Not on view

Sheer, embroidered blouses like this one can be seen in Orientalist photographs of Ottoman harem women from the last decades of the nineteenth century. Like other examples (the collection contains three similar garments, C.I.46.9.226, C.I.43.12.74, and 1973.195.35), the fitted, waist length, collarless blouse has a front opening that extends about halfway to the waist, dropped shoulders and long full sleeves. The sleeves, neck opening, and bodice area are decorated with embroidery, sometimes applied in gold, but in this case using a dark tan color perhaps meant to evoke gold, and pink. Needle lace, known as oya, edges the sleeves and neck opening. The embroidery motifs on the bodice include two instances of a simplified and illegible version of the calligraphic insignia and royal symbol of the Ottoman sultans, the tughra. As far back as 1845, the British writer Charles White, who spent three years living in Istanbul, wrote that goods decorated with the tughra were intended for sale to foreign visitors as they would not have been used by local residents. The undershirts worn by Ottoman women instead resembled this blouse in their color but were otherwise much more substantial and voluminous garments, made of heavier, less transparent fabric and rarely decorated with embroidery. (See 1991.217.2 in this collection.)

Blouse, Embroidered

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