Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan, by Isabella Bird

Letter v

This hospitable house is the residence of the British Agent or Vakil for Kirmanshah, in whose absence at Tihran, his son, Abdul Rahim, performs the duties of hospitality in a most charming manner, as if though a very busy man he had nothing else to do but carry out the wishes of his guests. His hospitality is most unobtrusive also, and considerate. If such a wish is expressed as to visit the sculptures of the Takt-i-Bostan, or anything else, everything is quietly and beautifully arranged; a landau-and-four with outriders, superb led saddle-horses, and arrangements for coffee are ready outside the walls, with the host as cicerone, ready to drive or ride at the pleasure of his guests. The rooms in which he receives Europeans are on the opposite side of the courtyard from the house, and have been arranged according to European ideas.

The family history, as usually told, is an interesting one. They are Arabs, and the grandfather of our host, Hadji Khalil, was a trusted katirgi in the employment of Sir Henry Rawlinson, and saved his life when he fell from a scaffolding while copying the Besitun inscriptions. His good qualities, and an honesty of character and purpose rare among Orientals, eventually placed him in the important position of British Vakil here, and he became a British subject, and was succeeded in his position by his son, Agha Hassan, who is now by virtue of singular business capacities the wealthiest man in this province and possibly in Persia, and bears the very highest character for trustworthiness and honour.15

Abdul Rahim is a very fine-looking man, with noticeable eyes, very large and prominent. He has a strong sense of humour, which flits over his face in an amused smile. He and his father are very large landowners, and are always adding land to land, and are now the owners of the magnificent sculptures and pleasure-grounds of the Takt-i-Bostan. They are bankers likewise, and money-lenders, merchants on a large scale, and have built a very fine caravanserai, with great brick warehouses for the use of traders. Agha Hassan travels en prince, driving to Tihran and back in an English landau with four horses and a number of outriders and attendants, and his son entertains visitors in the same way, mounting even the outriders and pipe-bearers on well-bred Arabs. When he walks in the city it is like a royal progress. Everybody bows low, nearly to the ground, and his purse-bearer follows, distributing alms among the poor.

I mention all this because it is a marvel in Persia, where a reputation for wealth is the last thing a rich man desires. To elevate a gateway or to give any external sign of affluence is to make himself a mark for the official rapacity which spares none. The policy is to let a man grow quietly rich, to “let the sheep’s wool grow,” but as soon as he shows any enjoyment of wealth to deprive him of his gains, according to a common Persian expression, “He is ripe, he must be squeezed.” The Vakil and his son are the only men here who are not afraid to show their wealth, and for the simple reason that it cannot be touched, because they are British subjects. They can neither be robbed, squeezed, nor mulcted beyond the legitimate taxation by Persian officials, and are able to protect the property of others when it is entrusted to their keeping. British protection has been in fact the making of these men.

The ménage is simple. The dining-room is across the frozen courtyard. The meals are served in European fashion, the major-domo being an ancient man, “born in the house,” who occasionally inserts a remark into the conversation or helps his master’s memory. The interpreter sits on the floor during meals. I breakfast in my room, but lunch and dine with our host, who spends the evening in the salon; sherbet is provided instead of wine. Abdul Rahim places me at the head of the table, and I am served first! The interpreting is from Persian into Hindustani, and vice versâ. Our host expresses almost daily regret that he cannot talk with me on politics!

Kirmanshah, which is said to be a favourable specimen of a Persian town, is absolutely hideous and uninteresting. It is really half in ruins. It has suffered terribly from “plague, pestilence, and famine,” and from the awful rapacity of governors. It once had 12,000 houses, but the highest estimate of its present population is 25,000. So severely have the town and province been oppressed that some years ago three-quarters of the inhabitants migrated, the peasants into Turkey, and the townspeople into the northern province of Azerbijan. If a governor pays 30,000 tumans (£10,000) to the Shah for an appointment, of which he may be deprived any day, it can scarcely be expected of Oriental, or indeed of any human nature, that he will not make a good thing of it while he has it, and squeeze all he can out of the people.

