Hill, Aaron: A full and just account of the present state of the Ottoman Empire in all its branches with the government and policy, religion, customs and way of living of the Turks in general, faithfully related from serious observation taken in many years travels throigh those countries .... London, 1709.
Women dancing solo at a wedding in Chios, 1701
Arrivv’d at last, the Waiting Bridegroom standing in his Door, Receives his Consort open Arm’d, and leads her Instantly to some prepar’d Appartment, where their Numerous Men Relations, who Assisted in the Ceremony, enter One by One, according to their Quality, and having each bestow’d some Present answerable to his Circumstances, they withdraw genteely, with repeated wishes for a happy Bedding of the Amorous Pair, returning every Man to his particular Place of Habitation.
The Women, to divert the Husband and his Bride, begin to Dance, at which Procession they are Skill’d but Aukwardly, performing always Singly; and Inventing Strange, and frequently Lascivious Postures, to adorn their Motion, and Excite an ardent Flame of Expectation, or, to call it by its right Name, Lust, in the already-kindled Fires which Warm the Breast of the Impatient Lovers.
Rope-dancers in Constantinople, 1701
Rope-dancers, and a sort of Juglers are encourag’d to perform their several Tricks, to please with mean Amusements in the open Street such Persons as will stand, and gather round their Exercises, who contribute something each, to pay their Labours, when a Fellow brings about a certain wooden Dish, to every one of the Spectators, and desires their Penny, Two-pence, or whatever more or less they please to give him.
In the Sultan's harem, Constantinople, 1701
Sometimes these Walks or rather Labyrinths, lead you out upon fine Greens, Round, Square, Oblong, and of all forms imaginable, Moated round by well-stock’d Fish-Ponds, in the Middle of these Greens, there generally stands a Tent, each Rope whereof is Guarded by an Eunuch: Here such Ladies, as are graver than the Rest, sit Cross Legg’d and observe the Pastimes of their fellow Beauties, some of which run Wildly up and down the Field, and form a kind of Sport not much unlike our English Country Game of Threading the Scottish Needle, others Dance upon another part of the same Green, here some are Walking and conversing Merrily, there three or four are Lolling in the Shade, Stretching and Rolling up and down in Wanton Postures, and every now and then you may perceive some serious solitary Virgin, Angling in the Fishpond, and unmindfull of all Pastimes but her own sedate and innocent Diversion.
It is not seldom that the Sultan does in Person grace their Exercises, and then they all contrive with eager Emulation, who shall most engage his fancy by the Artifice of her Behaviour; now Modesty takes leave of these Licentious Ladies, and the Warmer Arguments of loose desire incline them to the Practice of the most Lascivious Dances, Postures, and Performances, which serve to raise a Lustfull Fire, and may excite the Passion of the Amorous Sultan to a Cooling satisfaction of his Heated Wishes, in a full Possession of her happy charms, who more than any other moves his Inclinations.
Greek wedding procession, 1701
These lead the Bridegroom thro’ the Streets, as finely Dress’d as his Circumstances will permit; upon his Head he wears a flow’ry Garland, which putting me in mind of ancient Ways of crowning Oxen, when they lead 'em to the Altar, oblig’d me to reflect upon the horny Fate, which few Greek Wives fail of giving them, and made me pity the dull Victim, moving on with the smallest apprehension of his Danger, for a Sacrifice to Matrimony.
He is surrounded by a Company of his Relations and Acquaintance, attended by a noisy number of Boys, and Fellows with Ghittars, Pipes, Drums, Timbrels, and other Musick, dancing antickly about the Company, with grinning Faces and strange apish Gestures: As they pass along, there follow Men with Bottles and Glasses, running up and down, from one place to another, and off'ring Wine to every Man to drink as they are walking thro’ the Streets. Thus they resolve to lose no time, where Wine or Mirth invites their Application, still retaining, spite of all their Losses, that vivacity of Temper in their Cups, which formerly gave birth to an Old Proverb, which describing gayety of Humour, does it be these Words, As merry as a Greek.
Gipsies at Burgass, Romania, 1701
I should have told you, that they always chuse some even spot of Ground to pitch their Tents, where the Men and Women Sing and Dance, in aukward Gestures all Day long, run, hop, and toy away their Hours in various kinds of active Entertainments.
I lay, in Company with several other English Gentlemen, at a large Town in Thrace, now call’d Romania, I think the Place was nam’d Burgoss ; upon a spacious Plain, without the City, stood the Tents of several Tribes of wand’ring Gypsies, who were us’d to entertain themselves in Dancing till near Midnight, and express’d their Satisfaction in each others Conversation by the number of their Exercises.
We walk’d out one Day to take the Air upon the Plain I speak of, and were very much surpriz’d to see a Company of Naked People of both Sexes, join’d promiscuously in a kind of Antic Dance, and leaping up and down, with uncouth Noises, and indecent Postures, which declar’d them Strangers to the smallest Grain of common Modesty.
We came as near 'em as we cou’d, and were immediately surrounded by their Numbers, every Person striving to foretell our Fortunes, by inspection of our Hands, which we prevented them from doing, by an obstinate refusal to admit them near us.
One young Gentleman among us, of a very modest, or indeed a bashful Nature, was half frighted to behold himself encompass’d by a Band of Naked Women, and instead of striving to defend himself from their Endeavours, kept one Hand before his Eyes and all on fire with Blushes, turn’d his Head aside, and beg’d us to depart form that Society of Devils.
The Zinganees immediatley perceiv’d the Opportunity he gave them, and with all imaginable expedition, joining Hands, danc’d round him in a Ring, and pulling him about from Place to Place, laugh’d, sung, and kiss’d him with a strange Extravagance, while several others came about us with a thousand artful Postures and Discourses, to prevent us from observing what they did with our Companion, who was so amaz’d to find himself touch’d, kiss’d, and pull’d about by such a Naked Multitude of Females, that he knew not what they were about, till they had thrown him down, and rolling him along among themselves, found means to pick his Pockets, of his Gold and Silver, two good Rings, and a fine Watch of English Workmanship.
Songs and dances in the island of Chios, 1701
The Town of Sio is considerably large, and made convenient by a spacious Haven; the City is defended by a Castle of no little Strength, upon a Hill exceeding Steep: The Buildings of the Town are very Neat, especially the Publick Ones, and the Inhabitants, I mean the Greeks, so very merry in their easy Slavery, that all night long a Stranger is diverted with their Songs and Dances, and their Instruments of Musick sounding briskly thro’ the Streets: The Women, as esteem’d of old, are yet the Mistresses of admirable Beauties, fram’d by Nature for an amorous Conversation, and possessing sweetly the politest Marks of gentle Affability: They frequently appoint a kind of Balls, and Merry-makings, which are given alternately from House to House, and spend their Days in all the Gayety of Wealth and Liberty.
A Grecian wedding - 1702
Copper engraving by Elisha Kirkall (1682?-1742), 24.5 x 18 cm. Aaron Hill: A full and just account of the present state of the Ottoman Empire. London, 1709.
Ελληνικός γάμος - 1702
Χαλκογραφία του Elisha Kirkall (1682?-1742), 24,5 x 18 εκ. Aaron Hill: A full and just account of the present state of the Ottoman Empire. London, 1709.
Aubry de la Motraye
Motraye, Aubry de la: Travels through Europe, Asia, and into part of Africa. London, 1732, 3 vol.
Sunday afternoons in Chios, 1707
The Country round about is most agreeably diversified with Vines, Olive and Mulberry Trees for the Silk Worms, of which they every Year Manufacture a vast Quantity, besides what they sell Raw to Strangers; not to mention the Orange and Lemon Trees, and Gardens full of Fruit, which belong to several Pleasure Houses, or Farms, call’d Birgos, that are scatter’d up and down, and seem like so many little Forts or Square Stone Towers. The Greeks, besides several Churches tolerably well built, some of which have still their Bells allow’d, and left them by the Venetians when they lost this Island, have good Chappels there, and enjoy all the Temporal and Spiritual Liberty that they can reasonably expect, and are extraordinary Gay: They verifie there above all the Proverb, Merry like a Greek, and then Men and Women not only Dance there the Afternoons of every Sunday, or Holiday, but even all Night; They begin on the Eves of these Holidays, and that in Ring, or as represented in the Prints, No XI. and XIX. where I in the first is one of the Chief Women in Smyrna with her Daughter 7; who differ from other chief Greek Women thro’ all the Cities and Towns in Turkey, only in respect of their Heacloaths, which are pretty like that of the Turkish ones, viz. of smaller Bulk than that of others as it may be judg’d by that of the Figure 4 in the second Print, which represents a Greek Woman of Constantinople, or of other considerable Places; the Figure 3 in the said first Print is a Country Girl of Scio, whose whole Habit is peculiar to that Island. As for the Men, both there and all over Turkey, they are in the Towns like 5, and in the villages as 10 of the Print XIX. The Women Dance sometimes amongst themselves only, and sometimes with the Men, as may be seen in the same Prints; and they generally chuse some Garden, Church yard, or other Public Place; and the Wine is not spared on these occasions. Those of Scio have the Preheminence for Beauty, as well as Gayety, of all in the Archipelago, and (as some say likewise) for Complaisance.
