Fabric Lengths

An arşın is an ell or a yard, which is divided into 8 rub’ or 16 qirat’/qirak. According to Ingilizce-Osmanlica, an ell was 28 inches. According to Wikipedia, an arşın was 65.25 cm (25.69 in.) or 68 cm (26.77 in.).

An endâze is also an ell, which is divided into eight urub. According to Ingilzce-Osmanlica, this type of ell was 26 inches. According to Wikipedia, an endaze was 65 cm (25.59 in.). In the estate records, fabrics measured in endaze tend to cost more than fabrics measured in arşın, even when the same type of fabric is being measured.

A top is a complete loom-length. The estates mention two ten-ell tops of bez and one eight-ell top of bez, which gives a general idea of how long a top could be. Another source says a top is a bale.

donluk is a quantity of fabric to be made into a garment. Fabric was typically sold in a piece long enough to make one garment, so figuring out the length of a donluk for each type of garment would go a great way toward reconstructing some of the more obscure articles. Currently I have two data points: One, the standard length of a donluk for a kaftan was 11 ells. Two, Rabia Hatun bt. Mehmed owned a “Kırmızı donluk çuka zirâ‘ 4 rob? 6,” a garment-length of red woolen broadcloth that was 4 3/4 ells long and cost the princely sum of 1,330 akçe. For which garment? Unclear. I’m working to get my hands on the 1600 and 1640 Istanbul narh defteri, the official price lists that gave the accepted dimensions of both fabric lengths and finished garments.

kıt‘a is a piece of fabric. Certain fabrics, like kirpas, were sold by the kıt‘a, so presumably a kıt‘a sometimes had a set length.

A mikdâr is a “quantity.” I’m hunting for specifics.

Types of Fabric Decoration

Basma means “printed.” Basma may also be a type of cotton cloth; Suraiyi Faroqhi mentions “printed cottons (basma) from Tokat” [link]. Only three garments are listed in the estate records as being printed–a zıbın, a headcloth, and a red tafta came–but there are quite a few printed pillows and a printed quilt.

Telli means wire thread, or items decorated with wire thread.

Münakkaş means “ornamented with a design.” In regard to textiles, one source says it means the pattern is woven in, but in the estate records, the textile items that are most likely to be described as münakkaş are popular showcases for embroidery: wrapping cloths, napkins, pillowcases, quilts, hand towels, headscarves, and drawstrings. (And one pair of underpants.)

Dikme is literally “sewn,” and probably means “embroidered.”

İşleme means “embroidered.”

Havlu means “with a nap.”

Nakışlı means “ornamented with designs or embroidery.”

Sâde is “plain.”