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Buy our full-size paper patterns with complete instructions and historical notes for Gentleman's Ottoman Turkish Outfit including caftans, salvar (trousers) and shirt. Fits chests 34"-54". All Sizes in one envelope. Embellishment suggestions included.
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fine wool, silk or brocade
linen or lightweight silk for lining
may also be entirely or partially lined with fur
caftans -- 5yds at least 45" wide
shirt -- 3 yds at least 60" wide
salvar -- 2 yds at least 60" wide
10-20 buttons and loops for front closure
braid and passementerie trim to taste
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Below is an excerpt from the historical notes you will receive as part of this pattern:
Men's Clothing of the Ottoman Empire
At first glance, the clothing worn by men at the height of the Ottoman Empire looks simple and uniform. In truth this rigid heirarchical society produced a complicated and ever-changing set of sumptuary laws that allowed residents -- Turk and foreigner alike -- to immediately identify the rank and job title of a person simply by looking at his clothing. These regulations were codified in the Kanun-i Teshrifat, the Law of Ceremonies, that determined the fabric, cut, size, colours and ornaments for all important dress. Every member of the court, state official, military officier or dignitary had easily recognizable headgear and dress and prescribed place in the Sultan’s cortege. The world of the Sultan (and by extension, all of Istanbul) was one of pomp and circumstance.
Men’s clothing consisted of a shirt (gömlek), inner kaftan (entari), trousers (shalvar), outer kaftan often lined with fur, high boots (basmak), shoes (mest) and slippers (chedik or chizme). The inner kaftan was often bound with a sash (kushak) or a metal and jeweled belt (kemer). On his head, he wore a turban or hat depicting his rank and station. (The study of turbans is very detailed and will be explored in the historical notes in the accessories pattern.) In addition to the clothing one purchased for oneself, there were the ceremonial and award kaftans, hilats, which were given by the Sultan to men in his favour.
At left we see a depiction of Sultan Murad III (r. 1574-95) from the Codex Vindobonensis 8626 dated 1590. He wears a buff-coloured kaftan lined with dark brown fur (probably sable) over a bliush-grey brocade kaftan with elbow-length sleeves over an undergarment with tight, long yellow sleeves pushed up to wrist length. The sleeves of his topmost kaftan are hanging behind him, a common affectation in a ceremonial kaftan. He wears the turban, sword, and jewelry that announce his position. His guards (of which one is shown) wear long-sleeved blue kaftans lined with pink with the front skirts tucked up into their yellow kushaks. Also in their kushaks is tucked a dagger. A sword and a powder horn hangs from their other hip and they carry their muskets in their arms. They wear blue shalvar, yellow socks and slippers, and conical caps, a mark of their position as the Sultan’s musketeers.
A Vizier from the same picture album is shown at right. He wears a dark blue plain-coloured caftan lined with orange silk with red polka dots. His sleeves are also cast behind him. His under kaftan is green and he appears to have no tird layer, indicating his more lowly position. The Peyks (bodyguards) who surround him wear gold and red brocade kaftans tied with various striped kushaks. Their tall hold hats with plumes indicate their rank and status.
Another Peyk is shown at left. He wears a horizontally-striped kaftan under his elaborately patterned kaftan. He wears blue shalvar and red slippers or boots. The Peyks in the picture he is taken from are all wearing different colours and patterns, but their equipment and accessories are still all the same.
The Pashas shown at right echo the clothing of the Vizier except on a lower level still. They are dressed for an audience with the Sultan -- and therefore wearing formal dress. They wear long unfigured solid-coloured robes with another kaftan underneath as seen at the sleeves. One wears elbow-length sleeves. The other has his hanging sleeves cast behind him. Their turbans would indicate their more precise rank in the Court.
An odd member of Ottoman society from the Western European point of view is the Acemioglans. These are boys who were given in tribute to the Sultan. They are slaves, but their lot is not as pitiful as that word normally implies. Acemioglans are the young men who run the palace and serve the Sultan in all capacities. Those who show ability and loyalty are promoted. The Pashas in the Sultan’s Council Chamber and even the Grand Vizier started their lives as Acemioglans.
