Asia, History, History of hats, Islam, Religion, Turkey

The Story of Fez and its adaptation as an icon for Ottoman Empire

From the perspective of internal peace, foreign wars, and fiscal stability, the reign of Sultan Mahmud II was marked by a series of disasters that probably surpassed the dismal record of Selim III. A weakened sultanate signed the Document of Alliance with an emboldened group of provincial notables, a milestone in the emergence of their autonomy. Somewhat later, only Great Power intervention prevented Moham-mad Ali Pasha of Egypt from seizing or overthrowing the Ottoman Empire (his goals are still debated), at about the time that Greek rebels were gaining their own in-dependent state, offering a powerful attraction to more than 2 million Ottoman Greeks who remained under the sultan’s authority. And devaluation of the currency acceler-ated, the silver content of the piaster falling by a full 85 percent.62 In this setting, Sultan Mahmud II employed drastic changes in attire to help create a strong monarchy with a new legitimation(This new “uniform” consisted of pants, a long frock coat, and the fez as a hat.

 He began by officially adopting the fez for the military, a process that took place in a number of steps after 1826. Accord-ing to one standard account, the sultan was seeking headgear for his new army-the Victorious Muslim Soldiers (Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammadiye)-that would be un-connected to the janissaries.

He found success in 1827, when his naval commander and men came to court wearing the fez, which they had embraced while serving in the western Mediterranean. The approving sultan modified this headgear for his new army, ordering the men to wrap a cloth around their fezes (igri bir sarnk).

With suitable headgear in place for his navy and army, Mahmud II in 1829 issued the new regulations for his civil and religious officials that were the key element in his drive to reconstitute the state on a new basis. To distinguish civil from army per-sonnel, he ordered his bureaucrats to wear a plain fez, expecting that the populace at large also would adopt the new headgear.

This 1829 regulation, whose drama actually matches that of the destruction of the janissaries, pushed aside a centuries-old Ottoman tradition in which headgear had provided the crucial and central marker of identity, status, and rank. In this landmark legislation, the sultan publicly worried that the symbolic value of clothing had been undercut: widespread imitation of official costumes, he feared, deprived civil servants (seyfiye) and religious classes (ilmiye) of their grandeur. To guard against this, and, he added, to prevent squandering and extravagance among officials, he carefully pre-scribed in painstaking detail the clothing (and sometimes the riding attire) for each rank. Altogether, he singled out for attention at least seventeen different groups of civil and religious officials and noted the clothing and headgear that each henceforth would wear.

At first glance, these stipulations of attire for officials of particular ranks and po-sitions appear very similar in form and content to sultanic clothing prescriptions of earlier centuries. A revolutionary notion, however, was embedded in the apparently familiar invocation to differentiation by dress, for the decree also specified that each Clothing Laws in the Ottoman Empire 413 civil official at every single rank (except for a handful at the very top) was to wear exactly the same headgear, the fez.66 Thus, all fez-wearing officials, be they kay-makams or clerks, would appear the same. The law in general sought to reorder a regulatory process that had broken down and escaped state control. The state’s use of clothing regulations to differentiate and reward as a means of enticing support and service and to demarcate among the many social and economic groups had foundered in the extraordinary messiness and con-fusion of the 18th century, when so many different groups had clamored for social and political position and when the sultan was merely one of many centers of power.

the sultanic state’s monopoly over this vital social, political, cultural, and religious sign. The law erased the confused markers of dying elites-the timar and lifetime tax-farm holders, the provincial notability, the pious foundation admin-istrators, and the janissary corps-and set up new ones for the emerging central state bureaucratic cadres that he was creating.

