*** Turkey


Figure 1.--Here is a carving of an idealized Turkish family on a Kemal Atatürk monument. This image is on lots of monuments to him. Ataturk created modern Turkey. Notice the western clothing. Part of Ataturk's program was to westernize Turkey. Image courtesy of Fersgusson image collection.

Turkey is one of the countries whichbhas over time experienced fundamental change. We title this page Turkey only because Turkey is the modern country inhabiting Anatolia. The country's names come from the Turkic tribes that moved into Anatolia after the classical era. Most of Anatolia's history including the entire ancient era is non-Turkic. Just as the history of Mexico has to include the history of Meso-America, the hstory of Turkey has to include the many non-Turkic people which inhabitd Anatolia. This is complicated because the country is named after the Turks. Probably better stated is that this is a page on Anatloia, its history and cultures, althiugh there is an emphasis on the Turkic Islamic era. HBC has begun to collect information on boys' clotthing in Turkey. We have not yet been able to collect much information on the clothing worn by Turkish boys. We have little historic information on Turkey. We do note that the warm Medditeranean climate of Turkey is an important factors as was centuries of rule by the Ottoman Turks. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of the modern secular state after World War I, European fashions began to have greater influence. Boys in Turkey have largely adopted Western dress. We note, however, that more Turkish girls are adopting Islamic head scarves and longer skirts. The Turks do have very distinctive killt folk costumes. HBC has been unable to find much information on Turkish boys clothes and would bevery interested in any information that Turkish visitors to our site may be able to offer.


Turkey is a country largely surronded by watr. To the north is the Black Sea, to the west is the Agean Sea, and to the south is the Mediterranean Seas. Between the Black and Ageans Seas are the strategic Turkish Straits. The Turkish Straits include the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Dardanelles. which have played an important role in history. This began with the very dawn of human history. Early man migrating out of Africa did not cross over to Europe from Anatolia because of the Straits, rather they moved into the great Eurasian Steppe and from theie moved west into Europe and east into Asia. The Ottoman Empire after conquering Anatolia launched an invasion of the Christian Balkans and attempted to move into western Europe, stopoed only at the gates of Vienna. The Ottomans were thus an important player in European, Asian, and Middle Eastern history. The Straits form the geographic border between Europe and Asia. Since the Christian Balkans achied indepenbence in the 19th century, however, the Ottomans and modern Turkey have generally not been seen as a European countriues, alththough Constaniople (Istanbul) and minor territory is on the European side of the Straits. Turkey is today largely made up of Anatolia which played such an important role in ancient history. The country's Anatolian heartland is centered on a high central plateau surrounded by a narrow coastal plain and several large mountain ranges. The highest point in Turkey is Mount Ararat (16,949 feet/5,166 merers), one of the most famous mountains in the world because of the Biblical references. It is a dormant volcano located on Turkey's eastern border.


Anatolia is a relatively small area in global terms, anout the size of Texas. Anatolia is a Greek term. The Romans called it Asia Minor. Even so, few araeas have proved to be such an imprtant cross roads of history. There are evidence of human habitation in Anatolia during pre-history. The migration of humans out of Africa, however, does not appear to have followed a route through Anatolia, but rather into Central Asia and then West into Europe. Anatolia on the perifery of the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia has played an important role from the beginning of written history. Neolithic hunter-gathers soon after civilization began to become estanlished in Mesopotamia began a transition toward a pastoral and agricultural life style (about 7000 BC). Anatolia was the center of the Hittite civilization which vied with Egypt for supremecy. The Hittites like the Egyptian fielded chariot-based armies. While the Eguptians fought the Hittites tonadeaw, the Hittites conquered large areas of Mesopotamia, including Babylonian Empire. From an early point, eastern Anatolia became an imprtant part of the Greek cultural world. The Trojan War was fought there. Achaeam merchantb princes and adventurers clashed with the remnants of the Hittite Empire. Important Greek thinkers (Anaximander, Heraclitus, and Thales) lived and wrote in easern Anatolia. The Persian Empire gained control over Anatolia. The revolt of the Ioania Greeks ld to the Persian Wars and eventually Alexander's campigns. Alexander's great vuctories were largely fought in Anbatolia. This led to destruction of the Persin Empire and the Helinistic Era. Anatolia Turkey was an important part of the Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire that followed. The Byzantines even when significantly reduced saved classical literary works and shielded Europe from mounted nomadic invaders. With the transformation of the Steppe tribes from Ibdo-European groups tmore Asiatic peoples, the Turkic tribes moved wet and seized Anatolia from the Bysantines, beginning the Turkic and Islamic era of Anatolian history. With the decline of the Caliphate, Turkey, firsr under the Seljuks and then the Ottomans became the center of the Islamic world. The Ottoman Empire was for centuries a major power dominating not only Anatolia, but the Christian Balkans and the Muslim Arab lands. The Turks were a minority in their Empire. The modern Turkish Republic rose our of the Turkish heartland of the Empire following World War I. The non-Turkic people were destroyed by the Young Turks in the Armenian Genocide.