The streets are very narrow, and look narrower just now, because the snow is heaped almost to the top of the mud walls, which are not broken up as in Turkish towns by projecting lattice windows, but are absolutely blank, with the exception of low-arched entrances to the courtyards within, closed by heavy, unpainted wooden doors, studded with wooden nails. The causeways, on which, but for the heaps of slippery snow two men might walk abreast, have a ditch two or three feet wide between them, which is the roadway for animals. There are some open spaces, abounding in ruinous heaps, others where goods are unloaded, surrounded with warehouses, immense brick bazars with domed roofs, a citadel or ark, where the Governor lives, a large parade ground and barracks for 2000 men, mosques of no pretensions, public baths, caravanserais, brick warehouses behind the bazars, public gardens, with fountains and avenues of poplars, a prison, and some good houses like this one, hidden behind high mud walls. Although the snow kindly veils a good deal of deformity, the city impresses one as ruinous and decayed; yet it has a large trade, and is regarded as one of the most prosperous places in the Empire.16

The bazars are spacious and well stocked with European goods, especially with Manchester cottons of colours and patterns suited to Oriental taste, which loves carnation red. There are many Jews, otherwise the people are Shiah Moslems, with an increasing admixture of the secret sect of the Bābis. In some respects the Shiahs are more fanatical than the Sunnis, as, for instance, it is quite possible to visit a mosque in Turkey, but here a Christian is not allowed to cross the threshold of the outer gate. Certain customs are also more rigidly observed. A Persian woman would be in danger of death from the mob if she appeared unveiled in the streets. When I walked through the town, though attended by a number of men, the major-domo begged me to exchange my gauze veil for a mask, and even when I showed this deference to custom the passing through the bazars was very unpleasant, the men being decidedly rude, and inclined to hoot and use bad language. Even the touch of a Christian is regarded as polluting, and I nearly got into trouble by handling a “flap-jack,” mistaking it for a piece of felt. The bazars are not magnificent. No rich carpets or other goods are exposed to view for fear of exactions. A buyer wanting such things must send word privately, and have them brought to his house.

Justice seems to be here, much as in Turkey, a marketable commodity, which the working classes are too poor to buy. A man may be kept in prison because he is too poor to get out, but justice is usually summary, and men are not imprisoned for long terms. If prisoners have friends, the friends feed them, if not they depend on charity, and charity is a Moslem virtue. There is no prison here for women. They are punished by having their heads shaved, and by being taken through the town on asses. Various forms of torture are practised, such as burning with hot irons, the bastinado, and squeezing the fingers in a vice. The bastinado is also most extensively used as a punishment.

Yesterday by appointment we were received by the Governor of the Province. Riding through the slippery snow-heaped alleys is not what Europeans would think of, and our host with his usual courtesy humoured the caprice by walking with us himself, preceded by six farāshes (lit. carpet-spreaders) and followed by his purse-bearer casting money to the poor, and a train of servants. The Citadel, or Governor’s residence, like all else, is forlorn, dirty, and ruinous in its approaches, which are long vaulted corridors capable of much adornment. Crowds of soldiers, mollahs, dervishes, and others were there to see the visit, which was one of ceremony. The Palace and Government offices are many-windowed, well-built brick-and-tile buildings, arranged round a large place with trees and fountains.

Two little fellows in scarlet uniform were at the entrance, and the lobby upstairs was crowded with Persian and Negro servants, all in high, black lambskin caps, tight black trousers, and tight coats with full skirts. The Governor received us in a very large, lofty, vacant-looking room, and shook hands. I never saw a human being more nearly like an ape in appearance, and a loud giggle added to the resemblance. This giggle and a fatuous manner are possibly assumed, for he has the widespread reputation of being a very able man, shrewd in business and officially rapacious, as was his father before him. The grotesque figure, not more than five feet high, was dressed in a black Astrakan cap, a coat of fine buff Russian kerseymere with full skirts, and tight trousers of the same, and an under-coat of rich, Kerman silk brocade, edged with costly fur. He made a few curt remarks to his foreign guests, and then turned to Abdul Rahim, and discussed local affairs for the remainder of a very long visit.

A table covered with exquisite-looking sweetmeats was produced, and we were regaled with tea à la Russe in Russian glasses, ice-cream, and gaz. Then young, diminutive, raw-looking soldiers in scarlet coats and scarlet trousers with blue stripes marched into the courtyard, and stood disconsolately in the snow, and two bands brayed and shrieked for an hour. Then kalians were smoked, and coffee was handed round, the cups being in gold filigree holders incrusted with turquoises. This was the welcome signal for the termination of a very tedious visit. The reception-room is a dismal combination of Persian and European taste, invariably a failure. The carpets are magnificent, but the curtains are common serge bordered with white cotton lace, and the tea-table with its costly equipments was covered with a tawdry cretonne cover, edged with some inferior black cotton lace. The lofty walls of plain plaster of Paris have their simplicity destroyed by some French girandoles with wax grapes hanging from them.

