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The Ottoman Empire (1281-1923) originated in Turkey. During their dominance, the Ottomans spread a particular variety of textile expertise over a large geographic area. A coat such as this was probably made in Albania or Istanbul for trade to Balkan countries. Turkish embroiderers are famous for their skill in many styles of needlework including “couching” and “laid work” – as in this coat – which has gold and silver lamé braids known as skofium.

Where was this textile created?

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The Balkans

Europe: Eastern Europe, Balkans or Turkey
1900 - 1920
Cotton velvet, printed cotton, embellished with gold and silver braids, braid covered wooden buttons with coral beads
112 cm x 140 cm
Gift of Owen Shime
T85.0202 Textile Museum of Canada

This jacket was made for a festive occasion and was worn by well-to-do citizens such as nobles and officials. It is covered with swirling floral patterns sewn in gold braid on rich purple velvet. These embroidered plant motifs show the influence of the Ottomans, who ruled the Balkan States and the regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea for hundreds of years.

During the lengthy span of the Ottoman Empire, many nobles kept their own embroiderers, or bulyas. These bulyas had only one job – to produce the numerous garments and linens required by their households.

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