For hundreds of years, skilled craftspeople in the Syrian centers of Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs produced intricately woven textiles for the royal courts, worldly merchants, and elite Bedouin families of the Ottoman Empire. City dwellers were renowned for wearing brightly colored silk garments that glittered with gold and silver threads. By contrast, nomadic Bedouins wore woolen garments in hues and designs reflecting their desert lifestyle. The allure of these garments stems from the technical virtuosity with which they were woven and the aesthetic beauty of their drape and stylized designs.
Dressed with Distinction offers a window onto the history of textile production in the Middle East during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, until political and social changes led to the dominance of Western-style commercially manufactured attire. In addition to articulating the social and seasonal contexts in which the garments were worn, this book examines the styles of dress of women, men, and children in Ottoman Syria, including cloaks (abaya), head coverings (hatta), women's body coverings (carsaf), and jackets (qumbas).