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What is a harem?

Andrey Kim
Andrey Kim
December 19, 2014
What is a harem?

Most of us are accustomed to calling the wives of Arabs or men of other nations a harem, who are allowed to have more than one spouse, but the word originally had a different meaning. In this article we will tell you what harem is and how this word appeared.

Hurama in a harem

The harem is a special closed part of the palace or house in which the wives of Muslims are supposed to live. Harems, as a rule, are especially protected, and only the owner (husband) and close relatives of women are allowed to visit them. By the way, women of the harem should be called not wives, but Hurama.

The word harem comes from the Arabic haram, which means "forbidden" in translation, which in general explains the original meaning of the word.

Slave or wife?

The harems contained slaves and wives. They began to prepare girls for the harem at the age of 5-6 years old, they were taught manners, dancing, singing, playing musical instruments and the art of pleasing men. The most beautiful and talented slaves became wives and favorites of the Sultan. In the status of the wife of a harem resident, it was allowed to establish charitable institutions and mosques.

It is worth noting that slaves in the harem received a salary, however, its size depended on the Sultan’s generosity. In celebration slaves were given gifts, and wives and favorites could receive rich gifts on any given day. If a slave lived in a harem for 9 years and could not become a wife, she was given a dowry, as well as the right to leave the harem. The Sultan himself helped her find a good husband.


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