Today I bring you doors from The Imperial Harem, at Topkapi Palace and Museum, in Istanbul, Turkey. The Ottoman sultan’s harem occupied a secluded portion of the Palace. “The harem was the ultimate symbol of the Sultan’s power. His ownership of women, mostly slaves, was a sign of wealth, power, and sexual prowess. Not all members of the Harem were slaves. The main wives, especially those taken into marriage to consolidate personal and dynastic alliances were free women. The utmost authority in the Imperial Harem was the Valide Sultan, who ruled over the other women in the household and was often of slave origin herself.The imperial harem also served as a parallel institution to the sultan’s household of male servants. The women were provided with an education roughly on par with that provided to male pages, and at the end of their respective educations they would be married off to one another, as the latter graduated from the palace to occupy administrative posts in the empire’s provinces. Consequently, only a small fraction of the women in the harem actually engaged in sexual relations with the sultan, as most were destined to marry members of the Ottoman political elite, or else to continue service to the Valide Sultan. The court ladies with whom the sultan shared his bed became members of the dynasty and rose in rank to attain the status of Gözde, or the Favorite. (Wikipedia)
The first three pictures show the Imperial Room of the Harem, where musical entertainment, celebrations, and ceremonies were held. For Norm’s Thursday Doors
Some ten days ago we spent a day in Pasadena, a suburb of Los Angeles, visiting a couple of interesting places, including the iconic “Gamble House.” Yes, Gamble as in “Procter & Gamble…”
From Wikipedia: “The David B. Gamble House is an iconic American Craftsman home designed by the architectural firm Greene and Greene. Built in 1908–09 as a winter residence for David and Mary Gamble, the three-story Gamble House is considered America’s Arts and Crafts masterpiece. It is a National Historic Landmark, California Historical Landmark, and museum. Its style shows influence from traditional Japanese aesthetics and Californian way of living. The American Craftsman style architecture was focused on the use of natural materials, attention to detail, aesthetics, and craftsmanship. David and Mary Gamble lived in the house during the winter months until their deaths in 1923 and 1929, respectively. Mary’s younger sister Julia lived in the house until her death in 1943. Cecil Huggins Gamble and his wife Louise Gibbs Gamble lived in the house beginning in 1946 and briefly considered selling it until prospective buyers spoke of painting the interior teak and mahogany woodwork white. In 1966, the Gamble family turned the house over to the city of Pasadena in a joint agreement with the University of Southern California (USC) School of Architecture. The Gamble House was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977. Today, two 5th-year USC architecture students live in the house full-time; the selected students change annually.”
I loved the place. Would love to live in it. The simple style of the house disguises beautifully customized details that reflect the dedication and care of both owners and architects while designing it. Doors, windows, stairways, furniture, rugs, and beautiful light fixtures, were all designed especially for the house by the Greene brothers. And everything there today is still original. The house is quite dark inside so photographing some areas was a challenge. Not to mention a guided tour that didn’t give us time and freedom to roam around and photograph leisurely.
“Beguines” were single or widowed women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world. Many Belgian and Dutch cities set up “beguinages” where these women could live and practice their religion. Today these Beguinages are no longer used by beguines. The Beguinage in Bruges, for example, has been a convent for Benedictine nuns since 1927. The grounds are absolutely beautiful with tall trees and beautiful daffodils all around them. Since we could not visit the houses, I went around photographing doors! All the doors in the beguinage are green, and most are very simple, with a few exceptions shown here.
While in Amsterdam last April, I saw an installation by French artist Christian Boltanski at the Oude Kerk (“old church”), Amsterdam’s oldest building and oldest parish church which also functions as a venue for art events. I confess I was bit divided between admiring the message and somber beauty of the exhibition and feeling a bit creeped out by the dark setting, the whispers, and the “statues” that would ask questions when you walked by them. The first time I passed by one it asked me: “Tell me, what is death like?” Scared the hell out of me! So, what do you think?
For this week’s Thursday Doors, here are the green doors of Rembrandt’s house, in Amsterdam. The most famous Dutch painter lived and worked in this house between 1639 and 1656, when he apparently ran out of money to pay his mortgage… The green and red combination of doors and windows is very pretty. The windows are green on the outside and red on the inside.