Whirling dervishes

The Order of the Whirling Dervishes is one branch of the vast Sufi tradition of Islam.The ritual dance SEMA began with the inspiration of Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi (1207-1273) and was influenced by Turkish customs and culture.

The Mevlevi Order was founded by the followers of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi (popularly referred to as Rumi) in 1273. Rumi was a 13th century Islamic spiritual leader who was born in 1207 in Balkh in present day Afghanistan. With the onset of the Mongol invasion of Central Asia between 1215 and 1220, Rumi’s family journeyed westwards, eventually settling down in Konya, Anatolia, in present day Turkey.

One of Rumi’s most fruitful friendships was with Shams-e Tabrizi, whom he met at the age of 37. Among other things, Shams had introduced Rumi to music, poetry and dance as a mystical way of connecting with the divine. It is these artistic expressions that are the characteristic features of the whirling dervishes of the Mevlevi Order, which was founded after Rumi’s death by his son, Sultan Veled, his disciple Çelebi Hüsamettin, and his grandson Ulu Arif Çelebi.

Ancient origins

Pro-marker pen on water colour paper © Molly Williams

The Ritual Dance or Sema

The Mevlevi Ritual dance consists of several stages with different meanings:

The first stage, Naat-i Sherif, is a eulogy to the Messenger of Islam and the all Prophets before him, who represent love. 

The Naat-i Sherif is followed by a Taksim, an improvisation on the reed flute or neyThis expresses the divine breath, which gives life to everything.

Then follows the Sultan Veled procession or Devr-i Veled, accompanied by peshrev music; this is a circular, anticlockwise, procession three times around the turning space. The greetings of the semazen, or whirling dervishes, during the procession represent the three stages of knowledge: ilm-al yaqin (received knowledge, gained from others or through study), ayn-al yaqin (knowing by seeing or observing for oneself) and haqq-al yakin (knowledge gained through direct experience, gnosis).

During the Sema itself there are four selams, or musical movements, each with a distinct rhythm. At the beginning, during and close of each selam, the semazen testify to God’s existence, unity, majesty and power:

The First Selam represents the human being’s birth to truth through feeling and mind. It represents his complete acceptance of his condition as a creature created by God.

The Second Selam expresses the rapture of the human being witnessing the splendor of creation in the face of God’s greatness and omnipotence.

The Third Selam is the rapture of dissolving into love and the sacrifice of the mind to love. It is complete submission, unity, and the annihilation of self in the Beloved. This is the state that is known as nirvana in Buddhism and fana fillah in Islam. The next stage in Islamic belief is the state of servanthood represented by the Prophet, who is called God’s servant foremost and subsequently His ‘Messenger.’ The aim of Sema is not uncontrolled ecstasy and loss of consciousness, but the realization of submission to God.

In the Fourth Selam, just as the Prophet ascends to the spiritual Throne of Allah and then returns to his task on earth, the whirling dervish, after the ascent of his spiritual journey, returns to his task, to his servanthood. He is a servant of God, of His Books, of His Prophets, of His whole Creation.

This is followed by a recitation from the Qur’an, the Sura (Chapter) Mary on the miracle birth of Jesus and his mission.

At the end, by the salute, the dervish demonstrates again the number ‘1’ in his appearance, arms consciously and humbly crossed, and, by this, the unity of God.

The ceremony ends with a prayer for the peace of the souls of all the Prophets and believers.
After the completion of the Sema, all the dervishes retire silently to their rooms for meditation and further remembrance of God.

The whirling dervishes

Click on the link above to be directed to a Youtube video

Dervishes

Advertisements

Ottoman 15th C -17th C woman’s costume

Women’s everyday wear did not change greatly during this time and comprised of:

Underclothes

Salvar (trousers) that were very baggy at the waist tapering to the ankles. The salvar were often coloured though did not usually match the rest of the outfit.

Gomlek (a chemise) that was mid-calf length and made from a transparent diaphanous fabric usually depicted in white.

