Part of a lot with 9 more items also in the collection (ZI2022.501009.1 SYRIA, ZI2022.501009.2 MOROCCO, ZI2022.501009.3 AFRICA, ZI2022.501009.4 AFRICA, ZI2022.501009.5 ASIA, ZI2022.501009.7 ASIA, ZI2022.501009.8 YEMEN, ZI2022.501009.9 YEMEN, ZI2022.501009.10 YEMEN).
This piece of garment was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli as a set of ensembles from an independent antique dealer in New York in 2022 to add to and enhance The Zay Initiative Collection.
This is an ivory crushed cotton towel (Yaglik) with (Selvedge) to Selvedge weave and (Warp) ends featuring metal thread (Sirma)/(Tel_Sirma) – brass or copper – embroidery.
The field of the piece is plain with woven horizontal stripes running parallel to each other. The Warp ends feature embellished floral and foliage patterns with brass or copper Sirma. A central wavy vine made with metal foils is flanked with metal Sirma embroidered in (Satin_stitch) style. The ends of the fabric are folded, and machine stitched to give it a clean look.
During the late Ottoman period, especially from c. 18th century, such elaborately done Yaglik would often be used as a waist band (Kusak) too, over a pair of loose trousers (Shalvar) and undershirt (Gömlek) and a waist-length jacket (Cepken).
In Turkish parlance, the term Yaglik originally denoted a rectangular piece of cotton or linen, available in various sizes, used primarily as a napkin. Often, both ends of the Yaglik were embellished with embroidery.
Over time, the term expanded in meaning to encompass embroidered textiles used for decorative purposes within the household or during special occasions.
Young brides frequently included Yaglik that was endearingly crafted by themselves and other members of their family in their trousseau as cherished possessions.
However, sashes with embroidery perhaps were not as important prior to the 18th century as embroidery in Ottoman Turkey until then, primarily emulated the luxurious woven silks and velvets found in courtly textiles.
Ottoman embroidery began to be recognised as an independent art form only after the first quarter of the 18th century when it deviated from the replication of woven designs and embraced a more creative approach. This shift allowed for the inclusion of new and naturalistic floral motifs that flowed more freely across the design field.
Simultaneously, an examination of historical artworks from Iran reveals a progressive evolution in the style of waist girdles which eventually evolved into an Ottoman Kusak. During the early 16th century, it was customary for individuals in Iran to wear a leather strap adorned with metal plaques. Subsequently, this design gave way to a narrower textile band fastened with gold clasps.
Thomas Herbert, a member of an English embassy to Iran in the late 1620s, made noteworthy observations regarding the length of these sashes and the significant variations in their materials. According to him individuals of different social statuses distinguished themselves through the quality of their band and the accompanying plain, but opulent fabric towels used underneath them.
These fabrics were often made of silk and gold for nobilities, while the merchants wore them woven with silver, and lower-ranking individuals wore them in silk and wool.
Similar sashes were also prevalent in the realms, adjacent to the Safavid cultural sphere – Ottoman and Mughal. By the late 17th century, this fashion trend had not just been widely accepted in the Ottoman Empire but transcended beyond it. It had reached parts of eastern Europe, such as Poland and Russia.
Thus, the courtiers in these regions embraced the use of textiles and fashion trends imported from Ottoman Turkey as status symbols. While the style of dress amongst the aristocracy in this region as well as the Ottoman empire gradually started drawing inspiration from the West, the popularity of the sash endured as an indelible mark of Ottoman influence either as an elaborate buckled Kusak or as an daintily embroidered Yaglik.
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