The Hora is a circle dance from the Balkans. Its name is much older.
In Babylon the girls would dance the seasons – called Horae in Greek. Not only the changing of the year but the hour of the day also was danced. I take this to be the origin of the dance form.
When we look at Balkan dances we find many that are named Hora or Horo or simply Oro.
All of these are related to this seasonal dancing. It may be that this was originally part of the rites of passage for the girls. Not that Horas are danced by women only, today it has come to mean simply dance, rather than something specific.
The word has come into the English language as ‘hour’ and the science of clock-making Horology. Similarly in Astrology a basic chart is called a horoscope. ‘Horo’ having the sense of time.
Robert Graves tells us that part of the duty of the girls in the temple was to serve the male population, rather as Geishas in Eastern tradition. There were restrictions on the liaisons, such that a woman could only take one partner for the duration of her monthly cycle. From this aspect of temple life I derive the word ‘whore’ in English and ‘houri’ in Arabic. This latter word is said to derive from ‘having eyes of marked contrast of black and white’ and is applied to a desirable young woman or virgin such as those that accompany the devout in paradise. It was the fashion among some in Sumeria to wear kohl or mascara about the eyes, it would seem that this definition is appropriate.
In Swedish the word ‘Hår’ refers to hair and one questions whether the women in their dancing wore their hair in a particular way.