Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


1876-1908 The 'Army of Generals & Pashas' Period

Right - Turkish 1876 General’s buckle. Based on the French le Ceinturon:Belt (Model 1873). During the time of Abdul Hamid II (ruling furing Abdul Hamid II reign there were 31 Marshals and 468 Generals in the Ottoman Army” (which has become known as the 'Army of General's Period').

General Staff

1877 Army Head-Quarters Officers and Riders

Right - Extracted from a larger illustration 'Ottoman army soldiers during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 (Source: Edmund Ollier, Illustrated History of the Russo-Turkish War, Vol. I, London, 1890)', are two figures of Ottoman Army Staff officer, and head-quarters rider from 1877; Both figures were depicted as accompaning a senior Army general.

The distinctive feature of these uniforms in the five cheast loops, this same feature is seen worn by the 1876 Sanjakdar (Standard Bearer) rank (below).

Sanjakdar and Sultan's Standard (1882)

Right - This photograph shows the post-1882 Sultan's flag, given to each Imperial Army regiment. This displays the Hamidiye (SultanAbdul Hamid II) coat of arms badge adopted at this date.

Right - The reverse side of the post-1882 Sultan's Standard.

Right - The 1876 Sanjakdar (Standard Bearer), was a comparative rank to that of ensign, in the British Army, namely a junior commissioned officer [1]. This officer was distinguished by wearing a special officer’s tunic, with five black chest-loops; and carrying an officer’s sword, with a lower grade officer’s sword portepee. His sole responsibility was the care, maintenance, and protection of the Sultan’s standard. He commanded a picked squad of two-to-five soldiers, to protect the flag.


[1] In the British 1916 Handbook on the Turkish Army, he is listed in seniority as below a Regimental Clerk Officer, and above the rank of Sergeant-Major

Infantry Officers

Right - 1876-1908 epaulette for a senior officer (a colonel). Lower grade officers, such as captains wore fringeless epaulettes. General officers wore stiff-wire finged epaulettes (Below-Right).

Right - An 1876-1908 Mid-level ranking officers' epaulette.

Left - An 1876-1908 Mid-level ranking officers' dress shoulder board.

Imperial Army Imam and Muftis (1861 till 1908)

Imperial Army Medical Officers

Right - A Medical Major weaing his 'Grand Parade Uniform' displaying white cuffs edged red, and a red collar edged white. The Ottoman imperial army doctor, from 1900 wore the Ottoman Red Cross Society armband. The original 1876 rank system for army medical officers, had only three ranks in addition to the 'Doctor-General', and these were:

  • Doctor.
  • Pharmacist.
  • Surgeon.

Rank was shown on the collar only. A simplified uniform from 1900 appears to have been introduced:

  • Pain red collars.
  • Red trim to base of tunic.
  • Shoulder boards with the same embroidery (as the collar insignia), and are likely cut-down collars.

The Doctor was the highest ranking medical officer (gold insignia); followed by the Pharmacist (gold and silver insignia), and the Surgeon (silver insignia). In terms of corresponding Imperial Army ranks:

  • Doctor-General was a Liva (Major-General).
  • Doctor was a Kaimakam (Lieutenant-Colonel).
  • Pharmacist was a Bimbashi (Major).
  • Surgeon was a Yuzbashi (Captain).

The medical soldiers still continued to wear the 1860s Zouave uniform, with blue cuffs edged red, and no shoulder piping.

Imperial Army Secretary Officers

Junior Officer Rank (1876-1908)

Line Infantry Regiments

Line Infantry Sappers

Right - Illustrated a Sapper from the '1876 till 1908' Infantry Regiment Sapeur Squad. In this picture, his axe pattern is different, as it has a large spike on the back of the axe-head. Other illustrations do not show this feature [1].

Infantry drummers are usually shown in the 1876-1908 period wearing the same apron as the sappers.


[1] Askeri Müze ve Kültür Sitesti Komutanligi. (1986) Osmanli askeri teskilat ve kiyafetleri: 1876-1908 [Ottoman military organization and uniforms] Yayinlari. 

Rifle Battalions

Line Infantry Equipment (1876 - 1908)

Right - The Turkish 1876 buckle, were cast brass, and based on French Nineteen Century models. These display the Order of Orta [1]. As well, some versions display both the Orta, and star. Belts for the Turkish 1876 buckle were wider (52 mm), than the later post-1909 belts (42 mm). 

The French Model 1873 buckle was the pattern-base for the Turkish version. The early French buckles were quite large, measuring 60 x 69 mm, fitted to the ‘le Ceinturon (belt) Model 1873’.

  • However, the Ottoman Turkish version was smaller, intended to fit a 52 mm wide belt. This was to allow, the German Model 1874 Patronentasche fur Infantry: Cartridge Pouches, to slide on.
  • As these, were made to fit the Model 1847 Prussian belt buckle, which is also larger in size, being approximately 2.5" (6.5 cm) x 2" (5.2 cm), and fitted to a 52 mm wide belt.


[1] see E.J. Brill. First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936: Vol. IV: 53. History of the Regiment of Firemen: 833

Ilave Battalions and Auxiliary Troops

Right - The Ilave (reserve) infantry battalions through-out 1876-1908, continued wearing the 1860-1876 Zouave uniforms. As well, wore a plain blue version without red tape facings (Right -facing illustration).

The Auxiliary Troops - such as the Laz (North-west Turkish people), had a long tradition, that lasted into the 20th century, who formed militia regiments in the Ottoman Imperial Army.

These provincial soldiers are often confused with the Imperial Army Corps of Bashi-Bazouk (1860-1870)

Military Engineers

Right - 

Right - This photograph shows the Military Engineers around 1900, they wears a blue tunic, with a fly covering the buttons edged in light-blue, and light blue facings. Prior to 1908, the 'Tophane-i Amire Nezareti' (Ministry of Imperial Ordinance), which was independed of the Ministry of War - that controlled the field Imperial Army, and it looked after production, repair and supply of weapons and military equipment. This had responsibility for guarding the Straits of the Black Sea and the Bosphous, and the training of technical personnel.

Under the command of a Pasha with the rank of Marshal, he commanded the following regiments:

  • Two regiments of Engineers.
  • Two regiments of Mechanical Engineers.
  • The Black Sea Regiment (infantry).
  • The 1st and 2nd Canakkale regiments (infantry).

Right - A specialist from the 'Tophane-i Amire Nezareti' (Ministry of Imperial Ordinance), Military and Mechanical Engineers, extracted from Askeri Müze ve Kültür Sitesti Komutanligi. (1986) Osmanli askeri teskilat ve kiyafetleri: 1876-1908 [Ottoman military organization and uniforms] Yayinlari, a private's uniform in the Mechanical Engineers regiment. Another picture (from the same book) shows a red four-chevron cuff decoration, for a 'private'. However, this should actually indicated a much higher rank than soldier, such a Sergeant-Major. Where as the red three-chevron cuff decoration for a 'private'. However, this should actually indicated a much higher rank than soldier, such a Sergeant. The 'Mechanical Engineers Regiment'  was a unit specifically formed to work with machinery. The unit was specifically composed of machinist-specialists, and the unusual cuff insignia denoted this, giving the wearer a special authority, sugesting [1]:

  • Four-chevron cuff 'private' (4th Class Mechanical Engineer).
  • Three-chevron cuff 'private' (3rd Class Mechanical Engineer).


[1] It may have been that the 'one-cheveron' cuff, and the 'two-cheveron' cuff ranks, were the year one, and two students in an engineering school, who went onto serve army training apprenticeships, as year three and four students.

Music Corps and Band

Infantry Overcoats and Winter Coats

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