History PhD candidate Marloes Cornelissen attended the Inaugural Dressing The Early Modern Network Conference Exploring Early Modern Dress: The Merits and Challenges of Diverse Sources at Niki (Dutch University Institute for Art History) in Florence on 19 September 2015.
She presented a paper entitled “Raincoat or ‘jamberloek’: fashion among the Dutch in early-modern Istanbul according to probate inventories, final wills and personal correspondence”
Between 1700 and 1750 the Dutch echelle or ‘nation’ in Istanbul consisted of a small group of merchants, embassy staff and other individuals with Dutch protection. In the chancery registers of their embassy their worldly possessions and eternal wishes for the afterlife in their final wills were recorded. Some of the younger merchants never mastered the Dutch language in their Ottoman environment which was infused with influences from the West and the East. Their way of dressing was at least as much a fusion of their European and Ottoman identities. Their mastery in French, Italian, Ottoman and occasionally also Greek was also reflected in their dress as well as in the records of their material world. The inventories, auction records and final wills were penned down in multiple languages which were often mixed when it came to the description of their clothes, jewellery, furniture and accessories. A raincoat was not referred to as ‘regenjas’ but rather ‘jamberloek’: a Dutchified version of Ottoman-Turkish yağmurluk. Dutch merchants’ wives owned not only muslin and taffeta fontanges, but also elaborate Ottoman headdresses called serpuş, turbans and fur kalpaks. It appears that especially the elder members of the Dutch ‘nation’ started to don Ottoman attire, but did not give up their wigs and European hats either. Ottoman textiles and clothing were at the same time also highly appreciated as some of the most valuable pieces among Dutch women’s dowries. This paper aims to explore these records, which are kept at the National Archives in The Hague as well as the owners of the material goods described in them. It will discuss to what extend one can learn about the material worlds and, moreover, fashion in 18th-century Istanbul.