After taking off cloths and locking the contents in the cabin customers take on their “peştemal” (a kind of long towel used in Turkish Bath) and go to “hot” (Washing Section) section of the Turkish Bath.
Ceiling of the bath is covered with several small and big domes which were made in Horasan. Turkish Bath has a unique pool for people who want to take a dip.
After the massage you can wash yourself and take the advantage of a dip in pool.
After cleaning, one of the employee comes and dries your body with towels. After that, you can have a good time drinking tea and other beverages. Don’t finish your Istanbul travel without dropping by “Gedikpaşa Turkish Bath.”
These scripts and photographs are registered under Copyright 2009, Gedikpaşa Hamamı / Gedikpaşa – Istanbul – Turkey. All Rights Reserved.
100 A.D. The heyday of the great imperial bathhouses. Romans have transformed the daily bath, which includes cold, tepid and hot waters, into an elaborate, highly social daily interlude.
537. The Goths disable the Roman aqueducts, and the imperial baths never recover. Baths and bathing last longer in the eastern part of the Byzantine Empire, where the Roman bath mutates into the hamam, or Turkish bath.
1000. The Crusaders return from the east with the news of a delightful custom – the Turkish bath. Bathhouses are built all over Europe, and they flourish until
1347. The Black Death invades Europe, where it will kill one out of every three people within four years. Doctors warn that opening your pores in warm water allows the plague to enter the body. Bathhouses are closed and people shun water as much as possible for four centuries. This is Europe’s dirtiest period, when the traditional washing advice is “Saepe manus, raro pedes, nunquam caput”(“Hands often, feet rarely, the head never.”) As for washing the body, out of the question.
1762. Rousseau’s Emile, celebrating cold water and cleanliness, is published. The Romantic movement glorifies nature, and immersion in water makes a gradual return.
Here is what you should expect in a Turkish bath, from a source written over a 100 years ago, but since the customs didn’t change much you should expect the same today as well:
fold round the head, so as to form a high and peculiar turban ; the second is bound round the loins ; this is the ordinary costume of the attendants, and known in antiquity prmcinctorium and subligaculum, which have been of difficult interpretation, as implying at once a belt and a clothing. The third is thrown over the shoulder. They are called peshtimal ; the proper name is futa, a word borrowed, as the stuff is, from Morocco. While you change your linen, two attendants hold a cloth before you. The strictest decency is observed, though the apartment is not cut up into boxes. There is nothing which more shocks an Eastern than our want of decorum, and I have known instances of servants assigning this as a reason for refusing to remain in Europe, or to come to it. Thus attired, you step down from the platform into wooden pattens (nal in Turkish, cob cob in Arabic), to keep you off the hot floors, and the dirty water running off by the entrances and passages ; two attendants take you, one by each arm above the elbow, walking behind and holding you. The slamming doors are pushed open, and you enter the region of steam. Each person is preceded by a mattress and a cushion, which are removed the moment he has done with them, that they may not get damp. The apartment he now enters is low and small ; very little light is admitted ; sometimes, indeed, the day is excluded, and the small nicker of a lamp enables you to perceive indistinctly its form and occupants. The temperature is moderate, the moisture slight, the marble floor on both sides is raised about eighteen inches, the lower and centre part being the passage between the two halls. This is the “cold chamber “of the Turks, the Roman tepidarium. Against the wall your mattress and cushion are placed, the rest of the chamber being similarly occupied ; the attendants now bring coffee and serve pipes. The object sought in this apartment is a natural and gentle flow of perspiration ; to this are adapted the subdued temperature and moisture ; for this the clothing is required and the coffee and pipe ; and, in addition, a delicate manipulation is undergone, which does not amount to shampooing ; the sombre air of the apartment calms the senses, and shuts out the external world.* During the subsequent part of the operation, you are either too busy or too abstracted for society ; the bath is essentially sociable, and this is a portion of it so appropriated — this is the time and place where a stranger makes acquaintance with a town or village. Whilst so engaged, a boy kneels at your feet and chafes them, or behind your cushion, at times touching or tapping you on the neck, arm, or shoulder, in a manner which causes the perspiration to start.
