Ottoman Turkish Clothing Resources

Dar Anahita "goes live" with some Ottoman Turkish Clothing Links and Resources.

This isn't complete, but i figured better to get some on-line than to keep delaying until i had more...

Bear in mind that the Ottomans weren't cohesive until rather late in SCA period, and didn't conquer Constantinople until 1453. So most surviving art and garments from the Ottomans is chiefly late 15th century and later.

If you know of some great links i missed, i'd love to hear about them. Drop me a line:


This is not a comprehensive list, just what i've got in my library that i've found helpful. There are more books in my library with Ottoman fabrics and/or garments, but in some cases, i've only found one or two pictures in them, so i didn't list them. And there are some wonderful books out there i haven't seen yet.

Yedida Kalfon Stillman, Norman A. Stillman.
Arab Dress, a Short History: From the Dawn of Islam to Modern Times (Themes in Islamic Studies).
Brill Academic Publishers: Leiden, The Netherlands, 2000.
ISBN: 9004113738
2nd Rev edition; 2003; ISBN: 9004135936
(i have the first edition and i don't know what is different between them)
This book presents a great overview of the clothing systems in use in Dar al-Islam, not including South and Southeast Asia. This book presents a wonderful basis from which to begin one's more indepth studies into a particular area of interest.

I have read the complaints of several people regarding what they felt were deficits in this book. Let me reiterate: It is an overview. It cannot present every detail of all clothing from al-Andalus to Central Asia, only an outline, a hint. If you are interested in the history and development of the clothing systems in these areas, then it is a valuable addition to your library. Note that it has a limited number of illustrations. For pictures of the clothing you will need to augment the data in this book with paintings, other items, fabric fragments, and surviving garments in art history books.

Hülya Tezcan & Selma Delibas
translated, expanded and edited by J. M. Rogers
Textiles: Costumes, Embroideries and other Textiles
The Topkapi Saray Museum (Volume II)
Boston, 1986. 216 pages. 136 color plates. Bibliography.
This book has glorious full color photos of a selection of garments from the Topkapi Serai, the palace of the sultan and his family in Istanbul. There are more that are not pictured here. The text notes that for the most part only the sultans' garments and those of his heirs were saved, and the museum purchased women's garments to round out their collection, especially for periods before the 19th century.

Tahsin z
Turkish Textiles and Velvets, XIV-XVI Centuries (Vol. 1)
Turkish Press, Broadcasting, and Tourist Department
Ankara, 1950
Turk Kumas Kadifeleri, XVII-XIX (Vol. 2)
Istanbul, 1951
Frustratingly in black-and-white, with a few re-drawn (not photographic) color plates. Additionally, i've only seen vol. 2 in Turkish. But the pictures and the English text are very informative, and there's an index of the plates in the back of volume 2 in English.

Woman in Anatolia: 9000 Years of the Anatolian Woman
29 November 1993 - 28 February 1994, Topkapi Sarayi Museum
Turkish Republic Ministry of Culture, General Directorate of Monuments and Museums
ISBN 975-17-1186-X
This is a great find. It covers women in art from prehistory to the 20th century. It has pictures of garments that i haven't seen in any other books - such as 16th c. chakshir (white underpants)

Nevber Gursu
The Art of Turkish Weaving: Designs Through the Ages
Redhouse Press, Istanbul: 1988.
A nice survey of Ottoman textiles, including some garments, comparing them to other arts, such as ceramic tiles.

Janet Arnold
"The Pattern of a Caftan, said to have been worn by Selim II (1512-20), from the Topkapi Sarayi Museum (Accession Number 2/4415), on display at the exhibition of Turkish art of the Seljuk and Ottoman periods, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, November 1967."
Costume: The Journal of the Costume Society, Victoria and Albert Museum
London. 1968, No. 2
Yeah, that's a long title for a short article, only four pages, and only one of those pages is text. A second page has a redrawing from a painting of Mustafa Pasha wearing a similar robe, and a redrawing of the garment. The third and fourth pages are scale drawings on a grid of the pattern for the garment, including pockets!

Metin And
Turkish Miniature Painting: The Ottoman Period
A Dost Publication, Istanbul, Revised Edition 1982.
Typical of many Turkish books, the reproductions aren't too good, but there are a few SCA-period paintings of Ottoman women.

