The Grand Seraglio. The search for absolute bliss backed up by absolute power with all the variations of sex, death, and violence could muster. The price to pay for approaching utopian conditions in a sort of Islamic version of the messianic bumpy road with a dose of apocalyptic nihilism just to keep the viewer riveted to the unfolding action..
The Chief Executioner, for a reason whose significance seems to have been forgotten, was also the Chief Gardener and Chief Helmsman of the Royal Caique, thus combining in his duties the two most striking characteristics of the Ottoman Turk: extreme ferocity and a touching pleasure in the out-of-doors. The Grand Seraglio was surrounded by gardens, rambling woods and orchards, like English parks, kept in good order by four thousand gardeners.
The favorite flower of the Turk was the tulip, once a wild flower of the Asiatic steppes. Holland never heard of tulips until 1562, when a shipment of bulbs arrived from Constantinople; the word “tulip” comed from tulbend, meaning “turban,” a Turkish nickname for the flower. It was said of Ahmed II, a sultan of the early eighteenth-century , that he valued human life less than a good tulip bulb. At tulip time every spring official business came to a standstill, while Sultan Ahmed put on all-night tulip fetes in the Seraglio gardens. Guests dressed up in tulip colors, caged birds sang in the tree branches, and here and there among the tulip beds tortoises with candles strapped to their backs provided ambulatory illumination.
One particular night of the fete was reserved for the ladies of the harem , who organized a bazaar at which the sultan was the only customer. They all looked for candy, hidden Easter-egg style among the flowers, and received prizes handed out by the Chief White Eunuch; these white eunuchs had come from the kidnapped slave children and it appears chose to be castrated out of their own free will in order to obtain certain powerful positions in the palace. They were believed to be less corruptible. Ottaviano Bon said, ” though not of great courage…their minds beng set on business rather than on pleasure.” They were entrusted with the treasure, the secret documents and the mail. The governing of the harem was carried out by black eunuchs. The uglier their faces and persons the more highly they were valued.
( see source at end) …In fact, men could not enter. The rigid gender segregation of slaves, necessary to secure the Sultan’s control over alliances and reproduction, enforced a homosocial substructure in the Grand Seraglio, fueling another set of orientalist fantasies: men and women lacking access to “natural” outlets for their lust. Bon, Rycault, and Le Stourgeon all understand homoeroticism among young slaves in the Seraglio as an inevitable making-do with what’s available: “wanting the society of” (Bon) or “deprived of Conversation with” (Le Stourgeon) the other sex, the “amorous disposition of youth” is, as Rycault puts it, “transported to a most passionate admiration of beauty wheresoever it finds it.” Rycault remarks that couples sometimes substitute age for gender difference, “especially the old Women court the young, present them with rich Garments, Jewels, Mony, even to their own impoverishment and ruine… and these darts of Cupid are shot through all the Empire,” Rycault notes, “especially Constantinople, the Seraglio of the Grand Signior, and the apartments of the Sultans. Generally speaking, these accounts of eastern homosexuality give the sense that shared subjection produces among slaves an idea of their own homogeneity and exchangeability; that their lust finds objects at random, a form of arbitrariness antithetical to that of the Sultan because it is fundamentally powerless and passive; unwilled.(from The Shape of Intimacy: Private Space and the British Social Imagination, 1650-1770 By: DANIELLE BOBKER)
( see link at end) …Many of the concubines and odalisques of the Imperial harem were reputed to be among the most beautiful of women in the Ottoman Empire. Young girls of extraordinary beauty were sent to the sultan’s court, often as gifts from the governors. Numerous harem women were Circassians, Georgians, and Abkhasians. They were usually bought from slave markets after being kidnapped or else sold by impoverished parents. Many Georgian and Circassian families encouraged their daughters to enter concubinage through slavery, as that promised to be a life of luxury and comfort. All slaves that entered the harem were termed odalisques or “women of the court” – general servants in the harem. Odalisques were not usually presented to the Sultan. Those that were of extraordinary beauty and talent, were seen as potential concubines, and trained accordingly. They learned to dance, recite poetry, play musical instruments, and master the erotic arts. Only the most gifted odalisques were presented to the Sultan as his personal gedikli (maids-in-waiting). Generally, odalisques would be assigned as servants to the oda (or court) of a harem mistress. For example, the Mistress of the Robes, or the Keeper of Baths, or the Keeper of Jewels, etc.
It was possible for these odalisques to rise through the ranks of the harem hierarchy and enjoy security through their p
The most powerful women in the harem were the Valide Sultan and the Kadins. The Valide Sultan was responsible for the maintenance of order and peace inside the harem.Read More:http://starlitecinema.multiply.com/journal/item/16?&show_interstitial=1&u=%2Fjournal%2Fitem