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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...

Image-stream

"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...

Books

more books...

© Tanos
1997-2016

Pictures 1 2 3 4 5 6

Odalisques Gallery

Most of these images are also pinned to our Odalisques board on Pinterest and tagged with #odalisques on Tumblr. Updates are usually posted on the Odalisques feed on Twitter and the Odalisques group on FetLife when new images are uploaded.

Modern day slaves of the Tuaregs in Niger
Modern day slaves of the Tuaregs in Niger
These women wear heavy brass anklets to show their status as slaves of the Tuareg tribesmen who have controlled the region for generations. These nomadic tribes used to trade surplus and captured slaves across the Sahara desert to North Africa, including Egypt, and beyond to the rest of the Ottoman Empire. [more...]
Brass Turkish delight bowl in the hareem
Brass Turkish delight bowl in the hareem
This traditional style brass Turkish Delight bowl from Istanbul keeps its contents from drying out (as if it lasts that long uneaten!) and works well with a paper cupcake case to catch the icing sugar that accumulates. The box of Alaeddin Turkish Delight was bought in Istanbul too, and is what you find in corner shops and supermarkets there. It does appear in the UK as well, but supermarkets here sell own-brand Turkish Delight in the Turkish style (as well as all the Fry's bars in a different section!) [more...]
By Lehnert and Landrock, Tunis, c.1912
By Lehnert and Landrock, Tunis, c.1912
Two Tunisian girls resting in a courtyard.
French studio odalisque photograph, c.1900
French studio odalisque photograph, c.1900
A model, a few exotic props, and the classic reclining odalisque pose used to suggest a harem scene, in this French photograph from about 1900.
"A harem beauty" by Francesc Masriera
"A harem beauty" by Francesc Masriera
A slave kept for pleasure lazes in the harem, with her loose, sheer, flimsy clothing revealing her body in various ways: one bare breast, her thighs visible through the gauze, her curves highlighted, and even the slippers she is permitted cover little more than her toes. [more...]
Rubaiyat illustration by Edmund Dulac
Rubaiyat illustration by Edmund Dulac
One of Dulac's illustrations for Edward FitzGerald's "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam". A barefoot slave-girl carries a vase of wine for her master out into a courtyard.
"Sultan Mahmud" by Edmund Dulac
"Sultan Mahmud" by Edmund Dulac
One of Dulac's illustrations for Edward FitzGerald's "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam". The image is associated with this verse: "With me along the strip of Herbage strown // That just divides the desert from the sown, // Where name of Slave and Sultan is forgot - // And pity Sultan Mahmud on his Throne!"
Rene Bull illustration for the Arabian Nights
Rene Bull illustration for the Arabian Nights
The story teller Scheherazade kneeling before king Shahryar in one of Rene Bull's illustrations for the Arabian Nights.
"The public scribe" by Ferdinand Max Bredt
"The public scribe" by Ferdinand Max Bredt
Similar to Lewis's "Arab scribe", Bredt's painting shows a woman and her servant visiting a scribe to have a letter written. The servant is emphasising something that must be said with her hand, whilst her mistress sits back listening and looking rather preoccupied. Their status is confirmed by the patten clogs of differing heights and decoration discarded at the bottom right of the image.
"A Harem Beauty" by Max Von Bredt
"A Harem Beauty" by Max Von Bredt
An odalisque lazes in the courtyard of a harem, while a slave plays her music. In the background, more servants are fetching drinks or food on trays or working with a spinning wheel, in contrast to the odalisque's idleness.
Water carriers in Egypt, 1870s, by J. Pascal Sebah
Water carriers in Egypt, 1870s, by J. Pascal Sebah
Two women carrying heavy jugs of water on their heads in Egypt. Some of the poorest women worked as water carriers, and as you can see they could afford little more clothes than a black robe to veil their faces and bodies, and no shoes to wear in the street. Seeing women like this no doubt inspired fantasies like Arthur Hill's "Egyptian Water Carrier" [more...]
"Fry's Turkish Delight - Full of Eastern Promise" advert, 1980s
"Fry's Turkish Delight - Full of Eastern Promise" advert, 1980s
Used in my Turkish Delight blog post.
Two women of Algeria, c.1854
Two women of Algeria, c.1854
This is one of the earliest photographs of women in the reclining odalisque pose used so often in paintings of harems and later photographs. It was taken in Algeria in about 1854, only a few years after photography became widespread in the 1840s. It's not known who took the picture, but it was distributed by Marville in France as part of his collection of images one could buy in Paris.
"Odalisque" by Miklos Mihalovits
"Odalisque" by Miklos Mihalovits
Titled "Odalisque", but I think this is a slave dealer showing a girl before prospective buyers, only for her to turn away in fear or despair at her situation. It doesn't help that she is naked and vulnerable apart from a rag of linen tied around her waist, as the dealer's hand lingers over her bare hip.
"The favourite" by Francesc Masriera
"The favourite" by Francesc Masriera
Used in my blog about Francesc Masriera and Maria Fortuny.
"The Minister of Wine" by Edmund Dulac
"The Minister of Wine" by Edmund Dulac
One of Dulac's illustrations for Edward FitzGerald's "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam". The poet caresses the hair ("tresses") of a servant carrying the wine (the "Minister of Wine", as minister originally meant servant) who is slender as a Cypress tree: "Oh, plagued no more with Human or Divine, // To-morrow's tangle to itself resign, // And lose your fingers in the tresses of // The Cypress-slender Minister of Wine."
"The Offering" by Rene Bull
"The Offering" by Rene Bull
Apart from being a Rene Bull illustration for the Arabian Nights, I've not been able to identify which story this image depicts. Does anyone have any ideas?
Scheherazade and Shahryar by Rene Bull
Scheherazade and Shahryar by Rene Bull
One of Rene Bull's "Arabian Nights" book illustrations, showing the cunning Scheherazade with the vengeful king Shahryar who has been marrying then killing a new bride every day after his first wife's betrayal. In the foreground is Scheherazade's sister, Dinazade, who will also die if Scheherazade's plan to tell the king another part of a story every night fails.
"The Arab scribe" by J.F. Lewis
"The Arab scribe" by J.F. Lewis
John Frederick Lewis's 1852 painting of an Egyptian girl and her servant visit a scribe, perhaps to have a letter written. But what is the book? It looks as if it has an illustration of some sort. Perhaps the scribe is copying some part of the book for them? A recipe? A love potion? Lewis painted this image a couple of years after returning to England from a decade in Cairo where public scribes who would be paid to write letters for the illiterate would have been a common sight.
"Inside the Harem" by Francesco Hayez, 1867
"Inside the Harem" by Francesco Hayez, 1867
The master of a harem relaxes on a divan surrounded by his slaves in various subservient poses, and overlooking a pool where more girls are bathing.
Woman of Algiers, c1870, by Jean Geiser
Woman of Algiers, c1870, by Jean Geiser
Dressed as a middle or upper class wife, this woman wears prominent heavy anklets which acknowledge her marriage, as discussed in my Brass anklets for slave and wives blog post.
By Julian Mandel, Paris, c.1920
By Julian Mandel, Paris, c.1920
A studio photograph of a veiled harem woman sitting cross legged and holding a jug.
Odalisque pose by Claude-Joseph Portier, Algiers, 1870s
Odalisque pose by Claude-Joseph Portier, Algiers, 1870s
This image shows an Algerian girl in the classic odalisque pose featured by painters in the same period. Portier ran a photographic studio in the capital of the French colony of Algeria, during the 1860s and 1870s. As well as images produced for sale back in France, he photographed people who wanted portraits and made expeditions to record the Algerian countryside and landscapes.
"In the presence of the master" by Francesc Masriera
"In the presence of the master" by Francesc Masriera
My best guess is that she is a harem slave coming into the presence of her owner, with her plunging neckline revealing her breasts to underline her sexual subservience to him. There may also be a tear on her right cheek and her lips look as if they're trembling. Maybe this is her first time? Or perhaps his previous attentions are all too fresh in her memory? Or are they tears of joy at being noticed again? [more...]
"The Odalisque" by Maria Fortuny
"The Odalisque" by Maria Fortuny
Fortuny's painting shows an odalisque who is naked apart from her jewels, laid out on a divan for the pleasure of her master who is playing a musical instrument himself. He seems rather absorbed by his music, and she appears to be reaching out for his attention. [more...]
Rubaiyat illustration by Edmund Dulac
Rubaiyat illustration by Edmund Dulac
A slave-girl with a vase of wine waits on the poet and his friends. The image is associated with this verse: "And when Yourself with silver Foot shall pass // Among the Guests Star-scatter'd on the Grass, // And in your joyous errand rench the spot // Where I made One - turn down an empty Glass!"
Morgiana kills the forty thieves, by Rene Bull
Morgiana kills the forty thieves, by Rene Bull
The clever and loyal slave-girl Morgiana pours boiling oil into each of the jars containing a hidden thief as part of their conspiracy against her master, in the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves from the Arabian Nights.
"The Koran reader" by Frank Buchser
"The Koran reader" by Frank Buchser
Buchser visited Morocco several times, painting general street scenes before this image of a man vainly trying to read the Koran, as his half-naked slave girl sits at his feet and tempts him with a juicy slice of water melon.
"Silence of the Algerian Evening" by Bridgman
"Silence of the Algerian Evening" by Bridgman
Frederick Arthur Bridgman's painting of an evening in a hilltop harem in Algeria, as four odalisques while away the last hours of the day.
By Iliya Repin, 1876
By Iliya Repin, 1876
This woman has put down the water pipe she has been smoking on her tray of coffee, and boldly looks at the viewer. She is decked out with heavy gold jewellery and her casually placed hands suggest she is confident about her position.

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