A story of the strangest friendship that ever was: a dapper young bank thief and the detective hired by the banks to apprehend him. For more about this and my other books, go here.
Artists or Whores? Geishas, Nautch Girls, and the Dancers of Lahore
|A geisha in Kyoto today.|
|Two nineteenth-century Nautch girls; a painting.|
A friend of mine from Calcutta told me how her great-grandfather and his friends debated earnestly over which renowned dancer, or Nautch girl, should be invited to dance for them on a holiday. The dance was held in a hall from which the women of the household were excluded. Paid well, the dancer gave them a spectacular performance, with confetti-like bits of colored paper on the floor that she kicked up into sprays of many colors. My friend’s grandmother viewed the dancers as glorified prostitutes.
|Two Nautch girls in Hyderabad; an 1860s photograph.|
|Nautch girls dancing; a 1920s etching.|
|A dancer performing, 1899.|
|Ninon de Lenclos, a noted courtesan of seventeenth-century France. She frequented salons, had one of her own, |
encouraged the young Molière, and years later left money
to the young Voltaire so he could buy books. Power of a kind.
|Carrie Nation, a fiery temperance campaigner, |
who took an ax to U.S. saloons and their contents.
In France, women got the vote only in 1944, because the male ruling elite, fiercely anticlerical, were afraid that the women would vote for Catholic candidates. And when I visited friends in Germany in 1953, my closest German friend, no stodgy conservative, thought American women much too independent. And when his younger brother came to this country and served in the Air Force, he married not an American, but a young woman from Germany. How it will go in the future for this country, where feminists have in many ways triumphed, but are still campaigning for more, I don’t profess to know. But it will be interesting to watch from the sidelines as the fight sparks on … and on.
Coming soon: Sin.