In the view of a modern person, a harem was a place where languid concubines sit, eat pilaf and baklava all day long, weave intrigues and wait for a night of passionate love with their master. However, the life of the Sultan's wives and concubines was different from what we used to imagine. Here are 6 facts that will surprise you a little:

  1. Studied in the harem The idleness of wives and concubines is a myth. Women were taught to read and play musical instruments. They were trained in a versatile and high-quality manner. An analysis of the letters of the wives and concubines of the harem indicates that they were reasonably well educated for their time.
  2. In the harem were not only captives Beautiful girls from poor families could get there if sold by their own parents. This could help the girl in the future to get an education and live in prosperity.
  3. Nights with the Sultan could never have been Many spent their entire lives in a harem, but not only could they not get into bed with the Sultan, but also never see him. The male power of the Sultan was exalted to heaven by the courtiers, but he could be an ordinary man, and sometimes far from young. He simply could not physically satisfy all the women in his harem. The number of wives and concubines was only a prestige for the Sultan. He could simply not be interested in women in general, and in this case, wives had to live and keep innocence all their lives.
  4. Hierarchy in the harem There was strict discipline in the harem. Each concubine received a salary and could be punished very severely for misconduct. Each girl had her own responsibilities. The main thing in the harem was the sultan's mother. It depended on her whether the girl would be able to make a kind of career - to get into the bedroom of the sultan and, as the highest achievement, give birth to his son.
  5.  Bed duties of the Sultan At first glance, it may seem strange that the sultan also had his own responsibilities to his harem. All week he could do whatever he wanted, but he had to spend the night from Friday to Saturday with one of his wives. The chief eunuch kept a strict record of all women who visited the Sultan's bed. 6. Beauty standards The Sultan himself set the standards of beauty for his concubines. And as you know, there are no comrades in taste and color. For example, Ibrahim, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1640-1648. nicknamed the Mad, adored women in "body." His beloved concubine weighed over 200 kg.

      In the photo below you can see real photos from the harem, however, not the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, but Nasser ad-Din Shah Qajar, the 4th Shah of Iran. He gained power in 1848 and ruled for 47 years. His reign was the longest in Iran's 3000-year history. One of Shah Qajar's many passions was photography. He liked to photograph as a child, and when he came to power, he decided to create the first official photo studio in his palace. Qajar, an ardent fan of photography, filmed his harem, in which he had, according to historians, about 100 concubines.