The Costumes Of Ottoman Women

Down Load Complete Document in .pdf format

(Covers 1500-1800, 3 chapters) the following is a part of the chapter on the 17th C.)

Ottoman Woman Dress in 17th Century

Street Dress of Women Living in the Capitol City

Dress of Muslim Women Living in the Capitol City

There is not much difference in street dress between 16th and 17th centuries. While there were still traditional 'ferace' and 'yashmak', the 'hotoz' and the fez had changed to the ones that were wider on top and narrower at the bottom. Many travelers noticed this. The French traveler, Du Loir who was in Istanbul in 1639 gave the best information of the 17th century. He wrote: " When women go out of the house they wear an over garment, something like a coat, as do the men, the sleeves of this are so long that only the tips of the fingers can be seen. The front edges are crossed over. Their hair is hidden under a white cloth. Another cloth below this covers the nose which only old women allowed to leave uncovered. Young women are not allowed to show their eyes, so they cover them with a black veil made of horsehair.

The artist George La Chapelle came to Istanbul in1641 with the French Ambassador, Jean de le Haye, who was sent to The Ottoman Empire for the renewal of the trade privileges. La Chapelle found the depictions of Turkish women by Nicholas de Nicolay in the 16th. Century very exaggerated. He published his own book called 'Recueil de divers portraits des principales dames de la Porte du Grand Turc'. The seventh engraving in this book is a description of a Turkish woman standing in front of an Istanbul scene. Her yashmak which she had wrapped over her hoots and that also covers her face leaving only her eyes uncovered, is very thin. Her skirt reaches to beneath her knees and shows her boots that are without heels. . The sleeves and collar of her overdress are adorned with big buttons. These ornaments they are as elegant as those used today. In this artist's another print, called " A Turkish Woman Riding a Horse", a woman sitting on a horse side saddle as European women did, and unlike the description of the travelers of the previous century, the woman is wearing a dress with a deep dÚcolletÚ which leaves her neck and breast uncovered despite the fact that she is out of doors. She is holding an umbrella in her hand, and perhaps the only truthful object is the 'hotoz' headdress.

Ottoman historian Prof. Franz Taeschner in 1925 published an album that he had bought from an auction in 1914. It had 55 coloured illustrations. The original may have been stolen or destroyed by bombing in the safe where it had been put during the Second World War, so could not be used for an intended second edition. In the forth picture " A Fountain and Goldfinch ", there is a fountain which is an example of Ottoman Architecture. Some men are taking water from the fountain, and a gold finch and a donkey are drinking from it also. A woman who has come there to take water is wearing a 'ferace' and a 'yashmak' tied over her Hotoz. In the same album an illustration called 'A Woman Going to the Hamam" attracts attention to the woman's 'hotoz'. The yashmak that she has tied over her 'hotoz' leaves only her eyes uncovered. From under her 'ferace' her dress, her coat and her boots can be seen. She is holding a handkerchief elegantly in her right hand. There is a servant woman near helping to carry her belongings, however her dress is much plainer and the yashmak leaves her eyes uncovered.

French traveller Jean Thevenot who was from a prosperous family, set off on 31st May 1655 from Roma and arrived in Istanbul 2nd December. After having stayed in Istanbul for nine months, he traveled to Bursa, Izmir and the Aegean Islands. He then went to Jerusalem. He wanted only to see these mysterious eastern countries and learn new things. He has no political or commercial aims. In his travel book his comments about women, he differs in some of his observations from Du Loir who had been in Istanbul in 1638, and makes some additions. "Women wear 'feraces' like men when they go out. The sleeves are so long that their fingers can not be seen. They always hold one edge of their 'ferace' to keep it closed. Their shoes are like those of the men'. When they go out they put on a gilded hat. This hat is high and it is wide at the top. When they are walking on the street they cover their eyes with a veil. Another long veil begins under the eyes covering their nose and mouth. It is not polite to go out with uncovered hands so they wear sleeves that cover them.

The traveller Cornelious De Bruyn (Coneille Le Bruyn) from Netherlands, who was in Istanbul in 1678, described the dress of the women: "
Besides the 'ferace', when they go out, women also wear something that is nicer to look at, called a "kirkie". However in winter they wear a felt or fur jacket or coat instead. It is tight and has narrow sleeves lead to the wrists. Rich women wear this lined with black linings made of sable fur. This costs 300-400 eku. In a sales book of 1640 it is written that the head of a sable (best quality) costs 12000, the lowest quality costs 4000, a sable skin (best quality) costs 11000 and the lowest quality costs 4000 akce.

In the Silvestra album dated 1680 denoted on the cover as having been presented by the Duke of Bourgogne, there is a depiction of a young Turkish woman in profile who is wearing a 'hotoz. She has a tasselled 'yasmak' very like those seen in the 16th. Century. 5t is tied over her 'hotoz', and she has left only her eyes uncovered. She shows her inner dress by opening her mantle which is closely buttoned down the front. . She wears high heeled boots.

