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A Material Culture: Ottoman Velvets and Their Owners, 1600–1750

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This article traces changes in Ottoman voided and brocaded velvets (çatma) between the years of 1580 and 1740. It argues that demand for a distinctive type of cushion cover—which became an emblem of refined taste—substantially changed the nature of silk production in the weaving center of Bursa. Using estate inventories to trace the quantities and prices of çatma cushion covers, several trends emerge, the most significant being an increasing range of prices for the same category of textile and a sudden jump in çatma prices for the years after 1720 or so. Moreover, through technical analysis of extant çatmas, the agility with which the weavers diversified their production becomes clear. Finally, analysis coupled with price history also reveals a surprising fact: the new, elegant, and apparently sought-after style of çatma cushion cover commanded a higher price but cost less to weave.


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