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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Drawing on paper with calligraphy: gives the 'tughra' of Suleyman the Magnificent with a line of divani script written in the sefine (boat) form. Drawn in blue and gold ink on paper.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1520-1566
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 65 centimetres (framed)
    • Width: 85 centimetres (framed)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

        مظفر داْما
      • Inscription Translation

        'the one who is always victorious'
      • Inscription Comment

        inscription also includes names and titles of Sultan Suleyman
  • Curator's comments

    A tughra is an imperial Ottoman monogram and was intended to validate official documents. Having originated in the reign of Sultan Bayazid II (d. 1512), tughras became increasingly ornate during the 16th century, incorporating decorative motifs found in book illumination. They were first adopted on documents but later also coins, seals and other inscriptions. Different theories have been advanced to explain its shape. One romantic suggestion is that it represented the form of a fabulous bird, the 'tughri', the totem of the Oghuz tribe from whom the Ottomans were descended.

    Each sultan generally chose the precise form of his 'tughra' on the day of his accession from specimens prepared for him in advance. This magnificent example was made for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. It bears his name, Suleyman Shah, and that of his father, Selim, and the phrase 'the one who is always victorious' (common to all tughras). It was once at the head of a document that no longer survives and it was created using blue and gold inks on paper.


  • Bibliography

    • Porter 2003 39, p.45 bibliographic details
    • MacGregor 2010 71 bibliographic details
    • Hayward 1976 p. 366, no. 624 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    2015 - 16 12 Jun - 10 Jan, San Francisco, Asian Art Museum and Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, 'Pearls on a String' -- PROMISED
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2010-2011 8 Sep-14 Jan, London, BM, Gallery 90, A History of the World
    2004 7 Jan-7 Apr, Kuala Lumpur, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, 'Mightier than the Sword'
    2003 22 Mar-25 May, University of Melbourne, Ian Potter Museum of Art, 'Mightier than the Sword'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number


Tughraa. General subject - calligraphy. Tughrá of Sulaimán the magnificent with a line of sefine script. Drawn in ink on paper.

Tughraa. General subject - calligraphy. Tughrá of Sulaimán the magnificent with a line of sefine script. Drawn in ink on paper.

Image description



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Object reference number: RFM807

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