Having the unspoken within the Ottoman “Haremlik” revealed
What is the “Triad” of violation of human instinct
Linguistically, the word anomaly means congenital malformations and deviation from common sense, and describing the “Ottoman” Empire as an abnormal state is nothing more than a true description of some of the Turkish sultans.
Anomalies in the Ottoman Empire are not limited to the violation of common sense or even the laws of the countries that preceded and followed them, but the entire system violated what is normal, whether in terms of humanity by establishing the first institutions of slavery; entirely to enslave humans, or through social systems that had one purpose which was to starve people and impoverish them, up to the murder laws they legislated, so they killed their brothers and sons before they shed the blood of Muslims.
Therefore, revealing the mystery of the Haremlik and the transformation of Haremlik by the Ottoman sultans into an arena in which they committed acts against common sense, is nothing more than a part that completes the whole picture of the Ottoman family.
Despite the fact that the Turkish sultans, when they established the Haremlik as a private place reserved for their women and maidservants, did not just impose complete secrecy and strict laws, but they also killed every strange man who tried to get a glimpse of what was going on in this mysterious part of the Palace. In the end, the historical documents that revealed everything appeared.
These documents elucidated that deviation from common sense, dominated the three elements of the Haremlik: Children, Maidservants and customs of the Haremlik.
As for the children, the Italian ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Atviano Bonn, was the first to reveal the abnormal actions that went against common sense within the Haremlik, in his book “Saray al-Sultan” published in the mid-17th century. Bonn shed some light on the slaves and children who were castrated as a condition for working inside the Haremlik. He says that the Turkish sultans called these eunuchs children with names of flowers such as Ward, Narjes, and Cronfol, such names have feminine connotations that the Ottoman family insisted on.
The Ottomans forced the children of the Haremlik to have names with feminine connotations
But what Atviano Bonn mentioned is only an introduction to heinous behaviors, and scenes that are only narrated in tales; as the historical sources reveal, the Ottoman sultans invented the “Kojic” phenomenon since the sixteenth century, which means young children who are raised and trained to dance in an erotic way. They are forced to wear women’s clothes and put on cosmetics. Their clothes consisted of a red embroidered velvet jacket, loose-fitting trousers with a long skirt and a gold belt.
These children were subjected to the vile desires of some of the Turkish sultans almost daily in the Haremlik. Consequently, many of the “Kojic” suffered psychological disorders as a result of being forced to go against their instinct.
If this was the case of children and adolescent boys, then maidservants were not better off, as the historical sources were filled with narrations about the maidservants of the Turkish sultans and how they became wives, but the question that many did not ask is what about the maidservants who did not please the Sultan.
The Kojic phenomenon is an indication of the immorality of some sultans.
Historical narrations state that the Turkish sultans were not satisfied with the enslavement laws imposed on the maidservants within the Haremlik, so they issued the first law in the world to punish a maidservant if not accepted by the sultan. The Ottoman sultans devised a law that stipulated that the maidservants who did not please the Sultan were gathered in close quarters where they spend their lives with each other until death.
This perverse law was the reason why thousands of maidservants spent their lives inside closed chambers knowing no one and known by no one, deprived of the most basic rights of slaves, and in the end their dreams were killed and their lives ended with no caring in the least, from the sultans for their lives. Those sultans saved no effort in creating colors of slavery and they also went one step beyond normal.
Moreover, the depraved parties that were held by the Turkish sultans inside the palaces, where all scenes of immorality and depravity took place. It suffices to say that the Ottomans were the first to invent large basins filled with milk in which the maidservants would sit before the Sultan came to bathe, and because some of the maidservants did not have any relationship with men before joining the Haremlik, these scenes have them suffering from psychological disorders; what made them psychologically unfit throughout their lives.
Ottoman sultan have no limits when it comes to depravity. Khair al-Din Agha, the chief of the Aghas during the reign of Abdul Hamid II (1876-1909), reveals in his memoirs, titled “The Secrets of the Haremlik,” that erotic poetry was written on the walls of the Haremlik, to the extent that some Western historians were ashamed to write down everything that was written on those walls because it greatly exceeded their imaginations.
The third element of the triad, i.e., the Haremlik customs, which were also described as abnormal and out of the ordinary, the Italian Atviano Bonn narrates in his book “Saray al-Sultan” that the abnormality was part of the behavior of the girls in the Haremlik even in the way they eat, as it was served to them on Bulgarian leather and sofas, and they have to sit in a seductive way to tempt the Sultan; in order to see them and choose whomever he wants.
Even the feasts were not free from deviation as well, and this is evident in one of the feasts of the Haremlik called “Bayram”, in which the sultanas are given the most exquisite ornaments and unlimited luxury, but in return, maidservants suffer from poverty and hunger by them, in order for the sultans to enjoy, in a day designated by the Turkish sultans for oppression and injustice.
In all of these perverse laws, the life of immorality and depravity, and enslavement of everyone, it was not surprising that many maidservants and adolescent boys lost their minds, which is what Khair al-Din Agha reveals in his memoirs, the secrets of the Haremlik. He stated that the Turkish sultans detained thousands of workers in the Haremlik in what appears to be a psychiatric hospital due to the psychological imbalances that occurred to them as a result of what they witnessed and were forced to do. All this was kept secret until the Ottoman Empire fell and everyone knew what was going on in this mysterious part called “The Haremlik” in the palaces.
They caused thousands of the Haremlik Workers to suffer from mental illness.
- Atviano Bonn, Saray Al-Sultan, translated by: Zaid Al-Rawadiya (Abu Dhabi: Kalima Project, 2014).
- Ekmeleddin Oglu and others, The Ottoman Empire: History and Civilization (Istanbul: Research Center for Islamic History, Arts and Culture, 1999).
- Khair al-Din Agha, Secrets of the Haremlik in the Ottoman Court: Memoirs of the Chief of the Aghas in the Palace of Sultan Abdul Hamid II (Tripoli: Al-Sa’eh Library, d. T).
- Magda Makhlouf, The Haremlik in the Ottoman Era (Cairo: Dar El Afaq, 1998).
- – Muhammad Abu Azza, The Era of Sultan Abdul Hamid (Beirut: Al-Manara, 1997).
- Muhammad Jamil Byhm,Priorities sultans Turkey civil, social and political (Sidon: Al Wefaq Press, 1930 AD).
- Mohammed Suhail Taqqosh, History of the Ottomans from the State to the overthrow of the Caliphate, 2nd Edition (Beirut: Dar An-nafaes, 2008).