Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1829 Kurdish şervan

Subjectşervan tribal warrior
Culture: Kurdish
Setting: late Ottoman empire, Kurdistan 18th-mid 19thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources,Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Baer 2021 p371
"The Kurds, because they stood at the frontier with the rival Safavid and then Qajar empire in neighbouring Iran, had for centuries been largely tolerated and given autonomy by the [Ottoman] empire.  Local chiefs and princes had been granted authority to rule so long as they recognised the sultan as sovereign and contributed their armed forces to his military campaigns.  Left largely to their own devices, the Kurds were dominated by autonomous princes, ruling landlord families, their peasant clients (tribes or confederations), and religious leaders (Sufi sheikhs)."

* Aboona 2008 p102-103
"The Kurds played a decisive role ... when they helped to bring down the Safavid dynasty, joining forces with the Afshar tribes of Turkomans under Nadir Shah.  Like Sultan Selim I, Nadir Shah rewarded them for their support both in bringing down the Safavid dynasty and in invading Iraq in 1743.  But unlike the Ottomans, who had maintained the Kurds' nomadic social structure, Nadir Shah organized them into emirates and appointed a pro-Persian Kurd from the Baban tribe as chief of Kurdistan.  In the absence of a real central Ottoman government able to defend its territories and their inhabitants, Nadir Shah was unchallenged in invading Iraq and settling adn empowering various pro-Persian Kurdish groups.  Many local Mamluk historians reported that the Kurds whom he settled served as an advance post for the Persian interest in Iraq.
    "Nadir Shah's policy produced further drastic changes in the demography of both southeastern Anatolia and northern Iraq.  Monsieur Tavernier, the traveller of the seventeenth century who toured Armenia, ancient Assyria, Persia, and Mesopotamia, mentioned in his Persian Travels the density of the Armenians in their towns.  In the year 1662, he noted that Van and Urmia were purely Armenian; however, a century later, Carsten Niebuhr, during his stay in northern Mesopotamia, noticed that both Turkomans and Kurds were involved in spreading disturbances on the highways.  By 1840, when Horatio Southgate visited these same regions, the case was very different.  He was astonished by the dramatic change that had befallen the country and by the decline in the number of the Armenians compared with the number of the new Kurdish settlers who then were still in the process of moving in.  Southgate ascribed these dramatic changes to the Kurdish persecution of the indigenous people and provided Salamis as an example, stating that its inhabitants had been forced to leave.  Mush was another example given by this western observer, who stated that it contained six hundred villages and that the total number of the Kurds did not exceed five hundred souls, who lived as nomads moving from place to place between Urmia and Hadyab.  His contemporary, the Russian historian Minorsky, confirmed the process and further stated that the Kurds had occupied parts of Armenia permanently and were no longer living on their original land."

* Mugnai 2022 p64
"In Ottoman Kurdistan, ... rival tribal leaders fought each other for dominance without much interference from the centre.  Sometimes mere rumours of Ottoman mobilisation were sufficient to trigger a revolt by a major Kurdish tribe.  Nevertheless, both in Lebanon and Kurdistan, local chieftains never went as far as the outright rejection of Ottoman suzerainty, and the Ottoman authorities tried to monitor this local political scene."

* Rogan 1999 p9-10
"Between the 1830s and 1850s the Ottoman government undertook a number of initiatives to reassert its authority in Transjordan as well as other frontier zones in the Asian and African provinces.  Coming before the main administrative reforms of the Tanzimat had been promulgated, these campaigns relied primarily on the despotic power of the state -- and foundered because the state lacked the reach to enforce its will at such distance.
    "The process began in Eastern Anatolia when, in the aftermath of the first Egyptian campaign (1831-32), the Ottoman government moved to destroy the major Kurdish chiefdoms.  'These emirates consisted of a number of tribes (often two loose tribal confederacies) held in check and balanced against each other by a ruling family (dynasty) with its own military and bureaucratic apparatus.'  In 1834 the governor of Sivas led a campaign force against the Kurdish chiefs and took Mir Muhammad of Rawanduz (northeast of Mosul in modern Iraq) as his first target.  Over the previous two decades Mir Muhammad had followed a brutal course of expansion which raised Ottoman fears of a mini-state in the making within their territory.  Mir Muhammad surrendered to the governor, tendered his submission to Istanbul and died during his return trip to Rawanduz in 1835.  The second major Kurdish chief was Badr Khan Beg of Buhtan who, over the years 1821-45 had come to rule a territory which stretched from Diyarbakir to Mosul.  Considered 'the last paramount chief to present a serious challenge to the Ottoman reformers,' Badr Khan declared his independence from the Ottoman Empire, minted his own coinage, and defeated the first Ottoman expedition sent to bring him to heel.  Badr Khan was defeated by a second Ottoman army in 1845 and was exiled to Crete.  From this point on, the Ottomans considered Kurdistan as an area under their direct rule, though 'direct Ottoman rule was to prove very ineffective indeed.  Near the cities, the governors had some power; nowhere did they have authority.'"

* Hopkins 1896 p249-250
"Not long after these eminent achievements [Kurdish massacres of Nestorians, 1843 and 1846] a son of Bedir Khan Bey visited the Sultan in command of a detachment of Kurds, and undertook to transform his father's very satisfactory forces into regiments of cavalry which should each be six hundred strong, and should, presumably, 'protect' the interests of local and neighbouring Christians, besides further promoting the strength and reputation of Islam.  In response, however, to the very rigorous protests of England, and the fact that at this moment he required European aid against Mehemet Ali, of Egypt, the Sultan felt impelled to punish the father -- whom he had meanwhile created a Pasha -- by sending him for a period to live in the beautiful Isle of Crete.  Some years afterwards the Kurdish irregulars were duly organized, and the Kurd brigands transformed into the official and State guardians of the helpless Christians of Armenia and Kurdistan.  And the Nestorians have continued to live in constant terror of a repetition of these massacres.  In 1888 a band of Kurds did overpower one of the villages, murdered the men, and ill-used the women.  The Christians at once tried to prepare for what seemed inevitable, while 8,000 Kurds assembled to defend the marauders, and made another slaughter seem unavoidable.  Fortunately, quick action by the foreign consuls and their ministers at Stamboul forced the Porte to bring the necessary pressure to bear upon its amiable subjects and soldiers.  Further trouble was averted for the moment, though, of course, no justice was done the hopeless villagers, or perhaps even thought of.
    "The Kurds are naturally a healthy and hearty race.  They live much in the open air, do little or no work, and depend mainly upon local plunder or the products of marauding expeditions.  But they are not a brave, or in any sense honourable, people.  There have been gallant races of robbers who almost merited the epithet of 'honourable,' but the Kurd is a cowardly, cruel, unprincipled brigand, with no stomach for a real fight, and no mercy towards the weak or helpless.  Yet these men are allowed to prey almost at will upon the Armenian people and other neighbouring Christians, and are dignified in many cases with an official military standing, under the nominal control of civilian Turks who at least sympathize with almost any outrage upon the Christian population."

* Nicolle/McBride 1998 p


* Mugnai 2022 p158 caption
​"Kurdish dress had more in common with the Anatolian tribesmen with some influence also from Iraq and Persia. Note the multicoloured turban and embroidered kaftan with loose sleeves."

​* Nicolle/McBride 1998 p