Circassian beauties

November 30, 2010

A seventeenth- and eighteenth-century ideal of womanly beauty.  The Circassians are a Muslim people of the non-sovereign state of Adyghe in the North Caucasus.  Their women became famed for their beauty during the height of the Ottoman Empire when many of them served in the sultans harem.  Beauty products were sold with the Circassian name and P.T. Barnum began to feature supposed “Circassian beauties” in his sideshows to appeal to their oriental exoticism (his women were identifiable by their bushy hair reminiscent of 1970s afros that bore no resemblance to fact).