A History Of Fashion In The Ottoman Empire

Author: Istanbul Grill | | Categories: Istanbul Turkish Cuisine , Turkish Architecture , Turkish Art and Culture , Turkish Garments , Turkish Monuments , Turkish restaurant , Turkish Traditional Clothes , Turkish Traditional Music , Turkish Traditions


Tradition plays an important role in the Turks' daily lives, which extends to their clothing. In Anatolia, the salwar (trousers), inner gown, and kaftan (outer garment) that they wore in Central Asia were carried over by the Seljuks (1037-1157). Through miniatures and ceramics, the period reveals the variety of attire worn by the Anatolian Seljuks.

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The V shaped opening of the neck and the decorative seam at the point where the arm joins the body are the most striking features of Seljuk dresses. A tiraz is typically an inscribed band on this seam. Ottoman fashion changed as time passed, but remained largely unchanged.

Garments of the Ottoman Sultans

Best Turkish restaurant and Turkish Traditional costumes.Ottoman clothing can be viewed in Istanbul's Topkapi Palace Museum. The number of clothing types is more than 1500, from outerwear to socks. As well as clothing for men and women, the palace collection contains children's clothing also.

The costumes in the Topkapi Palace costume collection date to the 15th and 16th centuries. They are fur-lined outer garments made of dark brownish-green and red broadcloth, both with v-necklines; long sleeves on one, and short sleeves on the other.

The collar, front, and sleeves have been turned over so that the fur lining is exposed. A strong influence of Seljuk culture can be seen in these garments. Their names are recorded as kazaki in the early palace records.

During his 1545 visit to Istanbul, Italian traveler Luigi Bassano da Zara introduced Westerners to Turkish attire and introduced this term. Both the term and the garment vanished in the early eras of the empire, but the term persisted through many eras of its history.

A majority of women wore kaba and cubbe (long gowns with diagonal openings down the front, usually attached with belts or cummerbunds). These garments were worn until the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Fabrics of Sultans Garments

Best Turkish restaurant and Turkish Traditional costumes.The Ottoman Empire reached a turning point in its history when its economic and political power peaked in the sixteenth century. As silk textiles developed, gold and silver metallic threads (or gold- or silver-plated threads) were added to create unparalleled wealth.

Their robes and kaftans were made from the most precious and luxurious fabrics, as they considered their clothes to be a symbol of importance. They influenced the development of Ottoman textile weaving through their taste for luxury and high-quality materials.

In special workshops in the palace, hassa nakkaşlari, whose work was used for making the fabrics used in court apparel and furnishings, designed fabrics for court wear and furnishings. Several orders were also placed in Bursa and Istanbul workshops in order to satisfy the demand, since the palace workshops were too small.

The silk fabrics particularly were subject to meticulous state control, as were fabrics woven for palaces and public use. In accordance with municipal codes, information about the number of warp threads, the weight, length, twist, and dye were determined and provided to the artisans.

When the fabric was woven, it was taken to a fabric-quality inspector (arşinci), who examined the cloth to see if it met the necessary weaving, length, and width standards. If approved, the fabric was stamped and released to the market.

These workshops produced a variety of exquisite fabrics used in the garments of the sultans, including heavy silks such as kemha (brocade), kadife (velvet), çatma (brocaded velvet), seraser (a precious silk fabric woven with threads of gold and silver), diba (a silk brocade), satin, and silk lampas; lighter silks such as taffeta, canfes (fine taffeta), and vala (a gauze like fabric); woolens (broadcloth), mohair, and cashmere; and a variety of cotton fabrics.

In addition to weaving centers in Italy and the West, renowned weaving centers were also ordered from them. The Chinese and Indian governments often sent textiles as gifts to Iran, India, and China, which are all known for their production of silk textiles. In addition to textiles, a good deal of fabric arrived from countries such as Iran, India, and China.

Motifs and Designs of Nakkaşhane

​​​​​​Best Turkish restaurant and Turkish Traditional costumes.A Nakkaşhane design is one which is influenced by the Persian "naqsha"; both refer to a pattern or design. The Chintamani motif is a design composed of three balls and a wavy line. There are all kinds of motifs employed in Chinese art on early Turkish fabrics, including floral motifs like Hatayi (flowers in profile) and lotus, spiraling branches with tiny leaves, Chinese clouds, and endless knots.