Turkey inherited a largely mixed economy from the Ottoman Empire. The failure to participate in the European renaissance and revival of learning with the development of capitalism and science meant that the Ottomans also did not participate in the industrial revolution. The result was that the Ottoman Empire could no longer participate in the European power struggle which became increasingly pparent inthe 19th century, culminating in the dusaster of World War I Turkey after World War I was not only a rather poor, backward largely agricultural country, but a country reduced largely to Anatolia, having lost the Christian Balkans and the Arab lands. Since that time, Turkey has devloped a mixed economy of modern industry and traditional agriculture. Agriculture continues to provide about 30 percent of the country's employment. The main agricultural crops are tobacco, cotton, grain, olives, sugar beets, hazelnuts, pulse, citrus and livestock. Turkey's principal industries are textiles, food processing, autos, electronics, mining, steel, petroleum, construction, lumber and paper. Mining includes coal, chromate, copper, and boron.


HBC at this times has no infornmation on historic Turk boys' clothing. We do note that the warm Medditeranean climate of Turkey is an important factors as was centuries of rule by the Ottoman Turks. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of the modern secular state after World War I, European fashions began to have greater influence. We have little information on fashion trends in the 19th century. Nor do we have any information on early 20th century clothing.


We have little information on the styles of clothing worn by Turkish boys. After World War I Kemal Attaturk led a modernization and secularization program. Boys began wearing Wesern clothing which as far as we can tell is now common in the country.


HBC at this time has only limited information on Turkish boys' garment. Turkey was the most Westrernized country in the Middle East. This was in part a matter of geography. It was also a matter of great power conflict. The Ottoman Empire was one of the great powers and for a time threatened to drive deep into Europe well beyond the Balkans. Tradition clothing prevailed. There were garments grounded in Islamic custom. Women wore abaya dresses and men wore turbans and fezzes. To compete with Europe the Ottomans had to keep up with European technology. The failure to keep pace with Europe led to it becoming eventually known as 'the sick man of Europe' (19th century). While the Ottoman Empire was the most advanced country in the Middle East, it was much less developed than Europe. Some Western clothing was worn in the cities, but traditional clothing was widely worn in the villages and countryside. Women in oparticular continued to wear traditional clothing. The Ottomanns inability to field a modern army led to defeat in World War I (1914-18) and the collapse of the Empire. Kemal Atatürk, an Ottoman general, set out to modernize Turkey which meant westernize it. This included all aspects of Turkish docirty, including deemphssizing Islam. And promoting Western dress was part of that process. As a result, Turkish clothing changed dramatically in the 20th century after World War I. Attaturk and the modenizers made certain traditional clothing items like the fez illegal (1925). Turkish people began people began to wear more European styleed clothing. Women continued to use pieces of traditional Turkish fashionm, but men usually wear primarily European styles. Some older men in the contry side continued to wear traditional styles for a while. Western dress became common in Turkey and very fashionable. School childrren wore Western styles. Even Turkey has been affected by the growing strength of Islamic fundamentalism. This has affected fashion, but mostly the clothes worn by girls and women.

Traditional garments

Traditional clothing as in many countries is a part of culture. Turks as other peoole wove their own clothing and make dyes from natural plant ingredients. Their culture was reflected in the designs they created and the colors they used. The country's different regions developed distinctive characteristics and styles in their headwear, clothing, scarves, and hosiery. The roots of traditional clothing lie with the Turkish tribes that migrated to Anatolia and the Ottoman Empire that developed there. Perhaps the two most distinctive features of Ottoman dress were turbans and baggy trousers. One of the typical features of Turkish clothing is the use of multiple layers. Men might wear trousers, a long robe and a jacket on top. Women usually wore several scarves or kerchiefs of different colors. Flamboyance has been used to describe Turkish traditional styles. The traditional clothing tended to be not only colorful, but bright, giving a striking appearance. Fashion historians note hosiery as important in Turkish traditional clothing. Turkish socks were handmade and very bright. We see many different patterns. The yarn used for knitting was colorful and natural. The socks were not just a fashionable item, bur worn for warmth. Turkey has seven geographical regions: Aegean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Marmara, Mediterranean and Southeastern Anatolia. Some of the important national styles were: Cepken, Entari, Fes, Islak, Salvar, Yasmak, and Yelek. Each of these regions had its own clothing and fashion traditions. Today few Turkish people wear traditional clothing. Men and boys tend to wear European style. occasionally mixing some elements of the folk dress with their western outfits. Women are more likely to wear traditional garments. It is women who have retained traditional styles more fully and keep the traditions.


