A gruesome vengeance
Italian Baroque painter
born 1571 - died 1610
A gruesome vengence indeed, and all this started with
an enchanting and exotic dance called the Seven Veils or did it???
Where did this dance come from,
what part of history did it play in and is it still practiced today?
We'll start with Salome and John!
One of the most fateful dances is found in the bible.Not too many details are given, which leaves room for speculation.In the Book of Mark 6:19, where it opens up to Herodias,King Herod's wife, who has an axe to grind so to speak,with John the Baptist. She would like nothing more than his death.
"For Herod stood in fear of John,
knowing him to be a righteous and holy man and was keeping him safe."
Then one night, there was a birthday party for the King.
"He spread out an evening meal, for his top ranking men,
the military commanders and the foremost ones of Galilee."
So this was not a birthday party at McDonalds. This wasHollywood style by today's standards.
Then:"..The daughter of this very Herodias came in and danced
and pleased Herod and those reclining with him."
The King said to the maiden,
"Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you."
Yes he swore it to her. "Whatever you ask me for,
I will give it to you, up to half my kingdom."
That must have been quite a dance for a
King to be willing to give up half his kingdom.
French Symbolist painter, sculptor & watercolorist
born 6 April 1826 - died 18 April 1898
Now this young maiden went to her mother for some advice on what to ask for, (like all good daughters do)! Good ole mom says,
"The head of John the Baptizer."
Immediately she went in with haste to the King and made her
request saying, "I want you to give me right away on a
platter the head of John the Baptist."
Although he became deeply grieved, yet the King did not
want to disregard her, in view of the oaths and those
reclining at the table. So the King immediately dispatched
a body guardsmen and commanded him to bring back
John the Baptist's head. And off he went and beheaded
him in the prison and brought his head on a platter,
this he gave to the maiden and the maiden gave it to her mother."
A few points I would like to make:
*Note that the dancer's name is not mentioned anywhere
*The account does not describe the KIND of dance she did
*It does not mention what she wore or if she took anything off
*Also, it is highly unlikely that a step daughter of a king would
be allowed to dance in public.
Foot Note: of Herod's execution of John.
The Gospels do not give her a name, but Josephus, who said nothingabout the dance, did say that Herodias had a daughter named Salome.
Account by Flavius Josephus Wikipedia
So does the dance of the Seven Veils exist?Yes, it is a small part of a grandeur scale of the Middle Eastern Danceor more commonly known as the Belly dance, Baladi,Tribal, raqs sharqi etc.
I believe it all started with the ancients. An ancient dance form whichwas created by women for women and passed on from mother to herdaughters to prepare them for childbirth. They had no hospitals,and I don't even know how far back mid wives go. They had totake care of themselves as best they could.
It was used for entertainment amongst women of the harems*. caravan travelers etc.
It developed among the Gypsies whotravelled from Russia, Africa, India to Spain and so on to North Americain the late 1800's with Little Egypt at the world's fair and Mata Hariin the early 1900's.
Pics of Little Egypt and Mata Hari from
Wikipedia, see disclaimer
I have been obsessed with ancient cultures especially Egypt,since childhood, and a big part of that obsession had to do withmusic, costumes and dance. The bling, bling lol.Films such as Cleopatra (with Liz Taylor), I dream of Jeannie (I loved her costume) to an episode of the Bionic Woman(she played the part of a belly dancer) and let me not forget.The Hunchback of Notre Dame with the beautiful Esmeralda,(Salma Heyak played her quite a few years back) and so on.So if the Bible doesn't mention the name Salome, veils or seduction,
where did these notions come from?
The fertile minds of the European Orientalist art and literature movement in the 19th century, that's where.
Talented ancient dancers could choose dance as an honorable career.There are several tombs indicating that dancing was a very important,whether for entertainment or religious purposes it was part of everyday life in ancient Egypt.
Here are other pics, one in the tomb of Nebamun from ancient Thebes.A point I would like to make here, if you have noticed that the women in these hieroglyphics are semi nude, it is due to the fact that the ancient Egyptians did not view the naked body as we here in North America do. Plus this allowed for freedom of movement as well as emphasis. Most often they wore a hip scarf as you see in the picture below. These were often decorated with beads.
One of the previous paragraphs, I mentioned the word "harem". I would like to shed some light on the actual meaning of the word.
In movies, film and literature, they give us the notion that a harem was used by the ancients Sultans, Kings, Pharoahs etcas a world of sexual delights. Contrary to this popular belief, then word harem means privacy that is very respected and honored;any unlawful breaking into that privacy is forbidden. Harems often consisted mothers, daughters and other female relatives, as well as eunuchs and slave girls.
I would like to dedicate these pages to a wonderful lady,
who in our short time we spent together has opened up for me a whole
new world.Thank You so much Cathy Linfield! Greatest Teacher and
Artist Extraordinaire! And to my new teachers Jeanine and Rachel.
Foot note: The previous page was written mostly in part by a wonderful
lady named Shira. I will be reffering to some of her writing.
I encourage everyone who wishes to learn more about this
ancient and unique art form to visit her site click on button below.