Do Harems Still Exist

Sonic the HedgehogFew Westerners have ever been allowed a glimpse inside the polygamous patriarchal society that existed for centuries in the Orient and Middle East and where women, sold in slave markets and presented as gifts, led a precarious existence. One Turkish sultan, Mehmed the Conquerer, incensed that his favorite harem beauty wouldn't convert to the Islamic faith, professed to her his love, pulled out his scimitar and sliced ​​off her head. Another, Ibrahim, nicknamed the 'mad sultan,' threw a temper tantrum and had his entire harem of some 100 women stuffed into bags by eunuchs - the castrated, black male bodyguards -- and dumped into the sea; to be replaced by a new group. The 17th century sultan, Murad, passed a law prohibiting drinking and smoking throughout the Ottoman Empire and then, in a drunken stupor, would wander around searching for violators, who were promptly executed. Corpses hung at every street corner. Fascination with the harem lifestyle still exists, says Alev Lytle Croutier, who grew up in a Turkish house where her grandmother lived in the section where the harem resided. Down the steet lived a eunuch and she recalls the communal baths used by the women. In fashion, says Croutier, the styles of harem life have been showing up recently in New York and Paris, along with some of the Middle East music and books on the subject. In reality, says Croutier, the harem era is a study in how women who danced and entertained for the court elite were able to adjust to the circumstances of their fate and make the best of it.

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In terms of power, it is fascinating to think these women who were slaves became the power behind the scenes -- virtually a reign of women -- that lasted for centuries,' said Croutier, who has spent 10 years of research on the subject, resulting in the book, 'Harem: The World Behind the Veil' (Abbeville Press, $35). Croutier focuses on the mysterious Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, and ushers readers to the boudoirs of the kadims -- the sultan's 'legal' wives -- as well as the slave markets where concubines and eunuchs were purchased. The book is richly illustrated with the works, mostly imaginative, of Renoir, Delacroix, Ingres and other European artists. Croutier, who left Turkey at age 18, presently lives in Forest Knolls, Calif., and has worked as an independent film producer and screenplay writer ('Tell Me A Riddle'). She is editor-in-chief of Mercury House publishing company in San Francisco and developed the book, 'Harem,' largely from research material she gathered while writing a script on the subject with a Guggenheim Fellowship award. Male artists and writers of the 18th and 19th century, said Croutier, painted and wrote about the Oriental harems out of imagination and fantasy.

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None of the men had ever been in a harem,' she said, for such trespass in death. The translation of Scheherazade's scintillating One Thousand and One Nights in 1704 brought to the West a sense of the exotic and erotic, mostly in the imaginations of men, she said. The story is about a sultan, jilted by true love, who chooses a different harem woman each night, who would then be killed at daybreak. The cycle was broken by one concubine, who told tales that so intrigued the sultan that he had her return, night after night, until finally his anger dissolved and he allowed her to live. At Istanbul's Topkapi Palace, some 2,000 women were kept -- the largest harem in existence -- and modern tours of the spacious 'Grand Harem' where sultans kept their wives hidden from the world from 1540 to the early 1900s, reveals only remnants of 400 years of lives and culture, says Croutier. To look behind the repressive veil of these women's lives, Croutier searched for the few documents that would shed light on the harems - letters, books, travelogues, paintings, poems and photographs, piecing together the historical fragments and fascinating fantasies of a secret society. Surprisingly, said Croutier, harems still exist, partially because of the current wave of Moslem fundamentalism. Polygamy has been outlawed in Turkey and China, the two greatest harem nations, but is still a flourishing practice in the Middle East and Africa,' she says. In India, for example, having multiple wives is illegal but common nevertheless.