The Hirka or fitted jacket was worn over the gomlek and might be  sleeveless or have long tight sleeves or wide short sleeves. I suggest this was dependent on the weather! The jacket was buttoned to the waist. A sash or belt was tied at to just below the waist or on the hips.

The entari was worn over the hirka as a more formal dress. This garment was of a similar cut to the hirka but longer to the floor. Both the hirka and the entari were buttoned to the waist leaving the skirts to flare out. The top buttons were often left open to the underside of the bust allowing the entari to gape open. A sash or belt was worn about the hips.

Ferace – indoor clothing was highly coloured and very eye-catching however when a woman went outside she would cover herself modestly with a ferace. This was a simple overcoat in a dark sombre colour, buttoned to the throat. She would also cover her face with a yashmak.

 

There is mention of another garment – the yelek – a jacket worn over the entari, often lined with fur.

 

 

19th century Ottoman entari

This beautiful Ottoman entari is in the archives of the Clothworkers Centre, London and I had the chance to examine it closely and to make notes about its size and construction.

The main fabric appears to be of cotton with stripes of soft yellow motifs and darker black floral motifs woven into the fabric on a cream background, further embellished with hand embroidered chain stitch flower and leaf motifs in several shades of green, blue, soft brown and pink/red.

 

The lining is a deep blue fabric with a woven floral pattern

Scalloped edges are embellished with a gold coloured braiding

Garment measurements:

The sleeves are over long and shaped beautifully towards the cuff

Neck line detail – a scalloped edge and no buttons or evidence of closure

Finishing – to finish the edges of the entari I could see that the top striped fabric was hemmed at the edges – turned in together with the blue lining and hand stitched. The braiding was then stitched along the edges of the top fabric. I could not see any facings or interlinings.

 

Braiding is attached to the top striped fabric along the scalloped edge:

The Clothworkers Centre, London

 

 

Ottoman kaftan construction – linings

The Clothworkers Centre in London have several Ottoman kaftans in its archive and I have visited the centre to examine some of their examples. I was interested to see how the kaftans were cut and details of the stitching.

The archive kaftan pieces are typical of work made in the Ottoman court workshops during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Fabric weave were a Lampas  (4:1 satin and 1/3 twill). Fabrics were sumptuously made with silk warps and wefts and included metallic yarn as a brocaded weft. They were woven on looms producing a width of between 66cm and 68.5cm and, because of this width restriction, only the smallest of kaftans could be cut completely within the width – larger body sizes required fabric inserts.

 

Star design child’s kaftan

The main colours were white/cream and red with some blues and  yellow. Green was seldom used as there were no natural green dyes and the colour had to be made by over dying yellow with blue. The metallic yarns were made by loosely wrapping yellow and white yarns with silver strips – the white yarn enhancing the silver and the yellow coming through the silver creating a gold colour.

This “star” design kaftan illustrates how a small kaftan could be cut from one width of fabric with a separate gore added on the right side to complete the shape. Pattern pieces were cut to fit the fabric with as little wastage as possible.

Linings and stitching

This image shows the back/lining details of the Star kaftan. Bias cut facings (12cm wide) of red/orange silk are stitched around the openings – sleeves, neck,front, and hems. Facings are found in blue, red, orange and rose colours and sometimes match the main colour of the kaftan. The facings are attached to the kaftan by  single seam.

Floral design kaftan

The lining, if any, was inserted under the facing and the free edge of the facing was turned under once and stitched into place:

 

 

These kaftan had a long narrow pocket on the right hand side, between 6-9.5cm wide and 25-32cm long, and were attached to an opening on the side seam. Pockets were made from the same loosely woven fabric as the linings.

 

V&A 16th & 17th C Ottoman children’s kaftans

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O85101/kaftan/

16th C Ottoman children’s kaftans V&A museum

The V&A  collection of children’s kaftans were worn by Ottoman princes who died in childhood. These luxurious kaftans were placed over the graves of the deceased children and preserved in the imperial tombs. In 1595 the nineteen younger sons of Sultan Murat III were executed on the orders of their half-brother Mehmet III on his succession. The killing of younger heirs of the sultanate evolved to prevent any struggling for succession (interesting that this is also practiced by male lions that kill the cubs when taking over a pride). This cruel practice was never repeated after 1595.