The Governor returned the visit today, arriving on horseback with fully forty mounted attendants, and was received in a glass room on the roof, furnished with divans, tables covered with beautiful confectionery, and tea and coffee equipages. The conversation was as local as yesterday, in spite of our host’s courteous efforts to include the strangers in it. The Governor asked if I were going to Tihran to be Hakīm to the Shah’s haram, which our host says is the rumour in Kirmanshah! During such visits there are crowds of attendants in the room all the time pouring out tea, filling kalians, and washing cups on the floor, and as any guest may be a spy and an enemy, the conversation is restricted to exaggerated compliments and superficial remarks.

Everything is regulated by an elaborate code of etiquette, even the compliments are meted out by rule, and to give a man more than he is entitled to is understood to be intended as sarcasm. The number of bows made by the entertainer, the distance he advances to meet his guest, and the position in which he seats him are matters of careful calculation, and the slightest mistake in any particular is liable to be greatly resented by a superior.

The Persian is a most ceremonious being. Like the Japanese he is trained from infancy to the etiquette of his class, and besides the etiquette of class there is here the etiquette of religion, which is far more strict than in Turkey, and yields only when there is daily contact, as in the capital, between Moslems and Christians. Thus, a Moslem will not accept refreshments from a Christian, and he will not smoke a pipe after a Christian even if he is his guest, and of equal or higher rank.

The custom is for a visitor, as in the case of the Governor, to announce his visit previously, and he and his train are met, when he is the superior, by a mounted servant of the recipient of the honour, who precedes him to the door, where the servants are arranged according to their rank, and the host waits to take his hand and lead him to a seat. On entering the room a well-bred Persian knows at once what place he ought to take, and it is rare for such a fiasco as that referred to in Luke xiv. 9 to occur. Refreshments and pipes are served at regulated intervals, and the introduction of a third cup of tea or coffee and a third kalian is the signal for the guest to retire. But it is necessary to ask and receive permission to do so, and elaborate forms of speech regulated by the rank of the visitor are used on the occasion. If he is of equal or superior rank, the host, bowing profoundly, replies that he can have no other wish than that of his guest, that the house has been purified by his presence, that the announcement of the visit brought good luck to the house, that his headache or toothache has been cured by his arrival, and these flowery compliments escort the ordinary guest to the door, but if he be of superior rank the host walks in advance to the foot of the stairs, and repeats the compliments there.

The etiquette concerning pipes is most elaborate.17 Kalians are invariably used among the rich. The great man brings his own, and his own pipe-bearer. The kalian is a water pipe, and whatever its form the principle is the same, the smoke being conducted to the bottom of a liberal supply of water, to be sucked up in bubbles through it with a gurgling noise, as in the Indian “hubble-bubble.” This water-holder is decanter-shaped, of plain or cut glass, with a wide mouth; the fire-holder, as in the case of the Governor’s pipe, is often a work of high art, in thin gold, chased, engraved, decorated with repoussé work, or incrusted with turquoises, or ornamented with rich enamel, very costly, £40 or even £50 being paid by rich men for the decoration of a single pipe-head. Between this and the water-holder is a wooden tube about fourteen inches long, from one end of which an inner tube passes to the bottom of the water. A hole in the side of the tube admits the flexible smoking tube, more used in Turkey than in Persia, or the wooden stem, about eighteen inches long. The fire-holder is lined with clay and plaster of Paris. Besides these there is the wind-guard, to prevent the fire from falling or becoming too hot, usually of silver, with dependent silver chains, and four or six silver or gold chains terminating in flat balls hang from the fire-holder.

The kalian is one of the greatest institutions of Persia. No man stirs without it, and as its decoration gives an idea of a man’s social position, immense sums are lavished upon it, and the pipe-bearer is a most important person. The lighting is troublesome, and after all there seems “much ado about nothing,” for a few whiffs exhaust its capacities.

The tobacco, called tumbaku, which is smoked in kalians is exceptionally poisonous. It cannot be used the first year, and improves with age, being preserved in bags sewn up in raw hide. Unless it is moistened it produces alarming vertigo. When the kalian is required, about three-quarters of an ounce is moistened, squeezed like a sponge, and packed in the fire-holder, and morsels of live charcoal, if possible made from the root of the vine, are laid upon it and blown into a strong flame. The pipe-bearer takes two or three draws, and with an obeisance hands it with much solemnity to his master. Abdul Rahim smokes three or four pipes every evening, and coffee served with the last is the signal for his departure.

