Letter Sultan Seyid Seyid bin Sultan (Said bin Sultan) Muscat 1855

Manuscript Letter sent by Said Bin Sultan ruler of Oman and Zanzibar not long before his death in 1856 from Muscat.

Letter Said bin Sultan 1855.
 Translating these calligraphic Arabic letters is always a challenge. The letter is translated as:
Top right, the name of the Sender: Said Bin Sultan
Top left: Name person to who the letter is addressed: al-Sayfi Asul ?
May God also protect him from evil and the conspiracies of licentious people, storms of ……. and reptiles of danger [Amin]. Your kind letter was received and your beloved understood what you stated therein and pleased for your safety. On expressing the thanks towards the son Majid, it actually shows the love of you, and we assume that after 2 months in sha allah we will be coming to you. This is for you to know and if there is anything that you may want before the meeting, please let us know. Salaam. Done on the 28th of Mahram 1272


Said Bin Sultan died a year after this letter. On the back of the letter is the stamp/ Tughra of Said bin Sultan. The three wax seals on the envelope also contain his Thugra. Date given in Arabic on the bottom letter is 1272 AH while on the address in a  European language is written 1855. "13 Dacle "55" on the address may possibly  refer to the 13-th day of the 11  month of the Islamic calender (Dhu-al-qada), but not sure. The letter confirms that a letter was received and wishes the recipient Peace and happiness. The recipient of the letter could not yet be identified.

Thugra Said Bin Sultan

Tughra of Said Bin Sultan

 The main parts of the empire of Said Bin Sultan were Oman and East Africa. After the "merchant Sultan" had moved his capital from Oman to Zanzibar, he went every 3 or 4 years to Oman to ensure control. The Sultan's eldest son was caretaker of Oman when he was not present. The Sultan's family was also spread between Oman and Zanzibar. According to his daughter Bibi Salme in her memoirs, the family members in the poorer Oman had a much more modest life style compared to the more glamorous lifestyle of the family members on Zanzibar, however the Omani family members considered themselves superior to their African relatives. The Sultan's children on Zanzibar were from Suri 's (slave wives) from Circassia and Ethiopia. After the death of Said bin Sultan his eldest sons could not agree on his succession and with help of the British the prosperous Zanzibar and poorer Oman became separate Sultanates, starting a gradual decline of the prosperity of Oman until 1970. See the above slide-show for a photo of the address on the letter. The Sultan died at sea in 1856

The rare Biography of Said Bin Sultan was written by his grandson Rudolph Said Ruete, the son of Bibi Salme / Emily Ruete.

The book Memoirs of an Arabian Princess by his daughter Bibi Salme contains unique information about life at the Sultan's court in Zanzibar.

In the export section we have a plate that was given as part of the contents of the ship Prince Regent by the King of England to Said Bin Sultan. The ship was a return present by the King, as Said bin Sultan had previously given the ship Liverpool to the King.

Have requested assistance for the proper translation of the letter and it's address.

The letter from Said bin Sultan

The envelope

Lacquer seals with the Sultan's Tughra impressed


  1. Said bin Sultan (1791-1856) Ruler of Oman and Zanzibar. His place in history of Arabia and East Africa by Rudolph Said-Ruete , London Alexander Ousely 1929  After page 128 you find an  facsimile of a letter by Said bin Sultan
  2. Bibi Salme / Emily Ruete, Memoiren einer Arabischen Prinzessin 1886
  3. Joseph B.F. Osgood Notes of Travel or recollections of Majunga, Zanzibar, muscat, Aden, Mocha and other Eastern ports Salem 1854 page 60 describes the sultan as follows: "His general appearance is made prepossessing by a tall and erect figure, bright and piercing eyes, and an attractive smile, which frequently lights up his truly Arab countenance, to which a long white beard gives a venerable look. Though he is one of the handsomest men living, the several artists who at different times have visited Zanzibar have in vain solicited him to sit for his portrait. The Koran forbits him to encourage the making of images and pictures representing living beings, and he strictly complies with this precept, as well as another too commonly disregarded, that men should not wear jewellery of gold and silver. He therefore wears no jewelry upon his person, and a prudent economy is observable in his dress, which differs none from that of a high class Arab, except in the color of his check turban, which he wears in the fashionable mode of Soliman etc."
  4. News form the West letters form Oman to Batavia 1798-1806. Published on the occasion of the visit to Leiden University Library by H.E. the minister of Awqaf and religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman, Shaikh Abdallah bin Mohammed bin Abdullah al Salimi on Friday 11 July 2013 Presented by Jan Just Witkam