Lamentations of Jews, 1707
The Jews have Motions something like Dancing, and make no less Noise than the afore-mention’d, seeming not so much to cry as to scold; for Instance, if the Person deceas’d is a married Man, one may hear his Wife, with many of her Friends, cry to him, Why didst thou die? He, he, he, he - hadst thou not a faithful Wife that loved thee only? Hu, Hu, Hu, Hu - hadst thou not a long Pipe with the best Tobacco? Hu, hu, hu, hu - which she herself lighted for thee? And at every Question she adds generally, why didst thou die? And the other Women make the Chorus, repeating the same with a great Noise and many Ha, he, hi, ho, hu &c. with many other Questions according to the Condition of the Deceased.
In the sultan's harem, Constantinople, 1707
These Presents are made by those who aspire at Employments, or desire to preserve those they have already, and they encrease every Day; and most part of the Virgins that are presented to the Grand Seignior are Circassians, as being the handsomest, and the most brisk and ingenious of all that are near Turky: Upon which, ‘tis remarkable that the Sultan never marries any Woman; neither does he take for Odalicks, or Concubines, either the Daughters of any Mahometan Princes like himself, nor any of his Subjects; those who compose his Harem being all bought. Nevertheless, they say, there are some ambitious poor Turks, who having handsome Daughters, bring them up to please, play upon Instruments, sing, dance, caress, &c. (as they do the Slaves that are design’d for Great Men) by treating secretly with those who make a Profession of Teaching these Ways, and selling them. The first of these Slaves, or at least of those that are brought up and sold for such, that bears a Son, is call’d Sultane-Asseky, or Empress, or Verbatim the first of the Sultaneffes, the Name given to these Slaves as soon as ever they have had the Honour of being touched by the Sultan. If the Son dies, this Sultaness loses her Quality, and she that happens to be Mother of the second obtains it, and so on.
These Women divert themselves amongst one another by playing upon Instruments, Dancing, &c.
The Odalicks in general are very well maintain’d and cloathed, and after they have serv’d Seven or Eight Years they obtain their Liberty, or are married, most commonly very advantageously, to Turks, if they turn Mahometans; or else to freed Christian Slaves. These Slaves, as well as the Women, born in Turky, who are consequently free, being educated as if they were born Slaves, are not sensible of the great Liberty allow’d to those in Christendom, as of our Comedies, Opera’s, Balls, publick Entertainments, &c. and they are only unhappy, in this Respect, in our Imaginations. Their Education has taught them to think their own Diversions excellent amongst themselves, as their Songs, Dances, playing on Instruments, and to live quietly with each other.
After a Turkish wedding, 1707
Upon their return Home, they give Notice of it to the Mothers, who invite other Women and Maidens, and divert themselves together by going to the Baths, and carrying with them the Bride, and then making Entertainments and Dancing amongst themselves; as do the Fathers on the other hand with their Friends, and the young Bridegroom.
Entertainment at a Turkish harem, 1707
A rich Turk, free from the Conjugal Tie, and provided with a good Number of Odalicks, goes after Dinner or Supper to his Harem, (as I have already hinted) where he is attended and caress’d, as in the Print XVIII. If ‘tis in the Day-time, and the Weather be hot, he orders the Windows to be open’d, and the Lattices taken out; and some Eunuchs watch without, that no body may come near enough to see. If the Hall is low, and looks on an open Place or Garden, as that in the said Print, (it being counted a Sin in Women to shew their Faces to any entire Man, except their Master) then he is fanned, as are the Couple at (I) sitting with a Feather Fan, like that which is held by the Fig. 2. and diverted with amorous Songs by some of his Odalicks, sitting as Fig. 4. the Sound of Instruments, by those N. 5. 5. together with Dancing after a wanton manner, as the Fig. 3. till he gives the Signal for them all to retire, except the Favourite of that Day; upon which they vanish like Lightning, and the Eunuchs (8) shut the Windows and Doors, and wait on the Guard; the rest may be guessed.
Festival of Corpus Christi at Andros, Cyclades Islands, 1707
Others celebrate this Festival in dancing, and singing melodiously, and playing upon Instruments, as they do in Spain [The first Ranks that form the Procession in Spain, are intermingled with Hautboys, with a Number of Tabors and Castanets, a great Body of People follow dress’d in different Habits and Colours; some of them walking and keeping Time to these Instruments, others leaping and making several Motions: Formerly they carried Giants and Monsters made in Pasteboard, which were made to dance like Puppets, on the same Occasion, by Men hidden within them; but they have been disus’d, because, as they say, their monstrous Figure frightned the Children] before the Priest who carries it walking upon Carpets, Flowers, &c.
Entertainment of Greeks at Rodosto, Thrace, 01/07/1710
I lay there that Night, and getting up early the 1st of July, between 9 and 10 in the Morning I reach’d Rodosto, a large and populous Town; but it not containing any Remnants of Antiquity, did not tempt me to stay there. I went thro’ divers Villages, wherein nothing more material occurred than seeing towards the Evening some Greek Women, or Maidens, singing and dancing, dress’d after the Bulgarian Fashion, as the Figure N. 4 and 6 in the Print XI, having divers Sorts of Silver Money fasten’d to their Hair, and to a Piece of Cloath which covered their Breasts, as represented in the same, that made as they danced a Gingling something like that of Pack-Horses with their small Bells; the Men dress’d the most Part as (9) in the Print XIX, were some intermingled with the Women, as in the same Print, some by themselves, others sitting under Trees, with large Pitchers of Wine, drinking and singing the same Tunes as the Dancers: This was on the Eve of the Virgin Mary’s Visitation; which, as well as all their other Festivals, Eves, Saturdays, Sundays, the Greeks celebrate, in the Afternoon, after this Fashion, going only to Church in the Morning. They enjoy themselves as much as possible, till late, and often the whole Night; above all in drinking plentifully, rending their Throats with singing, and dancing in Rings, as represented in both the said Prints.
I took my Lodging at a Priest's in a good large Village call'd Boulayer, whose inhabitants were for the most part plung'd in the like Mirth; with this only Difference, that they kept in their Houses and Gardens, whither the Night had forced them. I went to Caratsal, a small Village towards the S.W. of it; where arriving on the Holiday about 9 in the Evening, I found all the Inhabitants, who were Greeks, as full of dancing and singing as those of Boulayer the Evening before. The Wine rather than the Dancing had drawn thither some young Turks, who were sitting cross Legs in a Ring round the Pots and Caps; these no sooner perceiv’d me with a Bostangy's Cap, with which I often travell’d in Turky, not caring to pass every where for a French, than imagining me one of that Corps, they betook themselves to Flight, but, upon my speaking to the Greeks in their own Language, they soon knew by my Pronunciation that I was not of their Nation; then talking to me in Turkish, and finding by the same Mark that I was not what I appear’d to be at a Distance, they sent to seek the Fugitives, who being told their Error, return’d, and began again to drink what they call Caphe, or Infidels Coffee; they forced me in a Manner to make One amongst both the Drinkers and Dancers, and none of the merry Company went to Bed till 3 in the Morning, except my self, who left them about Midnight, and my Landlord a little after.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley: Letters of the Right Honourable... written during her travels in Europe, Asia and Africa. Dublin, Wilson, 1765, 3d ed.
Greeks in Adrianople, Thrace, 01/04/ 1717
From a letter to Alexander Pope, dated 1 April 1717
Their manner of danceing is certainly the same that Diana is sung to have danc’d by Eurotas [Remark: In Homer (Odyssey, vi) Artemis and her nymphs dance on Erymanthus, a mountain which gives its name to a river. But LM puts the scene beside another river in the Peloponnesus. In June, Pope reminded her of her ‘great Eclaircissements upon many passages in Homer’ (Corr. i. 406]). The great Lady still Leads the dance and is follow’d by a troop of young Girls who imitate her steps, and if she sings, make up the Chorus. The Tunes are extreme Gay and Lively, yet with something in ‘em wonderfull soft. The steps are vary’d according to the Pleasure of her that leads the dance, but allways in exact time and infinitly more Agreable than any of our Dances, at least in my Opinion. I sometimes make one in the Train, but am not skilfull enough to lead. These are Grecian Dances, the Turkish being very different.
At the Grand Vizier's and the Kahya's Lady, Constantinople, 18/04/1717
From a letter to Lady Mar, dated 18 April 1717
She entertain'd me with all kind of Civillity till Dinner came in, which was serv'd one Dish at a time, to a vast Number, all finely dress'd after their manner, which I do not think so bad as you have perhaps heard it represented. I am a very good Judge of their eating, having liv'd 3 weeks in the house of an Effendi at Belgrade who gave us very magnificent dinners dress'd by his own Cooks, which the first week pleas'd me extremely, but I own I then begun to grow weary of it and desir'd my own Cook might add a dish or 2 after our manner, but I attribute this to Custom. I am very much enclin'd to beleive an Indian that had never tasted of either would prefer their Cookery to ours. Their Sauces are very high, all the roast very much done. They use a great deal of rich Spice. The Soup is serv'd for the last dish, and they have at least as great Variety of ragoûts as we have. I was very sorry I could not eat of as many as the good Lady would have had me, who was very earnest in serving me of every thing. The Treat concluded with Coffée and perfumes, which is a high mark of respect. 2 slaves kneeling cens'd my Hair, Cloaths, and handkercheif [Ingres copied the preceding two sentences, in French translation, into his notebooks (see above, p. 313, n.1)]. After this Ceremony she commanded her Slaves to play and dance, which they did with their Guitars in their hands, and she excus’d tome their want of skill, saying she took no care to accomplish them in that art. I return'd her thanks and soon afterr took my leave.
