Turkish Bath Culture

Turkish baths were not only a place for cleaning and bathing in the life of Turks, but also a place to go to be healthy, and places where cultural and social activities were experienced. The use of water is inevitable for life and health. This has led people to establish centres such as baths and spas throughout history. 

Use Of Turkish Baths For Cleaning And Socialization

The baths, which used to only respond to the needs of cleaning and washing, became a part of social life later in history, and they became centers used for socialization as well as cleaning and purification before the development of bathrooms in homes.

The word Hamam is derived from the Arabic word Hammam (Bath) and Hebrew word Hamam (Hot). With its shortest definition, a hammam can be defined as a place of washing, healing and purification. The importance of washing has been known since ancient times to prevent diseases and find treatment. B.C. IV. It is known that there were baths as places used for physical training and treatment of diseases in the century.

Baths were shaped architecturally in line with the religious beliefs of societies in different periods and became a part of social life. However, it found its true architectural character in the Roman era. At that time, the baths built on large and wide areas became centers where sports and cultural activities were held as well as cleaning and health.

It is possible to basically divide the baths established in Anatolia into two according to the water used: Natural hot water baths and baths working with artificial heating systems.

Natural Hot Water Baths 

They are structures and spas that are built on natural hot water sources and are generally used for health purposes.

Since Turkish baths in Anatolian culture are the scene of many social events related to entertainment, birth and marriage as well as cleaning, the baths, which have a very important place in the social life of the Turks, are used mostly for health, cleaning and beauty purposes. Hot and cold water pools, aromatic foam, seaweed, clay, mud, honey and vegetable oil massages and techniques for body care are applied in the baths.

Architecture Of Baths 

One of the institutions that our civil architecture does not emphasize enough and does not give the necessary importance is the baths. Baths, which have great importance in terms of art and architecture in history, are also important in terms of cultural history. It resembles mosques with its dome and some other architectural features. In terms of interior designs and architectural elements, besides the ones with a very simple structure, there are also magnificent and magnificently designed and built ones. 

When we look at both the pre-Ottoman and Ottoman periods in our country, there are countless bath ruins in many of our regions. Making good use of the tradition of the Muslim states before them, the Ottomans began to establish charitable facilities and units affiliated with them as soon as they took over the administration. Accordingly, the important parts of the interior structures in the renovated baths, which were established to have a special architectural structure, are the camegah (dressing-dressing place), the cold room (the place used to dry and change the loincloth) and the warmth (the hottest bathing place of the bath).

Baths Before The Ottoman Period

When we look at the information recorded by historians and archaeologists in history, it is seen that buildings independent from houses were built for the purpose of washing in Mesopotamia, Babylon, India and ancient Egypt. However, the first examples of building very large buildings, self-healing systems, and availability of hot water are seen in the Roman period. The ‘Roman Bath’ emerges with the applications of the systems that are similar to today’s central heating structure, with underfloor heating, which they use to heat the houses, to the washing buildings. Later, these structures emerge as architecturally magnificent structures, known worldwide as the ‘Turkish Bath’, as they developed especially with the influence of Ottoman architecture and culture.

Effects Of Baths On The Ottoman Culture

Baths have a dominant place in Ottoman culture in every aspect, from the language of speech and correspondence to literature and daily life. In our culture, men and women go to the hammam to bathe. It is important as they are places where women socialize. The traditions of going to the hammam on Thursday evenings, and that the hamams are open until the morning before the feast and on eve nights are still practised today.

The bath tradition has existed in Anatolia since ancient times. However, it was the tradition of Turkish baths that added both currency and immortality to this culture. Although bathtubs and showers in homes are widely sought after in big cities, this tradition in Anatolia is still up-to-date for centuries.

Turks living in Central Asia carried their bath culture and traditions, which existed at that time, to Anatolia, where they migrated. They added their own traditions to the marble bath cultures left by the peoples living in the previous periods and built many examples.

