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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...

Image-stream

"Idle Moments" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, 1875
"Moorish Interior" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman
"The Nubian Storyteller in the Harem" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman
"Nefeeseh" by R.J.Lane
"The Almee" by Gunnar Berndtson
more pictures...

Books

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© Tanos
1997-2014

Pictures 1 2 3 4 6

Odalisques Gallery

Most of these images are also pinned to our Odalisques board on Pinterest and tagged with #odalisques on Tumblr. Updates are usually posted on the Odalisques feed on Twitter and the Odalisques group on FetLife when new images are uploaded.

"Idle Moments" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, 1875
"Idle Moments" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, 1875
A detail of Bridgman's painting of a domestic harem scene showing a soldier enjoying the company of two of his slaves in his home. His guns and saddle have been hung up on the left, while he takes his pipe and coffee, and plays a game of draughts with one of the girls. [more...]
"Nefeeseh" by R.J.Lane
"Nefeeseh" by R.J.Lane
Nefeeseh was a Greek slave girl owned by Edward Lane during his time in Cairo, whom he eventually married.
"The Water Carrier" by Ludwig Deutsch, 1920
"The Water Carrier" by Ludwig Deutsch, 1920
A barefoot ragged woman carries a heavy jug of water along a stony desert road on the edge of a city.
"An inmate of the Hareem, Cairo" by J.F.Lewis, 1858
"An inmate of the Hareem, Cairo" by J.F.Lewis, 1858
Also entitled "Life in the Hareem, Cairo". The model for the seated woman was Lewis's wife, who lived with him for the last years of his decade in Cairo in the 1840s. The setting is based on his own large house in the city.
"The Dance" by Giulio Rosati (1858-1917)
"The Dance" by Giulio Rosati (1858-1917)
A group of men are entertained by a troupe of female dancers and male musicians. This is in contrast to Rosati's painting The Harem Dance, in which a dancer entertains the master of a harem and his other women.
"Nautch girls emerging from the Taj Mahal" by Edwin Lord Weeks
"Nautch girls emerging from the Taj Mahal" by Edwin Lord Weeks
Edwin Lord Weeks (1849-1903) painting of Indian dancers leaving the raised platform of the Taj Mahal, which has a mosque as well as the mausoleum housing the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, in whose memory the complex was built by Shah Jahan who died and was buried alongside her 20 years later.
"Slave Market" (1836) by Horace Vernet
"Slave Market" (1836) by Horace Vernet
Vernet's picture shows slaves being sold amongst other merchandise. The bale of cotton tied up with rope may indicate the scene is in Egypt, which was a major cotton producer. The central male figure may be a buyer, but in the racially stratified Egyptian and Ottoman society of the time he is more likely to be working for or even owned by the slave dealer and there to show the slaves to prospective buyers - rather like the figure in Gerome's 1866 "Slave Market. Both the Vernet and Gerome figures have long canes which were symbols of authority [more...]
Detail of Gerome's 1866 "Slave market"
Detail of Gerome's 1866 "Slave market"
The full painting shows the courtyard of the slave market in which this scene takes place, and has some more background information.
"Selling slaves" by Otto Pilny
"Selling slaves" by Otto Pilny
The Swiss artist Otto Pilny traveled to Egypt twice as a young man and spent some of his time with Bedouin in the desert. He painted more than a dozen variations on the theme of slaves being sold in desert encampments. In this painting, two Bedouin are laughing at the pleas from one of five despairing slave girls. The others sit in various states of dejection at their fate, and the two in the foreground also have their wrists bound with leather thongs.
Water carriers in Egypt, 1870s, by J. Pascal Sebah
Water carriers in Egypt, 1870s, by J. Pascal Sebah
Two women carrying heavy jugs of water on their heads in Egypt. Some of the poorest women worked as water carriers, and as you can see they could afford little more clothes than a black robe to veil their faces and bodies, and no shoes to wear in the street. Seeing women like this no doubt inspired fantasies like Arthur Hill's "Egyptian Water Carrier" [more...]
"Moorish Interior" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman
"Moorish Interior" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman
A group of odalisques are being entertained by a dancing girl with a tambourine, but are interrupted by three visitors. The central figure looks very like the The Nubian Storyteller from another of Bridgman's paintings, and the dancer's diaphanous robe is rather like his Reclining Beauty.
"The Almee" by Gunnar Berndtson
"The Almee" by Gunnar Berndtson
Berndtson's 1883 painting of an Egyptian dancer performing for two western men.
"Bound slave girl brought before a sheikh" by Leopold Carl Muller (1834-92)
"Bound slave girl brought before a sheikh" by Leopold Carl Muller (1834-92)
A half naked female slave with her hands tied behind her back is brought before a seated male figure and forced to her knees. It looks as if she's been dragged in by her hair. Why is she being handled so roughly? Is she new and untamed? Has she attempted to runaway? Has she been caught in some act of grave disobedience?
Tamer Yilmaz Turkish bath shoot with Tugce Kazaz
Tamer Yilmaz Turkish bath shoot with Tugce Kazaz
I posted about this striking shoot back in 2011, but I've seen the images appearing on FetLife without attribution so I think it would be a good time for an update, with some more links. [more...]
"The harem dance" by Giulo Rosati
"The harem dance" by Giulo Rosati