Nicholas de Nicholay
The Nauigations into Turkie
London 1585
Da Capo Press, Amsterdam and New York: 1968.
A facsimile of de Nicholay's account of his travels. The art is supposedly by him.

Jennifer Scarce
Women's Costume of the Near and Middle East
Unwin Hyman, London, 1987
ISBN 0-7007-0344-6
The title is misleading, as the book covers essentially the costumes of the Ottoman Empire, with only a few limited forays into other Near and Middle Eastern cultures. There is a brief chapter on Byzantium, and one on Central Asia, with some very interesting photos of costumes found in archaeological sites dating back to the 5th C. BCE and the 2nd C. BCE. And the book finishes with a limited chapter on Persia and Afghanistan. But the body of the text focuses on the Osmali Turks from the 15th century onward, as they gradually spread their control over a vast area from North Africa to East Europe to Central Asia. This is is "late period" for SCA purposes. It is illustrated with historical paintings, photos of people in their own clothing, photos of surviving cosutmes, and layout diagrams for recreating some of these garments. Useful if you're interested in Turkish garb.

Web Sites

There is no single particularly good site for Ottoman.

Alas, many sites based in Turkey with art have no or only vague dates.

Ottoman Clothing in Art

Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Culture and Tourism
The Costumes of Ottoman Women - Photo Gallery
An interesting source of pictures, but with no dates attached. Each page - and there are several - presents pictures from several centuries, and they can be mixed up - there are some early pictures on the later pages - they range from very late 15th c. (two by the famous Italian Renaissance painter Bellini) to the 19th century. I've tracked down many of them. Write me if you have questions.

Bilkent University, Department of History
The Topkapi Palace Museum / Topkapi Sarayi
see the sections on
Miniatures from the Topkapi Museum - most is not Ottoman, being from the Persian Empire, but there's some Ottoman stuff there, too.

The Living Past
Several great pages of European drawings of mostly 16th c. clothing from various cultures within the Ottoman Empire.
Two of them are:
Contemporary European representations of 15th and 16th Century Ottoman clothing
Contemporary Turkish representations of 15th and 16th Century Ottoman clothing

British Library Images Online - Gallery of Ottoman Art
Note that a number of these are done by Persian artists, in the Persian style, and illustrating Persian garments.

The British Museum
A search on the word "Ottoman"...

Albrecht Durer's oil painting of The Massacre of the Ten Thousand Martyrs of Nicomedia, sometimes called The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand
This shows King Sophar killing Persian Christians - Durer and his patron are in the center of the painting, dressed all in black. Since these are a European artist's impressions, and Durer never went to Persia, but did go to Venice which traded with the Ottoman Empire, i suspect these are based on Ottomans, not Persians.

The Seventeenth Century Rålamb Costume Book 1
Note that this is *late 17th* century.

Eighteenth Century Art by Levni
Note that Levni, whose art is often an inspiration for SCAdians, is *18th* century. Here is some of his art. Again, it's close to 2 centuries out of date for the SCA, as lovely as his pictures are.
Levni's miniatures in the Surname-i Vehbi Resource Library: Levni
About Turkish Miniature Art
which is illustrated only with pictures by Levni, despite its name.

Karlsruher Türkenbeute : Frauen im Bad - Women in the Bath
This is from the late 18th century, which is quite obvious from the style of the clothing the woman who is fully dressed is wearing.

Actual Ottoman Clothing

At Turkish Culture dot org
Ottoman Clothing and Garments
A mix of period and non-period - read the captions carefully. Alas, most of the surviving period garments were for males and it appears that women's garments were more fitted except the most formal overgarments.
Ottoman Fabrics
A few garment frabric fragments from several centuries - read the captions carefully.
Flowers in Fabrics and Garments
A number of actual garments from several centuries.

The Topkapi Palace Museum / Topkapi Sarayi
housed at Bilkent University, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering
see especially the sections on
Palace Attire and Garments - 6 period garments, the rest are OOP for the SCA

NEW! At The Smithsonian Institute
in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Style and Status: Imperial costumes from Ottoman Turkey
Through January 22, 2006, so hurry on down!

Described as: An exhibition devoted to sumptuous and graphically stunning imperial Turkish robes (kaftans) from the 16th and 17th century, broadly organized according to technique. The core of the 68 objects on view is a group of opulent imperial robes from the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Additional works are on loan from the Mevlana Museum, Konya, Turkey, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and several national collections.

