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The origin of Turkish towels

First, an introduction to the Turkish bath…

A Turkish bath or hamam has elements that are similar to a Scandinavian sauna but is closer to a Roman bath in that it focuses on water more than steam as part of the cleansing ritual.

Following the 15th century expansion of the Ottoman Empire to take over the Byzantine Empire, the Hellenized Roman and Turkish bathing customs merged to create the cultural fusion of the Turkish bath or hamam as we know it today.

What comprises the hamam ritual?

The hamam is a place of deep relaxation, designed to soothe both body and mind. The ritual of cleansing and relaxation is an experience not to be missed.

The experience begins with relaxing and sweating in the warm section of the hamam. Following the relaxation of the muscles in the warm section, the bath attendant or "tellak" performs a thorough full-body scrubbing on a warm marble slab in the bath house. Once the cleansing is complete, the tellak will perform a sudsy massage, covering you in a fragrant cloud of foam, feeling your mind and body refreshed.

There are a range of artefacts associated with the hamam ritual. Turkish towels, also known as peshtemal (pesh-te-mahl) are an important part of this centuries-old tradition. 

More on Turkish towels

Simply put, the pesthemal is a large towel fringed at both ends (typically striped or chequered) and wrapped around the torso. They are made from Turkish cotton – a premium cotton with extra-long fibers – that gives them their signature lightweight and high absorption.

Turkish towels have become increasingly popular in recent years, due to their practical use as a lightweight travel companion (much more traveler friendly than traditional terry towels, taking up less than half the space!) and their incredible versatility. Turkish towels are not only a bath essential anymore but have long made their debut as coveted living room additions as throws & blankets, as fashion accessories in the form of scarves and wraps, as picnic blankets and as bedspreads among other things. It is truly the one item that has the potential to transform your everyday living and bring you joy.

With so many uses, an ancient heritage, high quality and versatility, what's not to love?

Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami

Image courtesy of Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami

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