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Woman of the Harem

Imperial Harem of the Ottoman Empire Served the Sultan in More Ways Than One

The imperial harem of the Ottoman era was the collection of wives, servants and concubines of the Sultan, who sometimes numbered in the hundreds. Some were mere playthings or used for the production...
Top image: A woman in traditional Chinese dress. Source: CC0

When Concubines Fought Back: The Plot to Eliminate a Mad and Sadistic Emperor

The Renyin Plot was an assassination attempt carried out on the sadistically violent Jiajing Emperor, who was the ruler of China’s Ming Dynasty during the 16th century. The assassins almost succeeded...
Elephant-headed goddess Vinayaki is often mistaken for a female Ganesha. Statue of Ganesha

Goddess… or Demon? Hidden History of Vinayaki, the Mysterious Elephant-Headed Woman of Hindu Myth

In one of the shrines of the Thanumalayan temple in Kanyakumari district, India, is the stone sculpture of a four-armed deity sitting cross-legged in Sukhasana (“easy pose” - similar to sitting in a...
Medieval-themed illustration of a young woman; representative image only

Putting the Sex Back in Wessex: The Scandalous Reign of Queen Elgiva & Her Clash with a Demon-Fighting Bishop

The Queens of England (as in the consorts of Kings) during the early Medieval periods of English history rarely receive any coverage in the history books. Hands up anyone who can name the wife of...
Chinese concubines in a harem

20,000 Women and 100,000 Castrated Men to Serve the Emperor: The Imperial Harem of China

In Imperial China, one of the important tasks that the emperor needed to do was to ensure the continuation of the dynasty, which was achieved by the production of a male heir. For this purpose, the...
‘The Harem’ by Gustave Boulanger

In a Forbidden Place: Hidden Lives in a Harem

The term harem comes from the Arabic haram meaning forbidden place . This defines the sphere of women in a polygynous household and makes reference to their enclosed quarters being forbidden to men...