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Turkisch Women Bathing/Turkish Women at the Bath

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


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TURKISH WOMEN AT THE BATH.

brings them in the long-stemmed pipes, and the tobacco that the interpreter of the Prophet does not forbid to his daughters. Turkish women are especially fond of the bath, and often have entertainments there, takingwith them fruit, sweetmeats, etc., and sometimes hiring female singers to accompany them. As may be supposed, an ample period of time is devoted to their toilet: an hour or more is occupied by the process of plaiting the hair, applying the depilatory, etc., and, generally, an equal time is passed in the enjoyment of rest, of recreation, or refreshment. Lane, who spent so large a part of his life in the East, says that decorum is observed on theseoccasions by most females; but women of the lower orders are often seen in the baths without any covering. Some baths are appropriated solely to men; others, only to women; and others, again, to men in the forenoon, and in the afternoon to women. When the bath is appropriated to women, a napkin, or some other piece of drapery, is hung over the door to warn men from entering. Before the time of Mohammed there were no public baths in Arabia; and he entertained such a prejudice against them, on account of the abuses to which they were liable, and because they were the haunts of evil genii, that he at first forbade both men and women to enter them. Afterward, however, he permitted men to do so, if for the sake of cleanliness, and on condition of being decently apparelled ; and women also on account of sickness, etc., provided they had no suitable places for bathing at home. But, notwithstanding this license, it is held to be a characteristic of a virtuous woman not to go to a bath, even with her husband's permission ; for the Prophet said, "Whatever woman enters a bath, the devil is with her." And as the bath is a resort of the Jinn, prayer should not be said in it, nor the Koran recited. The Prophet said, "All the earth is givento me as a place of prayer, and as pure, except the burial-ground and the bath." Hence, also, when a person is about to enter a bath, he should offer up an ejaculatory prayer for protection against evil spirits, and should place his left foot first over the threshold. These fair daughters of the Prophet do not seem to entertain any thought of his prejudices against their luxury, nor any fear of supernatural intelligences haunting the marble corridors, unless indeed in the attentive regards they turn on the negress may be read the vague apprehension, of which indeed the Oriental is never quite free, that she may be a Jinneeyeh!



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