Dar Anahita Presents

Ottoman Women's Clothing
An Historical Overview

Part 1
Late 15th through 16th Centuries

Late 15th to early 16th Centuries

woman servant janissary

Gentile Bellini, 1490s

The famous and well-trained Renaissance Italian artist Gentile Bellini spent some time in Istanbul in the late 15th century. These two drawings show a Janissary and a female "servant"

The Conversion of the Selenites

Carpaccio, 1507

Here's another interpretation, by the Renaissance Italian artist Carpaccio (Vittore Scarpaccia) in 1507, of what Turks looked like. It's likely he had never been to Istanbul. From the way the Turks are depicted, it looks as if he has seen men, but not women, as the men's clothing looks plausible, while the women's appears to be based on reports but not first had experience. He has used contemporary Ottomans to represent people of the ancient Holy Land in his painting, The Conversion of the Selenites:

Massacre of 10,000

Albrech Durer, 1508

Here is a detail from Albrech Durer's 1508 painting, The Massacre of the Ten Thousand Martyrs of Nicomedia, with men dressed as Turks:

Early to mid-16th C.Women going to the bath with eunuchs accompanying them

A less skilled painting by a visiting European of women and children going to the bath house accompanied by a eunuch. The servant at the back of the line is not carrying an umbrella, but rather has a bundle of clean clothes on her head draped with a decorative cloth.

Mid-16th Century

Nicolas de Nicolay

Artists who had never been to Istanbul copied pictures from those who had. The color pictures appear to have been made in Istanbul, while the black-and-white ones copied from them. Nicholas de Nicolay traveled with the French embassy to Istanbul in 1555 and made his own sketches. The publication of Nicholas de Nicolai's book, Nauigations in Turkiye was reprinted in numerous editions. The first had his art, but later editions had their own, derived from de Nicholay's but by artists who had never been to Istanbul

young Turkish woman indoors young Turkish woman indoors young Turkish woman indoors
Turkish woman in outdoor dress Turkish woman outdoors Turkish woman outdoors-German edition
from the hand-colored German edition
Turkish woman in outdoor dress Turkish woman outdoors Turkish woman going to the bath-German edition
from the hand-colored German edition

More illustrations from the hand-colored German 1572 edition of Nicholas de Nicolay - with plates somewhat altered from de Nicolay's originals:

Turkish woman at home-German edition
Turkish woman at home
Turkish woman with children-German edition
Woman in outdoor clothing with children
Woman from the Palace-German edition
Woman from the Palace
Haseki sultan-German edition
Haseki Sultan

Late 16th Century

circa 1590 - Codex Vindobonensis 8626

These illustrations are from a book in the Austrian National Library, Cod. Vind. 8626. It is believed this codex was painted between 1586 and 1591 by an unknown south German artist in the suite of Bartolemeo di Pezzana, ambassador of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II to the Sublime Porte, the Sultan, in Istanbul.

Because i found these at different websites and they were derived from different sources, the quality of these pictures is not identical.

In the Harem - Favorite of the Sultan
fol. 116r
Palace women
Palace women
MALE dancers
These are MALE dancers.

Note that they wear skirts over their entaris, and some dancers have a short skirt over the long skirt to accent hip movement.

Unknown Artists, Late 16th Century

These illustrations are from the Bodleian Library, Oxford, Ms. Bodl. Or. 430. Based on the art style, and certain aspects of the clothing, dated 1588, around the same time as the Codex Vindobonensis

These illustrations are from yet other sources i haven't tracked down yet. Based on the art style, and certain aspects of the clothing, i think these, too, are from the mid- to late-16th century. The short "pillbox" hats are typical of the 16th century, while the aigret may be more typical of the later 16th century. The first two are from the same original source - notice the way the faces and hands are drawn.

Evinde T¸rk Kadin•

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17th Century Ottoman Women's Clothing

18th Century Ottoman Women's Clothing

19th Century Ottoman Women's Clothing

Actual Ottoman Fabric