Page 1

If in Europe going to Turkish baths is considered an exotic practice, it represents, for a majority of Muslims, more than just a place to unwind. Its cleansing, social and religious virtues have attracted many followers. For all that, it is more and more in decline in the medinas, poorly resisting the modern world and its chain of changes. Neglected, it seems like a monument inherited from the elders, devoid of any role to play. And with it, a whole way of life is threatened... Pascal Meunier has brought back from his many trips to Syria, Turkey, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Emirates, a unique portrayal of these magical places.

Oriental Baths : from magic to oblivion... Photos ŠPascal Meunier/Lightmediation Text ŽMaud Tyckaert Contact - Thierry Tinacci Lightmediation Photo Agency +33 (0)6 61 80 57 21 thierry@lightmediation.com


1448-05: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Tambali- Hammam is also a place of meditation where people can recharge their batteries before taking an important decision. Fewer people are going to hammams, and allows amateurs having quiet and solitude for a while.


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-01: Syria. Aleppo. Hammam Yalbouga Al Nasri- This Mameluke hammam has been deserted for a long time to house a factory making felt-tip pen. The Syrian Minister of Turism

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-02: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Margoush -Under the Mameluke dynasty, it was told that 365 hammams were opened in Cairo. One for each day of the year. Nowadays, there are

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-03: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlita - Hammam is also a place for meditation where people come to recharge their batteries and think before taking an important decision. In

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-04: Yemen. Sanaa. Hammam As Shukr -Yemeni hammams are small and favour overcrowding. The day of Great Prayer, many men come and help each other for the different


1448-16: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam El Arba - For "Okal", the owner of the bath El Arba, it is not easy to attract new customers. So, imagination is of the essence... With a few metal bars, a chain, a bit of rubber, he has constructed a bicycle, a running carpet... A real sports room.


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-05: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Tambali- Hammam is also a place of meditation where people can recharge their batteries before taking an important decision.

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-06: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - In this hammam, they prefer to use " turba " for cleaning body than vegetable fiber often used in the past, but now considered as a

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-07:Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - In this hammam, they prefer to use " turba " for cleaning body than vegetable fiber often used in the past, but now considered as a

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-08: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - Massage is made with a sense of modesty. Towel doesn't leave the client. " Tellaks ", turkish masseurs, make to play body's joints.


1448-43: Syria. Hama. Hammam Osmaniye - A few days before a wedding, friends of the future groom reserve the baths for a stag party: a ritual still practiced in Syria, with dancing and bawdy songs.


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-09: Libya. Tripoli. Hammam Helga-It remains only few traditional hammams in Tripoli. Hammam Helga is located in the souk of the medina and popular. Some of clients laze, while

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-10: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - The massage's art needs a great dexterity and a precise body language. The least of false move would cause scandal. Despite

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-11: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - After lazing on a hot slab, the client lets himself go in the tellakテ不 hands, who spreads on the body a lather of perfumed soap.

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-12: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Al Jadid - In Damascus, people come to hammams with their close parents or fiends. Alone, it is the opportunity to make unexpected encounters.


1448-11: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - After lazing on a hot slab, the client lets himself go in the tellakテ不 hands, who spreads on the body a lather of perfumed soap. Generally, a hammam counts around 80 employees, but many of them have reduced their workforce.


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-13: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam El Arba - This hammam has been opened for 5 centuries. On Wednesdays, it is mainly restricted to women, who come here to get ready for their wedding,

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-14: Turkey. Bursa. Hammam Yenikaplica - This hammam is very popular and reputable for having cure the gout's crisis of Sultan Suleiman, ak the Splendid. " Kaplicas " differ from

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-15: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - The " tellak " put soap into a bag of wet cotton, called " turba ". He blows strongly in this lather balloon before wringing forcefully on his

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-16: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam El Arba - For "Okal", the owner of the bath El Arba, it is not easy to attract new customers. So, imagination is of the essence... With a few metal bars, a


1448-06: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - In this hammam, they prefer to use " turba " for cleaning body than vegetable fiber often used in the past, but now considered as a bacteria trap. It is one of the only change made in this hammam during the 20th century. These sessions are sometimes recreations for masseurs who play to bury their collusive clients under a snow of soap.


