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A berat or nesan (“edict” or privilege title) issued for the Monastery of Mount Sinai, immediately after the ascension to the throne of the Ottoman Empire of Sultan Mehmet I, who ruled during the period between 1730 and 1754. This document grants certain privileges to the monastery, such as exemption from taxes, and the safety of monks, and the monastery’s property (arable land, gardens, and orchards) from any disturbance, encroachment, or other detriment. The berat document is crowned with the tugra (signature) of Sultan Mehmet I. This is a complex monogram that contains the name of the Sultan and all titles attributed to him. The tugra is incorporated into a triangular decorative design that extends upwards, also known as the “tree of life” evidently inspired by the the shape of a cypress tree. Its background is ornamented with a motif of a fine, winding plant stem with stylized flowers and leaves, in the hatayi style, painted with gold, blue and red ink on a light blue background. Under the tugra we find a total of 18 written lines (verses) in the divani script, with their left ends turning upwards towards the end of the page. The ink color is consecutively gold, red, and black. Small gold discs adorn the beginning, middle, and end of each line.


Details

Opaque pigments, ink, and gold on paper, with an attached cover of green silk
15 Safar 1144 / 19 August 1731
135 Χ 46.5 cm, number 137
St. Catherine's Monastery Saint Catherine, South Sinai Governorate