Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Topkapı Palace Museum
Second half of hegira 10th / AD 16th century
The kaftan has on the front the name ‘Muhammad’ who may have been a court artisan and the maker of this garment.
Embroidered silk brocade (kemha).
Length 147 cm, width 117 cm
Probably the Topkapı Palace, Istanbul.
This is an example belonging to a group known as full-length kaftans. It features hem-length decorative sleeves and slits for pockets. The fabric is brown in colour and made of threads with gilded metal wound round them by hand, a luxurious cloth known as kemha. The kaftan has a round collar and is woven in the form of an unfastened crossover garment; the waist is indented. It has a lower section which widens like a skirt beginning above the hips. The fabric is decorated with lotuses and peonies as well as leaves which resemble feathers; its most interesting feature is its use of a floral design with no repeat. This is frequently encountered in the textiles which belong to this group and shows that they were woven as unique examples.
The kemha textiles are the most ostentatious in the Ottoman repertory. The cut of the kaftan is also highly careful and painstaking. The pattern is not interrupted, as can be seen in the front section and the side sections. The lining is of woven red silk with parallel lines on it. On the front of the kaftan, in the corners, the name 'Muhammad' – probably a court tailor – can be read in kufic script on appliqué squares. It is thought most likely that the kaftan was made for Prince Bayezid, who was killed in AH 968 / AD 1561.
Kaftans, an inseparable part of Ottoman period court life, are also the symbols of sultanate and power. This kaftan of kemha, a luxurious fabric, is decorated with non-repeating favourite floral motifs and is a document of the period for it bears the name of the master tailor.
No information can be found to establish the date of this kaftan. The name 'Muhammad' appears on the front in what may be considered a maker's inscription. The maker is thought to have been a court artisan as well. Based on this information it is thought that the kaftan belonged to Prince Bayezid, who was killed in AH 968 / AD 1561.
The garment belonged to a resident of the palace and remains in the Topkapı Palace Museum.
Unknown, but Bursa was the silk and silk-textile production centre of the Ottoman Empire, and the main export centre for silk textiles such as the world-famous Ottoman brocades. It is highly likely that the textile was woven in Bursa and the kaftan was tailored at the Topkapı Palace ateliers.
Denny, W. B., “Ottoman Turkish Textiles”, Textile Museum Journal, 3, 2, 1972, pp.66–77.
Öz, T., Textiles and Velvets, XIV–XVI Centuries, Ankara, 1950.
Sözen, M., Topkapı, Istanbul, 1998, p.193.
Tezcan, H., and Delibaş, S., The Topkapı Saray Museum, Costumes, Embroideries and Other Textiles, (trans and ed J. M. Rogers), Boston, 1987, p.48.
Harun Ürer "Kaftan" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01_A;32;en
Prepared by: Harun ÜrerHarun Ürer
Dr Harun Ürer is an assistant professor at the Department of Archaeology and Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. He was born in Ünye, Turkey, in 1970.He graduated from the Department of Archaeology and Art History, Ege University, in 1993 and started working as a research assistant in the same department. He completed his Master's in 1997 with a thesis entitled “Flatweaves of Emirdağ (Afyon) Region” and in 2002 received his Ph.D. with the thesis “Rug Weaving Activities of Foreign Companies in West Anatolia and Its Effects on Traditional Turkish Rug Weaving Art”, both at Ege University.
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: TR 59
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Echoes of Paradise: the Garden and Flora in Islamic Art | The Role of Individual Plants and Flowers The Ottomans | Court Life
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