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-17: Iran. Kerman. Hammam Ganj Ali Khan - These baths from the Safavid era were built in 1631 by the governor of the province of Kerman, Ganj Ali Khan. Turned into an

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-18: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlita- After lazing on a hot slab, the client lets himself go in the tellak's hands, who spreads on the body a lather of perfumed soap.

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-19: Morocco. Fez. Hammam Kharachfiyine - Because not all the households in the medina have bathrooms, the baths in Morocco are still well frequented. Each

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-20: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Kadirga - The customers linger in the reception room. Like an isolation tank for some, a boudoir for others, it provides " time to spare", favoring


1448-02: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Margoush -Under the Mameluke dynasty, it was told that 365 hammams were opened in Cairo. One for each day of the year. Nowadays, there are barley 8 to survive. In the street of brassworkers, the Margoush hammam continues despite of its dilapidated state. People wash themselves without masseurs


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-21: Syria. Aleppo. Hammam Al Nahassin - The reception hall is a space of liberty. Everybody is attending to his business. For some of them it is the TV serial time, for others it is

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-22: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Margoush - In the alcoves of the main room, temperature can reach 40째 Celsius. Clients become apathetic and get relax. There is a natural lighting

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-23: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Tambali - Around the main room of the baths, four small alcoves, maghtas, give out hot steam. A pool lets the rare customer immerse himself in the

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-24: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Sultan Qalaoun- Exclusively reserved to men, hammam Sultan is one of the oldest bath of the city. Its customers are mainly impoverished people who


1448-03: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlita - Hammam is also a place for meditation where people come to recharge their batteries and think before taking an important decision. In Istanbul, hammams are less in jeopardy than in other places around the arabic-muslim world, thanks to their new direction based on tourism of great luxury.


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-25: Syria. Damascus. Hammam El Mokhadem - Big bowls are in the tepid and hot rooms distributing either hot or cold water. Customers follow purificatory gestures to splash

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-26: Turkey. Bursa. Hammam Yenikaplica -This hammam is very popular and reputable for having cure the goutテ不 crisis of Sultan Suleiman, ak the Splendid. " Kaplicas " differ

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-27: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - Located downtown, hammam Cemberlitas is one of the most popular of the city. Plans would have been drawn by Sinan, the architecte

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-28: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas- Some of hammams have two twin structures. One is dedicated to women, the other one is for men. This partition appeared with


1448-04: Yemen. Sanaa. Hammam As Shukr -Yemeni hammams are small and favour overcrowding. The day of Great Prayer, many men come and help each other for the different stages of bath ritual. There is about a dozen of baths in SanaaÉ many houses have no bathroom.


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-30: United Arab Emirates. Dubai. Hammam Royal - The 5 stars hotel " One and Only Royal Mirage " of Dubai, decided to build the first traditional hammam in the Gulf in December

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-32: Tunisia. Tunis. Hammam Kachachine -One of the most famous hammam of Tunis. Exclusively reserved to men. This day, regular customers will meet holy men reciting

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-34: Iran. Kerman. Hammam Ibrahim Khan -One of the public baths still in service in Iran. Built in the 19th century, these baths have kept their exceptional mosaics, representing

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-36: Syria. Aleppo. Hammam Al Nahassin - These twin brothers are manager of hammam Al Nahassin since 20 years. The hammam is opened from 5 :00 am to 1 :00 pm. / /


1448-17: Iran. Kerman. Hammam Ganj Ali Khan - These baths from the Safavid era were built in 1631 by the governor of the province of Kerman, Ganj Ali Khan. Turned into an ethnological museum, the baths are much visited by the Iranians, coming to learn about the bathing ritual.