2nd Act. — You now take your turn for entering the inner chamber : there is in this point no respect for persons,* (* The Roman expression, quasi locus in balneis, was equivalent to ” first come, first served.” ) the bathman (the tellack of the Turks, the nekaes of the Arabs, the tradator of the Romans) has passed his hand under your bathing linen, and is satisfied that your skin is in a proper state. He then takes you by the arm as before, your feet are again pushed into the pattens, the slamming door of the inner region is pulled back, and you are ushered into the adytum, — a space such as the centre dome of a cathedral, filled — not with dull and heavy steam — but with gauzy and mottled vapour, through which the spectre-like inhabitants appear, by the light of tinted rays, which, from stars of stained glass in the vault, struggle to reach the pavement through the curling mists. The song, the not unfrequent shout, the clapping (not of hands, but sides), (t The bathing men give signals for what they want by striking with the hand on the hollow of the side.) the splashing of water and clank of brazen bowls, reveal the humour and occupation of the inmates, who, here divested of all covering save the scarf round the loins, with no distinction between bathers and attendants, and with heads as bare as bodies and legs, are seen passing to and fro through the mist, or squatted or stretched out on the slabs, exhibiting the wildest contortions, or bending over one another, and
Under the dome there is an extensive platform of marble slabs : on this you get up; the clothes are taken from your head and shoulders ;- one is spread for you to lie on, the other is rolled for your head ; you lie down on your back; the tellack (two, if the operation is properly performed) kneels at your side, and bending over, gripes and presses your chest, arms, and legs, passing from part to part, like a bird shifting its place on a perch. He brings his whole weight on you with a jerk, follows the line of muscle with anatomical thumb, f draws the open hand strongly over the surface, particularly round the shoulder, turning you half up in so doing ; stands with his feet on the thighs and on the chest, and slips down the ribs ; then up again three times ; and lastly, doubling your arms one after the other on the chest, pushes with both hands down, beginning at the elbow, and then, putting an arm under the back and applying his chest to your crossed elbows, rolls on you across till you crack. You are now turned on your face, and, in addition to the operation above described, he works his elbow round the edges of your shoulder-blade, and with the heel plies hard the angle of the neck ; he concludes by hauling the body half up by each arm successively, while he stands with one foot on the opposite thigh.* You are then raised for a moment to a sitting posture, and a contortion given to the small of the back with the knee, and a jerk to the neck by the two hands holding the temples.
3rd Act. — Round the sides there are cocks for hot and cold water over marble basins, a couple of feet in diameter, where you mix to the temperature you wish. You are now seated on a board on the floor at one of these fountains, with a copper cup to throw water over you when wanted. The tellach puts on the glove — it is of camel’s hair, not the horrid things recently brought forth in England. He stands over you ; you bend down to him, and he commences from the nape of the neck in long sweeps down the back till he has started the skin ; he coaxes it into rolls, keeping them in and up till within his hand they gather volume and length ;he then successively strikes and brushes them away, and they fall right and left as if split from a dish of macaroni. The dead matter which will accumulate in week forms, when dry, a ball of the size of the fist. I once collected it, and had it dried — it is like a ball of chalk : this was the purpose for which the strigil was used. In our ignorance we have imagined it to be a horse-scraper to clear off the perspiration, or for other purposes equally absurd.( * ” The strigil was used after bathing, to remove the perspiration. The hollow part was to hold oil to soften the skin, or to allow the scraped grease to run off.”— Dennis, vol. ii. p. 426.t)
