Clothing was first introduced to protect man from the elements. It has come by its present forms as a result of the influence of social and moral values.
With the passing time, a wide variety in forms of clothing emerged. These differences were the result of social and economic structure, geography, the materials available and climate.
In the very earliest times, everyone in a particular tribe would wear clothes that defined his or her social status. More than an obligation, this was an understanding carried on by tradition. Clothing and eben hair styles reflected this same conception.
Traditional clothes and finery provide considerable information about the workings of a society. Clothes indicate whether societies are settled or nomadic, and are a source of information about historical events and ethnological origins. For example, in Yöruk or Turkoman villages, one can tell whether a woman is engaged, married or a widow from the way in which she does her hair.
Daily, work and special day clothes are different. Hair styles during a wedding and after the bridal chamber differ. In markets, it is easy to identify which village people live in just from their clothes.
Today in Anatolia, there are differences even between the clothing worn in different neighborhoods of the same village.
It is therefore inadvisable for the art historian, sociologist, folk dance arranger or designer to speak in terms of "Traditional Turkish costume.”
Research led by sociologists from the Folk Culture Research and Development General Directorate of the Ministry of Culture has revealed that Anatolia possesses a wide range of clothing.
Men who leave their villages to do their military service or to take up employment inevitably adapt to city culture. Field research therefore faces problems when it comes to defining men’s clothing. But in rural areas, women generally have little contact with the outside world. They tend to dress in conformity with the lifestyle and traditions of the community of which they are a part. Dress and decoration tends to follow that of preceding generations. Children’s clothes also differ according to sex and age. The concept of the evil eye is widespread, and one can observe many amulets to ward it off in peoples’ clothes and hair.
In conservative communities, each generation follows the clothing styles and customs of earlier generations, which is how traditional clothing and styles have come down to the present day. Yet it is nevertheless impossible to say that traditional clothing and finery are totally unchanging. The materials employed certainly do change, and the efforts put into clothes are no longer as painstaking as before. Contemporary conditions create different styles, and interaction between different fashions is quite intense.
In rural areas, women spend most of their time with working. As a result, their daily, work and special day clothes are different. Special costumes and hair dressings are only to be seen at wedding ceremonies. Women’s hair styles differ in accordance with their social status, and whether they are married or engaged, or not. Hair style is an important feature of women’s lives.
The Ministry of Culture, HAGEM, has published the research into these differences in clothing and finery carried out by researchers in the Physical Culture Department.
Clothes and finery are a concept of physical culture and are part of thew way that popular culture changes, and are also affected by that same process of change.
HAGEM has an important place in Turkish culture, possesses a large collection of photographs and slides institutions, and assists individuals and institutions with their research.
Information gathered from field studies in the provinces of Bursa, Manisa, Sivas, Aydın, Gaziantep, Corum has been published in a catalogue. Different villages from each region were visited and their special clothes and finery identified. 1/1 scale copies were drawn, and these appear in the catalogue on a scale of 1/5.
Within the framework of this study, research into clothing in 25 provinces has been carried out. Work to have it published is continuing.
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):