Orientalist Depictions of the Ottoman Hammam
November 4, 2018
The Ottoman hammam, particularly the women's section, has always held enormous fascination for the West. It was an immediate attraction for European travelers because it was as exotic as the harem. The depictions of hammams in travelogues framed the way artists also illustrated their understandings of this space. Inspired by the stories of European travelers, Orientalist painters reinforced stereotypes of Oriental women by painting them in provocative nude and overtly sexualized hammam scenes that did not portray the actual activities in this private space. The presentation of hammams through Orientalist art and travel tales reflected a kind of projection from the Europeans’ part to conform the image of Orient women, and men, to fit their preconceived notions, an image that was applied during colonialism.
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