Name of Object:

Throne of Sultan Ahmed I


Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Holding Museum:

Topkapı Palace Museum

Date of Object:

During the reign of Sultan Ahmed I (Hegira 1011–26 / AD 1603–17)

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Sedefkâr (‘mother-of-pearl master’) Mehmed Agha (died 1st quarter of the 11th / 17th century).

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Wood, lacquered (Edirnekari technique), and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, and gems (emerald, jade, diamond, turquoise, etc.).


Height 285 cm, width 102 cm, depth 66 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Topkapı Palace workshops, Istanbul, Turkey.


The throne of Sultan Ahmed I is one of the best examples of 11th / 17th century Ottoman woodwork. Made in the form of a baldachin, the throne has three low steps that lead up to the one-person seat. The baldachin itself is crowned with a dome.

The throne was made by the important 11th- / 17th-century architect Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha, the head architect of the Ottoman palace; it is dazzlingly beautiful with a mosaic of superb mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell work side by side with countless precious gems.

The throne is made of walnut wood. Its entire surface is decorated with a mosaic of mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell. The vegetal decoration includes tulips, carnations, roses and peonies connected to each other by scrolling tendrils and rising from a vase. The vegetal motifs are executed in a naturalistic style in mother-of-pearl, while the remaining area is covered with tortoiseshell.

The inner part of the seat of the throne is decorated with a composition of motifs in a lacquer technique known as Edirnekari. Floral motifs in yellow are painted against a red background in the naturalistic style.

The floral motifs which reflect the characteristic style of the Classical Ottoman period are arranged in a most successful composition. The vase and the flowers themselves are further enlivened by the addition of precious gems, including emeralds, jade, turquoise, and diamonds. The use of precious gems in various colours makes the throne even more attractive.

The throne is one of many objects which display the wealth of the Ottoman Palace. It is an important example of the high level of quality attained in vegetal decoration in 11th / 17th century Ottoman art.

View Short Description

This magnificent throne with superb mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell inlay work and numerous gems was made for Sultan Ahmed I. The floral motifs reflect the classical Ottoman period and are successfully rendered in very lively compositions.

Original Owner:

Sultan Ahmed I

How date and origin were established:

The throne belongs to the Topkapı Palace; documents in the palace archive inform us that it belonged to Sultan Ahmed I and was made by Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha.

How Object was obtained:

The throne was probably made in the palace workshop and is still on display in the Treasury section of the Topkapı Palace Museum.

How provenance was established:

The throne was made for Sultan Ahmed I by the head architect of the palace, Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha. Thus, it is highly likely that it was produced in the palace workshops.

Selected bibliography:

Barışta, ö., “Geleneksel Türk Sanatlarından Sedef Kakmacılık (Mother-of-Pearl Inlaying, A Traditional Turkish Art)”, Türkiye'de Sanatın Bugünü ve Yarını (The Today and Tomorrow of Art in ), Ankara, 1985, pp.393-400.

Kerametli, C., “Osmanlı Devri Ağaç İşleri, Tahta Oyma, Sedef, Bağa ve Fildişi Kakmalar (Ottoman-Period Woodwork, Wood Carving, Mother-of-pearl, Tortoise Shell and Ivory Inlays)”, Türk Etnografya Dergisi, 4 (1961), pp.5–13.

Türkoğlu, S., “Woodwork”, Traditional Turkish Arts (ed. M özel), Istanbul, 1992, pp.42–73.

Citation of this web page:

Sevinç Gök Gürhan "Throne of Sultan Ahmed I" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;tr;Mus01_A;40;en

Prepared by: Sevinç Gök Gürhan
Translation by: Barry Wood, İnci Türkoğlu
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: TR 69