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Tughra and the Universe

the book: Сагит Фаизов Тугра и Вселенная. Мохаббат-наме   и   шерт-наме  крымских  ханов   и   принцев  в орнаментальном, сакральном и дипломатическом контекстах. Бахчисарай – Москва. 2002.



     The volume, prepared bu Sagit Faizov, Candidate of Historical Sciences, presents a selection of diplomatic correspondence and contracts of Crimean khans and princes from the collection of the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts (Moscow). The contracts, decorated with tughras (royal emblems) and floral-plant designs, are invaluable examples of Crimean Tatar decorative applied art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the sole extant record of  Crimean period drawings. While tughras associated with the diplomatic of the Ottoman sultans are well known to students of Islamic art, those of the Crimean khans and princes, like those of other Muslim imperial figures, have hitherto failed to gain much scholarly or artistic attention.
The earliest of the tughras published here, that of Gazi Giray Khan II, dates to 1594; all others date to the seventeenth century. The tughra was intended and perceived as the imperial symbol of the Giray dynasty which ruled  the Crimea from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The ancient banners floating above the names of the khans and princes on the documents recalled for their addressees both the origin of the Girays from the Mongol dynasty of Ghengiz and the protection conferred upon the Girays by the Ottoman sultans. Sagit Faizov argues in his introduction that the first line depicting the black moon adorned with nine white horsetails derived from Ghengiz Khan̕ s banner and the second line depicting the seven or nine horsetails evokes the similar attribute of the Ottoman sultan̕ s authority.
The Crimean tughra offers an exellent example of Muslim heraldry. Scribal artists at the courts of Crimean khans and princes worked from Turkish and Persian traditions to develop the faultless organization of semi-abstract graphic material, characteristic of classical Ottoman tughras. The Crimean tughra benefits from its combination of asymmetrical structures with compositional harmony. Freer than the Ottoman tughra, it soars across the blank sheet, supported by invisible gravitational streams. Without the conventional counterbalance its loop concentrates within itself, conveying the mysterious charm of the architectonics of this Crimean companion to Ottoman royal emblems.
The tughra originated in but was not restricted to the sphere of formal celebratory calligraphy. Its use was not confined to functions of certification and representation. Sagit Faizov deems it the crux of the artistic structure of letters. He regards the diplomatic correspondence and contracts of the Crimean ruling house as complete works of art with their own specific figurative system. Each element of that system – the invocation of the divine; the top field (between the invocation and the tughra); the tughra and the text of the letter – all have symbolic significance and assume their own strict place in the sacral stratigrafy of letters. Together they constitute a symbolic artistic integrity, a model of the universe, a theosophically exspressed system of the theologically most significant elements of the universe.
This publication was supported by the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts and the Institute of the Countries of Asia and Africa at Moscow State University named for M.V. Lomonosov.

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