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A Savage Magnificence: Ottomanizing Fashion and the Politics of Display in Early Modern East-Central Europe

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This article examines the impact of Ottoman fashions on the clothing worn by men in early modern Poland and Hungary, and argues that fashion was an optimal tool for advertising political allegiance. Ottoman garments were coveted by the nobilities in East-Central Europe, and often displayed in portraiture, because they were imbued with associations of anti-absolutism and autonomy, even if the Ottomans themselves were reviled as invasive infidels. However, the legibility of the political statement these fashions made was limited to their local contexts—when viewed by foreigners they were perceived as exotic and Otherly. Various factors enabled the popularization and subsequent politicization of Ottomanizing styles, including the Polish and Hungarian nobilities’ self-fashioning as Eastern, and 
the widespread availability of Ottoman and Iranian commodities through import, as war booty, and through local imitation. This essay hopes to expand our understanding of the range of early modern responses to the Ottoman East, while challenging the notion of Europe as a uniform entity to which it was opposed. 


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