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Circassian beauties is a phrase used to refer to an idealized image of the women of the Circassian people of the Northwestern Caucasus. A fairly extensive literary history suggests that Circassian women were thought to be unusually beautiful, spirited, and elegant, and as such were desirable as concubines.
This reputation dates back to the Late Middle Ages, when the Circassian coast was frequented by traders from Genoa, and the founder of the Medici dynasty, Cosimo de' Medici, had an illegitimate son from a Circassian slave. During the Ottoman Empire and Persian Safavid and Qajar dynasties, Circassian women living as slaves in the Sultan's Imperial Harem and Shah's harems started to build their reputation as extremely beautiful and genteel, which then became a common trope in Western Orientalism.
As a result of this reputation, in Europe and America Circassians were often characterised as ideals of feminine beauty in poetry and art. Cosmetic products were advertised, from the 18th century on, using the word "Circassian" in the title, or claiming that the product was based on substances used by the women of Circassia.
In consequence, most wives of several Ottoman Sultans were ethnic Circassians converted from Khabze to Islam, e.g. Valide Sultans (Empress mothers), including Perestü Valide Sultan, Pertevniyal Valide Sultan, Şevkefza Valide Sultan, Tirimüjgan Valide Sultan, other empress mothers without the recent title of Valide sultan, namely Mahfiruz Hatice Sultan and Nükhetseza Başhanımefendi, other important Hatuns (Ladies) and Sultans like Şemsiruhsar Hatun and Saçbağlı Sultan, Haseki sultans (chief consorts) such as Mahidevran Haseki Sultan, Hümaşah Haseki Sultan, Hatice Muazzez Haseki Sultan, and Ayşe Haseki Sultan besides numerous Başkadınefendis (most senior consorts), including Bedrifelek I, Bidar II, Kamures I, and Servetseza I as well as Kadınefendis (senior consorts) such as Bezmara VI, Düzdidil III, Hayranıdil II, Meyliservet IV, Mihrengiz II, Neşerek III, Nurefsun II, Reftaridil II, Şayan III, amongst many others, or İkbals (honoured lady consorts), most notable of them being Cevherriz II, Ceylanyar II, Dilfirib I, Nalanıdil III, Nergis IV, and Remişnaz III in addition to Gözdes (favourite lady consorts), including Dürdane I, Hüsnicenan III, Safderun IV, Yıldız II, amongst others.
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