American Egyptomania Search

Sword Dance Before a Pacha

Earl Shinn ["Edward Strahan"], Gerome: A Collection of the Works of J.L. Gerome in One Hundred Photgravures. Multiple Volumes. New York: Samuel L. Hall, 1881.

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Art & Architecture


ENAMORED of this beautiful dancer-armed, but not forbidding—M. Gerome has not hesitated to transfer her from the smoky, ill-lit cafe, in which we last saw her, to this sumptuous mansion, and to triple in numbers both her orchestra and her audience. Certainly her professional rise in life is well deserved ; and she balances and sways before these grave and reverend signors as sumptuously as before the idlers and small tradesmen who frequented her former stage in the "Sword Dance in the Cafe."

Both painters and travellers have long united in celebrating these public dancing girls of Egypt, and their history is not without interest. The most famous of them are of a distinct tribe called Ghawazee ; a female of the tribe is a Ghazeeyeh, and a man a Ghazee, but the plural, Ghawazee, is generally understood as applying to the women. Most travellers err in confounding the common dancing-girls with the Al'mehs, who are female singers. The Ghawazee perform unveiled in the public streets, even to amuse the rabble, and to European eyes their dancing has often but little elegance. They commence slowly, with a degree of decorum, "but soon, by more animated looks, by a more rapid collision of their castanets of brass, and by an increased energy in every motion, they exhibit a spectacle exactly agreeing with the descriptions which Martial and Juvenal have given of the perform-

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