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...


"The Arab Scribe" by J.F. Lewis, 1852
"The Bath" by J.L. Gerome, in the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
"Odalisque" by Max Nonnenbruch
"By order of the sultan" by Antonio Fabres
"Idle Moments" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, 1875
more pictures...


more books...

© Tanos

Making a falaka stick for bastinado

Posted by Tanos on Mon 15 Oct 12, 1:35 AM

In many eastern cultures, beating the soles of the feet, or bastinado, was the dominant form of corporal punishment for wrongdoers, including wives and servants. It was especially prevelant in the Ottoman Empire centred on Turkey and in Egypt, which inspired so much of the western fantasy "Odalisquian" world of harems, odalisques, slavegirls etc. Bastinado was done using some kind of rod or cane and a stick with a rope to hold the ankles, called a falaka. This blog shows a falaka stick I made this week.

The first picture shows what you need to do bastinado this way: a cane, a falaka stick, and a barefoot submissive.

Making the falaka is quite straightforward. I used a 90cm length of 15mm diameter dowel rod, with two 10mm holes drilled near the ends. The rope was 160cm long and 8mm thick. It's important that the rope isn't too short: not anything resembling the string on a toy bow and arrow. This is so it can hold the ankles snugly once it's tightened, without them being able to slide sideways. A longer rod would work better if you're planning to have people holding each end, as was traditional.

This picture shows @secretsmile_101 ready to have the falaka put on. You loop the rope round their ankles, and twist it to wind the rope on. You want the last loops to be up against the ankles so they're held tightly. One of the hidden consequences of the way all this works is that you can cause your victim some pain by twisting the falaka and tightening it up a bit more. This is extremely useful for bastinado, because victims often find it hard to remain compliant after a few blows and are tempted to try to protect their soles. If they don't hold still, just give the falaka a twist to get them back into line.

In these last two pictures you can see the falaka and cane in use. It works quite well one-handed leaving your cane hand free. Like the hand, the foot has a lot of small bones and structures that can be damaged by hitting them too hard. As a rule of thumb, imagine blows that wouldn't injure your own palm even if they would hurt (and practice that if necessary.) However, because of the sensitivity of the soles, it's very easy to cause a lot of pain without a lot of force. Several styles are possible, from lots of light taps from a thin stick at one extreme, to stinging blows with a thin whippy cane, and up to thuddy blows from a heavy cane. Bear in mind that exposed bones and tendons are more vulnerable (and less sensitive!) than the more fleshy sole which is designed to take the impacts of treading on stones whilst running.

I now keep the falaka stick and a cane in that brass vase in the Hareem room of my house, where it is always visible and available if needed.

For a recreation of bastinado in the imperial harem of the Turkish sultans, this clip from "Magnificent Century", a Turkish TV drama about the 16th century, shows the use of a falaka, and the pain and indignity of this form of discipline.

It's partly due to bastinado's place in the harem and these cultures that I now think of the cane as symbolic of authority over slaves in this Odalisquian world. For example, the dealer in the Gerome's "Slave Market" has a cane, and accounts of the sultan's palace frequently refer to the use of bastinado. Canes even appear in belly dance: men in Upper Egypt carried sticks or canes for self protection, and used them in a form of fencing to settle disputes. It's believed that the canes used in belly dance refer to these male symbols, both as gentle mocking of them and as a way for the woman to dance with a symbolic male partner. In a society where men had physical authority over women, enforced by beatings with those canes if necessary, I suspect they would also have been quite sexual symbols for many people, in a way that's easy to understand for modern-day BDSM practicioners.

Edited Sun 2 Mar 14, 6:51 AM