TurkoTek Discussion Boards
Some Textiles in the Corcoran Topkapi Exhibition, June 2000
Four garments which are also in the Topkapi Textile book, two of which are from the 16th century, and two from the 17th.

Louise W. Mackie
"Italian Silks for the Ottoman Sultans"
EJOS, IV (2001)(M. Kiel, N. Landman & N. Theunissen (eds.), Proceedings of the 11th International Congress of Turkish Art, Utrecht - The Netherlands, August 23-28, 1999), no. 31, pp. 1-21
A very interesting article... with color illustrations.

The Red Kaganate
and at
A site dedicated to peoples of Central Asia and the Steppes
Links to on-site info on Turkic, Mongol, Persian and Ottoman clothing.
Ottoman Clothing
an essay by my e-friend, Giles de Laval.

My e-friend Asim's site has some Ottoman info:
Overview of Ottoman Garments
Ghawazee Coat Redux: A Gentle Introduction to Ottoman Clothing
This page includes photos of actual SCA-period and just-out-of-period Ottoman garments.

A Turkish Lady's Ensemble
Many people love this site. However, Mistress Zaynab Yasmine's website has 17th/18th c. garb, in very modern colors and fabric patterns, no real info on garb beyond a few photos, and a little info on hats, most of which are 17th c. Her outfits are really quite pretty, but they follow modern color choices, not period ones. In period garments were all quite different from each other in color, whereas our modern sensibility wants things to match or "go" with each other. I understand that she went to Turkey and examined actual clothing in the Topkapi Serai, then drastically changed how she made her garb before she got Laureled, but none of that is on her website, alas, other than photos of the outfit she wore for her laureling. So i cannot really recommend this site, but i figured i needed to mention it. Mistress Zaynab may be knowledgeable, but sadly her knowledge is not presented on this website.

NOTE: I just received an e-mail from Mistress Zaynab. She explained why her website is rather limited:
"I did not create my site and the person who did completly dissappered before I was able to update any research, leaving me with no way to change or remove the site."

This is unfortunate, because i'm sure Mistress Zaynab has a lot of wonderful information.

If you have questions, you can try:
SCA Turkish Personas e-group

Turkish Textiles and Dress - The Cornell Costume Collection
This shows traditional 19th and 20th century clothing.

Patterns for Ottoman Garments

Several SCA people have patterns for making garments on their websites. Here are the ones i know about.

Master Rashid's patterns, especially his shalvar.
Master Rashid has kindly allowed me to put them on my website.

My e-friend Asim also has some patterns:
Coming *really soon* - i'm just waiting for Asim to e-mail me back...

The Renaissance Tailor : Recreating 16th and 17th Century Clothing
The garments are in the "Demonstrations" section, in the subsection "Eastern European", although they are actually Central Asian garments, much like 16th century Ottoman and Persian.
Rectangular Constructed Coats

Rectangular Pants

Basic Central Asian Hats

Felt Slippers

Felt Boots

In all the cases above, you'll probably have to make a few alterations, but you'll be off to good start. And these very geometric patterns are easy to do and use your fabric economically.

Commercial Patterns

None of the commercial "belly dance" patterns i've looked at - Atira's patterns for example - are even modern ethnically accurate, let alone SCA period.

The commercial patterns closest to anything historical that i've seen are by Folkwear. Folkwear patterns are available at a number of specialty fabric stores, quilt and crafts stores. And they can be purchased directly from the website

In the Caravan Collection:

  • Turkish Coat
    very useful garment, especially if you add fasteners. Although there are women on the packages, these can be worn by anyone.
  • Sarouelles
    (also spelled sarawal and serouel in literature) - three different styles for men and women - narrow and poofy. Use the narrow *North African* pattern. Neither of the others is appropriate for the SCA
  • Egyptian Shirt
    This is included here only for the pockets. There were pockets (not just slits) in period some garments from the Ottoman Empire, although not quite like the ones in this pattern. These are typical of pockets in modern ethnic clothing.
  • Note that the Turkish Dancer is NOT period for the SCA. Sorry, but the 19th century is a bit far from the 16th. I'm sure it's fine for dancers in other settings (and it does beat the heck out of an Egyptian cabaret outfit at an SCA event)
From the Asian/Oriental Collection:
  • Chinese Jacket
    adaptable for Persians, Mongols and other Central Asians.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Complaints? Drop me a line!

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