Gibb, H.A.R. (ed. & transl.): The travels of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354. Cambridge, Hakluyt Society, 1962, 2 vols.
Dervishes near Antaliya, Asia Minor, 1332
Account of the Young Akhïs (Akhïyya). The singular of akhïyya is akhï, pronounced like the word akh (‘brother’) with the possessive pronoun of the first person singular. They exist in all the lands of the Turkmens of al-Rüm, in every district, city, and village. Nowhere in the world are there to be found any to compare with them in solicitude for strangers, and in ardour to serve food and satisfy wants, to restrain the hands of the tyrannous, and to kill the agents of police and those ruffians who join with them. An Akhï, in their idiom, is a man whom the assembled members of his trade, together with others of the young unmarried men and those who have adopted the celibate life, choose to be their leader. That is [what is called] al-futuwwa also. The Akhï builds a hospice and furnishes it with rugs, lamps, and what other equipment it requires. His associates work during the day to gain their livelihood, and after the afternoon prayer they bring him their collective earnings; with this they buy fruit, food, and the other things needed for consumption in the hospice. If, during that day, a traveller alights at the town, they give him lodging with them; what they have purchased serves for their hospitality to him and he remains with them until his departure. If no newcomer arrives, they assemble themselves to partake of the food, and after eating they sing and dance. On the morrow they disperse to their occupations, and after the afternoon prayer they bring their collective earnings to their leader. The members are called fityän, and their leader as we have said, is the Akhï. Nowhere in the world have I seen men more chivalrous in conduct than they are. The people of Shïräz and of Isfahän can compare with them in their conduct, but these are more affectionate to the wayfarer and show him more honour and kindness.
On the day after that of our arrival in this city one of these fityän came to the shaikh Shibäb al-Dïn al-Hamawï and spoke with him in Turkish, which I did not understand at that time. He was wearing shabby clothes and had a felt bonnet on his head. The shaikh said to me "Do you know what this man is saying?" "No" said I, "I do not know what he said.” Then he said to me "He is inviting you to a meal with him, you and your companions." I was surprised at this, but I said to him "Very well," and when the man had gone I said to the shaikh "This is a poor man, and he has not the means to entertain us and we do not like to impose a burden on him." Whereupon the shaikh burst out laughing and said to me "He is one of the shaikhs of the Young Akhïs. He is cobbler, and a man of generous disposition. His associates number about two hundred men of different trades, who have elected him as their leader and have built a hospice to entertain guests in, and all that they earn by day they spend at night."
So, after I had prayed the sunset prayer, the same man came back for us and we went with him to the hospice. We found it to be a fine building, carpeted with beautiful Rümï rugs, and with a large number of lustres of ‘Iräqï glass. In the chamber there were five [candelabra of the kind called] baisüs; this resembles a column of brass, having three feet and on top of it a kind of lamp, also of brass, in the centre of which is a tube for the wick. It is filled with melted grease, and alongside it are vessels of brass also filled with grease, in which are placed scissors for trimming the wicks. One of their company is put in charge of them; he is called in their language the jaräjï. Standing in rows in the chamber were a number of young men wearing long cloaks, and with boots on their feet. Each one of them had a knife about two cubits long attached to a girdle round his waist, and on their heads were white bonnets of wool with a piece of stuff about a cubit long and two fingers broad attached to the peak of each bonnet. When they take their places in the chamber, each one of them removes his bonnet and puts it down in front of him, but retains on his head another bonnet, an ornamental one, of silk taffeta or some other fabric. In the centre of their hall was a sort of platform placed there for visitors. When we had taken our places among them, they brought in a great banquet, with fruits and sweetmeats, after which they began their singing and dancing. Everything about them filled us with admiration and we were greatly astonished at their generosity and innate nobility. We took leave of them at the end of the night and left them in their hospice.
Dervishes at Bursa, Asia Minor, 1332
We lodged in this city at the hospice of the Young Akhï Shams al-Dïn, one of the leaders of the fityän, and happened to be staying with him on the day of ‘Ashürä’. He made a great feast to which he invited the principal officers of the army and leading citizens during the night, and when they had broken their fast the Qur’än-readers recited with beautiful voices. The jurist and preacher Majd al-Dïn al-Qünawï attended the gathering, and delivered an eloquent homily and exhortation, after which they began to sing and dance. It was a truly sublime night.
Tripudi Graecorum - 1580
Wood engraving, 7.5 x 10.5 cm. Salomon Schweigger: Ein newe Reyssbeschreibung ausz Teutschland nach Constantinopel vnd Jerusalem... Nürnberg, 1608, p. 227. Reprinted in 1964 in Graz, Austria.
Τριπούδια Ελλήνων - 1580
Ξυλογραφία, 7,5 x 10,5 εκ. Salomon Schweigger: Ein newe Reyssbeschreibung ausz Teutschland nach Constantinopel vnd Jerusalem... Nürnberg, 1608, σελ. 227. Ανατύπωση το 1964 στο Γκρατς της Αυστρίας.
Und nach dem sie des süssen Weins voll waren, siengen sie ihr Griechische Tripudia oder Terpudia an, da schrencken sie die Arm übereinander, machen ein Ring, gehen also im Ringherum, mit den Füssen hart tredent und stampffend, einer singt vor, welchem die andern all nachfolgen.
Αφού ήπιαν κατά κόρον από το γλυκό κρασί, τραγούδησαν τα ελληνικά τους τριπούδια ή τερπούδια [στα λατινικά, θρησκευτικοί χοροί που εκελούντο από του ιερείς Σαλίους], όπου πλέκουν τα χέρια ο ένας πάνω από του άλλου και σχηματίζοντας κύκλο περιστρέφονται, πατώντας βαριά με τα πόδια και χτυπώντας τα κάτω. Ενας παίρνει πρώτος το τραγούδι και οι άλλοι επαναλαμβάνουν.
Augerius Gislenius Busbequins (Ogier Ghiselin de Busbec)
Busbequins, A. G.: Travels into Turkey... Translated from the Latin. London, 1744.
Diversions of the common people at Colchis, 1555-1562
After Dinner, the King, with his Guests, goes a Hunting; and, in Woods, under the Shadow of large Trees, the common People divert themselves, and keep Holy-day in Drinking, Dancing and Singing. They hang their Fiddles on long Poles or Boards, and then striking them with a Stick, make Musick, and sing to it the Praise of their Mistresses, or of their valiant Men. Among their Heroes (unless I am misinformed) they often mention one Rowland; how he came into that Country I know not, unless he passed thither with Godfrey or Bullogne. They tell many prodigious Stories of this Rowland, as ridiculous and improbable as any Romance among us.
... p. 197
Lent among Christians in Turkey, 1555-1562
Their Drink was that which is common to all Animals, viz. Water; by this frugality, they consult the Health of their Bodies, and also the saving of their Money. And the very time wherein they did this, caused me to admire the more; it was their Fast, (or, as we call it, Lent) at which time among Christians, even in well-govern’d Cities, as well as in Camps, there is nothing but Sporting, Dancing, Singing, Revelling, Drunkenness, and such like Madness; insomuch, that a Turkish Envoy coming once, at that time of the Year, reported at his return, That the Christians at certain times grew mad and raging, but sprinkling themselves with a sort of Ashes in their Temples, they recovered their Wits again, so that they did not seem the same Men; thereby denoting Ash-Wednesday, and its Eve. The Turks, hearing this, were struck with a great Amazement, because they have many Medicines amongst them which cause Madness, but very few that procure a speedy recovery from it.
Tempe - 1590
Copper engraving, 36 x 47.5 cm. Abraham Ortelius: Theatrum orbis terrarum. Additamentum IV. Antwerp, 1590.
Τα Tέμπη - 1590
Χαλκογραφία, 36 x 47,5 εκ. Abraham Ortelius: Theatrum orbis terrarum. Additamentum IV. Antwerp, 1590.
Sir Anthony, Sir Robert and Sir Thomas Sherley
Sherley, Sir Anthony & Sir Robert & Sir Thomas: The three brothers; or, the travels and adventures of Sir Anthony, Sir Robert and Sir Thomas Sherley, in Persia, Russia, Turkey, Spain… London, Hurst & Robinson, 1825. Reprinted by Elibron Classics.
Shirleys, p. 28-30
Banquets by the merry Greeks of Candia (Heraklion), Crete, 1599
From thence we departed and sailed towards the Isle of Candia, where, within three days, we were in the harbour, having no business there, but only to see the place. We went all ashore, not thinking to stay any longer than one night; but our ship had a mischance, for we had not been out of her two hours, but one of the gallies of Candia coming from the sea, in a rough wind, did run herself against the rudder of our ship, and took it clean away; besides that, she was bulged in two places, which caused us to stay there nine days, before she could be made ready. There we were royally used, but especially by one of the governors, which was a Greek, for there are two governors, the one a Greek, the other an Italian. The city of Candia is a town of garrison, which hath to the number of one thousand five hundred soldiers continually there; this governor, being a Greek, caused four proclamations to be made, which was, that we should have free liberty, both day and night, to pass quietly by their court of guard and sentinels, without any let, which was a very great favour: we were kindly used amongst the citizens, but especially by the gentlewomen, who oftentimes did make us banquets in their gardens, with music and dancing. They may well be called merry Greeks, for in the evenings, commonly after they leave work, they will dance up and down the streets, both men and women. There doth stand to this hour, about half a mile from the city, the chapel which Saint Paul did preach in, and it is called to this hour Saint Paul’s chapel, being held in great reverence among the Greeks.
Sandys, George: A relation of a journey begun an. dom. 1610. London, W. Barren, 1615, 4 volumes.
The merry Greeks of Chios, 1610
The inhabitants for the most part are Turks and Grecians; those living in command, and loosly, the other husbanding the Earth, and exceeding them infinitely in number. They are in a manner released of their thraldom, in that unsensible of it: well meriting the name of merry Greeks, when their leisure will tolerate. Never Sunday, or Holy-day passes without some publick meeting, or other-where intermixed with Women, they dance out the day, and with full-crown'd cups enlengthen their jollity: not seldom passing into Asia and the adjoyningIslands, unto such Assemblies. The streets do almost all the night long partake of their Musick. And whereas those of Zant do go armed into the field to bring home their Vintage, these bring home theirs with Songs and Rejoycings.
Temple, Sir Richard Carnac (ed.): The travels of Peter Mundy in Europe and Asia, 1608-1667. Cambridge, Hakluyt Society, 1907, 2 vol.
Mundy, p. 76-77
Round dance by women and children in Bulgaria, 06/06/1620
The manner of theis poore Bulgarians as farr as I could learne, is the Men generally Labourers, cloathed in white cloth, the weomen for the most part in Russett. The Virgins goe in theire haire, which hangeth downe behinde handsomely plaited, adding thereunto other haire to increase its length, alsoe upon theire heads and about their necke they have a great many shahess [Shahi, a small silver coin of Persia, worth about 4½d.] and other peeces of silver and brasse, which, by makeinge little holes in them, they sowe and weave together; Alsoe in theire Eares great earings of silver, whereof some weigh att least fower ounces the paire. They goe in their smocksleeves, which are very wide and wrought, although not very fine, and barefooted. The married weomen differ in this: they weare a linnen cloth plaited which hangeth downe behinde over the tresse of theire haire. Att our passage through any village, theie would stand readie with hott Cakes, many of them, for they make noe bread but when they have occasion to use it, bakeing it in the Embers. Also milke sweete and sowre, fresh cheese, butter, Eggs, etts., being brought to us by the youngest and prettiest wenches, among them: and if wee lodge neere any of theis villages, after they had brought us of theire provisions, then would they gather together younge Weomen and Children, and holding hand in hand in a round, they would daunce and sing very merrily, although with noe greate melodie. Theire Language neither Turkish nor Greeke, but like the Russian, for wee had a Russe which served for our Interpreteur hereabouts.
Baltazar de Monconys
Monconys, Baltazar de: Journal des voyages, où les savants trouvent un nombre infini de nouveautés. 2 volumes. Lyon, 1665. Translated in Koutsikas, Costas & Despina: The engravings of Chios. Volume 1 The costumes. Athens, Akritas, 1994.
Monconys in Koutsikas, p. 1/250
The Sirto dance in the Island of Chios, 1648
After the food, which was very good, they danced a charming Chiot round dance which has much flirting and mincing. They also dance the sirto where the man obliges the woman to make various rounds and to pass under his raised arm. However it is more beautiful when he dances with two women where sometimes they pass under his raised arm and other times he passes under theirs, always holding their hand. This dance is very elegant and serious, close to the ground, without kicks, with three steps forward and a slight raising of the foot on the fourth. I noted that their movements during the dance formed the sign of a cross from left to right and from right to left.
Thevenot, (Jean): The travels of Monsieur de Thevenot into the Levant. London, 1687.
Thevenot Travels, p. 1/35
The Karagheuz shadow theater in Turkey, 1655
I think, that among their Diversions I may reckon Puppet-Shows; for though the Turks suffer no Images among them, yet they have Puppets, which, indeed, play not publickly, but in private Houses; though, during the Ramadan, they go from Coffee-house to Coffee-house, and if they collect money enough, they play there; if not, they give back the money and go their way. Now they are commonly Jews that show Puppet-Shows, and I never saw any but them play; they play not as in France and other Countries of Europe, but place themselves in a corner of a room, with a cloth hung before them; and in the upper part of that piece of Hangings, there is a hole or square window, about two foot every way, with a piece of thin white stuff over it; behind this they light several Candles, and having with the shadow of their hands represented many Animals upon this cloth, they make use of little flat Figures, which they move so dextrously behind the cloth, that, in my opinion, it makes a prettier Show, than our way does; and in the mean time, they sing several pretty Songs in the Turkish and Persian Languages, but on most nasty subjects, being full of soul obscenities; and nevertheless, the Turks take great delight in seeing of them; nay, I was one evening with a Renegado, who, after he had treated me at Supper, entertained me with a Puppet Show. The Lord to whom he belonged, was at that time in Candie, with Hussein Basha, General of the Turkish Army: The Wife of this Lord desiring to see this Puppet-Show, caused a piece of Tapistry to be hung before the door of her Appartment, which lookt into the Hall where we were, that she might not be seen by us; and she stir’d not from thence till the Show was over, which was at One of the clock in the morning, having lasted above three hours; for they’l make it last as long as one pleases; and I wondred that she was not ashamed to see the obscene pranks their Caragheuz play’d, who amongst their Puppets, act the chief part. They have also a sort of Women, whom they call Tchingueniennes, who are publick Dancers, that play on Castanets and other Instruments while they dance; and for a few Aspres, will shew a thousand obscene postures with their bodies.
Thevenot Travels, p. 1/42
Rejoicings at the circumscision of Turkish children, 1655
The Turks, aswel as the Jews, make great rejoycing at the Circumcision of their Children; for when a Child is come to competent age, they fix a day for that Ceremony; which being come, the Child is set on Horse-back, and led about the Town with the sound of Timbrels and Cymbals; then he returns home, where he makes the aforesaid profession of Faith, holding up one finger, and then is circumcised; that being done, the Father makes a Feast, to which he invites all his relations and Friends; there they make merry, dance and sing; and the day following, the Guests fail not to make Presents to the Child, according to the several qualities of the Giver and Receiver.
The dance of the Dervishes, 1655
The Dervishes live in common, and have their Superiors, as our Religious have; they go very mean in their Apparel, and wear on their heads a Cap of white felt, much like to our Night-caps. Every Tuesday and Friday these Religious make a Dance, which is pretty pleasant to see. On the days they are to dance, they assemble in a great Hall, which is their Mosque, the middle whereof is Rail’d in square, leaving a space all round for those that are without; within this enclosure, which is pretty large, is the Keble, where there are two Pulpits joyned together upon a foot-stool; into the one goes the Superiour, turning his back to the South; and his Vicar into the other, which is on the Superiour’s right Hand; then over against them, at the other end of the Hall, without the Rails, there is a little Scaffold, on which are several Dervishes, that play on Flutes and Drums, the other Dervishes being within the Rails. I got upon the Scaffold of the Musicians, being in company with another French man, who was acquainted with them. When they have altogether sung some Prayers, the Superiour reads a little of the Alcoran, explained in Turkish; then the Vicar reads a few words of the Alcoran in Arabick, which serve as a subject to the Discourse that the Superiour afterward makes to them in Turkish. Having ended his Sermon, he comes down from his Pulpit, and, with the Vicar, and the rest of the Dervishes, takes two turns about the Hall, while one of the Dervishes sings some Verses of the Alcoran in a pretty pleasant tone; after that, all their Instruments play in consort, and then the Dervishes begin their Dance. They pass before the Superiour, salute him very humbly, and then making a leap, (as those do that begin to Dance at a Ball, they fall a turning round with their naked feet, the left foot serving for a Pivot or Spindle to turn upon, for they lift it not from the ground, but they raise the other, wherewith they turn so dextrously, that one will sooner be a weary of looking on, than they of turning, though for the most part, they be old Men, and have long Garments. This turning is performed to the sound of Drums and Flutes. When they stop, the Superiour, who (during the Dance) sits with his Vicar at the feet of their Pulpits, rises up, then making two steps, bows towards the South, and the Dervishes bowing also, pass before him, humbly salute him, and begin again to turn, and that for four times, the last being the longest of all. They turn as fast as Windmills with the strongest wind run, and always keeping time; and though their arms be stretched out, their eyes sometimes shut, and they follow one another at a pretty near distance, turning all round the Rails, yet they never touch one another, but when the Musick ceases, stop short where-ever they are, without making the least false step, no more than if they had not at all moved. The Authour of this Dance was one Hazreti Mewlana, a Dervish, who is reckoned a Saint among them. All the Dervishes and Santos are generally great Hypocrites; for they pass for Men wholly given to the Contemplation of God, and nevertheless are consummated in all sorts of vice.
The Captain Pasha in Chios, 1655
The Church of St. John is a Musket shot without the Town, upon the Sea-side, on the Vigil of that Saints Day, there is a great Concourse of People at that Church, all the Island are there, and the Women and Girls strive who shall be finest: This Day being come, they opened their Coffers, and brought out all the rich and fine Things they had, and such as had no Oraments of their own, went and borrowed of their Friends: When they had Drest themselves to the best Advantage they could, they went after Dinner to St. Johns; now near the Gate by which they go to that Church, there is a Tower, on the top thereof was the Captain Basha, who beheld them as they passed by, which did not a little puff them up. When the Service was over, they stopt before the Tower as they came back, and there fell a Dancing before the Captain Basha who seemed to be much taken with it; but next day, the Basha demanded an Hundred thousand Piastres of the Citizens, saying, That he stood in need of it against the coming of the Grand Signior. They made excuse, pretending that they had it not; but he stopt their Mouths with this reply, That they could find enough to load their Wives and Daughters with Gold; and all they could do, was to compound with the Captain Basha, and pay him Fifty thousand Piastres. After that, both the Greeks and Latins, with common consent, got their Bishops to charge the Women under pain of Excommunication, not to wear any Jewel, Gold or Silver about them; but they not enduring to lay aside their Ornaments, slighted and laught at the Excommunication, until at length, they procured one from the Pope; since that time they have not worn any. The Chiots are much given to Dancing, both Men and Women, and on Sundays and Holydays in the Evening, they fall all a Dancing promiscuously together in a Ring, which continues all Night, not only in the City but Villages; and a Stranger newly come, who neither knows, nor is known of any, may freely put in with the rest, and take the fairest by the Hand without any Scandal, more or less than in our Country Towns in France. And I know no other difference betwixt the Chiots and Genoee, but that the former are not at all Jealous: For though they be in a Country where a Woman dares not shew her self to a Man, unless she would be taken for a Strumpet. Yet the Women of this Isle, have retained so great Liberty, both in the city and Villages, that the Maids spend commonly the Days and Evenings at their doors, talking and playing with their Neighbours, or Singing, and looking on those that pass by: And a Strageer who had never seen them before may without scandal, stop and talk to her he likes best; who will entertain him, and Laugh as freely, as if she had known him for many Years.
André Guillet de la Guilletière
Guilletière, Monsieur de la: An account of a late voyage to Athens... London, Herringman, 1776.
Women of the harem dance behind a lattice in Sounion, Attica, 1668
Mustapha had given private Orders, that his Wifes she Slaves should appear suddenly at a little Window that opened into the Hall. Osman told us in our Ears, that his Wife and her Sisters had a mighty curiosity to see us, and it was possible would be peeping. We cast our eyes very often up to the Window, and could see sometimes the faces of Women, which immediately slunk away laughing. Our curiosity to see them kept our Eyes fixt upon the Window, whilst in the mean time they played us several little tricks. The Slaves that were waiting whipt away our Plates full of excellent Ragouts that they had given us, and stole into their stead the stalks of Coleworts and Turneps, and little Kittlings newly born; whilst our eyes being fixed upon the window, we put them up to our mouths before some of us perceived the change. Not long after, the Women began to sing; their Airs were soft and languishing, according to their way, but their voices excellent, to which they added the sound of little Brass Drums (and they plaid musically and well.) They danced likewise in Complement to us, but it was behind the Lattice, so that our Eyes had but little pleasure in the entertainment. In a word, never people were more pleasantly treated; for repasts among the Turks being generally poor and niggardly, they lay it on upon these occasions, and are never so frolick; nor will they ever refuse to be treated by a Christian. One of the four Turks had brought along with him a Son of his about six or seven years old, and a very pretty Child: His Father took it up in his Arms, and hugging it, said to it, My Child, if you desire to be happy whilst you live, remember to do two things as often as you can, that is, to pray like a Turk, and feed like a Christian.
Lascivious dancing by mimes in the Antiquity, 1668
on performed betwixt the Comedians, the Mimicks, the Chorus, and the symphony or Musick: and the whole show seen upon two Elevations or Platforms, which served as Posts or particular places for the several persons: The Comedians Quarter was called Proscenion, and was peculiar to them: The other was in common, and called sometimes the Orchestra, and sometimes the Logaeon. There were five intervals betwixt the five Acts, in which the Spectators were entertained either by the Chorus or the Mimicks. The word Mime was used promiscuously for the name of the Poem, or for the Actor who danced as he recited, and made his postures and gesticulations as he was prompted by the subject. Sometimes the Mime was called Pantomime, which is but a term of exaggeration that puts greater force upon the thing, for Mimos is an Imitator, and Pantomimos is an imitator of every thing. Sometimes their representations were Heroick, to excite to generosity, but for the most part they were upon amorous Intrigues, and criminal prostitutions: At such times their Dances were lascivious, their Gestures indecent, and their Songs immodest, according to the obscenity of the subject, in so much that the Orchestra began to be infamous. But above all, none was so impudent as the Dance they called Lamprotera, in which they not only danced stark naked, but added the filthiness of words to the effrontery of their postures: So that though the Proscenion was not guilty of these impurities, yet it became disgustful to the adversaries of Comedy, who were not willing to distinguish it from the Orchestra; whereby the Comoedian has suffered much among those who will not allow any difference betwixt him and the Mimick; but the Proscenion may easily be justified; for we need no more but cast our eyes upon the Tragedies transmitted by the Ancients, and we shall see that in the action of those heroick parts it is impossible the Comoedian should introduce that baseness of Gesture, or be guilty of a dissolute Dance, in so magnificent a matter. And if in time that Corruption has crept into Comedy, if sordid expressions have mingled with good instruction, and scandal gone along with their documents, it does but infer that few things are so pure, but they are subject to be altered, and those that are altered may by good customs be rectified again.
... p. 396-398
Professional dancers in Candia, Crete, 1668
He never dines alone, but sends alwayes for the Officers that come off the Guards, that either at dinner or afterwards they may give him an account of their proceedings. He loves good Meat, but abhors Wine; contrary to the humour of his Father, who delighted in it exceedingly. He diverts himself sometimes a Hunting, sometimes at Chess, and takes great pleasure in seeing his Officers dance. He had with him besides, seven or eight Hoingi, or Dancing-Masters, who danced to two or three Base-Vials, or Instruments very like them: Sometimes they danced alone, sometimes two and two, and sometimes more: They dance likewise with a sort of Castignettes, and do very well: These dancers have upon them little strait wastcoats that some down to their girdle, from whence they have a kind of petticoats (like our Women) which come down to the ground, and are very wide; and their great dexterity being in turning swiftly and long upon one foot, the wind getting under their petticoats fills them up like a sail: In this posture the Hoingi will bow, plunge, leap up again, appear and disappear with strange promptitude and exactness. There was one thing I thought remarkable; Not long since in Turkie there was a sort of Religious Mahumetans called Dervis, whose Devotion consisted in dancing in their Mosques, which they would perform with indefatigable swiftness: The Vizer having driven them lately out of Romulia, those who had no mind to go so far as their Principal Covent at Cogna in Asia, turned Hoingi, and danced as eagerly for Money as ever they had done for Devotion.
Antoine des Barres
Barres, Anthoine des: L'estat présent de l'Archipel. Paris, Claude Barbin, 1678. Translated in Koutsikas, Costas & Depsina: The engravings of Chios. Volume 1 The costumes. Athens, Akritas, 1994.
Barres in Koutsikas, p. 1/ 260)
The Syrtos dance in the town of Chios, 1673
Because we held a dance in this town, we also had three servants who played the violin. I can describe their dancing. The Chiots have a musical ear and dance a very beautiful circular dance, in which the men and women make many a flirtatious movements and affectations. They also have "sirto" dances with ordinary steps, where the man obliges the woman to make various turns and often makes her pass under his raised arm. But this "sirto" is a serious dance and the Chiots are more suited to jolly dances, because they are very lively and make many affectations with their bodies. The men always dance with low steps, without kicks or lifting the legs, and all of their dances are danced with three steps, half a step forward, one step back and one step round on the spot. They all love dancing, and since I do also, I had a good time in this town where we witnessed many such dances.
Father Jacques-Paul Babin
Babin, Father Jacques-Paul, S.J.: Relation de l'état présent de la ville d'Athènes. Lyons, 1674. Translated in Tomkinson, John L.: Travellers' Greece. Memories of an enchanted land. Athens, Anagnosis, 2002.
... p. 558
The women dance holding a handkerchief in Chios, 1674
The women have their coats to their ankles, thier bodies short and thick waisted, their head dress with linen close to their ears, raised up behind, (not unlike the Doge of Venice his cornet) in which their hair is laid. They esteem great legs, and little feet. Some, to be in the fashion, will have four or more pair of stirrup stockings. Before their breasts hangs a bib which reaches a little below their waist, under it they have their hands covered when they are abroad; when they dance a round dance they hold a pocket handkerchief in their hands, that they may not have their hands touched. They have earrings, necklaces, and bracelets of gold. The men wear strait bodied jackets, with four broad skirts below the waist, strait kneed breeches, to button, or tie at the knees, ilioes and stockings moil: according to the Genovese, they have a broad lappet of linen fastened to the neck-band of their shirts, which hangs down behind over their backs. Their hair is cut short to their ears, and generally they wear little red caps or broad brimmed hats, But their Vecchiardi do wear long loose garments over their jackets and breeches.
Dr. John Covel
Covel, John: The diary of Dr John Covel (1670-1679). London, J. Theodore Bent, 1893.
Joining the dance in Chios, 04/05/1677
We came to Chio. May 4th. On Sunday two or three young gentlemen of ye Community came and visited us and brought a violin and a great kind of citern, and treated us with musick; we mentioning their dancing here, they imediately went and brought their sisters and kindred, and we had a very noble ball of at least 10 or 12 of ye handsomest and most honorable women in town. Afterwards we treated them with wine, sherbet, cherryes, and what fruit could be got. At even we went to ye seaside by ye W. Mills where we saw severall hundreds dance in severall ring's; any man might come and intermix with them. provided he did not separate another man and his woman. Where two women were hand in hand together, any man might thrust himself in without respect, provided he was of any likely condition and not a very beastly fellow; all ye women every where are familiar, and courteous, and obliging enough to them that seek it.
The Sultan's revenge, Adrianople, Thrace, 17/07/1676
July 17th. There was an old Lady (daughter to a Sultana of some of the former emperours), commonly now called Sultana Sporca, [Italian “dirty”] from her ill manner of life, for she kept about 30 women slaves of youth and greatest beauty she could provide, and these were all taught to tumble, dance, and sing, and act many tricks; and so, often going abroad to great Bassa’s houses to shew them sport, brought their old baw’d in a great revenue, every one presenting them liberally, and what they got she received. Amongst the rest she was possest of one of the greatest beauty that then was found (as was said), not onely in the Court, but the whole Empire, if not the world. When we were at Adrianople the Grand Signor sent to demand her for his own use; the Sultana denyed her, saying she had made her free, and that she could not now be used by them legally, but as his wife; thus she avoyded the G. Srs. importunety. Here about 10 dayes since she (continuing on the dancing trade) with her companions were at a great Bassa’s house to tumble and play tricks, and the Capitaine of the guards to the G. V. [Grand Vizier Achmet Kiuprili, who won Crete for the Turks in 1669] (who had been with him, and fought valiantly in all his warres at Candia, etc, and was become his favourite) chanct to be there; and when the girl had done, he (which is unusuall for strangers) presented her 200 zechines, being smitten most desperately with her, and two dayes after sent to the Sultana, begging that she might come to his house, and he promised 2,000 zechines reward; they came, and after some houres sport he sent home all the slaves, but kept her all night, and next day conveighed her to a friend’s house in Stambal; she was thre dayes by Mr. Hyet’s house. The Sultana next morn made Answer to the G. S., telling him that the girl was really her slave, submitting herself to his mercy for having cheated him before, saying it was only because she was then too young for him, but now the captain had violenty ravisht her. The G. S. was as much inflamed on the other side, partly with remembrance of former love, partly with madnesse that he lost one so sweet. He went immediately to the Viz., commanding him to look into the businesse as his; he cals the Captain, demands why he had done so, and where she was, etc. He denys all; says he abused her not, nor knew where she was. He sent to the Kaimachan of Stambol, and charged him privately to watch the Captain, etc. In the third night the Kaimachan took them both about 12 at clock in bed, or on a sofa together, brought them before the Grand Vizier. The Sultana (infinitely troubled) sent the Grand Signor word. The Captain told him she had been at 40 other houses as well as his, etc.; he was not afraid of death nor the sword (as he very well knew), and therefore valued not one straw what became of him; but all that he desired was that his Mistress should be spared, in whome he should live even when he was dead. G. S. sent word immediately to strike of his head, which was done (he was strangled: Soliman Basha saw him), and the body lay’d publickly open at the Tents, with the head under his arme all day (July 18), being pay day, for all the Janissaryes to behold it. He had been infinitely beloved by them and all the court, and 2,000 purses of money had been offer’d to save him, but all impossible; the girl was immediately taken into the Seraglio. I fancy this was at bottome onely a deep policy of the Grand Signior’s Vizier, “it is necessary that one die for the people.” People began to be mutinous and rebellious, and by the process of the story (for certainly the Vizier might have hinted something to the Captain when he set the Kaimachan to catch him, and have advised him to let the girl be forth coming under hand, making peace with the Sultana, etc.), some great example was to be made, which was on the Vizier’s own favourite, etc.; else I must count it a severe piece of justice upon the Captain, who dare do that against Law which the G. S. refrained from. The G. S. kept the law which the Captain dare break, yet he knew her to be a slave, which the G. S. knew not, and that might alleviate. The Sultana was punisht as well in losing her slave and future gain. Or, lastly, we may roll the exorbitancy of Princes last, who desire to engrosse all pleasure to themselves. This great Capt.’s death breads ill blood in many hearts: his good services in the Field of Mars might have interceded for one spasso (recreation) in the court of Venus.
Dr. John Covel
Bent, J. Theodore (ed.): Early voyages and travels. 2. Extracts from the diaries of Dr. John Covel 1670-1679. London, Hakluyt Society, 1843.
Professional male dancers at a feast before the Sultan, Andrianople, Thrace, 1675
They set their lights round the ring and tend them with fuell. Those before the Sultana, G. Sr., Vizier, etc., wer 6 or 8 branches upon the same stalk; the others were single. This shewes you something to conceive the double ones by. There were about 200 Tooloonjés to keep of the rabble, continually waiting; and though they suffer’d no Turke to go in, yet we could passe and repasse without the least difficulty imaginable. All the lights placed and ordered, besides the light of the moon assisting, the sports and dances begin afresh, which continued commonly till midnight; sometimes much longer, seldome lesse.
Now for the dances and sports. You must understand that from all parts of the Empire were summon’d all (his subjects), Jewes, Greekes, Arabs, Armenians, Turkes, etc., that were any wayes excellent for any sports or entertainments of delight, and truly I do not believe these Eastern Countryes can afford any thing more in that kind then what I have seen here. First, your dancers were for the most part young youths, very handsome generally; most Greekes, yet some more Turkes, Armenians, and a few Jewes.
The best were clothed very rich, either cloth of gold, silver, or rich silk. They had on a just a corp, as we say, coming to mid thigh, close button’d at the hands, and girt about them with rich girdles as their purse and fancy led them; under it (over the rest of their cloth’s) they had a petticoat, which was very large, and hang’d very full, down to their ankles; this was very rich, and of some pretty light merry colour. These clothes were given them by the G. Sr., or Sultana. Their heads are not shaven quite close, but very lovely locks are left round, which at other times they wear up close, and are unseen; but now they let them down, and set them out to best advantage, sometimes disshevel’d all about their shoulders, sometimes braided and hanging at their back. They commonly wore over their hair a plain cap of silk (small, or scull fashion’d) or (which is more gentele) a fur’d sort of cap, cal’d here a culpàck. There was a delicate lovely boy, of about 10 yeares old, had as comely head of hair, long as most women. With him danc’t a lusty handsome man (about 25), both Turkes. They acceded all the roguish lascivious postures conceivable with that strange ingenuity of silent ribaldry, as I protest I believe Sardanapalus and all the effeminate courts of the East never came near them. They pleased so extremely that there was scarce a night but they acted in some place or other. I saw them severall times before the Sultana doe as much as anywhere else. The rest danc’t 4, 6, sometimes 8 in a company. It consists most in wriggling the body (a confounded wanton posture, and speakes as much of the Eastern treachery as dumb signs can), slipping their steps round gently; setting and turning. Never is their arming, or any figure, or handing; yet one night before the Sultana they danc’t in hats and perukes, and Frank habit, but could not imitate us in anything. I never saw them a second time, which makes me believe they did not please. They allwayes come before the person (where they dance) running (as all other that have occasion to passe and re-passe, unlesse in the bringing of presents or the like solemnity); then they fall either into a semicircle or whole round, and so continue falling out of one tune and humour into another, till at last, with a merry wherry of their musick, they turn round (as the Dervises) a long time, and so stopping they bow, and away they run to their musick, which are alwayes hard by. These differ from the other Musicianers, and may be cal’d the private musick, being commonly Pans pipe of 20, 25, 30 (at most) 32 reeds, placed in order, lesse and shorter each than another as the notes rise. I have heard it plai’d on three or four times since I came into Turkey, and fancy it certainly to be the most enravishing tone in nature; yet the notes are fixt, and cannot be alter’d flat and sharp ad libitum, and therefore cannot be brought into the canon of musick to play anything that is appropriated to some peculiar lessons. 2d, a little pittifull instrument with three wire strings, which every fellow thrums ordinarily about the street. I take it to be the Pandura of the antients. [Pollux (iv, 60) describes the Pandoura as used by the Assyrians, consisting only of three chords.] 3rdly, Turkish and Arab lutes of 5, 8, sometimes but 4, double strings, with a little neck a yard (the least), sometimes more, long. They have severall sorts of them - all not worth a lowse. 4, a sort of Dulcimer with gut strings, touch’t with both hands, as the Harp, onely this lyes flat and Horizontall. The Jewes have a kind of fiddle of 4 guts, tunes like a violin, but (that you may know the excellency of it) the back and sides are commonly made of the bottome of a gourd, the belly of a dryed film, or skin hornifyed [Hornified = hardened.]; the neck is of a piece of broom stick. Lastly, to crown the Consort, you have every where a Tambúr, of which something is said above, is well known in Italy. These minstrells set all down crosse leg at a convenient distance on the one side of the persons before whome they plaid. The dancers have in each hand two peices of Ebony, 3 or 4 inches long, which they knock and charre together in time to the musick. I fancy the are every whit as good as our castenettas. They call them in Turkish chalparéh, in Greek παιξάρι.
A wedding in Andrianople, Thrace, 1675
First, of the sports. We had every day the very same dancing as before; the same shewes at interludes. There were monkeys, and dull Arab dancing, to entertain the people; for on one side were pitched tents in which the people stood, and the duller sports were before them. We (Franks) had liberty to go up and down as near the G. Sr. or Mosaïf as we pleased, and to stand and stare upon them as long as we pleased. They, in like manner, went to their devotions at Kindi (9th hour) and Acksham (the 12 hour), and yet immediately in their sports they should applaud the same beastlinesse. 20 or 30 couple of wrestlers every day with their skins oyled all over; they alwayes touch the ground first with their hands, then put them to their head, then shake hands, or rather take their hands flat wayes one between the other, then kisse their own hands, and so begin; they say it is to call Heaven and Earth to witnesse that they meet good friends, and if any mischief happens it is beyond their intention.
