Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms

1876 TILL 1908 MAISON MILITAIRE DE S.M. IMPERIALE LE SULTAN ABDUL-HAMID II

General a-la Suite

Right - An Ottoman court general a-la suite uniform (around 1900).

Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan 

Right - The 1876 Aiguillette for Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan - was a unique item of rank insignia, Not only used in its conventional sense, as a working symbol of a staff-officer’s authority, it was also granted as an honour to various officers. The Annuaire oriental du commerce, de l'industrie, de l'administration et de la magistrature (Constantinople 1891) held at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, annually published the full index of the Imperial Ottoman Government and this actually listed, not only the Feriks (or Generals of Division), whom were entitled Aides-de-Camp Honraires, to the Sultan. In the Ottoman Turkish empire the aide-de-camp was considered to be a title of honour; The Annuaire oriental du commerce, (Constantinople 1891), included in this list all the Lieutenants, Captains etc who were also entitled ‘Aides-de-Camp Honraires’.

Among the Aides-de-Camp Honraires, to the Sultan there are some notable foreign officers, such as:

  • Baron vonderGoltz, who was instrumental in the reform of the Ottoman Turkish army and its modelling after the German Army.
  • Ristow, who was an artillery officer. He had arrived with Goltz. It was under Ristow’s direction in 1885, that the final defensive system for the Dardanelles was completed, creating a fortification system that forced the Allied decision to ultimately attack Gallipoli, in 1915. His uniform was the subject of an earlier Armourer (Flaherty, C. (2011) An Ottoman Turkish Generals’ Jacket. The Armourer Militaria Magazine, Issue 106 July-August, 2011: 25-28).
  • Vice-Admiral Woods (Sir Henry Felix, 1843–1929, KCVO). Woods, was a British Royal Navy officer, and was attached to the British Embassy in the Ottoman Empire, when he joined the Imperial Ottoman Navy. He received the rank of Admiral. He was Aide-de-Camp for some years to Sultan Abdul Hamid II. He was awarded the Medjidie and Osminieh orders. He died in 1929, in Constantinople.

There was a high level of importance associated with the role. It appears as well, that the title raised the status of these officers. Ottoman Turkish military ranks carried a corresponding aristocratic title. In the case of a Lieutenant’s rank this was normally “EFFENDI”. However, in the Annuaire, the named Lieutenants, who are entitled ‘Aides-de-Camp Honraires’, end their names with the aristocratic title of “BEY”, which was normally intended for the MAJOR rank and above.

Right: Various 'Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan' Uniform Insignia.

A: Gold Cuff Star: In the personnel service of the Sultan (see G-H).

B: Gold Cuff Star and Crescent: Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

C: The Hamidiye Corps Commander, a Divisional General as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan; as well, the Chief of the Bashi-Bazouk, as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

D: Army officers up to, and including the rank of Miralai (Colonel), as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

E: Birinji-Ferik (General), Ferik (Army Lieutenant-General or Navy Vice-Admiral), or Liva (Major-General or Rear-Admiral), as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

F: Soldier, 1st Albanian Regiment of the Imperial Guard (1890-1908), as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

G: Soldier, from the Sultan's Palace Guard (1900-1908), as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

H: Officer, from the Sultan's Palace Guard (1900-1908), as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

I: Imperial Navy Liva (Rear-Admiral), as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

J: Imperial Navy Ferik (Vice-Admiral), as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

Above/Right - K: Three Gold Cuff Stars and Crescents: Higher Military Supervisory Commission: The Office of the Khedive of Egypt, as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

  • Right - As can be seen, this particular insignia is clearly seen on the uniform of Ottoman General Gazi Ahmed Muhtar Pasha. In 1885, he was the Ottoman official with the title – Commissioner Extraordinary sent to Cairo, Egypt to represent the Sultan’s sovereignty over Egypt [1].

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[1] Oded Peri. Ottoman Symbolism in British-Occupied Egypt, 1882-1909. Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 41, No. 1 (Jan., 2005), pp. 103-120.

General a-la Suite Gala Dress

Child Prince's Uniforms

Right - A Portrait of Prince Abdurrahim Efendi, Son of Sultan Abdulhamid II, 1900, by Fausto Zonaro (this is the same boy, who was seven years old at the time, photographed with the rest of his brothers - pictured above).

Above - Each of the sultan's sons in this photograph wears a complete version of the following uniforms:

  • Oldest Brother (far left): Captain (possibly Lieutenant) in the 1st Lancers. This is indicated by the double lace cuff chevrons, and the fringeless epaulettes. He is also wearing an early (1900) version of the later 1909 Army officers’ lamb wool kalpak with a top six-point star made of gilt lace.
  • Younger Brother (far right): 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Lancers, indicated by the single lace cuff chevrons,and the fringeless epaulettes. Like his older brother (and Prince Efendi) he is also wearing the 1900/1909 Army officers’ lamb wool kalpak.
  • Two young brothers (middle): Place Guard Company (see bwlow).

Prince Abdurrahim Efendi (next to his eldest brother): He wears a 1876 Field Artillery tunic, and has the rank of onbasi (corporal), which is the red chevron on this left arm. Like his older brothers he is also wearing the 1900/1909 Army officers’ lamb wool kalpak

.Above - The two older princes wear the 1876 Aiguillette for Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

Sultan's Palace Guard (1900-1908)

Right - The distinctive Paraderabatte (red button-on chest lapels, with embroidered star-burst) [1].

Each soldier in the regiment had a gold star badge on their cuff, identifying them as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

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[1] A photograph of the 1893 flag for the Hejaz Division (which were the troops occupying the Hajaz province, belonging to the 16th (Hejaz) division of the Turkish army) appears to have a similar star burst to that represented in this picture from Askeri Muze ve Kultur Sitesti Komutanligi. (1986) Osmanli askeri teskilat ve kiyafetleri: 1876-1908 [Ottoman military organization and uniforms] Yayinlari. 

Baltadjis (Imperial Courts' Halberdiers)

Right - The special uniform (from an 1895 French magazine illustration) of the Imperial Courts' Halberdiers.

  • Units like these were a feature of all the various European courts and the time.
  • In the Ottoman court, traditionally called the 'Baltadjis', these had been a Janissary regiment whose role (armed with axes) was to clear the Sultan's path, of trees etc on campaign, and to set up his tent.

The function of this guard unit, was that "form a route called the 'holy corridor' for the Sultan to visit the Mosque" [1].

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[1] Jack Cassin-Scott, John Fabb, 1973 Ceremonial Uniforms of the World, Hippocrene Books: Plate 44 description.

Minister's Guards

Right – A minister's guards uniforms depicted in Fausto Zonaro 1896 painting of the 'British Ambassadors’ Daughter in Palanquin'.

Police des Palais

Right - A 'Police des Palais' officer.

Sultan's Landau Coach Drivers

Right – the Sultan's landau coach driver.

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