This piece of garment was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli as a set of ensembles from a dealer, in Istanbul in 2021 to add to and enhance The Zay Initiative Collection.
This is a pair of purple and ivory vertical striped silk loose women’s trousers (Shalvar) with metal – possibly 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 embellished with (Couching) style embroidery done with herringbone braided possibly gold Sirma.
It features a stylized floral arrangement by looping and curling the thread in different directions and orientations forming wavy vine-like branches and circular floral and foliage motifs. The embroidered embellishment is primarily heavy along the side seams, pockets, and ankle cuffs. The rest of the field reflects similar embroidered embellishments in a few vertical lines running parallel to one another. While the embroidered parts around the cuffs are lined with a fine ivory cotton fabric, the seams of the field, the pockets as well and the embellished parts of the field are lined with paper mostly old Turkish newsprints in Latin script. A lavender Satin ribbon passes along the top panel of the trousers as a drawstring fastener that looks like a new addition.
Although dating back to c. 1970s this pair of trousers were constructed in the traditional style prevalent during the 19th century Ottoman period.
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.
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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