When he placed the identical fez on all officials and al-lowed only a very select few, such as the grand vizier, to wear headgear with a dis-tinguishing feature, he laid claim to a new kind of sultanic control. Before him, all officials appeared equal. And to reinforce his monopoly over status making, he be-gan creating medals and decorations that only he could award as a means of estab-lishing rank and hierarchy.67 There is an additional, remarkable aspect to this headgear legislation. It was a lev-eling device that symbolically restructured the Ottoman state on a completely new footing-one that was no longer religious in its distinctions but nonreligious in its uniformity.

the empire had been a multireligious entity based on Mus-lim supremacy; its military and bureaucratic personnel had been drawn (essentially) from the ranks of a Muslim populace that enjoyed a position of general social supe-riority over non-Muslims. The 1829 law removed the visible distinctions between (most) non-Muslims and Muslims and facilitated the formation of a new elite with-out the distinctive markings that had long set one community apart from the other. Wearing the fez, all civil officials would not only appear equal before the sultan; they would also look the same to one another. This outward sameness of a reli-giously undifferentiated bureaucracy betokened the effort of this ruler of a Muslim state to remake that state. In using clothing laws to erode distinctions based on re-ligion and create a new base for this regime, Mahmud II offered non-Muslims and Muslims a common subjecthood/citizenry.

At this crucial moment, he renegotiated Ottoman identity, stripping it of its religious component. In this manner, the law anticipated by a full decade the Tanzimat (1839-76) commitment to the formal equality of all before the law and the entry of non-Muslims into the military and bureaucracy on the same legal basis as Muslims.69 Some Ottoman subjects responded positively and quickly to the law. The new head-gear found a ready acceptance among Muslims and non-Muslims seeking careers in the new Ottoman civil bureaucracy.

Many non-Muslims-mainly, it seems, the more prosperous ones in larger ur-ban centers-embraced the fez as a means of escaping discrimination and “adopted the new official dress with alacrity.'”7′ Freed now from state-imposed clothing laws premised on religious differentiation, non-Muslims more publicly expressed their wealth through their clothing.

not only aspired to appear like their Muslim countrymen but also sought to enter into private competition with the highest government officials in differentiating themselves from ordinary people of all faiths.

In contrast to this eager acceptance by the upper and upper-middling strata of Muslims and non-Muslims, Ottoman workers rejected the new headgear. The tradesmen/artisans (kalabalik esnaf kitlesi), who were extremely conservative, totally fanatical and tied to Janissary traditionalism, persisted in not wearing the simple fez, one without a turban. On this, he [the sultan] abolished the turban wrappings on the fezes of the army and gave permission to the esnaf class to wind on their fezes things [fabric wrappings] like vemeni, (enber, abani, and yazma didbent. After this, wearing the fez spread among the people as it should have.

the action was an expression of a distinctive workers’ culture among both Muslims and non-Muslims. This interpretation fits into a broader picture of state-worker interaction before and after promulgation of the law. In their actions, the workers were spurning Mahmud II’s economic policies,

The janissaries’ massacre reduced the po-litical power of workers, and Sultan Mahmud began to dismantle Ottoman protection-ism, replacing it with a laissez-faire economy that subsequently evolved at the expense of the once-privileged and protected guilds. In 1831, for example, he attacked the monopolistic privileges of guilds and threatened many workers’ livelihoods.

In this interpretation, the plain fez worn by the Muslim and non-Muslim bureaucrats and by the non-Muslim merchants represented support for the laissez-faire economic policies of the sultan

In this environment, artisanal and popu-lar resistance to the clothing legislation was successful, and the sultan backed down. By wearing fezes wrapped in a wide variety of fabrics, workers aimed to differen-tiate themselves from the Ottoman official classes, international merchants, and other laissez-faire advocates who had so quickly adopted the plain fez.

their headgear identified them as workersrather than members of a particular religious group.

The fez’s use became ubiquitous in the army as well, as evidenced by sketches drawn by visiting French diplomats of Ottoman foot-soldiers, all of whom sport the small, round hat.35 The effort to modernize effectively ended the need to produce the range of Ottoman headwear that was previously used.

Examining the hat’s design, the squat, round, brimless fez looks similar to the civilian skullcap or the Janissary’s tarbouz. the only major addition to the fez appears to be the tassel hanging from the center of the top (Figure 11). Such banal design may have been the reason Sultan Mahmoud II decided the fez was the best choice for his new “uniform, since wearing such a simple hat would give the impression of humility on the part of high-ranking officials. It could have also been to cut costs, since the relatively small size of the fez compared to a hat like the royal turban would be cheaper to produce on a large scale.