I was conducted back in the same Manner I enter'd, and would have gone strait to my own House, but the Greek Lady with me earnestly solicited me to visit the Kahya's Lady, saying he was the 2nd Officer in the Empire and ought indeed to be look'd upon as the first, the Grand Vizier having only the name while he exercis'd the authority. I had found so little diversion in this Haram that I had no mind to go into Another, but her importunity prevail’d with me, and I am extreme glad that I was so complaisant. All things here were with quite anotherAir than at the Grand Vizier’s, and the very house confess'd the difference between an Old Devote and a young Beauty. It was nicely clean and magnificent. I was met at the door by 2 black Eunuchs who led me through a long Gallery between 2 ranks of beautifull young Girls with their Hair finely plaited almost hanging to their Feet, all dress'd in fine light damasks brocaded with silver. I was sorry that Decency did not permit me to stop to consider them nearer, but that Thought was lost upon my Entrance into a Large room, or rather Pavilion, built round with gilded sashes which were most of 'em thrown up; and the Trees planted near them gave an agreable Shade which hinder'd the Sun from being troublesome, the Jess'mins and Honey suckles that twisted round their Trunks sheding a soft perfume encreas'd by a white Marble fountain playing sweet Water in the Lower part of the room, which fell into 3 or 4 basons with a pleasing sound. The Roof was painted with all sort of Flowers falling out of gilded baskets that seem'd tumbling down.
On a sofa rais'd 3 steps and cover’dwith fine Persian carpets sat the Kahya’s Lady, leaning on cushions of white Satin embrodier'd, and at her feet sat 2 young Girls, the eldest about 12 year old, lovely as Angels, dress’d perfectly rich and allmost cover'd with Jewells. But they were hardly seen near the fair Fatima (for that is her Name), so much her beauty effac'd every thing. I have seen all that has been call'd lovely either in England or Germany, and must own that I never saw any thing so gloriously Beautifull, nor can I recollect a face that would have been taken notice of near hers. She stood up to receive me, saluteing me after their fashion, putting her hand upon her Heart with a sweetness full of Majesty that no Court breeding could ever give. She order'd Cushions to be given me and took care to place me in the Corner, which is the place of Honnour. I confesse, thô the Greek Lady had before given me a great Opinion of her beauty I was so struck with Admiration that I could not for some time speak to her, being wholly taken up in gazing. That surprizing Harmony of features! that charming result of the whole! that exact proportion of Body! that lovely bloom of Complexion unsully'd by art! the unutterable Enchantment of her Smile! But her Eyes! large and black with all the soft languishment of the bleu! every turn of her face discovering some new charm! After my first surprize was over, I endeavor'd by nicely examining her face to find out some imperfection, without any fruit of my search but being clearly convinc'd of the Error of that vulgar notion, that a face perfectly regular would not be agreable, Nature having done for her with more successe what Apelles [The most celebrated Greek painter] is said to have essay'd, by a Collection of the most exact features to form a perfect Face; and to that a behaviour so full of Grace and sweetness, such easy motions, with an Air so majestic yet free from Stiffness or affectation that I am perswaded could she be suddenly transported upon the most polite Throne of Europe, nobody would think her other than born and bred to be a Queen, thô educated in a Country we call barbarous. To say all in a Word, our most celebrated English Beautys would vanish near her.
She was dress'd in a Caftan of Gold brocade flowerd with Sliver, very well fited to her Shape and shewing to advantage the beauty of her Bosom, only shaded by the Thin Gause of her shift. Her drawers were pale pink, Green and silver; her Slippers white, finely embrodier'd; her lovely Arms adorn'd with bracelets of Diamonds, and her broad Girdle set round with Diamonds; upon her Head a rich Turkish Handkercheif of pink and Silver, her own fine black Hair hanging a great length in various Tresses, and on one side of her Head some bodkins of Jewells. I am afraid you will accuse me of extravagance in this Description. I think I have read somewhere that Women allways speak in rapture when they speak of Beauty, but I can't imagine why they should not be allow'd to do so. I rather think it Virtue to be able to admire without any Mixture of desire or Envy. The Gravest Writers have spoke with great warmth of some celebrated Pictures and Statues. The Workmanship of Heaven certainly excells all our weak Imitations, and I think has a much better claim to our Praise. For me, I am not asham'd to own I took more pleasure in looking on the beauteous Fatima than the finest piece of Sculpture could have given me. She told me the 2 Girls at her feet were her Daughters, thô she appear'd too young to be their Mother.
Her fair Maids were rang'd below the Sofa to the number of 20, and put me in Mind of the pictures of the ancient Nymphs. I did not think all Nature could have furnish'd such a Scene of Beauty. She made them a sign to play and dance. 4 of them immediately begun to play some soft airs on Instruments between a Lute and a Guitarr, which they accompany'd with their voices while the others danc'd by turns. This Dance was very different from what I had seen before. Nothing could be more artfull or more proper to raise certain Ideas, the Tunes so soft, the motions so Languishing, accompany'd with pauses and dying Eyes, halfe falling back and then recovering themselves in so artfull a Manner that I am very possitive the coldest and most rigid Prude upon Earth could not have look'd upon them without thinking of something not to be spoke of. I suppose you may have read that the Turks have no Music but what is shocking to the Ears [Hill, pp. 72-73.], but this account is from those who never heard any but what is play'd in the streets, and is just as reasonable as if a Foreigner should take his Ideas of the English Music from the bladder and string, and marrow bones and cleavers. I can assure you that the Music is extremely pathetic. 'Tis true I am enclin'd to prefer the Italian, But perhaps I am partial. I am acquainted with a Greek Lady who sings better than Mrs. Robinson [Anastasia Robinson (d. 1755), prima donna of the London stage from 1714 to 1724], and is very well skill'd in both, who gives the preference to the Turkish. Tis certain they have very fine Natural voices; these were very agreable.
When the Dance was over 4 fair slaves came into the room with silver Censors in their hands and perfum'd the air with Amber, Aloes wood and other rich Scents. After this they serv'd me coffée upon their knees in the finest Japan china with soûcoupes of Silver Gilt. The lovely Fatima entertain'd me all this time in the most polite agreable Manner, calling me often Uzelle Sultanam, or the beautifull Sultana, and desiring my Freindship with the best Grace in the World, lamenting that she could not entertain me in my own Language. When I took my Leave 2 Maids brought in a fine Silver basket of Embrodier’d Handkercheifs. She begg’d I would wear the richest for her sake, and gave the others to my Woman and Interpretress. I retir’d through the same Ceremonys as before, and could not help fancying I had been some time in Mahomet’s Paradice, so much I was charm’d with what I had seen. I know not how the relation of it appears to you. I wish it may give you part of my pleasure; for I would have my dear Sister share in all the Diversions of,
Night dances by Christians at Belgrade village near Constantinople, 17/06/1717
From a letter to Alexander Pope, dated 17 June 1717
The heats of Constantinople have driven me to this place, which perfectly answers the description of the Elysian fields. I am in the Middle of a Wood consisting chiefly of fruit Trees, water’d by a Vast number of Fountains famous for the Excellency of their water, and divided into many Shady Walks upon short grass, that seems to me Artificial but I am assur’d is the pure work of Nature, within View of the Black Sea, from whence we perpetually enjoy the Refreshment of cool breezes that makes us insensible of the heat of the Summer. The Village is wholly Inhabited by the richest amongst the Christians, who meet every night at a fountain 40 paces from my house to Sing and dance, the Beauty and dress of the women exactly resembling the Ideas of the Ancient Nymphs as they are given us by the representations of the Poets and Painters.
Dervishes in Constantinople, 10/04/1718
From a letter to Lady Bristol, dated 10 april 1718
The other publick Buildings are the Hans and Monasterys, the first very large and numerous, The 2nd few in number and not at all Magnificent. I had the Curiosity to visit one of them and observe the Devotions of the Dervises, which are as Whimsical as any in Rome. These fellows have permission to marry, but are confin'd to an odd Habit, which is only a peice of Coarse white cloath wrapp'd about 'em, with their Legs and Arms naked. Their Order has few other rules, except that of performing their Fantastic rites every Tuesday and Friday, which is in this manner. They meet together in a Large Hall, where they all Stand with their Eyes fix'd on the Ground and their Arms across, while the Imaum, or preacher, reads part of the Alcoran from a Pulpit plac'd in the midst; and when he has done, 8 or 10 of them make a Melancholly Consort with their Pipes, which are no unmusical Instruments. Then he reads again and makes a Short exposition on what he has read, after which they Sing and play till their Superiour (the only one of them dress'd in green) rises and begins a sort of Solemn dance. They all stand about him in a regular figure; and while Some play, the others tye their robe (which is very wide) fast round their Wasts and begin to turn round with an Amazing Swiftness and yet with great regard to the Musick, moving Slower or faster as the Tune is plaid. This lasts above an hour without any of them shewing the least appearance of Giddyness, which is not to be wonder'd at when it is consider'd they are all us'd to it from Infancy, most of them being devoted to this way of life from their Birth, and Sons of Dervises. There turn'd amongst them Some little Dervises of 6 or 7 years old who seem'd no more disorder'd by that exercise than the others. At the end of the Ceremony they shout out: There is no other God but God, and Mahomet is his prophet; after which they kiss the Superiour's hand and retire. The whole is perform'd with the most Solemn Gravity. Nothing can be more Austere than the form of these people. They never raise their Eyes and seem devoted to Contemplation, And as ridiculous as this is in Description, there is Something touching in the Air of Submission and mortification they assume.
