Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


Ottoman Army Generals (1828-1839)

From 1828, new higher ranking officers were appointed to the Imperial Army [1]:

  • LIWAS (Brigade) commanded by a MEER-EE-LIWA.
  • HASSA (Division) commanded by a FERIQ.
  • MANSOURAH (Army Corps) commanded by a MOUSHEER.

Following 1832, with the adoption of the fez, an early system of fez -badges were employed to indicate rank [2].


[1] Identified by Marcel Roubicek in his 1978 ‘Modern Ottoman Troops, 1797-1915: In Contemporary Pictures (Franciscan Printing Press): 12.

[2] Metin Eruretin. (2001) Osmanli Madalyalari ve Nisanlari. [Ottoman medals and orders: documented history]. DMC: 139-142.

Sultan's Aide-De-Camp (1829)

1828 Ottoman Army Headgear

Right – Extracted from the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection: Russian irregular cavalrymen, c.1815. Painted by Aleksander Zauerveid “no.18 - Nogaischer Tartar”. The 1826 Ottoman Army adopts this exact same headgear for its soldiers.

The 1832 decree of Sultan Mahmud II, declared the Fez to be the Ottoman Turkish national headdress, to be worn by civilians and military alike. [1] The new bonnet worn by Mahmud II and his troops was the crimson wool fez; traditionally made in places such as the south of France, Tunis, or by Tunisians living in Constantinople, and had long been worn in the Mediterranean, and North Africa. It was seen as early, as 1669 worn by Ottoman troops at the siege of Candia.

In 1804-1807, New Model Army soldiers of Selim III commonly  wore the Janissary red skull cap, as well as the long tall red Janissary Bostandjees hats. In 1827, an order was made for 50,000 tall cylindrical red hats, from Tunis, by the Sultan for his New Model Army. These were modified with the addition of yellow tape stripes. On 3 March 1829, new laws were passed regulating the dress of several ranks of imperial officials, and this included the use of these tall red hats. In 1832, the Imperial Fez Factory was established at Eyup, employing Tunisian, Turkish and Armenians to make the new fez (which by this stage had added an enormous tassel, which was not reduced in bulk till 1845 – becoming in now familiar form).


[1] The development of the fez headgear (1827-1832) is documented in Philip Mansel. Dressed to Rule: Royal and Court Costume from Louis XIV to Elizabeth II. Yale University Press, 2005: 104.

1828 Ottoman Senior Officer's Insignia

Right - A French period drawing (Vinkhuizjen Collection), shows an illustration of the likely uniform for the "General Major".

  • Likely, the 1826-28 rank of BASH-BIMBASHEE.
  • The fisrt senior commander of the original eight regiments (one battalion each - commanded by a Major), formed in 1826 with the establishment of the modern army to replace the Janissaries.
  • After 1828, the expansion of the new army saw the creation of MIRALAY: Colonels, and generals who replaced the BASH-BIMBASHEE.
  • The figure shows massive European-styled epaulettes to identify his rank.

The early period the rank system used by the New Model Army (disbanded in 1807-08), used chest buttons to indicate rank. Contained in the Vinkhuizjen Collection are several 1828 period illustrations showing:

  • Four pairs of large chest buttons: Identified as a YUSH BASHEE (Captain).
  • Three pairs of large chest buttons: Identified as a OTOUSH BASHEE (Lieutenant).
  • Two pairs of large chest buttons: CAVUS (Sergeant).
  • One pair of large chest buttons: Identified as a ON BASHEE (Corporal); This is the same as the Janissary ODABASI (Barrack-Room Chief, or Corporal).

Early illustrations of senior officers, show them wearing chest buttons.  At this stage, only three types of officers existed [1]:

  • The ‘Chef de Bataillon’, a BIMBASHEE: Major;
  • YOUZBASHEE: Captain or Company Commander. There were 15 companies per regiment/battalion;
  • Each company, had an additional two MOULAZEEM: Lieutenants.


