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William Hunter

Hunter, William: Travels through France, Turkey, and Hungary, to Vienna, in 1792. London, 1803, 2 volumes.

p. 1/308-310

Slaves educated by Jews, 1792

The most beautiful girls are not, however, to be procured at the public market; but are kept in the private houses of the Jews, where they are educated at a great expence, being taught to embroider, to dance, to sing, and to play on divers musical instruments; and where they are seduloulsy initiated in the practice of all the arts and allurements, which the warmth of imagination can conceive, or the tenderness of passion inspire.

Besides the slaves who fill the harams of the men, most of the Turkish ladies of distinction maintain a numerous retinue of these unfortunate females. No expence is spared on their dress or education. Their chief business is to attend at the toilette of their mistress, to adjust or change her attire, or to endeavour to beguile the hours away, by singing and dancing, or playing on the lute or guitar. Their dances, which are highly voluptuous, resemble the Spanish fandango. They use the castanets, and throw themselves into an endless variety of languishing and indecent attitudes, which create ideas they can never realize, and provoke appetites they can never enjoy.


p. 1/319

Parties of Greeks in the village of Belgrade, near Constantinople, 1792

We dined at Mr. Tooke's at Belgrade, where we spent a most agreeable day, and in the evening we took a walk into the wood, which is an enchanting spot. It is of considerable extent, and is planted chiefly with birch, and fruit trees, which form a thick shade, and a delightful retreat from the scorching rays of the summer and autumnal sun. The turf, which is of the brightest verdure, is refreshed by several noble sheets of limpid water; and the sky, for months, is so tranquil and transparent that not a vapour is to be seen. The most refreshing breezes are wafted from the Black Sea, which moderate the heat of the atmosphere; and parties of Greeks frequently assemble in the evening, and pass a few hours in the cheering and rational amusements of music, dance and song. Scenes like these are so demonstrative of happiness, that they always speak with effect to the heart; and the innocent gaiety of an artless peasantry is, perhaps, that particular cast of disposition which conveys to the mind, more forcibly than any thing else, an idea of perfect enjoyment.


p. 1/325

A ball at the Polish ambassador's, Constantinople, 1792

The day before yesterday we dined at Sir Robert Ainslie’s [This gentleman was then ambassador at Constantinople from our Court], and, in the evening, accompanied him to count Potoski’s, the Polish ambassador’s, where a grand festival was given in honour of his sovereign’s birth-day. The count and his suite were richly dressed in the habit of their country, and the walls of the principal room were decorated with wreaths of flowers, twined round mottos which were suitable to the occasion. All the foreign ministers and their ladies, and the best company of Constantinople, were invited, and made altogether a numerous and elegant assemblage. The entertaiment began with a concert of instrumental music, after which the company sat down to a sumptuous supper, and after the supper there was a ball. This nobleman, who is nealry related to the king, in addition to his private fortune, which is very considerable, receives from the Porte, as Polish ambassador, five hundred piasters a day; so that he can well afford to live in splendour.


p. 1/380-381

A circle dance at Galatz, Romania, 1792

When he perceived that his conversation no longer engaged our attention, he collected a band of fiddlers and dancers, whom he has frequently brought to our house ; but I feel so little interested in this pastime, that, since their first exhibition, I have almost always quitted the room. Their favourite dance, which is neither elegant nor sprightly, is, perhaps, worth describing, as it exhibits a feature of national manners. About a dozen men and women, placed alternately, form a circle, which, as long as the dance lasts, is never broken. They display a variety of antic gestures, and, at stated periods, stretch out their arms over their heads, footing at the same time very clumsily, and making a terrible noise with their heels.

Among the musicians, there is a blind old man, who plays on an instrument, which, I imagine, is of his own invention, for I never saw one like it. Though not a very skilful performer, he is considered as the Orpheus of the place, and every body pays him great respect, and listens to him with the profoundest attention.


p. 1/393-394

The Greeks of Galatz, Romania, 1792

This day has been employed in making preparations for our departure, which I ardently hope will take place to-morrow ; for Galatz has nothing to recommend it, neither the beauty of the country, nor the manners of its inhabitants. They are all Greeks, and, considering the short interval which has elapsed since their misfortunes, the life which they lead is singular. Their chief occupations are singing, dancing, fiddling, and drinking. Even those who keep shops are so addicted to idleness, that they shut them up at an early hour, and are frequently absent in the middle of the day. These thoughtless people are carried away by an attachment to dissipation and pleasure, which no misfortunes can stifle or control. They will pursue them in spite of every obstacle. The fascinating enjoyments of love or wine, or the more trivial amusements of dance or song, can, whilst they last, erase from the tablets of recollection the galling chains of power, or the vexatious tyranny of avarice.


p. 2/79

The Mevlevi sect of dervishes, 1792

There is another sect of dervises, still farther removed from any thing rational, whose chief occupation is dancing, with a few of their brethren, to the sound of the flute and other musical instruments, and turning round till they are quite exhausted, and can no longer endure the fatigue. They wear a bonnet of camel’s hair on their heads, and a leathern girlde round their waists. Their garment, which hangs downwards like a woman’s petticoat, when they are wheeling round, flies out from the velocity of the motion, and produces a very ridiculous effect, not unlike that which I have often seen exhibited by the fine dancers at our opera. These poor, misguided, infatuated wretches frequently continue this vertiginous movement for such a length of time, that they at last drop senseless on the floor from excessive exertion, when they are seized with vomiting, and spitting of blood. They pretend that their founder Mevelava kept turning round, without stopping, for fourteen days (whilst his companion Hamsa played on the flute), after which, he fell into ecstasics, and received surprising revelations concerning the establishment of his order: and it is out of respect to his memory, and in imitation of his laudable example, that they perpetuate the practice of dancing to the sound of the flute, marking the time exactly, and moving quicker or slower, as the music varies. They fast every thursday till sunset; and, on tuesdays and fridays, they assemble before their superior, who reads a few sentences from the koran, which are followed by a sermon, by way of exposition. Whilst this ceremony lasts, they observe the most austere gravity, standing motionless, with their arms across, and their eyes fixed stedfastly on the ground, and, at the conclusion, they shout aloud - “There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet.” - A signal is then given, and their exercises commence, which cease, and are  renewed several times, before they separate. Many of these monks pursue other avocations; but a system of imposition, acting, partly on themselves, and partly on others, appears to be the groundwork of their employment and their faith. They are great mountebanks, practise legerdemain, and profess to be skilled in the mysterious arts of divination, sorcery, and magic.


James Dallaway

Dallaway, James: Constantinople, ancient and modern, with excursions to the shores and islands of Archipelago, and on the Troad. London, Cadell & Davies, 1797.

p. 129

Dervishes in Constantinople, 1794

There are thirty-four orders of religious, whose monastic austerity resembles that of the monks and hermits in the Greek or Roman churches. Hadjì Becktash, in 1563, was the institutor of the Itinerants, from whom the other orders have sprung. Mohammèd IV. endeavoured their suppression without effecting it [D’Ohsson Tabl. De l’Emp. Ottom. t. ii. p. 311. The howling or barking dervishes, are so called from their rapid and incessant pronunciation of “ullah-hoo!”].

The Mevlevèh dervishes perform weekly a public worship, which consists of dancing and turning on one foot with incredible rapidity, whilst a red-hot iron is held between the teeth. Totally exhausted by pain and fatigue, they fall to the ground in a senseless trance, when they are removed to their chambers, and nursed with the greatest care, till their recovery enables them to repeat so severe a proof of their devotion. In this ceremony they are accompanied with the softest music produced by the nèh, or traverse flute, the santoòr, or psaltery, and the tamboòr, or guitar. At sun-set they are sometimes seen sitting under the shade in the Campo de’ Morti, and their wild enthusiastic notes have so much sweetness, that I have ceased to listen to them with regret [In 1691, Prince Cantemir, having made the Turkish music his study, composed a treatise upon it, dedicated to Ahmèt III, which is become very rare. To him the Turks owe the adaptation of their airs to notes, many of which are now popular amongst them. The notes were described by numeral characters, as was the mode of the ancient Greeks, the Romans, and the Italians, before the discovery of musical points by Arezzo, and the subsequent invention of the notes now used by Giovanni Maria Perugino. They have both tones and time, with intonations, being more rich than the Europeans in semitones and melody. M. Guys has been misinformed when he asserts that "they have no musical theory;" and Neibbuhr (Voyage en Arabie, t. I, p. 142) has erroneously said that they think themselves dishonoured by the practice of music. The military music consists of harsh hautbois sounded in unison, and many drums of different sizes. Bands of these are retained by the grandees, in proportion to their rank. The number of each instrument in concert ascertains the pretentions of their masters. Toderini sulla Lett. Turchese, t. ii, p. 238.


p. 147-148

Greek wedding procession in the village of Belgrade near Constantinople, 1794

The village of Belgrad is embosomed on all sides in a thick grove, and is now so much less than the paradise described by Lady M. W. Montague, that it is only one of the finest forests in the world.

