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Status of the Turkish odalık
An odalık was not a concubine of the harem, but it was possible that she could become one. An odalık was ranked at the bottom of the social stratification of a harem, serving not the man of the household, but rather, his concubines and wives as personal chambermaids. Odalık were usually slaves given as gifts to the sultan by wealthy Turkish men. Generally, an odalık was never seen by the sultan but instead remained under the direct supervision of his mother, the Valide Sultan.
If an odalık was of extraordinary beauty or had exceptional talents in dancing or singing, she would be trained as a possible concubine. If selected, an odalık trained as a concubine would serve the sultan sexually and only after such sexual contact would she change in status, becoming thenceforth a concubine. In the Ottoman Empire, concubines encountered the sultan only once, unless she was especially skilled in dance, singing, or the sexual arts, thus gaining his attention. If a concubine's contact with the sultan resulted in the birth of a son, she would become one of his wives.
During the 19th century, odalisques became common fantasy figures in the artistic movement known as Orientalism, being featured in many erotic paintings from that era.
In 2011 the Law Society of British Columbia brought a discipline hearing against an unnamed lawyer for referring to another lawyer's client as living with an odalisque. The Law Society found the use of the word, though an extremely poor choice, did not rise to the level of professional misconduct. 
- Culture of the Ottoman Empire
- Arab slave trade
- Islamic views on slavery
- Ottoman Turkish language
- The Imperial Harem by Leslie Pierce
- The Nature of the Early Ottoman State by Heath W Lowry
- DelPlato, Joan. 2002. Multiple Wives, Multiple Pleasures: Representing the Harem, 1800-1875. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
- The Law Society of British Columbia: "Decision of the Hearing Panel on Facts and Determination"
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