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Woman's Wooden Stilted Clogs with Engraved Silver Mounts (Qabqab)
Ottoman Turkey
19th century

length: 24cm, height: 12.5cm

Each of this pair of woman's clogs (qabqab or nalin) comprises two high platforms, a sole and a raised upper strap of silver sheet lined with velvet padding.

Each is carved from a single piece of wood (possibly olive wood) and decorated with solid silver sheet secured with small brass pins. The silver has been
engraved with rococo-like floral scrollwork against a cross-hatched background. Small traces of gilding (gold-plating) remain.

That part of the wood which is exposed on the soles has been further decorated with incised markings and inlaid with brass strips.

Each sheet of silver has been stamped with silver assay marks, and the silver bands on each of the upper straps is additionally impressed with a crisp
tugra
mark - the mark of the Ottoman sultan – thereby verifying the silver purity, which is particularly high grade.

Such clogs were designed for a wealthy woman so that when worn she would be elevated above a wet and dirty floor. Walking, however, required the
assistance of an attendant, and the higher the clog, then the more attendants who would be needed, so particularly high clogs became status symbols. Their
Arabic name -
qabqab - derives from the sound they made when they were being used.

Click
here to see a set in ivory previously sold at Sotheby's. And see Kok (2007, p. 76) for a related pair also clad in silver in Istanbul's Sadberk Hanim
Museum.

The pair here is in very good condition. There are no losses to the silver and no repairs. Several of the brass pins are deficient however but this is minor and
easily remedied.

References:
Koc, A., et al, Istanbul: The City and the Sultan, Nieuwe Kerk, 2007.

Provenance: from the collection of the family of John Lee, Baron Lee of Trafford, Bowdon Old Hall, Cheshire, UK. The family of Lord Lee has occupied
Bowdon Old Hall since 1919 and the clogs formed part of the contents of the house.

Inventory no.: 3589

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A pair of qabqab in the British Museum. These are of wood but inlaid with mother-of-pearl.