HAREM (Ar. and Pers. lw. ḥaram “sanctuary,” from ḥarim, lit. “something forbidden”), wives and other female associates in former aristocratic families and the secluded quarter of a house reserved for them. The most frequently used Persian synonyms are šabestān, moškōy and andarun (q.v.). In Classical New Persian ḵāna-ye zanān “house of the women” was also used (Kaykāvus b. Eskandar, p. 131), but this was replaced by the compound sarā-ye ḥaram “the harem quarter” (Neẓām-al-Molk, p. 242), which came to prevail in its inverted form, ḥaram-sarāy. The Ottomans and the Safavids also used the shortened form sarāy “palace,” which more correctly translated the Aramaic BYT’ and Arabic bayt, “house.”

i. In Ancient Iran.

ii. In the Qajar Period.

(Multiple Authors)

Originally Published: December 15, 2003

Last Updated: March 6, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 6, pp. 671-Vol. XII, Fasc. 1, pp. 1-4