The traditional headwear associated with the Ottoman Empire was the turban. A more modern innovation was the turban, but banned by the nationalist Turkish government after World War I. The Hat Law (1925) was aimed at promoting Western style headwar instead of the fez. Turbans were no longer worn to any extent, but ghe fezwas wideky worn. The legislation was aimed at men. The legislation did not prohibit the veils or headscarves worn by women. A further clothing law was passed in 1934 with the law relating to the wearing of 'Prohibited Garments'. It banned religion-based clothing, such as the veil and turban and promoted western-style attire.

Skirted Garments

We do not yet know much about skirted garments in Turkey. We do see some boys wearing tunics in the late Ottoman Empire. It seems to have been a kind of schoolwear. We are not sure if it was a school uniform or simply a choice of schoolwear by the parents. Turkish as other Middle-Eastern school children commonly wore school smocks. I think the smocks were almost always associated with school wear. I do not have many details on the styles involved or the extent to which individual schools dictated specific styles. Some images show that the smocks might be worn with large Peter Pan collars. Turkish boys almost always wore their smocks with long trousers. The turkish smocks also seem rather short. Our turkish archive is too limited to make any assessments at this time.

Other garments

Hair Styles

We tend to note many Turkish boys with close-cropped hair in the early 20th century. This seems to have changed somewhat after World War II. Even so boys tend to wear short hair styles.


We do not yet have much information about boys' activities in Turkey. There are special clothing for activities like music, school, and sports, but our information is still limited. One important activity is religion. Turkey is a largely Muslim country. The modern state of Turkey was created after World War I as a secular state out of the Turkish center os the old Ottoman Empire. Since that time a basic tennant of the Turkish Republic was a secular state within a largely Muslim population. Many Turks in recent years have begun to rethink the secular state. Many Muslims now want a greater role for Islam in their society. Thus the future of the secular state is now in question. Boys in Turkey have largely dopted Western dress. We note, however, that more Turkish girls are adopting Islamic head scarves and longer skirts. For Muslim boys one of the most important events in their lives in circumscion. In Turkey this is a Muslim religious ritual rather than a medical procedure, although it is now mostly done by medically trained individuals. There is still a problem in rural Turkey where untrained individuls carry out the procedure.


The population of modern Turkey is reportedly over 70 percent ethnic Turkish. The Turks originated as one of the Central Asian people. They are best known for dominating a large extent of the Silk Road for an extended period. Turkic people first arrived in Anatolia at the beginning of the second millennium. Military victories open up the Byzantine Empire for Turkic settlement, especially the Battle of Manzikert (1071). Eastern and central Turkey is almost entirely inhabited by ethnic Turks. The Young Turks during and after World War I had dreams of creatic a vast Turkic state extending into Central Asia. Eastern Turkey is much more varied. Until the Armenian genocide, the Christian Armenians were an important part of the population. Today it is the Kurds that form an important part of the population. In he extreme northeast there are some Azerbaijanis, another Turkic people. There are also significant numbers of Zaza. (Kurds and Zaza are Iranic peoples). There are smaller numbers of Caucasians (primarily Georgians and Laz). In the southeast there are some Arabs. The Armenians, Greeks, and Jews that formerly lived in Anatolia are no longer present in any number. Given that history, the Turkish Government wants the recorded Turkish population to be as high as possible.


