ANKARA, Sept. 26, 2005 â€“ The first international exhibition devoted to
sumptuous and graphically stunning imperial Turkish robes (kaftans) from
the 16th and 17th century - the embodiment of the
maxim â€śclothes make the manâ€ť - will debut at the Sackler Gallery of the
Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC Oct. 29 through Jan. 2006.
â€śStyle and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkeyâ€ť will present
68 garments that dazzle with their audacious play of colors, bold
designs, and rich finish.
exhibitionâ€™s curators are the internationally renowned scholar of
Ottoman art Professor Nurhan Atasoy and Massumeh Farhad, chief curator
and curator of Islamic art, Freer Gallery of Art and
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Atasoy is also the principal
author of â€śIpek: Imperial Ottoman Silks and Velvets,â€ť which serves as
the basis for the exhibitionâ€™s catalog.
The core of the
exhibition is a group of opulent imperial robes from
Palace Museum , which boasts the largest
collection of Islamic textiles in the world. Additional robes are on
loan from the Mevlana Museum , Konya ,
Turkey , the Hermitage Museum in St.
Pete rsburg ,
Russia , and
several national collections. KoĂ§ Holding A.S., Turkey â€™s largest industrial
conglomerate, is the leading corporate sponsor.
according to technique, the exhibition celebrates Ottoman artistic
creativity and its success at transforming silk into the most potently
visible symbol of the empireâ€™s power and wealth. Many of the garments
will be shown on custom-made mannequins to maximize the effect of their
splendor. In addition to robes that belonged to Sultan Selim (reigned
1512-1520), Sultan Suleyman (reigned 1520-1566) and his son Bayazid the
exhibition includes trousers, hats, cushions and floor coverings, as
well as several large, inscribed textiles from the celebrated Topkapi
collection. Examples of ecclesiastic vestments made from Ottoman silks
and velvets will be on display.
At its height in the
late 16th and early 17th century, the Ottoman
Empire (1281-1924) extended from present-day Iraq in the east to the Balkans in the west and
to North Africa in the south. Ottoman
society was rigidly hierarchical and luxurious ceremonial robes played a
central role in court life. The finest and most precious robes were
reserved for the sultan and his family, but â€śrobes of honorâ€ť (hilyat)
were also bestowed upon foreign dignitaries, local courtiers and state
officials, thereby conferring royal favor, political rank, and social
status. The number and quality of robes received represented a manâ€™s
status in the eyes of the sultan.
Three weaves were
dominant: velvet (kadife), brocade (kemha) and cloths of gold and silver
thread (seraser) - the most expensive and luxurious. In the mid-6th
century, Ottoman taste increasingly favored large, bold designs, such as
medallions, stylized tiger stripes, and a triple-spot design known as
â€śauspicious jewelâ€ť). By repeatedly combining similar motifs in
different scales and patterns, the Ottomans were among the
first to use recurrent motifs to create a dramatic and distinct visual
language - a quintessential â€śOttoman brandâ€ť- that became identifiable
with the empireâ€™s centralized political strength and economic power- its
style and status.
The first major center
for the Ottoman silk industry was Bursa
in Northwestern Turkey , which, in the 16th
century, became one of the richest cities in the world. Because of the
courtâ€™s increasing demands for silk fabrics,
also became an important center for manufacture. Ottoman silks, both
in raw and finished states, were coveted luxury items exported to Europe,
Poland , and especially to
, the empireâ€™s largest market. Most were fashioned into
ecclesiastical garments, such as chasubles and copes.
The Ottomans, in turn,
imported fur and ermine to line and adorn their outer garments. They
also greatly admired Italian silks, especially velvets, which they
imported in great quantity. Many Italian silks were made expressly for
the Turkish market, where they were fashioned primarily into royal robes.
Locally produced velvet was used mostly for
cushion or floor coverings because the quality was not considered high
enough for such robes.
and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkeyâ€ť is organized by the
Freer and Sackler Galleries in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture
and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.
addition to the KoĂ§ Holding A.S. sponsorship, the exhibition enjoys the
generous support of the Promotion Fund of the Prime Ministry of Turkey,
ITKIB Association USA, Turkish Cultural Foundation, The
Packard Humanities Institute, Turkish Airlines, Hagop Kevorkian Fund,
and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the
Freer Gallery of Art ( 12th
and Independence Ave.,
S.W. ) and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery ( 1050 Independence Ave., S.W.
) together form the national museum of Asian art for the United States .
The Freer also houses a major collection of late 19th- and early 20th
century American art. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day
except Dec. 25, and admission is free. The galleries are located near
the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information, the public
may call (202) 633-1000 or TTY (202) 357-1729, or visit the special
exhibition-related section of the galleriesâ€™ Web site at
Editors: For high-resolution, downloadable images of objects and sites
For information about travel to Turkey, call 1-877-FOR-TURKEY
or contact the Turkish Culture and Tourism Offices in New York at
or in Washington D.C. at 202-612-6800 or in Los Angeles at 323-937-8066