The heat wave of midsummer 1641 was more intense than any in memory. For weeks on end sunshine cascaded down from the sky in waves of angry flames turning Istanbul into a scorching furnace. The citizens, desperate for a cooling breeze, find shelter in the shade of ancient plane trees that have spread their leafy branches over entire squares. They listen to music of tambours and reed- flutes being played in the harem. The melody is the lilting and sensual “Mahur” , a prelüde composed by Gazi Giray Han. It excites souls and arouses appetites despite the stifling heat.
Dilaşub Sultana is of Crimean origin. She has crossed her legs and tugged them under the hem of her white, large-sleeved chemise. She holds one of her hands on her knee in a royal gesture. She has unbuttoned her florally printed dress down to her cleavage. The diamonds on her purple crest reflect the sun’s rays. Her odalisque offers scant comfort with an ornate fan. Dilaşub’s emerald green eyes glance again at the letter. She has reat its message countless times already, but it still fills her with joy. It is from her husband, Sultan İbrahim, the sovereign of all the Ottomans.
“ My beautiful Dilaşub! I am your slave. My love has no bounds. I surrender my body and soul and heart to you. I am at your mercy. My prayer is that you come to me tonight. To love me and be mine.” Dilaşub shuts her eyes and kisses the letter.