An additional motif seen in the Sultans' kaftans was the crown, a representation of the Italian weaving style which was translated into Ottoman taste by Turkish weavers. Despite being a very elegant motif, the crown motif generally served only as a connecting motif in the primary design scheme.

These motifs were also suitable for the imperial image and appear in court fabrics, such as the sun, moon, stars, and clouds. In 1514, numerous renowned Tabrizi designers were brought to the Ottoman court by the addition of Tabriz to the Ottoman Empire.

By incorporating composite blossoms of Far Eastern origin into ornamentation on Ottoman books, they introduced a new age of Ottoman book decoration called the saz style. With the new saz shapes, flowers are depicted at different angles, and serrated leaves twist and turn with pointy tips. Various Saz designs appeared on textiles soon after.

Palace design workshops were known for their flower designs in the saz style. Flowers are surrounded by leaves that resemble large, serrated, dagger-shaped blades, giving this pattern the appearance of thick reeds.

As a characteristic of this style, there are naturalistic representations of blossoms from paradise, such as roses, tulips, carnations, hyacinths, lilies, and jonquils, along with spring branches. Sultan Süleyman I designed kaftans embellished with these flowers, which were the central motifs of the garden of paradise.

Sultans' Outerwear of the Ottoman Empire

Best Turkish restaurant and Turkish Traditional costumes.Several types of outer clothing are worn over salwar (trousers), and kaftans may extend over the hips, go down to the knees or end at the ankles. For the Topkapi Palace collection, styles are fitted to the neck, collarless, and open from the front. The pieces widen from the waist downward, with triangular pieces at the sides and the front opening.

About 25 centimeters above the hem, the side seams are vented. Other Ottoman garments lack curved armholes since sleeves are sewn to the body without a curved neckline. Side seams are left open to allow pockets to be sewn into them.

In ancient times, salwar’s could be worn in a variety of forms on the lower body. The width and length of these trousers may range from knee length to ankle length. With buttons at the ankles, you could adjust the lower legs to a wide or narrow fit.

There are also trousers that have soft leather slippers stitched on the ankles (çakşir). At the waist, salwar trousers were usually secured with waistbands that were embroidered at either end and passed through a stitched seam at the top of the trousers that gathered the top to fit.

When the salwar became Westernized in the second half of the nineteenth century, they were belted as trousers, but the crotch remained broad as in the original salwar, and they narrowed toward the lower leg.

In everyday life, the sultans wore gold-threaded tops and bottoms covered by a tee shirt or inner robe over salwar’s and short or long kaftans with motifs in this style. As a result, it was called a kapaniçe. An extensive number of kapaniçe listed in the treasury register of 1680 use bands of bejeweled frogged bands as fastenings.

In addition, there is mention of a buttonless kapaniçe worn by a prince, which, in general, looks similar to the miniatures depicting sultans.

Dolama, which can be cut in three ways depending on its type, is yet another outer garment that is well known to many sources. An open front jacket with short sleeves, a collarless long jacket, and a semi-fitted jacket is the first item.

The tailor of Sultan Mahmud I (1730-1754) attached this note to a jacket sent for adjustment to describe a sirt dolamasi. Both of these types have long skirts, with the longer skirt having wider sleeves and a wider skirt. The other two types are divan and sipahi dolamalari, which have longer skirted.

Women and men wore the ferace as an outer garment in Ottoman times. In 16th century sources both locally and abroad, the furce was described as a broad robe (cübbe), open at the front with a wide body and sleeves.

Dresses of this style had floor-length skirts, fitted necklines (either rounded or slightly V-shaped), and vertical pockets at both ends of the opening. Winter versions were made of woolens (broadcloth) or mohair, lining with fur, while summer versions were lightweight silk fabric.

The Headgear of Ottoman Sultans

Best Turkish restaurant and Turkish Traditional costumes.An Ottoman sultan's dress would be finished off with woolen conical horasani, the earliest type of headgear. It is an ancient headgear that the Turks have worn for centuries. Women in Turkic countries have also worn tall versions of this headgear. Börk was one of the styles of horasani instituted during the reign of Murad I (1359-1389).

White felt was pulled into a long, tubular shape, with half folded back and hung to the rear. It was decorated and was known as an üsküf when worn by the sultans and Janissaries. During Murad I's conquests of Europe during the late fourteenth century, it was said to have been worn by him.