A guest, if he does not bring his own pipe and pipe-bearer has a kalian offered to him, but if the host be of higher rank any one but an ignoramus refuses it till he has smoked first. If under such circumstances a guest incautiously accepts it, he is invariably mortified by seeing it sent into the ante-room to be cleaned and refilled before his superior will smoke. If it be proper for him to take it, he offers it in order of rank to all present, but takes good care that none accept it till he has enjoyed it, after which the attendant passes it round according to rank. In cases of only one kalian and several guests, they smoke in order of position, but each one must pay the compliment of suggesting that some one else should smoke before himself. The etiquette of smoking is most rigid. I heard of a case here in which a mollah, who objected to smoke after a European, offered it to one after he had smoked it himself — so gross a piece of impertinence that the other called the pipe-bearer, saying, “You can break that pipe to pieces, and burn the stick, I do not care to smoke it,” upon which the mollah, knowing that his violation of etiquette merited this sharp rebuke, turned pale and replied, “You say truly, I have eaten dirt.”

The lower classes smoke a coarse Turkish tobacco, or a Persian mild sort looking like whitish sawdust, which is merely the pounded leaf, stalk, and stem. The pipe they use and carry in their girdles has a small iron, brass, or clay head, and a straight cherry-wood stick, with a very wide bore and no mouthpiece, and it is not placed in the teeth but is merely held between the lips. Smoking seems a necessity rather than a luxury in Persia, and is one of the great features of social life.

Kirmanshah is famous for its “rugs,” as carpets are called in this country. There are from twenty-five to thirty kinds with their specific names. Aniline dyes have gone far to ruin this manufacture, but their import is now prohibited. A Persian would not look at the carpets loosely woven and with long pile, which are made for the European market, and are bought just now from the weavers at 13s. the square yard. A carpet, according to Persian notions, must be of fast colours, fine pile, scarcely longer than Utrecht velvet, and ready to last at least a century. A rug can scarcely be said to have reached its prime or artistic mellowness of tint till it has been “down” for ten years. The permanence of the dyes is tested by rubbing the rug with a wet cloth, when the worthless colours at once come off.

Among the real, good old Persian carpets there are very few patterns, though colouring and borders vary considerably. A good carpet, if new, is always stiff; the ends when doubled should meet evenly. There must be no creases, or any signs on the wrong side of darning or “fine-drawing” having been resorted to for taking out creases, and there must be no blue in the white cotton finish at the ends. Carpets with much white are prized, as the white becomes primrose, a colour which wears well. Our host has given me a rug of the oldest Persian pattern, on a white ground, very thin and fine. Large patterns and thick wool are comparatively cheap. It is nearly impossible to say what carpets sell at, for if one has been made by a family and poverty presses, it may be sold much under value, or if it is a good one and they can hold on they may force a carpet fancier to give a very high price. From what Abdul Rahim says, the price varies from 13s. to 50s. a square yard, the larger carpets, about fourteen feet by eight feet, selling for £40.18

Abdul Rahim took me to see carpet-weaving, a process carried on in houses, hovels, and tents by women and children. The “machinery” is portable and marvellously simple, merely two upright beams fixed in the floor, with a cross-beam near the top and bottom, round which the stout cotton or woollen threads which are the basis of the carpet are stretched. The wools are cut in short lengths and are knotted round two threads, according to the pattern, which, however elaborate, the weaver usually carries in her head. After a few inches have been woven in this simple way the right side is combed and the superfluous length cut off with rough scissors. Nothing can be more simple than the process or more beautiful than the result. The vegetable dyes used are soft and artistic, specially a madder red and the various shades of indigo. A soft turquoise blue is much used, and an “olive green,” supposed to be saffron and indigo. The dull, rich tints, even when new, are quite beautiful. The women pursue this work chiefly in odds and ends of time, and in some cases make it much of a pastime. Men being present they were very closely veiled, and found great difficulty in holding on the chadars and knotting the wool at the same time.