The site of her former residence is now shown in a desolated field: indeed none of the houses are built to last a century; and that of Sir Everard Fawkener (who came many years after Mr. Wortley) is hastening to decay. Belgrad is the residence of many families connected with the different missions during the months of spring and autumn, but the intermediate season, for which various causes are assigned, is extremely insalubrious.

At the fountain Lady Montague has so picturesquely described, it is amusing to see the Greek females, on a feast day, assembled to draw water, and habited in their gayest attire. The form of the amphora, or pitcher with double handles, and the whole attitude produced by their manner of bearing it on their shoulders, are strong vestiges of the antique. Their dances with garlands, and their rude music of the lyre, zamboona, and meskàle, transmit the customs of the most distant ages to our own days.

I was present at a marriage ceremony between two Greek peasants, the servants of the Prussian envoy. The procession was led on by a dance of men holding each other by the hand, and animated by the loud and rude tones of a tabor and pipe; the first man waving a small flag. The betrothed were supported, each by two men, and distinguished by the richness of their habits, their hair being profusely decked with long shreds of gold tinsel, which was spread so thickly over the face of the bride, that it answered the purpose of a veil. The hands of each were joined by silver clasps, and garlands.


p. 184-186

Greek festival at Mysia, Asia Minor, 1794

We had now passed the confines of Myfia [Myfia is part of the coast of the Propontis, or sea of Marmara, on the north, with the Aegean sea on the west; it is bounded by Bithynia on the east, and on the south by Lydia. It includes the Troad, with mount Ida, and the rivers Simois, Scamander, Granicus, and Aesepus. It is intersected by the Caïcus, which is the principal river], and reaching Lapadion, or Ulabad, we found the Greek convent, which is the usual resort of strangers, engaged by a panagyris, or festival, which all the neighbouring villagers were assembled to celebrate, and we were happy to be present at so novel a scene.

The convent is a mean building with mud walls, inclosing an area, around which are the chambers of the caloyers or religious, and open cloisters. More than two hundred persons attended this ceremony, chiefly women with their children, and girls. At sun-set when we were admitted they were all disposed in groupes, each of which was engaged at a repast they had brought with them; and the men partook liberally of wine. When they had nearly finished, the egumenos, with an attendant caloyer, made a procession through the different parties, bearing a portrait of the panagya, which was very devoutly kissed by all, previous to contributing a small sum of money. The festivities then commenced. Upon a stone pillar, once a polished column, was placed a large flambeau of pine wood; the musicians with great energy tuned their lyres, and the girls prepared to dance around it. About twenty of them, many of whom were exquisitely beautiful, holding each other by the hand, formed a large circle, and moved at first slowly and gracefully. The dance soon became more animated, and consisted in their coiling round their leader with a kind of reel; who, waving an embroidered handkerchief, disingaged herself with much dexterity.

[The modern Greeks certainly retain several of the ancient figures in dancing. M. Guys, in his florid work, containing a parallel between the customs of the ancient and modern Greeks, seems frequently to have mistaken general analogy for exact resemblance. Many of his quotations have too vague an application to the subject in question, and show more ingenuity than proof. It must be allowed, notwithstanding, that he has pursued a very curious inquiry with spirit and elegance.

Of the very numerous catalogue of ancient dances, those most in modern request seem to be the Απόκινος, performed by boys effeminately dressed, for the entertainment of the Turks, and in harems by girls. Martial describes it in the eightieth epigram of his fifth book.

"Nec de Gadibus improbis puellae

"Vibrabant sine fine prurientes

"Lascivos docili tremore lumbos."

And Juvenal, in his eleventh satire, has a similar passage. The Γέρανοςwas likewise a dance in honour of Theseus, similar to that called the Ariadne. The Pyrhica Saltatio, as used in modern Greece, is described by Bellonius, l. i. c. xx. M. De Guys, in one of his letters, observes, "Les danses champêtres en honour de Flora vous avez souvent vu, le premier Mai, a l'Isle des Princes & ailleurs, les femmes et les filles de village aller danser dans la prairie, cueiller & ripandre des fleurs, et s'en orner de la tête aux pieds. Celle qui conduit la danse, toujours-mieux parce que les autres represente Flore & le Printems dont l'hymne qu'on chant annonce le retour. Unedesdanseuseschante

"Καλώς ελθεν η Νυμφήμας ή Μαία! ή Μαία!"

L'air de l'hymne e tendre e plein d'expression." Voyage litteraire de la Grece, t. i. p. 200.

"Il n'y a point de maitres a danser chez les Grecs, une disposition plus particuliere y rend les maitres moins necessaires. Une Mere au sein de sa famille apprend a ses enfans la meme danse que sa mere lui a apprise, elle la danse avec eux et leur chant tout en dansant l'histoire dont la danse exprime le sujet." Do. t. i. p. 206.

Dances choral were frequent likewise amongst the ancient Greeks. Athenaei Saltationum Catalog. Pollucis, l. iv. c. 14, & c.]

Her place was then ceded to the next, and the dance continued, till all had taken it. It was the ancient dance of Ariadne,or the labyrinth. Many others, as the Romeika, and the Flora on the first of May, are accompanied by the voices of the dancers in recitative; but in this instance the attempt had been vain, for the instruments were discordantly loud. Little can be said in praise of the air, or the performers, who were three lyrists, and a man who played the zamboorìa [An instrument called by the Italians “zampogna,” corrupted from sambuca, as the pipe was usually made of elder; adopted by the Greeks from the Orientals. The “miskal,” resembling the syrinx of Pan seen on ancient statues, but rarely of the same shape, is in frequent use in the Levant. They are sometimes made double, and the number of reeds varies from five to twenty-three, and generally incurvated.] or bagpipes, all of whom sang and paraded behind the dancers. When this was concluded, we were entertained by another style of dancing by two young men, whose heads were crowned with flowers, as being betrothed to girls, who were likewise distinguished by chains of small gold and silver coin, interlaced with their hair. They exerted themselves to the utmost in presence of their mistresses, who were amongst the most earnest spectators. Their movement was rapid and fantastic, exactly as represented in the statue of the dancing fawn. This dance has equal pretensions to antiquity, as an imitation of the “Pyrhica saltatio.” As the night advanced, some of the men sang very loudly in chorus, others recited scenes of rude comedy, and their mirth continued boisterous and unrestrained till break of day.


p. 232

Indecent troops of Greek boys and girls at Mount Mycale, Asia Minor, 1794

The happiness of a Turk is of the quiescent sort. It is not unusual for a good citizen of Constantinople to leave his house at a very early hour, and to resort to one of these bowers, where, in a fume of tobacco, and almost perfect silence, the whole day is passed; and he returns highly satisfied with the relaxation. In the same manner harems of women are brought in painted waggons, drawn by white oxen finely harnessed, and indulge themselves in more activity and freedom. Indeed, at many of these retreats, the amusements are not so pure and simple, where are troops of Greek boys and girls who dance, like the ancient Lydians, and set all decency at defiance [Abbé Bartelemy has happily pourtrayed the music and dances of the Ionians. “Il regne (says he) dans leurs dances et leur musique une libertè, qui commence par revolter et finit par seduire.”]. A large scene drawn across cuts off all communication between men and women at these places, whose retirement is held sacred. I have satisfied my curiosity by procuring translations of the songs which are most admired by them, all of which describe the torture of ungratified passion, without an expression of sentiment or refinement; but such is the debased rank that the sex holds in the scale of eastern society; and the Turks, like the ancient Romans, “marry without love, and love without decency or respect.”


p. 248

Greek festival at the coast of Asia Minor, 1795

From an eminence above the sea, such as were oftentimes consecrated to Neptune, with a votive altar at least, are the walls of a round tower, and many sarcophagi, some of which appear to have been never opened.

We here gained a preferable view of the temple and village, and turning round, of the Icarian sea, with the islands of Patmos, Leros, Calimnos, Archufa, and Lipso, the varied outlines of which added much to the prospect. It was a festival, and the villagers were dancing by moonlight, in a manner said to have been practised by the ancients. They were men only, and all singing with the lyrist, who walked abreast with their leader.

