On April 7th, 2018 the Kingdom of Atlantia in the SCA crowned a new set of Monarchs. The reigning couple declared a theme honoring Middle Eastern cultures for their reign, and it opened up all kinds of wonderful options for Arts & Sciences.
As a weaver, I have been fascinated by the strips of trim depicted in paintings on the front of coats in both Persian and Ottoman Turkish art. They ran anywhere from just a few on the chest to closely spaced down the entire length of the garment.
Below Left: 1582. Detail from the Sūrnāme-i Hümāyūn, the Imperial Festival Book, documenting the circumcision festival of Prince Mehmet that lasted longer than 50 days.
Below Right: Hayreddin Barbarossa – Pasha of Algiers, Admiral of the Fleet. 1580 by an Italian master.
I started my research with extant examples – Coats held by the Topkapı Palace Museum that had belonged to the Sultans of the past. The Ipek: The Crescent & The Rose: Imperial Ottoman Silks and Velvets was also incredibly useful.
I found examples of tablet woven bands as well as bands done in a different braiding technique, such as flat kumihimo bands. Close examination of the bands showed something very interesting – both the buttons themselves and the loops to hold them appeared to be integral parts of the band! This called for experimentation, and I warped up a silk band to create my own çaprast.
I did not have a clear picture of how thick the bands should be, it seemed to vary from coat to coat and art to art, but generally fairly narrow. For a band using 2/20 silk I used 10 cards, for other attempts in #10 cotton I’d use 8 cards.
I chose a simple pattern in striking colors – geometric diamonds in red and golds as seems so common in period artwork. I liked the appearance of the flat braided bands, so instead of using separate border cards I wove my pattern right to the edge of my band.
Because I knew these would be sectional, I broke the warp up by weaving in the ends of each small section, then leaving a gap before beginning the next section. On half of the sections I left a larger gap in order to create the buttonholes with the warp thread.
Then – the fun part! After cutting each section off the loom, I began by rolling one end into a small button and using the same silk thread to sew it into place. I did notice these came out smaller than the buttons on the extant caftans, and I think they may have either rolled more trim, or wrapped it around another object. This bears further research.
For the other half of the band, I looped the remaining warp pieces into a loose knot, then used the same thread to knot around them -creating button loops that fit snugly over the buttons.
These will be attached to a coat like the following example: