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The Mysteries of Traditional Turkish Baths

1 minutes to read

A Turkish bath or hamam is similar to a Scandinavian sauna but is closer to a Roman bath. It is based on the same principles as the steam bath but the focus is on water rather than steam. In Turkey the hamam is a gently heated, tiled room with a heated marble slab called göbek taşı (tummy stone). Visitors lie on the stone slab and are scrubbed for exfoliation, then massaged with oils and finally washed clean with hot water. But the rumor is that, back in the day the baths were used for so many other purposes than just getting a wash.

For centuries Hamam's have been used for bridal ceremonies but these bridal ceremonies have had other purposes such as mums choosing the eligible bachelor girls for their sons. During the Ottoman Empire times, arranged marriages were a part of the society and young girls did not usually have a chance to choose their husbands. In these bridal ceremonies or even regular Sunday baths, mothers would get a chance to see the girls dancing and they would decide upon their future daughter-in-laws. Rumor has it, girls with wider hips and fuller bellies would draw more attention as it has been thought to symbolize fertility.

In history many women has described the Turkish bath experience as a ritual than a just physical cleansing. They have said that they can see the past and the future when they bathe with women from all age groups. The hamam has been a place to socialise rather than cleansing for the Middle Eastern women for centuries.

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The author

Idil Birben

Idil Birben

I am Idil from Istanbul, Turkey, and am currently living in London. I write about my own experiences in these countries.

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