Dr John Covel
Grélois, Jean-Pierre (ed.): Dr John Covel. Voyages en Turquie 1675-1677. Paris, Lethielleux, 1998.
Ramazan in Magnesia (Manesia), Asia Minor, 1675-1677
At night we went to severall of their coffehouses, which here are not put down yet; but severall hundreds may meet together, as I think at least that number was in one of greatest. There it was Ramazan, and they were all open till past midnight. Though they are so strickt as neither to eat nor drink all day, yet I perceive all is but a shew of piety. For here the greatest part of the night they spend here in seing puppet playes and lascivious dancing, and hearing most beastly bawdy songs. Their puppets they expose not (I suppose as thinking it some kind of idolatry), but by the light of a candle shew their shadowes through a peice of tiffany or Trabezond cloth. But never did I see such bawdery and nastinesse in my life, and yet set out so loggerheadlike as is impossible to imagine. The pugianello comes in with a boble alwayes as big and as long as his arme, with a bump at the end to shew him true Mussleman (circumcised), and this puppet Turk acts all the bawdery and villany with women, boyes, beasts in specie that the others think, approve, and act in others in good earnest. But too much of that to their shame. That night I lost my horse.
Randolph, Bernard: The present state of the islands in the Archipelago; sea of Constantinople and gulph of Smyrna; with the islands of Candia and Rhodes. Oxford, 1687.
Public dancing at the island of Chios, 1675
Scio, formerly call’d Chios, is not inferiour to the best Island in the Archipelago; tho’ it is not so large as Negro Ponte, it is much the richer, and the Inhabitants injoy greater privileges than any Greeks in the Grand Signiors Dominions; and more liberty cannot be in any part, than what they injoy. In the Summer time every evening the marine is full with all sorts of people with musick, singing, and dancing, and none offer to molest them. At their Festivals, they are very open in their Worship.
The Vizier having been two or three days in town, and not finding the divertisement he expected from what he had been told, he asked what was the reason, it was told him that fearing some disturbance might be, orders were given to forbid the women to walk the streets. The Vizier made answer; That seeing they had such priviledges, they should enjoy them while he was there, otherwise he would recall the Liberty they had. Next morning the streets were full with all sorts, and in the Evening by the Sea-side singing and dancing most part of the nights.
Women of the Island of Chios, 1675
The profit which the Turks receive from Scio, is double what any other island in the Archipelago payes; Nor are there any subjects in the Turks Dominions, (of Greeks) that are richer. Their Habit is different from all other Islanders. The women have their Coats to their ancles, their bodys short and thick wasted, their head dress with Linnen close to their ears, raised up behind, (not unlike the Doge of Venice his Cornet) in which their hair is laid. They esteem great Leggs, and little Feet, some to be in the fashion will have 4 or more pair of stirrop Stockens. Before their breasts hangs a bibb which reaches a little below their wast, under it they have their hands cover’d when they are abroad; when they dance a round dance they hold a pocket handkercheif in their hands, that they may not have their hands touch’t.
Greek dance (Danse grecque) - 1691-1692
Engraving. Jean du Mont: Nouveau voyage du Levant. La Haie, 1694. Published also in English as A new voyage to the Levant, done into English, 4th edition. London, 1705.
Ελληνικός χορός - 1691-1692
Χαρακτικό. Jean du Mont: Nouveau voyage du Levant. La Haie, 1694. Εξεδόθη επίσης στα αγγλικά με τον τίτλο A new voyage to the Levant, done into English, 4th edition. London, 1705.
Jean du Mont
Mont, Jean du: A new voyage to the Levant. London, 1705.
The two kinds of Greek dance, 1691-1692
The Greek Dances are extreamly pleasant, and full of Mirth. They are of two kinds: The first is a sort of Country-Dance or Couranto, danc'd by Pairs; and the second a kind of Gavote or Branle, in which the Men and Women are mingl'd, as at Passepied in France; only you must hold in your Right-hand the Left-hand of your Left-hand Woman, and in your Left the Right-hand of her that is on your Right-hand. The Man who leads the Dance holds the Corner of a Handkerchief, and gives the other to his Lady, that he may have room enough to take his Measures, and to give the Dance what Figure or Turn he pleases. At first they begin very gravely with a Saraband-Step, two Steps forwards and three backwards: Then mending their pace by degrees, they begin to leap and run, yet still observing the Rules of a Harmonious Motion; so that the Dance becomes very Gay and Amorous: For the Women leaping one Step forwards, draw their Bodies backwards with a certain pretty Turn that cannot be call'd immodest, yet gives a Man occasion to think of something more than he sees. And besides, the Musick contributes very much to the pleasantness of their Dances, for their Tunes are extremely Brisk and Airy.
The fittest time to take the pleasure of viewing their way of Dancing, is when they are met at a Wedding; for on such Occasions they give themselves up to Joy and Pleasure, drinking, eating, and sporting, and indulging themselves in all manner of Diversions.
Οι ελληνικοί χοροί είναι εξαιρετικά ευχάριστοι και γεμάτοι κέφι. Είναι δύο ειδών: Το ένα είναι ένα είδος country dance ή courante, και χορεύεται από ζευγάρια. Το δεύτερο είναι ένα είδος gavote ή branle, στο οποίο άντρες και γυναίκες είναι αναμεμιγμένοι, όπως στο passepied της Γαλλίας, μόνο που πρέπει να κρατάς στο δεξί σου χέρι το αριστερό της γυναίκας που έχεις στα αριστερά σου και στο αριστερό σου το δεξί χέρι της γυναίκας που βρίσκεται στα δεξιά σου. Ο άντρας που οδηγεί το χορό κρατά τη μια άκρη ενός μαντιλιού και δίνει την άλλη στη ντάμα του, ώστε να έχει αρκετό χώρο για να κάνει τους αυτοσχεδιασμούς του και να δώσει στο χορό όποια φιγούρα ή στροφή θέλει.
