Opening Asia for Russia

07.11.2018 235 просмотров

Shall we go to the bath? What's question? For people of various nationalities, a bathhouse is both a place of communication and an event related to health promotion. Turkish bath - hammam - is no exception to this rule.

The desire to take a steam bath, going to the bath, is experienced by many of us. In addition, for some people, a bath is also a kind of symbol of freedom: from everything - from conventions (no clothes are needed), social prejudices (all naked are equal), etc. Russians love to bathe, and they do it not only in their native land. If there is a chance, they are happy to visit baths and on vacation abroad, where they also have their own bathing traditions. How could it be without them! Some people like it, some don't! But this is rather a matter of taste, passions and habits. 

Bath in a certain sense is a metaphysical subject. A common euphemism: the soul soared to heaven - it didn’t take off, but it soared! - is already found in the bath panegyrics of Martial. The church used it as an indisputable argument in favor of moral purity and elevated it to cult phraseology. 

Turkish baths were, are and will be a true paradise of the East. Photo:

Historically, several types of baths have developed in the world. The most famous of them are: Russian steam room with high humidity; Roman and Turkish - with hot and dry steam at low air humidity; Finnish - sauna, where the humidity is low; Japanese - furo and sento ... We will talk about the Turkish hammam below.

Classics of the genre

Sung by Scheherazade, Turkish baths were, are and will be a true paradise of the East - in Damascus or Cairo, Oman or Istanbul . These are temples for devout Muslims, where they cleanse their soul and body. Hammams are an ocean of feelings and sensuality, this is a favorite vacation spot where everyone is equal, as social differences go away along with clothes left in the dressing room. In loincloths, visitors wander through the labyrinths of corridors separating rest rooms, muskalli, from baths, hammams. Sometimes these baths are also called Roman-Turkish or even Roman-Irish (in Europe, the latter appeared in 1856, with the light hand of an Irish doctor who somewhat “modernized” the oriental bath). 

Eastern traditions are old - Arabs, according to historical sources, were taught to go to the bath by the Romans. The Turkish hammam (that is, "heat-spreading") is a prime example of the type of bath preferred in the Arab world. This is one of the versions, the Turks, for example, will tell a completely different one.

Some Russians who are inexperienced in the rules of behavior in a hammam, visiting a real Turkish bath for the first time, are at first lost. If no one tells you, a long search for a steam room begins, but sometimes it is never found. Therefore, in the hearts, a decision is made to be content with the services of only one attendant, who, on a special marble bed, will “launder and soak” in full - however, he is here for this. Then - shower and massage in the dressing room. Everything is a complete disappointment, since the cherished desire to warm the bones is never fulfilled. This kind of embarrassment happens too! 

Complete bliss - the body is like a river overflowing its own banks. Photo:

In fact, the ritual of all oriental bath procedures has been established for a long time. A standard hammam in Turkey, which does not pretend to be elite, looks something like this. In a separate room, as narrow as a corridor in a Stalinist three-ruble note, you need to undress - in fact, this is the dressing room. In this room, the temperature is constantly maintained at about 28-34 degrees. From here there is only one way - to a warmer room. A visitor to the hammam is sent to it in only one loincloth. Further, the caretaker of the bath hands over wooden sandals (although not always) and escorts him to the steam room, where the bath attendant is already waiting for the person - as the Turks sometimes joke, he is both your slave and your master. Then the washing person is placed on a white marble table - the so-called supu ("flat stone") next to other visitors. The Turks also call this soup chebek-tashi (“stone for the stomach”). 

One should not expect the same effect from the Turkish steam room as from the Russian one, despite the fact that in some Turkish baths there are additional rooms similar to our steam rooms - with the only difference that instead of wood all around is marble. Now you will not surprise anyone with such hammams - they are in almost every decent fitness center. Hot moist air in these steam rooms enters through holes in the walls and is led to the floor, and the humidity is regulated by heating water in boilers. The temperature can reach 70-100 degrees (although the extreme heat for Turks and Arabs is nonsense). Then the steamer returns again to a spacious marble room, where the temperature should not exceed 40-50 degrees. Lying on a hot chebek-tashi, you need to sweat thoroughly or, as the Turks say again, “cleanse the soul from evil spirits.” There are no gangs and scoops at all - instead of them, marble "washbasins" with taps are built into the walls, next to which people sit and splash water on themselves. Nearby, in narrow marble niches, showers.  

Chamberlitash Hammam in Istanbul. Massage is an important part of the Turkish bath. Photo:

Then the bath attendant gets down to business - his task is to rub the client’s body with an “emery” mitten made of horsehair so desperately that he “ignites” bodily . The cleaned and washed person then moves to another marble bed, where they begin to “knead” him - that is, to massage. Sometimes the bath attendant shows so much enthusiasm that he starts working with his feet - like Thai masseuses, whose weight, it should be noted, is significantly less. For some reason, the crunch of your own body is perceived aloofly, gradually, after the first pain passes, a magnificent feeling appears - as if you are freeing yourself from the body shell. Complete bliss - the body is like a river that has overflowed its own banks! After the massage - again washing. Something like this is a classic session of bath procedures in the hammam. But in Istanbul, for example, in some baths you can enjoy the highest level of pleasure, paying a little more than usual.

Turkish highlight - Chemberlitash

There are probably as many Turkish baths in Istanbul as and mosques, that is, a lot. The most famous and ancient is Chamberlitash hammam. That's where we're heading.

