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Woman’s Mother-of-Pearl & Bone Inlaid Wooden Stilted Clogs (Qabqab)
Ottoman Turkey
19th century

heights (without upper straps): 15.2cm, overall heights: 19.5cm, length: 23.2cm

This pair of woman's clogs (qabqab or nalin) is most probably from Ottoman Turkey or possibly from elsewhere in the Ottoman empire.

Each comprises two high platforms, a sole, and the original raised upper strap that is covered in embroidered green silk.

Each is carved from wood (possibly olive wood) and inset with numerous bone and mother-of-pearl slithers arrayed in geometric patterns. This decoration is
across all exposed wooden surfaces. It s unusually profuse (compare, for example with a lower pair in the British Museum - see the image below.)

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 - such as those here, which
must be among the highest available - became status symbols. Their Arabic name -
qabqab - derives from the sound they made when they were being used.

The pair here is in very good condition. There are no losses to the bone and mother-of-pearl inlay. The silk covering to the straps is frayed however, as might
be expected.

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

Provenance: UK art market

Inventory no.: 4752

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A pair of smaller and less elaborate qabqab currently displayed in the British Museum.