Στην αρχή ξεκινούν με ένα βήμα sarabande, δύο βήματα εμπρός και τρία πίσω. Κατόπιν, τροποποιώντας σταδιακά το βήμα, αρχίζουν να πηδούν και να τρέχουν, πάντα όμως σύμφωνα με τους κανόνες της αρμονικής κίνησης, ώστε ο χορός να γίνεται πολύ εύθυμος και ερωτικός. Οι γυναίκες πηδούν ένα βήμα εμπρός και φέρνουν το σώμα τους πίσω με μια χαριτωμένη στροφή που, χωρίς να είναι καθόλου άσεμνη, δίνει στους άντρες την ευκαιρία να φανταστούν περισσότερα από όσα βλέπουν. Επί πλέον, η μουσική συμβάλλει πολύ στο να κάνει τους χορούς τους ιδιαίτερα ευχάριστους, γιατί οι μελωδίες της είναι εξαιρετικά ζωντανές και ανάλαφρες.
Η καταλληλότερη ευκαιρία για να δει κανείς τον τρόπο που χορεύουν είναι όταν συναντούνται σε έναν γάμο, γιατί στις περιπτώσεις αυτές αφήνονται στη χαρά και στη διασκέδαση, με φαγητό, με ποτό και με παιχνίδια, γλεντώντας με κάθε είδους διασκεδάσεις.]
Du Mont (English), p. 3/276-278
Dancing among the Turks, 1691-1692
Their Dances are also of different kinds. Those which are us’d by Persons of Quality are taught by Masters and Mistresses, the first being appointed to teach Men, and the others Women. Tho’ they are all very grave, there is a great deal of Action requir’d in the Hands and Arms; and the finest part of the Dance consists in the graceful and dexterous Motions of those Parts: For the Beauty and Niceness of the Step cannot be well distinguish’d by reason of those troublesome Chaefirs that hide the whole Legs. The Turks never give any Balls, for they always dance single; and the dancing of two Persons together wou’d be reckon’d a Crime, or at least an Indecency among ‘em. Thus after one Person has entertain’d the Company for some time, the Spectators express their Approbation by repeated clapping of Hands. Besides ‘tis to be observ’d, that the Women never dance but when they are invited to the Wedding of some of their Relations, or when they make a familiar Visit to some of their She-Friends, which happens very unfrequently. Yet there are some Publick Dancing-Women, who go to Private Families when they are call’d, and dance before ‘em in the most lascivious manner imaginable: For they wiggle their Backs, roll their Eyes, seem to swoon away, and put their Bodies into a thousand obscene Postures, which the most shameless Strumpers in Europe wou’d harldy be persuaded to imitate.
Dancing is most in use among the Peasants, who without pretending to Art, or learning any regular Steps, put their Bodies into such odd and extravagant Postures, that the nimblest Dancing-Master wou’d be extremely puzl’d to imitate. They seem to be actually possess’d with a Devil, and from time to time break forth into such loud and furious shouts, that one wou’d certainly conclude ‘em to be acted by some Daemon, if he did not know that all these Motions are only feign’d Transports. They usually hold a great Stick in their Hands, with which they beat the Walls and Ground in a furious and terrible Manner, and continue those violent Agitations of their Feet, Hands, and Head, till their Weariness and want of Strength oblige them to give over; and even sometimes they dance till they fall down in a sort of Extasie or Fit of Dizziness. I had the Pleasure to see all those various kinds of Dances at Constantinople, in Monsieur de Chateauneuf’s House, on the Day appointed to solemnize the Publick Joy for the advantageous Success of the Campagne against the Christians. And these Diversions were succeeded by a certain odd kind of Show, perform’d by the Jews. Since all sorts of Figures are an abomination to the Turks, there were Puppets represented in Shadows on the Wall, which Danc’d and Sung to the Satisfaction of all the Company, as it appear’d by their Laughing and pleasant Humour. I cou’d not understand the Words of their Songs, but if I may be allow’d to judge of their Expressions by their Postures, they were certainly very obscene; for I never saw any thing so brutish as the Representations of those Shadows. Nor will this appear strange to those who consider that the Turks are more addicted to that infamous Vice for which Sodom and Gomorrha were destroy’d, than any other Nation in the World; and that the Advancement of one half of the great Officers in the Empire, is an Effect of their base Complaisance to their beastly Patrons. Thus the Turkish Songs are doubly nauseous to the Franks, who are not accustom’d to such horrid Impurities.
The Puppet-Show was follow’d by another of almost the same Nature. Four Jews ty’d certain Sticks cross wise to their Wrists and Feet, and clothing them like Men and Women, plac’d themselves all under one Covering; then the first stretching out one of his Arms, made the half Figures Dance and Sing; after him came another; then a third; and at last the eight Arms of the four Jews perform’d several extravagant Motions on the Covering, accompany’d with a confus’d Din; after which they stood upon their Heads, and discovering eight larger Figures that were fastned to their Feet, entertain’d the Company with another Show exactly like the former.
Chishull, Edmund: Travels in Turkey and back to England. London, W. Bowyer, 1747.
Dervishes in Constantinople, 17/06/1699
About midday I saw the ceremonies of the dervise convent of the order called Meulevi at Pera, consisting of their namàz, somewhat longer than is ordinary at other times and places. After which followed a sermon, that is, a gallimaufry of dreams and nonsense, pronounced by the prior of the convent, as he sat crossleg'd on the seat of a two elbowed wooden chair. This was succeeded by their music in a gallery over the door; during which about fourteen dervises led up a religious dance in the area of their theatre (for such is the figure and contrivance of it) in which they turn round almost in the same place with incredible swiftness, without either weariness or giddness, for the space of half an hour, By this exercise their brain is so habitually fortified against dizziness, that one of them was able to stand upon the half moon of a minarée belonging to the Solymanja, and from thence to salute the Grand Signior at his palace of Cusheui, at the same time firing off a pistol, and drinking a dish of coffee.
Damsels of the parish, Thrace, 13/04/1699
From Dobral we begin to ascend the foot of Haemus, where the way winds so artificially, as to take away the difficulty of ascent. Here crossing a rapid river, which forms its chanel in the body of the mountain, and thro a variety of diverting shades and clifts, we arrive at length at an open plain on the top of the hill, and therein at a true country paradise of Bulgar Christians called Challikcavàk; where a new church has been lately obtained for the inhabitants, by the interest of Count Oetingh, embassador extraordinary from his Imperial Majesty. Here the damsels of the parish entertained us this evening with a dance, which tho performed with no great art or variety, yet had a certain plainness and simplicity, which was truly grateful. The women here wear as ornaments, a sort of cravat consisting of various silver coins, and large bossy silver bracelets; who dismissed us the next morning with corn strewed in our way.