[“So cheereful are they in poverty, that they will dance whilest their legs will bear them, and sing ‘till they grow hoarse, secured from the cares and feares that accompany riches" Sandy's Travels, p. 14.

De Guys describes the Pyrhic or military dances. "Ορμος & Οπλοποιία", as still existing. "Quelquefois, dans ces danses un Joueur de lyre conduit la troupe et les danseurs le suivent en reglant leurs pas sur le son de son instrument." Voyage literaire, v. i. p. 181.

In the justness of the following remark, he seems to wave that spirit of establishing an hypothesis upon slender analogy, and to speak plain truth. "La seule comparaison avec les danses antiques peut leur donner quelque prix, ou les rendre interessantes pour ceux qui les ayant vues dans le pays même, ont éte plus frappée de l'espece de merite attaché a cette resemblance a que de celui de l'execution." Ibid.

The most common dance is the Romeika, with men or girls, but seldon with both. There are likewise the Candiote, the Wallachian, and the Arnaoute, or Albanian. "La dance parmi les Grecs faisoit une partie de la gymnastique. Elle endroit dans les exercises militaire, elle eroit elle même en plusieurs cas ordonnee par les medicins, elle etoit affectee a toutes les conditions. Elle venoit toujours a la suite des festins, elle animoit toutes les fêtes, les poetes mêmes recitoient, et chantoient leurs vers en dansant." Ibid. p. 163.

"Crispum sub crotalo doctu movere latus". Virg. Copa, v. 2.]

The song was dronish, with long-holding notes without melody; and the story of Orpheus leading the brutes seemed to be no longer a fable. The modern lyre is shaped like a tenor violin, with a shorter finger-board, three strings, and very rude workmanship; or it may resemble the old English rebeck, which Milton calls “jocund.” When played on they hold it at arms’ length. The hilarity of these merry Greeks, which was continued for the greater part of the night, interrupted our repose in no small degree, as we reclined beneath the thatch of a neighbouring cottage. We had now reached the extent of the journey.


p. 282

Women in the streets of Chios, 1794

In recounting these bounties of nature, the singular beauty of the female inhabitants must not be omitted. (P. de la Valle recounts their gaiety, with great delight, "non si fà mai altro che canatre, ballare e stare in conversatione con le donne, e non solo il giorno ma la notte ancora." Viaggio, p. 32). As we walked through the town, on a Sunday evening, the streets were filled with women dancing, or sitting in groupes at their doors, dressed in the fashion of the island, which is scrupulously confined to the natives. The girls have most brilliant complexions, with features regular and delicate; but one style of countenance prevails. When without a veil, the head is covered with a close coif, confining the hair excepting a few locks round the face, which are bathed in perfumed oil, and curled likewise, as in Vandyke's or Lely's portraits. Some have veils of muslin tyed a l'antique, and flowing gracefully behind. The shift sleeves are exposed, of thin gauze full and open, and the outer vest does not reach far below the knees, with an apron of coloured tiffany, worn as high as the bosom. It is always of gaudy silk thickly plaited in narrow folds, stiffened with whalebone, like a hoop, and fastened under the chin, being quite flat upon the breasts. It appears, much as if one of the most fanciful of our English ladies of fashion should wear her petticoat tyed round her neck, and poke her arms through the sides; or, by a more grotesque comparison, a tortoise walking upright. The flippers are loose and sometimes embroidered, with stockings of white silk or cotton, extremely neat. The ringlets, which are so elegantly disposed round the sweet countenances of these fair Chiotes, are such as Milton describes by "hyacynthine locks," crisped and curled like the blossoms of that flower. No dress more unbecoming than that which envelopes their shapes, could have been imagined; but their faces make ample amends, with eyes varying with infinite expression from softenss to vivacity.



John B. S. Morritt of Rokeby

Marindin, G.E. (ed.): The letters of John B. S. Morritt of Rokeby. London, Murray, 1914.

p. 81

A ball given by the Russian ambassador at Buyuk Déré, Constantinople, 1794

Buyuk Déré is a pretty village with a long quay upon the Bosphorus, in a very pretty part of it, where it is rather more broad. We only stayed one day, which was of course merely employed in visiting Ambassadors, and - would you believe it? - a ball here in the dog-days. I own I did not dance many dances, as you can have no idea of the heat. It was given by the Russian Ambassador, who, I fancy, thought he was at Petersburg. I had letters to him from some friends at Vienna, and he has been so civil as to offer us quarters in his country house, which we mean soon to accept, and see from thence the environs of Buyuk Déré towards the Black Sea.


p. 82

The French dance the carmagnole round a tree in Constantinople, 1794

The number of French is here very great, and that of their friends still greater, the Porte taking no open part in acknowledging or favouring them, but rather inclining that way till very lately. They sport here cockades and red caps, and have a tree of liberty in the yard of their Ambassador, who is not, however, openly acknowledged by the Porte. They dance their carmagnole round this on any good news, and to-morrow we expect to see a most superb exhibition of this kind, as it is their famous tenth of August.


p. 96-97

Dervishes in Constantinople, 1794

The next thing I find mentioned in my notes are the dervishes, whom I went to see just before we left the place. They are pretty numerous both in Galata and Scutari, where they have dances, and public meetings on Monday and Friday at Galata, on Tuesday and Thursday at the other. We were shown into a large room, round which sat on the mats the spectators. The middle was railed in like the circus at Ashley's, and in a gallery above was some music consisting chiefly of flutes and drums. About twenty of the dervishes below sat round this inner circle, and the president recites something aloud in a singing tone, which they join in with all the mummery of prostrating themselves, etc. The music strikes up slowly, and they walk round the room some time; when the music grows brisker they take off their upper garments, and, clothed in nothing but a vest with sleeves and a very long cloth petticoat, begin the dance. The first turns round to the second, and bowing first to the president and then to him, begins to whirl round like a child making himself giddy. His petticoats with the velocity of the motion spread out and leave him exactly the figure that, if I recollect, is drawn in the religious ceremonies. The second follows his example, and in this manner the whole whirl round and round for more than half an hour with their arms extended, then prostrate themselves, walk about, and begin again. How they can by any practice bring themselves to be able to do it without falling from giddiness I cannot conceive. I am sure you will agree with me in thinking it a great religious acquirement, and not wonder when I tell you we returned to our house extremely edified and improved by it.

At Scutari they are still more determined to get to paradise, for during the dance they amuse themselves by cutting their arms and bodies with sharp knives till the blood spurts out, holding hot irons in their teeth and mouth, with many other feats of this sort. We did not see them; and as these exploits can be easily conceived, and they do not in other respects differ from what we were present at, I cannot say I much regret missing so disgusting a sight, as you will easily suppose it was.



French sailors wearing the cockade dance round the tree of liberty in Smyrna, 1794

The sailors in the French vessels all wear the cockade or bonnet rouge, and amuse us with national airs all day long; however, they are now very orderly and well behaved there, thanks to Mr. Liston, who bullied the Turks till they checked them. The English vessels have twice or thrice lately escaped their clutches, and made them quite outrageous about it. They had about a month ago received their new colours, which was some trifling alteration in the flag, and, instead of cruising, were in harbour dancing round the tree of liberty and celebrating a grand national fête. Just at that moment arrived safe an English merchant ship they had been in quest of for a fortnight, and dropped anchor just before them.



A buffoon at the Pasha'a palace in Tripolitza, Morea, 1795

We went in the evening, and found an immense and mean-looking range of buildings round a large court, which was the Pasha’s palace. The court was lighted very well by pans of blazing tar set up on poles. We found an amazing number of Turks of all ranks walking in a dirty gallery behind the house, open, with sheds like a booth, to the court. We went to the dragoman’s office attended by ours, for his only speaks Greek and Turkish. While we were here a Turkish buffoon came in to make us laugh, as he did the Pasha, and danced, imitating lameness, etc., with a thousand grimacings and face-makings of this same style. The dragoman gives him, and almost all the lower people of the house, money every week, and other greater officers do the same; this is the way a Pasha’s servants are paid.


p. 205

Shots fired during the dance in Mani (Maina), Morea, 1795

In case of an attack upon their country they arm both men and women, and their whole force amounts to about fifteen thousand. You would never do for a Mainote lady. It would be a disgrace for them to stay behind when their husbands and sons are in danger. Every little district is united by all the ties of kindred, and they are all brothers, sisters, and cousins in these villages. Fighting side by side, and with their wives and children around them, can you conceive a more formidable corps than the smallest clan so animated? I must allow that the ladies, beautiful as they are, are rather farouches in their ideas of honour, as at one captain's where we had a ball they apologised for not having better music, as a favourite fiddler having made too free either with the person or reputation of a fair lady here aroused the vengeance of the softer sex, and she shot him through the head upon the spot. The gentlemen, too, would have rather alarmed you as partners, for each of them danced with a large brace of loaded pistols in his belt, and by way of entertaining the ladies a shot was fired out of the window about every ten minutes to enliven the dance.


p. 215-216

Teaching English country dances and waltzes, Cyclades Islands, 1795

The Cyclades and all the islands in that part are entirely in the hands of Greeks, and the Turks make them pay an annual tribute, and give them very little other trouble. At Zea, Tenos, and Myconè we saw very few remains of antiquity worth notice; they are barren and rocky, but, from the peace and freedom they live in, are much cultivated, and Tenos particularly is covered with villages and gardens. Their great trade is silk, and all the Tenians, from the highest to the lowest, are knitters of silk stockings,  gloves, etc., which is for such an island no inconsiderable branch of commerce. As we were detained by weather at most of these places, we kept ourselves in good humour by giving balls to the belles Grecques and teaching English country dances and waltzes à la mode de Vienne.

You hear often in England of the beauty of the Greek women; I assure you the account does not exaggerate it, and at Tenos, but above all at Myconè, no account can. A fiddle is a general point de ralliement for the whole town, especially as at the Consul's houses we were usually a large party of young people and had our partners in the house, as most of them have families. You will conceive, therefore, that when we had bad weather out of doors we had generally very good within, and as they are lovers of dancing, at Tenos particularly, when we had not a fiddle we sang, and danced from morning to night so. We make great progress in modern Greek, and begin to talk pretty intelligibly, so that we at least gained something by our misfortunes.


p. 242

Entertaining the Turkish aga of Pyrgos, Morea, 27/08/1795

Pyrgo, August 27, 1795.

Dear Mother,

We have just been dining with a Turkish Aga, and sitting cross-legged half the evening seeing a parcel of fellows making fools of themselves to amuse us and him; a sight which never fails of making me melancholy, but which a Greek or a Turk thinks the height of merriment and jollity. Nothing is there, I am convinced, which is so difficult as to make merry; it does not consist in singing, dancing, or getting drunk, and is by no means synonymous with making a noise, and though very few people, except men of sense, can be really merry fellows, yet every ass one meets always pretends to it. Such have been my internal reflections this whole evening, and such they have frequently been in other places than Turkey. In Germany, France, etc., the English are renowned for the jollity of their parties; therefore, when you are complimented by a partie à l’Anglaise, as I have more than once been abroad, the first thing done is to be bongré malgré extremely noisy, which always ends in half the parties being stupidly drunk, and the other half being as stupidly sober.

Robert Walpole

Walpole, Robert: Memoirs relating to European and Asiatic Turkey... London, Longman, 1818.

p. 48

At the village Kitreés, region of Mani, Morea, 1795

In the course of the afternoon we walked into some of the neighbouring villages; the inhabitants were every where dancing and enjoying themselves on the green, and those of the houses and little harbour of Kitreés with the crews of two small boats that were moored there, were employed in the same way, till late in the evening. We found our friend Zanetachi well acquainted with both the ancient and modern state of Maina, having been for several years the Bey of the district. From him I derived much of the information to which I have recourse in describing the manners and principles of the Mainiots. He told me that in case of necessity, on an attack from the Turks, the numbers they could bring to act, consisting of every man in the country able to bear arms, amounted to about 12,000. All of these were trained to the use of the rifle even from their childhood, and after they grew up were possessed of one without which they never appeared; and, indeed, it was as much a part of their dress as a sword formerly was of an English gentleman. Their constant familiarity with this weapon had rendered them singularly expert in the use of it; there are fields near every village where the boys practised at the target, and even the girls and women took their part in this martial amusement.


p. 50-51

Dances on the green at the village Cardamyla of Mani, Morea, 1795

We were shown the spot where the children of the village are taught the use of the rifle, and found that they practised it at ten, and even eight years of age. A groupe of girls and women on the village green were slinging stones and bullets at a mark, and seemed very expert. Their figures were light and active, but neither these nor their faces were more coarse or masculine than those of their languid and enervated countrywomen. The chief of Cardamyla assured us, that in their pretty wars, they had more than once followed their fathers and brothers to the field, and that the men were more eager to distinguish themselves before the eyes of their female companions, and partakers in the danger. Dances on the green succeeded in this season of festivity to these female gymnastics, unitl the evening closed on our gaiety.


p. 52-53

At the house of Captain Christea in Platsa, Mani, Morea, 15/04/1795

April 15.- We staid a day at this singular mansion, and were prevented in the morning by a heavy rain from extending our rambles beyond the castle. We dined with the family at twelve o'clock, and after dinner went to the great room of the castle. In it, and on the green before it, we found near a hundred people of both sexes and of all ages assembled, and partaking of the chief's hospitality. They flocked from all the neighbouring villages, and were dancing with great vivacity. The men during the dance, repeatedly fired their pistols through the windows, as an accompaniment to their wild gaiety; and the shouts and laughter and noise were indescribable. Among other dances, the Ariadne, mentioned in De Guy's Travels, was introduced, and many which we had not yet seen in Greece. The men and women danced together, which was not so usual on the continent as in the islands. On my complimenting the Capitano on the performance of his lyrist, who scraped several airs on a three-stringed rebeck, here dignified with the name of λύρη, a lyre, he told me with regret, that he had indeed been fortunate enough to possess a most accomplished musician, a German, who played not only Greek dances, but many Italian and German songs; but that in 1794 his fiddler, brought up in the laxer morals of western Europe, and unmindful of the rigid principles of Maina, had so offended by his proposals the indignant chastity of a pretty woman in the neighbourhood, that she shot him dead on the spot with a pistol. As evening approached, the strangers departed to their homes after a rifle salute, in the manner and form observed to us on our leaving the boat the day before. We again passed the night at Christeia's house, and set out for Vitulo the next morning.


p. 124-125

Gypsies at Bounarbashi, Dardanelles, 1801

In the evening we reached the town of Boyuk Bounarbashi, or the greater Bounarbashi, so called to distinguish it from the village of the same name at the top of the Scamandrian plain. We found this town very gay and noisy on account of the celebration of a Turkish wedding; and before we retired to rest, a band of musicians, who had been brought to the wedding-feast from the Dardanelles came to our lodgings with a set of dancers. The concert was composed of three instruments not unlike clarionets, and a number of drums of different sizes. The shrillness of the pipes, and the stunning noise of the drums were ill suited to the little room in which we were sitting. Both musicians and dancers were strolling gypsies in the Turkish dress; one acted the part of clown or buffoon; and the dance was altogether so indecent, that we soon dismissed them.


 Women dancing in Livadakia of Chalki - 1795~

Watercolor by Ferdinand Bauer.

Ελληνίδες χορεύουν στα Λειβαδάκια της Χάλκης - 1795~

Υδατογραφία του Ferdinand Bauer.


Man from the island of Siphnos (Homme de l’isle de Siphanto) - 1796

Colored copper engraving from a drawing by Grasset St. Sauveur (??), 15.5 x 12 cm.

Ανδρας από την νήσο Σίφνο - 1796

Χρωματισμένη χαλκογραφία από σχέδιο του Grasset St. Sauveur (??), 15,5 x 12 εκ. 




Woman of the island of Candia (Femme de l’isle de Candie) - 1796

Colored coper engraving from a drawing by Grasset St. Sauveur [??], 15.5 x 12 cm.

Γυναίκα της νήσου Κάντιας - 1796

Χρωματισμένη χαλκογραφία από σχέδιο του GrassetSt. Sauveur [??], 15,5 x 12 εκ.



