Wishtory Debunked, Denied, and Derided

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I propose a new forum, a wishtory forum so people can post up wishtory where they find it so everyone else can rip it to shreds and with hope people looking in can learn something useful.
This is the historical version of TPBDC: share your favorite tidbits of historical belly dance absurdity here.​

A personal favorite: We know from paintings in Egyptian tombs that belly dance began in ancient times a) as a harem competition to seduce the sultan; b) a temple dance to honor the goddess; c) an early form of Lamaze.
 

Aniseteph

New member
It's a) harem competition. Step forward Desmond Morris, let's get this over with. :rolleyes:

from Intimate Behaviour (1971) p.49. Ugh, Google it yourselves, my delicate Victorian sensibilities can't face the cut 'n' paste.

The gist gets another mention in Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language (2002), and the whole scenario is rehashed again in full detail in The Naked Woman (2004). We have come along way in 33 years people - there's now a preamble:
it is now rather primly referred to as a "traditional folklore dance", but for once it is a tradition whose beginnings have not "been lost in the mists of time". Modern puritans might prefer in this case that they had been lost.
Maybe this has something to do with the fact he has a reference, Tina Hobin's "Belly Dancing" (1982), that (haven't read it, just guessing) does not back up his version. Anyhoo, clearly the origins have NOT been lost in the midst of time because there's a book from 1971 that tells you all about it, so take that puritans, it IS all about sex slaves! :dance:

So, points for a) gratuitous use of sexual fantasy, b) reference fail, and c) LASHINGS of Orientalism - THEIR lords and masters were consistently fat and gross enough for this to be recognised enough thing to become a dance, AND they train their women to do filthy stuff like moving during sex, which as he spells out is the male role. How depraved can you get? Oh my, where is that fainting couch? :rolleyes:
 

khanjar

New member
I am glad this has been taken up, because you have to be honest, it is fun !

But there is something else which I am keen to correct, is the dishonest representation of another's culture.

And why I think this, is because The West, we are immigrant nations where immigrants have come and fitted in to what was before and everything else and lost much of what we were before.

The Radio 4 documentary brought it home to me, yeah belly dance music is a fusion and no doubt belly dance itself is because from private research I do understand where both genders fit into this dance

Maybe I will write one day on what I have found, to be promoted or slated as the case may be, but I understand my role in this dance as a male from history, but it does me for now and why I searched, to validate my inclusion.

Keep it going peoples, cultures need not to be redefined by us, but yes we may deviate from as is natural to the mixing of people, but we must understand where something exists in the cultures concerned, they are the empirical force, they lead, and we follow if it is what we display is Egyptian dance.

Fusion is what it is, maybe what belly dance is the mixture of cultures and why not when nothing is pure.

We are all part of the same thing, and long may it preside.
 

Aniseteph

New member
You are right Khanjar, the misrepresentation is what's really wrong about it. It doesn't matter is something is as authentic as can be or fused and evolved into something barely recognisable - wishtory always does a disservice to the people who did create it.

@Farasha - he's a zoologist who has written lots of books about human and animal behaviour, body language and the like, and done series on TV too. A lot of it is very interesting, but it just takes one WTH?! to make you wonder how authoritative the rest is. :confused:
 

Jane

New member
Desmond Morris is a pedantic Oxford know-it-all who likes to talk like a dance ethnologist, but doesn't take it seriously enough to research it properly.
 

SeeJaneDance

New member
Regarding C in the initial post...I'm confused! Morocco, on her website, pretty much says that belly dance is, in a particular, not quite literal way, a precursor to Lamaze. And that it's a dance done, at least in part, as part of childbirth. Before reading her accounts, I had actually always assumed that "bellydance as a childbirth experience" was wishtory. But then she had documented evidence and first hand experience, so I revised my thinking. Do I need to revise again?
 

Jane

New member
Regarding C in the initial post...I'm confused! Morocco, on her website, pretty much says that belly dance is, in a particular, not quite literal way, a precursor to Lamaze. And that it's a dance done, at least in part, as part of childbirth. Before reading her accounts, I had actually always assumed that "bellydance as a childbirth experience" was wishtory. But then she had documented evidence and first hand experience, so I revised my thinking. Do I need to revise again?
Morocco posts here once in a while, maybe she can explain better if she peeks in. You can always ask at a workshop or write to her.

From my understanding, she witnessed a birth undercover and women present were doing some belly dance like movements.

This does not mean:
A This happens all the time everywhere in the "lands of dance"
B This explains the origins of belly dance
C This is the only thing these movements were used for before being adapted for the stage
D It has much to do with art dance as personal expression and the musicality as we know it
E You get the idea
 

Kashmir

New member
Regarding C in the initial post...I'm confused! Morocco, on her website, pretty much says that belly dance is, in a particular, not quite literal way, a precursor to Lamaze. And that it's a dance done, at least in part, as part of childbirth. Before reading her accounts, I had actually always assumed that "bellydance as a childbirth experience" was wishtory. But then she had documented evidence and first hand experience, so I revised my thinking. Do I need to revise again?
No, she doesn't - and she gets angry when that interpretation is put on her work. What she is saying is a couple of moves in some cultures are used as strengthening for birth. She doesn't say it is the origin of raqs sharqi (she'll have your guts for garters for using "belly dance") - nor the purpose. A bit like discovering guitar fingering drills can improve your hands in belly dance. The two work together but that does not imply a causality.
 

