The best known meaning of the word harem is a masculine noun that originates in the Arabic , haram , which means “sacred place”.
According to the meanings presented in the dictionary of the Portuguese language, it is used to refer to:
- To a part of the house that is reserved only for the sultan’s women;
- To the set of women (legitimate, relatives, servants and concubines) of a house;
- To a group of women who are associated with a single man.
The women who belong to the harem are known as odalisques or cocumbinas.
The other meaning is related to anime and manga, very present in Japanese culture.
How he is seen in Arab culture
In Arabic culture, the word harem is used to describe a part of the house reserved for women only. Only the owner of the house and family members have access to it. Access not only by other men, but by people outside this family is completely prohibited, whether they are children or even other women.
What is polygamy
Briefly, polygamy is a term used to describe a form of marriage. In this type of marriage, a person has several spouses at the same time. That is, a man can have several wives, this being the most common form, especially in Africa. But there are also situations where a woman has several husbands.
The figurative meaning of harem
The word also has a figurative meaning, which means “houses of prostitution”.
The harem in other cultures
house of happiness
The term “House of Happiness” is used to refer to harems in some cultures. This is because the man who owns the harem needs to sexually satisfy all women. Furthermore, these women are at the disposal of the owner of the harem, who would have a form of “divine power” over them.
the western view
As for the western view, a harem can also be something similar to an oasis in the desert. This means that it is a place said to be mystical and sacred, full of tranquility, luxury and pleasure.
How did a harem work?
The men who owned the harem were the sultans (or kings) and they were extremely rich. This was because it was necessary to spend a large amount of money to support all the women who formed his harem. The largest of them that has reports in history is the Topkapi Palace, located in Istanbul, which once housed 1000 women.
One of the main goals was that with many women, the king would have a better chance of leaving an heir. And with that his reign would continue for many, many years to come. At birth, the heirs to the throne lived in the harem, with their mothers. They only left around 14 and 16 years old, when they were sent to other parts of the kingdom. At this age, they could already form their own harem.
Each of the women should receive a “dowry”, which is a kind of inheritance that is given to them by the owner of the harem. So much so that, according to history, Sultan Ibrahim ended up with his wealth buying gifts for his women. He liked to see his women covered in luxuries. This meant that his wealth was used, almost entirely, just to please his women.
The administration of the harem is carried out by the so-called eunuchs. Eunuchs are men who have been castrated and who have no genitals. Castration makes them not have any kind of sexual desire for the women of the harem owner.
Each night, only one of the women was chosen to lie in the sultan’s bed each night. Therefore, the fact that some people link a harem to an orgy is totally inappropriate and does not correspond to what actually happened.
The other meaning of the word harem
In this case, the word can define both male and female characters. And during the story this character will always be surrounded by many other characters who are of the opposite sex. This type of anime or manga are classified as romantic comedy stories.
Faced with this scenario, some people may be led to think that there is some kind of fetish or sexual connotation in this anime. However, the story can be told without necessarily having some kind of attraction between the characters. No one needs to be interested in anyone. Despite the fact that the main focus of anime and manga is precisely to tell a comic story about other characters, including several situations that are embarrassing.
the reverse harem
However, in this case, the anime or manga has another name, which is shoujo , which means drawings for teenage girls.