"the brightest Circassian beauty, dressed in all the jewels of the Indies "

Circassian Girl
Public DomainCircassian Girl - Credit: Jean-Léon Gérôme
Circassia was located in the Northern Caucasus region, at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. It existed for many centuries as an independent state, but was conquered by the Russians in 1864, following the Caucasian War. 

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Circassian women had a reputation for being unusually beautiful, spirited, and elegant.  In Europe and America, their beauty was idealised in poetry, novels, and art. The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was known to have Circassian concubines adorning his Imperial Harem, and the image of scantily clad European beauties in exotic Asian settings seems to have fired the imagination of many an artist.    

The Harem
Public DomainThe Harem - Credit: J.F. Lewis