pl. 22, 61.

Citation of this web page:

Sevgi Kutluay "Tuğra of Sultan Osman III" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;tr;Mus01;42;en

Prepared by: Sevgi KutluaySevgi Kutluay

Sevgi Kutluay is the Head of the Calligraphy and Manuscripts Section at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul. She graduated from the Department of Archaeology and Art History at Hacettepe University, Ankara, in 1985 with the thesis “The Complexes of Kayseri Huand Hatun and Afşin Eshab-ı Kehf and the Development of Complexes in the Anatolian Seljuq Period”. She completed her Master's at the same department with a thesis entitled “Divriği Great Mosque and Its Decorative Programme” in 1989. She started working at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 1988 and has worked as an expert at various museums and departments of the ministry. She quit her Ph.D. entitled “The Diwan of Hüseyin Baykara and the 15th Century Manuscripts of Herat”. She participated in restoration projects on the wall paintings of Göreme Dark Church and Sumela Monastery in Trabzon and in the display designs of various museums.

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 GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: TR 71


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