Jane

New member
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer

I love reading accounts of this statue proving early belly dance. It's commonly thought to be dancer, but I've never seen anything to back this assumption up. Maybe she was a veiled mourner, a woman wearing a modesty garment, or the sculptor simply liked carving draped fabric. Belly dancer is even more far fetched. I don't hear any music playing and she's not moving. Was there torso/hip based dances in Hellenistic Greece? No video. I heard belly dance didn't arrive in Greece until the Turks got there. Anyone got more on this? It looks like a huge leap to assume this is supposed to be a belly dancer.
 

indrayu

New member
It's quite common for artists to look for interesting poses, slightly exaggerate elements of a figure etc for visual effect. The fact that in that statuette, her head and shoulders are tilted and turning while her lower body seems to be represented as having less movement, and it looks as if the centre of gravity is almost unsupportable, makes me think it is just a nice pose. A demure, graceful woman perhaps, but nothing that is unequivocally "dancer."
 

indrayu

New member
Here we go! This is from a dance school's website. Apart from the use of past tense for something that occurs in the present, I find the supposed origins and uss of the names a bit confusing:

"But throughout history, this art has gone by several names. The Greek called it “Ciftetelli.” In Turkey, it was known as “Rakkasa.” Egyptians called it “Raks Sharqi” or “Dance of the East.” Other Middle Easterners called it “Danse Orientale” which identifies belly dancing as a type of art that came from outside their own culture."

I have no doubt that dancing has been around for a long time, but I wonder what artifacts are being referred to ?

"Belly dancing is one of the oldest forms of dance in recorded history. Artifacts show that belly dancing began its 6000-year (or longer) history in Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, or modern-day Iraq. Historians have found early evidence of belly dancing in art from Egyptian, Turkish and Phoenician cultures which flourished in the general Middle Eastern area."
 

Roshanna

New member
Maybe this has something to do with the fact he has a reference, Tina Hobin's "Belly Dancing" (1982), that (haven't read it, just guessing) does not back up his version.
I have a copy of this book at home. It has some very dubious stuff in the introduction, as well as some fabulous 80s illustrations involving hi-leg leotards. Will quote it when I get back. I remember some business about "burning passions amidst the burning sands of Arabia" etc, and references to pleasing your husband...
 

Aniseteph

New member
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer

I love reading accounts of this statue proving early belly dance. It's commonly thought to be dancer, but I've never seen anything to back this assumption up. Maybe she was a veiled mourner, a woman wearing a modesty garment, or the sculptor simply liked carving draped fabric. Belly dancer is even more far fetched. I don't hear any music playing and she's not moving. Was there torso/hip based dances in Hellenistic Greece? No video. I heard belly dance didn't arrive in Greece until the Turks got there. Anyone got more on this? It looks like a huge leap to assume this is supposed to be a belly dancer.
We had a thread about this fairly recently - IIRC there is evidence that veiled dancing was a thing and she is dressed that way, and she does look like she is dancing. But no, nothing to say belly dance. The thing that makes me go hmmmm about that one is the idea that veil=bellydancer, because that is such a blatant projection of very recent belly dance trends onto the past.
 

Roshanna

New member
It's a) harem competition. Step forward Desmond Morris, let's get this over with. :rolleyes:

from Intimate Behaviour (1971) p.49. Ugh, Google it yourselves, my delicate Victorian sensibilities can't face the cut 'n' paste.
Here we go then :p

Desmond Morris said:
p.49: Originally, this consisted of the performance of pelvic thrusts by the female on the podgy, incapacitated form of her lord and master. Unable to make the thrusting movements himself, he had to be serviced by trained girls who would be able to take over the masculine role in the encounter, inserting his immobile penis into their vaginas, and then undulating and jolting their pelvises t stimulate it to a climax, in what amounted to little more than an act of fertile masturbation. The clever and varied movements developed by such females to arouse their fat, dominant males formed the basis of the famous Eastern belly-dance and, as a visual preliminary, this became more and more elaborate, until it grew into the display we see so often today in nightclubs and cabarets.
Ewwww :shok:
Also, remarkably implausible...
I'm not sure how people justify this weird idea that the Ottoman sultans were all colossally fat Jabba the Hut type figures who sat around all day being pleasured by slave girls - a quick bit of googling turns up plenty of paintings of relatively slim sultans, a few are chubby, but no more so than plenty of kings from elsewhere. They had to do a load of going to war and riding and hunting and stuff, which would make it hard to be too fat to move your own penis... :confused:
 

Duvet

Member
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer

I love reading accounts of this statue proving early belly dance. It's commonly thought to be dancer, but I've never seen anything to back this assumption up. Maybe she was a veiled mourner, a woman wearing a modesty garment, or the sculptor simply liked carving draped fabric. Belly dancer is even more far fetched. I don't hear any music playing and she's not moving. Was there torso/hip based dances in Hellenistic Greece? No video. I heard belly dance didn't arrive in Greece until the Turks got there. Anyone got more on this? It looks like a huge leap to assume this is supposed to be a belly dancer.
She is not a bellydancer. This article (esp p18) puts the statuette in its context, rather than projecting modern ideas of 'belly dance' onto it; http://arts.tau.ac.il/departments/images/stories/journals/arthistory/Assaph6/01frieslander.pdf
 
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SeeJaneDance

New member
I'm sorry if I offended anybody, I was truly asking for clarification. This was the most recent article I read off of Morocco's website, and you can understand if you look at it, why that was the thought that was most firmly stuck in my head. Welcome to Morocco's Meanderings

I also understand what you're saying, though, and after more thoroughly perusing the site, I'm getting a fuller understanding.
 

Nejmeh

New member
Well that was my coffee, tnx for the laugh Desmonds Morris!

Seriously, how fat do you have to be if you can`t move your own wurm no more?!
 
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