Greeks dancing the Khora (Grecs dansant la khora) - 1720~
Painting by Jean-Baptiste van Mour (France 1671-1737), oil on canvas, 44 x 58 cm. Amsterdam, National Museum, A2009.
Ελληνες χορεύουν τη Χόρα - 1720~
Πίνακας του Jean-Baptiste van Mour (Γαλλία 1671-1737), ελαιογραφία σε καμβά, 44 x 58 εκ. Αμστερνταμ, Εθνικό Μουσείο, A2009.
Dancing girls from the South coast of Turkey - 1720~
Manner of Jean-Baptiste van Mour (France 1671-1737), oil on canvas, 36 x 45 cm.
Χορός κοριτσιών από τη νότια ακτή της Τουρκίας) - 1720~
Τεχνοτροπία του Jean-Baptiste van Mour (Γαλλία 1671-1737), λάδι σε καμβά, 36 x 45 εκ.
Women’s costume - 1723~
Copper engraving by William Hogarth, 24.5 x 34 cm. Aubry de la Motraye: Travels through Europe, Asia, and into part of Africa, volume 1. London, 1723.
Γυναικεία φορεσιά - 1723~
Χαλκογραφία του William Hogarth, 24,5 x 34 εκ. Aubry de la Motraye: Travels through Europe, Asia, and into part of Africa, volume 1. London, 1723.
The Greeks, besides several Churches tolerably well built, some of which have still their Bells allow'd, and left them by the Venetians when they lost this Island, have good Chappels there, and enjoy all the Temporal and Spiritual Liberty that they can reasonably expect, and are extraordinary Gay: They verifie there above all the Proverb, Merry like a Greek; and then Men and Women not only Dance there the Afternoons of every Sunday, or Holiday, but even all Night: They begin on the Eves of these Holidays, and that in Ring, or as represented in the Prints, No XI and XIX [XIII and XXV of 1727 French edition] where I in the first is one of the Chief Women in Smyrna with her Daughter 7; who differ from other chief Greek Women thro' all the Cities and Towns in Turkey, only in respect of their Headcloaths, which are pretty like that of the Turkish ones, viz. of smaller Bulk than that others as it may be judg'd by that of the Figure 4 in the second Print, which represents a Greek Woman of Constantinople, or of other considerable Places; the Figure 3 in the said first Print is a Country Girl of Scio, whose whole Habit is peculiar to that Island. As for the Men, both there and all over Turkey, they are in the Towns like 5, and in the Villages as 10 of the Print XIX. The Women Dance sometimes amongst themselves only, and sometimes with the Men, as may be seen in the same Prints; and they generally choose some Garden, Church-yard, or other Publick Place; and the Wine is not spared on these Occasions. Those of Scio have the Preheminence for Beauty, as well as Gayety, of all in the Archipelago, and (as some say likewise) for Complaisance.
Getting up early the 1st of July  between 9 and 10 in the Morning I reach'd Rodosto, a large and populous Town; ... I went thro' divers Villages, wherein nothing more material occurred than seeing towards the Evening some Greek Women, or Maidens, singing and dancing, dress'd after the Bulgarian Fashion, as the Figures N. 4 and 6 in the Print XI, having divers Sorts of Silver Money fasten'd to their Hair, an to a Piece of Cloath which covered their Breasts, as represented in the same, that made as they danced a Gingling something like that of Pack-Horses with their small Bells; the Men dress'd the most Part as (9) in the Print XIX, were some intermingled with the Women, as in the same Print, some by themselves, others sitting under Trees, with large Pitchers of Wine, drinking and singing the same Tunes as the Dancers: This was on the Eve of the Virgin Mary's Visitation; which, as well as all their other Festivals, Eves, Saturdays, Sundays, the Greeks celebrate, in the Afternoon, after this Fashion, going only to Church in the Morning. They enjoy themselves as much as possible, till late, and often the Whole Night; above all in drinking plentifully, rending their Throats with singing, and dancing in Rings, as represented in both the Saint Prints. I took my Lodging at a Priest's in a good large Village call'd Boulayer, whose inhabitants were for the most part plung'd in the like Mirth; with this only Difference, that they kept in their Houses and Gardens, whither the Night had forced them. I went to Caratsal, a small Village towards the S.W. of it; where, arriving on the Holiday about 9 in the Evening, I found all the inhabitants, who were Greeks, as full of dancing and singing as those of Boulayar the Evening before. The Wine rather than the Dancing had drawn thither some young Turks, who were sitting cross Legs in a Ring round the Pots and Cups; these no sooner perceiv'd me with a Bostangy's Cap, with which I often travell'd in Turky, not caring to pass every where for a Frank, than imagining me one of that Corps, they betook themselves to Flight, but, upon speaking to the Greeks in their own Language, they soon knew by my Pronunciation that I was not of their Nation; then talking to me in Turkish, and finding by the same Mark that I was not what I appear'd to be at a Distance, they sent to seek the Fugitives, who being told their Error, return'd, and began again to drink what they call Guiavur Caphe, or Infidels Coffee, they forced me in a Manner to make One amongst both the Drinkers and Dancers, and none of the merry Company went to Bed till 3 in the Morning, except my self, who left them about Midnight, and my Landlord a little after.
Οι Ελληνες, εκτός από ορισμένες εκκλησίες αρκετά καλοχτισμένες που τις άφησαν οι Βενετσιάνοι όταν έχασαν το νησί, μερικές από τις οποίες επιτρέπεται ακόμη να διατηρούν τις καμπάνες τους, έχουν καλά παρεκκλήσια εκεί [στη Χίο]. Απολαμβάνουν όλη την κοινωνική και πνευματική ελευθερία που δικαιούνται με κάθε λογική, και είναι ιδιαίτερα εύθυμοι. Κάνουν πράξη πάνω απ’ όλα την έκφραση “χαρούμενος σαν Ελληνας”. Αντρες και γυναίκες, όχι μόνο χορεύουν εκεί κάθε Κυριακή απόγευμα ή γιορτή, αλλά ιδιαίτερα τη νύχτα. Αρχίζουν την παραμονή αυτών των εορτών και τότε σε κύκλο ή όπως παριστάνεται στις εικόνες ΧΙ και ΧΙΧ (ΧΙΙ και ΧΧV της γαλλικής έκδοσης του 1727) όπου εκείνη που σημειώνεται με τον αριθμό Ι εις την πρώτη εικόνα είναι μία από τις σπουδαιότερες γυναίκες της Σμύρνης με την κόρη της που φέρει το αριθμό 7. Αυτές διαφέρουν από τις άλλες σημαντικές γυναίκες σε όλες τις μεγάλες και μικρές πόλεις της Τουρκίας μόνο όσον αφορά τα κεφαλοδεσίματά τους, τα οποία είναι σχεδόν όμοια με τα τουρκικά, αν και μικροτέρου όγκου, όπως αντιλαμβάνεται κανείς συγκρίνοντας με εκείνο της μορφής 4 στη δεύτερη εικόνα, η οποία παριστάνει μια Ελληνίδα της Κωνσταντινούπολης ή άλλης μεγάλης πόλης. Η μορφή 3 στην προαναφερθείσα πρώτη εικόνα είναι μια χωρική της Χίου, της οποίας η όλη φορεσιά είναι χαρακτηριστική αυτού του νησιού. Οσο για τους άντρες, τόσο εκεί όσο και σε όλη την Τουρκία, είναι στις πόλεις όπως ο 5 και εις τα χωριά όπως ο 10 της εικόνας ΧΙΧ. Οι γυναίκες χορεύουν άλλοτε μόνο μεταξύ τους και άλλοτε με άντρες, όπως φαίνεται στις εικόνες, και συνήθως επιλέγουν κάποιον κήπο, αυλόγυρο εκκλησίας ή άλλον δημόσιο χώρο, ενώ το κρασί είναι άφθονο σ’ αυτές τις περιστάσεις. Οι γυναίκες της Χίου έχουν το προβάδισμα σε ομορφιά και σε κέφι από όλες τις γυναίκες του Αρχιπελάγους, καθώς και σε ευκολία σχέσεων, κατά τα λεγόμενα μερικών.