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-38: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Al Salsila - Hookah, or waterpipes, tea or sodas are served during chattering after the bath. Sometimes discussions continue until dawn. / /

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-39: Yemen. Sanaa. Hammam As Shukr - Numbering 17 in the 80s, today there are only 12 baths in Sanaa. The Al Shoukr baths, situated in the heart of the old city, remains one of

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-41: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Tambali - Badly-maintened, hammam's walls are covered by saltpetre. Plumbing is often defective. Hygiene leaves to be desired. But for many

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-42: Syria. Hama. Hammam Osmaniye -A few days before a wedding, friends of the future groom reserve the baths for a stag party: a ritual still practiced in Syria, with dancing


1448-23: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Tambali - Around the main room of the baths, four small alcoves, maghtas, give out hot steam. A pool lets the rare customer immerse himself in the boiling water.


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-43: Syria. Hama. Hammam Osmaniye - A few days before a wedding, friends of the future groom reserve the baths for a stag party: a ritual still practiced in Syria, with dancing

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-46: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Nour Ed Din -After staying in the blaze, customers get normal temperature again in an other room. It is the favourite time for swimmers. These

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-47: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Bichr -Near Bab el Futuh in the Husseiniya street, Hammam Bichri survives thanks to its night customers. For few piastres, they can sleep safely

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-48: Tunisia. Tunis. Hammam Halfaouine - A movie has been shot in this hammam in 1990, directed by Farid Boughedir " Halfaouine, the child of terraces". It is a story about a


1448-57: Turkey. Bursa. Hammam Eskikaplica - This town located at 200 km far away from Istanbul is reputable since Ottomans for its curative water. Eskikaplica is an hydrotherapic establishment receiving wealthy families. Here, a man rents the hammam to teach his son swimming.


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-49: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas -During the slack periods, masseurs fold towels. There is different kind of towels for covering the parts of bodies : head, shoulders

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-50: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Izz Ed Din - The manager decides of the decoration according to the fashion of the moment. Here, probably one of the kitschest of Syria. A fountain

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-51: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Nour Ed Din -Built by Nour Ed Din in the 12th century, these baths were financed through the ransom of a Frankish king taken prisoner during the

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-52: Libya. Tripoli. Hammam Darghout - This customer contradicts the philosopher Seneca, who criticized steam baths, asserting that one sweated without exerting any effort.


1448-15: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - The " tellak " put soap into a bag of wet cotton, called " turba ". He blows strongly in this lather balloon before wringing forcefully on his " victimテ不 body ".


The last Oriental Baths / 1448-53: Turkey. Bursa. Hammam Yenikaplica -The waters of this kaplica are reputed for their therapeutic virtues. Maybe soon this old man will no longer need his crutches. / /

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-54: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Talat -Nasra, one of the last masseuses in Cairo. / /

The last Oriental Baths / 1448-55: Iran. Kerman. Hammam Ibrahim Khan - The city of Kerman still houses two active public baths. This one, built by Ibrahim Khan, governor of the province of Kerman from 1801 to

1448-60: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cagaloglu - Cupolas from outside. Hammam Cagaloglu.


1448-24: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Sultan Qalaoun- Exclusively reserved to men, hammam Sultan is one of the oldest bath of the city. Its customers are mainly impoverished people who wander from a place to an other place with their bundles, and have a wash here. Mirror is an essential accessory in all hammams of Cairo, that reflects sad and tired faces because of the hard daily life.


Oriental Baths: from magic to oblivion. Bathed in glory: the hammams of the middle east. Cleansing the body is a cornerstone of religious practice in the Muslim world. Sadly, the hammam ritual is fading from public domain, as many prefer the privacy of their own homes. In an exclusive feature, Canvas explores the history of the hammam and finds out why they are fading away. An exotic alternative to beauty salons, the hammam has become the latest fashion in luxury hotels around the world. Originally, this steam bath stood for far more than just a place of relaxation. Praised by the followers of Islam for its virtues of social and religious purification, the hammam used to entice the crowds and today it stands reshaped and powerless to resist the forces of the modern world. As the hammam disappears from the Muslim cities of the Arab world, a way of life is also vanishing. During antiquity, the Greeks praised the various virtues of the bath. Therapeutic and convivial, it was a fundamental part of daily life but with the arrival of the Roman spas, baths became monumental buildings not only furnished with basins and pools, but gymnasia and libraries as well. As the Roman Empire acquired more and more land in the seventh and eighth centuries, first in Egypt and then in Syria, Arabs discovered the benefits of steam

