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 square-shaped head cover or Scarf (Yazma) made of (Block_printed) or resists dyed cotton and strips of silk fabric and embellished with metal sequins – possibly aluminum or steel – plastic beads and cloves.
The field of the Scarf is embellished with printed floral and geometric designs in ivory, blue, and purple over a black base. The edge of the field has strips of red, green, and black silk fabric sewn to it.
These strips have overlayers of metal sequins, Crocheted trimming lace ribbons (Oya) made of ivory silk corded threads, and yellow plastic beads. The very edge of the Scarf is decorated with fringes made with white plastic beads, metal sequins, and cloves.
In certain parts of Turkey, similar panels of fabrics can be referred to as (mandil_Yazma_makrama) or (Yazma_yemeni). However, these fabrics are more akin to kerchiefs than scarves and are typically rectangular in shape. The various names or terms for these fabrics reflect the cross-cultural exchanges between the Arab world and the Ottoman regions.
The origin of the term Yazma_yemeni is uncertain, but some sources suggest that the earliest kerchiefs were possibly made of Block_printed fabrics imported from Yemen. As printing facilities were later established within the empire, the term was generalized to any printed fabric.
Over time, the use of the terms Yazma_yemeni or mandil_Yazma_makrama declined as scarves adorned with painted or printed patterns and Oya trimmings became popular. These were simply, called Yazma, retained a square shape instead of being rectangular and were primarily used as headgear.
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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