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|Home H Harem: What Is a Harem?|
What Is a Harem?
The harem is one of the most misunderstood concepts in Islamic culture, thanks to the lively imaginations of early European adventures. Simply put, a harem is a space set aside in a home or complex specifically for the use of women and young children. Men are not allowed to enter the harem, as it is considered a private or forbidden area. Harems vary widely in size and composition, as one might imagine, from the palatial complexes of the Ottoman sultans to a simple private room for women.
The institution of the harem exerted a certain fascination on the European imagination, especially during the Age of Romanticism, due in part to the writings of the adventurer Richard Francis Burton. Many Westerners imagined a harem as a brothel consisting of many sensual young women lying around pools with oiled bodies, with the sole purpose of pleasing the powerful man to whom they had given themselves.
Much of this is recorded in art from that period, usually portraying groups of attractive women lounging by spas and pools.
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