Turkish Bath

A Turkish bath, or hamam, is a traditional Turkish or oriental steam bath. The “soul” of an oriental hamam is the göbbek, or belly stone, a heated slab at knee height; people lie on it to soak up the heat. This traditional bathing ritual takes place in four rooms, with the temperature gradually increasing to give the body time to adapt. The first phase is the maslakh, or resting room. In the next room, the sogukluk, the temperature is between 30 and 40 degrees. Here you can massage yourself with a brush (or have yourself massaged). Next you proceed to the actual steam bath, the halvet, with a temperature of approx. 45 degrees. There are good reasons for this sequence of four rooms: the temperature is increased gradually so that the body is heated up gradually and less of a strain is placed on the cardiovascular system. The combination of steam and water loosens dead skin which can be washed off during the soap massage (performed by the tellak, the bath attendant). The tellak performs a cleansing ritual on a massage bench: firstly he massages the client’s body vigorously and then rubs off the dead skin using a glove made of goat’s hair. Streams of water – from invigoratingly cool to pleasantly warm – improve circulation and metabolism.


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