Σηκώθηκα ενωρίς την 1η Ιουλίου  και μεταξύ 9 και 10 η ώρα το πρωί έφτασα στη Ραιδεστό, μια μεγάλη και πολυάνθρωπη πόλη... Πέρασα από διάφορα χωριά, όπου δεν συνέβη τίποτα ενδιαφέρον εκτός από το ότι είδα κατά το βράδυ μερικές ελληνίδες γυναίκες ή κοπέλες να τραγουδούν και να χορεύουν ντυμένες με τον βουλγαρικό τρόπο όπως οι 4 και 6 στην εικόνα ΧΙ. Είχαν διάφορα είδη νομισμάτων στερεωμένα στα μαλλιά τους και σε ένα κομμάτι ύφασμα στο στήθος τους, όπως στην εικόνα, που κουδούνιζαν καθώς χόρευαν, όπως τα αλογάκια με τα κουδουνάκια τους. Οι άντρες, ντυμένοι κατά το πλείστον όπως ο 9 εις την εικόνα ΧΙΧ, ήταν άλλοι ανάμεσα στις γυναίκες όπως στην ίδια εικόνα, άλλοι μόνοι τους, άλλοι καθισμένοι κάτω από δέντρα με μεγάλες καράφες κρασί, πίνοντας και τραγουδώντας τους ίδιους σκοπούς με τους χορευτές. Ηταν η παραμονή του Ευαγγελισμού της Θεοτόκου, που οι Ελληνες, όπως σε κάθε άλλη γιορτή, τις παραμονές, τα Σάββατα, τις Κυριακές, γιορτάζουν το απόγεμα με αυτόν τον τρόπο, αφού πάνε στην εκκλησία μόνο το πρωί. Διασκεδάζουν όσο μπορούν περισσότερο μέχρι αργά, συχνά όλη τη νύχτα. Κυρίως πίνουν άφθονα, βραχνιάζοντας από το τραγούδι και χορεύοντας σε κύκλους όπως αναφέρεται στις δύο Αγιες Γραφές. Βρήκα κατάλυμα στο σπίτι ενός ιερέα σε ένα όμορφο κεφαλοχώρι που λεγόταν Μπουλαγιέ, του οποίου οι κάτοικοι ήταν κατά το πλείστον βυθισμένοι σε παρόμοια έκσταση, με τη μόνη διαφορά ότι παρέμεναν στα σπίτια και στους κήπους τους, όπου η νύχτα τους είχε αναγκάσει να καταφύγουν. Πήγα στο Καρατσάλ, ένα μικρό χωριό στα νοτιοδυτικά του, όπου όταν έφτασα ανήμερα της γιορτής κατά τις 9 το βράδυ, βρήκα όλους τους κατοίκους, που ήσαν Ελληνες, τόσο απασχολημένους με χορό και τραγούδι όσο οι κάτοικοι του Μπουλαγιέ το προηγούμενο βράδυ. Το κρασί, περισσότερο από τον χορό, είχαν προσελκύσει μερικούς νεαρούς Τούρκους που κάθονταν σταυροπόδι γύρω από τις καράφες και τα ποτήρια. Εκείνοι, μόλις με είδαν με το σκούφο του μποσταντζή στο κεφάλι, με τον οποίο συχνά ταξίδευα στην Τουρκία μη θέλοντας να φαίνομαι παντού σαν Φράγκος, νόμισαν ότι ανήκω σ’ αυτό το σώμα. Οταν όμως μίλησα με τους Ελληνες στη γλώσσα τους, εκείνοι κατάλαβαν αμέσως από την προφορά μου ότι δεν ανήκω σ’ αυτό το έθνος. Κατόπιν, όταν μου μίλησαν στα τουρκικά και είδαν με τον ίδιο τρόπο ότι δεν ήμουν ό,τι φαινόμουν από μακρυά, έστειλαν να φωνάξουν τους φυγάδες, οι οποίοι όταν έμαθαν το λάθος τους γύρισαν και άρχισαν πάλι να πίνουν από αυτό που ονομάζουν “γκιαούρ καφέ” ή καφέ των άπιστων. Με υποχρέωσαν με τρόπο να γίνω ένα με τους πότες και τους χορευτές, οπότε κανείς από την εύθυμη συντροφιά δεν πήγε στο κρεββάτι του μέχρι τις 3 το πρωί, εκτός από μένα που τους άφησα κατά τα μεσάνυχτα και τον σπιτονοικοκύρη μου λίγο μετά.
A Greek (or Armenian) marriage - 1723~
Copper engraving by Dockley, 24.5 x 34 cm. Aubry de la Motraye: Travels through Europe, Asia, and into part of Africa, volume 1. London, 1723.
Ελληνικός (ή Αρμενικός) γάμος - 1723~
Χαλκογραφία του Dockley, 24,5 x 34 εκ. Aubry de la Motraye: Travels through Europe, Asia, and into part of Africa, volume 1. London, 1723.
The Greeks and Armenians don't use (for the generality) to see their Wives much more before Marriage, tho' they are not quite so exact; they seldom have a View of them sooner than at Church, when they are married by the Priest, and when they eat and drink, after the Ceremony, in the same Room, or dance in some Garden or Meadow, if is in Summer; as may be seen by the Print, N. XIX, where both Nations are intermix'd for the little Differnce there is between them in this Respect; as for hostance, N.I. represents a Greek Bride, from whose Head there hangs down Gold Tinsel, which is distributed among the young Men and Women at the Wedding. She is oblig’d to sit for several Hours, and even during the whole Entertainment, in the same Posture, without opening her Mouth, like an Indian Pagod. The Fourth Figure is a Grecian Woman, dress'd after the Manner at Constantinople. N.5. is a Man in the same Habit N. 6. is a Moldavian or Wallachian Woman. N. 7. is an Armenian. N.8 is an Inhabitant of Naxos, or some other Neighbouring Isle. N.9 is a Bulgarian. No 10 is an Islander of Tino, or some other Island in the Archipelago, where the common People dress after that Manner. The Middlemost of the Three vailed Figures represents an Armenian Bride, who is conducted to the Church, with a Pace slower than that of a Tortoise, at the Door of which she is met by the Armenian Bridegroom, N. 2. who enters with her into the Church. He is distinguish'd by a sort of Coronet of Jewels, that is fasten'd to his Cap, as is the Mediator or Manager of the Marriage, N.3. by a Sabre, set also with Precious Stones; which if they are not rich enough to have of their own, they borrow or hire for this Ceremony.
Οι Ελληνες και οι Αρμένιοι δεν συνηθίζεται να βλέπουν τις γυναίκες τους περισσότερο (από τους Τούρκους) πριν από τον γάμο, αν και αυτό δεν τηρείται ακριβώς. Σπάνια τις έχουν δει πριν να πάνε στην εκκλησία όπου θα τους παντρέψει ο παπάς, και όταν τρώνε και πίνουν μετά την στέψη στο ίδιο δωμάτιο, ή χορεύουν στον ίδιο κήπο ή σε ξέφωτο αν είναι καλοκαίρι, όπως φαίνεται στην εικόνα ΧΙΧ όπου οι δύο εθνότητες είναι αναμεμιγμένες μια και λίγη διαφορά υπάρχει μεταξύ τους σ’ αυτό το θέμα. Οσο για τα έθιμα, ο αριθμός 1 παριστάνει μια ελληνίδα νύφη, από το κεφάλι της οποίας κρέμεται ένα χρυσό φλουρί που διανέμεται στους νεαρούς και τις νεαρές στο γάμο. Η νύφη είναι υποχρεωμένη να κάθεται επί αρκετές ώρες και μάλιστα καθ’ όλη τη διάρκεια της γιορτής στην ίδια στάση χωρίς να ανοίξει το στόμα της, σαν ινδική παγόδα. Η τέταρτη μορφή είναι μια Ελληνίδα ντυμένη με τον τρόπο της Κωνσταντινούπολης. Με αριθμό 5 είναι ένας άντρας ντυμένος με τον ίδιο τρόπο, με το 6 είναι μία Μολδαβή ή Βλάχα, με αριθμό 7 μια Αρμένισσα, με το 8 μια κάτοικος της Νάξου ή μιας από τις γειτονικές νήσους. Με το 9 είναι μια Βουλγάρα, με το 10 μια από την Τήνο ή άλλη νήσο του Αρχιπελάγους όπου οι κοινοί κάτοικοι ντύνονται με αυτόν τον τρόπο. Η μεσαία από τις τρεις γυναίκες με σκεπασμένα πρόσωπα παριστάνει μια αρμένισσα νύφη που οδηγείται στην εκκλησία με βήμα αργότερο από χελώνας, όπου στην πόρτα θα την συναντήσει ο αρμένιος γαμπρός, με τον αριθμό 2, για να μπει μαζί της στην εκκλησία. Διακρίνεται από ένα είδος στέματος από διαμάντια που έχει στερεωμένο στο σκούφο του, καθώς και ο κουμπάρος ή ρυθμιστής του γάμου με αριθμό 3 και σπαθί, τα οποία, αν δεν είναι αρκετά πλούσιοι για να έχουν δικά τους, δανείζονται ή νοικιάζουν για την τελετή αυτή.
Aegidius van Egmont & John Heyman
Egmont, Van & Heyman, John: Travels through part of Europe, Asia Minor...Translated from the Low Dutch. London, Davis & Reymers, 1759, 2 vol.