baths as left to them by their predecessors. Rapidly, they adopted the bathing ritual, and amended it to their own cultural needs. The hammam preserved the Greco-Roman legacy, such as the spatial organisation of the bath. Surrounded by several rooms - the dressing room, as well as the cold, tepid and hot chambers, the blueprint for baths slowly developed its own specificities under the Arabs. Changes in architectural details and adaptations for reasons of hygiene meant that the number of rooms dedicated to the body grew to the detriment of the library and gymnasium which soon disappeared completely. The dirty water of the Roman pools was eventually replaced by cleaner facilities, which allowed for continual water circulation. As opposed to Christianity, which preferred to look down on the flesh while glorifying the soul, Islam gave hygiene top priority. As stated in the hadith attributed to the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), 'Al-Nathafa Sho'ba Min Sho'ab Al-Iman' ('Cleanliness is part of faith'). Before praying or going to the mosque, every Muslim is obliged to wash away any sin. As Islam spread, the number of hammams increased. As each city was conquered, baths were constructed within their walls. Generally located as an antechamber to a mosque, the hammams became more and more part of urban society. Situated underground, to aid water pressure and conserve heat, passers-by on the street above would only realise what was below them when they saw a decorated, narrow doorway. After all, modesty is always the best policy ! Public baths were not always held in such high respect. As successors to the Roman thermal baths, some considered them places of debauchery. It soon became

necessary to define the rules of propriety in the hammam in accordance with Islamic requirements. Nudity, for a start, was banned. Men had to cover the part of the body between the belly button and the knee with a loin cloth tied at the hip. As for women, they were forbidden from entering during the early years of Islamic practice. However, when the great doctors of the Middle Ages, such as the Persian Avicenne (Abu 'Ali Al-Husayn ibn 'Abd Allah ibn Sina) and the Andalucian Arab Averroes (Ibn Rushd), agreed to attribute great healing powers to the steam baths, a new door of opportunity opened. The recognition of the hammam's therapeutic properties finally allowed women to take advantage of them as well. As the only authorised outing for females apart from to the souk and to the mosque, the hammam was to women what coffee shops were to men; a place where they were allowed to meet and chat. So, it was not long before baths sprung up in every neighbourhood, becoming hubs for social discourse. Under the humid dome of the hammam's hot rooms, opinions were shared and family issues resolved, as women enjoyed a rare moment of liberty. If the heat, humidity, tranquillity and lavish massages were considered regenerative for the body, they were just as beneficial for the spirit. Even today, patrons are unanimous; it is good to have an invigorating bath because in the cloakroom of the hammam one does not only remove ones clothes, one also puts aside any worries. The ritual of bathing is the same in almost all of the hammams in the Muslim cities of the Arab world. Having disrobed, locked away clothes and taken a set of clean towels, a loin cloth and a pair of sandals (wooden shoes were essential to avoid the heat of the burning floor), a man winds

his way along the corridor that leads to the cold room, which was formerly known as the frigidarium. Under the Romans, this chamber was a generous space but considering customers didn't stay there for long, it is not surprising that by the 15th century, Arab architects began to phase out the prominence of the frigidarium in favour of devoting more space to steam. When the steam room proved too overwhelming, they then moved to the tepid chamber. In the shadows, as the trails of vapour blur the incumbent bodies, the initial therapeutic effects of the hammam would begin to be felt. Slowly one adjusts to the heat before progressing to the next room, the old Roman caldarium. Kept at an infernal 40 degrees centigrade, a marble flagstone stands at its centre. Often octagonal, the slab welcomes softened flesh for a 30-minute sweating session. Under the soft light that cascades through the pierced holes of the cupola, a masseuse begins to rub the skin using a bristle glove to remove any impurities. Scrubbing leads to lathering, which is followed by a dowsing in cold water. The steam room tends to be equipped with an 'iwan' in the shape of a cross, furnished with stone benches that served as seats. In one particular hammam in Cairo, this room leads to a domed alcove called a 'maghta', which contains a basin of warm water where customers can immerse themselves. In Turkey, it has never been standard practice to fully bathe in hammams. The exception to the rule is in the Kaplicas, an area with rejuvenating pools fed by a thermal spring; ideal for treating dermatological conditions. A renowned hammam of the Kaplicas still stands in the city of Bursa, located in the Northwestern part of Turkey, where the waters have been held in renown since antiquity.


