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