For a change of theme, here’s an article on the steam bath. I offer a few excerpts from the article, to give you the taste of his reading. “The social issues of the body. The hammam maghrebi (Nineteenth-Twentieth century), a place to stay, threatened or recreated ” , Omar Carlier, History, 2000
“The place of the mortal body, fragile and perishable, the hammam is unanimously recommended for its virtues in hygienic, relaxing and therapeutic. It is held, not without good reasons, as the best of remedies, both preventive and curative, much preferable to the bloodletting of the barber and the perfect complement to an old and erudite medicine of healing through plants. “
“The steam room provides rest, well-being, and is even better suited to the mind is tense or stressed. It imposes, in effect, the relaxation and the breath. The masseur shoots the muscles and breaks the bones, in order to better reconstruct the individual. The heat of the oven does the rest. It imposes on the body, transforms it, releases it “
“Place of the sexed body, the hammam, organizes, symbolizes and synthesizes the mode of relationship and separation between men and women. No other space does also strongly that it is the mix of genres that represents the mixing of the sexes. But no other rule is also precisely the sharing. It includes and excludes according to the principle of strict alternation, which establishes between them the parity, but not equality. The men in the morning, after the prayer (fajrj, or in the evening, after work ; for women, in the afternoon, with the children, after the meal of the ftar “
“All are good reasons to go to the hammam. Some of which are shared by all its adherents, but the uses that predominate are different. Temporarily cut off from the world and detached from the time, the men come to repair the body and prepare the rite, the women to share the word and news, and listen to their breathing, their skin.
It is that, to be the privileged place of the biological body, subject to the laws of nature, the hammam is also the place par excellence of the social body, which is ruled by the culture, itself granted by the laws of God. Equalizing the relationship between men, accompanying the release of the child and normalizing the relationship between the sexes, the hammam discipline the expression of the affects, corrects or compensates for the stigmata of domination, combining the marks of distinction and prevents the risks of disorder. The oven thus contributes to strengthening the social bond. “
“Yet, the hammam resists rather well, in North Africa, to the objects, the techniques and practices of modernity, especially in Algeria and Morocco. First, because it has retained and even strengthened, the colonial era, a multi-feature very old. The xvme century, the hammam was used commonly hotel, or rather, dorm, passing merchants, when they couldn’t find a place at the fondouk, reserved for this purpose, as well as to seasonal workers, even the farmers come to town, who could not make the trip and back in the day. At the end of the nineteenth century and, still more, in the first third of the Twentieth century, the fondouk declines. The hotel, precisely, on the european model, takes the top. But, for the ” lower classes “, the tavern, the coffee and especially the bathroom are more than ever the case. The hammam is the only hotel that is worth. From the 1930s to the 1950s, whether in Tlemcen or Constantine, steam room – dormitory and hotel are progressing as the fondouk is decreasing “.
“Other innovations also threaten the hammam. From before the Second world War, the bathroom is gaining ground, already commonplace among the elites, if not in the middle layers. And then, across the Maghreb, even where the new piece is missing, the progress of the water current devalues the role of the fountain and the importance of hygienic handling. “
Matrimonial or dating agency, the place of speech, memory of the near
“It is in the bath, traditionally, the wedding is ready, this is where it is carried out as a rite of passage It shall request information from the patron, the masseuse, of neighbours, of other qualities or defects of the chosen potential, the status and good reputation of his family. The hammam is a kind of marriage agency, but also a place where both ceremonial and festive, without which marriage and the birth may not be fully socialized. With his family, in connivance with the kinship and solidarity of the neighbourhood, the bride is adorned and prepared, the baby’s mother welcomed and comforted. If it is also for men in the marriage ritual, the bath is even more essential for women because it associates purity, fertility and festi vity, enhancing the happiness of femininity. “