harem

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harem

(hâr`əm) [Arabic], term applied to women's apartments in a Muslim household. In the ancient Arab world women enjoyed a certain amount of freedom. However, with the advent of Islam, the veiling and seclusion of women into harems became more common. The most famous harem, that of the sultans of Turkey, dates from the 15th cent. and included the old and new palaces on Seraglio Point, Constantinople. It was abolished with the downfall (1909) of Abd al-Hamid II. The sultan's harem often contained several hundred women, all subject to the control of the sultan's mother and guarded by eunuchs. In India the harem is called a purdah or zenana; in Iran, andarun. Although the harem is rapidly disappearing in the 20th cent., there nevertheless are still some in existence in the more remote areas of the Muslim world.

Bibliography

See N. M. Penzer, The Harem (1937); D. Van Ess, Fatima and Her Sisters (1961).

Harem

 

the women’s quarters in a wealthy Muslim household; also, in a figurative sense, its inhabitants—the wives and concubines of the master of the house. Large harems of rulers, the wealthy, and dignitaries in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and other countries were guarded by eunuchs. Men (other than husbands and sons) were barred from the harems. Beginning in the 1920’s the harem virtually disappeared as a result of the ban on multiple marriages (for example, in Turkey in 1926), the introduction of equal social rights for women, economic and cultural progress, and the growth of the democratic movement, including the women’s movement.

harem

, hareem
a group of female animals of the same species that are the mates of a single male
References in periodicals archive ?
The women in these pictures have become literal odalisques, 'caged' amongst other acquisitions in the 'cabinet of curiosities' of the male dominion, the harem," the artist says.
The second chapter includes women's condition in harem and the social role of women, the role of mother-in-law and wife in elite families, and the educational characteristics of elite women and girls.
The passage suggests that her references to harems and the veil were made simply for the sake of conventional accounts about the Orient, since they don't seem to play much of a role anymore.
Controversies over the realities of life in the harem have long been in need of a treatment that challenges the stereotypically narrow perception of the concept and provides the opportunity to see the harem's multi-layered structure from a critical perspective.
Part Two, "Rooms and Thresholds: Harems as Spaces, Socialities, and the Law", begins with Nadia Maria El Cheikh's Chapter Four, which discusses the Baghdad-based harem of Caliph al-Muqtadir.
Harem Histories, a collection of essays edited by the esteemed translator and scholar Marilyn Booth, examines the idea of the harem in western (European and American) and eastern (generally Turkish and Arab) literatures, images, and historical records.
However, while describing the Mughal harem, European travellers were handicapped in two ways: first as foreigners, they possessed limited resources to understand the language and culture of the locals and secondly, they were all male and thus private domain of the women was nearly completely inaccessible to them.
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