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Turkey : Hamams

The Hamams or commonly known as Turkish bath is one variation of a steam bath. Can also be classified as a wet sauna, the Hamams is a part of the Middle-East history. It's not only a place where people take a bath, it's also a place for socializing and also used as a ritual cleansing place.



People who go to Hamams have to go through three rooms or three stages of achieving full body relaxation. First they have to go to the warm room, where hot air continuously flows to increase the roomís temperature. Bathers start to perspire freely in this room. Then bathers go to the next room that is even hotter than the first one before they could wash themselves with cold water. Then bathers could then relax in the cooling-room.

Usually there are masseurs or tellak in Hamams. They help bathers by soaping and scrubbing them. Tellaks are young boys from the non-Muslim nation of the Turkish Empire. There was some evidence which says that tellaks also work as sex workers for the Hamams clients. This was described in great details in one of the text of Ottoman authors. But together with the fall of the empire the tellaks also vanished.

In the past, Hamams was the center of social gatherings. And itís not exclusive for men only; there are some Hamams which contains a separated room for men and women. Women bring a number of things with her when she goes to a hamam. Example is the pesternal or a large towel. This is usually wrapped around their torso. Thereís also the tas, probably a dipper which is always made of metal, it is use to pour water all over their body. During those times Hamams are very popular and a trip to that place has become a daily routine for some people. Almost all special occasion won't be complete without having a bath at a Hamams. A bride must visit a hamam before the wedding. Somewhat similar to a bridal shower but this happens inside a special hamam. The bride is joined by maidens and young women on her visit to the hamam. The maiden would say their wishes for the bride and the unmarried women would toss coin to the pool to wish for a husband they like. There are other occasions which involve visiting the hamam. But now because of the improvement of the plumbing system and the availability of showers and bathtub on residential houses, Hamams are slowly fading away.

A visit to a hamam means a lot of things to the Turkish people. The hamam could be a place where you spend your first and last moments. Hamam is a place to share some of your special moments.

The idea of Turkish bath spread all over the world. A diplomat introduced it to the British in 1850. And then the rest of the European country followed. And then in 1863 it reached the United States. Although not as popular as it had been, there are still few Hamams available