After taking tea in the pleasant upper room of the carpet-weaver’s house, we visited the large barracks and parade ground. The appearance of the soldiers could not possibly impress a stranger favourably. They looked nothing better than “dirty, slouching ragamuffins,” slipshod, in tattered and cast-off clothes of all sorts, on the verge of actual mendicancy, bits of rusty uniform appearing here and there amongst their cotton rags. The quarters are not bad. The rank and file get one and a half pounds of bread daily and five rupees a month nominally, but their pay is in arrears, and they eke it out by working at different trades. These men had not been drilled for two months, and were slovenly and unsoldierly to a degree, as men must be who have no proper pay, rations, instruction, clothing, or equipments.

The courtesy of the host leaves nothing unthought of. In returning from a long stroll round the city a wet place had to be crossed, and when we reached it there were saddle-horses ready. On arriving at dusk in the bazar several servants met us with lanterns. The lantern is an important matter, as its size is supposed to indicate the position of the wearer. The Persian lantern has a tin or iron top and bottom, between which is a collapsible wired cylinder of waxed muslin. The light from the candle burning inside is diffused and soft. Three feet long and two feet wide is not an uncommon size. They are carried close to the ground, illustrating “Thy Word is a lamp unto my path,” and none but the poor stir out after dark without a lantern-bearer in front. Our lanterns, as befits the Vakil’s position, are very large.

There is something Biblical in the progress of Abdul Rahim through the streets, always reminding me of “greetings in the market-place,” and “doing alms to be seen of men,”— not that I think our kind host sins in either direction. “Peace be with you,” say the people, bending low. “To you be peace,” replies the Agha.

A wish having been expressed to visit the rock-sculptures of the Takt-i-Bostan, a winter picnic was quietly arranged for the purpose. There was a great snowstorm on the night we arrived, succeeded by intense frost and clear blue skies — glorious Canadian winter weather. Outside the wall an English landau, brought in pieces from Baghdad, awaited us, with four Arab horses, two of them ridden. There were eleven outriders and some led horses, and a Turki pipe-bearer rode alongside the carriage with two cylinders of leather containing kalians in place of holsters, on one side, behind a leather water-bottle, and on the other a brazier of lighted charcoal hanging by chains much below the horse’s body. Another pipe-bearer lighted the kalian at intervals and handed it into the carriage to his master. Some of the horsemen carried rifles and wore cartridge-belts.

Reaching the Karasu river we got out into deep mud, were ferried over in a muddy box hauling on a rope, and drove to the Takt-i-Bostan, where several tanks of clear water, a house built into the rock, a number of Kurds on fine horses, the arched recesses in the rock which contain the sculptures, and the magnificent range of the Jabali–Besitun formed a very striking scene.

Sir H. Rawlinson considers these sculptures the finest in Persia, and regards them as the work of Greek artists. The lower of the two bas-reliefs at the back of the main recess is a colossal figure of a king on horseback, “the staff of whose spear is as a weaver’s beam.” On the sides of the recess, and, like the equestrian figure, in very high relief and very much undercut, are scenes from the chase of a most spirited description, representing a king and court mounted on elephants, horses, and camels, hunting boars, stags, and other animals, their enthusiasm in the pursuit being successfully conveyed by the art of the sculptor. In the spandrels of the archway of the main recess are carved, winged female figures. In the smaller arch, also containing a bas-relief, is a Pehlevi inscription.19

There is a broad stone platform in front of the arch, below which flows direct from the mountain a great volume of water, which replenishes the tanks. The house, which also contains a tank fed by the same living water, the mountain and its treasures, the tanks, and some miles of avenues of willows, have been bought by the Vakil, and his son laughingly says that he hopes to live to see a time when Cook will give “tourist excursion tickets” by rail to the Takt-i-Bostan!

Coffee and kalians were served to the Kurds in the arch, and mounting the horses we rode to a country house belonging to our host in the midst of large rose gardens, and with a wonderful view of the magnificent Besitun range, of the rolling snowy hills on which Kirmanshah and its plantations lay like a black splotch, and of this noble plain, six miles long from north to south, and thirty from east to west, its absolutely unbroken snow gleaming like satin, and shadows lying upon it in pure blue. Many servants and a large fire awaited us in that pleasant bungalow, as well as coffee and sweetmeats, and we stayed there till the sinking sun flushed all the surrounding hills with pink, and the gray twilight came on.

I rode a splendid Arab, with a neck “clothed with thunder,” a horse to make one feel young again, with his elastic stride and pride of bearing, but indeed I “snatched a fearful joy,” for the snow was extremely slippery, and thirteen Arab horses in high condition restrained to a foot’s pace had belligerent views of their own, tending to disconcert an unwary rider. We crossed the Karasu by a deep and devious ford up to the girths, and had an exhilarating six miles’ ride by moonlight in keen frost, the powdery snow crackling under the horses’ feet. It was too slippery to enter the town on horseback, but servants with lanterns awaited us at the gates and roaring fires and dinner were ready here, after a delightful expedition.