Turks today are over 70 percent of the Turkish population. The precise percentage is unclear because it is politically a loaded question in Turkey where the national policy is turkification of the population, a policy ghat resulted in the Armenian genocide and in more recent times, the harsh treatment of the Kurds, the country's largest minority. Turkic people are a group that originated in Central Asia. They speak speak various closely related languages. The first Great Turkish Khan Tuman (Teoman) Yabgu provides the first references to a Turkic people. (3rd century BC). The Turks first appeared in Western history in Roman writings (1st century AD. The people living in the east of Azov were recorded as Turcae/Tyrcae. The Turks in their central Asian homeland played a role dominating the Silk Road in transmitting eastern cultures westward and western cultures eastward. The Turkic people of Central Asia like the Mongols focused on animal husbandry, primarily horses. They had a nomadic lifestyle on the Steppe. As they migrated into Anatolia they began to live settled lives. The Turkish migration was driven by warlike Steppe tribes like the Huns and Mongols, as well mas drought, epidemic, and expanding population (6th-11th centuries). Turkic people migrated to the Caspian, Caucasus, and Crimean regions. It was in the later period that they began entering eastern Anatolia because of the declining power of the Byzantine Empire (11th century). The movement of the Turkic people into the area took place after military victories at the beginning of the second millennium. The victory of the Seljuk Turks at the battle of Manzikert opened Anatolia to Turkic people (1071). While the Byzantine Empire recovered some what, the military campaigns of Ozman I (late 13th century opened up a much larger intrusion of Turkic people (late-13th century). As a result, Turkic people gradually y replaced the the mostly Greek and Christian areas of Anatolia which became a largely Turkish Muslim area, the Turkic core of the Ottoman Empire. The Young Turks during and after World War I had dreams of creating a vast Turkic state extendung into Central Asia. There are today some 350 million Turkic people in the world stretching from Turkey throughout Central Asia and into western China. The Uyghurs have a mixed ethnicity, but speak a Turkic language. Turkic people dominate Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan. About a third of the Turkic people live in modern Turkey. There is also the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkish people have dominated the area of modern Turkey (basically Anatolia) since the creation of the modern state out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. This was significantly aided by the Armenian genocide during the War--the murder of some 1.0-1.5 million Armenians which has a major presence in eastern Turkey. The Turkish people were predominantly Muslim for the most part of their modern history. Modern Turkey considers all of it's citizens as ethnic Turkey and pursues a policy of turkification toward ethnic minorities, the largest of which are the Kurds in eastern Turkey.


The Turks were a minority in the Ottoman Empire. The Christians in the Balkans and the Arabs outside of Anatolia outnumbered the Turks. The Balkan Christians gradually obtained their independence during the 19th century. The Ottomans lost their Middle East provinces with Arab populations during World War I. Within Anatolia there were also minorities, including Greek Orthodox Christians, Armenian Christians, and Kurds in the east. There were also small numbers of Jews. Turkey after World War I emerged as a much more ethnically pure country. The Turks eliminated the Armenians in a holocaust during the War. Most of the Greek Christians were expelled after a war with Greece following the War. The Turks did not move as brutally toward the Kurds, perhaps because they were fellow Muslims. The Kurds in eastern Anatolia, however, have proved a continuing problem as Turkey attempts to Turkify them and the Kurds resist.


HBC knows relatively little about Turkish films. These are Turkish movies I have noted, but dot have the titles for them. Any information you might have on these films would be appreciated.

Folk Costume

The Turks have very distinctive folk costumes. Each region in Turkey has its own culture with different dress traditions. We do not yet have any detailed information on these costumes. Hopefully a Turkish reaader will provide us some information. We do note Turkish Costume Dolls, a company producing dolls in traditional Ottoman dress. The company specializes in dolls wearing traditional Turkish costumes. You may see different examples of female and male Turkish clothing in their dolls from bridal dresses to sufi darwish clothes.


