This object was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli from an independent dealer, in Istanbul in 2021 to enhance the collection of The Zay Initiative.
This is a pair of bright fuchsia pink calf length balloon shaped trousers (Shalvar) of silk (Damask) fabric, with drawstring fastenings and a pair of gathered cuffs.
The field of the Shalvar is constructed of a combination of fabrics – Damask silk, and two different kinds of woven patterned cotton. It has a broad waist band with slots for drawstring fastenings and tightly gathered cuffs.
The primary field of the trousers made of the Damask fabric features woven floral motifs as embellishments. The thick waistband linking the two legs on the top features woven stripes in ivory and grey A square piece of red green and ivory printed striped cotton fabric links the two legs in the bottom. The piece is completely machine 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.
Although, Entari became more and more ceremonial over the period of time, older üçetek_Entari particularly for travelling served some practical purposes. Wearers would often fold and tuck the front parts into their waistband, thus creating a layering that would not just look good and assist them in moving around but also create two pouches where the wearer could store food and sometimes small stones to use with slingshots against potential attacks on the road.
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 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 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 19thand 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 the 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 sizable 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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