Uçetek Entari

Not on view

The entari, or robe, was the main element of women’s dress in the Ottoman Empire, worn together with a chemise, or gömlek, and baggy trousers, or şalvar. The typical shape of the entari, a robe open down the front with long sleeves and triangular pieces added to each side of the skirt for added fullness remained consistent over a long period, with modifications in details of length, proportion, decoration and fabric choices dictated by changing taste. The garment illustrated here would have been at the height of fashion in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, with its exaggerated length, finely embroidered muslin fabric and elaborate trim. Made of a fine white muslin, perhaps imported from India, the all over embroidered design of floral sprigs, small bouquets in baskets and intertwined ribbon was executed before the garment was assembled. The neckline, sleeve openings, front and side openings and hem are all trimmed with an intricately knotted trim in the same colors used for the embroidery. The bodice could have been closed by the small buttons and loops below the neck opening, which is finished with by an edging of small fabric triangles, a very rare decorative detail. Apart from the fabric, two other features of this entari demonstrate the fashion forward thinking of its owner: the very long length of the skirt, and the treatment of the sleeve ends. The long skirt would have formed a train, trailing on the floor as the owner moved, and would have sometimes been tucked up into the sash or belt that would have been part of the outfit.

An example of conspicuous consumption in the lavish use of expensive fabric, the trailing skirts were the perogative of high status women or their attendants. The sleeve treatment is of interest because it indicates that the entari was made at a transitional moment in Istanbul fashion, when tailors or seamstresses were being asked to imitate European made garments but did not yet have access to actual garments or sewing patterns for reference. Thus, these sleeves have a kind of cuff, but they are not constructed as they would be by a European-trained maker. Rather than gathering the sleeve into the cuff as would be done in a European garment, the cuff is sewn onto the sleeve which has been narrowed to fit the wrist by pleating. The sleeve fabric then extends below the cuff to form a ruffle. This is a creative way to create the illusion of a cuff without a detailed understanding of the function or structure of a cuff in the European tailoring tradition.

Uçetek Entari, [no medium available]; embroidered

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