Walking around old palaces of former rulers of Turkey, India or Arabic countries let you always, sooner or later, find a special place – Harem.
I had the opportunity to see harem rooms in Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Syria, India and several other places in the world. All were enormously decorated and luxuriously furnished. They had also beautiful gardens and fountains with life-giving water.
All that places made me wonder, and I am curious, did you, my dear reader, have you ever wondered how it was exactly to live there?
In Arabic, Harem means a prohibited place. Forbidden for almost all people on the Earth. Permission to enter had only the Sultan (or Maharaja) and his sons (plus chosen slaves, but them we will not count).
The harem was planned and built as a separated closed world. In many cases, it was only place to live, for its residents. In most of cases there was no exit from there other than dead. It was a home for wives and concubines of ruler. Also, all his children were living there.
Women belonging to the Sultan came from almost all sides of the entire known world. They were sent as gifts from subordinates, local rulers, captives caught during invasions or slaves bought from a special bazaar…
All of them had only one aim – to become a favorite of the Sultan and give a birth of his first son, future ruler. It was so important matter that there was even a special book, in which chosen person, was making notes about all intimate encounters of the ruler. Can you guess, my dear reader, what was the most important information? Of course exact name of the lady with whom the ruler spends a night!
Day after day, all the women and children were protected by eunuchs and led a life filled with struggle, intrigues and scheming against each other. What else they had to do, close in the miniature city inside of this special complex. Yes, the city is a correct name for it! In almost every harem you can find bedrooms, living rooms, gardens, but also a school for children and mosque.
Often surrounded by luxury, expensive garments, and wonderful perfumes woman lived alone in the crowd, fighting for their position in a golden cage. And there was many to fight with, for example, in the harem of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul lived sometimes even 1000 women! Some of them have been completely forgotten, others have made success difficult to describe… But about this I will tell you some other time.