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

From the slave market to the sultan's bedchamber

Posted by Tanos on Mon 17 Feb 14, 2:04 AM

"Magnificent Century" ("Muhtesem Yuzyil") is a long running Turkish television drama about the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century, including the life of the women in his harem. I've posted about watching the first episode, and included its bastinado scene in a post about making a falaka stick. Recently I watched Episode 65, the second installment of season 3, which includes that bastinado punishment, and I've collected clips which tell the story of another slave, Firuze, and her journey from a slave market to the sultan's bedchambers. Turkweb.tv provide clips and every episode on YouTube, although only that first one has English subtitles.

Firuze's story begins with her being rescued from a shipwreck by one of the sultan's victorious ships on its way back to Istanbul. As a non-Muslim she is enslaved and put in the hold of the ship with other captives. During the night, she dreams of a man wearing an emerald ring:

In Istanbul, Firuze and two other girls are bought from a slave market, roped together in a coffle and marched along a road in the heat. One collapses and Firuze begs their owner for water. One of the sultan's favourites, Hurrem, is travelling by carriage and sees the girls being beaten. She acquires the three slaves and sends them to the sultan's harem to be servants:

The three slaves are brought into the harem still wearing their rags, assessed, and then sent to the baths:

Firuze is serving as a maid and is required to wait on her superiors as Suleiman comforts his sister Hatice. When she has to serve him some water, she notices his emerald ring and remembers her dream and begins to shake. In her fear, she looks him in the eye:

Before Suleiman goes off to war, Hatice arranges an evening of dancing for him and includes Firuze as one of the performers. She dances a rather modern belly dance, while Hurrem listens from the balcony of her room, no doubt thinking of the way she got the Sultan's attention in the first episode of the first season with her dancing. Now Firuze's dance has the same effect, and Suleiman casts his blue handkerchief on the floor beside her, indicating that she is to be prepared and brought to his bedchambers.

Finally, Firuze enters Suleiman's bedchambers, kneels and kisses the hem of his robe:

I've made a YouTube playlist containing these six clips too.

If you want to read more, Sitt Elhosn has produced summaries of the three episodes these clips are drawn from: Episode 64, Episode 65, Episode 66.

There's more about the series in its Wikipedia article too.

Edited Mon 17 Feb 14, 8:55 AM