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Orientalism, Veiled and Unveiled

Orientalism, Veiled and Unveiled

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Published by Pino Blasone
Veiling and unveiling is an ancient device of human imagination, or will of representation, not seldom applied to female beauty and not only by men but by women too. Here such an "iconema" is examined with reference to Orientalist artists and consequently to Near and Middle East, not excluded the so called Oriental Orientalists and their later critical followers.
Veiling and unveiling is an ancient device of human imagination, or will of representation, not seldom applied to female beauty and not only by men but by women too. Here such an "iconema" is examined with reference to Orientalist artists and consequently to Near and Middle East, not excluded the so called Oriental Orientalists and their later critical followers.

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Published by: Pino Blasone on Mar 19, 2011
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Pino Blasone
Orientalism,Veiled and Unveiled
 1 – Jean-Léon Gérôme,
Woman of Constantinople
 and
Veiled Circassian Lady
 (Gevherin Nedaxe Seteney, third wie o the!ttoman S"ltan #$d%la&i& ' )
A Few Literary Sources
Sir James J"stinian *orier was a British di+lomat and traveller Sine he was $orn inSmyrna.'&mir, where his ather was ons"l and /ast 'ndia 0om+any aent, he s+o2e well3"r2ish and learnt some Persian too 'n
 A Second Journey through Persia, Armenia, and  Asia Minor, to Constantinople, between the ears !"!# and !"!$ 
 (see the $i$liora+hy $elow), he narrates a nie anedote a$o"t his ort"ito"s meetin with an /thio+ian e"n"h,"ardian o an 'ranian harem 3he +oor "y was disonerted and somewhat +er+lexed, athearin rom his interlo"tor a$o"t the 4"ite ree lie o women in /"ro+e at those times5hen *o"rier showed him a small +orta$le +ortrait o his mother, the e"n"h as2ed i her h"s$and was a +ainter, so rel"tant he was to $elieve that an extraneo"s man miht have
1
 
 $een allowed to a&e so lon and onidentially at her, in order to de+it her ae "nveiled
1
Gérard de Nerval is the $etter 2nown +en-name o the 6renh +oet and traveller Gérard La$r"nie 73he 5omen o 0airo8 Senes o Lie in the !rient9 is a setion o his
Voyage en %rient 
, +"$lished in the :o"rnal
 &e'ue des (eu) Mondes
 rom *ay 1;<= to!to$er 1;<> and later in two vol"mes (Paris8 Sartori"s, 1;<; and 1;?@) #n extended andrevised edition will $e iss"ed in 1;?1 $y 0har+entier at Paris 73hro"ho"t the lenth and $readth o the Levant,9 the late Aomanti a"thor writes, in the ha+ter
*he Mas+ and theVeil 
, 7there is no town where women are more "tterly and om+letely veiled than at 0airo#t 0onstantino+le, at Smyrna, thro"h a veil o white or $la2 a"&e, it is oasionally +ossi$le to ath a lim+se o the ae o some *"slim $ea"tyNo matter how severe thelaws may $e, they seldom s"eed in renderin that deliate tiss"e any more o+a4"e975hen ' irst ame here,9 e Nerval ontin"es, 7' did not 4"ite "nderstand what theattration o"ld $e a$o"t the mystery with whih the more interestin hal o the +eo+le o the !rient enshro"ds itsel B"t a ew days s"ied to show me that a woman who 2nowshersel to $e the o$:et o attention an "s"ally ind an o++ort"nity to let hersel $e seen i she is $ea"ti"l CD 3he town itsel, li2e those who dwell in it, "nveils its most shadyretreats, its most deliht"l interiors, only $y derees9 (trans0onrad /l+hinstone, 1EF@)By om+arin *orier with e Nerval, a$o"t the same theme, what we an omment is thatthe ormer does not reno"ne to a ertain /nlish wit and taste or hy+er$oli anedotae,whereas the latter willinly ind"les in a 6renh ashioned maliio"s insin"ation Both o them remain di+lomatially external to any +ossi$le +ro$lemati as+et o the matter, i nots"+eriial anyway Let "s t"rn to a Li$eral +atriot and exile as the 'talian Priness 0ristinadi Belio:oso, in her
 Asie Mineure et Syrie Sou'enirs de Voyages
, +"$lished $eore in the
 &e'ue des (eu) Mondes
 and in 1;?; $y the 7*ihael Lévy Brothers9 at Paris
%riental  -arems and Scenery
 – New or28 0arleton, 1;=H – is only a +artial translation rom it'n
%riental -arems and Scenery
, the no$lewoman redits hersel, reerrin to theemale ondition in Near and *iddle /ast8 7' was $etter 4"aliied than most travellers or st"dyin one im+ortant side o *"ss"lman soiety – the domesti side, that in whih5oman +redominates 3he Iarem, the *ahometan sant"ary, hermetially sealed to allmen, was o+en to me ' o"ld enter it reely and onverse with those mysterio"s $eins
1# mytholoy o harems was not new, in /"ro+ean literat"res8 es+eially,  some itional e+isodes in the
 Persian Letters
written in 1>H1 $y the 6renh thin2er 0harles de *ontes4"ie"H
 
whom the 6ran2 Cenerially, an !idental maleD never sees $"t when veiled ' o"ldinterroate some o those minds whih never overlow o themselves, and tem+t them to +reio"s dislos"res onernin an "nex+lored world o +assion and misort"ne9 'n the +itorial ield, a onsonant a"thor an $e onsidered the 6renh So+hie Bo"tellier, whoass"med the artistiname Ienriette Browne6or instane, her +aintin
 A Visit -arem .nterior, Constantinople !"$#
 (sold at 0hristieKs #"tion Io"se, London, in H@@@) did notail to disa++oint the ha$it"és o the Paris Salon in 1;=1, or its modest settin and amiliar atmos+here, lashin with a +revailin mor$id and imainary !rientalisti voye"rism#s re+orted $y 0ristina 3riv"l&io di Belio:oso, the desri+tion o harems was evenmore disenhantin, as dealin with hyieni onditions and soial +romis"ity des+ite their ender sereation et here it is interestin what a 2ind o eminine lane she o"ld haveat a emale a++earane, $eneath the "s"al veil #t"ally this early soioloist lady was asevere :"de o $ea"ty and ma2e-"+ as well, who wrote8 7nothin an $e more slovenly thantheir hair, the very reat ladies who had lived at the a+ital C'stan$"lD alone +ossessinom$s #s to the +aint, whih they a++ly immoderately, $oth in variety o olor and in4"antity, its distri$"tion an only $e re"lated $y m"t"al ons"ltation, and as all the womenlivin "nder one roo are so many rivals, they willinly eno"rae the most rotes4"eill"mination o their res+etive aes 3hey a++ly vermilion to the li+s, red to the hee2s,nose, orehead, and hin, white wherever a vaant s+ot o"rs, and $l"e aro"nd the eyes and"nder the nose 5hat is yet more strane is their manner o onstr"tin eye$rows /verywomanKs ae is a om+liated wor2 o art, whih is not to $e reto"hed every mornin9
F

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