Nurubanu, the wife of Sultan Selim II, went down in history not only as the mother of the future Sultan Murat III and the cruel ruler of the harem, but also as a promoter of personal hygiene. It is said that before the nightly rendezvous with her illustrious husband, she ordered the odelisks to be washed not with lye and goat's milk, but with the foam of the quilaya - a soap tree. Allegedly, the skin is not irritated, and the aroma is more decent. Apocrypha reports that she forbade the guards to urinate at the walls of the seraglio, and eunuchs to brush their teeth less than three times a day. It is also known for certain that it was she who in 1584 ordered the famous Turkish architect Mimar Sinan - the very one who immortalized his name in the Blue Mosque - to build a public bath near Chemberlitash ("Burned Stone"). This is the column on which the monument used to stand - Emperor Constantine, who in 350 proclaimed the city of his name as the capital of the Roman Empire. The monument became a kind of nodal point of the empire. Since all roads led to Rome, they converged on four sides at this column. For a long time there was no marble emperor on its top, and Constantinople was already called Istanbul, but the stone pedestal remained sticking out in the middle of the square. 

The attendant "processes" the whole body with a special mitten. Photo:

Then the architect built the walls and covered them with a semicircular dome, and the builders cut out 104 round windows in it, covering them with cut glass lenses. And at night the stars rang in them, and during the day 104 sunbeams illuminated a round marble podium that looked like a giant skullcap. 

Chamberlitash-hammam in Istanbul is the same as the Sandunovsky baths in Moscow. In terms of age and architectural value, perhaps they even give odds. The basis of any Turkish bath is the canonical principle of "palms". Round hall - palm. Like five outstretched fingers, separated by marble walls from the common hall, niches for washing are sort of bath “studies”. In the middle of the palm is a marble skullcap. This is the same "chebek-tashi" - that is, a stone for the stomach. Or just a chebek. “And let the chebek always be hot,” says a Turkish proverb. 

Wet perspiration of the “palm” is the result of floors and walls heated by hot air coming from below through special pipes. But in the "offices" the temperature rises to 80 degrees or more.

According to tradition, first you need to lie down on a chebek. Under the head is a plastic bowl the size of a large bowl. At first, you are touched by great power: oh, Asians, how do you wash yourself out of such bowls? Later, when you are diligently “laundered” by the mustachioed attendant, you realize that the “bowl” was used for convenience and lazy rinsing, and not for serious water procedures. 

Turkish bath. 19th century engraving. Photo:

Lying on a hot stone slab, you are imbued with the true meaning of the oriental “keyf”. Instead of steam, inflaming the skin, cauterizing the ears and nasopharynx, forcing you to bow to the floor, in a real hammam, steam is felt not from the outside, but as if from the inside. Gentle heat warms the whole body through and through and walks through it in waves. Turning from the stomach to the back - and 104 rays of the sun, like the fingers of Allah, rest against the mortal body. 

Chebek encourages meditation. A deafening emptiness rings in my head, but the brain, oddly enough, is frothy fresh, as if washed with ice-cold running water. It is this state, preceding mystical revelations, that the wise Sufis called "keyf". Later, the esoteric term was transformed into a mighty Russian “high” - at the same time, the range of means for achieving euphoria, the highest bliss, was expanded. . Temporal boundaries are blurred - the past has gone away somewhere, and the future is not visible on the horizon. There is only one here and now - this endless present with pulsating jolts of blood comes to the fingertips. And then a mustachioed attendant appears, who, in fact, is invited to do business, and not wallow idle on a warm stone. With a hard horsehair glove lightly dipped in soapy water, he enthusiastically rubs the body and brings it to a state of absolute burgundy. But you can swear by the beard of the Prophet that the flames embracing the flesh turn out to be gentle and affectionate. Then the Turk rinses the body with warm water from a bucket - it’s like a pound of dirt comes off you, and the body seems to float in weightlessness. And only the head, like an anchor, does not allow him to fly up. But the Soul ... the soul rushes to heaven, and nothing can stop it. 

It's nice to relax after hot meditations on the trestle. Photo:

Meanwhile, the bath attendant does not even think of finishing the procedure - and with diligence worthy of the Guinness Book of Records, he continues to perform the ritual: he collects a weightless cloud of soap suds in a bucket, puts a linen bag into it, which at first looks a bit like a pillowcase, and begins to wash. For some reason, it seems that this is not even washing, but bringing cleanliness to a super-ideal state. Another unforgettable experience. You cringe and languish under the caressing soapy heat - you want it to be on your body forever.

But the time has come for the climax. The body is thoroughly prepared for the massage. The attendant slowly runs his thumb along the vertebrae, first from top to bottom, and then in the opposite direction, finally resting his palms on his shoulders ... There is no point in describing what is happening, but every now and then there is a feeling that the body is turning into something supple, reminiscent of the dough from which the attendant molds completely new flesh. Great art, worthy of the Creator!

After the massage, a bag filled with foam appears again. The last ablution in three waters - hot, warm and cool. The understanding comes why Eastern voluptuousness opposes the barbaric customs of the temperature contrasts of the Russian bath. The body will remember them later, but for now...

You can simply lie down on a marble skullcap, alternating hot meditations with rest on a trestle bed. A stay in the Muslim Middle Ages - but without harassment and lustful fun - ends everyday at the buffet counter. Classic sherbet, coffee or tea ..

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