Part of an ensemble with seven other pieces that are also part of the collection ( ZI2018.500640 ASIA, ZI2018.500640a ASIA, ZI2018.500640b ASIA, ZI2018.500640c ASIA, ZI2018.500640e ASIA, and ZI2018.500640f ASIA).
This piece of garment was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli as a set of ensembles from Jade Bréval, an independent collector from France in 2018 to add to and enhance The Zay Initiative collection.
Ms Jade Bréval who had travelled for over 15 years in and around Türkiye had collected items such as this from shops and individuals in small villages and towns that she visited.
This is a pair of multicoloured – purple, ivory, orange, black, and blue – trousers (Shalvar) for women with wide loose legs and drawstring fastening made of woven striped cotton fabric.
The field of the Shalvar is beautifully embroidered in (Couching) style using gold and other metal thread (Sirma)/(Tel_Sirma) forming winding floral designs on both front and back along the waistline as well as the sides near the pockets. A long strip of embroidered pattern runs along both the front and back of the thighs too.
The cuffs at the ankle are constructed of simple printed cotton in beige and black with stitched-in drawstring slots. The drawstrings passed through each slot help tighten or loosen the ankles according to the wearer’s preferences. The piece is entirely hand-embroidered and hand-stitched.
Prior to the widespread acceptance of European clothing in the Ottoman Empire, individuals – men and women – residing in urban areas, regardless of their faith or social standing, typically adorned themselves with three primary articles of clothing. These included a calf-length cotton undershirt or (Gömlek), featuring long sleeves, which was worn over a pair of loose trousers known as (Shalvar). Additionally, they would wear a long-sleeved robe called an Entari, reaching the ankles or floor.
Additional layers were added as necessary, based on weather conditions, social occasions, and social status. These layers encompassed items such as waistcoats, short jackets like (Cepken) and (Yelek) or (Jilek), extra Entari, as well as coats of various sizes and lengths. Belts adorned with elaborate embroidery and ornate buckles, or just embroidered sashes as (Cummerbund) were utilized to accentuate the bust, waist, and hips, creating a defined silhouette.
Although, the Entari was common throughout the Ottoman Empire, layering with a Cepken and a Yelek over a Gömlek and a pair of loose Shalvar was most common in the Balkan regions, an influence that widely spread through the rest of the Ottoman Empire and was especially popular in c. late 19th and early 20th centuries in the north-western provinces such as the Marmara region in present-day Türkiye, as it had a significant Balkan population.
At its peak, the Ottoman Empire spanned three continents and served as the crossroads between the east and the West – the Fertile Crescent, the Levant, Eastern Europe including the Balkans till the southern edge of the Great Hungarian Plain, Northern Africa, and Eastern Mediterranean.
After the conquest of the Arab world in c. 1516-1517 CE its control over the Middle East lasted for four centuries until the early 20th century with the onset of WW I and the Arab Revolt. These four hundred years witnessed many instances of mutual Arab and Ottoman cultural influences and exchanges. Through areas such as social life and art – decorative and performing –we come across several instances of Arab and Turkish culture blending together through the centuries. Just as European fashion was often inspired by the French court this socio-cultural blending between Ottoman Turkey and the Middle East was clearly reflected in its fashion and material culture.
Thus, while emulating Ottoman fashion as the mark of class in the Arab world was one side of the puzzle adapting Eastern European fashion particularly Balkan as part of mainstream couture culture because of the sizeable Balkan population within the Empire was another. Therefore, it is not surprising to find several articles of clothing and their terms similar between the two cultures.
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