The Turkish term odalik, which translates as “concubine”, derived in French odalisque and, in our tongue, became odalisque. The original meaning of the concept refers to a enslaved woman who was dedicated to assisting the wives of a sultan. The odalisque, over time, could become the wife or concubine of the powerful in question.
As members of the harem, the odalisques lived within the palace. Their location in the hierarchy of the harem found them in the lower strata, since they did not provide services to the sultan directly; on the contrary, they assisted his concubines and wives.
Within the world of art, we would have to say that there is a very famous painting whose title is the term at hand. We are referring to the painting titled “The great odalisque.”
It was in the year 1814 that the French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres made this beautiful work. It is an oil painting, 91 x 162 centimeters, in which a woman is depicted on her back, naked and looking at the author. It is an odalisque, a female who was part of a harem, who is presented surrounded by a wide variety of oriental motifs, both fabrics such as a pipe or a turban.
It must be stated that this painting, which is currently part of the Louvre Museum’s collection, was commissioned from the artist by Napoleon’s sister. That is to say, of Carolina, the queen of Napolés. He did it with the clear objective of forming a couple with another of another nude.
In the same way, we cannot forget that the French painter Henri Matisse also carried out another painting also centered on such a woman. It is about “Odalisque with red pants”, which has behind it a story full of intrigues and mysteries. And it is that it disappeared, as it is said, in the essay “El rapto de la odalisque” by the author Marianela Balbi.
However, recently the FBI has managed to recover the painting, which had been stolen from the Museum of Contemporary Art of Venezuela.
Today, however, the use of the term is quite different. Today it is known as odalisque to dancer who specializes in Arabic rhythms. The most popular odalisque dance is the Belly Dancing, which originates from the combination of traditions North African and Middle East.
Known as raqs sharqi, raqs baladi or gobek dans In different oriental languages, belly dancing basically consists of Hip movements. The odalisque does not usually move too much while dancing, but contours itself in a small physical space. The movements, in general, are smooth.
The shows of the odalisques can include elements such as swords, fans and veils, which complement the typical costume of the dancer. The clothing of the odalisque is usually composed of a skirt, a belt and a bra. It is important that the belly is uncovered so that viewers can appreciate the muscle movement in the area.