I dined alone with our host, Hadji, who understands and speaks English fairly well, acting as interpreter. Abdul Rahim at once plunged into politics, and asked very many intelligent questions about English politics and parties, the condition and housing of our working classes, and then about my own family and occupations. He is a zealous Moslem, and the pious phrases which sit so oddly on Hadji come very naturally from his lips. In reply to a sketch of character which I gave him he said: “What God does is good. He knows, we submit. He of whom you speak laid up great treasure for another life. Whoso loves and befriends the poor is acceptable to God. One day we shall know all. God is good.” He said he had been too busy to learn English, but that he understands a great deal, and added, with a roguish gleam lighting up his whole face, and a very funny laugh, “And I hear what M—— says.” He has seen but very few English ladies, and it shows great quickness of apprehension that he should never fail in the respectfulness and quiet courteous attentions which would be shown to a lady by an English host.

Even after India, the quantity of servants employed in such a household as this is very impressive. Besides a number who are with the Vakil in Tihran, there are the nazr or steward, who under the master is supreme, cooks and their assistants, table servants, farāshes, who are sweepers and message-runners, in any number, pipe-bearers, coffee and ice-makers, plate-cleaners, washermen, lamp-cleaners, who are also lantern-bearers, a head groom, with a groom for each horse under him, and a number more, over forty in all, receiving, if paid at the usual rate of wages in Kirmanshah, which is a cheap place, from sixty krans a month down to twenty, the kran being now about 8d. These wages do not represent the actual gains of a servant, for he is entitled to perquisites, which are chiefly in the form of commissions on things bought and sold by his master, and which are regarded as legitimate if they do not exceed 10 per cent. It is of no use to fight again this “modakel,” or to vex one’s soul in any way about it. Persians have to submit to it as well as Europeans. Hadji has endeavoured to extract from 50 to 80 per cent on purchases made by him for me, but this is thought an outrage.

This modakel applies to all bargains. If a charvadar (no longer a katirgi) is hired, he has to pay one’s servant 10 per cent on the contract price. If I sell a horse, my servant holds out for a good price, and takes his 10 per cent, and the same thing applies to a pair of shoes, or a pound of tea, or a chicken, or a bottle of milk. The system comes down from the highest quarters. The price paid by the governor of a province to the Shah is but the Shah’s modakel, and when a governor farms the taxes for 60,000 tumans and sells them for 80,000, the difference is his modakel, and so it goes on through all official transactions and appointments, and is a fruitful source of grinding oppression, and of inefficiency in the army and other departments. The servant, poor fellow, may stop at 10 per cent, but the Shah’s servant may think himself generous if he hesitates at 50 per cent. I have heard it said that when the late Shah was dying he said to the present sovereign: “If you would sit long upon the throne, see that there is only one spoon among ten men,” and that the system represented by this speech is faithfully carried out.

I. L. B.

15 I had the pleasure of seeing Agha Hassan at the British Legation at Tihran. He is charming, both in appearance and manner, a specimen of the highest type of Arab good breeding, with a courteous kindliness and grace of manner, and is said to have made a very favourable impression when he went to England lately to be made a C.M.G. Both father and son wear the Arab dress, in plain colours but rich materials, with very large white turbans of Damascus embroidery in gold silk, and speak only Arabic and Persian.

16 A journey of nine months in Persia, chiefly in the west and north-west, convinced me that this aspect of ruin and decay is universal.

17 The reader curious as to this and other customs of modern Persia should read Dr. Wills’s book, The Land of the Lion and the Sun.

18 A rug only eight feet by five feet was given me by a Persian in Tihran, which was valued for duty at Erzerum at £3 the square yard, with the option of selling it to the Custom-house at that price, which implies that its value is from 70s. to 80s. per yard. It has a very close pile, nearly as short and fine as velvet.

19 For the Sasanian inscriptions, vide Early Sasanian Inscriptions, by E. Thomas. The great work published by the French Government, Voyage en Perse, Paris, 1851, by Messieurs Flandin et Coste, contains elaborate and finely-executed representations of these rock sculptures, which are mostly of the time of the later Sasanian monarchs.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52