This piece of garment was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli as a set of ensembles from an independent dealer, in Istanbul in 2020 to add to and enhance The Zay Initiative Collection.
This is a pair of (Crimson) red and ivory vertical striped silk loose women’s trousers (Shalvar) with metal–gold–thread (Sirma)/(Tel_Sirma) embroidered embellishment and drawstring fastening.
The field of the Shalvar is constructed of silk and cotton stripe patterned woven (çitari) fabric and is embroidered along the sides in a long row running vertically down, and the middle with Sirma – gold – in (Couching) style embroidery featuring wavy foliage and floral motifs created by looping and folding the thread in different directions and orientation.
The embellishment flares near the two pockets around the lower hips and continues down the thighs to the mid-calf length. The embellished patterns and designs range from floral to auspicious religious symbolisms such as the crescent moon and star.
The ankle and the pockets on the sides are trimmed with thin ribbons made with herringbone braided gold Sirma. The gather or the panel for the drawstring looks like a more recent attachment constructed of plain red cotton fabric. The piece is completely unlined completely 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 (Cummerbund) were utilised 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 shalvār 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.
The intriguing history of çitari fabric unfolds within the Turkish diaspora during the 18th-century Ottoman era when other various novel fabrics gained prominence.
Distinguished by its unique attributes, this fabric features slender, parallel vertical stripes in contrasting colours, reminiscent of the strings of a musical instrument called the çitar.
Composed of tightly woven silk (Warp) and cotton (Weft) yarns, the çitari fabric stands apart from other striped textiles due to its specific weaving technique, coloured Warp patterns, choice of raw materials, and superior craftsmanship.
Notably, regions such as Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Tunceli, Diyarbakir, Tokat, Antalya, Harput, Yalvaç, Izmir, and Denizli were renowned for their exquisite çitari weaves during this period. Such was the fabric’s popularity that it even led to the importation of çitari from India and Damascus.
As such The Zay Initiative has in its possession pieces that were constructed of similar fabric that were sourced from the Levant region of the Arab world, especially Palestine and Syria. One such piece worth mentioning is a tunic dress from Palestine (ZI1998.500922 PALESTINE).
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