Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey

Robe (Kaftan)

ROBE (KAFTAN) Turkey, Ottoman dynasty,
third quarter of 16th century
Brocaded silk (lampas weave) with satin and fur lining
Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, 13/932

Many Ottoman ceremonial kaftans are lined with fur imported from Russia. According to court tradition, the sultan wore sable-lined robes during the winter and chose robes with a lighter ermine lining in the warmer summer months. High-ranking officials followed the same tradition, but only after the sultan had changed his wardrobe. The most valued furs were sable and ermine, but lynx, lamb, and fox were also popular. Fur-lined kaftans were deemed the ultimate “robes of honor” and symbolized the highest privilege. The robe with interlacing vines on a red ground is lined with lynx fur and is associated with Sultan Bayezid II, who reigned from 1481 to 1512.