TEATOWEL 3: TURHAN SULTAN

The Valide (Mother) Sultan had the most important position in the Ottoman Empire after the Sultan himself. Her position compares to the queens, wives of kings, of the western world. As the mothers of the Sultans, they would have a significant influence on the affairs of the Empire. Having the largest suit of the Harem and an army full of servants, they would receive reports on the affairs of the State from the Sultan every morning and would listen to the deliberations of the Imperial Court.


The Sultan Mothers would have the second highest income after the Sultan equivalent to 3.000 gold money and income from very fertile and valuable pieces of land they owned.  The tremendous power, priviliges and wealth they owned have been used, in accordance with Ottoman traditions, in the realisation of charity projects for the good of their people.  They commissioned a lot of architectural works on social, education, trade, health and religious affairs. At the same time, they founded charities and foundations as well.  Mosques, turkish baths, fountains, tombs, schools and even building complexes containing all of these have been erected as a result.


Hadice Turhan Sultan, was one of the well known of the Sultan Mothers. In 1648, at the age of 21, she came to the rank of “Valide Sultan (Sultan Mother”) when her son Mehmet IV came to throne. As Mehmet IV came to throne at a very young age, she also had the privilige to be ranked the Acting Sultan. She wisely chose good ministers (vezirs) and prime ministers (sadrazams) and due to her son not being deeply interested in imperial matters, she has influenced the running of the empire for a period of 30 years. Moreover, the Ottoman Empire reached its largest territories becoming the second largest empire in the world with a territory of around 5 million square kilometers.


She was very honest, kind hearted and clever and when she became the Valide Sultan, it was through her generous patronage of architectural works that important masterpieces were constructed.

The New Mosque complex also called the Valide Sultan Mosque at Eminonu is one of these masterpieces more than 340 years old. The mosque was completed in 1663 (inaugurated in 1665) together with its Royal Pavilion, tomb, fountain, primary school and a market which is known as the Spice Bazaar. The Spice Bazaar was commissioned by her as a donation for the New Mosque.

The patronage of Hadice Turhan Sultan is, amongst the other Ottoman Women Builders, an effective and important one which has contributed much to the courtly culture.


PLANE TREES: Together with the commencing of the construction of architectural pieces such as mosques or a complex of buildings, plane trees would be planted. It would symbolize power, endurance and grandeur.

KNOT OF GOOD LUCK (found on the corners of the border and at the brooch): Found mostly on Ottoman coins, the “Knot of Good Luck” has been widely used on many artifacts as it was believed that it brought good luck, abundance and health.