[1] Figures seen in the book by Mahmud Sevket Pasa ‘L'Organisation et les Uniformes de l'Armee Ottomanne (1907)’, were originally miss-dated (these figures are dated to 1840, when they actually relate to early 1826); as well, as miss-described (using post 1876 ranks). These are actually, showing the original three officer’s ranks created for the 1826 modern army, which consisted of eight one-battalion regiments.

1828 Imperial Guard Infantry

By 1828, there were two Guard infantry regiments, and various illustrations of these from 1818, show:

  • A red jersey, with red collar and cuffs.
  • Red jersey, with blue collar and cuffs.

In the pre-1826 period, the imperial household troops, nomially operating as an imperial guard, to the sultan, was only formilised into an actual imperial guard, formed along western lines was not formally initiated till after 1826, when sultan Mahmut II reformed the bostangis [boustangees; bostandji] were reorganised into the muallem bostansyan-i hassa [hassa]: trained imperial gardeners [1].


[1] Shaw, S.J. Shaw, E.K. 1977 History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey; Reform, Revolution, and Republic: The Rise of Modern Turkey 1808-1975 (Volume 2). Cambridge University Press.

Sultan Mahmud II Uniforms (1832)

Sultan Mahmud II, wears an officer's jersey, in imperial purple, with extensive gold tape cheats bars and floral embroidery (this figure dates from post-1832 as he is depicted wearing a fez). He also wears the senior officers' red cloak.

Colonels (1832)

Between 1826, and 1828, the modern army was expanded to three battalions, each commanded by a BIMBASHEE: Major, with newly appointed MIRALAY: Colonel in command of the regiment.

The long-skirted kaftans, with gold floral embroidery, and gold tape chest loops ending in gold tassels worn by the ‘Chef de Bataillon’; BIMBASHEE: Major, were now worn by the MIRALAY: Colonel. It should be noted, that all these figures were originally miss-identified in these collections, in particular:

  • The ‘Dark-Blue’ regiment MIRALAY: Colonel, from the Vinkhuizjen Collection, was originally incorrectly inscribed as a ‘BIMBASHEE / Infanterie Oberst (in German for Infantry Colonel), from 1830.
  • The second ‘Dark-Blue’ regiment MIRALAY: Colonel, from the Anne S.K. Brown Military collections, was originally incorrectly inscribed as an ‘Ottoman Artillery Captain, 1828’.

Illustrated in these various Plates, these are wearing Fez (which was adopted in 1832).

Sultan's Halberdier Bodyguard (1830)

Regimental Uniform Colours (1828-1832)

According to the account given in the Berliner Stadt- und Landbote (1832): "The colour of the coat varies from regiment to regiment: dark blue, light blue, red, and chestnut brown all being worn" [1]. More of these 'regiment colours' can be seen in different uniform colours found in the Vinkhuizjen Collection. All these early illustrators represent the first eight infantry regiments, that originally existed in 1826. These show the officers and soldiers wearing the jersey-like garments in one of eight basic colours:

  • Red (which are known to have been the Sultan’s guard infantry);
  • Pink, which according to one of the older illustrations was nicknamed the ‘Bostandjees’, the name given to the Sultan’s gardeners – which may refer to that regiment’s particular origins;
  • Dark-Blue;
  • Dark-Green;
  • Turquoise;
  • Light-Blue;
  • Green;
  • Yellow: his particular regiment - the 'Yellow Regiment' appears to have been the former 'Sulak (Imperial Guard Battalions)' [2].

These are listed in the following table:

Three more Vinkhuizjen Collection figures of infantrymen wear the same jersey-like garment in white, brown, and black. However, these jerseys appear more European in fashion, and have more fully developed collars and cuffs. These also show differently coloured collars and cuffs – red, yellow and blue. Each of these figures are depicted wearing fez; these are post 1832 infantry, where there was now three battalions in each regiment. The red, yellow and blue collars and cuffs, actually illustrate the battalion colours: 'Red Battalion'; 'Blue Battalion'; and the 'Yellow Battalion' [3].


[1] Knotel, R. Knoetl, H. Sieg, H. (1980) Uniforms of the World - A Compendium of Army, Navy And Air Force Uniforms 1700 - 1937. Arms Armour Press, London: 430-431.

