Saturday, 14 January 2012

Heart of Flame blog tour - Day 12

Eugene-Alexis Girardet (1853-1907): The Almeh

Dance dance! The Heart of Flame Blog Tour comes to an end today, with a bonus post I wasn't expecting - the first chapter is up to read (it's very short) at Renee Bigby Presents First Chapters.

Back to normal service on Monday! I have so much to tell you!

P.S: what's an almeh? Well, according to Wikipedia:

Almeh (Arabic عالمة `ālma, plural awālim, from علم "to know, be learned") was the name of a class of courtesans or female entertainers in Arab Egypt, women educated to sing and recite classical poetry and to discourse wittily. They were educated girls of good social standing, trained in dancing, singing and poetry, present at festivals and entertainments, and hired as mourners at funerals.

and according to the extremely snotty American Cyclopaedia of 1873:

 Almeh (properly alimeh, pi. avalim.) an Arabic name given to the better class of public singers and dancers in Egypt, and sometimes erroneously applied also to the lower prostitutes and dancers, the ghawazi. The almehs form a separate social class, live together in companies, and often earn very large sums by their songs, dances, and improvisations, which are almost always of a lascivious character. Their services are generally called into requisition at banquets, marriages, and other festivals. - The ghawazi are a much lower class, including both male and female dancers, who travel from place to place, and exhibit in the public streets their dances, which, like those of the almehs, consist of lascivious movements of the body. The female ghawazi are prostitutes of the lowest class; yet a respectable Arab may without disgrace marry one of them who has abandoned her profession. Though the two classes are alike in the licentiousness of their lives and occupations, a sharp distinction exists between the almehs and the ghawazi, the former pandering to the higher orders of society, while the latter (considered by many actually a distinct race of gypsies) address themselves to the populace.

I love finding out this sort of stuff!

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