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Greece

 

 

Dancing boys at Tsaritsena, Thessaly03/12/1809

Leake, William Martin: Travels in Northern GreeceLondon, J. Rodwell, 1835.

 

Nevertheless Tzaritzena is the most flourishing town in Thessaly next to Ambelakia. By the sacrifice of a sum of money to the Vezir, the Archons have procured an order forbidding the dancing boys from exercising their profession in that town; this has annoyed the people of Turnavo, by causing the boys to resort more frequently to that town, which attracts thither many Turks and Musulman Albanians of the worst class, whom the Greeks are moreover often obliged to entertain. The Ayans of Larissa will not often permit the dancers to appear in that city; as it is generally attended with disturbances and drunken quarrels among the Janissaries, in which the boys themselves stand a chance of being murdered.

 

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Professional male dancers in Candia, Crete, 1668

Busbequins, A. G.: Travels into Turkey... Translated from the Latin. London, 1744.

Augerius Gislenius Busbequins (Ogier Ghiselin de Busbec)

 

He never dines alone, but sends alwayes for the Officers that come off the Guards, that either at dinner or afterwards they may give him an account of their proceedings. He loves good Meat, but abhors Wine; contrary to the humour of his Father, who delighted in it exceedingly. He diverts himself sometimes a Hunting, sometimes at Chess, and takes great pleasure in seeing his Officers dance. He had with him besides, seven or eight Hoingi, or Dancing-Masters, who danced to two or three Base-Vials, or Instruments very like them: Sometimes they danced alone, sometimes two and two, and sometimes more: They dance likewise with a sort of Castignettes, and do very well: These dancers have upon them little strait wastcoats that some down to their girdle, from whence they have a kind of petticoats (like our Women) which come down to the ground, and are very wide; and their great dexterity being in turning swiftly and long upon one foot, the wind getting under their petticoats fills them up like a sail: In this posture the Hoingi will bow, plunge, leap up again, appear and disappear with strange promptitude and exactness. There was one thing I thought remarkable; Not long since in Turkie there was a sort of Religious Mahumetans called Dervis, whose Devotion consisted in dancing in their Mosques, which they would perform with indefatigable swiftness: The Vizer having driven them lately out of Romulia, those who had no mind to go so far as their Principal Covent at Cogna in Asia, turned Hoingi, and danced as eagerly for Money as ever they had done for Devotion.

 

 

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Boy dancers in IoanninaEpirus, 1798

Pouqueville, F.C.: Travels in the Morea, Albania, and other parts of the Ottoman EmpireLondon, Henry Colburn, 1813.

 

To amuse our ennui, or perhaps rather in order to display their own talents, the pages or icholans of the pasha would sometimes regale us with a concert after their fashion. The sweetness of their songs, united with a certain melancholy excited by some of their instruments, gave me sensations which were not unpleasing. They assumed feminine voices, and gave themselves mincing and affected airs as they sung, dancing to the sound of the castanets, with gestures to which those not accustomed to them could not easily reconcile themselves.

 

 

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A dervish danced to death in Thessaly, 1885

Arnold, R. Arthur: From the Levant, the Black Sea, and the Danube. London, Chapman & Hall, 1868, 2 vols.

 

Panagioti, the Suliote, could tell stories of brigandage, an evil trade he had practised for three years; but one of his tales was especially horrible. When he formed part of the Greek force which invaded Thessaly, in 1885 - to which I have referred in a former letter, as causing the occupation of Piraeus and the Plain of Daphne by English and French soldiers - they captured an innocent dervish, for whom they collected a heap of the most prickly bushes. Spreading them into a thorny platform, Panagioti saw the unhappy dervish compelled to dance barefooted on the brambles for the amusement of the Greeks, till his feet were lacerated, torn and shapeless; then, at a sign from the commander, who I believe now occupies high office in Athens, the tortured man was relieved by the loss of his head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday the 18th.