From the Vault: Nalin shoes

Take a peek into our 14,000+ collection with our new blog series, From the Vault! Every other week, we're sharing interesting stories about one of our artefacts.

What is the provenance of this pair? When did they enter the BSM collection?

These 19th century Ottoman bathhouse clogs called nalin were donated to the museum by Sonja Bata in 1985.


Are there any features that distinguish this pair from other footwear from the same period and geographical location?

Nalin from Turkey tend to be lower in height than other Ottoman examples such as those from Syria which can research heights of 26 cm. Turkish nalin are also more frequently decorated with elaborate silver inlay. This pair has exceptionally fine inlay and may have been made for use by a bride.

Can you elaborate more on the materials used to make this pair?

Qabâqib are typically made out of wood and were traditionally worn in hammams or Turkish bathouses to elevate the wearer’s feet above the heated floors. Nalin, the Turkish word for qabâqib, were descendants of the wooden sculponea worn to bathhouses in ancient Rome and under Roman rule their use spread across the Maghreb and Near East where they were transformed into part of the female wardrobe.

Who would have worn this pair and where or for what occasion?

Ottoman Turkish brides traditionally bathed at the hammam or Turkish bath before their weddings. The accoutrements required for the hammam included Turkish towels, a bowl for pouring water, and a pair of nalin. For weddings, wealthy brides were frequently gifted with elaborately decorated nalin similar to this pair.

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