[Northkeep] Belly Dancers

Jennifer Carlson talana1 at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 6 09:51:24 PST 2001

Morning, all.

Cat wrote:

>   The purpose of the dance was erotica, not just simple lust or sex.  The
>harem women used the dance as a way of enticing the sultan (or pharoah, or
>whomever) into her bed.  The best dancers were usually the favorite of the
>harem, both as a cultural and entertaining companion.  Those women had to
>know more than  the dance, they had to be able to, I don't know how to put
>it, support the men in any way they could, primarily, by being able to talk
>to him about anything and entertain him and his men.

It's been a while since I've done much studying of the Middle East, but this
is what my mind dredged out of the synaptic archives:

Women's dance in the Middle East had more purposes than just "erotica."  As
in many cultures, dance is used for storytelling, teaching, and public
celebration.  Not all dancing done by women was done in the harem.
Remember, most women didn't live in harems.  Many Muslim cultures (I know
little of pre-Muslim Middle Eastern practices) have public dances in which
the men and women dance publicly but separately (I've read about this being
done in Morocco).  You can see a related style of separation of the sexes in
dance in an Orthodox Jewish wedding celebration.

In the harems (this from a lecture on Middle Eastern art while in college)
women danced for their own entertainment.  The Ottoman Sultans had official
wives and sometimes a hundred or more concubines at one time - how often do
you think any one of them is gonna see the Sultan?  He's a busy guy.  So a
lot of their dancing was for themselves.  Also, some women dancers in the
Sultan's court were neither wives nor concubines, but hired, professional

In Arabia (this from a Middle Eastern dance teacher during the extremely
BRIEF time I took lessons, many years ago) there were special dances done
for the husband.  One of the more impressive ones was done by all the wives
together to welcome the hubby home from a trip.  No doubt it did rouse
pleasantly prurient feelings, but it was also a tribute to the return of the
warrior/protector of the tribe.

Not to mention, Middle Eastern dance is not a monolithic block.  Dances in
Arabia are different from those in Egypt, those in Morocco different from
those in Persia.

One of the REALLY good dancers we have in Ansteorra is a lady whose name I
forget (she is the ex-wife of Master Da'ud ibn Auda).  She dresses covered
chin to ground, and you never see her do a "camel walk."

I didn't know about dancing during childbirth.  Cool.  It makes a lot of
sense when you think about it.

Anyway, this is just my two farthings worth.  Hope you all have fun
exploring the subject.

Too much trivia, too little storage space - it just spills out sometimes.

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