4th Act. — Hitherto soap has not touched the skin. By it, however strange it may appear to us (Whenever our writers touch on these matters, they fall into inevitable confusion, e. g. : — ■” In the baths of the East, the bodies are cleansed by small bags of camel’s hair woven rough, or with a handful of the fine fibers of the Mekha palm tree combed soft, and filled with fragrant saponaceous earths, which are rubbed on the skin, till the whole body is covered with froth. Similar means were employed in the baths of Greece, and the whole was afterwards cleansed off the skin by gold or silver strigils.” — Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece, J. A. St. John, vol. ii. p. 89.% ), the operation would be spoiled. The alkali of the soap combining with the oily matter, the epidermis loses the consistency it must have to be detached by rolling. A large wooden bowl is now brought ; in it is a lump of soap, with a sort of powder-puff of liff, (Nut of the palm, and consequently hard and not fit to use on the person. The Moors, though they do not use soap in the bath, always use their soft liff with their soft soap, which practice the Turks have imperfectly followed.) for lathering. Beginning by the head, the body is copiously soaped and washed twice, and part of the contents of the bowl is left for you to complete the operation yourself. Then approaches an acolyte with a pile of hot folded futas on his head, he holding a dry cloth spread out in front. You rise, having detached the cloth from your waist, and holding it before you ; at that moment another attendant dashes on you a bowl of hot water. You drop your wet cloth ; the dry one is passed round your Waist, another over your shoulders ; each arm is seized ;you are led to the middle chamber, and seated; the shoulder cloth is taken off, another put on, the first over it ; another folded round the head ; your feet are already in the wooden pattens. You are wished health :you return the salute, rise, and are conducted by both arms to the outer hall. The platform round the hall is divided by low balustrades■ into little compartments, where the couches of repose are arranged, so that while having the uninterrupted view of all around, parties or families may be by themselves. This is the time and place for meals. The bather having reached this apartment is conducted to the edge of the platform, to which there is only one high step. You drop the wooden patten, and on the matting a towel is spread anticipating your foot-fall. The couch is in the form of a letter M* spread out ; it takes less space than a chair. As you rest on it the Weight is everywhere directly supported — every tendon, every muscle is relaxed ; the mattress, fitting, as it were, to the skeleton ; there is a total inaction, and the bodyappearsto be suspended. The attendants then reappear, and, gliding like noiseless shadows, stand in arrow before you. The coffee is poured out and presented, the pipe follows ; or, if so disposed, you may have sherbet or fruit ; the sweet or water melons are preferred, and they come in piles of lumps large enough for a mouthful ; or you may send and get kebobs on askewer, and if inclined to make a positive meal at the bath, this is the time. The hall is open to the heavens, but nevertheless aboy with a fan of feathers, or napkin, drives the cool air upon you. The Turks have given up the cold immersion of the Romans, yet so much as this they have retained of it, and which realizes the end the Romans had in view to prevent the breaking out of the perspiration ;but it is still a practice with the Turks to have coldwater thrown upon the feet. The nails of the hands and feet are dexterously pared with a sort of oblique chisel ; any callosities that remain on the feet are rubbed down ; during this time the linen is twice changed(Galen (“Method. Therap.” 1. x. c. 10,) says, “Let then one of the servants throw over him a towel, and being placed upon a couch, let him be wiped with sponges, and then with soft napkins.” How completely this is the Turkish plan, one familiar with the bath only will understand. Explanation would be tedious. ). These operations do not interrupt the chafing of the soles((If you desire to be awakened at a certain hour, you arenot lugged by the shoulder or shouted at in the ear ; the soles of your feet are chafed, and you wake up gently, and with an agreeable sensation. This luxury is not confined to those who have attendants, few or many; the street-porter is so awakened by his wife, or child, or brother, and lie in turn renders the same service. The soles of the feet are exposed to a severity service which no other muscles have to perform, and they require indulgent treatment, but with, us they receive none. ), and the gentle patting on the outside of the folds of linen which. I have mentioned in the first stage. The body has come forth shining- lite alabaster, fragrant as the cistus, sleek as satin, and soft as velvet. The touch of the skin is electric. Buffon has