This section is from the book "Shampooing Or Benefits Resulting From The Use Of The Indian Medicated Vapour Bath", by Sake Dene Mahomed. Also available from Amazon: Shampooing: Or Benefits Resulting From The Use Of The Indian Medicated Vapor Bath.
Sir R. K. Porter, in his Travels through Georgia, Persia, etc. gives the following description of the Persian bathing process: - "The bather having undressed in an outer room, and retaining nothing about him but a piece of loose cloth round his waist, is conducted by the proper attendant into the hall of the bath; a large white sheet is then spread on the floor, on which the bather extends himself. The attendant brings from the cistern, which is warmed from the boiler below, a succession of pails full of water, which he continues to pour over the bather till he is well drenched and heated. The attendant then takes his employer's head upon his knees, and rubs in with all his might, a sort of wet paste of henna plant, into the mustachios and beard. In a few minutes this pomade dyes them a bright red. Again he has recourse to the little pail, and showers upon this quiescent patient another torrent of warm water. Then, putting on a glove made of soft hair, yet possessing some of the scrubbing-brush qualities, he first takes the limbs, and then the body, rubbing them hard for three-quarters of an hour. A third splashing from the pail prepares the operation of the pumice-stone. This he applies to the soles of the feet.
The next process seizes the hair of the face, whence the henna is cleansed away, and re-placed by another paste, called rang, composed of the leaves of the indigo plant. To this succeeds the shampooing, which is done by pinching, pulling, and rubbing, with so much force and pressure, as to produce a violent glow over the whole frame. Some of the natives delight in having every joint in their bodies strained till they crack; and this part of the operation is brought to such perfection, that the very vertebrae of the back are made to ring a peal in rapid succession. This climax of skill, however, has a very strange effect to the spectator; for, in consequence of both bather and attendant being alike unclothed, the violent exertions of the one, and the natural resistance of the joints in the other, give the twain the appearance of a wrestling match. This over, the shampooed body, reduced again to its prostrate state, is rubbed all over with a preparation of soap confined in a bag, till he is one mass of lather. The soap is then washed off in warm water, when a complete ablution succeeds, by his being led to the cistern and plunged in.
He passes five or six minutes, enjoying the perfectly pure element; and then emerging, has a large, dry, warm sheet thrown over him, in which he makes his escape back to the dressing-room. - The Persian ladies regard the bath as the place of their greatest amusement. They make appointments to meet there; and often pass seven or eight hours together in the carpetted saloon, telling stories, relating anecdotes, eating sweetmeats, sharing their kalions, and completing their beautiful forms into all the fancied perfections of the East: dyeing their hair and eye-brows, and curiously staining their fair bodies with a variety of fantastical devices, not unfrequently with the figures of trees, birds, and beasts, - sun, moon, and stars. This sort of pencil-work spreads over the bosom, and continues down as low as the navel, round which some radiated figure is generally painted. All this is displayed by the style of their dress, every garment of which, even to the light gauze chemise, being open from the neck to that point: a singular taste, and certainly more barbarous than becoming."
The following paragraph has appeared in most of the London and Provincial Papers. Juvenile Festival at Culford Hall. - On Thursday the 12th ult. in commemoration of the happy recovery of the amiable Lady Louisa from a long protracted lameness (which was cured effectually by Mr. Mahomed, by the application of his Vapour Bath and Shampooing,) and by her desire, the children belonging to the school patronised by the Marchioness Cornwallis, ninety in number, after receiving their annual prizes, were sumptuously provided with a good dinner, consisting of plum puddings and meat pies; the young ladies at the Hall, with their accustomed benevolence and affability, waited on them, and after dinner joined them in the merry dance until tea and buns were announced to the party; after which the children resumed the trip, and kept it up until the evening was far advanced, when they retired, highly delighted with their entertainment, and grateful to their benevolent Noble benefactress. Every cottager in the village was supplied with a portion of plum pudding and meat pie that was left.
The following is extracted from the British Traveller Newspaper, of the 6th of January, 1823.
The art of shampooing, now so universally known throughout England, was first introduced into this country, in the year 1784, by Sake Deen Mahomed, a native of Hindoostan, and now well known by the appellation of "The Brighton Shampooing Surgeon." The astonishing effects produced on the human frame by his peculiar method of shampooing are truly astonishing, and the wonderful cures he has performed after the skill of the faculty had failed, are the praise and admiration of all. Shampooing has now become so general that baths are established in different parts of the kingdom, by a number of individuals, and all, it would seem, upon Mahomed's principle, but we hear nothing of the cures these have as yet effected; indeed, it would appear that their method of shampooing is quite different to that of the original's, and, consequently, the result always the reverse. We understand that Mahomed is about to publish a book of the most wonderful cures he has performed within these last few years. This publication will no doubt be read with great interest.
Again we have to record an instance of the efficacy of Mahomed's infallible remedy of shampooing, in a case of extreme weakness and long standing rheumatic affection. The individual on whom this cure has been performed, is well known to us, and is truly incapable of an assertion unfounded in truth. By fifteen baths, he affirms, he was radically cured of a most painful case of rheumatism, attended by great bodily weakness.