The Titanic's Turkish Bath

Toros Delights

The famous doomed ship, the Titanic, was not only a mode of transport, but contained the greatest trappings of luxury during its time. Completed in 1912, the Titanic set sail from Southampton UK to New York, carrying 2224 passengers on its route. Of course, this voyage came to an end in the Atlantic after the Titanic hit an iceberg, and 1500 passengers lost their lives.

Aside from the loss of life, and the sinking of ship deemed unsinkable, another aspect that made the Titanic a compelling story for over a century is the shock of the wealthiest people in the world sinking along with everyone else - and just how nice their accommodations were on the Titanic to begin with. A particularly spectacular part of this luxuriousness was the Turkish Bath, or Hammam, onboard.

There was a steam room, a hot room, temperate room, shampooing room, capped off with a cooling room. Visitors would get massages, go to the salt-water pool, or sit in a new electrically heated bed. The cooling room was said to have some of the most spectacular decoration on the ship - resplendent with blue and green tiles in the Moorish style.


The Turkish Bath aboard the Titanic was not exactly the same as the Turkish Baths of Turkey. They were, however, a variation - called the Victorian Ottoman Bath. Unlike the Hammams of the Ottoman Empire, they all featured pools - but similarly to them, they focused on the humid air (unlike the steam of a Russian bath.)


In 1850, David Urquhart sought to popularize Ottoman culture in Britain, and wrote a book detailing Hammams of North Africa. Richard Barter read this book in 1856 and created what he called a Turkish Bath in Ireland. In short order, this Victorian version of the Turkish Bath became all the rage up until the time of the Titanic. However, they fell out of fashion sometime later, and most Victorian Turkish Baths closed down.


Though the Titanic’s Turkish Bath was not strictly speaking Turkish in origin, it did come out of a movement to popularize Turkey - and this movement caught fire. We at Toros Delights see no reason why beautiful things from Turkey can’t make their way back to the Western World (though perhaps with a better fate than the Titanic.)

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Turkish Music Styles

Toros Delights

A passive turn of the radio dial in Istanbul will inevitably prove the diversity of Turkish music tastes as well as its people. But no matter the diversity, the stamp of uniqueness is present - there is no way you could hear any of the music and not think: this is Turkish.

What accounts for this diversity? It has to do with the fact that Turkey is in fact not made of one group of people, but many diverse peoples throughout its history. From Greeks to Kurds to Armenians, to the Black Sea people and the Anatolians, wildly different histories converge on one land. And music happens to be a great conservator of old traditions.

To take only a few examples, there are whole radio stations devoted to three styles of music that are unique to Turkey that are worth highlighting - and it would be impossible to even break through to even the beginning of Turkish music without understanding these: arabesk, halk, and karadeniz.

Arabesk

Arabesk is the Turkish spelling of Arabesque - meaning music in an Arabic style. Given that Turkey borders Arab lands, including absorbing the Arabic-speaking region of Hatay, it makes sense that the languid, flowery style of the south would make its way into the Turkish mainstream. Relying on the same internal scale system as classical Arabic music, the makams, arabesk is sung in Turkish - with a Turkish flair. 

The most visible example of this music in the popular music world is the Turkish-Kurdish star İbrahim Tatlıses, whose hits like "Mavi Mavi" captivated Turkey from the 70's and onwards.

Halk

Halk music is literally folk music - but it means Anatolian folk music. Characterized by the Turkic lute, the Bağlama, and an aggressive tone that comes straight from Central Asia, where the Turkic peoples came from. It is remarkable music considering how isolated it is among other the types. 

As much as the music can be about sundry topics that all music is related to, there is a special genre within it that is connected to Turkish mysticism. Arif Sağ was a master of this - especially with his deeply popular "Insana Olmaya Geldim."

Karadeniz

Karadeniz refers to the Black Sea, the northern coast of Turkey separated by the Pontic Mountains. In a cultural sense, it is contiguous with the Crimea - and perhaps not just culturally, the temperate forested landscape matches the land to the north. 

The karadeniz sound is distinct and is characterized by the keman, the violin, that punctuates the uptempo music. It has a certain sonic relationship with nordic and celtic music. Here, the modern group Imera sings the song Kalandar.

It's impressive to consider that these three styles have their own radio stations and dedicated groups, while not nearly representing the full range of Turkish musical styles. Nonetheless, their diversity and richness should give you a meaningful glimpse into the tapestry of Turkish culture.

 

 

 

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The Evil Eye - Mavi Boncuk

Toros Delights

It's a superstition of the highest order, but perhaps the most enduring of them all - the evil eye. Peoples the world over have believed that if someone glares at you, you, or something that you hold dear, will be cursed. It's not exactly a demonic power from another realm- it's a power all of us have. There's something profound contained in the fact that we all can ruin each other's day with a vicious look.

And the solution imagined to this power is a symbol, a physical symbol that peoples across the Mediterranean and Middle East carry to ward off these curses. Each culture holds a different solution, but whether it be the hamsa, or Hand of God (in Jewish tradition) or Hand of Fatima (in Muslim tradition), or the Eye of Horus in Ancient Egypt, the common thread is that it takes a higher power to fight the curse of vengeful fellow human being.

The evil eye as an amulet takes a more legalistic turn. It relies on the principles within ancient religious law, that "an eye for eye" mean an eye can fight the "eye" of another. In Turkey, this eye is called the Nazar Boncuğu (Nazar Bonju'u), the "bead of seeing," or the Mavi Boncuk (Mavi Bonjuk) "blue bead," and is found everywhere you go there. 

It's beauty should not be lost on its beholders. The design of the blue glass beads has not changed for 3000 years, made by master glassblowers.

At Toros Delights, we chose the Mavi Boncuk as our symbol because it is both a symbol of Turkey, but also a popular symbol throughout the world, shared by many peoples. 

Representing Turkey means to go beyond just the modern symbols of the republic, but reaching into history and pull the most beautiful things out to share with the world. Captivating, ancient, and a sincere love of a healthy and balanced life.

For example, our olive oil was made in the Antioch region according to traditions that go back centuries, and very much part of a healthy lifestyle.

Go the way of the Mavi Boncuk and be defended against the grumpy, and enlivened by beauty. From all of us at Toros Delights.

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The Toros Mountains

Toros Delights
Few places in modern Turkey easily roll off the American tongue. Sure, Istanbul is clear enough, but when we get to Gaziantep or Ayvalık we start getting into trouble. But one of the few places in Turkey that captures the imagination, and doesn’t startle the tongue, are the Toros Mountains - originating from the Greek word Taurus, the bull. (It’s not a coincidence that toros in Spanish are bulls.) Toros is easy enough to say - which was a good starting point for our brand - but what are they?

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