At the end of the hammam ritual, a man takes a fresh loin cloth and a dry towel and retires to the changing room. In Turkey, individual cells were built to provide a moment of relaxation in private, while in Syria an open design encouraged people to share their final moments together. For centuries, men have stretched out on benches and savoured the heat of the furnace and the calming trickles of the decorative fountain centrepiece. Conversations initiated in the steam room - ranging from the terms of an upcoming marriage to local gossip and the latest political decisions - continue over sweet mint tea and bitter coffee. Just like the act of prayer, bathing is a communal experience based on the separation of the sexes. A day in the life of a hammam is divided between men and women who respect specific timings in order to ensure they never rub elbows. The only infringement permitted is bestowed upon young boys who may accompany their mothers. Only the strict hammamji woman can decide on the day her child joins the world of men; at the first awkward moment or indecent look, she will ban her son forever from the protective female bosom. Under the Ottomans, who took control of the Levant in the 16th century, the architecture of the hammam evolved to reach technical perfection. Building on the experience of the Byzantine builders before them, it is the Ottomans who created the first symmetrical structures, which included two separate, yet identical, baths; one reserved for men, the other for women. During this era, the practice of

harmonious structural composition grew; where the principle of multiple rooms was replaced by an emphasis on the disrobing and steam chambers. The domes too became monumental and were adorned with tiles and leading; marble paving lined the floors. While the walls and roof were adorned with luxurious ceramic decorations from Iznik and Kutahya, enigmatic inscriptions engraved in gold leaf, and coloured glass in the dome holes. Sinan, the architect of the Ottoman Empire for more than 50 years and the name behind the SĂźleymaniye Mosque (among other great buildings), constructed no less than 32 baths, including the Cemberlitas Hammam of Istanbul built in 1584. Although many have been preserved, but are known more as popular tourist landmarks than functioning baths today, this is not the case in other Muslim cities around the Arab world, where the number of baths is rapidly shrinking. The trend of having hammams in private homes, the increased service prices of the public ones and the loss of tradition have all contributed to a slow, yet steady decline in the popularity of these sacred public temples for the body and spirit. The restorative qualities of the hammam have been usurped by prescriptions from doctors, while the rituals of religious practice (circumcision, marriage, etc) are now staged beyond its bulky walls. Undoubtedly, the threat of the hammam is the most apparent in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. In this historic city, where the Mamluk dynasty built 365 hammams (one for each day of the year), only six functioning baths remain today, while the others have become home to some of Cairo's poorest citizens Amid widespread indifference, the hammams of Arabia are dying. These places, described as heaven on earth by ShĂŠhĂŠrazade in 'One Thousand and One

Nights' are being transformed into galleries, nightclubs and warehouses to the delight of the region's real estate speculators (when they are not being demolished completely). The reality is alarming despite the noble endeavours of some private individuals and organisations. The UNESCO World Heritage List includes the baths of Qasr El-Amra in the Eastern desert of Jordan. Built in the early eighth century, this exceptionally well-preserved desert castle was both a fortress and a residence of the Umayyad caliphs. In Iran, the Kerman Hammam has been transformed into a museum. A hopeful sign it may be, but when popular cultural practices become the domain of museums, doesn't this mean that they are already dead?


Captions.

Fewer people are going to hammams, and allows amateurs having quiet and solitude for a while.

1448-01: Syria. Aleppo. Hammam Yalbouga Al Nasri- This Mameluke hammam has been deserted for a long time to house a factory making felt-tip pen. The Syrian Minister of Turism decided in 1985 to reopen it as a hammam. It is considered today as the most luxuous of the country and it is the model of a successful restoration.

1448-06: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - In this hammam, they prefer to use " turba " for cleaning body than vegetable fiber often used in the past, but now considered as a bacteria trap. It is one of the only change made in this hammam during the 20th century. These sessions are sometimes recreations for masseurs who play to bury their collusive clients under a snow of soap.