[2] These guardsmen became the 'Yellow' Regiment in the New Model Army, which continued till 1832-39, with the regiment distinction of Yellow jackets and fez tassels, In 1860, one of guard regiments retained the yellow tassel, and zouave jacket piping.

[3]  Alternatively, it could be the case that as brigades had been introduced in this time, and that in order to continue with the system of each regiment wearing a distinctive colour combination, the original 1826 regiments continued to wear their coloured jerseys; while, the newer -1828 regiments were group into brigades, with each brigade had its own jersey colour. The individual regiments were further distinguished by the red, yellow and blue collars and cuffs system. Thus, a three-regiment division, would have all the division regiments dressed in the same colour jersey (say black): 'Red Regiment'; 'Blue Regiment'; and the 'Yellow Regiment'.

Polish Auxiliary Soldier (1828)

Right - Contained in the Vinkhuizjen Collection an illustration of a Polish Auxiliary Soldier, in the modern army, in the 1828 period. The original illustration is identified, with a handwritten pencil inscription as “kumbarraducli Bombadier 1835”, which is indecipherable - This however, it could be Ottoman Artillerymen ‘Khoumbaradjis’ (Bombardiers), who also wore brown uniforms. with yellow facings [1]. The crescent badge displayed on the distinctive Polish four-cornered shako, tends to confirm the status of Auxiliary Troops, under the Sultan. This is called the ‘Order of Orta’, and was commonly used by the Ottoman army well into WW1, to indicate elite or auxiliary status (Flaherty, C. Ottoman Turkish Army Specialist Insignia. The Armourer Militaria Magazine, Issue 99: May-June, 2010: 90-91). This appears to be a unit raised from Polish mercenaries, willing to support the Turkish Sultan, in the 1828 War against Russia. At the time, the Polish were renowned as crack European-trained solders, which were needed to reinforce the newly formed European-trained Ottoman army.



[1] Brown uniforms. with yellow facings are specifically mentioned as 'a Polish uniform characteristic'; see Brzezinski, R. (1988) Polish Armies 1569-1696 (2) Osprey Publishing: 38. 

Ottoman Albanian Infantry (1829-1844)

1832 Junior Officer's Insignia

In addition to the use of chest buttons, the post-1826 ON BASHEE (Corporal), was the same as older Janissary ODABASI (Barrack-Room Chief, or Corporal). An illustration of the 'White Regiment' shows a pair of red cloth star and crescent badges on his chest [1] [2] [3].


[1] Marcel Roubicek 1978 ‘Modern Ottoman Troops, 1797-1915: In Contemporary Pictures (Franciscan Printing Press): 4, as a "Soldier of the Ottoman 'New System' Infantry, 1828". The illustration shows a black cartridge box carry strap covering the right-side red star and crescent badge.

[2] Charles Mac Farlane, ESQ. MDCCCXXIX (1829) Constantinople in 1828 : A Residence of Sixteen Months in the Turkish Capital and Provinces with an Account of the Present State of the Naval and Military Power and of the Resources of the Ottoman Empire. London: Saunders and Otley, Conduit Street: 26, almost the exact same figure is illustrated, with the second red star and crescent badge clearly shown. Again dated 1828/1829 (as this is the actual publishing date of the book itself; however, it is likely the particular edition of the book, containing the colour plate was itself made after 1833, according to library catalogues).

[3] The figure wears a fez, which should date it to post-1832; or this figure does date to 1828, and he is wearing an early predecessor to the Fez, first used in the Army.