A. L. Castellan


Castellan, A. L.: Turkey, being a description… in six volumes. London, Ackermann, 1821, vol. 6.

p. 6/132-133

Professional dancers entertaining a guild in Turkey, 1797

The ceremony of admitting journey men to be masters takes place every three or four years. The whole body of the trade assemble; the candidates present their masters with a large nosegay of flowers and a silk handkerchief; they likewise give one to the chief of the trade, and then kiss the hands of all the masters who attend the ceremony and are seated round the apartment. They sit down to table and the bottle circulates. Each journeyman carries a tray containing several dishes and sets it before his master; and dancers and musicians, paid by the journeyman, entertain the company during the repast.


p. 6/217-218

Professional dancing-girls in the harems of Turkey, 1797

The women indemnify themselves for the loss of their liberty by amusements more or less innocent. They are sometimes permitted to have in the harem dancing-girls, women who perform sleight-of-hand tricks, and even the magic lantern, in which the subjects represented are not always the most chaste. They also perform burlesque comedies together, the principal drift of which is to take off the Christians and to ridicule their manners, customs and religion. The chief characters are those of  Cara-gueuz and Hadjy-aiwatte, which closely resemble the harlequin and pantaloon of the Italians. None but the Greek women, who affect the European manners, play at dice, cards and other games of chance.


p. 6/222-223

Troops of young dancing-girls entertaining families in Turkey, 1797

A rich man in Turkey divides his leisure between his women and the bath, prayer and coffee. But there is another amusement common to all classes, enjoyed by all with an equal degree of pleasure, and with which the meanest beggar can no more dispense than the grand-signor: - this is the pipe. It is seen in every street and in every hand, of all sizes, prices and qualities. In Turkey, pipes are offered to all comers, as refreshments are with us.

In fine weather, the privacies of the harem are often sacrificed by people of distinction to the pleasure of drinking coffee, smoking under the plane-trees in the environs of Constantinople, watching the antics of troops of young dancing-girls, and thus entertaining their families and friends. By a slight relaxation of the national institutions, women are allowed to be of these parties of pleasure: but strangers, friends and kinsmen must keep at a respectful distance: nay even their husbands or their masters never mingle among them. After a conversation that is always extremely insipid, and after smoking their pipes and drinking their coffee in silence, they retire alone, leaving their eunuchs and coachmen to take the ladies home.

F. C. H. L. Pouqueville

Pouqueville, F.C.: Travels in the Morea, Albania, and other parts of the Ottoman Empire. London, Henry Colburn, 1813.

p. 26

Dancers among the servants of the pasha's palace in Ioannina, Epirus, 1798

The palace is encumbered with an immense number of servants; this was a great species of luxury among the Romans, it is so among the Turks, who have succeeded them in the possession of these fine countries. Among this crowd of servants are coffee-makers, furnishers of pipes, sherbet makers, confectioners, bathers, taylors, barbers, huissiers or tchiaoux, icholans or dwarf pages of his highness, buffoons, musicians, puppet-show men, exhibitors of magic lanterns, wrestlers, conjurers, dancers, an iman, and lastly the dgellah or executioner, the pasha’s right hand, without whom he never stirs, and who is the only person that has the privilege of sitting in his presence.

The harem, when it exists, has its particular servants, but we must lower extremely the ideas which some travellers have given of the luxury and magnificence that reign in this abode. They would have given a much more accurate idea of it, if they had painted it as the habitation of ennui and jealousy, and, worse still, of desires always craving and never satisfied. Music, dancing, the castanets, these are the fleeting pleasures of the victims here immured, but never was true love its inhabitant. Embroidery is the great business of their lives, and every day but brings the same circle of relaxations, of ennui, of sadness, and of monotony.


p. 27-28

Boy dancers in Ioannina, Epirus, 1798

Apollo, king of the Menades! Deities of Eurotas! valleys beloved by the Muses, and the celestial choirs! what horrible songs now torture the echoes of your mountains! They only answer to the sounds of barbarous music, composed of discordant and noisy instruments, which cannot even be drowned by the roll of the great drum, or the clatter of the cymbals. The ear of a Turk, however, even more depraved than that of the satyr Marsyas, whose want of taste for the lyre was so cruelly punished, can be pleased with this crash, and repay it with eager applause. To amuse our ennui, or perhaps rather in order to display their own talents, the pages or icholans of the pasha would sometimes regale us with a concert after their fashion. The sweetness of their songs, united with a certain melancholy excited by some of their instruments [Their instruments consist of the tumbelek, a sort of wooden cymbal covered with skin like a drum, which is struck with little rods; the nei or dervises flute made of a sort of reed; this has a sharp sound like the German flute, and sometimes approaches strongly to the human voice; the siné-kenan, which is, properly speaking, the violo-d’amore, and which they have from Italy: the mescal, a sort of Pandean pipes, composed of three and twenty reeds in such gradations as to produce several octaves; each of the reeds forms three notes, according to the manner in which the breath is introduced: the santour, which is the psaltery, but made with wires and struck with little rods of metal: the dairè, a sort of tambourine with thin plates of brass, used chiefly to mark the time: and the rebat, an instrument played with a bow; it has two strings with a spherical case, and a little hole in the convex part; the Turks had this from the Tartars.], gave me sensations which were not unpleasing. They assumed feminine voices, and gave themselves mincing and affected airs as they sung, dancing to the sound of the castanets, with gestures to which those not accustomed to them could not easily reconcile themselves.


p. 135-138

The dances most practiced among the Greeks, 1798

These games, with the exception of the disc, are now practised by the Greeks at certain epochs, and upon the occasion of certain festivities. It is then that the people, forgetting for an instant their misfortunes, and restored to the natural liveliness of their character, deserve to be studied. What shouts! What bursts of laughter resound on all sides! -what delight sparkles in every eye! Songs are afterwards to be heard from every quarter, while the dances, by turns serious and solemn, or light and airy, from their varied effects give added animation to the scene.

Among the dances which I have seen is one called the Candian dance. This is commonly performed by the young girls, and resembles somewhat the ballets executed on our theatres. It has the appearance of being Ariadne indicating to Theseus the windings of the labyrinth. At least the intrigue or plot of the dance, if I may be allowed the expression, answers to this story. At the same time it may be resolved into many other stories, if it were not that the name leads us to think of this, and that upon such a spot one is irresistibly disposed to refer every thing to ancient times. Those, however, who perform the dance are ignorant even of the name of the unfortunate princess whose adventure they represent: to them it is only a common dance. Yet the tradition of it, according to all appearance, must be referred to very remote antiquity.

In another dance, called the valaque, the young people seem to take a particular delight, from the extreme vivacity with which it is performed. A third dance has the name of the Pyrrhic. Two men armed with ponards advance with measured steps, flourishing their weapons, and pointing them first against their own breasts, then against each other's; after which the dance is continued with violent leaps, and other movements which require great power and strength. The name of this martial exercise recalls the idea of the celebrated king of Epirus, from whom its name seems to be derived. Perhaps it owes its origin to him, or he might at least encourage the adoption of it, as being well suited to his warlike genius. In seeing this dance I could fancy myself transported to ancient Sparta, so strong an affinity did it seem to bear with the amusements of that nation. I must confess that I was almost terrified when I saw the sort of delirium into which the performers had at last worked themselves, thinking that it seemed likely to end in some sanguinary affray.

Besides these historic dances, if so they may be called, there are others performed among the Greeks, one of which called the romeika, or Roman dance, pleased me exceedingly. In the midst of one of the vast saloons of the East, or on a lawn enamelled with flowers, there is something in it altogether enchanting. It begins with a slow and serious movement, which constantly becomes quicker and quicker, till the celerity with which it is performed at last is really astonishing. How charming is that long line of lovely women, holding each other by the hand, passing their arms alternately round each other, and throwing themselves into the finest attitudes. Songs sung by the dancers regulate the time in concert with the instruments. It is to be remarked that this custom, common in the East, of combining the song with the dance, is still to be found in those parts of France which were once occupied by the Romans, particularly at Marseilles, a Greek colony founded by the Phocaeans.

To conclude what I have to say upon the dances most known and most practised among the modern Greeks, it remains only to mention one common among the Albanians, and distinguished by them under the title of the robbers’ dance [Xenophon, in his Retreat of the Ten Thousand, speaks of a robber’s dance very similar to this, which the Greeks performed when they arrived on the shores of the Pontus Euxinus, in their return from the Persian expedition]. This was performed before the pasha by the Albanian soldiers, in a vast hall lighted only by tapers of yellow wax, which threw upon the spectators a pallid, gloomy, and sepulchral hue. There appeared the pasha seated upon his sofa, having in his girdle a poniard and two pistols, and a carbine lying by his side. Round about was his court, composed of soldiers dressed in large cloaks, standing in attitudes expressive of the utmost gloom and solemnity. The executioner, according to his usual privilege, was seated opposite to the pasha, with his fierce eye fixed upon him, as if ready to strike off the head of any one whom his highness might by a sign indicate to him, and lay it humbly at his feet. Such was the scene in which it was performed: such were the spectators of a dance calculated, as its very name imports, only to please such people as the Albanians. The Coryphaei, each with one arm round his neighbour’s neck, and the other hand stuck into his neighbour’s girdle, formed a circle, which beginning in a slow time afterwards made the most rapid movements, still maintaining the same rotatory figure, and mingling with their movements the most horrid cries, all which was accompanied with music beyond expression clamorous and discordant. It sometimes happens that the performers, in order to increase the interest of this dance, introduce into it the Pyrrhian which has been mentioned above, and which in its character accords perfectly with the other. After some time the circle is broke, and the performers disperse themselves in  pursuit of the robbers, whom they at length seize and bring forward in triumph. It must be added, that the Greeks never assemble together in society without dancing. This exercise is the great amusement of persons of all ages; if forms a part of all public festivals. And in the days of repose consecrated to religion, it assists in dissipating the gloom occasioned by their state of slavery.


