Story by Citizen Brooklyn - Photos by Gozde Otman
Photo © Gozde Otman

The Sultan Photo © Gozde Otman

Ottoman imperial style was not dominated, but inspired by other cultures in the course of centuries, such as the Chinese, Mongolian, Persian, Arab, as well as the Byzantine, Hungarian, Italian, and Austrian. The Sultan’s court was the melting pot for all of these influences.

Ottoman male dress of high rank was distinguished by features such as length, colors and patterns. The size of turbans depended on your social status, Ulemas and Sultans tended to wear big ones, though the high medieval Middle Eastern Sultans also wore Turkish caps. So Turbans were somehow the fashionable headdresses of the medieval Muslim world.

The dress in the court consisted of a shirt, inner garment, sash or metal belt, baggy trousers, outer garment: the kaftan which was a highly praised garment in the Ottoman empire. The fabric, cut and decorations of the kaftan immediately told of the status of the wearer, and each court had a wide range of kaftans in their stock. Guests were given a kaftan based on their rank, and sultans could give an extra fine one to foreign guests as a mark of favor. Similarly, the sultan could give a guest a cold shoulder by offering him a kaftan of inferior fabric. Not all foreigners understood the code, but those at the court did and the guest was treated according to the rank of their kaftan.

Photo © Gozde Otman

OttoMilitary Photo © Gozde Otman

The Military Man:
“Amongst the more ambitious military men there is an interest in politics. I, for one, am not one of these men. Although I am a highly decorated officer, I am first and foremost a proud Ottoman, what some sensationalists might call a patriot. I do not fight for expansion; rather, I fight for my family. My two sons and loving wife, absent from our annual portrait due to travel delays from the south back to Istanbul. My boys, rowdy in their youthful vigor, display enough discipline that I sense they will grow into good men, becoming another source of pride that I might enjoy in my old age. My wife, on the other hand, supports our family better than any cane or walking stick, a souvenir given to me by enemies on the field. This too, I wear with pride, because it stays beside me when my medals do not.”

Photo © Gozde Otman

Babini Pasha Photo © Gozde Otman

The Foreign Pasha:
“My beginnings were humble, born one of many into a peasant family in Genova. My father was a bricklayer, and by working with him from a young age, I developed some talent in architecture, eventually becoming master builder. Although we lived more comfortably due to my reputation, the wealthy lords whose homes I built seemed to have unattainable wealth. It was at this point that I was invited, by a Sultan no less, to the city of Istanbul. He was interested in the Genovese structures in the Galata section of the city, and wanted me to consult on some construction endeavors. He was so impressed, in fact, that he invited me to stay. Sensing my hesitation, he offered me my own land and title. Imagine, an Italian peasant becomes an Ottoman Pasha… It feels like a dream from which I have yet to wake.”

Photo © Gozde Otman

Galata Mafia Photo © Gozde Otman

The Galata Mafioso:
“Many people pass through Galata each day, but we are from here. You know, we make sure people respect our neighborhood. What can I say? We have the most beautiful women in the world here. How do I make my money? Here and there, ya know? You play the hand you’re dealt, let the dice roll as they may. If they roll in your favor, then the drinks are you, eh? But, don’t step outta line… Or you’ll find you have no more friends here.”

The Modern Sultan:
“I am the ruler of everything you see. I need say no more, as the rest will be spoken for me, according to my wishes.”

Photo © Gozde Otman

Painting Photo © Gozde Otman

Photos were taken at Giycek Nostalgic Photography Studio.

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