By xnqsnz1747, 2019-08-30
In the days of the shahs, the khans and even the Russian Empire, hammams in Azerbaijan were about much more than just getting clean.
"People got together, chatted, discussed. It was a social institution where you would relax and, everything that had built up inside of you, you'd talk about it and share it," says Kamil Ibragimov, head of the archaeological department in Baku's Old City administration.
Azerbaijani cities in the Middle Ages were 카지노사이트 separated into small neighborhoods known as mehelle and each one had its own hammam and mosque, catering to both the spiritual and physical needs of local Muslims.
The hammam also played a key role in marriage. Long before the Soviets did away with religious conservatism, women's hammams were a natural hunting ground for mothers eager to get a closer look at potential young brides. Men on the other hand used the hammam to strike deals over tea and games of nard, the local version of backgammon.
Above all, though, hammams were historically a means of maintaining public hygiene.
In the days of the Silk Road, for example, a hammam stood at both entrances to Baku's Old City and travelers could only enter after burning their old clothes and having a good scrub.
Hammam culture dipped a little in Soviet times as apartments were increasingly fitted with their own baths and showers, but hammams were still the first port of call whenever there was a water crisis.
Today there's still a loyal crowd of locals that can't live without a hammam, but before joining them here's a brief guide to its rules and rituals.
The bathing process itself shouldn't be rushed, but equally important is drinking tea afterward. There's no time limit on how long you can spend at the hammam so it's not unusual to sit, scrub and socialize over six to eight hours.