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Moon Breathing (月 (つき) (こ) (きゅう), Tsuki no kokyū?) is a Breathing Style derived from the Sun Breathing used by Upper Rank One, Kokushibō, who was one of the first Demon Slayers who utilized breathing techniques. The techique allows the user to create many "chaotic blades" when slashing that varies in length and size. It is known that Kokushibō continued to develop and add techniques to the Breathing Style over the centuries as an immortal Demon. At this point in the story, it is the only known Breathing Style to possess at least 20 different techniques, easily surpassing the other Breathing Styles. It has been revealed that, like all of the other original breathing styles, the Moon Breathing also branched out of the Sun Breathing. When its creator, Michikatsu Tsugikuni, attempted to learn the Sun Breathing from his twin brother, Yoriichi Tsugikuni, he discovered he was unable to master the breathing style and so was instead trained in an alternate Breathing Style. Yoriichi created it fit and cover his individual strengths and weaknesses, and Michikatsu then continued to train and develop this breathing until it eventually evolved into its own unique Breathing Style, which he named the Moon Breathing.

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First Form: Dark Moon, Evening Palace (壹 (いち) (かた) (やみ) (づき) (よい) (みや), Ichi no kata: Yamidzuki - Yoi no Miya?) - Kokushibō draws his sword and slashes swiftly in a single motion; like with all Moon Breathing techniques, numerous chaotic blades originate from the slash. This technique resembles Iaijutsu. Second Form: Pearl Flower Moongazing (貳 (に) (かた) (しゅ) (か) (ろう) (げつ), Ni no kata: Shuka no Rōgetsu?) - Kokushibō performs several slashes while sending a barrage of chaotic blades forward. Third Form: Loathsome Moon, Chains (參 (さん) (かた) (えん) (き) (づき) (つが), San no kata: Enkizuki - Tsugari?) - Kokushibō swings his sword rapidly in two gigantic crescents slashes, from which a storm of smaller crescents spread.

This technique causes huge destruction in a small area. Fourth Form: Solar Rings, Frostmoon (肆 (し) (かた) (たい) (よう) (りん) (しも) (づき), Shi no kata: Taiyōrin - Shimodzuki?) - Kokushibō performs a circular small cyclone slashes of chaotic blades straight towards his opponent. Fourth Form: Improved, Red Sun over Paradise (肆 (し) (かた) (かい) (あっき) (よう) (らく) (えん), Shi no kata kai: Akk' yō Rakuen?) - Kokushibō spins his blade slicing through the ground and ripping it out. Causing multiple 180 slashes across the area to be sented towards his opponents as chaotic blades appear when near the enemy slicing into their body. As the circular slashes spin grinding into the enemys skin.

Fifth Form: Moon Spirit Calamitous Eddy (伍 (ご) (かた) (げっ) (ぱく) (さい) (か), Go no kata: Geppaku Saika?) - Kokushibō makes multiple curved slashes layered over one another, resembling a rising vortex. Numerous chaotic blades originate from these slashes. Kokushibō performed this attack without swinging his blade. Sixth Form: Perpetual Night, Lonely Moon - Incessant (陸 (ろく) (かた) (とこ) (よ) (こ) (げつ) (む) (けん), Roku no kata: Tokoyo Kogetsu - Muken?) - Kokushib releases a wild storm of slashes in multiple directions. This technique was powerful enough to not only slice up multiple Hashira around him but also overwhelm the Wind Hashira Sanemi Shinazugawa.

Seventh Form: Mirror of Misfortune, Moonlit (漆 (しち) (かた) (やっ) (きょう) (づき) (ば), Shichi no kata: Yakkyō - Dzukibae?) - Kokushibō swings his sword in a powerful frontal slash that then creates a multi directional frontal assault, powerful enough to create several deep gouges in the ground and push back two Hashira. Eighth Form: Moon-Dragon Ringtail (捌 (はち) (かた) (げつ) (りゆう) (りん) (び), Hachi no kata: Getsuryū Rinbi?) - Kokushibō triples the range of his normal attack radius and creates a singular gigantic slash that slowly decreases in size.

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