1448-02: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Margoush -Under the Mameluke dynasty, it was told that 365 hammams were opened in Cairo. One for each day of the year. Nowadays, there are barley 8 to survive. In the street of brassworkers, the Margoush hammam continues despite of its dilapidated state. People wash themselves without masseurs 1448-03: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlita - Hammam is also a place for meditation where people come to recharge their batteries and think before taking an important decision. In Istanbul, hammams are less in jeopardy than in other places around the arabic-muslim world, thanks to their new direction based on tourism of great luxury. 1448-04: Yemen. Sanaa. Hammam As Shukr -Yemeni hammams are small and favour overcrowding. The day of Great Prayer, many men come and help each other for the different stages of bath ritual. There is about a dozen of baths in Sanaa; many houses have no bathroom. 1448-05: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam TambaliHammam is also a place of meditation where people can recharge their batteries before taking an important decision.

1448-07:Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - In this hammam, they prefer to use " turba " for cleaning body than vegetable fiber often used in the past, but now considered as a bacteria trap. It is one of the only change made in this hammam during the 20th century. These sessions are sometimes recreations for masseurs who play to bury their collusive clients under a snow of soap. 1448-08: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - Massage is made with a sense of modesty. Towel doesn't leave the client. " Tellaks ", turkish masseurs, make to play body's joints. It is a torture for the flesh, but a miracle for the body. There are ancestral gestures. 1448-09: Libya. Tripoli. Hammam Helga-It remains only few traditional hammams in Tripoli. Hammam Helga is located in the souk of the medina and popular. Some of clients laze, while other test a stimulating massage. 1448-10: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - The massage's art needs a great dexterity and a precise body language. The least of false move would cause scandal. Despite certain indications

to the contrary, it is an art of delicacy, as it is mentionned in the origin of the arabic word massage, " mass ", meaning touching delicately.

imagination is of the essence... With a few metal bars, a chain, a bit of rubber, he has constructed a bicycle, a running carpet... A real sports room.

1448-11: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - After lazing on a hot slab, the client lets himself go in the tellakテ不 hands, who spreads on the body a lather of perfumed soap. Generally, a hammam counts around 80 employees, but many of them have reduced their workforce.

1448-17: Iran. Kerman. Hammam Ganj Ali Khan - These baths from the Safavid era were built in 1631 by the governor of the province of Kerman, Ganj Ali Khan. Turned into an ethnological museum, the baths are much visited by the Iranians, coming to learn about the bathing ritual.

1448-12: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Al Jadid - In Damascus, people come to hammams with their close parents or fiends. Alone, it is the opportunity to make unexpected encounters. Division of political or religious opinions seem to dissolve in the tepid steam.

1448-18: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlita- After lazing on a hot slab, the client lets himself go in the tellak's hands, who spreads on the body a lather of perfumed soap. Generally, a hammam counts around 80 employees, but many of them have reduced their workforce.

1448-13: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam El Arba This hammam has been opened for 5 centuries. On Wednesdays, it is mainly restricted to women, who come here to get ready for their wedding, usually celebrated on Thursday. 1448-14: Turkey. Bursa. Hammam Yenikaplica - This hammam is very popular and reputable for having cure the gout's crisis of Sultan Suleiman, ak the Splendid. " Kaplicas " differ from the other hammams by a pool filled by thermal spring water, mostly dedicated for medical cares. 1448-15: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas - The " tellak " put soap into a bag of wet cotton, called " turba ". He blows strongly in this lather balloon before wringing forcefully on his " victim's body ". 1448-16: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam El Arba For "Okal", the owner of the bath El Arba, it is not easy to attract new customers. So,

1448-19: Morocco. Fez. Hammam Kharachfiyine - Because not all the households in the medina have bathrooms, the baths in Morocco are still well frequented. Each neighbourhood has its baths... Here, one of the oldest in the city of Fez. 1448-20: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Kadirga - The customers linger in the reception room. Like an isolation tank for some, a boudoir for others, it provides " time to spare", favoring introspection or encouraging conversation. 1448-21: Syria. Aleppo. Hammam Al Nahassin - The reception hall is a space of liberty. Everybody is attending to his business. For some of them it is the TV serial time, for others it is prayer time. It is told that hammams are anterooms of mosque, a space between secular and sacred.


