Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


Imperial Army Workshop(s)

Below - From the American Colony Jerusalem, photograph collection - Military tailors, Beersheba, 1917. LC-DIG-ppmsca-13709-00148 (digital file from original on page 43, no.147)

Imperial Army Pattern(s)

Right - The pattern used to make it was based on the Ottoman's military supply office issued large colour drawings. These were cartoon like drawings (illustrated below from an Italian Royal Army manual on the Ottoman Turkish Imperial Army from 1911), as most people at the time could not read. Makers then looked at the drawings of the uniforms and insignia and made items from these drawings according to their interpretation. 

There is an interesting account in Irfan Orga's autobiographical ‘Portrait of a Turkish Family’, where Ottoman logistics officers when the war started purchased all the available cloth needed for the Imperial Army in Constantinople. This produced many atypical versions of uniforms, in different types of cloth and colours.

Right - Another version of the soldier's jacket pattern showing the back details.

Right - A 1915 Imperial Army workshop made NCO/Soldiers' tunic from the Rod Wilson collection in Australia. This illustrates one of only two known examples of a WW1-wartime Ottoman Turkish Imperial Army (the 'Asakr-i Shahaneh' in Ottoman) NCO/soldier’s tunic made with attached shoulder straps. This is tunic was salvaged as blanketing on the day of the Gallipoli landing, 25th April 1915.

Constantinople Tailors

Right - From a French trade directory for Constantinople merchants. This advert for  ONNIK & CIE BRODEURS DE LA COUR. Onnik (founded in 1870 by Onnik Lazian in Constantinople) was one of the main French owned court jewellers in Constantinople at the turn of the century. It appears from other Onnik made items such as court swords, the usual company engraving emphasises that Onnik was in fact one of the Imperial Court jewellers by appointment, usually stating “Brodeurs de la Cour Imperiale Constantinople", translating as ‘Embroiderers to the Imperial Court Constantinople’.

Right - This 1911 Turkish clothing catalogue shows an advert for Officer's uniforms and a tailored cover for the lamb wool 1909 Kalpak.

The Artisans Regiment

Right - This is craftsmen engraved mid-war cast brass buckle with floral patterns, and a face, including an Ottoman script inscription, and the Ottoman Turkish RUMI Calendar (the Ottoman Turkish civil calendar) date of 1332, which is 1916.

The inscription on this has so-far defied translation (possibly engraved by a person who was only partially literate). Either, it translates into a religious invocation seeking God’s protection (making it a "hamayil" in Turkish). Alternatively, it translates into "practical (applied) engraving school". This would therefore link it with the ‘Artisan-Soldiers’ Regiment, under the Department of the Director of Fabrications Militairies.

Manufacture of arms, ammunition, and war materiel was under the control of the 'Director of Fabrications Militairies', who also commanded the Regiment of Artisan Soldiers.

  • The Regiment of Artisan Soldiers were supplied by specially enlisted boys, whose service started at 12 years old, and lasted till 16 [1]. The first five years were spent in the 1st Battalion, which was a training school. The next five years was in the 2nd Battalion, working at various factories.The 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army, also notes [2]: "Artisan Troops - Two battalions (arms and aummunition factories) and three companies (clothing factories, etc.), Constantinople and Sea of Marmora."

The Regiment of Artisan Soldiers were also supported by the labour battalions also fulfilled a number of functions for the Office of the Quartermaster General, and these were partly industrial, with a number of munitions, arms, shoes and clothing factories in and around Istanbul being run as military establishments (as they had been even in peacetime). They were partly artisanal as well, running repair shops, and bakeries.


[1] British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press, Nashville: 106-107.

[2] Ibid. 205.

Home Made Soldiers Clothing

Right - From the Australian War Memorial Collection this soldier's vest, has the following description: "This vest was collected during operations in Palestine, possibly from a Turkish prisoner of war, and brought back by the Australian War Records Section around 1919. Although not an issue item, the vest is part of a complete example of a uniform that was acquired to represent the typically poor quality of uniforms issued to the ordinary Ottoman soldier. Soldiers' wives, mothers and sisters often made and provided additional vests for warmth as the relatively open weave of fabric in the actual uniform provided little protection from the weather."

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