Public Hammam

However the public Hammam is altogether a distinct scene. No dreamy silence, no considerate abstraction might be indulged within the far-stretching corridor, the place tons of congregate, and the place the echoes of the many-domed roof heighten and lengthen each harsh sound into tenfold discordance. These institutions are quite a few in Constantinople, and fortunes, actually colossal for that nation, are mentioned to be made by them, though they pay a heavy tax to the federal government. From eight within the morning they arc open till sundown, women and men frequenting them on alternate days; and the women seldom fail to avail themselves of the entire of the time allowed, by spending it virtually completely within the lhunmam.

The bathtub is the very paradise of Jap ladies. Right here they assemble to debate each topic of curiosity and amusement, whether or not politics, scandal, or information; to rearrange marriages, and to stop them; to ask and to supply recommendation; to show their home supremacy, and to impart their home grievances ; however, above all, to benefit from the noise, the hurry, and the thrill, which type so nice a distinction to the calm and monotony of the harem.

A pair of picket pattens

On leaving the outer corridor, the bather is provided with a pair of picket pattens, raised a number of inches from the ground, which is a lot heated within the inside flats, that, till the vapour has had time to function upon the body, it’s unattainable to the touch it with the bare foot. Thus supplied—and among the many larger courses these pattens are objects-of nice price and luxurious, the band by which they arc secured throughout the instep being continuously inlaid with jewels— the bather passes into the cooling-room, the place plenty of little channels, stuffed with heat water, traverse the ground in each route; which, whereas they add to the warmth, serve to decrease the oppression of the vapour that escapes at every opening of the door of the bathtub itself; an in depth octagon corridor, containing eight fountains, and surrounded by small cupboards for many who don’t select to avail themselves of the extra public condo.

We can’t, maybe, do higher than take an outline of the extraordinary scene introduced by this locality from the pages of an eye-witness.

“ For the primary few moments I used to be bewildered ; the heavy, dense, sulphureous vapour that crammed the place, and virtually suffocated me—the wild shrill cries of the slaves pealing by way of the reverberating domes of the bathing-halls, sufficient to awaken the very marble with which they had been lined—the subdued laughter and whispered conversations of their mistresses, murmuring alongside in an below present of sound—the sight of almost 300 ladies, solely partially dressed, and that in wonderful linen so completely saturated with vapour that it revealed the entire define of the determine—the busy slaves passing and repassing, bare from the waist upwards, and with their arms folded upon their bosoms, balancing on their heads piles of fringed or embroidered napkins-—teams of beautiful ladies, laughing, chatting, and refreshing themselves with sweetmeats, sherbet, and lemonade—events of playful kids, apparently fairly detached to the densr ambiance which made me wrestle for breath—and, to crown all, the sudden bursting forth of a refrain of voices into one of many wildest and shrillest of Turkish melodies, that was caught up and flung again by the echoes of the huge corridor, making a din worthy of a saturnalia of demons, all mixed to type an image just like the illusory semblance of a phantasmagoria, virtually leaving me doubtful whether or not that on which 1 seemed had been certainly actuality, or the mere creation of a distempered mind.”

 

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