It's one of the most famous Ottoman caftans, it shows up in most books on Ottoman art and I've loved it forever. The ornament of crescents and tulips is huge in scale and amazing and characteristic of a deliberate Ottoman movement to differentiate Ottoman design from the broader background of Central Asian textile design.(Book recommendation: if you want to know more about how Ottoman textile design became distinctly Ottoman read this:
The Sultan's Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art
This caftan is unusual in that the ornament is appliqued onto the crimson ground fabric instead of being woven in like most other examples. So it's an example of all the design elements that make Ottoman design distinctly Ottoman, but it is also unusual.
This caftan makes a wonderful jumping off point for giving you an analysis of the all the Ottoman caftan patterns I've gotten to see. We have more extant caftans from the 15th and 16th century Ottoman Empire than pretty much anywhere else so we have the opportunity to compare more examples and see what general cutting patterns and sewing techniques show up most often and how they change across time and space.
This particular caftan was exhibited widely in the 1980s before museum professionals understood the damage bright lighting does to textiles and so it is a sad echo of its former glory. Although the Turkish government is currently having it conserved and restored, so I have hopes...
This is what it looks like currently. It makes my heart hurt.
And I get to do lots of applique, which I adore. I was able to find really good red silk taffeta, and more astonishingly, good silver silk taffeta.
Studio update: what I'm working on Etsy shop link
Last year was really great for me as a merchant, but I went in woefully under-stocked, particularly on garments and hats. So I've been working like crazy on hats, and on garments to a lesser extent.
I've gone down a Byzantine rabbit-hole, thanks to research I did to make a Laurel hat for my SCA sister Kerstyn
Also, my research has really focused on the Silk Road across Central Asia and parts south. The crazy Caucasus caftan (you will be hearing lots more about this amazing thing later) got me interested in how Eastern Europe connects to the Silk Road.
Looking at all these Byzantine images led me to seeing other connections with northern Asia, and connections among Russia, Eastern Europe, the Byzantine Empire and the Silk Road.
For years, I've said that the Persian taj that I make so many of are just Persian because that's the documentation I had. Now I'm seeing all these connections with the Byzantine halo style and with later Russian kokoshniks. My current theory is that the kokoshniks developed under the combined influence of hat shapes from both the Byzantine and Persian cultural spheres.
This is just the beginning of a research project for me, if you have opinions or sources you'd like to share, please comment on this post or send me a message.
At the other end of the Silk Road, I've started making Mongolian hats again too. I used to make them a lot when I lived out west where it gets cold but didn't have much need for them in the south.
It's been really fun working on the temple pendants from both ends of the Silk Road at the same time. The traditions developed independently and it's been interesting making comparisons about aesthetics, technique etc.
I also acquired a couple of Indian-made garments that are brilliant. One is very Mongol...
Jadi's Silk Road
When I made the first couple of Byzantine halos, I used wire and pearl vinework from the bridal department of the local craft store. But of course, like re-enactors and crafty people everywhere I thought: Hey, I can do that.
I also have a cool website to share.
from the home page:
"The website “Skin Clothing Online” is a collaborative project between the National Museum of Denmark, Greenland National Museum & Archives and Cultural History Museum in Oslo.
Here you will find unique, high-resolution, 360 degree rotation photos and detailed information about the National Museum of Denmark’s and the National Museum of Greenland's collections of fur clothing from indigenous peoples in Greenland, North America, Siberia and North Scandinavia from 2500 BC to the present day."
Advantage: lots of photos that show construction and technique.
Disadvantage: not many firmly dated period garments.
Wait, wut? Entire garments make of fish skins. I did not know such a thing was possible.