Rhapsodists still exist, who after the example of ancient times celebrate the exploits of warriors, in such strains as formerly were sung in praise of the buckler of Achilles, of which so many wonders are related, while groupes of women weep at the plaintive accents to which they listen. These songs are generally accompanied by the lyre. With their dances it has been already mentioned that songs are generally mingled. Sometimes the chief of the dancers sings certain strophes, which are afterwards repeated in chorus, to the sound of the lyres, the tambourines and pipes, which regulate the steps of the dancers. These strophes form altogether a hymn or song, extremely celebrated among the modern Greeks; it is indeed almost to them what the rance de vache is to the Swiss. It inspires even the wildest inhabitants of the mountains with gaiety: there is not a shepherd who does not sing it in his valleys, or a sailor who does not warble it on board his ship, as an irresistible charm against ennui. This hymn, in short, heard by the exiled Greek in a distant land, dissolves his heart with the recollection of his country and his paternal roof [It is given in the Appendix, No 2, with an English translation; as are also two other pieces of modern Greek poetry].


p. 148

Greek festivals and weddings, 1798

The august assembly of the faithful, the choir of the holy Sion, separate afterwards to break their fast. The lambs blessed the evening before serve for the repast, they are put upon the spit, basted with fat and rubbed with wild marjoram, and are eaten upon tables set out in the open air. The wine flows in abundance, gaiety abounds, and songs, the precursors of intoxication, announce that the Greek has forgotten the wretchedness of his situation. This whole day is nothing but a scene of banquets and of pleasure: the most lively, the most animated pictures succeed to the sadness and monotony which have so long prevaded every part. The streets, the markets, the hills, the valleys, all are alive, all present the gayest spectacles; dances and other sports are everywhere to be seen; even the churches are scenes of conviviality. The same festivities continue during the week, nay, a spirit of licentiousness creeps in among the people little consistent with the sacred subject which gives rise to it.


The girl who was now taking upon herself the important character of a wife, had been the day before conducted to the bath, according to the custom of the country. Her goods and chattels were then removed, carried by horses, whose manes were ornamented with ribbands and embroidered handkerchiefs; while some children at the same time carried her clothes in baskets decorated with flowers. The dances were begun to the sound of the tambourine at the house of the lover; and curiosity attracted me thither with some of my companions.

But to return to the festival in honour of St. George, from which I have wandered, in order to conduct my young bride through the remaining ceremonies of her nuptials: the plains and slopes around Mantinea were enlivened the whole day by sports and dances. The company, seated together by families upon the turf, partook of a repast which had previously been blessed by the fathers. The guests, full of health, and with good appetites, were not remiss in doing honour to the feast; and the wine flowed freely, while vows were offered up for all their friends and relations, recommending them to St. George: nor was a glass in honour of the saint himself omitted. Then followed pastoral songs, accompanied by the lyre; not such as were heard formerly, when the immortal geniuses of Greece were animated with the true poetic fire; but simple, such as the less cultivated Spartans might be supposed to have sung in the infancy of this species of poetry. Some old songs yet speak of Tityrus; and this name is sometimes given to the ram, who with the bell round his neck marches at the head of the flock. Sometimes, also, it is given to the shepherd. Thus a name which was formerly so celebrated in Arcadia, and to which the sublime muse of Virgil has rendered so sweet a homage, is still preserved in spite of the disordered state of the times. The dances and sports on this occasion only finish with the close of day, when the guests disperse, crowning themselves with garlands of flowers, and sing as they pursue their route to their respective homes.

Amusements such as these cannot take place at the festivals which happen in winter: it is sad to say that these but too generally deserve only the title of orgies. At the Epiphany, when the several members of family assemble together under the roof of the chief, to commemorate the offerings made on this day by the kings, - the Greeks, true to the character given them, of drinkers, in which they seem even to have improved upon their ancestors, are often surprised by Aurora with the glass still in their hands. In the carnival they scarcely ever quit the festive board. The streets of the melancholy town of Tripolitza are at this period filled with shops for eating. There are balls, and some masks carrying thyrses run about the streets pursued by children calling after them Io! Io! At night the young men masked make visits to their friends. I was very much surprised on the last day of this diversion at seeing, after sunset, the country round scattered all over with bonfires of straw, round which the Greeks were leaping and dancing, saying that they were burning the beard of Chronion or Time. I know not whether any tradition mentions such a custom in ancient times, but it did not appear to me one of modern invention.


p. 236

Island of Psara, 1798

This night was very fatiguing to us on account of the rain, by which we were half drowned; being obliged, notwithstanding that it fell in torrents, to remain upon deck. The next day at ten in the morning we anchored in the port of Psara. This island had about a year before been terribly ravaged by the plague; but at the moment when our mariners lowered the sails, we were astonished to see the shore covered with the inhabitants, all dancing to the tambourine.


p. 290

Greek boys in the taverns of Constantinople, 1798

I say that they have no theatrical representations; for I can hardly allow myself to give that appellation to some wretched exhibitions of puppets, the scenes in which are so far from delicate that it is astonishing how men, jealous as the Turks are, can permit their wives to be present at them.

These, however, are not public exhibitions; they are performed only at private houses before the family. The hero of the piece is a certain caragueuse as he is called, who has with him a simpleton called Cogia-Haïvat, answering very much to the English Jack Pudding. He receives buffets destined for his master, and by his stupidity gives occasion for a display of his master’s wit. I have seen many of these farces, in which I did not find the rules of Aristotle much better observed than his manners. The representation of a Jewish burial is often given as an interlude, and the procession concludes with a pie-merchant crying his wares in Portuguese. This arises from the Jews who inhabit Constantinople and the East commonly using the Portuguese language. The bazars are generally thronged with jugglers who make serpents dance to the sound of the drum, with conjurers, and dancing bears: there are besides bands of Bohemians or Egyptians, who execute dances not very proper for public exhibition.

In the taverns, of which there are an infinite number in the capital of the true believers, there are commonly a sort of dancers called yamakis. They are Greeks from the islands of the Archipelago, elegantly dressed, with bracelets and necklaces of precious stones, and with very rich shawls. They have long flowing hair, are perfumed with essences, and highly rouged. The indolent Turks are extremely fond of these dancers; they encourage them by large presents of money: and each fixing upon a favourite, they will often finish even by fighting to maintain the superiority of such or such a yamaki. The guard then interposes, and separates the combatants by rolling the empty barrels in among them; for the barrels and the drinkers are pell-mell together in the same place. After this the tavern is shut up, and the master cannot obtain permission to open it again without paying some piastres.


p. 310

An Armenian wedding in Constantinople, 1798

Among the most amusing things presented to our observation by a residence in Pera, are the processions occasionally to be seen passing through. Some are of a nature so singular that they cannot fail to atttract the attention. I was particularly struck with one that took place not many days after my arrival, which I found upon inquiry to be an Armenian wedding. I should certainly never have suspected what it was if I had not been informed, so sad and solemn did the company appear. The procession began by some people playing upon the flute and the violin, who made the most frightful charivari imaginable. They were accompanied by dancers, who sung and performed their steps at the same time. Next followed a groupe of relations; then men carrying torches of yellow wax, who had much more the appearance of being part of a funeral than of a hymeneal procession. After them came the bride, supported by two of her nearest relations.


p. 323-324

Gypsies at Constantinople, 1798

We hired horses at Chalcedon to go to Scutari. By the way we met with a numerous party of Tchinguenets, or Bohemians, (gipsies), encamped in a field. These people, who belong to no country, wander about the Turkish empire like the Parias in India. Mixed, confounded together, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, they in appearance profess the Mussulman faith, but are not the more exempted from the tribute of the caratch. They amuse the Turks by their dances, and some tolerably pleasing music with which they are accompanied. Their physiognomy speaks a high degree of moral depravity, and they appear strangers to all the principles that form the foundation of human societies. Among them are some who call themselves Egyptian Almees (a sort of vagrant dancers in Egypt). The Turks hold these vagabonds in such extreme contempt, that their name is a term of reproach, and to be suspected of inclining to their manners the highest possible affront. They never come into the towns, but remain sometimes for many days together encamped on the same spot in the fields, living by their legerdemain tricks, robbery, and prostitution.


p. 431

Bulgarians at Constantinople, 1798

Great lovers of music and dancing, they never stir without a pipe. They draw shrill tones from it, at the sound of which all present, even the musician himself, begin to move in cadence. They perform the pyrrhic dance, and some others not very decent. These they often exhibit in the streets of Constantinople, after their spring-excursions above mentioned, when they are about to return home. For the rest, they are sober, brave, industrious, but ignorant to a degree scarcely credible. The women are particularly handsome, and unite with regularity of features a lofty stature, and great dignity of carriage. It is among them, rather than among the Circassians, that the voluptuous monarchs of the East should seek the roses which are to embellish their harems.