The baths, which were used only as places to go for cleaning and healing, take their place in our culture as places where special days are celebrated in history. For women, the traditions of ‘bride’s bath’, ‘maternity bath’, ‘baby’s forty baths’, ‘soldier’s bath’ and ‘holiday bath’ are preserved and practised in the same way.

Bath And Health

The benefits of the steam bath have been known for years; cleaning the skin and the body, removing toxins, increasing blood circulation, stimulating the immune system, supporting complete physical and mental well-being. In addition, with its features such as relaxing the person and reducing stress, relaxation of the muscles, reduction of muscle pain and relaxation are also known benefits.

For people with asthma and allergic problems, hammams and steam baths help them breathe more easily by expanding the air channels of the lungs. In addition to these, steam baths are an application that is good for the skin as it increases the blood flow in the skin and causes sweating. As a result of good sweating, dirt and dead skin layer on the surface come out of the pores on the skin, and the skin gains a healthy glow.

The change in water weight and balance in the body as a result of sudden fluid loss is a temporary situation, and with rehydration, the body will replenish the missing amount of water.

As a result of chemical reactions of functions with exposure to a hot environment and steam, an effect occurs on the tissues of the body and on health.

Benefits Of Turkish Bath 

  • Relief of muscle tension and pain, the opening of joints
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Along with sweating, steam effectively removes toxins from the surface of the skin.
  • Stress relief, relaxation and rest
  • Ensuring lymphatic system cleansing
  • Increasing blood circulation
  • Reduction of sinus congestion caused by cold, asthma or allergic conditions
  • Keeping the skin young and fresh
  • Regulation of the body’s metabolic activity.
  • The effects of steam baths on cleansing the body from fat stores and toxins
  • Increasing oxygenation at the cellular level
  • The effect of steam heat and steam baths as one of the therapies used against cancer and infectious diseases

Baths and Spa

SPA (Sanitas per aquam) literally means ‘health from water. SPA, which we hear frequently today and which includes many applications, consists of modernizing the tradition of the bath and making it available everywhere. Places known as SPA are health centres where beauty and cosmetic applications are combined with water and health. It is possible to find a wide variety of SPA applications in Turkish bath culture in Turkish baths. Body treatments such as hot-cold water, steam, marble (stone), scrub for cleaning and purification, bubble bath, clay, seaweed, mud, vegetable oil and herbal treatments, touch, massage, etc. A real ‘Turkish Bath’ includes the system we call SPA. The important thing is to understand our Turkish bath culture, which has a history of hundreds of years, to benefit from the applications it contains and to receive these applications from businesses that can offer these applications in a clean, correct, hygienic and legal manner. There is a need for businesses that combine the tradition of the Turkish bath, which includes both traditional and modern methods, with other modern methods and offer them to everyone. For this, it is necessary to submit ourselves to the competent hands of the right, educated and knowledgeable people.

Important Information Regarding Health And Safety Before Bath

  • Jewellery and glasses must be removed before entering the bath. The metal heats up in the heat and the heated metal affects the veins. In addition, it can cause skin redness and irritation.
  • Contact lenses can cause eye irritation, so they should be removed before entering the bath.
  • It is inconvenient for health to enter the bath with a full stomach. When you eat before the bath, there will be tension in the circulatory system. Before exercising, it is healthier to wait an hour or two before entering the hammam.
  • Bathing and hammam are not healthy with an empty stomach. Since the bath will use your energy like an exercise, it causes fluid and mineral loss. When this creates a state of exhaustion in some people, there is a risk of nausea or fainting.
  • Avoid taking a bath when you feel physically exhausted.
  • Bath and hot are not suitable for alcohol. It is dangerous to enter the bath by drinking alcohol.
  • It can be dangerous for people with low or high blood pressure to enter the bath.
  • It is not recommended to enter the bath in cases such as serious heart diseases and breathing difficulties.

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