This book explores harems all over the world, focusing on the celebrated Seraglio of Turkey's Topkapi Palace as a paradigm for all. We are shown the slave market and boudoirs of sultans, the daily routines of the odalisques - their baths, clothes and appetites - and the peculiar lives of the eunuchs who guarded and controlled them; all this ...
This book explores harems all over the world, focusing on the celebrated Seraglio of Turkey's Topkapi Palace as a paradigm for all. We are shown the slave market and boudoirs of sultans, the daily routines of the odalisques - their baths, clothes and appetites - and the peculiar lives of the eunuchs who guarded and controlled them; all this alongside the splendour and depravity of the sultans, masters of the harem, whose rule was absolute. The author also looks at the polygamous households of ordinary Middle Eastern families. She looks at their marital customs, child-rearing, medical practices, superstitions and the expression of desire and jealousy. Finally, the book portrays how this Eastern institution invaded the Victorian imagination in the form of decoration, costume and art, and how Western ideas, in turn, came to erode a system that seemed all-powerful. The text is illustrated with Orientalist paintings, Turkish woodcuts and miniatures.
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An interesting book about the life in the harems of the middle east. The spendor, politics and the every day life of these harems is very different of what one might think. My sexual imagination went wild while reading this book. I have since recovered.
Publishers Weekly, 1991-02-15 This study considers the everyday lives of odalisques, the harem as the Moslem equivalent of purdah and male-dominated harem life as symbolic of the collective unconscious. ``Ultimately, the text is a choppy amalgam of history, reminiscence, conjecture and intermittently overblown writing,'' said PW . ``Much more evocative are the 125 photographs and reproductions of art works included here.'' (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1989-04-21 For almost 400 years, until 1909, the Grand Harem in Istanbul's Topkapi Palace was home to as many as 2000 odalisques bought at slave markets for a price lower than the going rate for a good horse. The Turkish author relates the day-to-day experiences of the women who inhabited these chambers: what they ate, wore, the games they played together, the opium-induced reveries in which they passed long hours. Croutier also considers the harem in larger contexts: as the ``unbelievably repressive'' Moslem equivalent of purdah; as ``a unique archetype of the collective unconscious--matriarchy incubating in the cradle of patriarchy.'' But ``harem'' is Turkish for ``forbidden, protected,'' and the Grand Harem guarded its secrets from the world successfully. Partly because Croutier doesn't always evoke harem life well in her own words, we wish for--but don't hear--the voices of the women themselves. Ultimately, the text is a choppy amalgam of history, reminiscence, conjecture and intermittently overblown writing (``The walls seemed to whisper secrets pleading to be heard''). Much more evocative are the 125 photographs and reproductions of art works included here. Author tour. (June)
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