Grecian dance - 1798

ColoredengravingbyJ. Parker from a drawing by T. Stothard, published on 1 September 1798.

Ελληνικός χορός - 1798

Χρωματισμένο χαρακτικό του J. Parker από σχέδιο του T. Stothard, που δημοσιεύτηκε την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 1798. 


View of the Acropolis and the Olympian at Athens (Vue du l’Acropole et de l’Olympien à Athènes) - 1799~

Painting [??] by Louis-François Cassas (France 1756-1827).

Αποψη της Ακρόπολης και του Ολυμπίου των Αθηνών - 1799~

Πίνακας [??] του Louis-François Cassas (1756-1827.


Shrove Monday in Athens - 1799~

Watercolor on paper, variation of the previous work, 72 x 105 cm.

 Κούλουμα στην Αθήνα - 1799~

Υδατογραφία σε χαρτί, παραλλαγή του προηγούμενου έργου, 72 x105 εκ.


View of the cloister and the abbey of Bellapais (Vue du cloître de l'abbaye de Bellapais) - 1799

Drawing by Louis-François Cassas (France 1756-1827), dated 1799, pen and black ink, water color and gouache[??], 25 x 37 cm

Αποψη της μονής του αββαείου του Μπελλαπαΐς - 1799

Σχέδιο του Louis-François Cassas (1756-1827), χρονολογημένο 1799, πέννα και μαύρη μελάνη, ακουαρέλα και gouache [??], 25 x 37 εκ.

The temple of Jupiter Olympius with the Parthenon, Athens (Le temple de Jupiter Olympien avec le Parthenon, à Athènes) - 1799~

Watercolor on a drawing by pen and black ink, attributed to Louis-François Cassas (France 1756-1827), 38.5 x 60 cm.

Ο ναός του Ολυμπίου Διός με τον Παρθενώνα, στην Αθήνα - 1799~

Υδατογραφία πάνω σε σχέδιο με πέννα και μελάνι, 38,5 Χ 60 εκ., αποδιδόμενη στον Louis-FrançoisCassas (1756-1827).




 Athenian women - Moreote Greek - 1799

Drawing, sepia on paper, 1799, 36 x 49.5 cm.

Αθηναίες - Ελληνας Μωραΐτης - 1799

Σχέδιο με σέπια σε χαρτί, 1799, 36 x 49,5 εκ. 



Greek dancing boys - 1799

Drawing, sepia on paper, 1799, 36 x 49.5 cm.

Ελληνόπουλα χορευτές - 1799

Σχέδιο με σέπια σε χαρτί, 1799, 36 x 49,5 εκ.


Greek or Toosan dancing boys - 1799

Drawing, sepia on paper, 1799, 36 x 49.5 cm. 

Ελληνόπουλα ή χορευτές Τουσάν - 1799

Σχέδιο με σέπια σε χαρτί, 36 x 49,5 εκ.



William Wittman

Wittman, William: Travels in Turkey, Asia Minor, Syria and across the desert into Egypt, during the years 1799, 1800 and 1801. London, Richard Phillips, 1803.

p. 15

Balls given by the ambassadors at Constantinople, 06/1799

To return to Constantinople. Its population, which has been almost always over-rated, certainly does not exceed four hundred thousand souls; and a great part of this population is absorbed by the suburbs; no Frank, or Christian, being allowed to reside in the city, properly so called. The Franks inhabit Galata and Pera, in the latter of which suburbs are the houses of all the foreign ministers, who frequently give balls, concerts, and other entertainments to the Frank inhabitants. These entertainments are fully attended, more particularly by the Greeks, who are very fond of dancing. During the carnival there are masquerades, in which many of the characters are well supported.


p. 31-32

Greek women at the ball of the Russian ambassador to Constantinople, 1799

This being St. John’s day, the Greeks kept it with much parade. Opposite Buyukdere the river was crouded with boats filled with musicians, who played and sung during the whole of the day. In the evening, bonfires were kindled, and pistols discharged in the air: it was on the whole a scene of great riot and confusion.

On this occasion the Greek women were all of them very handsomely attired, the meanest among them, even the fishermens’ wives, being clad in elegant dresses of silk or velvet, with pelices, lined with ermine of considerable value. This finery, of which they are extremely fond, is generally reserved for the holidays.

Having been indisposed for several days, I did not repeat my visits to Levant Chiflick until the 8th. On the 10th, however, I was so well recovered as to accept the invitation which we received from Monsieur Tomara, the Russian ambassador, to be present at the celebration of the birth day of the Emperor of Russia.

In the eveing we repaired to his palace, where we found a very large party assembled, all the foreign ministers, in their gala dresses, and decorated with their respective orders, being present, with their ladies and suites. The company, which consisted of individuals of almost every nation, in the different costumes by which each is appropriately distinguished, did not break up until between one and two in the morning. The dances were continued until a late hour, the Greek women being passionately fond of that exercise. In the course of the evening refreshments, consisting of sweetmeats, ice creams, cakes, &c. were served; and at midnight there was a cold collation, with wines and other liquors. The entertainment passed off very agreeably.


p. 36

Greeks in Buyukdere, Constantinople, 14/07/1799

On the evening of the 14th I went to a kiosque in Buyukdere, where the Greeks were assembled to sing, dance, and partake of other amusements. I joined the promenade afterwards in the meadow, in which there was a very numerous assemblage of Greeks, Turks, and others. It being Sunday, the inhabitants of all the neighbouring villages were collected; and the groups which were formed, by the variety of their costumes, and the characteristic traits peculiar to each nation, had a very pleasing, and to me a very novel effect. While the Greeks displayed all the gaiety and nonchalance which belong to their character, the Turks, with much gravity, had recourse to their constant companion the pipe, and in the intervals of smoking took coffee.


p. 83-85

Dervishes in Constantinople, 1799

The 18th being her Majesty's birth-day, I was present at a ball and supper given on the occasion by Lord Elgin. The company was very numerous, and the tables splendid and well served. On the morning of the 19th, General Koehler, Major Fletcher, Captain Leake, Mr. Pink the draughtsman, and Mr. Carlisle, from the British ambassador's palace, all of them equipped as Tartars, left Constantinople to proceed to Syria by land.

On the 20th I was present at a religious ceremony of the dervises, or Turkish priests. The house in which they assembled was of an octagon form, with two galleries, the upper of which, supported by pillars, was occupied by musicians, who played very soft and solemn music. In the lower gallery were stationed the Turks and others who attended to witness this very singular service. Round the apartment were hung in frames several Arabic sentences, one of which, in particular, was suspended exactly over the head of the superior of the dervises. He was seated; and each of the dervises, on entering, bowed to him, and then took his place in the lower gallery. Between twenty and thirty of these monks being assembled, the superior repeated a prayer, during the continuance of which they kneeled, and bowed their heads to the floor, which they occasionally appeared to kiss. After they had chaunted for some time, with the accompaniment of the music in the gallery, the superior rose, and with a slow and solemn pace walked three times round the apartment, bowing when he passed the Arabic inscription, beneath which he had been seated. The other dervises now rose, and having repeated this ceremony after him, the superior again seated himself.

