In India the dance has been one of the chief forms of religious expression since the beginning of time. Originally, All through the East dancing was performed by professional hired women or boys, who go through their evolutions in order to afford pleasure to the spectators. There were very few steps, and the movements are mainly from the waist upwards; but the bayadères, nautchees (temple dancers), or Maikos were considered the true dancers; every part of their body lends itself to some expression, arms and hands, as well as eyes and features.
In the wealthy pagodas there belonged whole Indian tribes of female dancers, called bayadères, the word originating from the Portuguese balladiera; in Hindustani they are called Devadási and Japan Maiko or Guéchas (geisha). The bayadères are responsible for the cleaning of the temple, and they must dance twice daily at least before the idol.
The first dance is an expiation rite for their own sins; the second symbolizes an intercession for the forgiveness of their neighbors sins. This "corps de ballet" is recruited by
the priests, and mostly among the daughters of the weavers; the girls are called divine spouses, and join the community at the age of nine. It behooves the ancient bayadères to instruct the novices not only in the dance, but in singing, reading, and writing. Once the bayadère is consecrated as a 'divine spouse,' she cannot return to her family: she belongs body and soul to the pagoda, which feeds, dresses, and lodges her for life.
The Bayadères was a religious Oriental dance of India. The dancers/ singers were called a Bayadères or TEMPLE DANCERS, while non-Temple dancers were known as Tavaifs. In Indian belief, Tavaifs were married to trees and flowers and Temple Dancers were married to the deity (a god) and were labeled as 'devadasi' (a servant of God), later Temple dancers would be known as Bayadères.
If a family had too many daughters they could marry them off to the temple, which they could return later and become an heir which at the time only males could do and they (Bayadères) could even adopt children. This was so accepted at the time that no respectable wife in India would admit to ever being trained to sing ...
note ... Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, states:
The angels said to Lot: 'There are players of the pipe (organ) in the country, hence it ought to be destroyed'. It's rabbinical identification with the aboda, the flute of the notorious Syrian Bayaderes.
(p. 460, Abingdon).
INDO-CHINA - 800 AD: Chinese and Indian mix. (Including Siam and Cambodia).
The Indian and Chinese cultures met here but the Indian is much more fluent except in costume (pagoda type, prachadee headdresses etc.) with masks sometimes worn by villains. Double jointed elbows turn inside out and wrist turn back again. The dance is performed in the Hall of the Dance before a palace or temple. (also see Oriental dance)
The Bayaderes who danced in the temples of India, performed these religious exercises with chaste and cautious movements; but the Bayaderes were divided into two classes: Those who are not consecrated to the temple dance in the palaces for the amusement of the maharajahs; they were artists in their way, maintaining a special attitude, and were regarded with respect. They were very well-informed, poets and musicians, and as an accompaniment to their dances they extemporize songs and set them to music; copper castanets were used by many of them. The Hindu Egyptian dancers were called Almèh.
Some of the bayadères Nautchees are covered with diamonds and other precious stuffs; their gowns were very ample and full, after the fashion of the gowns used to-day in the 'skirt-dances;' there is also a great display of scarves. The music was soft, and occasionally consisted of viols and tam-tams; the dancers wear anklets of bells, and the movement of their body was of a special undulating kind, impossible to describe and equally impossible to imitate. The nautchees had the right to go where they choose, and they were even allowed to enter the palaces of the princes, to sit down in their presence, and to talk to them freely.
Men also danced in India; they are called Cathacks (Kathak (see Joanna Meinl), and are between eighteen and twenty years old. Just like the bayadères, their performances consist of graceful poses and of scarf movements, and they are dressed in magnificent costumes.
also see: ... Bayaderes Page Two