Servants dancing all night around a fire at Sardis, by the river Pactolus, Asia Minor, 1729
We were indeed greatly amazed at the sudden alteration of the climate, which resembled our being transported at once from the torrid into the frigid zone. The trees were, in general, without leaves, as in winter, and some had just begun to bud; but the forward fruit trees were adorned with blossoms. We were obliged to pass the night here, the coldness of which was increased by a very sharp wind, and to our great concern, a very worthy gentleman in our company contracted an intermitting fever. Our servants took care not to suffer themselves, for they made a very large fire; great quantities of wood being piled up in several places, and danced all night round it, in so extraordinary a manner, that I much question, if ever this mountain had been before the scene of such extravagant mirth.
Rope dancers and buffoons at Constantinople, 1729
The tent in which we were entertained was none of the largest, having in it only nine seats. Next to the ambassador sat the chief Droggeman, or interpreter of the Porte, who conversed with the ambassador. This is a very considerable post, and at that time was filled by a nobleman about thirty years of age, a sister’s son of the celebrated Mauro Cordato, prince of Walachia.
After the Grand Signior and Vizier were arrived at their tents, the presents were brought, and entered in a book by the Caya. After this his excellency was led into a small tent, close to those of the Grand Signior and Vizier, from whence he could conveniently see the several diversions. There were begun by the rope dancers, who were succeeded by the buffoons, whose jests, double entendres, and conundrums, highly delighted the audience. The agility of the dances is accompanied with several postures displeasing to modesty. Some danced in the Spanish manner, with tolerable gravity, and with castignets in each hand. The band of musick consisted of flutes, and drums of different sizes, which they beat on the upper part with a stick, and on the under with a bowl, forming by this means different sounds. But the oddest dances, and which had nothing offensive, were those performed by the Moors.
Picnics on the sea-shore by the women of Chios, 1729
The women of this island are very singular in their dress; but handsome, genteel, and polite in their behaviour, especially to foreigners; but not satisfied with their natural complexion make use of paint, which they ingeniously lay on their face and breast.
Their general diversions are singing, dancing, and the like, which are no where more licentiously indulged than at Scio; and this has a considerable weight in bringing girls of a lively disposition hither from the neighbouring islands. I observed, however, that the Greek women are more reserved than the Italian; but not one fine day passed but I saw great numbers of them going into the country on parties of pleasure. They were mounted on mules, and all without distinction, carried their provisions with them, for they eat their repast on the sea-shore, and under the shade of some tree.
There is something diverting when two of these parties happen to meet; for they always exchange sharp railleries and repartees with each other. But I could not help observing, that there seems a deficiency of men on this island; for in these parties there are generally three girls to one youth.
The janizary orders a dance at Pyrghi, Island of Chios, 1729
In the evening we arrived at a village called Pirghi, where we took up our lodging. We were hardly entered our inn before we were visited by several young men and women to dance before us; and our janizary took care we should meet with good entertainment, while he himself was waited upon like a prince. These men are greatly respected, or rather dreaded in such villages; and we observed, that while he was eating every one strove who should serve him. He did the peasants musician the favour of giving him some of his provisions, and then did the same by the girls, who he afterwards made to pass in review before us, while he himself held the candle, that we might have fuller view of their faces.
Dervishes in Turkey, 1729
Their religious service was begun by the superiors reading in the Alcoran. This was followed by a sermon, which lasted half an hour. After which he descended from his pulpit, supported by another Dervis, and placed himself on a carpet, at which the music began. The Dervises then laying aside their mantles, after once stalking round the place in a solemn manner, and dancing a while, they begun their gyrations, which four of them performed in this manner: The first had both his arms extended; the second held them on his breast; the hands of the third were placed under a white garment, which they use on those occasions; and the fourth, with one of his arms extended, the other hanging down. In this manner they turned themselves with such velocity, that their faces could hardly be distinguished. When the service was over, among other things, we took the liberty to ask the superior concerning the origin and reason of these rites; who answered, that every part of this ceremony had it’s signification.
One of our company was like to have been used very ill by an idiot, who, from a religious fury, was rushing on him, had not a Dervise interposed. These idiots are highly revered all over Turky, and in their rage are extremely mischievous, and sometimes to Turks as well as Christians.
When we were taking our leave, the superior invited us into his apartment, and here one of my fellow-travellers revived the questions concerning the gyrations; he now told us, that the first founder of their order was Mehlachin, the son of a powerful monarch; but renouncing all ambition and temporal concerns, turned himself round in that manner, without any sustenance for fifteen days successively; and that, as he was prompted to his by divine inspiration, so the power, which first inspired, enabled him to support it. His chief companion was one Hastni, who played upon the flute while the other whirled himself round.
This order, though in its infancy very mean and destitute, has, by degrees, rose to great wealth and dignity, especially since it was countenanced by the emperor Osman.
Thompson, Charles: The travels of the late Charles Thompson. London, Robinson, 1744, 2 volumes.
They keep a strict Fast every Thursday, not eating till after Sun-set; and on Tuesdays and Fridays the Superior of the Convent makes a Sermon, or expounds some Passages of the Koran. This Service is perform'd in a large Hall, which may be call'd the Mosque of the Religious Houses, Part whereof is inclosed with Rails, having a Pulpit for the Preacher, round which the Dervises sit upon their Legs, with their Arms across and their Hands turn'd down, during the Time of the Sermon. After that is ended, they sing a long Hymn, whilst the Musicians, who are placed in a Gallery built on Purpose, play upon Pipes amd Tabors. On a Signal given by the Superior, the Monks get up, and having saluted him with a profound Reverence, begin their usual Dance, which consists in turning round with incredible Swiftness, having their Arms extended, and with such Exactness and Regularity that they never touch or incommode one another. This Dance they continue till the Musick ceases, when they all stop in an Instant, not in the leaft giddy or disorder'd with the circular Motion; for having been accustom'd to it from their Youth, it becomes as natural, and as little disturbs the Head or Stomach, as sitting still, or walking backwards and forwards. They repeat this Dance at the same Signal three or four times, they last of which is the longest of all; and finish their Exercise exactly at once, returning to their first Posture as calmly as if they had never mov'd. This Custom they observe with great Devotion, in Imitation of their Founder Mevelava, who continued this vertiginous Dance, it is said, for four Days together by a miraculous Assistance, without taking any Food or Refreshment, his Friend Hamza playing all the white upon a Pipe; after which he fell into an Extacy, and received strange Revelations concerning the Institution of this religious Order. The Pipe or Flute they play on is esteem'd by them as an ancient and sacred Instrument, for they imagine it to have been made use of by Jacob, and other holy Shepherds of the Old Testament, in the Praises of their Creator. It has a melancholy Sound, though undoubtedly it seems otherwise to these Monks, whom it causes to move with such extraordinary Briskness and Agility.
Dancer of Smyrna (Danseuse de Smyrne) - 1740~
Drawing [Dessin, pierre noire et sanguine] by Jean-Etienne Liotard (Switzerland 1702-1789), 22 x 14 cm.
Χορεύτρια της Σμύρνης - 1740~
Σχέδιο [Dessin, pierre noire et sanguine] του Jean-Etienne Liotard (Ελβετία1702-1789), 22 x 14 εκ.
Giacomo Casanova (Jacques Casanova de Seingalt)
Casanova de Seingalt, Jacques: The complete memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt. Translated by Arthur Machen. London, 1894.
A furlana danced in Constantinople, 1745~
A few days afterwards, I dined with the Pacha Osman and met my Effendi Ismail. He was very friendly to me, and I reciprocated his attentions, though I paid no attention to the reproaches he addressed to me for not having come to breakfast with him for such a long time. I could not refuse to dine at his house with Bonneval, and he treated me to a very pleasing sight; Neapolitan slaves, men and women, performed a pantomime and some Calabrian dances. M. de Bonneval happened to mention the dance called forlana, and Ismail expressing a great wish to know it, I told him that I could give him that pleasure if I had a Venetian woman to dance with and a fiddler who knew the time. I took a violin, and played the forlana, but, even if the partner had been found, I could not play and dance at the same time.
Ismail whispered a few words to one of his eunuchs, who went out of the room and returned soon with some message that he delivered to him. The effendi told me that he had found the partner I wanted, and I answered that the musician could be had easily, if he would send a note to the Venetian Embassy, which was done at once. The Bailo Dona sent one of his men who played the violin well enough for dancing purposes. As soon as the musician was ready, a door was thrown open, and a fine looking woman came in, her face covered with a black velvet mask, such as we call moretta in Venice. The appearance of that beautiful masked woman surprised and delighted every one of the guests, for it was impossible to imagine a more interesting object, not only on account of the beauty of that part of the face which the mask left exposed, but also for the elegance of her shape, the perfection of her figure, and the exquisite taste displayed in her costume. The nymph took her place, I did the same, and we danced the forlana six times without stopping.
I was in perspiration and out of breath, for the forlana is the most violent of our national dances; but my beautiful partner stood near me without betraying the slightest fatigue, and seemed to challenge me to a new performance. At the round of the dance, which is the most difficult step, she seemed to have wings. I was astounded, for I had never seen anyone, even in Venice, dance the forlana so splendidly. After a few minutes rest, rather ashamed of my feeling tired, I went up to her, and said, 'Ancora sei, a poi basta, se non volete vedermi a morire.' She would have answered me if she had been able, but she wore one of those cruel masks which forbid speech. But a pressure of her hand which nobody could see made me guess all I wanted to know. The moment we finished dancing the eunuch opened the door, and my lovely partner disappeared.