1832 Ottoman Senior Officer's Insignia

For a certain period, over the 1830s the officer's jersey was tailored to include gold floral embroidery, and gold tape edging, to indicate rank levels:

  • The ‘Green’ regiment figure, taken from the Vinkhuizjen Collection, was originally inscribed as an ‘Hauptmann’ in German (for Captain), from 1830. However, this figure dates from post-1832 as he is depicted wearing a fez.
  • The Turquoise regiment, which in the Anne S.K. Brown Military collections was originally incorrectly inscribed as an ‘Ottoman Artillery Sergeant, 1828’), shows the set of eight (in rows of four) large chest buttons, as flower-rosettes, used for a YOUZBASHEE (Captain or Company Commander). 
  • BIMBASHEE (Major), from the 'Dark Blue Regiment', wears an identical ‘Hauptmann’ YUSH BASHEE (Captain), from the 'Green Regiment', with the addition of the gold floral embroidered shoulder pieces. And the later used Orders of rank, which at this stage were duplicated on each side of the chest.
  • MIRALAY (Colonel), from the 'Pink Regiment', is no longer wearing the long-skirted Kaftan, with gold floral embroidery, and gold tape chest loops ending in gold tassels, as was worn by the ‘Chef de Bataillon’; he now wears a tailored officer's jersey with thick gold floral embroidery edging, and large floral gold 'shoulder wings (with gold tassels) to indicate his rank level.
  • SANJAKDAR (standard bearer), was ranked below a Lieutenant, and wears a plain tailored officer's jersey, as well as the later used Orders of rank, which at this stage were duplicated on each side of the chest.

Regiment Secretary Officers

Right - The only word legible on this hand written pen note, added to this illustration reads “Schreiber, 1845”; however:

  • The German word “Schreiber”, translates as writer.
  • The dating for this is late, as the jersey was discontinued in 1839, and the fez, was adopted in 1832. So this “Schreiber”, dates between 1832, and 1839.
  • Use of multi-coloured/pattern tape on the chest, collar and cuffs dates only within this period.
  • In 1828, the reorganised Ottoman Imperial Army regiments (ALAY), received Battalion-staff Secretary Officers for the first time.
  • He also wears a pair of oval chest badges indicating his rank, which appear to show the Sultan's Tugra.

Ottoman Flags

Right - The 1793 Ottoman Flag typically had a five-point star; however, seven- and eight point starts were also used.

The 1826 organisation did allow for the creation of the flag bearer rank of ‘SANJAQDAR’, for each company, in each regiment [1].


[1] It is generally understood, that it was Sultan Abdülmecid, who reorganized the army and gave out the European –styled regimental standards in 1843–1844 (these were red flags, displaying a silver crescent).

Ottoman Army Regimental Bands (1828-1839)

Right - Various illustrations of drummers and bandmasters contained in the Vinkhuizjen, and Anne S.K. Brown Military collections. The bandmaster uniform appears to have varied greatly between regiments, as late as 1832, as both Bandmasters wear the Fez [1]. Guard regiment officer is wearing a jersey, not unlike the senior drummer (and both display identical pattern of chest lace). The Bandmaster from the ‘Pink’ regiment, wears a janissary styled costume.

Comparatively, the period 1792-1839 saw many British Army Bands adopt a variety of fantasy Turkish music costumes for their bandsmen [2].


[1] "The bands of music in all corps wear blue coats, with scarlet collars, and lace of the same colour, with yellow silk embroidery" (Knotel, R. Knoetl, H. Sieg, H. (1980) Uniforms of the World - A Compendium of Army, Navy And Air Force Uniforms 1700 - 1937. Arms Armour Press, London: 430-431).

[2] Flaherty, C. (2014) British Regimental Bands Turkish Musicians.

1832 Army Surgeon and Apothecary

According to the account given in the Berliner Stadt- und Landbote (1832): "The surgeons wear a light-blue coat, with a low collar and carmine cuffs. Field apothecaries have plain ash-coloured coats". [1] [2]


[1] Knotel, R. Knoetl, H. Sieg, H. (1980) Uniforms of the World - A Compendium of Army, Navy And Air Force Uniforms 1700 - 1937. Arms Armour Press, London: 430-431.

[2] "the Veterinarian school was established around 1827, and was part of the College of Medicine, who produced  physicians, surgeons, pharmacists, and veterinarians." Layla J. Aksakal, Peter Barton Hutt (2003) The Sick Man and his Medicine: Public Health Reform in the Ottoman Empire and Egypt.

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