The strangest part of the service was yet to come. The fanatical dervises next threw off their mantles, and suddenly letting drop a kind of cloth, or woollen petticoat, began successively to spin round, each of them taking a station, on which he continued to whirl, as if on an axis, during the space of twenty minutes, without coming in contact with those who were nearest to him. In this exercise, in the course of which they turned round with great celerity, to augment the giddiness which was to produce a holy intoxication, they had at first their arms crossed, with their hands placed on their shoulders. As the velocity of their motion increased, they held them up; and finally extended them in a horizontal position, but still without encountering those who were within their reach. This ceremony, which was thrice performed, was constantly accompanied by the soft music from the gallery; and throughout the whole of it great order and solemnity prevailed. The costume worn by these dervises is of a light quaker colour; and a competent idea of it will be formed from Plate IV. in which one of their superiors is faithfully represented.


p. 87-89

Russian sailors in Constantinople, 1799

On the evening of the 9th, a Greek marriage was solemnized at the palace of the Russian ambassador. It had attracted a very numerous and brilliant company, which I found assembled. The ceremony was performed by the Greek patriarch. The bride and bridegroom were very elegantly dressed, as indeed was the case with the company in general, a great profusion of diamonds being displayed by the females. The bride was decorated by long flowing streamers of gold tinsel, which, extending from the top of the head, trained on the ground. She distributed to her young female friends portions of these streamers, a custom which seems to correspond with ours, of giving white ribbons as wedding favours. The ceremony being concluded, the evening was spent in dancing waltzes and Greek and English country dances, after which a splendid supper was given.

On the following evening a ball, at which I was present, was given by the bride's father, M. Pisani, the principal interpreter to the British embassy; and on the 12th I was invited to a ball and supper given at the German palace, to celebrate the birth-day of the Emperor of Germany


The 16th being the birth-day of Mrs. Spencer Smith, the lady of the British secretary of legation, there was a masked ball in the evening at the German palace. Several of the characters were supported with much humour. On the following evening a ball and supper were given by Lord Elgin in compliment to the newly married Greek couple. It was truly the season of festivities at Constantinople, both among the Christians and Mahometans. With respect to the latter, indeed, not a night passes during the continuance of the Ramazan, without its being marked by some particular festival.

On the 18th I went on board a Russian ship of war lying in the harbour, in the vicinity of Tophana, having received an invitation to a public breakfast given by the captain, on the occasion of the promotion of one of his officers. The reception I met with was extremely polite and attentive; and in the course of the entertainment some singular ceremonies occurred, which it will not be amiss to detail. Previously to the breakfast, tongues and liqueurs were presented to us - a custom which we were given to understand is constantly observed by the Russians. During the breakfast, which was of the most sumptuous kind, several toasts, given by the captain, were drank, and cheered three times. The captain now entertained us with a Russian dance, while a part of the crew, cleanly dressed for the occasion, sung to an accompaniment of Russian music. After a short interval, the captain fell on the deck, apparently from accident, when the singers took him in their arms, and tossed him in the air, repeating certain phrases. Each of the guests afterwards underwent the same ceremony. The next singular occurrence was, that, on the health of the Russian minister at Constantinople being given by the captain, he demanded aloud what others would do for him. Instantly a Russian officer, and nearly twenty of the crew, jumped from the cabin window into the sea, with their clothes on. The stern ladders were the only resource they had to get on board again; and on their entering the cabin with their wet clothes, they danced round the captain, occasionally prostrating themselves at his feet. On our going on shore, the greater part of the barge's crew threw themselves into the water, and swam by her side until we reached the beach. A few piastres distributed among them were, as I apprehend, considered by them a sufficient recompense for the ducking to which they had subjected themselves.


p. 99-100

Easter amusements at the cemeterey of Pera, Constantinople, 1799

On the 21st the weather was oppressively warm. I walked to the cemetery withoutside of Pera, and was there witness to a very pleasing and novel scene. It being the Easter of the Greeks, amusements of every description were exhibited; and the colours and variety of the costumes displayed by the immense crouds of persons collected together, rendered the spectacle highly interesting. There were wrestling matches, stalls filled with sweetmeats and sherbet, and groups of persons seated on the grass, playing at different games of chance, while others were engaged in dancing in rings, to the music of an instrument not unlike our bagpipe. This scene reminded me of a country wake in England, to which it would have borne a still stronger resemblance, if a considerable number of rying pans had not given it somewhat the odour of our Bartholomew fair. They were employed, not for frying sausages, but liver, lights, &c.


p. 106-107

English country dances at a ball by the British ambassador, Constantinople, 04/06/1799

On the 4th of June a superb fête, in honour of his Majesty’s birthday, was given by Lord Elgin. On this occasion all the members of the diplomatic body, with their families, were invited, and a very select and fashionable party formed. In the front of his Lordship’s palace at Belgrade, a booth was fitted up, and the royal standard displayed. The awning and avenues leading to the palace were fancifully decorated with branches of oak, and festoons of flowers; and in the centre of the table, within the tent or booth, a bank of flowers was disposed, the top of the tent itself being ornamented with festoons of rose branches. Precisely at three o’clock the dinner, which consisted of every delicacy the season could supply, and the place afford, and to which more than an hundred persons sat down, was served. Before the dessert was placed on the table, the King’s health was given; and on this signal, his Lordship’s band played God save the King, the company joining in the chorus. This was followed by three cheers, all the guests standing up; and next succeeded a salute of twenty-one maroons. After dinner the company withdrew to the palace, where several select pieces of music were played by the band; and in the evening the country dances commenced beneath the tent. At eleven o’clock a cold collation was served; and the entertainment was concluded by country dances, which were continued within the palace until two in the morning, when the company broke up, highly gratified by the amusements of the day, which were rendered still more pleasing by the fineness and serenity of the weather. The effect of the dances beneath the tent was singularly picturesque.


p. 443

Circular dances near the sea-shore at Chios, 1801

As soon as we had dined, the consul conducted us to a spot near the sea-shore, where a considerable number of Greeks of each sex were assembled to celebrate the festival to which I have already alluded, and to display their fine dresses, which is every where one of the predominant passions of that nation. It was truly a gay and lively scene, which might have vied with that of our Kensington Gardens, or of the Park of St. James, in the season favourable to promenades. Several hundreds of females, in the dress I have described, were assembled; and throughout the company there was a general air of neatness, combined with great decorum of conduct. Several circular dances were formed according to the usage of the Greeks.



Ball customarily done at Constantinople by the Greek ladies, led by the one holding the handkerchief (Ballo che si costuma di fare a Constantinopoli dalle donne greche, condotto da quella che a il fazzoletto in mano) - 1800~

Colored copper engraving from a drawing by G. Leonardi, 32 x 47.5 cm.



Χορός που συνηθίζεται στην Κωνσταντινούπολη από τις Ελληνίδες, οδηγούμενος από εκείνη που κρατάει μαντίλι - 1800~

Χρωματισμένη χαλκογραφία από σχέδιο του G. Leonardi, 32 x 47,5 εκ. 


Dalvimart: The costumes of Turkey, with descriptions in English and French. London, Miller, 1802.


Plate XLVI

A dervish dancing, 1800~

The Dervises, as was mentioned in Plate XXIV., are divided into thirty-two sects; and there is not perhaps one of them, of which the regulations or practices are more curious than those of the sect of Mewlewys, of which Djehal-ud-dinn Mewlana was the founder. This sect is particularly distinguished by the singularity of their mode of dancing, which has nothing in common with the other societies. These dervises also have peculiar prayers and practices. When they perform their exercises in public, it is generally in parties of nine, eleven or thirteen persons. They first form a circle, and sing the first chapter of the Koran. The chief, or Scheik, then recites two prayers, which are immediately succeeded by the dance of the dervises. They all leave their places and range themselves on the left of the superior, and advance towards him very slowly. When the first Dervise comes opposite the Scheik he makes a salutation, and, passing on, begins the dance. It consists of turning rapidly round upon the right foot with the arms widely extended.



 Plate XXIX

A female dancer at Constantinople, 1800~


Although both music and dancing are forbidden by the Mussulman religion, these amusements are tolerated by the government. The female dancers, who are generally either young slaves, or the wives of Mahometan musicians, hardly ever appear in public places. They go to the houses of individuals, where they dance, in the same way as the men, either alone, or in pairs. They are very loosely dressed; and their heads are always half covered with a veil. With castanets in their hands, and their eyes alternately languishing and piercing, they put themselves into the most free and voluptuous attitudes.

There always are also in the houses of the great, as well as in the seraglio, a certain number of young slaves, who are practised in dancing to amuse their mistresses as well as their masters. In these different amusements, however, there is nothing noisy or tumultuous. They are indeed restrained by the regulations of the police, which is very strict in this respect: and no person is allowed to have an entertainment with dancing and music, without permission of the magistrates.


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. History of dance in Greece and Turkey 1300-1850 by Alkis Raftis