Centuries Years Old Ottoman Tradition: What Is Peshtemal?

Peshtemal, which is one of the indispensable parts of Turkish culture, is a piece of cloth that we often see in Turkish baths and spa centers. These worldwide famous clothes that date back to the Ottoman Empire period are among the most popular items that attract the attention of tourists visiting Turkey. There are many details you need to know about these peshtemals which stands out with their light and diaphanous structure. Well, what is peshtemal? Let’s take a look together.

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What Is Peshtemal?

Peshtemal is a Persian origin word which means covering cloth, an apron that is worn to prevent the clothes from getting dirty while you are focusing on your work and cloth that is preferred to cover your body in Turkish Bath. Although it is known as peshtemal among the community, the correct spelling of the word is pashtamal.

The shortest answer to the question of what is peshtemal is a fine cloth that is wrapped around the waist and covers the lower body. Since it does not include any seams, you need to knot two parts to fix it. The person who is going to wear peshtemal needs to wrap the cloth around his or her waist and then fix it by knotting the two ends around the waist.

Turkish towel

Peshtemal used to be preferred as apron during the Ottoman Empire periods. It was used to separate service class from other workers in the palace. It was started to be used for ornamental purposes and look chic in Turkish baths. Today, it is possible to encounter peshtemal, that is used as an apron, in the Black Sea region. It is especially used by women who work in the farms and agriculture industry in which they attach it to the front part of their outfit. Peshtemal, which is manufactured in different patterns and colors throughout history, is usually sold in black, red, and white colors in these days. However, it is also possible to find products with traditional patterns and different colors manufactured by different brands. The manufacture of peshtemals which are manufactured from silk and known as “futa” ended years ago.

Types of Peshtemal

According to their use purpose, it is possible to divide peshtemals into two groups. These are known as head and wrapped peshtemal. Head peshtemal is a cloth that is often used in the Black Sea region and wrapped around the neck or head of women. Head peshtemals are separated from each other according to the weaving techniques and colors.

Types of Peshtemal

In large peshtemals, which are manufactured in 120×200 cm dimensions and often preferred in dark blue shades, red or orange color is preferred as the secondary color. In general, plaid patterns are dominant in these clothes but you can also find striped models. The patterns in “makaslı” peshtemal, which is a head peshtemal, are in the form of the tip of scissors. They are also known as keshan since they are very similar to keshani peshtemal that is unique to Iran. While lively colors are preferred by young and single women, fez colors are often preferred by older and married women.

Where Can You Use Peshtemal?

After providing a detailed answer to the question of what is peshtemal, now we can discuss its use areas and where they are preferred. Besides models that are locally preferred in the Black Sea region, you can encounter the use of peshtemal in many areas of our modern lives. Peshtemal is widely preferred especially in Turkish baths and saunas. You need to take off your entire outfit while entering the Turkish bath, wrap peshtemal, and knot it around your waist or chest. Peshtemal, which allows your body to breathe with its thin structure, prevents your body to be seen and also allows you to enjoy the heat of the Turkish bath. It is used for the same purpose in saunas.

Where Can You Use Peshtemal

They can be preferred as a towel around the pool or seaside. Temperatures that are especially high during the summer season make it difficult to use thick towels. Therefore many people prefer to use peshtemal during the summer season. You can also use them as a bath towel. Many people in gyms prefer peshtemal after showering thanks to its thin structure. They can be used to maintain the coolness of your body during the summer season at home when the temperatures are really high. It is quite easy to carry them with you when compared to the regular towels. Thus it is a great choice for sports activities, training, and daily activities. Moreover, it dries quickly when compared to the towels.

Modern Peshtemal Models

Peshtemal, which has an important place in Turkish culture, began to be manufactured in different models and patterns in time. Peshtemal, which is preferred to create an authentic image in interior architecture, began to be widely used with models that are manufactured for this purpose.

Thin Turkish Beach Towels, Palace Peshtemal

Especially bathrobe and towel sets are among the most preferred models for home use. Bathrobes, which are manufactured for people who are looking for a modern answer to the question of what is peshtemal, are often preferred in concept and boutique hotels. Seamless weaving, which is one of the most important features of peshtemal, is used in bathrobe models too. They are also preferred in baths designed with the Turkish bath concept to create a nostalgic atmosphere. Instead, traditional plaid patterns, another model among the modern peshtemal models are models that transit between different shades of the same colors. You can easily see these peshtemals, which are often preferred in pink, blue, and red shades, in the pool and seaside.

Cacala Peshtemal Turkish Cotton Towel Black

Alternative Peshtemal Wrapping Types

Many people prefer the traditional wrapping method while they are using peshtemal in beaches or Turkish baths. However, there are also alternative methods you can prefer to wear your peshtemal. Seamless structure of peshtemals allows knotting from the tips of the cloth. You can knot your peshtemal in different ways by taking advantage of this. One of the most preferred methods among these is the model that wraps around your chest area and leaving some looseness in the other parts of your body. To do so, you need to open the peshtemal fully and take the longer side by keeping it horizontally on the ground and in front of your body. Cross the tips at your back and pull them to the front so that you can knot them in the middle of your rib cage.

Peshtemal Wrapping

Another method is using peshtemal as a skirt. Fold the short sides of the peshtemal to create two equal parts and wrap the longer side around your waist by keeping it horizontally to the ground. Cross the tips so that peshtemal will cover your waist and wrap it one more time around your waist and then knot it. You can choose a necklace that will match your peshtemal to use it as a torsolette. Leaving your neck a little bit loose on your neck will help your torsolette to look better. Fold the short side of your peshtemal to create four equal parts and pass it through your necklace. Pull it from both sides to create two equal parts and cover your chest area with the help of your cloth. After that, knot the tips tightly on your back.

If you want, you can wear it as torsolette without a necklace too. To do so, fold the short side of your peshtemal to create four equal parts and hang it on your neck and cross the tips around your neck. After that, cover your chest area with the remaining cloth and know the tips on your back. You can prefer these methods in public areas such as the Turkish bath and sauna.