See also: Harem (homonymy)
A harem (Arab: حريم, harem; gynécée ) indicates at the same time the continuation of women (concubines or simple “beauties”) who surrounded an important character and their place of residence. The word was borrowed in the Western languages with a very reducing direction, associated with the confined woman.
The Eastern direction is “interdict with the men”. Indeed harem drift of the word harâm which indicates what is Tabou, prohibited by the religion. Its Antonyme is halâl, which is allowed by the religion. The two terms belong to the hudûd, which fixes the limits between what is allowed and what is prohibited.
The harems were present in many ancient civilizations. Among Greeks, it is the Gynécée. The last large harems (those which the term indicates in particular) are the harems of the Sultan S and pasha S of the Ottoman Empire.
The harem is before a whole place of pleasure where the official concubines of the lord reside, as well as the women who were placed at her service (of liking or force). They have as a task to give him children for the first and to divert it (Musique, Danse and Sexe) for the seconds.
Grabbed by Orientalism
The haremlik (Ottoman Empire)
The harem of the Othoman sultans was an almost autonomous company, organized and treated on a hierarchical basis where could be woven all kinds of plots. The poison could be used for eliminating a rival or eliminating from the applicants to the succession and making it possible his/her own children to become in their turn sultan.
Structure of the harem
the Sultana Valide (Turkish: validates , `' mother''), mother of the sultan, it is excluded from the harem with died of his/her son.
- the wives of the sultan, they can be four (sometimes six or even eight).
In lower part, all the women were slaves, none was not Moslem since a Moslem woman cannot be reduced in slavery.
Political office of the harem
The Western popular imagery made Othoman harem a “Lupanar of modern times”. In fact, the harem has a very strong political office within the Ottoman Empire with its apogee (15th century-17th century). One can distinguish at least two periods.
* Before Soliman the Magnificent the, the harem is the framework with the function of reproduction of the sultanate essential with the perenniality of the Empire. More the beautiful women of the Empire (and besides) there are primarily selected by the mother of the sultan in order to find a woman whom will like her son but especially enough intelligent to be able to educate the heir to the empire. Each woman chosen by the Sultan among tens of concubines can have only one son. Then the sultan cannot any more touch it but must have other concubines to produce new male children and to protect the dynasty. With its death, the elder one of its surviving sons will have to make assassinate by strangulation his/her half-brothers. On the furnace bridge of the reason of State, many transfers of power thus cruelly occurred until the 17th century.
* During the reign of Soliman, the role of the harem becomes much more political under the influence of his wife Hürrem (Roxelane for the Occident) who will give several male children to Soliman. Hürrem also will transform the harem into anteroom of the capacity and will use it to impose a “reign of the women” which will last more than one century and half. The queen-mother will seize there a power comparable with the influence of a Marie de Médicis in France at the same time. The harem then becomes a true State in the State where the most alleviating functions as the service of the coffee becomes an policy issue. The number of concubines passes to more than 600 women. Certain successors of Soliman will have more than twenty children of different women.
The choice of the concubine in the harem
Many women are removed but many women remain in the harem by choice. Freedom is supervised. When the sultan goes down in the harem, each concubine seeks to allure it. The massage, the dance and the music are essential there. The concubine is supposed to be virgin.
The role of the eunuques ones
The Eunuque S are always black, so that one is sure that none of them can generate a heir to the throne. After castration (with a high death rate), they are formed with their future role.
They are supposed to only take care of the virginity and the maintenance of law and order in the harem. But after Soliman, they will have a crucial role of messengers between the kingdom of the women and the remainder of the palate. They are the only ones which can make the shuttle between the two worlds.
They must often show authority to separate from the ready women entretuer to save their son of an unquestionable death if their brother becomes sultan (case of Hurrem and the mother of Mustafa who missed entretuer)
The zenana (Moslem India)Following the Moslem conquest of the Indies, the Rajput S, in particular, enfermement used a similar strategy of women in structures, parts, started from dwelling or wing palate, called zenana , whose function was to withdraw the women, wives, girls and sisters with the covetousness of the invaders, which probably took part in the degradation of the condition of the women in India. One finds thus a Zenana Mahal or “palate of queens” with Udaipur. Jaipur, the Palate of the winds made it possible to the women to benefit from the spectacle of the street without being seen.
This use, however did not spread in the remainder of the Indian Sous-continent governed by Râja Hindou S.
The harem in Moslem Spain
The largest harem was located at Cordoue during the time of the Western Califat and gathered 5000 people, all roles mentioned above confused.
- life of harem, the harem and the palate of the sultans
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