Balkan Dress Under the Ottomans 15th-18th(?) centuries?

Mar 2013
Breakdancing on the Moon.
Does anybody have any good, comparative, sources about this topic? The dates are obviously suggestions, not set in stone, I just want to see stuff from a few places over different intervals of time.
Jul 2009
Here are 2 prints from the web stating 19th Century Folk Dress in European Turkey now parts of Albania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Greece. The old pictures are Bulgarian. To get the colors perhaps you need to go on line and google search Bulgarian, Greek or whatever Balkan area you choose for the traditional of folk costumes of that area.

Jul 2009
World Focker: I found this website that has some good details of some of the traditional folk costumes, in this case mostly Serbian. There are even some patterns that could help you make some of the costumes or at least see in greater detail how they were made. I can say that in my travels through Bulgaria and visiting the ethnological museums set up in the cities as many tourist do and being at some of the national holiday celebrations that had folk music and dancing many of the costumes in Bulgaria seem similar to these Serbian ones as well as Macedonian and Bosnian. There would be certain accepted norms during Ottoman times, Pomaks i.e. Muslims would have their own costumes declaring their identity and those that remained Christian would have theirs. I'm not knowledgeable enough to give you much more insight. My experience in Bulgaria has been only with Christian nationals. However, I have passed through some rural villages that were Muslim and saw the minarets in the town centers but really could not discern any real difference from any other small town in Bulgaria. I have enjoyed the Turkish dishes that are popular all over Bulgaria. The opinion I get is that the 400 plus year period of the Turkish/Ottoman control of the Balkans was a difficult time for Non-Muslims and the Christian majority now in Bulgarian cherish the traditions that kept them from fully assimilating into the Ottoman Empire but when one looks at the traditional dress of the region ones sees the Turkish influence.

FolkCostume&Embroidery: April 2012

Jul 2014

Lord Byron in [ame=""]Albanian[/ame] dress painted by [ame=""]Thomas Phillips[/ame] in 1813. Venizelos Mansion, Athens (the British Ambassador's residence)

1809 - 1810
Lord Byron:
Letters on Albania

British poet, Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824), set out on a grand tour of the Mediterranean in 1809, in the course of which he visited Spain, Malta, Albania, Greece and Asia Minor. His visit to Albania in the autumn of that year made a lasting impression on him and is reflected in the second canto of the poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage," that catapulted him to fame as a writer in 1812. The first letter here, written to his mother from Albania, betrays much of the excitement he felt on his first journey to the "Orient" and, in particular, at his meeting with the formidable tyrant Ali Pasha of Tepelena (1744-1822), the so-called Lion of Janina. The second letter, written to John Cam Hobhouse (1786-1869), describes his encounter with Veli Pasha, son of Ali Pasha.

My dear Mother,
I have now been some time in Turkey. The place is on the coast but I have traversed the interior of the province of Albania on a visit to the Pacha.
The Albanians in their dresses (the most magnificent in the world, consisting of a long white kilt, gold worked cloak, crimson velvet gold laced jacket and waistcoat, silver mounted pistols and daggers).
He called my Albanian soldier who attends me, and told him to protect me at all hazards. His name is Viscillie and like all the Albanians, he is brave, rigidly honest, and faithful, but they are cruel though not treacherous, and have several vices, but no meannesses. They are perhaps the most beautiful race in point of countenance in the world.
your affectionate son,
P.S. I have some very "magnifique" Albanian dresses, the only expensive articles in this country. They cost 50 guineas each and have so much gold they would cost in England two hundred.
[from: Lord Byron, Selected letters and journals in one volume, from the unexpurgated twelve volume edition. Edited by Leslie A. Marchand (London, John Murray 1982), p. 29-34, 41-42.]

Albanian gentleman nineteenth century:

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Aug 2014
United States of America
I would recommend checking out the accounts of travelers to the Balkans and Greece during the time period you are talking about. One of the most famous is William Martin Leake, a British military officer who also had interests in classical history, archaeology, and topography. Spon and Wheler might also be a good source -- they produced a travelogue as well as drawings of topography, architecture, and scenes of every day life.

There are other travelers but I don't have their names off the top of my head. I'll search for a short bibliography. I think some of these authors include drawings of the modern inhabitants of the Balkans.
Apr 2014
There are not many illustrations from the period 15th-18th century because the Ottoman empire and its population were kinda enclosed from the outside world.
The first thing that comes to my mind is this picture from year 1589 by unknown painter (I think).

But when it comes to 19th-20th century, there are plenty of pictures and photographs. The clothes from this exact period are mostly the ones which the Balkan folks use in their ethno ensembles and call a "national costume".

1870, Felix Kanitz

Many authentic ones were collected in museums:


Make your research and share with us. :)
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Ad Honorem
Apr 2011

Here is a self-portrait of a famous Bulgarian icon painter, early 19-th Century, dressed in traditional dress. I don`t think it changed to much from 15-19-th.

The sources - a book called "Bulgarians in 16 century" describes ppl dressed similary to the paintings above, but with more dark colors - black and grey.

Usually men`s every they dress is in grey - the natural color of the wool, shirt is white traditionaly, and the huge belt made of wool is red or yellow. The hat is made by sheep`s skin and is colored black.


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