Ottoman Empire, End of 19th century

Velvet, linen, metal and silk thread, sequins; embroidery

Length 150 cm

MAA inv. no. 5386

Worn in Mušutište

Dresses of "bindalli" type, "bindalli" meaning "thousand branches" in Turkish, were introduced into the Ottoman Empire woman's fashion in the 19th century under the influence of European vogue. This type of dress used to be made for special occasions only, most often for weddings when they were worn by the bride and her female family and friends. It is the bullion embroidery of floral branches, which characterize the "bindalli" dresses. Although the tailoring of these dresses varied through the 19th and early 20th centuries, the dresses were most often long ones made of dark red or dark purple velvet.

Bullion embroidery technique implies that metal threads wound with white or yellow threads are not sewn into the fabric but are applied over a drawing (pattern embroidery) either raised, made of cardboard, or of some other kind of fabric or embroidered by threads. Applied threads are stitched down this producing various effects depending on design.

The fabric used and the artistic decoration make this kind of garment a valuable item which middle-class families kept for generations in their possession. Serbian population across the Balkans adopted the Oriental fashion during centuries long Ottoman rule.