The young man shown at left is one of a number of boys wearing the same thing -- a long-sleeved plain-coloured kaftan (his is blue), plain shalvar (yellow), boots (red) with the unlined skirts of his kaftan tucked into his yellow kushak. He wears a pointed hat but other boys in the picture wear turbans and hats that look like red yarn wigs. Knowing Ottoman society, these different “toppers” had rank or job significance that was lost on the European artist who drew them. An Acemioglan cook is shown at right. He wears a short blue elbow-length kaftan (a kaftan obviously designed for someone who works around a fire), white shalvar and kushak and black boots. His hat is yellow but soft, unlike the other conical hats shown thus far. His outfit is clearly the functional dress of a man who works for a living, but the type of cloth he would be allowed and his headdress were still strictly controlled by the Kanun-i Teshrifat.
Short kaftans tend to be de rigeur for labourers as well as boys. The schoolboy shown at right is one of a number of boys shown collecting alms. This boy is in a purple short kaftan with long sleeves and matching shalvar with yellow boots. He wears an orange kushak with a gold-edged sash through it. He wears a turban but others in the group wears terpush (red pillbox hats). All have long braids hanging down their backs.
The men shown at left are pulling a swing ride at a public festival. They are dressed very much like the boy at right except in less fine fabrics. They wear red terpus on their heads but are bald and bearded which is a mark of adulthood.
Clothing did not only indicate age and status in life but also what position you held as your job. At right is the picture of one of the Sultan’s Falconers. The hunt was a favourite pasttime of sovereigns and young princes and members of the hunting party were favoured servants. At least 300 people accompanied the Sultan on the hunt, sometimes many more. This Falconer’s outer kaftan and his shalvar are of beautiful, colourful brocades. His shalvar are also quite wide. On his head is a curious bag-like hat that I have only seen on falconers.
Another important job during the hunt was that of the Zagarci or the Keeper of the Sultan’s Hounds. He wears a solid-coloured kaftan with long sleeves and skirts tucked up into his kushak. A white ankle-length under-kaftan shows beneath. He wears a curious pointed tan hat that has a wide white band around it with a channel in it as if for a missing feather. Unlike the other men, the Zagarci is not bearded but has only a large curling moustache.
Finally we come to the Sultan’s police force, the Yenicheri Agasi or Janissary Corps. The Janissaries answered to no one except their comander and the Sultan, so they were afraid of no one. Not only charged with keeping the peace, they also ensured that Istanbul was a cleanly place. Their methods were often brutal. In the picture at right, we see two Janissaries beating a man with their batons for not cleaning the street in front of his house as had been ordered.
Even though they were policemen, the Janissaries didn’t wear a uniform per se. They wore a hat called a bork that looked like an envelope with a bag hanging off the end. This was worn on the head so that the “bag” hung down to cover the neck as shown in the picture above. A Janissary’s rank was known by how his bork was decorated. The Janisarries above wear silk kaftans -- one with elbow-length sleeves and the other with hanging sleeves, not unlike the Pashas shown earlier -- lined in red and faced with purple. Their under-kaftans have long sleeves and are made from sumptuous bright colours. These are belted with colourful kushmaks while the outer kaftans hang loose, only held closed by a button at the throat. Their shalvar do not show, but they wear yellow boots on their feet. They carry daggers tucked in their kushmaks and their batons of office.
Not all men of Istanbul had beautiful kaftans and jeweled daggers. The illustraion at left shows a simple man of Istanbul. His greyish blue over kaftan is plain and probably made from simple wool. Under it he wears a brownish thigh-length kaftan and red pants that are not very wide in the leg. On is head he wears a plain white turban with no decoration and on his feet are yellow slippers.
The same man’s winter dress probably consisted of the yellowish cloak as shown on the man at right. His cloak appears to be lined with a dark fur, but it was certainly not the black fox, squirrel or sable preferred by the Sultan. This simple city-dweller wears wooden patens over his yellow soft boots to keep his feet out of the cold mud.
Faroqhi, Suraiya and Christoph K. Neumann, eds. Ottoman Costumes: From Textile to Identity. EREN Press, Istanbul, 2004.
Metin And. Istanbul in the 16th century. Akbank, Istanbul, 1994.
Texcan, Hülya. “The Topkapi Palace Museum Collection -- Fashion at the Ottoman Court.” In P Magazine, Issue 3, Spring/Summer 2000.
Sevgi Gurtuna. Osmanli Kadan Giyisi. Kültür Bakanligi , Ankara, 1999.
Zygulski, Zdzislaw, Jr. Ottoman Art in the Service of the Empire. New York Univeristy Press, 1992.
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This information © 2008 Kass McGann and Reconstructing History