The French traveler Francois Aubry de La Motraye who set off from Paris in 1696 and traveled for 26 years, came to Istanbul in 1689. In his book of travels in two volumes he writes that woman in Istanbul covered themselves from head to toe when they went out, wearing very long 'feraces' made of woolen cloth and he added that these are so long that they cover the fingers. However when the woman who is covered like that outside, takes of her 'ferace', all the beauty of her dress is seen.

Local written and illustrated evidence confirms these writings and drawings of the travelers. In the document TSMK.H 2132/4 a description of a woman of the Capitol City is a good example of the dress of prosperous woman who lived in the city during the 17th.Century. From under the long sleeved full chemise of rough pleated muslin that is floor length, pink baggy trousers can be seen. Over this chemise there is a dark red waistcoat open at the front made of 'seraser', a kind of cloth, thickly embroidered in with a large leaf design. The street garment of the woman who lives in the capitol, is a green dress with sleeves to the elbow, and is fastened down the front with buttons and loops to hip level. An ornamented knife sheath and a purse are hanging down from an orange belt which has a buckle adorned with precious stones. She is wearing a dark yellow cloak tied around her chest that hangs down past her hips. This cloak is a kind of street garment called in some sources as a 'kapaniche'. It is understood from her yellow shoes that she is a Muslim. The 'hotoz' which is narrow at the bottom and wider at the top is peculiar to the 17th. Century, and is the same as was described by Thevenot. A long tasseled cloth hanging down from the 'hotoz' and covering the nape of the woman neck is red and has black tulip design on it. There is a similar 'hotoz' in Topkapi Palace Museum.

In a book of the price controls, written in 1640, it is mentioned that 'ferace' are made of woolen cloth, and women's caftans are of tweed. The women's 'ferace' which is made from 287 cm of cloth, being 161.5 cm in length, 59.5 at the waist, and 272 cm the skirt hem, costs 1450 Akše. The one which is l 153 cm in length coasts 1380 Akše, and one of 144.5 length costs 1310 Akše. Another, 136cm long costs 1240 Akše. The 'karkashone' woollen cloth, which has 7 colours, one that has 59.5 cm waist, 272 cm for skirt and 16.5 cm for length costs 930 Akše. And the one with the length of 153 cm costs 895 Akše, the one with the length of 144.5 costs 860 Akše and the one with the length of 136 cm cost 820 Akše.



House Dress

In the 17th.Century the housedress of the women had many special traditions. Rich women preferred ornamented and ostentatious dress. This is understood from paintings by local and foreign artists and also from written sources. There is information about Muslim and Non -Muslim women's apparel in the Estate Accounting books of The Edirne Military Inheritance Documents of 1545-1659. In a document which is dated January 1605, it is written that the bequest of Meryam Hatun, the daughter of the Financial Director Mustafa Efendi, and who was also the wife of Sergeant Pervis, included: a gold belt studded with jewels, silver shoes, a gold mohair cap. A silk girdle, an ermine edged red satin 'nimtane''(a short chemise), and a rabbit skin edged 'nimtane'. The bequest of Mustafa Aga's daughter Fatma Hatun who died in 1636 included; a purple 'ferace' made of woolen cloth, a red waistcoat, a white taffeta waistcoat, sashes ornamented with gold, another sash decorated with pearls, a purple gown, a gown from Damascus, a red satin gown, a blue satin gown with pearls and silver buttons, a gold head dress plume, a golden cover for the nape of the neck, and a sash worked with pearls. These objects prove that women gave great importance to dress and jewelry.


Download Complete Document in .pdf format

Also see: http://www.geocitie whitehorse/ ottofemcloth. html


And Persian

KTurkWomen.jpg (19892 bytes)

Wedding Dress and Matron


sultans_favorite-codex.jpeg (61793 bytes)LadyinGold.jpeg (12868 bytes)

women-codex.jpeg (64688 bytes)entari-thum.jpeg (33198 bytes)

Greek1682.jpeg (44155 bytes) Greek, 1682

Bulgarian-ottomangirl.jpeg (339916 bytes) Bulgarian ottoman girl OttoGirlRomania.jpeg (310006 bytes) Wallachian Girl and Farmer Wallachian.jpeg (29493 bytes)

OrientalWoman1682.jpg (38538 bytes) 1682

OttoBeruit16thC_Fem.jpeg (11583 bytes) 16th C. Beirut

OttoTripoli_fem.jpeg (11251 bytes) 16th C. Tripoli

KTurkWomen.jpg (19892 bytes)

Turk1570Balzas.jpeg (27595 bytes) 1570 Balzas

Turkentertaimner.jpeg (13616 bytes) Entertainer (gal)  DancersMusic.jpg (75358 bytes) Entertainers (not gals)Women1.jpeg (87145 bytes)

tURKLADY.jpeg (35394 bytes) Court Lady


and Byzantine

Men's costume and patterns