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, 2020.;ISL;tr;Mus01;42;en

Prepared by: Sevgi Kutluay
Translation by: Barry Wood, İnci Türkoğlu
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: TR 71