Rosati's paintings is one of the few of the Orientalists' works to show dancing in a harem, rather than before a group of men. It was possible for western painters to see paid dancers, who could be hired to dance at weddings or parties, and who often worked in cafes, but harems were necessarily inaccessible. Here a bare-breasted girl dances before the master of the harem, surrounded by his other women who are playing tambourines, watching, or just chatting. This painting is in contrast to Rosati's painting The Dance in which a group of men are [more...]
"The Nautch" by Edwin Lord Weeks
"The Nautch" by Edwin Lord Weeks
Nautch girls were originally trained dancers in India under the rule of the Islamic Mughal kingdoms, and frequently slaves. They could be hired to perform for men, given as gifts, purchased to adorn a man's harem, or even become free and independent performers. Weeks' painting shows a nautch girl dancing for the raja sat on a raised seat, surrounded by his court.
Metal anklets and bracelets in Vernet's "Slave Market"
Metal anklets and bracelets in Vernet's "Slave Market"
Details of Horace Vernet's "Slave Market" (1836), showing solid metal anklets and bracelets which bear a striking similarity to those sold by Eternity Collars. In particular, it appears that the pale-skinned Circassian slave on the left has a metal ring fastened round each of her wrists and ankles. I've written more about the symbolism of anklets for odalisques, wives, and slaves in a blog post.
Detail of "The thief" by Antonio Maria Fabres y Costa
Detail of "The thief" by Antonio Maria Fabres y Costa
Closeup of the thief from Fabres's painting.
"Trade in the desert" by Otto Pilny, 1913
"Trade in the desert" by Otto Pilny, 1913
The Swiss artist Otto Pilny traveled to Egypt twice as a young man and spent some of his time with Bedouin in the desert. He painted more than a dozen variations on the theme of slaves being sold in desert encampments, including this scene from 1913. Two Bedouin are haggling about the worth of two slave girls and a necklace. Both slaves are bound: one with bowed head and a leather thong around her arms and body; the other with half a yard of leather between her wrists.
Woman of Algiers, c1870, by Jean Geiser
Woman of Algiers, c1870, by Jean Geiser
Dressed as a middle or upper class wife, this woman wears prominent heavy anklets which acknowledge her marriage, as discussed in my Brass anklets for slave and wives blog post.
"The Nubian Storyteller in the Harem" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman
"The Nubian Storyteller in the Harem" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman
From ragged slave girl to the sultan's bed chambers
From ragged slave girl to the sultan's bed chambers
Screenshots from Firuze's journey into the sultan's harem in Magnificent Century.
Viewing "An inmate of the hareem, Cairo" and "The Hhareem, Cairo" at the V&A
Viewing "An inmate of the hareem, Cairo" and "The Hhareem, Cairo" at the V&A
I recently had an opportunity to view two of J.F. Lewis's paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum collection which are not normally on display. In the foreground is "An inmate of the Hareem, Cairo" of 1858; in front of my laptop is a preparatory study for "The Harem of a Mameluke Bey, Cairo: The Introduction of an Abyssinian Slave" from about 1850. The study only shows the harem master and his attendant women seated on the divan, and does not include the new slave girl slipping off her clothing [more...]
"Making the sale" by Eduard Ansen Hofmann
"Making the sale" by Eduard Ansen Hofmann
Hofmann's painting of a dealer and customer in the final stages of agreeing to sell a painfully naked slave girl is almost a companion piece to his The Slave Dealer. [more...]
"Leila" or "Passion" by Frank Dicksee, 1892
"Leila" or "Passion" by Frank Dicksee, 1892
Frank Dicksee's smouldering 1892 painting is called both "Passion" and "Leila", presumably after the girl of Arabic folklore who was loved by a poet but forever kept apart from him by her father.
"The Captive" or "The Slave Dance" by William Clapp, 1909
"The Captive" or "The Slave Dance" by William Clapp, 1909
A dancing girl lies exhausted and prone, naked apart from her ankle, wrist and arm cuffs, with a brass lamp stand laying on the floor, knocked over during the passion of her performance.
Wooden stocks for ankles and wrists
Wooden stocks for ankles and wrists
Wooden stocks for ankles and wrists, on the floor of my Hareem room. I made these stocks about ten years ago. The hasp at the bottom locks with the padlock and the two small holes in each half can be threaded with chains and used to lift the stocks and the victim's feet off the ground, which is especially good for bastinado. They're similar to the much heavier stocks in Eisenhut's "Before punishment" painting.
"The thief" by Antonio Maria Fabres y Costa
"The thief" by Antonio Maria Fabres y Costa
Fabres painting La Ladrona ("The Thief") in the los Tiros art gallery in Granada was made in about 1900 and shows a female criminal standing in the street as a warning to others. [more...]
Modern day slaves of the Tuaregs in Niger
Modern day slaves of the Tuaregs in Niger
These women wear heavy brass anklets to show their status as slaves of the Tuareg tribesmen who have controlled the region for generations. These nomadic tribes used to trade surplus and captured slaves across the Sahara desert to North Africa, including Egypt, and beyond to the rest of the Ottoman Empire. [more...]
Brass Turkish delight bowl in the hareem
Brass Turkish delight bowl in the hareem
This traditional style brass Turkish Delight bowl from Istanbul keeps its contents from drying out (as if it lasts that long uneaten!) and works well with a paper cupcake case to catch the icing sugar that accumulates. The box of Alaeddin Turkish Delight was bought in Istanbul too, and is what you find in corner shops and supermarkets there. It does appear in the UK as well, but supermarkets here sell own-brand Turkish Delight in the Turkish style (as well as all the Fry's bars in a different section!) [more...]

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