At its height in the late 16th and early 17th century, the mighty Ottoman Empire (1281–1924) extended from present-day Iraq in the east to the Balkans in the west to North Africa in the south. Ottoman society was rigidly hierarchical, and luxurious ceremonial robes—worn for civilian and religious ceremonies, as well as on the battlefield—played a central role in court life. The finest and most precious robes were reserved for the Sultan and his family, but "robes of honor" (hilyat) were also distributed to foreign dignitaries, local courtiers and state officials, thereby conferring royal favor, political rank, and social status. The number and quality of robes a dignitary received were indicative of his status in the eyes of the sultan.
(pictures are ftom 17th century book)
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