11. The Harem; The Gilded cage
During the 600 year reign of the Ottoman sultans the harem was a place of intrigue and mystery. The women lived in pampered seclusion behind the shuttered doors of the seraglio. Only a few would become the Sultan’s wives, many would be considered insignificant and powerless, some would perish, and mostly their names were unknown. This talk describes the organization and day to day life in the harem from the beginning when the young girls arrived to the end of their lives frequently in the “Palace of Tears” where consorts and slaves of past sultans lived out their days. The presentation is well illustrated with contemporary images from the Topkapi Museum’s collection of jewels and robes as well as unique historical photos.