Ismail could not thank me enough, but it was I who owed him my thanks, for it was the only real pleasure which I enjoyed in Constantinople. I asked him whether the lady was from Venice, but he only answered by a significant smile.
"The worthy Ismail," said M. de Bonneval to me, as we were leaving the house late in the evening, "has been to-day the dupe of his vanity, and I have no doubt that he is sorry already for what he has done. To bring out his beautiful slave to dance with you! According to the prejudices of this country it is injurious to his dignity, for you are sure to have kindled an amorous flame in the poor girl's breast. I would advise you to be careful and to keep on your guard, because she will try to get up some intrigue with you; but be prudent, for intrigues are always dangerous in Turkey."
Porter, James: Observations on the religion, law, governemnet, and manners of the Turcs. London, Nourse, 1771.
Harems in Turkey, 1746
I have heard it averred by a person of great vracity, who had lived for some years in a Sultan’s Harem of the blood-royal, that it was impossible for women to behave with ore decency and modesty than the Turkish ladies did, and that they treated each other wth the greatest politeness. In families of the highest class, where education is more exalted, where reading their own language, or the Arabian, is carefully cultivated; precepts of virtue and morality, of gentle demeanor and good breading, of chastity of manners, with whatever decorates the sex, and renders it amiable, are likely to be inculcated.
But, in general, it is known that the women who are sold or presented to their great men, either for wives or concubines, have their price and value regulated not only according to the beauty or form of the person, but according to those acquired graces, and artificial allurements, which they have industriously been taught: these are always such as may conduce to raise and inflame the passions. Hence they teach them vocal and instrumental music; certain peculiar affectations in their gait; and often such dances as to a modest spectator would appear rather indecent.
Dancing in harems and by Greeks in Turkey, 1746
It is difficult to give a just account of the manner in which Turks, men or women, spend their time when at home. Some of the former are undoubtedly studious, though most of them seem ever busied about money-affairs and their personal interest. When they are disposed to enjoy some relaxation among themselves, the diversions are story-telling, quaint jokes, chess or draughts; and not unfrequently they amuse themselves with dancers and musicians, who ply in the different parts of the town for employment.
If none of the company is sufficiently facetious to entertain the rest with that low ribaldry in which they chiefly delight, they find some dependant, whether Greek, Armenian, or Jew, who acts the part. These take their place, in the middle of the room, on their knees, and tell their story, or repeat their joke; whilst the grave Turk smokes his pipe on the corner of the sopha, and now and then testifies his approbation with a smile, or a dry laugh.
Gaming they highly detest, and look on a Coomerbas, a gamester who plays for money, as worse than a common thief; no being is more odious in their eyes: they, therefore, never touch a chess-table, or a draught-board, but for mere amusement.
Their dancers they have from amongst the Greeks; and what appears most unaccountable, unless we suppose it arises from the absolute contempt in which they hold that people, is, that the Turks, born in the same climate, and mixed some centuries with them, have not yet adopted their mirth and jollity; and that they can hear and see them continually dancing and singing, without stirring a leg themselves, or joining in a chorus. Such of them as use the sea, are of necessity mixed among some hundreds of Greek mariners, who when they are on shore, or, indeed, on board their ship, are never without musick and dancing; yet a Turk is never found revelling with them.
Nay, the men of high, or even middling rank among them, seem to look on dancing, in respect of themselves, as unbecoming the dignity of man; befitting only the meanest and most abandoned of their species: they think with the ancient Romans - Nemo fere saltat sobrius nisi forte insanit: “No one dances, unless he is drunk or mad.” They therefore never fall into that excess, except when they are quite mad, or almost dead drunk; indeed they are never so by halves; and then they seldom fail to call in, at least, the public dancers, whose obscene gestures prohibit the glance of a chaste eye.
Their own vocal and instrumental music they have in esteem. The vocal has a sharp, shrill tone, as it were through the nose of the singer; the voice is nevertheless pleasing; and with all the discordancy of instruments, there is yet something great and martial in the combined sounds of the whole.
However, no Turk of any fashion will deign to touch an instrument [A well known Greek Vaivode, or prince, of Moldavia, obtained that dignity by playing on the guitar to one Ephraim, or Ibrahim Effendi, a favourite of the Grand Seignor’s.]; they hire minstrels, or have women, or slaves, bred up for that purpose. But what is remarkable, neither Italian nor French music, vocal or instrumental, makes the least impression on them; their organs, or their conceptions, are not accommodated to such sounds; it seems to affect them like hearing an unknown language.
The womem’s great accomplishments are singing and dancing; the men look on them as congenial to the sex; but they are practised in private only, amongst themselves, simply as domestic amusements, or to pass an idle hour. In many Harems, indeed, I have heard that they embroider and spin.
The Romeika and the Pyrrhic dance, 1746
Tho’ the modern Greeks are almost strangers to the virtues, or to all arts and learning of the antients, they have surprisingly retained their levity. Without the least knowledge of Homer, Anacreon, or Theocritus, they abound in poetry, such as it is, love songs, ballads, and pastorals; they are incessantly singing or dancing.
They have carefully preserved the Cretan Lyre, and Pan’s pipe, the septem imparibus calamis, “seven unequal reeds,” and also the pipe of the Arcadian Shepherds.
They still use the ancient long dance led by one person, either with women alone, or intermixed with men and women, called by pre-eminence the Romeika, or Greek dance.
They have also the manly martial Pyrrhic dance, and those most obscene infamous love dances, accompanied with the Ionici Motus, offensive to all modesty and decency.
Stanford, W. B. & Finopoulos, E. J. (eds.): The travels of Lord Charlemont in Greece & Turkey from his own unpublished journals. London, Trigraph, 1984.
Travellers dancing with Greek country girls in Chios, 1749
We were indeed told that the fear of the Captain Pasha prevented us from seeing the women on festival days in their best apparel, lest by appearing too rich they might be accordingly plundered; and we were also given to understand that our amusements were injured by the levantis, as, through fear of them the ladies were more reserved than they otherwise would have been. Yet did not this prevent us, on the eve of our departure, from getting together a parcel of pretty country girls, with whom we danced Greek dances on the shore for a couple of hours, and this, too, close to a spot not a little dignified by its appellation, the school of Homer, which is no other than a circular seat, a small amphitheatre, cut out of the solid rock, with a square seat of the same rock in the centre, which has the appearance of a kind of pulpit from which lectures might be read to the surrounding disciples. On each side of the pulpit are lions carved out of the same material, but they are nearly defaced by time, and by the corrosive quality of the sea air. The mountains, which in this place approach the shore, are styled Homer's rocks, and this I mention to show that a tradition still prevails in the country that this island had given birth to that immortal bard, for the honour of whose nativity it formerly disputed with six contending cities.
Sailors on the seashore of Delos, Cyclades Islands, 1749
Water also we had been compelled to bring with us from Micone; for the famous fountain Inopus now yields little better than mud, with which its sacred waters are so tainted as to be scarcely drinkable. Here however we passed three pleasant days and nights sleeping upon the seashore, as the only place free from ruins, under an awning made of the sail of our boat. Our beds were of dry seaweed and our dreams were inspired by Phoebus in reward for the pains we had taken to investigate his sacred island. Returning late one evening from our toilsome researches we were agreeably surprised by a singularly pleasing night scene. Three musicians, two lyres and a guitar, passing from Tinos, had spied our boat, and in hopes of employment, had landed here. Our crew, who were all Greeks, had willingly received them, and were dancing their country gambols by the light of a parcel of dry sticks, (for we had no candles), burning in an iron pot. The view of Mount Cynthus, at the foot of which our homely tent was pitched. The contemplation of those venerable ruins, which raised in our minds the most awful and painfully pleasing ideas. The sprightly whimsical music, not a little improved and dignified to our fancy by the respected and consecrated name of lyre, and accompanied by the solemn buzz of the still sea, which served as a sullen base. The grotesque dancing, and the strange illumination, which looked as if prepared for enchantment. All these circumstances, joined to the genial goal of this delightful climate, and a night beyond expression serene and beautiful, contributed to render as agreeable as it was picturesque and singular this unexpected scene.
A ball in Naxos, Cyclades Islands, 1749
Stanford, W. B. & Finopoulos, E. J. (eds.): The travels of Lord Charlemont in Greece & Turkey from his own unpublished journals. London, Trigraph, 1984.
Far from that cynic moroseness, which some miscall philosophy, this true philosopher had retreated from the world, the better to enjoy life, and, as his object was happiness, he still loved and cultivated the sweets of society, of which we were soon made sensible by his frankly inviting us to his house, which with a sincere earnestness he besought us during our abode in the island to make our own. The invitation was too cordial and too pleasing to be refused, and we followed him to a large and handsome habitation, seated upon a beautiful hill just above the town, in the apartments and furniture of which all was simplicity, and that elegant convenience, which is so far superior to magnificence. His wife had for some time been dead, but we were cordially received and welcomed by his son and daughter-in-law, one of the principal women of the island, to whom he had, not long since, given his son in marriage. It was soon known by the people of the country that their patron had received into his house some favoured guests, and presently a concourse assembled from all parts, giving us the most hearty welcome, and assuring us that every good office in their power would be far too little for what they wished to show to those who were favoured by their friend and father. We now sat down to a plentiful repast, and after dinner a walk was propoed by our landlord, who led us through the town, while the inhabitants from all sides crowded about him with every sincere mark of respect and of love. Returning home we found a ball prepared, for which purpose the handsomest youths and the prettiest women of the country were collected together, who were all entertained at supper, and the night closed with Greek dances.
