A Janissary's Headgear and Footwear


Highlights(Ottoman Military Hat "Bork"  a.k.a. Bektasis or ketche16th, 17th, 18th C)Janissaries

(c) 2006 Rick Orli

Ottoman Dress

Ottoman Patterns

Kalkans & Tughs

82nd Orta Living History

Janissary Photo Gallery

Based on the original in the Badischen Landesmuseum

http://www.tuerkenbeute.de/sam/ museum, Germany.

Yan1.jpg (200746 bytes) This illustrates the overall proportions.   In the example, the stiffened (probably with pasteboard but perhaps with a thin leather.) and colored portion is a total of 7-8 inches, with a black velvet band toped by a 5 inch green wool broadcloth band.  The fall in the back from the fold is 25 inches. (The total length may be proportional to the head size; or, the length of the fall may be a standard 25 inch.  other hats as illustrated seem even longer, and a few seem to fall only just past the base of the neck)  The max width is 11-12 inches.   

Parts include: The spoon, or yunluk, which included a tube for inserting a feather; 

the white felt body, or berk; the hanging part is the tiftik or yatyrma

the band, or uskyuf, and the decoration pattern, or deltadj


Yan3.jpg (52064 bytes)This figure illustrates the design pattern of the 'sock' or tail of the hat, and of the construction treatment of the corner.  The dashed line represents the centerline (no stitches there!) Stitching is neat but quite visible.

Yan2.jpg (71293 bytes) The final figure illustrates the construction of the head band portion.  The bottom is 2 inches of black velvet.  The velvet is overlapped by a folded edge of forest green wool broadcloth, 5 inches wide.  A stitch line is visible about 1/8th inch up, all that is visible are the 'dimples' from stitches pushed through from the inside, and are just enough to overlap a thread or two, perhaps 1/80th-1/100th inch. An interior construction line is visible from Borkspoon.JPG (1016593 bytes) pressing that shows that the broadcloth or perhaps an interior lining is conically wrapped (diagonally on the cylinder, much like the cardboard inner roll for toilet tissue) The green broadcloth is in turn overlapped by folded white felt, stitched as shown neatly but quite visibly. 

The 'spoon' is detailed to the left.  I have assumed it was brass but it could be plated.  It very much looks like  is etched followed with chasseing and reposse.  with some decorative wire perhaps soldered on.  It is backed with wood, which is painted.

Another view of a very similar spoon is from www.lacma.org/islamic_art/ figures/fig_a50.htm

"described as Silver, gilt, decorated with flattened wire and granulation" 

from the Ca’ Pesaro in Venice

Spoon07.jpg (356330 bytes) 

Piece captured at the Siege of Vienna, 1683.  32cm x 8cm; "Brass, partially plated/tinned gilt, on wood."

Janitschar in Rückenansicht/Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien

RBork.JPG (74620 bytes)RSpoons.JPG (49369 bytes)RBorkBack.JPG (43817 bytes)Rrelief.JPG (46827 bytes)  

My Hat and Spoon project

This shows the image photocopied on acetate, which I ironed on a brass sheet.  I then soaked it in an 'Edinborough etch' solution of ferric chloride and citric acid for a couple of hours.  One I then treated with a silver plating solution before removing the resist with acetone, the other shows the natural greenish color that came out of the acid salts bath.  The hat takes on a correct shape on the head, it looks a bit flattened because of the way I store it.  

I found some 40% wool white felt that seems excellent.  I also found a more expensive 100RomanianShepardBork.jpeg (36551 bytes)% felt that was rather cream in color, and seems more stretchy.  All in all, I was more comfortable using the 40%, given my two limited choices. "Bork" literally means white felt, and the story is that a Muslim saint of the 1300s, now the Patron of the Janissaries, lived as a hermit in the fields, and wore a simple white peasant hat of white felt - that is the original model, according to legend.  However, it also bears resemblance to certain Byzantine hats.

                            Right, a Wallacian shepard

  back of spoon (paint on wood)

Tizit1570.jpg (14970 bytes) Tizit 1570


A different Janissary  hat/ ketche from the 16th C. The spoon is gold-plated silver alloy.  The gold band is apparently embroidered with a metallic thread in a chevron pattern on the red felt.  The red indicates a special function/job: battlefield courier, a job given to pages, young men slated as future officers, (shown below right behind the Sultan).  

Considering only the band, this chevron design is the one most common design portrayed in illustrations.

Tchorbadji.jpg (164375 bytes) 19th C. Tchorbadji hat.

Officers wore variations: 

the Corbetci (captian-colonel)'s Kalafat had a heron feather crest: 

JSorbetci.jpg (101718 bytes)

Junior officers as below:

Bostanci Division Janissaries sometime used cones:  Right, with citation feathers.

Artillerymen are often pictured in green "Bosnian" hats, with an unusual 6-pointed design.


a less pointy Bosnian hat

Janissary Turban with Citation for Valor

TchorbadjiHermitage.jpg (79171 bytes) Tchorbadji hat with citation.  (Hermitage)

Fatigue Hats

Stoned1.jpeg (115853 bytes)

Perhaps these low tarbouz (or arakuje) fez-like caps were for fatigue (work) use (these are Janissaries).


