HAREM (Ar. and Pers. lw. ḥaram “sanctuary,” from ḥarim, lit. “something forbidden”), wives and other female associates in former aristocratic families and the secluded quarter of a house reserved for them. The most frequently used Persian synonyms are šabestān, moškōy and andarun (q.v.). In Classical New Persian ḵāna-ye zanān “house of the women” was also used (Kaykāvus b. Eskandar, p. 131), but this was replaced by the compound sarā-ye ḥaram “the harem quarter” (Neẓām-al-Molk, p. 242), which came to prevail in its inverted form, ḥaram-sarāy. The Ottomans and the Safavids also used the shortened form sarāy “palace,” which more correctly translated the Aramaic BYT’ and Arabic bayt, “house.”
(A. Shapur Shahbazi, Anna Vanzan)
Originally Published: December 15, 2003
Last Updated: March 6, 2012
This article is available in print.
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