Şehsuvar Hanım

Şehsuvar Hanım (Ottoman Turkish: شهسوار خانم‎; 2 May 1881 – c. 1945; meaning "intrepid hero"[1]) was the first wife of Abdulmejid II, the last Caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate.

Şehsuvar Hanım
Şehsuvar, wife of Abdulmecid.jpg
An 1898 painting of Şehsuvar Hanım, painted by her husband
Born2 May 1881
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire (present day Istanbul, Turkey)
Diedc. 1945 (aged 63–64)
Paris, France
(m. 1896; died 1944)
IssueŞehzade Ömer Faruk
Full name
Turkish: Şehsuvar Hanım
Ottoman Turkish: شهسوار خانم
HouseOttoman (by marriage)
ReligionSunni Islam

Early lifeEdit

Of Turkish origin,[2] Şehsuvar Hanım was born on 2 May 1881 in Istanbul.[3] At a young age her father, himself attendant at the court, presented her in the imperial harem. Her name according to the custom of the Ottoman court was changed to Şehsuvar.[3]

She had honey color eyes and long golden blonde hair.[3] She could speak French,[4][2] and could understand English.[2]


Şehsuvar married Abdulmejid, at the age of fifteen, on 22 December 1896, in the Ortaköy Palace.[5] Şehzade Ömer Faruk,[6] the couple's only son was born on 29 February 1898.[7][8][9]

Şehsuvar (far right) at her son's wedding, 29 April 1920

Abdulmejid was interested in classical music. At times, he would perform with his wives, and the kalfas. He would be at the piano, Şehsuvar and Hayrünnisa Hanım would play the violin, and Mehisti Hanım the cello.[10]

At the exile of the imperial family, in March 1924, she followed her husband, firstly to Switzerland and then to France where they settled in Paris.[3][11]

In paintingsEdit

A painting by Abdülmecid depicting Şehsuvar playing violin, lady Ophelia playing piano, and his son Ömer Faruk plays cello as other two women, listen with rapt attention at his summer palace in Bağlarbaşı.

In an 1898 work by Abdülmecid, Pondering/Goethe in the harem, Şehsuvar is shown reclining on a settee.[12] However, according to an interview with Fatma Neslişah Osmanoğlu on 26 May 2002, she said that the figure does not resemble her paternal grandmother Sehsuvar Hanım.[13] In another work of 1915, Harmony of the Harem/Beethoven in the Harem, by her husband, she is shown playing a violin.[12]


She died in 1945,[6] having outlived her husband by nearly one year, and was buried in the Muslim Bobigny cemetery in Paris.[3][7]


Name Birth Death Notes
Şehzade Ömer Faruk  27 February 1898[7][14][9] 28 March 1969[7][14] married twice, and had issue, three daughters


  1. ^ Argit, Betül Ipsirli (October 29, 2020). Life after the Harem: Female Palace Slaves, Patronage and the Imperial Ottoman Court. Cambridge University Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-108-48836-5.
  2. ^ a b c Moralı, Seniha Sami (1978). Meşrutiyet, Dolmabahçe Sarayı ve Ankara'nın İlk Günlerine Dair. p. 60.
  3. ^ a b c d e Açba 2007, p. 210.
  4. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 109.
  5. ^ Açba 2007, p. 209, 210.
  6. ^ a b Uçan 2019, p. 256-57.
  7. ^ a b c d Adra, Jamil (2005). Genealogy of the Imperial Ottoman Family 2005. pp. 37-38.
  8. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 21.
  9. ^ a b Uçan 2019, p. 261.
  10. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 114.
  11. ^ Bardakçı 2017, p. 203.
  12. ^ a b Wendy M. K. Shaw (March 15, 2011). Ottoman Painting: Reflections of Western Art from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic. I.B.Tauris. pp. 85–8. ISBN 978-1-848-85288-4.
  13. ^ Ömer Faruk Şerifoğlu (2004). Abdülmecid Efendi, Ottoman prince and painter. YKY. p. 103. ISBN 978-9-750-80883-8.
  14. ^ a b Bardakçı 2017, p. xvi.