Dar Anahita Presents

Ottoman Women's Clothing
An Historical Overview

Part 3 - The 18th Century

Early 18th Century

Ottoman women's dress is now changing more noticeably.

  • Notice the shaping and cutting of the sleeves in Levni's paintings.
  • Women's shalvar now have longer and wider legs - but they are not gathered at the ankles - instead, the legs are about 1-1/2 times as long as the wearer's legs. This excess is tied below the knee and the legs are allowed to hang loosely.
  • There is a new shape of hat, too. It sits on the head, but is low on one side where it curls up - how this was achieved i don't know.
  • And diamonds have become fashionable in the Ottoman Empire.

1712 - Jean-Baptiste Vanmour

Vanmour travelled with the French Ambassador to Constantinople, Marquis Charles de Ferriol, who later published Vanmour's work in a hand colored folio as if it were his work, without Vanmour's name. Vanmour's Collection of 100 prints, first printed in 1712-13, represented different cultures of the Levant...

Notice the women are now wearing soft floppy hats that drape to one side of their heads. Notice also how the artist has added windows in a purely European style.

Harem woman

Harem woman relaxes, smoking a pipe

Haseki - lead wife

Haseki sultana - lead wife

Harem woman

Harem woman playing what may be a saz

1718 - Lady Mary Montagu

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the wife of the English ambassador to Turkey, spent two years in Turkey in the early 1700's. During her stay she wrote many letters decribing the clothing and habits of Turkish women - including a form of innoculation against small pox. In the center, a European painter portrays her in Ottoman dress in 1718.

Protrait of Laura Tarsi presented as being Lady Mary
Protrait of Lady Mary by Richardson

Protrait of Lady Mary by Johnathan Richardson

full length portrait of Mary Montagu Mary facing left

The two flanking pictures are actually derived from a work from the 1740s by Jean-Etienne Liotard (see below), "A Portrait of Laura Tarsi", of which at least 3 versions exist by the artist himself. They have long been mistakenly thought to be of Lady Mary.

1720-25 - Levni

Levni was an important Ottoman artist of the 18th century. He painted largely between 1720-25. Note that this is about 1-1/4 century after the SCA period ends. This means the slit sleeves on the enteri, the wide legged pants (which are actually NOT gathered at the ankle, but tied below the knee, the legs are so long), and the odd asymmetrical hats that curl up on one side are well out of period.

Woman in outdoor dress

Woman in outdoor dress

Woman in outdoor dress

Woman in outdoor dress

Woman in indoor dress
Woman in indoor dress

It look like her hair is in many braids tied together at the bottom.

Woman in indoor dress

Note her many braids. She holds a spool of thread in her left hand.

Woman in indoor dress

This woman wears her hair loose and fluffy

Female Musicians

Note the multitude of braids on these female musicians. Their fingertips appear to be henna'ed.

1720 & 1745 - Abdullah Buhari

Abdullah Buhari was another important Ottoman artist of the 18th century. He painted largely between 1720-45. His work is perhaps less charming than Levni's, but it is still useful in showing changing Ottoman fashions.

young woman

Woman with Flower

Haseki Sultane

Seated Woman with Servant

Young Woman wearing Indoor Winter Outfit

Woman in Indoor Winter Outfit

Haseki Sultane

Two Women, one Seated in a Chair

Mid-18th Century

1730s-1750s - Jean-Étienne Liotard

Swiss artist Jean-Étienne Liotard drew the pictures below with pastels, with their delicate, cool colors, and attractive but not crudely sexualized women in homey settings. Some, if not most, of his models were French noblewomen, and some of the items in the pictures were Liotard's own, which he used as props to create the setting.

Woman in gold and silver

Seated Woman in Gold and Silver

Greek Women Playing Mancala

Greek Women Playing Mancala

At the Entrance of the Baths

At the Entrance of the Hammam (Baths)

Woman on Divan

Woman Seated on Blue Divan

Sultane Reading a Book

Marie Adélaïde of France, daughter of King Louis XV, in Turkish dress, 1735

European Woman in the Baths with her Slave

European Woman in the Hammam (Baths) with her Slave

The French School

I don't know if the artists of the French School were French or were French-trained Ottoman painters.

In Red In Black
In Black and Pearls

Note her loose fluffy hair

In Gold

Note her many braids

Eastern Woman

Painting titled "Eastern Woman".
Note her loose fluffy hair.

Coming Back From the Orchard

"Coming Back From the Orchard", by "Rafael"

Late 18th Century

Interestingly, late 18th century Ottoman clothing shows clear influence from the French: fabrics are similar - pastel, with tiny patterns of flowers and narrow stripes, there is a high-waisted look to the entari, and the enteri sometimes has deeply cut neckline.

Additionally, women are now often wearing their hair down and somewhat fluffy.

Husein Fazil bin Tahir Enderuni

The pictures below come from the 1793 Huban-name ve Zenan-name by miniature painter Husein Fazil bin Tahir Enderuni

Women in Birth

Woman on Birthing Chair

Women in Bath

Women in the Bath (Hammam)

Lady from Istanbul

Lady from Constantinople

Women in Park

Harem Women in the Palace Garden

Ottoman Artists

These two pictures are clearly from the same time period, based on painting style, use of color, and details of the women's dress, but i am not certain of their source...

Woman with a fan

Woman holding a fan

painting with three panels

Greek Women from Constantinople Dancing (lowest panel)

European Artists

I have not been able to ascertain the artists of these pictures, but they are clearly a continuity of the very late 18th century style.

Young Sultane Senior

Young Senior Suntana

Haseki Sultane

Haseki Suntana

As are these, which remind me of the work of some French artists.

Muslim Spring Outfit.jpg

Muslim Spring Outfit

Loose short-sleeved outer coat is lined with light fur and faced on the outside

Cariye: Female Slave

Cariye: Female Slave

Muslim Summer Outfit.jpg

Muslim Summer Outfit

Note how her braids are tucked up into her head covering.
Muslim Winter Outfit.jpg

Muslim Winter Outfit

Loose short-sleeved outer coat is lined and faced on the outside with dark fur

Woman in Outdoor Outfit

Woman in Outdoor Coat (Feraçe)

Woman in Outdoor Outfit

Woman in Outdoor Coat (Feraçe)

Late 15th and 16th Century Ottoman Women's Clothing

17th Century Ottoman Women's Clothing

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19th Century Ottoman Women's Clothing

Actual Ottoman Fabric

Revised and updated 25 September 2011