Minuets at Tinos, Cyclades Islands, 1749
The dress and manners of the inhabitants bespeak their affluence, and content is visible in every countenance; but that which most forcibly strikes the traveller's eye, and particularly that of a young traveller, is the wonderful beauty of the women, to which their dress not a little contributes, which, far differing from that of the other islands, is to the last degree elegant and graceful... They are sprightly and affable, and peculiarly remarkable for their skill and agility in dancing, a talent which we put to the test in a ball which was given by our Consul, at which all the belles of the island were assembled, and jollily danced with us till midnight, not only Greek dances, but minuets also, the knowledge of which they have probably retained from the instruction of their old masters the Venetians, to whom also they may be possibly indebted for their dress, which somewhat resembles that of the Venetian contadine, who are remarkable even in the well-dressed Italy for the superior elegance of their garb.
Dervishes in Constantinople, 1749
When at Constantinople we got admission into the monastery of an order of monks called Mevlevis, from Mevleva their founder, though they are, I believe, more universally known by the appellation Dervishes, this general name of all monks being particularly applied to them as the principal order among Mahometans. On the Tuesday and Friday of every week they perform their functions in public, and this was one of those days. We were conducted into a spacious hall, where a number of people were assembled, like us, to behold the ceremony, though with a more religious view. The crowd pressed toward the extremities of the chamber, and a considerable space was left in the centre which was occupied by the monks dressed, as usual, in a gown of coarse whitish cloth, close before and behind, and fastened about the waist with a leather strap. Over this they wear a sort of jacket, so that their dress appears something like a woman’s jacket and petticoat. To the best of my recollection the space where the monks danced was railed in. Women, who are excluded from other religious ceremonies, are allowed to be present at this, a privilege which they never fail to make use of, but so dressed and so closely muffled, that it is impossible to distinguish their shape or to see a feature of their face. On their heads they wore caps of the same colour, usually made of camel’s hair, and, stiffened into the form of a sugar-loaf.
The rites began with a sernon, to us unintelligible. It was preceded by a short hymn, and its purport was, as we were told, a recommendation to charity and to good works. The Superior of the convent then prayed without book, the people saying Amen to every petition. After prayer the long humn of which I [shall give a] translation, was chanted by one of the singers accompanied as in the text, and then ensued the dancing. The whole ceremony lasted about two hours, and began at a quarter after two in the afternoon. To the best of my recollection they left off, and began anew several times at a signal given by their Superior, who was present, but did not dance, sitting, as commanding officer, to give the word of command. It was succeeded by a long hymn, performed with great vociferation, and, to our prejudiced ears, with little music, and accompanied by a sort of flute or hautbois and by a large tabor like a small kettle-drum. A soon as the hymn was ended, the instruments changed their tune into something of a quicker movement, and the monks began to turn themselves round with a velocity not to be described or easily conceived. Our most fixed attention could scarcely count the numbers of their revolutions, but, according to our best reckoning, they must have exceeded sixty in one minute. This painful exercise was continued for a considerable time, till at length the music ceased, and they stopped seemingly undistrurbed by giddiness, and thus the ceremony ended.
Hasselquist, Frederick: Voyages and travels in the Levant in the years 1749, 50, 51, 52. London, L. Davis & C. Reymers, 1766.
Greek women in half-circle, Smyrna, 1749
The diversions of the Carnaval began amongst the Franks, the beginning of the year, with balls and genteel suppers. I was present, the 5th of January, at the entertainment the Dutch Consul Hochpied gave to all the Europeans. Every thing was well conducted, after the European manner. Musick is the only thing, we must put up with, after the manner of the country, which is bad enough. It consisted of two miserable violins, and two lutes, neither of which was well played. This noble art is now no more to be found, in a country where it once had arrived to the highest perfection. In vain may we now look for an Orpheus among the Greeks; but a dance, a remain of the Grecian age, performed by the Greek women, afforded me infinite pleasure. They were about fifteen in number, the foremost of which conducted the dance, by making signs with a garment she held in her hand. The art consisted in keeping an equal half-circle, to be observed under all their different turnings. They likewise several times made a labyrinth, but immediately reassumed their former station. There was somenting particular in this dance, which at first sight, convinced me it was ancient. My conjectures were confirmed by Mr. Peysonell, the French Consul, who hath much knowledge in what relates to Grecian antiquities. He told me, that some monuments or marble had been found, on which this dance was sculptured. It is so agreeable when danced by Greeks, dressed in the ancient manner and conformable to the dance, that no modern invention of this kind seems to equal it. The musick used on this occasion did not appear to me to have been designed for it by the antients. What I afterwards heard them sing, seemed to me better applied.
Male solo dancer holding wooden spoons at a Turkish wedding, Smyrna, 1749
I was politely received here, as well as in every place I went to in town. I could not see the marriage performed, nor the married couple. Very few Turks, much less a Christian, are allowed to be present. But I was at liberty to behold the diversions of the guests, who were in a large room, which always is before the Turks chamber. They consisted here, as in other places, in music and dancing, tho’ quite foreign to our taste. The music were two small kettle drums of copper, and a kind of rough and ill-sounding dulcimer. The musicians beat both so hard, that in a very large room, open on all sides, none could hear what another said, tho’ he spoke loud; but there was nothing like order or time kept. The dance was performed by one person, who might justly be said to dance for all. He was dressed in a short jacket, was bare footed, and looked like a Turkish soldier. He held in each hand two wooden spoons. Thus accoutred, he skipped about the middle of the room, and moved his head and arms as much as his feet, at the same time often bending his body backwards, forwards, and sideways. He held the spoons, two in each hand, in such a manner between his fingers, that he could frequently strike them together, which with the rough music made a noise no ways agreeable to our ears. As far as I could comprehend, the chief pleasure consisted in seeing a person for full three quarters of an hour persist in a motion so strong, as to put the body and every limb at once in full action. By this we may see that something of the customs of the ancient inhabitants of these places, whose greatest diversions consisted in feats of activity, still remains.
Greeks celebrating Easter at Smyrna, 1749
The 15th, Easter-day, the festival of the Armenians and Greeks began. The manner in which it was celebrated by the latter was worth notice, as it testified how much this nation retains of its former inclinations for dissolute diversions at festivals. He that knows what is related about Bachanals, &c. of their ancestors, may here see the remains of them in their offspring. They purchase from their masters the Turks, the liberty of pursuing their pleasures uncontrouled; for which they pay to their Muselem in Smyrna one purse (500 pieces of eight); but in Constantinople they give five or six purses. In consideration of this, they are at liberty, in their houses and in the streets, to get drunk, fight, dance, play, and do every thing their hearts desire. An Easter seldom passes in Constantinople, without some persons being murdered. There was a high mass in both churches on the night before Easter. This concluded about midnight; and scarce was it ended, before the whole congregation cried Χριστός ανέστη, because then their great and long fast had ended, wherefore they in that very moment began to eat of what they had taken to church with them; and having begun their joy in church, they rushed out, in order to return with pleasure to their ordinary food; and this so violently, that I am persuaded many received miserable Easter marks, who were just beginning their joy. A high mass and magnificent procession was performed by the Bishop of St. Trinity church about noon on Easter day, to the honour of our Saviour’s resurrection. There was nothing wanting in point of magnificence and shew, which could attract the attention of the audience.
The 16th and 17th, nothing was to be heard but the Greeks Easter frolicks, in the streets and alleys, houses and yards. They strove, especially the mob, who should eat and drink most. They danced their Greek dances through Frank-street, after bagpipes, drums, and instruments unknown to us, but neither so tuneful or agreeable as to merit much attention. They had a sort made of the peritonaeum of oxen, spread on a circle of wood, which they beat with their fingers. They invent several tricks to get money from those that chuse to look on, to defray the expenses for liquors. Amongst the rest, I saw one who could ballance so well with his head, as to set a large bottle of wine on it, one which he laid a roll, upon this a glass of water, in which he put a rose bush, and with these he danced through the whole street, hopp’d and kept good time. In their songs they often cried Χριστός ανέστη. No murder was heard of, this festival, as the Bishop had on Easter-Eve used the precaution to declare him excommunicated, who should, during the holidays, carry a knife or pistol about him. The Armenians are a more sedate and wise people, and don’t celebrate their holidays with such superfluities. I never saw them dance, drink, or make a noise in the streets; but if they divert themselves, it is done in some house or chan, where the Armenian servants assemble and enjoy innocent diversions, or a company ride out on horseback, in which they greatly delight, and shew that they inherit of their forefathers the art of good horsemanship.
Greeks dance at the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, 1749
They there say prayers by themselves; and to those the common people ascribe the coming of the fire. In the mean time the Greeks, who are the most disorderly Christians, use various inventions in the choir round the Sepulchre; such as the ancients describe to have been used at their Bacchanals. Boys dance and skip about, representing the death and resurrection, and practice a thousand other follies of which the heathens would have been ashamed. This they do, at least so they say, to warm the earth, that the fire may come up more easily.