Odalisques blog

The Female Slave Market in Constantinople (1 Mar)
From the slave market to the sultan's bedchamber (17 Feb)
Buying a new slave for your harem (4 Feb)
Odalisquian books list now on Odalisques.com (29 Jan)
Edward Lane's descriptions and drawings of female clothing (27 Jan)
more posts...


"The Arab Scribe" by J.F. Lewis, 1852
"The Bath" by J.L. Gerome, in the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
"Odalisque" by Max Nonnenbruch
"By order of the sultan" by Antonio Fabres
"Idle Moments" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, 1875
more pictures...


more books...

© Tanos

from Bon's Seraglio

This is a 17th century translation of Ottaviano Bon's account of the Ottoman Sultan's palace and Constantinople:

"Now in case a Turk take slaves for his use [To lie withal.], he may not sell them again; but they become members of his family, in which they are to remain till they die. But if they prove barren, then they may be sold from hand to hand, as often as it is their fortune.

The Turks may buy of all sorts of slaves, of every religion, and nation; and may use them as they please (killing only excepted) which the Christians and Jews there may not do; for they have liberty only to buy Christians and Jews.

There is for this purpose a place in Constantinople, near the Bezisten, where every wednesday, in the open street, there are bought and sold slaves of all sorts, and every one may freely come to buy for their several uses; some for nurses, some for servants, and some for their lustful appetites. For they, which make use of slaves for their sensuality, cannot be punished by the justice, as they should be, if they were taken with free women, and with Turkish women especially.

These slaves are bought and sold, as beasts and cattle are, they being viewed, and reviewed, and felt all about their limbs, and bodies, and their mouths look'd into, as if they were so many horses in Smithfield. Then they are examined of what country they are, and what they are good for; either for sewing, spinning, weaving, or the like; buying sometimes the mother with the children, and sometimes the children without the mother, sometimes two or three brothers together, and again sometimes taking the one, and leaving the rest, using no terms of humanity, love, or honesty, but even as the buyer or the seller shall think will best turn them to profit."