Ottoman society used headgear styles to denote a person’s position in society, whilst utilizing color to display their religious affiliation. It seemed so important to their way of life that their rulers made draconian legislation to safeguard against the breach of these dress-codes.36 With such societal organization centered upon the display of hats, the ranks and religious affiliationss of individuals in paintings can be quickly determined by examining their head-covering. This emphasis would have made the forced homogenization of the fez all the more profound for Ottoman society, suddenly making everyone, either in power or among the proletariat, equal at a glance.

It is certain that Fes came from Morocco (Morocco / Tunisia). Fes  is a cap made of red wool felt, which was produced in the city of Morocco and spread to other Islamic countries from here. It was made obligatory for civil servants in 1828 by Mahmut II in the Ottoman Empire. In order to meet the requirements, production sites with the name of feshane were established in Izmit in 1883 and in Istanbul in 1885. With a law enacted in 1925, it was banned from wearing and Brimmed hat was accepted instead.

Fes was chosen as the official uniform in the new army and civil service after the Janissary Corps was destroyed in 1826. the fez was brought from Tunisia to istanbul, but in 1835 some Tunisian craftsmen were brought to Istanbul. In 1839 Feshane was expanded and moved to a part of a palace above the Golden Horn. Soon, they started producing fabric as well, but it was still based on animal power. In the mid-1840s, steam engines started working. In the 1840s and 1850s, several factories of the same type were opened, but these factories catered to the needs of the army rather than trading.

In 1828, all soldiers and officers were required to wear fez. Since the relationship between serpuş and religion was established, a  suitable fez for wrapping a turban around it was accepted.

In ottoman empire, there were no side protrusions on headwears, whether they were civilians or soldiers. Because , this protrusion prevented  Heads of Muslims from touching the ground while praying.

 “The absence of a visor on the edge of [Fez] was easily adopted by Muslims as it made it possible for their foreheads to touch the ground while praying. Ottoman Christians sometimes wore the fez, whose use began with the edict of the palace and was immediately accepted by the middle class of Ottoman Muslims. in Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatname,it is mentioned  that the fez was worn even in Anatolia 200 years before the aforementioned edict, and therefore, there were fez-makers. It is also stated in the Admiration of the Sadr-i Azam clearly that the fez is an “Islamic dress” and it is emphasized that “it is worn by the soldiers in Egypt and the Maghrib and that the maiyyet soldier in Mecca has a fez”.

“In order to deal with the problem of the military’s serpuş, a council was convened in the office of the sheikhulislam (Bab-ı mesihat = Bab-ı fatwa) in 1243, under the rule of the vizier. In this assembly, other than Selim Mehmed Pasha and Sheikhulislam Kadızade Tahir Efendi, Ağa Hüseyin Pasha, who was the guardian of the Black Sea strait, and his captain-ı Derya Darendeli İzzet Mehmed Pasha, serasker Husrev Mehmed Pasha and former Şeyhulislam Mekkizade Mustafa Asım and Esbak Şeyhulislamıza Yasinciz Ahmed Reşid Efendiler and Ahıskalı Ahmed, Akşehirlı Hacı Ömer and Türkmenzade Ahmed Efendi, Hocazade Efendi and leading officials and officials of the state were present. In the council, although the clothes of the soldier are good, the şobar on their heads are not good in terms of both color and shape and quality, and because they are not durable and deteriorate in a short time, there is a need for replacing a hat which is always worn in winter and summer, The sprinkles, which were built as a close sample, and the fez were brought to the members of the delegation and it was declared that the fez was more durable than the shovel and it would be cheaper as it was made in Istanbul by bringing masters from Tunisia and Algeria.

By showing the samples of fez to  the members of the delegation, since the hat will always be at soldiers head, the acceptence of fez شرعا و عرفاwas needed. scholars and state officials say that the fez, which is the guise of Islam, is still worn to soldiers in Egypt and Maghrib, and that the maiyyet soldier of the Mecca emir has a fez, and that the other little Huseyin Pasha has a soldier with a fez as a rifleman on his way to Pazvandoğlu, who rebelled in Vidin. They recommended to be dressed, and it was decided by allies that the asakir-i mansuren would wear a fez instead of a shobara. ” The decisions taken in the Assembly were made by Sultan II. It is approved by a Hatt-ı Hümayun issued by Mahmud on 3 March 1829 and 50.000 fez is brought from Tunisia for the first needs. In fact, a Minister of Fez was appointed to deal with the import issue.

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