These Janissaries are working, while the one standing guard with a musket is wearing the formal ketche (bork) hat.  The arakuje/fez cap is covered with the turban or dyulbend.

These are Kufi (as knitted cap, or almost fez-like.)
Tarboush /qalansuwa/arakuje - low molded hat like fez
qalansuwa - conical hat


Polish Janissary Hats around 1700


How to for turbans: 


Panzerkappe mit Nackenschutz/Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe Misurka - cavalry armor cap worn over a padded fez.

Bork_in_Flight.JPG (80108 bytes)  What happens to a bork on a windy day?


Ankle boots or shoes ‘mest’ ; or slippers ‘cedik’

Shoes1.JPG (26740 bytes)

shoes3.jpg (17739 bytes)

These seem to be similar to modern yemeni, mest or Jutti, except that there may be a low calf protective addition.  From these pictures as well as from surviving shoes, it is clear that these Janissaries  are wearing leather inner shoes  (Khuffi) within slipper-like shoesKhuffi are used today in mosques, and are like indoor shoes without a heavy sole, they are often worn with slippers. Some of these were undoubtedly like modern Moroccan Babouches: they have backs that may be either out, to wear like a shoe, or in, to wear like a slipper. 

In earlier periods the Khuff was heavier-constructed and was the cavalry boot.  However, we know specifically that in 1400s north Africa the khuff was worn inside a shoe. The jawrab/Juran sock or wrap can be worn under the khuff,  

Ran -legging (not sure what exactly this is.)

Or, a Tatabiq leg wrap, perhaps similar to the modern Russian army practice. (Right)  The other model is the Viking style wool leg wrap.  The fabric is presumably a stretchy wool - either a broadcloth with the length along the bias so that it is most stretchy, or the cloth is like 'cotton' the loosely woven wool cloth used as lining, children's clothing, and socks.

these seem to be Khuffs in yemeni, like slipperstbside1.jpg (24371 bytes)

tbtopdetail.jpg (27196 bytes) (original) wpe2F.jpg (9668 bytes) Note metal heel, like baby horsehoes.  The story is that the ground tracks where Janissaries marched looked like a herd of tiny ponies moving in the other direction.

my reproduction effort, in progress: wpe1.jpg (21974 bytes) MetalHeel_Janissary.JPG (40154 bytes)

Once I was done, putting my kuffs together with babouches the effect seems accurate.  I put the metal heels on to be accurate - they are only to increase wear-life, but make for a harder and nosier and slippier walk. However all in all it was comfortable.  I was a little woried that the 'slippers' would fall off.  Indeed, with one set of Kuffs-Babouches I did have that problem, but with 2 other combinations its been perfect.


OttoBootsTopkapi.jpg (32191 bytes)

TurkishSlipper.jpeg (79124 bytes) OttoshoeTopkapi.jpg (42318 bytes)Embroidered 17th C. ottoman slipper

DSC00143.jpeg (26562 bytes) JUTTIE62.jpeg (34020 bytes)Modern Jutti

Modern yemeni  (see more here)

Reproduction Infantry Boots from Emir Yenir

TurkShoeDec2.JPG (20143 bytes)TurkShoesDec.JPG (27636 bytes)

Boots ‘basmak’ - higher boots for some infantry units 


and of course for the Cavalry.

  TurkishBoots17thC.jpeg (22394 bytes)

According to a Turkish Gov't Tourist webpage, Yemeni, The traditional  shoe, "worn by soldiers during the reign of the Ottoman Empire"  are now sold as tourist item. The classification offered is very confusing...

"Yemeni types include:  Halep Annubi, black yemeni, rose and peachy yemeni.
Colors may be black, annabi (purple), bright red, which is called rose, or peach in colour depending on the type of leather employed.
Five shapes: Halebi, merkup, sharp nosed, long ear and curved and bright."

Carik  are Rawhide Sandals.

 These pictures are from Skylife January 2007

Yemeni shoes and kutnu fabricsYemeni shoes and kutnu fabricsYemeni shoes and kutnu fabricsYemeni shoes and kutnu fabrics

"Four generations of yemeni makers pursue their ancient trade at Hayri Usta’s shop.... All were employed at other jobs when they suddenly realized that this craft of their forefathers was slowly dying out, so they decided to save it. Part and parcel of Islamic culture, the yemeni has preserved its existence here for 600 years in styles and with names unique to each locale. Yemenis are also made in the neighboring provinces of Kilis, Kahramanmaraş and Elazığ, but unfortunately their fate is no different from those of Gaziantep.
The leather, which comes worked and tanned, is cut for different shoe sizes using ready-made lasts. The leather pieces are moistened to soften them up and then sewn with cotton thread that has been waxed with beeswax. The softened leather is easily shaped. While only the natural colors of the leather were used previously, black and reds were later added. And now yemenis are produced in every color from brown and orange to green and blue. Some are open in the back like sandals, while others are actual shoes. Even boots are made and dispatched to Hollywood film sets! The leather boots worn in the film ‘Alexander the Great’, for example, were produced and supplied from here.
The shop denizen, Ismail Usta, can always be found perched on his low stool hard at work. Quietly adding pieces to the pile rising in front of him, he can sew twelve pairs of yemenis in a single day! Nor should this figure surprise you. A pair of size 38-39 yemenis requires approximately 120 knots. ..."