1448-22: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Margoush - In the alcoves of the main room, temperature can reach 40째 Celsius. Clients become apathetic and get relax. There is a natural lighting from above. 1448-23: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Tambali - Around the main room of the baths, four small alcoves, maghtas, give out hot steam. A pool lets the rare customer immerse himself in the boiling water. 1448-24: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Sultan Qalaoun- Exclusively reserved to men, hammam Sultan is one of the oldest bath of the city. Its customers are mainly impoverished people who wander from a place to an other place with their bundles, and have a wash here. Mirror is an essential accessory in all hammams of Cairo, that reflects sad and tired faces because of the hard daily life. 1448-25: Syria. Damascus. Hammam El Mokhadem - Big bowls are in the tepid and hot rooms distributing either hot or cold water. Customers follow purificatory gestures to splash himself. In the Prophet's words, the left hand must be used to wash. 1448-26: Turkey. Bursa. Hammam Yenikaplica -This hammam is very popular and reputable for having cure the gout?s crisis of Sultan Suleiman, ak the Splendid. " Kaplicas " differ from the other hammams by a pool filled by thermal spring water, mostly dedicated for medical cares. 1448-27: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas Located downtown,

hammam Cemberlitas is one of the most popular of the city. Plans would have been drawn by Sinan, the architecte who was supposed to have built 32 baths. Customers laze on a large octogonal slab in the middle of the hot room. This kind of slab is typical of Ottoman architecture. 1448-28: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas- Some of hammams have two twin structures. One is dedicated to women, the other one is for men. This partition appeared with Ottomans. " Halvets " are laid out around a central slab allowing women to make their personal wash safe of looks. 1448-29: United Arab Emirates. Dubai. Hammam Royal - The 5 stars hotel " One and Only Royal Mirage " of Dubai, decided to build the first traditional hammam in the Gulf in December 2002. Starting the trend of hammam in a region that is not historically concerned by public bath. And it is a big success ! 1448-30: United Arab Emirates. Dubai. Hammam Royal - The 5 stars hotel " One and Only Royal Mirage " of Dubai, decided to build the first traditional hammam in the Gulf in December 2002. Starting the trend of hammam in a region that is not historically concerned by public bath. And it is a big success ! 1448-31: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Tambali -" Hammamjis " have not enough money to look after their establishment. For example, damaged hangers are not replaced. 1448-32: Tunisia. Tunis. Hammam Kachachine -One of the most famous hammam of Tunis. Exclusively reserved to men. This day, regular customers will meet holy men reciting koran. Ech year,

just before Ramadan, Kachachine's owners ask for the blessing of their hammam.

Shoukr baths, situated in the heart of the old city, remains one of the most frequented.

1448-33: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Al Salsila - After the bath, a towel (" futa ") around the waist, people stay a while in the steam and meditate away from the world

1448-40: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Al Jadid - To avoid slipping on wet ground and above all avoiding burning hot marble, sandals are used.

1448-34: Iran. Kerman. Hammam Ibrahim Khan -One of the public baths still in service in Iran. Built in the 19th century, these baths have kept their exceptional mosaics, representing scantily clad women.

1448-41: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Tambali - Badly-maintened, hammam's walls are covered by saltpetre. Plumbing is often defective. Hygiene leaves to be desired. But for many inhabitants of Cairo living in bad conditions, the public bath is the only way to be clean.

1448-35: Algeria. Algiers. Hammam Sidna -These baths date from the 16th century and are the oldest in the Kasbah. It only allows in men and also has a hotel upstairs... the only solution for keeping the baths open.

1448-42: Syria. Hama. Hammam Osmaniye -A few days before a wedding, friends of the future groom reserve the baths for a stag party: a ritual still practiced in Syria, with dancing and bawdy songs.

1448-36: Syria. Aleppo. Hammam Al Nahassin - These twin brothers are manager of hammam Al Nahassin since 20 years. The hammam is opened from 5 :00 am to 1 :00 pm.