While presiding over a council of state meeting, the sultans wore üsküfs with a turban wrapped around them. The tac-I sultani (sultanic headgear) was a variant of this style of headgear.

Royal headgear took the shape of a cylindrical cylinder, around which fine muslin was wrapped during Mehmed II's reign (1444-46, 1451-81). Mücevveze was the name given to this new type of headgear. The headpiece of Sultan Selim I was called selimi and it was somewhat longer than his headpiece, Mücevveze.

Suleyman the Magnificent was also credited with inventing another type of headgear called the Yusufi. While the sultans sat on the throne, they wore this crown, which was the same height as the selimi, however, the crown was wider and fluted. Battles continued to be fought, however, in gold-trimmed felt boots known as üsküf.

The Westernization of Court Garments

Best Turkish restaurant and Turkish Traditional costumes.In the seventeenth century, the Ottoman state was greatly influenced by the West. This was a turning point in its political and economic fortunes. It was not only the West's influence on technology that influenced Ottoman culture, but also its influence on art. Economic bottlenecks also resulted in the deterioration of Ottoman cloth at the end of the century.

Tanzimat (Reorganization), a period of Ottoman reforms during which the Ottoman state officially opened to the West, was the beginning of the initiative toward Westernization of dress during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839).

The traditional saris made up half of his clothing, and the Western saris made up the other half. Ottoman sultans dressed like Western commanders due to the Westernization of military clothing.

They wore dark-colored suits, especially blacks and dark blues, with side-stripes and jackets with yellow or white piping on the collars and wristbands. Fez became the preferred garment of the Ottoman sultans as opposed to turbans. Hence, the Ottoman sultans looked very different after giving up their long-time costumes.

Traditional Costumes

Best Turkish restaurant and Turkish Traditional costumes.Man introduced clothing to protect himself against the elements. Social and moral values influenced it to become what it is today. As time passed, different types of clothing evolved. Socioeconomic structure, geography, material availability, and climate led to these differences.

The clothes worn by everyone in a tribe have been a reflection of their social status since the beginning of time. This has always been a tradition, not just an obligation. This concept is reflected in clothes as well as hair styles.

It is possible to learn a lot about society's workings from traditional costumes and finery. Textile is a source of anthropological information about societies, historical events and ethnological origins, as well as a sign of whether a society is settled or nomadic. The way a woman does her hair can also tell whether she is married, pregnant, or widowed in Yöruk or Turkoman villages.

There are different clothes for work, for daily wear, and for special occasions. The bridal chamber and the wedding chamber have different hair styles. Clothing can reveal the village where someone lives just by looking at it in markets.

As we know, today in Anatolia the clothes worn in different neighborhoods of the same village may be rather different. It is advisable not to refer to "Traditional Turkish costumes" as such by art historians, sociologists, folk dancers or designers.

Anatolia offers a wide range of clothing, according to a survey conducted by Sociologists at the General Directorate of Folk Culture Research and Development of the Ministry of Culture.

Best Turkish restaurant and Turkish Traditional costumes.Armed services personnel and people who take jobs in cities adjust naturally to city culture upon leaving their villages. Thus, the definition of men's clothing is a challenge for field research. There is generally little contact between women in rural areas and the outside world.

Dresses are generally in keeping with the lifestyles and traditions of the community within which they live. In general, clothes and decorations are modeled after previous generations. As well as dressing differently based on age and gender, children also wear different clothes.

A number of amulets are worn on clothing and hair to ward off the evil eye, because it is widely believed that it can be ward off.

As tradition continues to live on through conservative communities, older generations continue to dress and conduct themselves in the same manner as previous generations. The traditional clothing and finery of various cultures is unlikely to remain unchanged.

Material for clothing has certainly changed, and the effort involved in making them is not as meticulous as it used to be. The present day is characterized by many different styles, and there is a great deal of interaction between them.

Women are usually working most of the time in rural areas. Thus, different clothes are worn daily, for work, and on special occasions. The only time you will see special costumes and headdresses is during weddings.

Different hairstyles are characteristic of different social statuses, and of different stages of life, including whether or not a woman is married, engaged, or not. Women's hairstyles play a very important role in their daily lives.

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