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May 25, 2017

Wonderful 19th Century Illustrations Show Clothes and Ceremonial Costumes from the Ottoman Empire

During the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire reached a peak of economic and political power. As such, the textile industry also witnessed a boom, with weaving techniques and the quality of fabrics at their pinnacle. Of course, the sultans would have nothing less than luxurious kaftans composed of the most expensive fabrics, with gold- or silver-plated threads. In order to supply the substantial demand, special workshops designed court apparel and furnishings, sometimes even placing orders to other workshops in Istanbul and Bursa in order to meet the high demand.

These watercolor illustrations made in the early nineteenth century are from an album presented to the Russian heir to the throne Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov (1845-1894), who later became Alexander III of Russia. The album seems to have been a gift given in 1867 by someone by the name of Grigoriy Sharopenko and the pictures are most likely copies of earlier illustrations.

The drawings show clothes and ceremonial costumes from the Ottoman Empire, with the most noticeable features being the various headdresses as well as the layering of the clothes. The combination of different textiles and manner of layering was a way of distinguishing not only gender but class, religion, and clans, and the aim was to combine the clothes so that each individual layer could still be seen.

(Images: The New York Public Library, via The Public Domain Review)



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