The caftan (at least in the 17th century borrowed from Turkish into German kaftan, qufṭān of Arab قفطان, DMG, Persian ġaftān, to be worn under the armor garment) is a long woolen or silk shirt from chest and back piece that the above hips is girdled. Usually men wore the caftan up to the knees, women up to the ankles.

The caftan is still a common garment in Central Asia. Photographs from the Vienna consign the 1920s that the caftan was there also worn by immigrant Jews. Throughout Eastern Europe the caftan was a traditional garment of the Jews. The caftan corresponds in form and function to the ancient Roman garment of tunic.

From the Ottoman sultans worn kaftans today form an exceptional collection in the Topkapi Palace. Some of them were so precious that they were given as a reward to high dignitaries and victorious generals during selected religious festivals.

Kaftans were often embroidered on the front and sleeves. Within the general clothing regulations in the Ottoman Empire, there was a strict hierarchy of colors, patterns, ribbons and buttons according to the rank of the person who wore the caftan.

While large patterns and subdued colors were used in the 14th century, these were the next century smaller and stronger. In the second half of the 17th century were kaftans substances with yollu - vertical stripes with various embroideries and small patterns - the most valuable, the so-called " Selimiye " fabrics.

Most fabrics were manufactured in Istanbul and Bursa, but some came from Venice, Genoa, Persia, India and even China. Each substance had very specific characteristics and was accordingly named: there was velvet, felt ( aba ), ribbed raw silk ( bürümcük ), Satin ( canfes ), Velour ( gatma ), Moire ( gezi ), Brocade ( diba ), silk ( kemha ) and many others. The colors most used were China Blue, Turkey red, violet, Pismis ayva (cooked quince ) and saffron - yellow.

Comparable traditional male upper garments

  • Galabija, ankle-length robe of men in Egypt, Sudan and other countries of the Middle East
  • Djellaba, worn by men and women in Morocco, in contrast to Galabija with long hood
  • Derra'a, men garment in Mauritania