16th Century Antique Turkish Velvet Textile, Country of Origin: Turkey, Circa Date: 16th Century – The 16th century marks the beginning of the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire. This gorgeous piece of fabric from that time is a rare find. During this time, the status and rank of a person were indicated by the fabrics they wore and clothing styles. This antique textile is significant because it indicates one of high status in society. Let’s explore this a little further.
Aside from the beautiful, earthy colors and bold floral pattern, this piece of cloth tells us a story for those who know how to read it. Special patterns were produced by court weavers and could only be worn by people of certain status. These fabrics were used in garments, used as drapes, pillows, bedspreads, and in many ways throughout the home. Court fabrics often had bold, geometric patterns of a large scale. Those who were not allowed to wear such a garment were forbidden to do so, often with harsh penalties.
This piece of cloth would have more than likely been used in the outer garment, or “entari,” or used in the home. This one shows the “ogival” pattern, which could have a range of motifs inside latticework design. You can find many examples of this pattern and its variations by an examination of Turkish miniature paintings of the time.
This cloth has a stylized depiction of a carnation, which is a more common element in the art of the time. Floral elements were also a sign of wealth in the time of Suleiman the Magnificent. Many of the textiles of the time drew their inspiration from the gardens and courtyards of the palaces. The carnation is believed to be a symbol of Muhammad and stylized representations are often found on the walls of mosques.
A final clue that this textile had an important role to play in the 16th century is the weaving technique. Weaving velvet cloth requires a technique that is time-consuming and requires special training. Velvet was reserved for only those of high status.
As you can see, there is much more to this artifact than you might notice at first. Surviving Turkish pieces of cloth from this period in history are rare. When you know how to interpret this piece, it has quite a tale woven into its threads. It tells the story of the rise of an Empire that would exist into the early part of the 20th century. It is an excellent piece for your collection and is the perfect size for framing.