The Turkish bath, also known as the Hammam, is an Ottoman-era tradition that combines the ancient Roman baths (thermae) with the Asian Turkish tradition of ritual cleansing by bathing in steam. Today taking a Turkish bath is an adventure, done both because it is a bit indulgent and because it can be just plain fun.
Like the Roman thermae a Turkish hammam consists of three rooms which bathers visit in
— the warm room, known as the tepidarium, in which the bathers, many of whom are wearing little but a silk wrap known as a peştemal and wooden clogs called nalın, often decorated with silver or mother-of-pearl, so they won’t slip on the wet floor, relax before
— the hot room, known as the sıcaklık (or hararet -caldarium). This room usually has some dim natural light streaming in from a window and a large marble stone, known as the göbek taşı, or “tummy stone,” in the middle on which customers lie and get a soapy
scrub massage from a masseuse wearing a rough mitt known as a kese and using a metal
bowl known as a tas for pouring water over the body. After visiting the hot room the bathers splash in cold water and retire to…
— the cool room, the soğukluk, or the frigidarium, to relax, take a nap, drink a bit
of tea then get dressed.
In class we’re actually going to pretend to take a Turkish bath, complete with an imaginary transition from warm to hot to cold, topping our adventure off with a bit of apple tea.
All about the Turkish bath from AllAboutTurkey.com, including more detail about some of the bathing implements mentioned above | I probably shouldn’t offer an active link here because the video in question involves a bunch of dudes wearing towels washing each other, but if you want to see Monty Python’s Michael Palin takes a Turkish Bath as part of his visit to Istanbul for his BBC travel series, you’ll find it worth your while to watch it on YouTube
That’s more than enough information about Turkey to chew on for one week…one may even call it a Turkish delight. Though one probably shouldn’t.
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