1448-43: Syria. Hama. Hammam Osmaniye - A few days before a wedding, friends of the future groom reserve the baths for a stag party: a ritual still practiced in Syria, with dancing and bawdy songs.

1448-37: Syria. Aleppo. Hammam Hanano - The " natur " is a member of staff. He distributes towels and hot drinks to customers. He has an imortant role in the hammam, like an interface between customers and the other employees. 1448-38: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Al Salsila - Hookah, or waterpipes, tea or sodas are served during chattering after the bath. Sometimes discussions continue until dawn. 1448-39: Yemen. Sanaa. Hammam As Shukr - Numbering 17 in the 80s, today there are only 12 baths in Sanaa. The Al

1448-44: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Margoush - Nowadays the Cairenes prefer to wash themselves in their own bathrooms rather than to go to the hammam. No salpetre accumulates on the walls of these sometimes five-century-old buildings. However for the regulars the neighbourhood bath remains the only place which offers moment of abandon carefreeness and hapiness. 1448-45: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cagaloglu -Masseurs have a private space. They put their own things and tips in their private rack.


taken prisoner during the crusades. It is the most impressive one in the capital.

1448-46: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Nour Ed Din -After staying in the blaze, customers get normal temperature again in an other room. It is the favourite time for swimmers. These kind of scenes are frequent in hammams. 1448-47: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Bichr -Near Bab el Futuh in the Husseiniya street, Hammam Bichri survives thanks to its night customers. For few piastres, they can sleep safely here. 1448-48: Tunisia. Tunis. Hammam Halfaouine - A movie has been shot in this hammam in 1990, directed by Farid Boughedir " Halfaouine, the child of terraces". It is a story about a child who attends hammams with his mother, despite the fact he is getting older and reports to his friends spicy details of hammam. Nowadays, this hammam is reserved to men exclusively. 1448-49: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cemberlitas -During the slack periods, masseurs fold towels. There is different kind of towels for covering the parts of bodies : head, shoulders and legs. 1448-50: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Izz Ed Din - The manager decides of the decoration according to the fashion of the moment. Here, probably one of the kitschest of Syria. A fountain decorates the reception hall and refresh it before going in the hot room. 1448-51: Syria. Damascus. Hammam Nour Ed Din -Built by Nour Ed Din in the 12th century, these baths were financed through the ransom of a Frankish king

1448-52: Libya. Tripoli. Hammam Darghout - This customer contradicts the philosopher Seneca, who criticized steam baths, asserting that one sweated without exerting any effort. Many regulars take advantage of their session to maintain their physical form. 1448-53: Turkey. Bursa. Hammam Yenikaplica -The waters of this kaplica are reputed for their therapeutic virtues. Maybe soon this old man will no longer need his crutches. 1448-54: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Talat -Nasra, one of the last masseuses in Cairo. 1448-55: Iran. Kerman. Hammam Ibrahim Khan - The city of Kerman still houses two active public baths. This one, built by Ibrahim Khan, governor of the province of Kerman from 1801 to 1824, is open only to men. Its owner confesses that it needs to be renovated. 1448-56: Algeria. Algiers. Hammam Fouita - These baths were built in the 18th century. The name Fouita comes from the fabric of the same name imported from Tunisia and used to cover the body in the steam baths. 1448-57: Turkey. Bursa. Hammam Eskikaplica - This town located at 200 km far away from Istanbul is reputable since Ottomans for its curative water. Eskikaplica is an hydrotherapic establishment receiving wealthy families. Here, a man rents the hammam to teach his son swimming. 1448-58: Yemen. Jibla. Hammam Arwa -

In this mountain village, the deserted hammam has been turned into meeting place for the children, who go on the slide. 1448-59: Egypt. Cairo. Hammam Sultan Qalaoun - To compensate for the lack of splendour in the baths, the hammamjis took to painting the walls with bright colours. Despite their good intentions, the colours fade, the decor ages, and customers become rare. 1448-60: Turkey. Istanbul. Hammam Cagaloglu - Cupolas from outside. Hammam Cagaloglu.

oriental_baths_lightmediation  

If in Europe going to Turkish baths is considered an exotic practice, it represents, for a majority of Muslims, more than just a place to un...