Turkish Baths, Hammam

The baths or 'hamams' as they are named, are for many aspects of health, not just for external cleanliness. Before Turkey was established as a separate country, the Romans, Byzantines, and nomadic peoples of the region had their own variations of bathing rituals.
These traditions combined, creating a different variation of these ancient bathing habits, The Turkish Bath.

The bather enters the dry heat of a sweating area. Afterwards, the bather begins to perspire heavily because of a wet steam.The skin is then washed with soap and warm water and the muscles massaged. After being scoured and washed, the bather's body temperature returns to normal from swimming in cold water. Closely interweaved with everyday life, as well as the Muslim mandates for cleanliness and respect for the varied functions of water, the hamam will probably survive modernity with many other things in Western Asia.

The "pestemal" (pesh-te-mahl), a large towel fringed at both ends and wrapped around the torso, from below the armpits to about mid-thigh , as the woman made her way to the "kurna" or marble basin. The pestemal would be striped or checked, a colored mixture of silk and cotton, or pure cotton, or even pure silk.
The "tas", or bowl for pouring water over the body, was always of metal. Weather silver, gilt or tinned copper, or of brass, the tas always had grooved and inlaid ornamentation.

One finds a soap case of metal, usually copper, with a handle on top like a handbag, and perforated at the bottom to allow water to run out. Not only soap goes into such a case, but also a coarse mitt for scouring down the skin, a webbing of date-palm or other fibers for lathering on the soap, and combs both fine and broad-toothed made of horn or ivory.

The "kese" (keh-seh), that rough cloth mitt carried in the soap case, not only scoured the dirt out of the pores, but served to deliver a bracing massage. The soaping web, on the other hand, was specially woven out of hair or plant fibers.

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