We have been able to find very little information about Ottoman and Turkish orphanages. One of the problems here is family is very important in Turkey and many other Muslim countries. Orphans are generally taken in by family members. If this does not occur than the child is basically an outcast. This was poignently shown in the classic film, 'Lawrence of Aeabia' by how the two orphan boys taken in by Larence were treated. The same was true of Turkey despite the Koranic promotion of charity. A good indication of this is a 1894 publication which indicates how active Christian charities were in the Ottoman Empire. The author notes a letter complaining that there wre no orphanages in the Ottoman Empire and printed a letter about the religious supported orphabages in the major cities. The first specific orphnage we know of is the Kalfayan School & Orphanage was founded by to assist the victims of a cholera epedemic (1866). Today it is supportrd by international charities to support abandoned and at risk girls. We note an orphanage for Armemian and Greek children in Constantinople during the 1930s. We believe that the orphanaage was supported by Christain charities rather than the Turkish Government. These were Christian children. The Armenians were of clourse the victims of the genocide the Turkish Government perpetrated during World War I. Turkey and Greece fought a war after World War I in which the Greek population was largely expelled from eastern Turkey as part of a population exchange. Turkey today has a growing economy. It was a rather poor country and thus the Government had only limited resources to limit orphanages. Unlike Christian churches and Jewish groups, however, Islamic groups devoted little effort to supporting orphanages. Nor has the Government, despite ariwing economy, made a major effort to support orphanages. We notice an orpanage maintained by the Turkish Governmnt in which children were kept in apauling conditions. This became an international incident When the Duchess of York, Sarah Fergusson, and her daughters visitd the orphanage and released photographs in 2008. Instead of taking action on the apuling conditions, the Turkish Govenment threatend the Duchess with jail and accused her of both violating the hildren's privacy and carrying out a politically motivated stunt to embarass Turkey and the Government. A press article read, "The Duchess of York faces 22 years in jail after a Turkish court pressed charges against her for secretly filming in an orphanage. The charges relate to an undercover documentary Sarah Ferguson made with ITV in 2008 to expose 'appalling' conditions in state run institutions. A spokesman for the Duchess said: ‘The Duchess of York has fully co-operated with both the Turkish and British authorities at all times on this issue. British ministers refused to accede to the further requests for legal assistance from Turkey. From a UK perspective, the Duchess has been told by the Home Office that the case is closed. Yesterday a court accused Prince Andrew's former wife in absentia of 'going against the law in acquiring footage and olating privacy' of five children. She faces a maximum term of 22 and-a-half years in prison if convicted. No trial date has been set. 'Anywhere else it would be the authorities running these homes who were in the dock,' a source close to the Duchess said." And now Turkey's increasingly Islamic government instead of improving the care of orphans has launched an anti-Western campaign attacking the West in their name. A press reoort reads, "Government officials in Turkey are campaigning to take back Turkish children who were adopted by overseas Christian or gay couples, saying those lifestyles don’t coincide with the nation’s Islamic values. The Turkish site Hurriyet Daily News reports on the campaign to retrieve the adoptees who were given to Christian couples in European countries. According to the article, the first step in the campaign is to take them away from gay and lesbian couples."


Photography was one of the many technological advances of the 19th century. It was all the work of researchers in European countries and America. The Muslim world at the time was a scientific black hole. All advanced technology had to be imported. And while the Ottoman Empire was the most important Muslim country, it also had to import technology. And this had been the case for several centuries. Photohraphy was no exception. Photography was brought to the Ottomaman Empire by foreigners, businessmen who wanted to capitalize on a large market without any competition. The first photographic studios in Constantinople was opened by Europeans (mid-19th century). The firse first professional photographic studio in Constsninople was openbed by Italian brothers Carlo and Giovanni Naya (1845). The first Turk to open a studio was Vasilaki Kargopoulo (1850). But much of the activity was the work of Europeans. We see Greek Christians and Italians opening studios. There were also photographers of Armenian descent (a Ottoman minority) such as Pascal Sebah, Polycarpe Joaillier and the court photographers Abdullah Frères, who opened their studio (1858). Sultan Abdülaziz (r. 1861-76) bestowed the title Ressam-ı Hazret-i Şehriyar-i. Most of the early activity was centered in Constaninople (Istambul). Studios gradually appeared in other cities, but Constantiople was by far the most important. The Pera and Kadıköy districts in Constantunople were particularly important. Gradually the number of studios incrased substantially especially (1870s). They were mostly located in Constantimpole, but we begin to see them in other cities. The earliest photographs were Daguereotypes. We are not sure to what exten Ambros and Tin-types were taken. As in other countries, photohraphy became dominated by Albumen photography--CDVs and cabunet card. We continue to dee cabinet cards into the 1930s. The Turkish Parliament finally dealt with the issue of so many foreign photographers. The Parliament passed Act 2007 Concerning Arts and Occupations Reserved for Turkish Citizens in Turkey (1932). One of those occupations was photography. Some of the foreign photographers moved to Egypt. This cabinet card was taken by Jean Weinberg, a Romanian Jew, who ooperated Photo Français. He moved his studio to Alexandria (1932).


Although neighboring Greece is not on good terms with Turkey and there are major differences between the two countries, there are also many similarities. The history of the two countries have been linked for centuries. HBC readers interested in Turkey may also want to have a look at the Greek sections of HBC.


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Created: May 28, 2002
Last updated: 9:47 PM 12/12/2021