a wonderful description of Adam’s surprise and delight at the first touch of himself. It is the description of the human sense when the body is brought back to its purity. The body thus renewed, the spirit wanders abroad, and, reviewing its tenement, rejoices to find it clean and tranquil. There is an intoxication or dream that lifts you out of the flesh, and yet a sense of life and consciousness that spreads through every member. Each breastful of air seems to pass, not to the heart, but to the brain, and to quench, not the pulsations of the one, but the fancies of the other. That exaltation which requires the slumber of the senses — that vividness of sense which drowns the visions of the spirit’ — are simultaneously engaged in calm and unspeakable luxury; you condense the pleasures of many scenes, and enjoy in an hour the existence of years. But ” this too will pass.”( (Motto Of the Vizir of Haroun el liaschid, when required by his master to find one which should apply at once to happiness or adversity.) The visions fade, the speed of the blood thickens, the breath of the pores is checked, the crispness of the skin returns, the fountains of strength are opened ; you seek again the world and its toils ; and those who experience these effects and vicissitudes for the first time exclaim, ” I feel as if I could leap over the moon.” Paying your pence according to the tariff of your deserts, you walk forth aking.A writer in the ” Library of Travel ” says : —” Strange as it may appear, the Orientals, both men and women, are passionately fond of indulging in this formidable luxury ; and almost every European who has tried it speaks with much satisfaction of the result. When all is done, a soft and luxurious feeling spreads itself over your body ; every limb is light and free as air; the marble-like smoothness of the skin is delightful’, and after all this pommelling, scrubbing, racking, parboiling, and perspiring, you feel more enjoyment than ever you felt before.” ,This chief of luxuries is common, in a barbarous land and under a despotism, to every man, woman, and child ;o the poorest as to the richest, and to the richest no otherwise than to the poorest. (Volney once entered a Turkish bath, and, in horror and dismay, rushed out, and could never be induced to enter once again. Lord Londonderry was more submissive, and endured its tortures to the end; but rejected the coffee, and pipes, and civilities then proffered. He has given us a detail of his sufferings, which appear to have been national. Sir G. Wilkinson, in his work on Thebes, cites them at length, and this is all that he deems it requisite to tell the strangers who arrive in Egypt on this subject. ) But how is it paid for ?
How can it be within the reach of the poor. They pay according to their means. What each person gives is put into a common stock ; the box is opened once a week, and the distribution of the contents is made according to a scale ; the master of the bath comes in for his share just like the rest. A person of distinction will give a pound or more ; the common price that, at Constantinople, a tradesman would pay, was from ten pence to a shilling ; workmen, from two pence to three pence. In a village near Constantinople, where I spent some months, the charge for men was a halfpenny (* The charge at Rome was a quadrant, or farthing; children paid nothing. ” Nee pueri credunt, nisi qui nondum sere lavantur.”■ Juvenal, Sat. ii. v. 152. In some baths it would appear that even grown persons were admitted gratis. ” Balneum, quoUsus fuisset, sine mercede exhibuit.” — Jul. Capit.f ) ,for women three farthings. A poor person will lay down a few parahs to show that he has not more to give, and where the poor man is so treated he will give as much as he can. He will not, like the poor Roman, have access alone, but his cup of coffee, and a portion of the service like the rest (“A poor man will go to the shambles, and cut off a bit of the meat that is hanging there, and the butcher will take no notice of it. If he goes to have a cup of coffee, and has not five parahs (one farthing), he will lay his two or three ‘on the counter, instead of dropping item into the slit; the next customer will lay down ten, and sweep them in together.”). Such habits are not to be established, though they may be destroyed, by laws. This I have observed, that wherever the bath is used it is not confined to any class of the community, as if it Was felt to be too good a thing to be denied to any.
Manual of the Turkish bath :heat a mode of cure and a source of strength for men and animals. London : John Churchill and Sons, 1865. Urquhart, David.