Weave and fabric construction

‘Lampas’ weave – 4:1 satin with a 1/3 twill. Silk warp and weft with a third element – a metallic silver wrapped white or yellow silk weft brocade. Loosely silver wrapped white silk yarns allows the white to show through the silver highlighting the metal – yellow yarn peeking through the sliver lends a gold hue to the resulting brocade. Fabric width: 66cm – 68.5cm

Yarn colours

Predominantly white and red with touches of blue and yellow. Green was rarely used as there were no natural green dyes – green was produced by over dyeing yellow yarn with a blue dye. Red is used for the warp but never the weft – why?

Textile patterns

  • Cintamani & Tiger stripes – Turkic, Central Asian origin.15thC
  • Stars & Crescents –  Designs from Constantinople. 15th century

  • Florals: Pomegranate – single and sprays of, Ogival lattice, floral lattices, blossoms, pine cones, medallions – 16th century.
  • Undulating parallel lines – 17th century
  • Geometric design were still used in the 16th and 17th centuries

Pattern drawing for the children’s kaftan

Kaftan pattern pieces V&A clothworkers centre, London

Reference

PDF: Wearden J. The Royal Garments, fabric, design, tailoring.Ottoman kaftans from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

16th century pattern symbolism

Traditional Turkish Ottoman motifs are unique to the history of the Ottoman Empire and have been used to decorate many words of art and clothing including fabrics, tiles, ceramics, carpet and decorative arts since the 13th century reaching their zenith in the 16th century. The motif designs include stylised flower and fruits such as the carnation, hyacinth and tulip.

Embroidered textiles were an integral part of Ottoman daily life, used for home furnishings and clothing. Textiles played a role in daily activities and were used as gift-wrappings, room decorations, daily linens, and clothing. Embroidered textiles were also used for more ceremonial purposes, such as weddings, births, and circumcisions. Handmade textiles were symbols of status and illustrated not only the wealth of a woman’s family but also her skill as an embroiderer.

www.idildergisi.com

Carnation

The carnation symbolises spring, new birth, renewal and a marriage between earthly gardens and the flower filled fields of Paradise. The popularity of the carnation pattern originated during the 16th century from the ceramic workshops in Iznik. These workshops produced decorated ceramics and tiles for the Ottoman palaces and mosques. The carnation was grown in abundance in the countryside surrounding Iznik. The design was used widely on tiles, ceramic products such as plates, bowls and flagons, and also in the pattern design of fabulous clothing and home textiles.

 

Tulip

 

Hyacinth

Tiger design
A symbol of the strength and power of the Ottoman Empire and often found on fabric and clothing worn by the powerful.
(Gürsu, 1998).
Cintemani design
A pattern of three circles in a triangular pattern and wavy lines, which derives from leopard and tiger pelts. This motif travelled west with the Turks from Central Asia and is one of the most common motifs. The tiger stripe design symbolises power, strength and manly courage and has been commonly used in the designs on the clothes of the Sultans. The three circles together symbolise Ottoman power and protection.

 

Molly Williams – My new blog site

So here is my new blog site independent of my website www.mollywilliams.co.uk

Why a separate site to blog and chat? – well for exactly that reason! I wanted a place to put my work in progress, research notes, links and other things that I hope will be interesting to read!

This week I have finished a new design that as an A2 print will bring life, colour and energy to any space. The design is inspired by Turkish ceramic jugs and plates – so I though I would show you how I set about drawing and designing this piece.

I began with lines on paper – curves that intersect and create movement on the page. Plates in a variety of sizes make the perfect templates.

I use marker pens and especially love Promarkers. Choosing a colour palette is important – orange, blue, green (dark and mint) and cinnamon make great visual music!

With lines in place and overlaid with black marker and colours chosen I was ready to start doodling. I had a general plan in mind however usually the patterns tend to flow as the design grows

The finished design ready to be scanned and sent for Giclee printing!

This print is for sale at my Etsy shop – please click on the logo if you would like to be directed to the site: