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Full text of "A year amongst the Persians; impressions as to the life, character, and thought of the people of Persia, received during twelve month's residence in that country in the years 1887-8"

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"7^ 



H'ih 



A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



1 



y 



A YEAR 



AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



IMPRESSIONS AS TO THE LIFE, CHARACTER, AND THOUGHT OF 

THE PEOPLE OF PERSIA, RECEIVED DURING TWELVE 

MONTHS' RESIDENCE IN THAT COUNTRY 

IN THE YEARS 1887-8 



BY 

EDWAED G. BEOWNE, M.A., M.B. 

FELLOW OF PEMBROKE COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, AND LECTURER IN PERSIAN TO THE 

UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE 

TRANSLATOR OF ' A TRAVELLER'S NARRATIVE WRITTEN TO ILLUSTRATE THE EPISODE OF THE bIb ' 

AND OF THE ' NEW HISTORY OF MfRZA Aht MUHAMMAD THE BAB. 




LONDON 

ADAM AND CHAELES BLACK 

1893 



EXOEDIUM 

(Dedicated to the Persian Eeader only) 

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Forgiving 

Praise be to God, the Maker of Land and Sea, the Lord of " ^BE,' and it 
shall be" :^ Who brought me forth from the place of my birth, obedient 
to His saying, " Journey through the Earth " : ^ Who guarded me from the 
dangers of the ivaij with the shield of " No fear shall be upon them and no 
dismay " ; ^ Who caused me to accomplish my quest and thereafter to return 
and rest, after I had beheld the wonders of the East and of the West ! 

But Afterwards. Thus saith the humblest and umoorthiest of His 
servants, who least descrvcth His Bounty, and most necdeth His Clemency 
(may God forgive his failing and heal his ailing !) : When from Kirmdn 
and the confines of Bam I had returned again to the city on the Gam, and 
ceased for a while to tvander, and began to muse and ponder on the lands 
where I had been and the marvels I had therein seen, and hovj in pursuit 
of knowledge I had foregone the calm seclusion of college, and through days 
vmrm and weary, and nights dark and dreary, now hungry and now 
athirst I had tasted, of the best and of the ivorst, experiencing hot and cold, 
and holding converse with young and old, and had climbed the mountain 
and crossed the waste now slowly and now with haste, until I had made 
an end of toil, and set my foot upon my native soil ; then, ivishful to 
imimrt the gain which I had won with labour and harvested loith pain 
{for " Travel is trcovail " "^ sag the sages), I resolved to write these p)ages, 
and, taking ink and pen, to impart to my fcllo%v-men what I had witnessed 
and understood of things evil and, gnod. 

Now seeing that to fail and fall is the fate of all, and to claim 
exemption from the lot of humanity a proof of pride and vanity, and 
somewhat of mercy our common need ; therefore let such as read, and errors 
detect, either ignore and neglect, or correct and conceal tlvem rather than 
revile and reveal them. For he is lenient who is wise, and from his brother'' s 
failings averts his eyes, being loath to hurt or harm, nay, meeting bane with 
halm. Wa's-SAlAm. 

^ Kur'dn, ii, 111 ; iii, 42, etc. - Kur'au, yi, 11 ; xxvii, 71, etc. 

^ Kur 'fin, ii, 36, 59, 106, etc. 

■* So Burton has well translated the Arabic proverb: '' Es-scferu hit' at"-" 
mina 's-sakar." ("Travel is a portion of hell-fire.") 



I 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

Introductory ...... 1 



CHAPTEE II 

From England to the Persian Frontier . . . 17 

CHAPTER III 

From the Persian Frontier to TabrIz ... 46 

CHAPTER IV 

From TABRfz to Teheran . . . . .65 

CHAPTER V 
Teheran ....... 83 

CHAPTER VI 

Mysticism, Metaphysic, and Magic . . . .122 



viii .-/ YF.AR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



LUArTER VII 

rAfiE 

From TeiiekXn to Isfahan. . . . .154 



CHAPTER VIII 
IsfahXn ....... 199 

CHAPTER IX 
From Isfahan to SHfRiz . . . . .220 

CHAPTER X 
Shiraz ...... 263 

CHAPTER XI 

ShIraz (cojitinued) . . . . . .298 

CHAPTER XII 
From SnfRAZ to Yezd . . . , .338 

CHAPTER XIII 
^^^^ •••■•.. 363 

CHAPTER XIV 
Yezd (continued) • • . . . 304 



CONTENTS ix 



CHAPTER XV 



PAGE 

From Yezd to Kirman . . . .' .418 



CHAPTER XVI 

Kirman Society . . . . . .434 

CHAPTER XVH 

Amongst the Kalandars . . . . . . 486 

CHAPTER XVHI 

From Kirman to England . . . . .540 



CHAPTEE I 



INTRODUCTORY 



" El-' ilmio 'ilmdn: 'ilmu 'l-adyan, wa 'ibnu 'l-abddii." 
" Science is twofold : Theology, and Medicine." 

I HAVE SO often been asked how I first came to occupy myself 
with the study of Eastern languages that I have decided to devote 
the opening chapter of this book to answering this question, 
and to describing as succinctly as possible the process by which, 
not without difficulty and occasional discouragement, I suc- 
ceeded, ere ever I set foot in Persia, in obtaining a sufficient 
I mastery over the Persian tongue to enable me to employ it 
with some facility as an instrument of conversation, and to 
explore with pleasure and profit the enchanted realms of its 
vast and varied literature. I have not arrived at this decision 
without some hesitation and misuivino- for I do not wish to 
obtrude myself unnecessarily on the attention of my readers, 
and one can hardly be autobiographical without running the 
risk of being egotistical. But then the same thing applies 
with equal force to all descriptions intended for publication of 
any part of one's personal experiences — such, for instance, as 
one's own travels. Believing that the observations, impressions, 
and experiences of my twelve months' sojourn in Persia during 
the years 1887-8 may be of interest to others besides myself, I 
have at length determined to publish them. It is too late now 
to turn squeamish about the use of the pronoun of the first 
person. I will be as sparing of its use as I can, but use it 
I must. 



-•/ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



\ ini;^'lit, iiuleiHl, have given to this book the form of a 
systematic treatise on Persia, a phan which for some time I did 
actually entertain ; but against this plan three reasons finally 
decided me. First! i/, that my publishers expressed a preference 
for the narrative form, which, they believed, would render the 
book more readable. Secondly, that for the more ambitious 
project of writing a systematic treatise I did not feel myself 
prepared and could not prepare myself without the expenditure 
of time only to be obtained by the sacrifice of other work 
which seemed to me of greater importance. Thirdly, that the 
recent publication of the Hon. U. N. Curzon's encyclopedic 
work on Persia will for some time to come prevent any similar 
attempt on the part of any one else who is not either remark- 
ably rash or exceedingly well-informed. Moreover the question 
" Wiiat first made you take up Persian ? " when addressed to 
an Englishman who is neither engaged in, nor destined for, an 
Eastern career deserves an answer. In France, Germany, or 
Kussia such a question would hardly be asked ; but in England 
a knowledge of Eastern languages is no stepping-stone to 
diplomatic employment in Eastern countries ; and though there 
exist in the Universities and the British Museum posts more 
desirable than this to the student of Oriental languages, such 
posts are few, and, when vacant, hotly competed for. In spite 
of every discouragement, there are, I rejoice to say, almost 
every year a few young Englishmen who, actuated solely by 
love of knowledge and desire to extend the frontiers of science 
in a domain which still contains vast tracts of unexplored 
country, devote themselves to this study. To them too often 
have I had to repeat the words of warning given to me by my 
honoured friend and teacher, the late Dr. William Wright, an 
Arabic scholar whom not Cambridge or England only, but 
Europe, mourns with heart-felt sorrow and remembers with 
legitimate pride. It was in the year 1884, so fr.r as I re- 
member; I was leaving Cambridge with mingled feelings of 
sorrow and of hope : sorrow, because I was to bid farewell (for 
ever, as I then expected) to the University and the College 
to which I owe a debt of gratitude beyond the power of 
words to describe ; hope, because the honours I had just gained 
in the Indian Languages Tripos made me sanguine of obtaining 



INTRODUCTORY 



some employment which would enable me to pursue with 
advantage and success a study to which I was devotedly 
attached, and which even medicine (for which I was then 
destined), with all its charms and far-reaching interests, could 
not rival in my affections. This hope, in answer to an inquiry 
as to what I intended to do on leaving Cambridge, I one day 
confided to Dr. Wright. No one, as I well knew, could better 
sympathise with it or gauge its chances of fulfilment, and from 
no one could I look for kinder, wiser, and more prudent counsel. 
And this was the advice he gave me — " If," said he, " you have 
private means which render you independent of a profession, 
then pursue your Oriental studies, and fear not that they will 
disappoint you, or fail to return you a rich reward of happiness 
and honour. But if you cannot afford to do this, and are 
obliged to consider how you may earn a livelihood, then devote 
yourself wholly to medicine, and abandon, save as a relaxation 
for your leisure moments, the pursuit of Oriental letters. The 
posts for which such knowledge will fit you are few, and, for 
the most part, poorly endowed, neither can you hope to obtain 
them till you have worked and waited for many years. And 
from the Government you must look for nothing, for it has long- 
shown, and still continues to show, an increasing indisposition 
to offer the slightest encouragement to the study of Eastern 
languages." 

A rare piece of good fortune has in my case falsified a pre- 
diction of which Dr. Wright himself, though I knew it not till 
long afterwards, did all in his power to avert the accomplish- 
ment ; but in general it still holds true, and I write these words, 
not for myself, but for those young English Orientalists whose 
disappointments, struggles, and unfulfilled, though legitimate, 
hopes I have so often been compelled to watch with keen but 
impotent sorrow and sympathy. Often I reflect with bitterness 
that England, though more directly interested in the East than 
any other European country save Eussia, not only offers less 
encouragement to her sons to engage in the study of Oriental 
languages than any other great European nation, but can find 
no employment even for those few who, notwithstanding every 
discouragement, are impelled by their own inclination to this 
study, and who, by diligence, zeal, and natural aptitude, attain 



A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



proncioncy tlu'ivin. ITow different is it in Franco ! There, 
not to mention the more aeademic and itiirely scicnitihc conrses 
of leotnres on Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Zend, I'ehlevi, Persian, 
Sanskrit, and on Egyptian, Assyrian, and Semitic arch;eology 
and phikilogy, delivered reguhirly by savants of European 
reputation at the College de France and the Sorbonne (all of 
which lectures are freely open to persons of either sex and any 
nationality), there is a special school of Oriental languages 
(now within a year or two of its centenary) where practical 
instruction of the best imaginable kind is given (also gratui- 
tously) by European professors, assisted in most cases by native 
rcpHitcnrs, in literary and colloquial Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 
Malay, Javanese, Armenian, Modern Greek, Chinese, Japanese, 
Annamite, Hindustani, Tamil, liussian, and Eoumanian, as well 
as in the geography, history, and jurisprudence of the states of 
the extreme East. To these lectures (the best, I repeat, with- 
out fear of contradiction, which can be imagined) any student, 
French or foreign, is admitted free of charge. And any student 
who has followed them diligently for three years, and passed 
the periodical examinations to the satisfaction of his teachers, 
provided that he be a French subject, may confidently reckon 
on receiving sooner or later from the Government such employ- 
ment as his tastes, training, and attainments have fitted him 
for. The manifold advantages of this admirable system, alike 
to the State and the individual, must be obvious to the most 
obtuse, and need no demonstration. All honour to France for 
the signal services which she has rendered to the cause of 
learning ! May she long maintain that position of eminence 
in science which she has so nobly won, and which she so 
deservedly occupies ! And to vis English, too, may she become, 
in this respect at least, an exemplar and a pattern ! 

Now, having unburdened my mind on this matter, I will 
recount briefly how I came to devote myself to the study of 
Oriental languages. I was originally destined to become an 
engineer ; and therefore, partly because — at any rate sixteen 
years ago — the teaching of the " modern side " was still in a 
most rudimentary state, partly because I most eagerly desired 
emancipation from a life entirely uncongenial to me, I left 
school at the age of fifteen and a half, with little knowledge and 



INTRODUCTORY 5 



less love of Latin and Greek. I have since then learned better 
to appreciate the value of these languages, and to regret the 
slenderness of my classical attainments. Yet the method 
according to which they are generally taught in English public 
schools is so unattractive, and, in my opinion, so inefficient, 
that had I been subjected to it much longer I should probably 
have come to loathe all foreign languages, and to shudder at 
the very sight of a grammar. It is a good thing for the student 
of a language to study its grammar when he has learned to 
read and understand it, just as it is a good thing for an artist 
to study the anatomy of the human body when he has learned 
to sketch a figure or catch the expression of a face ; but for 
one to seek to obtain mastery over a language by learning rules 
of accidence and syntax is as though he should regard the 
dissecting-room as the single and sufficient portal of entrance to 
the Academy. How little a knowledge of grammar has to do 
with facility in the use of language is shown by the fact that 
comparatively few have studied the grammar of that language 
over which they have the greatest mastery, while amongst all 
the Latin and Greek scholars in this country those who could 
make an extempore speech, dash off an impromptu note, or 
carry on a sustained conversation in either language, are in a 
small minority. 

Then, amongst other evil things connected with it, is the 
magnificent contempt for all non-English systems of pronuncia- 
tion which the ordinary public-school system of teaching Latin 
and Greek encourages. Granted that the pronunciation of 
Greek is very different in the Athens of to-day from what it 
was in the time of Plato or Euripides, and that Cicero would 
not understand, or would understand with difficulty, the Latin 
of the Vatican, does it follow that both languages should be 
pronounced exactly like English, of all spoken tongues the 
most anomalous in pronunciation ? What should we think of 
a Chinaman who, because he was convinced that the pronuncia- 
tion of English in the fourteenth century differed widely from 
that of the nineteenth, deliberately elected to read Chaucer 
with the accent and intonation of Chinese ? If Latin and 
Greek alone were concerned it would not so much matter, but 
the influence of this doctrine of pan-Anglican pronunciation 



A YEAR A.VONGST THE PERSIANS 



too often extends to French and rferman as well. The s])iril 
engendered by it is finely di.si)layed in Miese two sayinj^s wliicli 
I roinenihor to have heard repeated — " Anyone can understand 
English if they choose, ])n)vided you talk loud enough." 
" Always mistrust an Englishman who talks French like a 
Frenchman." 

Apart from the general failure to invest the books read 
with any human, historical, or literary interest, or to treat 
them as expressions of the thoughts, feelings, and aspirations 
of our fellow-creatures instead of as grammatical tread-mills, 
there is another reason why the public -school system of 
teaching languages commonly fails to impart much useful 
knowledge of them. When any intelligent being who is a 
free acreut wishes to obtain an efficient knowledge of a foreij^n 
language as quickly as possible, how does he proceed ? He 
begins with an easy text, and first obtains the general sense of 
each sentence and the meaning of each particular word from 
his teacher. In default of a teacher, he falls back on the best 
available substitute, namely, a good translation and a dictionary. 
Looking out words in a dictionary is, however, mere waste of 
time, if their meaning can be ascertained in any other way ; 
so that he will use this means only when compelled to do so. 
Having ascertained the meaning of each word, he will note it 
down either in the margin of the book or elsewhere, so that 
he may not have to ask it or look it out again. Then he will 
read the passage which he has thus studied over and over 
again, if possible aloud, so that tongue, ear, and mind may be 
simultaneously familiarised with the new instrument of thought 
and communication of which he desires to possess himself, 
until he perfectly understands the meaning without mentally 
translating it into Enuiish, and until the foreic^n words, no 
longer strange, evoke in his mind, not their English equivalents, 
but the ideas which they connote. This is the proper way to 
learn a language, and it is opposed at almost every point to 
the public-school method, which regards the use of " cribs " as 
a deadly sin, and substitutes parsing and construing for reading 
and understanding. 

Notwithstanding all this, I am well aware that the 
advocates of this method have in their armoury another and a 



INTRODUCTORY 



more potent argument. " A boy does not go to scliool," say 
they, " to learn Latin and Greek, but to learn to confront 
disagreeable duties with equanimity, and to do what is 
distasteful to him with cheerfulness." To this I have nothing 
to say ; it is unanswerable and final. If boys are sent to 
school to learn what the word disagreeable means, and to 
realise that the most tedious monotony is perfectly compatible 
with the most acute misery, and that the most assiduous 
labour, if it be not wisely directed, does not necessarily secure 
the attainment of the object ostensibly aimed at, then, indeed, 
does the public school offer the surest means of attaining this 
end. The most wretched day of my life, except the day when 
I left college, was the day I went to school. During the 
earlier portion of my school life I believe that I nearly 
fathomed the possibilities of human misery and despair. I 
learned then (what I am thankful to say I have unlearned 
since) to be a pessimist, a misanthrope, and a cynic ; and I 
have learned since, what I did not understand then, that to 
know by rote a quantity of grammatical rules is in itself not 
much more useful than to know how often each letter of the 
alphabet occurs in Paradim Lost, or how many separate stones 
went to the building of the Great Pyramid.^ 

It was the Turkish war with Eussia in 1877-8 that first 
attracted my attention to the East, about which, till that time, 
I had known and cared nothing. To the young, war is always 
interesting, and I watched the progress of this struggle with 
eager attention. At first my proclivities were by no means 
for the Turks ; but the losing side, more especially when it 
continues to struggle gallantly against defeat, always has a 
claim on our sympathy, and moreover the cant of the anti- 
Turkish party in England, and the wretched attempts to 
confound questions of abstract justice with party politics, 
disgusted me beyond measure. Ere the close of the war I 

■^ Many of my readers, even of those who may be inclined to agree with me as 
to the desirability of modifying the teaching of our public schools, will blame me 
for expressing myself so strongly. The value of a public-school education in the 
development of character cannot be denied, and in the teaching also great 
improvements have, I believe, been made within the last ten or fifteen years. 
But as far as my own experience goes, I do not feel that I have spoken at all too 
strongly. 



8 A yi:AR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

woulil lirtve ilied to save Turkey, and I mourned the fall of 
riovna as tliou^h it had boon a disaster indicted on my own 
country. And so gradually pity turned to admiration, and 
admiration to enthusiasm, until tlie Turks became in my eyes 
veritable heroes, and the desire to identify myself with tlicir 
cause, make my dwelling amongst tliem, and unite with them 
in the defence of their land, possessed me heart and soul. At 
the age of sixteen such enthusiasm more easily estal dishes 
itself in the heart, and, while it lasts (for it often fades as 
quickly as it bloomed), exercises a more absolute and un- 
controlled sway over the mind than at a more advanced age. 
Even though it be transitory, its effects (as in my case) may 
be permanent. 

So now my whole ambition came to be this : how I might 
become in time an officer in the Turkish army. And the 
plan which I proposed to myself was to enter first the 
English army, to remain there till I had learned my pro- 
fession and attained the rank of captain, then to resign my 
commission and enter the service of the Ottoman Government, 
which, as I understood, gave a promotion of two grades, vSo 
wild a project will doubtless move many of my readers to 
mirth, and some to indignation, but, such as it was, it was for 
a time paramount in my mind, and its influence outlived it. 
Its accomplishment, however, evidently needed time ; and, as 
my enthusiasm demanded some immediate object, I resolved 
at once to begin the study of the Turkish language. 

Few of my readers, probably, have had occasion to embark 
on this study, or even to consider what steps they would take 
if a desire to do so suddenly came upon them. I may 
therefore here remark that for one not resident in the 
metropolis it is far from easy to discover anything about the 
Tui-kish language, and almost impossible to find a teacher. 
However, after much seeking and many enquiries, I succeeded 
in obtaining a copy of Barker's Turldsh Grammar. Into this 
I plunged with enthusiasm. I learned Turkish verbs in the 
old school fashion, and blundered through the " Pleasantries of 
Ellioja Nasru'd-Din Efendi " ; but so ignorant was I, and so 
involved is the Ottoman construction, that it took me some 
time to discover that the language is written from right to 



INTRODUCTORY 



left; while, true to the pan -Anglican system on which I have 
already animadverted, I read my Turkish as though it had 
been English, pronouncing, for example, the article hir and the 
substantive her exactly the same, and as though both, instead 
of neither, rhymed with the English words fir and fur. And 
so I bungled on for a while, making slow but steady progress, 
and wasting much time, but with undiminished enthusiasm ; 
for which I was presently rewarded by discovering a teacher. 
This was an Irisli clergyman, who had, I believe, served as 
a private in the Crimean War, picked up some Turkish, 
attracted attention by his proficiency in a language of which 
very few Englishmen have any knowledge, and so gained 
employment as an interpreter. After the war he was 
ordained a clergyman of the Church of England, and remained 
for some years at Constantinople as a missionary. I do not 
know how his work prospered ; but if he succeeded in winning 
from the Turks half the sympathy and love with which they 
inspired him, his success must have been great indeed. When 
I discovered him, he had a cure of souls in the Consett iron- 
district, having been driven from his last parish by the 
resentment of his flock (Whigs, almost to a man), which he 
had incurred by venturing publicly to defend the Turks at a 
time when they were at the very nadir of unpopularity, and 
when the outcry about the " Bulgarian atrocities " was at its 
height. So the very religious and humane persons who 
composed his congregation announced to his vicar their in- 
tention of withdrawing their subscriptions and support from 
the church so long as the " Bashi-bozouk " (such, as he 
informed me, not without a certain pride, was the name they 
had given him) occupied its pulpit. So there was nothing for 
it but that he should go. Isolated in the uncongenial 
environment to which he was transferred, he was, I think, 
almost as eager to teach me Turkish as I was to learn it, and 
many a pleasant hour did I pass in his little parlour listening 
with inexhaustible delight to the anecdotes of his life in 
Constantinople which he loved to tell. Peace be to his 
memory ! He died in Africa, once more engaged in mission 
work, not long after I went to Cambridge. 

One of the incidental charms of Orientalism is the kind- 



lo A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

ness and syin]>;ithy often sliowii l)y scholars of the greatest 
ilistinction and the higlicst attainments to the young beginner, 
even when he has no introcUiction save the pass -word of a 
connnon and niueh-loved pursuit. Of tliis I can recall many 
instances, but it is suilicient to mention the first in my 
experience. Expecting to be in, or within reach of, London 
for a time, I was anxious to improve the occasion by 
prosecuting my Turkish studies (for the " Bashi-bozouk " had 
recently left Consett for Hull), and to this end wished to find 
a proficient teacher. As I knew not how else to set al)out 
this, I finally, and somewhat audaciously, determined to write 
to the late Sir James (then Mr.) Eedhouse (whose name the 
study of his valuable writings on the Ottoman language had 
made familiar to me as that of a patron saint), asking for his 
advice and help. This letter I addressed to the care of his 
publishers ; and in a few days I received, to my intense 
delight, a most kind reply, in which he, the first Turkish 
scholar in Europe probably, not only gave me all the informa- 
tion I required, but invited me to pay him a visit whenever I 
came to London, an invitation of which, as may be readily 
believed, I availed myself at the earliest possible opportunity. 
And so gradually I came to know others who were able and 
willing to help me in my studies, including several Turkish 
gentlemen attached to the Ottoman Embassy in London, from 
some of whom I received no little kindness. 

But if my studies prospered, it was otherwise with the 
somewhat chimerical project in which they had originated. 
My father did not wish me to enter the army, but proposed 
medicine as an alternative to engineering. As the former 
profession seemed more compatible with my aspirations than 
the latter, I eagerly accepted his offer. A few days after this 
decision had been arrived at, he consulted an eminent 
physician, who was one of his oldest friends, as to my future 
education. " If you wanted to make your son a doctor," said 
my father, " where would you send him ? " And the answer, 
given without a moment's hesitation, was, " To Cambridge." 

So to Cambridge I went in October 1879, which date 
marks for me the beginning of a new and most happy era of 
life; for I suppose that a man who cannot be happy at the 



INTRO D UCTOR V 1 1 



University must be incapable of happiness. Here my medical 
studies occupied, of course, the major part of my time and 
attention, and that right pleasantly ; for, apart from their 
intrinsic interest, the teaching was masterly, and even subjects 
at first repellent can be made attractive when taught by a 
master possessed of grasp, eloquence, and enthusiasm, just as a 
teacher who lacks these qualities will make the most interesting 
subjects appear devoid of charm. Yet still I found time to 
devote to Eastern languages. Turkish, it is true, was not then 
to be had at Cambridge ; but 1 had already discovered that for 
further progress in this some knowledge of Arabic and Persian 
was requisite ; and to these I determined to turn my attention. 
During my first year I therefore began to study Arabic with 
the late Professor Palmer, whose extraordinary and varied 
abilities are too well known to need any celebration on my 
part. No man had a higher ideal of knowledge in the matter 
of languages, or more original (and, as I believe, sounder) views 
as to the method of learning them. These views I have already 
set forth substantially and summarily ; and I will therefore say 
no more about them in this place, save tliat I absorbed them 
greedily, and derived from them no small advantage, learning 
by their application more of Arabic in one term than I had 
learned of Latin or Greek during five and a half years, and 
this notwithstanding the fact that I could devote to it only a 
small portion of my time. 

I becran Persian in the Long Vacation of 1880. Neither 
Professor Palmer nor Professor Cowell was resident in 
Cambridge at that time ; but I obtained the assistance of an 
undergraduate of Indian nationality, who, tliough the son of 
Hindoo parents converted to Christianity, had an excellent 
knowledge not only of Persian and Sanskrit, but of Arabic. 
To this knowledge, which was my admiration and envy, he for 
his part seemed to attach little importance ; all his pride was 
in playing the fiddle, on which, so far as I could judge, he was 
a very indifferent performer. But as it gave him pleasure to 
have a listener, a kind of tacit iTuderstanding grew up that 
when he had helped me for an hour to read the Gulistdn, I in 
return should sit and listen for a while to his fiddling, which I 
did with such appearance of pleasure as I could command. 



12 .-/ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

For two years after tliis — tliat is to say, till I took my 
dciirec — such work as 1 did in Persian and Arabic was done 
chietly by myself, though I managed to run up to London for 
au afternoon once a fortnight or so for a Turkish lesson, till 
the Lent term of 1881, when the paramount claims of that 
most exacting of taskmasters, the river, took from me for some 
weeks the right to call my afternoons my own. And when 
the Lent races were over, I had to think seriously about my 
approaching tripos ; while a promise made to me by my father, 
that if I succeeded in passing both it and the examination for 
the second M.Ij. at the end of my third year {i.e. in June 
1882), I should spend two months of the succeeding Long 
Vacation in Constantinople, determined me to exert all my 
efforts to win this dazzling bribe. This resolution cost me a 
good deal, but I was amply rewarded for my self-denial when, 
in July 1882, I at length beheld the minarets of Stamboul, 
and heard the Muezzin call the true believers to prayer. I 
have heard people express themselves as disappointed with 
Constantinople. I suppose that, wherever one goes, one sees in 
great measure what one expects to see (because there is good 
and evil in all things, and the eye discerns but one when the 
mind is occupied by a pre-conceived idea) ; but I at least 
suffered no disenchantment, and returned to England with my 
enthusiasm for the East not merely undiminished, but, if 
possible, intensified. 

The two succeeding years were years of undiluted pleasure, 
for I was still at Cambridge, and was now able to devote my 
whole time to the study of Oriental languages. As I intended 
to become a candidate for the Indian Languages Tripos in 1884, 
I was obliged to begin the study of Hindustani, a language 
from which I never could succeed in deriving much pleasure. 
During this period I became acquainted with a very learned 
but very eccentric old Persian, Mirza Muhammad Bakir, of 
Bawanat in Ears, surnamed Ibrahim Jdn Mu attar. Having 
wandered through half the world, learned (and learned w^ell) 
half-a-dozen languages, and been successively a Shi'ite 
Muhammadan, a dervish, a Christian, an atheist, and a Jew, 
he had finished by elaborating a religious system of his own, 
which he called " Islamo- Christianity," to the celebration (I 



INTRODUCTORY 



can hardly say the ehiciclation) of which iu English tracts and 
Persian poems, composed in the most lizarre style, he devoted 
the greater part of his time, talents, and money. He was in 
every way a most remarkable man, and one whom it was 
impossible not to respect and like, in S23ite of his appalling 
loquacity, his unreason, his disputatiousness, his utter impractica- 
bility. I never saw anyone who lived so entirely in a fantastic 
ideal world of his own creation. He was totally indifferent 
to his own temporal interests ; cared nothing for money, personal 
comfort, or the favour of the powerful ; and often alienated his 
acquaintances by violent attacks on their most cherished 
beliefs, and drove away his friends by the ceaseless torrent of 
his eloquence. He lived in a squalid little room in Limehouse, 
surrounded by piles of dusty books, mostly theological treatises 
in Persian and Arabic, with a sprinkling of Hebrew and 
English volumes, amongst which last Carlyle's Sartor Mcsartus 
and Heroes and Ilcro-Worshij) occupied the place of honour. 
Of these, however, he made but little use, for he generally 
wrote when alone, and talked when he could get anyone to 
listen to him. I tried to persuade him to read with me those 
portions of the Masnavi and the Divan of Hdfiz set for my 
examination, and offered to remunerate him for his trouble ; 
but this plan failed on its first trial. We had not read for 
twenty minutes when he suddenly pushed away the Hdfiz, 
dragged out from a drawer in the rickety little table a pile of 
manuscript, and said, " I like my own poetry better than this, 
and if you want me to teach you Persian you must learn it as 
I x^lease. I don't want your money, but I do want you to 
understand my thoughts about religion. You can understand 
Hafiz by yourself, but you cannot understand my poetry 
unless I explain it to you." This was certainly true : allusions 
to grotesque visions in which 'figured grass-eating lions, bears, 
yellow demons, Gog and Magog, " Crusaders," and Hebrew and 
Arab patriarchs, saints, and warriors, were jumbled up with 
current politics, personal reminiscences. Rabbinic legends, 
mystical rhapsodies, denunciations, prophecies, old Persian 
mythology, Old Testament theology, and Kur'anic exegesis in a 
manner truly bewildering, the whole being clothed in a Persian 
so quaint, so obscure, and so replete with rare, dialectical, and 



14 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

foreign words, that many verses were incomprehensible even to 
educated IVrsians, to whom, for the most part, tlie " Little Sun 
of Loudon" {Sliumcysa-i-Landaniyya — so he called tlie longest 
of his published poems) was a source of terror. One of my 
Persian friends (for I made acquaintance about this time with 
several young Persians who were studying in London) would 
never consent to visit me until he had received an assurance 
that the poet-prophet-philosopher of Bawan;it would be out of 
the way. I, however, by dint of long listening and much 
patience, not without some weariness, learned from him much 
that was of value to me besides the correct Persian pronuncia- 
tion. For I had originally acquired from my Indian friend 
the erroneous and unlovely pronunciation current in India, 
which I now abandoned with all possible speed, believing the 
" French of Paris " to be preferable to the " French of Stratford 
atte Bowe." 

Towards the end of 1884 Mirza Bakir left London for 
the East with his surviving children, a daughter of about 
eighteen and a son of about ten years of age, both of whom 
had been brought up away from him in the Christian religion, 
and neither of whom knew any language but English. The 
girl's failing health (for she was threatened with consumption) 
was the cause of his departure. I had just left Cambridge, and 
entered at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, where I found my time 
and energies fully occupied with my new work. Tired as I 
often was, however, when I got away from the wards, I had to 
make almost daily pilgrimages to Limehouse, where I often 
remained till nearly midnight ; for Mirza Bakir refused to 
leave London till I had finished reading a versified commentary 
on the Kur'cin on which he had been engaged for some time, 
and of which he wished to bestow the manuscript on me as 
a keepsake. " My daughter will die," said he, " as the doctors 
tell me, unless she leaves for Beyrout in a short time, and it is 
you who prevent me from taking her there ; for I will not leave 
London until you have understood my book." Argument was 
useless with such a visionary ; so, willing or no, I had to spend 
every available hour in the little room at Limehouse, ever on 
the watch to check the interminable digressions to which the 
reading of the poem continually gave rise. At last it was 



INTRODUCTORY 15 



finished, and the very next day, if I remember rightly, Mirza 

Bakir started with his children for the East. I never saw him 

again, though I continued to correspond with him so long as 

he was at Beyrout, whence, I think, he was finally expelled by 

the Ottoman Government as a firebrand menacing the peace of 

the community. He then went with his son to Persia (his 

daughter had died previously at Beyrout), whence news of his 

death reached me a year or two ago. 

And now for three years (1884-87) it was only an 

occasional leisure hour that I could snatch from my medical 

studies for a chat with my Persian friends (who, though they 

knew English well for the most part, were kind enough to talk 

for my benefit their own language), or for quiet communing in 

the cool vaulted reading-room of the British Museum with my 

favourite Siifi writers, whose mystical idealism, which had long 

since cast its spell over my mind, now supplied me with a 

powerful antidote against the pessimistic tendencies evoked by 

the daily contemplation of misery and pain. This period was 

far from being an unhappy one, for my work, if hard, was full 

of interest ; and if in the hospital I saw much that was sad, 

much that made me wonder at man's clinging to life (since 

to the vast majority life seemed but a succession of pains, 

struggles, and sorrows), on the other hand I saw much to 

strengthen my faith in the goodness and nobility of human 

nature. Never before or since have I realised so clearly the 

immortality, greatness, and virtue of the spirit of man, or the 

misery of its earthly environment : it seemed to me like a 

prince in rags, ignorant alike of his birth and his rights, but to 

whom is reserved a glorious heritage. No wonder, then, that 

the Pantheistic idealism of the Masnavi took hold of me, or 

that such words as these of Hafiz thrilled me to the very 

soul : 

" Turd zi kungara-i- arsh mt-zanand safir: 
Na-ddnamat ki dar In khdkddn die uftddast." 

" They are calling to thee from the pinnacles of the throne of God : 
I know not what hath befallen thee in this dust-heap " (the world). 

Even my medical studies, strange as it may appear, favoured 
the development of this habit of mind ; for physiology, when 
it does not encourage materialism, encourages mysticism ; and 



l6 A YKAR AAfONGST THE PERSIANS 

nothing so mucli tends to shake one's faitli in tlie reality ol' 
the objective ^vol•ld as tlie exaniinalion of certain of" the 
subjective phenomena of mental and nervous disorders. 

r.ul now this period, too, uas drawing to a close, and my 
dreams of visiting Persia, even when tlicir accomplislnnent 
seemed most unlikely, were rapidly approaching fulfilment. 
The hopes with which I had left Cambridge had been damped 
by repeated disappointments. I had thought that the know- 
ledge I had acquired of Persian, Turkish, and Arabic might 
enable me to find employment in the Consular Service, but 
had learned from curt ofificial letters, referring me to printed 
official regulations, that this was not so, that these languages 
were not recognised as subjects of examination, and that not 
they, but German, Greek, Spanish, and Italian were the quali- 
ficatious by which one might hope to become a consul in 
Western Asia. The words of Dr. Wright's warning came 
back to me, and I acknowledged their justice. To my j)ro- 
fessional studies, I felt, and not to my linguistic attainments, 
must I look to earn my livelihood. 

I had passed my final examinations at the College of 
Surgeons, the College of Physicians, and the University of 
Cambridge, received from the two former, with a sense of 
exultation which I well remember, the diplomas authorising 
me to practise, and was beginning to consider what my next 
step should be, when the luck of which I had despaired came 
to me at last. Eeturning to my rooms on the evening of 
May 30, 1887, I found a telegram lying on the table. I 
opened it with indifference, which changed, in the moment 
I grasped its purport, to ecstatic joy. I had that day been 
elected a Fellow of my College. 



CHAPTEE II 

FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 

" Fa md adri, idhd yammamtu ardh"'^ 
Uridu 'l-khayra, ayyuhumd yal'ml : 
A'' al-khayru 'lladJii ana abtaghlhi, 
Ami 'sh-s7ia7TU 'lladhl huwa yabtarjhini." 

" And I know not, when bound for the land of my quest, if my portion shall be 
The good which I hope for and seek, or the evil that seeketh for me." 

— {Al-Muthakkibu' l-'Abdi. ) 

So at last I was really to go to Persia. About that there 
could be no question. For I had long determined to go if I 
got the chance ; and now, not only had the opportunity come, 
but, in view of the probability that the University would soon 
require a resident teacher of Persian, I was urged by my 
friends at Cambridge to spend the first year of my fellowship 
in the way which would best qualify me for this post. Yet, 
as the time for my departure approached, a strange shrinking 
from this journey which I had so much desired — a shrinking 
to which I look back with shame and wonder, and for which 
I can in no wise account — took possession of me. It arose 
partly, I suppose, from the sudden reaction which unexpected 
good fortune will at times produce ; partly, if not from ill 
health, at least from that lowering of the vitality which results 
from hard work and lack of exercise and fresh air ; partly 
also from the worry inseparable from the preparations for a 
long journey into regions little known. But, whatever its 
cause, it did much to mar my happiness at a time when I had 
no excuse for being otherwise than happy. At length, how- 
ever, it came to an end. Bewildered by conflicting counsels 



1 8 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

as to tlu' iviuipineiit which I shoiihl need and the route whicli 
T had best take, 1 at hist settled the matter hy bookintr niy 
jiassaj^e from IMarsoilles to l^atoinn at tlic T.ondon ofTice of tlie 
I^Iessageries IMaritinies, and by adding; tu the two sinall port- 
manteaus into which I had compressed so much clothing as 
appeared absolutely indisi^ensable nothing but a Wolseley 
valise, a saddle and hiiilK', a pith hat (which was broken to 
pieces long before the summer came round), a small medicine- 
chest, a few surgical instruments, a revolver, a box of a hun- 
dred cartridges, a few books, a passport with the Eussian and 
Turkish visas, and a money-belt containing about £200 in 
gold, paper, and circular notes. At the last moment I was 

joined by an old college friend, H , who, having just 

completed a term of office at the hospital, was desirous to 
travel, and whose proposal to join me I welcomed. He was 
my companion as far as Teheran, where, as I desired to tarry 
for a while, and he to proceed, we were obliged to separate. 

"VYe had booked our passage, as I have said, to Batoum, 
intending to take the train thence to Baku, and so by the 
Caspian to Kesht in Persia. For this route, unquestionably 
the shortest and easiest, I had from the first felt little liking, 
my own wish being to enter Persia through Turkey, either 
by way of Damascus and Baghdad, or of Trebizonde and 
Erzeroum. I had suffered myself to be persuaded against my 
inclinations, which, I think, where no question of principle is 
involved, is always a mistake, for the longer and harder way 
of one's own choosing is preferable to the shorter and easier 
way chosen by another. And so, as soon as I was withdrawn 
from the influences which had temporarily overcome my own 
judgment and inclination, I began to repent of having adopted 
an uncongenial plan, and to consider whether even now, at 
this eleventh hour, it was not possiljle to change. The sight 
of the Turkish shore and the sound of the Turkish tongue 
(for we stayed two days at Constantinople, whence to Trebi- 
zonde the deck of the steamer was crowded with Turks and 
Persians, with whom I spent the greater part of each day in 
conversing) swept away my last scruples as to the wisdom of 
thus reversing at the outset a decision which had been fully 
discussed. I consulted with H , who raised no objection ; 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 19 

and we decided ou reaching Trebizonde (where the steamer 
anchored on 4th October) to enquire at the British Consulate as 
to the safety and practicability of the old caravan road leading 
thence into Central Asia, and, if the report were favourable, 
to adopt that route. 

There was a heavy swell in the open roadstead, and the 
wind, which rolled back the rain-clouds on the green, thickly- 
wooded hills, seemed to be rising, as we clambered into one 
of the clumsy boats which hovered round the steamer to go 
ashore. Nor had the gruff old captain's answer to my enquiry 
as to how loner the steamer would lie there tended to reassure 
me. " If the wind gets up much more," he had said, " I may 
start at any time." " And if we are on shore," I demanded, 
" how shall we know that you are starting ?" " Vous me 
vcrrcz pai'tvr, voila tout^' he replied, and, with a shrug of his 
shoulders, walked off to his cabin. So I was somewhat un- 
easy in my mind lest, while we were conducting our enquiries 
ou shore, the steamer might put out to sea, bearing with it all 
our worldly goods. This disquieting reflection was dispelled 
by the shock of the boat striking against the little wooden 
jetty. We stepped out, and found ourselves confronted by one 
of the Turkish police, who demanded our passports. These 
had not been presented, as theoretically they should have 
been, at Constantinople for a fresh visa, and I feared we might 
consequently have some trouble in landing. However, I as- 
sumed an air of confident alacrity, produced the passports, and 
pointed to the seal of the Turkish Considate given in London. 
As the visa — " hon pour sc rendrc a Constantinople " — to which 
this was attached was in French, the officer was not much the 
wiser, and, after scrutinising the passports (which he held 
upside down) with a critical air, he returned them and stood 
aside to let us pass. And this is typical of Turkey, where the 
laws, though theoretically striugent, are not practically trouble- 
some ; in which point it has the advantage over Eussia. 

Guided by a boy belonging to our boat, w^e ascended 
through narrow, tortuous streets to the British Consulate, 
where, though unprovided with recommendations, we received 
from the Consul, Mr. Longworth, that courteous and kindly 
welcome which, to their honour be it said. Englishmen (and, 



20 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

iiuleeil, other luiropeans, as well as Americans) resident in the 
Turkish and Persian dominions seldom fail to give the traveller. 
In reply to our enquiries, he told us that the road to the Persian 
frontier was peri'ectly safe, and that we should have no 
ditUculty in hiring horses or mules to convey lis to Erzerouni, 
whence we could easily engage others for the journey to Tabriz. 
He also kindly offered to send his dragoman, an Armenian 
gentleman, named Hekimian, to assist us in clearing our 
ba£;£:ai:ce at the custom-house. So we returned to the steamer 
to bring it ashore. As we pushed our way through the deck- 
passengers to the side of the ship, some of my I'ersian 
acquaintances called out to me to tell them why I was 
disembarking and whither I was going, and, on learning my 
intention of taking the old caravan -road through Erzeroum, 
they cried, " 0, dear soul, it will take you three months to get 
to Teheran thus, if indeed you get there at all ! Why have 
you thus made your road difficult ? " But the step was 
taken now, and I paid no heed to their words. 

The custom-house, thanks to the fcgis of the British 
Consulate, dealt very gently with us. We were even asked, 
if I remember right, which of our packages we should prefer 

to have opened. H 's Wolseley valise Avas selected ; but 

we forgot that his rifle had been rolled up in it. The Turkish 
excisemen stroked their chins a little at this sight (for fire-arms 
are contraband), but said nothing. When this form of examina- 
tion was over we thanked the 7iiudir, or superintendent, for 
his courtesy, gave a few small coins to his subordinates, and, 
with the help of two or three sturdy porters, transported our 
luggage to the one hotel which Trebizonde possesses. It is called 
the " Hotel d'ltalie," and, though unpretentious, is clean and 
comfortable. During the three days we spent there we had 
no cause to complain either of being underfed or overcharged. 

Next morning our preparations began in earnest. Heki- 
mian was of inestimable service, arranging everything and accom- 
panying us everywhere. The Eussian paper-money with which 
we had provided ourselves for the earlier part of the journey 
was soon converted into Turkish gold ; tinned provisions and 
a few simple cooking utensils and other necessaries were bought 
in the bazaars; and arrangements were concluded with two sturdy 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 21 

muleteers for the journey to Erzeroum. They on their part 
agreed to provide us with five horses for ourselves and our 
baggage, to convey us to Erzeroum in six or seven days, and 
to do what lay in their power to render the journey pleasant ; 
while we on our part covenanted to pay them 6^ Turkish 
pounds (£3 down, and the remainder at Erzeroum), to which 
we promised to add a trifle if they gave us satisfaction. 

There remained a more important matter, the choice of a 
servant to accompany us on the journey. Two candidates 
presented themselves : an honest-looking old Turkish Kavvds 
of the Consulate, and a shifty Armenian, who, on the strength 
of his alleged skill in cookery, demanded exorbitantly high 
wages. We chose the Turk, agreeing to pay him one Turkish 
pound a week, to guarantee this payment for six months, 
and to defray his expenses back to Trebizonde from any point 
at which we might finally leave him. It was a rash agree- 
ment, and might have caused us more trouble than it actually 
did, but there seemed to be no better alternative, seeing that a 
servant was an absolute necessity. The old Turk's real name 
was 'Omar; but, having regard to the detestation in which 
this name is held in Persia (for he whom Sunnite Muhammad- 
ans account the second Caliph, or successor of the Prophet, is 
regarded by the sect of the Shi'a as the worst of evil-doers and 
usurpers),^ it was decided that he should henceforth bear the 
more auspicious name of 'All, the darling hero of the Persian 
Shi'ites. As for our old servant's character, viewed in the 
light of subsequent experience, I do him but justice when I 
express my conviction that a more honest, straightforward, 
faithful, loyal soul could not easily be found anywhere. But, 
on the other hand, he was rather fidgety; rather obstinate ; too 
old to travel in a strange country, adapt himself to new sur- 
roundings, and learn a new language ; and too simple to cope 
with the astute and wily Persians, whom, moreover, religious 
and national prejudices caused him ever to regard with uncon- 
querable aversion. 

^ The repetition of the following curse on the three first Caliphs of the 
Simnis is accounted by Persian Shi'ites as a pious exercise of singular virtue : 
"0 God, curse 'Omar: then Ahil Bekr and 'Omar: then 'OtJwidn and 'Omar: 
then 'Omar : then 'Omar ! " 



22 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

This business concluded, wc liad still to get our passports 
for the interior, llekiniian accompanied us to the Govern- 
ment olUccs, where, while a courteous old Turk entertained 
me with coffee and conversation, a shrewd-looking subordinate 
noted down the details of our personal appearance in the 
spaces reserved for that purpose on the passport. 1 was 
amused on receiving the document to find my religion de- 
scribed as "English" and my moustache as "fresh" (tcr)^ Ijut 
not alogether pleased at the entries in the " head " and " chin " 
columns, which respectively were ''toil" (bullet-shaped) and 
" dcyirmcn" (round). Before leaving the Government-house 
we paid our respects to Sururi Efendi, the governor of Trebi- 
zoude, one of the judges who tried and condenmed the wise 
and patriotic Midhat Pasha. He was a fine-looking old 
man, and withal courteous ; but he is reputed to be corrupt 
and bigoted. 

In the evening at the hotel we made tlie acquaintance of 
a Belgian mining-engineer, who had lived for some time in 
Persia. The account which he gave of that country and its 
inhabitants was far from encouraging. " I have travelled in 
many lands," he said, " and have discovered some good quali- 
ties in every people, with the exception of the Persians, in 
whom I have failed to find a single admirable characteristic. 
Their very language bears witness against them and exjDOses 
the sordidness of their minds. When they wish to thank you 
they say, ' Liitf-i-shumd ziydd,' ' May your kindness be in- 
creased,' that is, ' May you give me something more ' ; and 
when they desire to support an assertion with an oath they 
say ' Bi-jdn-i-'aziz-i-khudat,' ' By thy precious life,' or ' £i- 
marg-i-sJmmd,' ' By your death,' that is, ' May you die if I 
speak untruly.' ^ And they would be as indifferent to your 
death as to the truth of their own assertions." 

Although we were ready to start on the following day, we 
were prevented from doing so by a steady downpour of rain. 
Having completed all our arrangements, we paid a visit to the 

^ Apart from tlie doubtful justice of judging a people by the idioms of their 
language, it may be pointed out that, with regard to the two last expressions, 
they are based on the idea that to swear by one's own life or deatli would be to 
swear by a thing of little value compared to the life or death of a friend. 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 23 

Persian Consulate in company with Mr. Longworth. In answer 
to our enquiry as to whether our passports required his visa, 
the Persian Consul signified that this was essential, and, for 
the sum of one mcjicliyyi a- piece, endorsed each of them with a 
lengthy inscription so tastefully executed that it seemed a pity 
that, during the whole period of our sojourn in Persia, no one 
asked to see them. Though perfectly useless and unnecessary, 
the visa, as a specimen of calligraphy, was cheap at the price. 

Next day (Friday 7th October) the rain had ceased, and 
at an early hour we were plunged in the confusion without 
which, as it would seem, not even the smallest caravan can 
start. The muleteers, who had been urging us to hasten our 
preparations, disappeared so soon as everything was ready. 
When they had been found and brought back, it was dis- 
covered that no bridle had been provided for H 's horse ; 

for, though both of us had brought saddles from England, he 
had thought that it would be better to use a native bridle. 
Eventually one was procured, and, about 9 a.m., we emerged 
from the little crowd which had been watching our proceedings 
with a keen interest, and rode out of the town. Our course 
lay for a little while along the coast, until we reached the 
moutli of the valley of Khosh Oghhin, which we entered, 
turning to the south. The beauty of the day, which the late 
rains had rendered pleasantly cool, combined with the novelty 
of the scene and the picturesque appearance of the people 
whom we met on the road, raised our spirits, and completely 
removed certain misgivings as to the wisdom of choosing this 
route which, when it was too late to draw back, had taken 
possession of my mind. The horses which we rode were 
good, and, leaving the muleteers and baggage behind, we 
pushed on until, at 2.30 p.m., we reached the pretty little 
village of Jevizlik, the first halting-place out of Trebizonde. 
Here we should have halted for the night ; but, since the 
muleteers had not informed us of their plans, and it was 
still early, we determined to proceed to Khamse-Kyiiy, and 
accordingly continued our course up the beautiful wooded 
valley towards the pass of Zighana-dagh, which gleamed before 
us white with newly-fallen snow. During the latter part of 
the day we fell in with a wild-looking horseman, who informed 



A VKAK AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



ine that lio, like all the inhaliitants of Klianise-Kyliy, "was a 
Christian. 

It M'as quiU' dark beruiv we ]t>aclK'il Kliaiiisi'-Kyiiy, and it 
took lis sonic little time to liiid a Iclu'in at which to rest \o\ 
the night. The nudcteers and haggagc were far behind, and 
at first it seemed probalile that we should have to postpone 
our supper till their arrival, or else do without it altogether. 
However, 'Ali presently succeeded in obtaining some bread, 
and also a few eggs, which he fried in oil, so that, with the 
whisky in our flasks, we fared better than might have been 
expected. 

At about 9 P.i^i. the muleteers arrived and demanded to see 
me at once. They were very tired, and very angry because 
we had not waited for them at Jevizlik. I did not at first 
easily understand the cause of their indignation (for this was 
my first experience of this kind of travelling, and my ideas 
about the capacity of horses were rather vague) till it was 
explained to me that at the present rate of proceeding both 
men and animals would be wearied out long before we reached 
Erzeroum. " 0, my soul ! " said the elder muleteer in conclu- 
sion, more in sorrow than in anger, " a fine novice art thou if 
thou thinkest that these horses can go so swiftly from morning 
till evening without rest or food. Henceforth let us proceed 
in company at a slower pace, by which means we shall all, 
please God, reach Erzeroum with safety and comfort in seven 
days, even as w^as agreed between us." Not much pleased at 
being thus admonished, but compelled to admit the justice of 
the muleteer's remarks, I betook myself to the Wolseley valise 
which I had, after much deliberation, selected as the form of 
bed most suitable for the journey. Excellent as this contrivance 
is, and invaluable as it proved to be, my first night in it was 
anything but comfortable. As I intended to stuff with straw 
the space left for that purpose beneath the lining, I had 
neglected to bring a mattress. Straw, however, was not forth- 
coming, and I was therefore painfully conscious of every 
irregularity in the ill-paved floor ; while the fleas which invest 
most Turkish khdns did not fail on this occasion to welcome 
the advent of the stranger. In spite of these discomforts and 
the novelty of my surroundings I soon fell fast asleep. 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 25 

Looking back at those first days of my journey in the 
light of fuller experience, I marvel at the discomforts which 
we readily endured, and even courted by our ignorance and 
lack of foresight. 

Bewildered by conflicting counsels as to equipment, I 
had finally resolved to take only what appeared absolutely 
essential, and to reduce our baggage to the smallest possible 
compass. Prepared by what I had read in books of Eastern 
travel to endure discomforts far exceeding any which I was 
actually called upon to experience, I had yet to learn how 
comfortably one may travel even in countries where the rail- 
road and the hotel are unknown. Yet I do not regret this 
experience, which at least taught me how few are the neces- 
saries of life, and how needless are many of those things which 
we are accustomed to regard as such. Indeed, I am by no 
means certain that the absence of many luxuries which we 
commonly regard as indispensable to our haj)piness is not 
fully compensated for by the freedom from care and hurry, 
the continual variety of scenery and costume, and the sense 
of health produced by exposure to the open air, which, taken 
together, constitute the irresistible charm of Eastern travel. 

On the following morning we were up betimes, and after a 
steep ascent of an hour or so reached the summit of the pass of 
Zighana-dagh, which was thinly covered with a dazzling garment 
of snow. Here we passed a little hlUm, which would have 
been our second resting-place had we halted at Jevizlik on the 
preceding day instead of pushing on to Khamse-Kyliy. As it 
was, however, we passed it without stopping, and commenced 
the descent to the village of Zighana-Kyiiy, where we halted 
for an hour to rest and refresh ourselves and the horses. 
Excellent fruit and coffee were obtainable here ; and as we 
had yielded to the muleteers' request that we would not separate 
ourselves from the baggage, we had our own provisions as well, 
and altogether fared much better than on tlie previous day. 

After the completion of our meal we proceeded on our 
journey, and towards evening reached the pretty little hamlet 
of Kyiipri-bashi situated on a river called, from the town 
of Ardessa through which it flows, Ardessa-irmaghi, in which 
we enjoyed the luxury of a bathe. The inhabitants of 



26 A YEAR AAWNGST THE PERSIANS 

this deli<:;litful spot were few in numlier, peacealilc in appeav- 
ance, and totally devoid of that inquisitiveness about strangers 
which is so characteristic of the Tcrsians. Although it can 
hardly be the case that many Europeans pass through their 
village, they scarcely looked at us, and asked Ijut few questions 
as to our business, nationality, or destination. This lack of 
curiosity, N\liitli, so I'ar as my experience goes, usually char- 
acterises the Turkish peasant, extends to all his surroundings. 
Enquiries as to the name of a wayside flower, or the fate of a 
traveller whose last resting-place was marked by a mound of 
earth at the roadside, were alike met with a half-scornful, half- 
amused " 1dm hilir ? " (" who knows ? "), indicative of surprise 
on the part of the person addressed at being questioned on a 
matter in which, as it did not concern himself, he felt no 
interest. In Persia, more especially in Southern Persia, it is 
quite otherwise ; and, whether right or wrong, an ingenious 
answer is usually forthcoming to the traveller's enquiries. 

Our third day's march took us first through the town of 
Ardessa, and then through the village of Demirji-siiyu, on 
emerging from which we were confronted and stopped by two 
most evil-looking individuals armed to the teeth with pistols 
and daggers. My first idea was that they were robbers ; but, 
on riding forward to ascertain their business, I discovered that 
they were excisemen of a kind called diglitabdn, whose 
business it is to watch for and seize tobacco which does not 
bear the stamp of the Ottoman Eegie. It appeared that some 
one, either from malice or a misdirected sense of humour, had 
laid information against us, alleging that we had in our 
possession a quantity of such tobacco. A violent altercation 
took place between the excisemen and our servant 'All, whose 
pockets they insisted on searching, and whose tobacco-pouch 
was torn in two in the struggle. Meanwhile the muleteers 
continued to manifest the most ostentatious eagerness to un- 
load our baggage and submit it to examination, until finally, 
by protestations and remonstrances, we prevailed on the 
custom-house officers to let us pass. The cause of the 
muleteers' unnecessary eagerness to open our baggage now 
became apparent. Sidling up to my horse, one of these honest 
fellows triumphantly showed me a great bag of smuggled 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 27 

tobacco which he had secreted in his pocket. I asked him 
what he would have done if it had been detected, whereat he 
tapped the stock of a pistol which was thrust into his belt 
with a sinister and suggestive smile. Although I could not 
help being amused at his cool impudence, I was far from 
being reassured by the warlike propensities which this gesture 
revealed. 

Continuing on our way, and still keeping near the river, 
we passed one or two old castles, situated on rocky heights, 
which, we were informed, had been built by the Genoese 
Towards noon we entered the valley of Gyumish-Ivhane, so- 
called from the silver mines which occur in the neighbourhood. 
This valley is walled in by steep and rocky cliffs, and is barren 
and arid, except near the river, which is surrounded by beauti- 
ful orchards. Indeed the pears and apples of Gyumish-Khane 
are celebrated throughout the district. We passed several 
prosperous-looking villages, at one of which we halted for 
lunch. Here for the first time I tasted pdmcz, a kind of 
treacle or syrup made from fruit. In Persia this is known as 
duslu'ib or sliird; it is not unpalatable, and we used occasionally 
to eat it with boiled rice as a substitute for pudding. Here 
also we fell in with a respectable-looking Armenian going on 
foot to Erzeroum. Anyone worse equipped for a journey of 
150 miles on foot I never saw. He wore a black frock coat 
and a fez ; his feet were shod with slippers down at the heels ; 
and to protect himself from the heat of the sun he carried a 
large white umbrella. He looked so hot and tired and dusty 
that I was moved to compassion, and asked him whether he 
would not like to ride my horse for a while. This offer he 
gladly accepted, whereupon I dismounted and walked for a 
few miles, until he announced that he was sufficiently rested 
and would proceed on foot. He was so grateful for this 
indulgence that he bore us company as far as Erzeroum, and 
would readily have followed us farther had we encouraged 

him to do so. Every day H and myself allowed him to 

ride for some distance on our horses, and the poor man's 
journey was, I trust, thereby rendered less fatiguing to him. 

During the latter part of the day our course lay through 
a most gloomy and desolate valley, walled in with red rocks 



28 A VKAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

and utterly devoiil of trees or verdure. Emerging from this, 
and passing another line old castle situated on a lofty and 
precipitous crag, we arrived about 5 I'.M. at the little hamlet 
of Tekkc, where we halted for the night. It is rathei- 
a miserable place, containing several khdns swarming witli 
Persian camel-drivers, but very few private houses. A shallow 
river which runs near it again enabled us to enjoy the luxury 
of a bathe. 

Our fourth day's march was very dreary, lying for the most 
part through gloomy ravines walled in with reddish rocks, like 
tliat which we had traversed at the end of the previous day's 
journey. In addition to the depressing character of the scene, 
there was a report that robbers were lurking in the neighbour- 
hood, and we were consequently joined by several pedestrians, 
all armed to the teeth, who sought safety in numbers. Shortly 
after noon we halted at a small roadside inn, where we 
obtained some cheese, and a not very savoury compound called 
kawTLirma, which consists of small square lumps of mutton 
imbedded in fat. At 3 p.m. we reached the solitary Ichdn of 
Kadarak, which was to be our halting-place for the night. 
A few zdbtiyTjds were lounging about outside, waiting for the 
post, which was expected to pass shortly. As it was still 
early, I went out into the balcony to write my diary and con- 
template the somewhat cheerless view ; but I w\as soon inter- 
rupted by our Armenian fellow-traveller, who came to tell me 
that the zdbtiyy6s outside were watching my proceedings with 
no favourable eye, and suspected that I was drawing maps of 
the country. He therefore advised me either to stop writing 
or to retire indoors, lest my diary should be seized and 
destroyed. Whether the Armenian spoke the truth, or whether 
he was merely indulging that propensity to revile the ruling 
race for which the Christian subjects of the Porte are con- 
spicuous, I had no means of deciding, so I thought it best to 
follow his advice and retire from the balcony till I had com- 
pleted my writing. 

Our fifth day's march led us through the interesting old 
Armenian village of Varzahan. Just before reaching this we 
passed several horsemen, who were engaged in wild and appa- 
rently purposeless evolutions, accompanied with much firing of 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 29 

guns. It appeared that these had come out to welcome the 
KdHm-makdm of Diyadi'n, who had been dismissed from office, 
and was returning to his native town of Gyumish-Khdne ; and 
we had scarcely passed them when he appeared in sight, met, 
and passed us. I wished to examine the curious old churches 
which still bear witness that Varzahan, notwithstanding its 
present decayed condition, must formerly have been a place of 
some importance. Our Armenian fellow-traveller offered to 
conduct me, and I was glad to avail myself of his guidance. 
After I had examined the strange construction of the churches, 
the Armenian inscriptions cut here and there on their walls, 
and the tombstones which surrounded them (amongst which 
were several carved in the form of a sheep), my companion 
suggested that we should try and obtain some refreshment. 
Although I was anxious to overtake our caravan, I yielded to 
his importunity, and followed him into n, large and dimly- 
lighted room, to which we only obtained admission after pro- 
longed knocking. The door was at length opened by an old 
man, with whom my companion conversed for a while in 
Armenian, after he had bidden me to be seated. Presently 
several other men, all armed to the teeth, entered the room, 
and seated themselves by the door. A considerable time 
elapsed, and still no signs of food appeared. The annoyance 
which I felt at this useless delay gradually gave way to a 
vague feeling of alarm. This was heightened by the fact that 
I was unable to comprehend the drift of the conversation, 
which was still carried on in Armenian. I be^an to wonder 
whether I had been enticed into a trap where I could be 
robbed at leisure, and to speculate on the chances of escape or 
resistance, in case such an attempt should be made. I could 
not but feel that these were slender, for I had no weapon 
except a small pocket revolver ; five or six armed men sat by the 
heavy wooden door, which had been closed, and, for anything 
that I knew, bolted ; and even should I succeed in effecting 
an exit, I knew that our caravan must have proceeded a con- 
siderable distance. My apprehensions were, however, relieved 
by the appearance of a bowl of yorjli'Art (curds) and a quantity 
of the insipid wafer-like bread called lawdsh. Having eaten, 
we rose to go ; and when my companion, whom I had sus- 



30 A YEAR AA/ONGSr THE PERSIANS 

pected of liarbouriug such sinister designs against my property 
and perhajvs my life, refused to let mo pay for our refreshment, 
I was idled with shame at my unAvarranted sus])icions. (^ii 
emerging once more into the road I found the faitliful 'Ah' 
patiently awaiting me. Terliaps he too had been doubtful of 
the honesty of the Armenian villagers. At any rate he had 
refused to proceed without me. 

About '1 VM. we arrived at the town of Baiburt, and found 

that H and the nmleteers had already taken up their 

quarters at a clean and well-built khdn owned by one Khali'l 
Efendi. We at once proceeded to explore the town, which 
lies at the foot of a hill surmounted by an old fortress. Being 
too lazy to climb this hill, we contented ourselves with strol- 
ling through the bazaars which Ibrm so important a feature of 
every Eastern town, and afford so sure an index of the degree 
of prosperity which it enjoys. We were accompanied by the 
indefatigable Armenian, who, thinking to give me pleasure, 
exerted himself to collect a crowd of Persians (mostly natives 
of Khi'iy and Tabriz), whom he incited to converse with me. 
A throng of idlers soon gathered round us to gaze and gape at 
our unfamiliar aspect and dress, which some, bolder or less 
polite than the rest, stretched out their hands to finger and 
feel. Anxious to escape, I took refuge in a barber's shop and 
demanded a shave, but the crowd again assembled outside the 
open window, and continued to watch the proceeding with 
sustained interest. Meanwhile 'All had not been idle, and 
on our return to the hhdn we enjoyed better fare, as well 
as better quarters, than had fallen to our lot since we left 
Trebizoude. 

Our sixth day's march commenced soon after daybreak. 
The early morning was chilly, but later on the sun shone forth 
in a cloudless sky, and the day grew hot. The first part of 
our way lay near the river which flows through Baiburt, and 
the scenery was a great improvement on anything that we had 
seen since leaving Gyumish-Khane. We halted for our mid- 
day rest and refreshment by a clump of willow trees in a 
pleasant grassy meadow by the river. On resuming our march 
we entered a narrow defile leading into the mountains of Kop- 
dagh. A gradual ascent brought us to the summit of the pass, 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 31 

just below wliich, on the farther side, we came to our halting- 
place, Pcisha-punari. The view of the surrounding mountains 
standing out against the clear evening sky was very beautiful, 
and the little hliim at which we alighted was worthy of its 
delightful situation. We were lodged in a sort of barn, in 
which was stored a quantity of hay. How fragrant and soft 
it seemed ! I still think of that night's sleep as one of the 
soundest and sweetest in my experience. 

Early on the morning of the seventh day we resumed our 
march along a circuitous road, which, after winding downwards 
amongst grassy hills, followed the course of a river surrounded 
by stunted trees. We saw numerous large birds of the falcon 

kind, called by the Turks cloghAn. One of these H brought 

down with his rifle while it was hovering in the air, to the 
great delight of the muleteers. At a village called Ash-IvaVa 
we purchased honey, bread, and grapes, which we consumed 
while halting for the mid-day rest by an old bridge. Continu- 
ing on our way by the river, we were presently joined by a 
turbaned and genial Turk, who was travelling on horseback 
from Gyumish-Khane to Erzeroum. I was pleased to hear him 
use in the course of conversation certain words which I had 
hitherto only met with in the writings of the old poet Fuziili 
of Baghdad, and which I had regarded as archaic and obsolete. 
The road gradually became more frequented than it had been 
since leaving Baiburt, and we passed numerous travellers and 
peasants. Many of the latter drove bullock-carts, of which the 
ungreased axles sent forth the most excruciating sound. The 
sun had set before we reached our halting-place, Yeni-Khan, 
and so full was it that we had some difficulty in securing a 
room to ourselves. 

The eighth day of our march, wdiich was to conclude the 
first portion of our journey, saw us in the saddle betimes. 
After riding for four hours through a scorched-up plain, we 
arrived about 10.30 a.m. at the large village of Ilija, so named 
from its hot springs, over which a bath has been erected. From 
this point the gardens and minarets of Erzeroum were plainly 
visible, and accordingly we pushed on without halting. Fully 
three hours elapsed, however, ere we had traversed the weary 
stretch of white dusty road which still separated us from our 



32 --/ YF.AR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

goal ; and the sun was well past the iiieridian when we finally 
enteivil Ihe gate of tlie city, and threaded our way through tlio 
massive fortifications l)y which it is surroun(U',d. 

Erzerouni lias one hotel, which stands midway in the scale 
of development between the Hotel d'ltalie at Trebizonde and 
an average caravansaray. "Were these two towns connected Ijy 
a railroad, so as to bring them within a day's journey of one 
another, this institution might perhaps form a happy transition 
between the west and the east. As things are at i^resent, it is 
too much like a caravansaray to be comfortable, and too much 
like a casino to be quiet. 

On alighting at this delectable house of entertainment, we 
were met by a young Armenian representing the bank on 
which our cheque was drawn, who informed us in very fair 
French that his name was Missak Vanetzian, and tliat his 
principal, Simon Dermounukian, had been apprised of our 
coming by letter from Trebizonde, and instructed to give us 
such help as we might need. After a brief conversation in 
the balcony of a coffee-room thronged with Turkish officers 
and enlivened by the strains of a semi -oriental band, he 
departed, inviting us to visit his chief so soon as we were 
at leisure. 

We now requested an attendant to show us our room, and 
were forthwith conducted to a large, dingy, uncarpeted apart- 
ment on the first floor, lighted by several windows looking out 
upon the street, and containing for its sole furniture a divan 
covered with faded chintz, which ran the whole length of one 
side, and a washing-stand placed in a curtained recess on the 
other. It was already occupied by a Turkish mucUr, bound 
for the frontier fortress of Bayezi'd, whom the landlord was 
trying to dislodge so that we might take possession. This 
he very naturally resented ; but when I apologised, and offered 
to withdraw, he was at once mollified, declared that there 
was plenty of room for all of us, and politely retired, leaving 
us to perform our ablutions in private. 

Just as we were ready to go out, an officer of the Turkish 

police called to inspect our passports, so, while H went to 

visit Mr. Devey, the acting British Consul, I remained to 
entertain the visitor with coffee and cigarettes — an attention 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 33 

which he seemed to appreciate, for he readily gave the required 

visa, and then sat conversing with me till H returned 

from the consulate. We next paid a visit to our banker, 
Simon Dermounukian, called by the Turks " Simiin Agha," a 
fine-looking old man, who only spoke Turkish and Armenian, 
and whose appearance would have led one to suppose that the 
former rather than the latter was his native tongue. After the 
ordinary interchange of civilities, we drew a cheque for three 
or four pounds, and returned to the hotel to settle with the 
muleteers. On the way to Erzeroum these had frequently 
expressed a wish to go with us as far as Teheran ; but since 
their arrival they had been so alarmed by fabulous accounts of 
the dangers of travelling in Persia, the inhospitality of the 
country, and the malignant disposition of the people, that they 
made no further allusion to this plan, and on receiving the 
money due to them, together with a small gratuity, took leave 
of us with expressions of gratitude and esteem. 

After a thoroughly Turkish dinner, I again proposed to go 
out, but the mudir told me that this was impossible, as the 
streets were not lighted, and no one was allowed to walk abroad 
after nightfall without a lantern. He offered, however, to 
introduce me to some acquaintances of his who occupied an 
adjoining room. One of these was a Turk who spoke Persian 
with a fluency and correctness rarely attained by his coun- 
trymen ; the other was a Christian of Csesarea. Both were 
men of intelligence, and their conversation interested me so 
much that it was late before I retired to rest on the chintz- 
covered divan, which I would gladly have exchanged for the 
fragrant hay of Pasha-punari. 

Next day our troubles began. The news that two English- 
men were about to start for Persia had got abroad, and crowds 
of muleteers — Persians, Turks, and Armenians — came to offer 
their services for the journey. The scene of turmoil which 
our room presented during the whole morning baffles descrip- 
tion, while our ears were deafened with the clamour of voices. 
It was like the noisiest bazaar imaginable, with this difference, 
that whereas one can escape from the din of a bazaar when it 
becomes insupportable, this turmoil followed us wherever we 
went. An Armenian called Vartan demanded the exorbitant 



34 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

sum of £5 T. per horse to Tabrfz. A Persian offered to convey 
us thitlior in a nii^lity waggon which he possessed, wherein, he 
dcchired, we shouKl perform the journey witli inconccivaV)h', 
ease. This statement, which 1 was from the first but little 
disposed to credit, was subsequently denied in the most cate- 
gorical manner by our friend the mndir, who assured me that 
he had once essayed to travel in such a vehicle, but had been 
soroughly jolted during the first stage that he had sworn never 
again to set foot in it, and had completed his journey on horse- 
back. Any lingering regrets which we might have entertained 
at having renounced the prospect of " inconceivable ease " held 
out to us by the owner of the waggon were entirely dispelled 
some days later by the sight of a similar vehicle hopelessly 
stuck, and abandoned by its possessor, in the middle of a 
river which we had to ford. 

At length, partly because no better offer seemed forth- 
coming, partly from a desire to have done with the matter and 
enjoy a little peace and quietude for the remainder of our stay 
in Erzeroum, we accepted the terms proposed by a Persian 
muleteer called Farach, who promised to supply us with five 
horses to Tabriz at £2 T. and 2 mejidiyy^s a head ; to convey 
us thither in twelve days ; and to allow us the right of stopping 
for two days on the road at whatever place we might choose. 

I now flattered myself that I should be allowed a little 
peace, but I found that I had reckoned without my host. No 
sooner had I satisfied myself as to the efficiency of Farach's 
animals, agreed to the terms proposed by him, and accepted 
the i^eh (a pledge of money, which it is customary for the 
muleteer to place in the hands of his client as a guarantee that 
he will hold to the bargain, and be prepared to start on the 
appointed day), than our ears were assailed on all sides with 
aspersions on the honesty and respectability of the successful 
candidate. Farach, so I was assured, was a native of the 
village of Sey van, near Khuy, and the Sey vanlis were, as was well 
known, the wickedest, most faithless, and most dishonest people 
in Persia. In this assertion all the muleteers present agreed, 
the only difference being that while the Persians rested 
content with the reprobation of the Seyvanlis, the non-Persians 
further emphasised it by adding that the Persians were the 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 35 

wickedest, most faithless, and most dishonest people in the 
world. 

At first I paid no attention to these statements, but my 
suspicions were in some degree aroused by Farach's disinclination 
to go before the Persian Consul, and by the doubts expressed 
by Vanetzian and Simiin Agha as to his honesty and trust- 
worthiness. With Vanetzian I was somewhat annoyed, because 
he, being present when I engaged Farach, had withheld liis 
advice till it was too late to be useful. I therefore told him 
that lie should either have spoken sooner or not at all, to 
which he replied that it was still possible to rescind the 
bargain. Farach was accordingly summoned and requested to 
take back his pledge. This, however, he resolutely declined 
to do, and I could not help admitting that he was in the 
right. 

Finally Vanetzian desisted from his attempts to annul the 
contract, and indeed retracted to some extent the objections 
which he had raised against it. What motive impelled him to 
this change of front I cannot say, and I am unwilling to credit 
an assertion made to me by Farach a few days later, to the 
effect that the Armenian's sole object in these manoeuvres 
was to extort a bribe from the poor muleteer, and that having 
obtained this he was content to withdraw all opposition. 

Although these annoyances, combined with a temporary 
indisposition (due, probably, to the badness of the water-supply), 
somewhat marred the pleasure of our stay in Erzeroum, the 
kindness shown us by Mr. Devey, the British Consul, and 
Mr. Chambers, an American missionary, and his wife, rendered 
it much more agreeable than it would otherwise have been. 
Before leaving we paid a visit to the Persian Consul, who 
received us very courteously, and gave us a letter to Pasha 
Khan of Avajik, the Persian Warden of the Marches, from 
whom, he added, we should receive an escort to conduct us to 
Khuy, should this be necessary. Beyond Klmy the country 
was perfectly safe, and no such protection would be required. 

The consul next enquired whether we were travelling with 
our own horses or with hired animals, and, on learning 
that the latter was the case, insisted on summoning the 
muleteer to " admonish " him. Knowing that Farach was un- 



36 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

williiii,' l(» appear before the consul, I ventured to deprecate 
this i)roeecdin;j:, and made as though I had forgotten the 
muleteer's name. The consul, however, insisted, and at once 
desiiatched some of his servants to make enquiries. These 
returned in a surprisingly short space of time, bringing with them 
the muleteer, whose appearance indicated the utmost dis- 
quietude. After demanding his name and that of his native 
place, the cousid asked him whether it was true that lie had 
promised to convey us to Tabriz in twelve days, and whether, 
if so, he had any intention of keeping this promise. To these 
questions the muleteer replied in a voice trembling with fear, 
that " perhaps, In-shalldh, he would do so." This statement 
was received by the consul with derision. " You lie, Mr. 
Perhaps," cried he ; " you eat dirt, Mr. In-sha'Udh ; hence, 
rascal, and be assured that if I hear any complaints about 
you, you shall give a full account of your conduct to me on 
your return to Erzeroum ! " Whether in consequence of this 
" admonition," or whether, as I believe, because the muleteer 
was really an honest fellow, we certainly had no cause for 
complaint, and, indeed, were glad to re-engage Farach at 
Tabriz for the journey to Teheran. 

On Monday, l7th October, we quitted Erzeroum. In con- 
sequence of the difficulty of getting fairly under way, to which 
I have already alluded, it is usual to make the first stage a 
very short one. Indeed, it is often merely what the Persians 
call " JVakl-i-makdn " (change of place), a breaking up of one's 
quarters, a bidding farewell to one's friends, and a shaking 
one's self free from the innumerable delays which continue to 
arise so long as one is still within the walls of an Eastern 
town. We therefore did not expect to get farther than Hasan- 
Kara, which is about three hours' ride from Erzeroum. Before 
we had finished our leave-taking and settled the hotel bill 
(which only reached the modest sum of 108 piastres — about £1 
sterling — for the two of us and 'Ali for three days) the rest of 
the caravan had disappeared, and it was only on emerging from 
the town that I was able to take note of those who composed 
it. There were, besides the muleteers, our friend the mucUr 
and his companions and servants, who were bound for Bayezid ; 
a Turkish zcibtiyye, who was to escort us as far as Hasan- 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 37 

Kara ; and three Persians proceeding to Tabriz, Of these 
last, one was a decrepit old man ; the other two were his sons. 
In spite of the somewhat ludicrous appearance given to the old 
man by a long white beard of which the lower half was dyed 
I'ed with henna, the cause which had led him to undertake so 
long a journey in spite of his advanced age commanded respect 
and sympathy. His two sons had gone to Trebizonde for 
purposes of trade, and had there settled ; and although he had 
written to them repeatedly entreating them to return to Tabriz, 
they had declined to comply with his wishes, until eventually 
lie had determined to go himself, and, if possible, persuade them 
to return home with him. In this attempt he had met with 
the success which he so well deserved. 

As we advanced towards the low pass of Deve-boyiin 
(the Camel's Neck), over which our road lay, I was much 
impressed with the mighty redoubts which crown the heights 
to the north-east and east of Erzeroum, many of which have, 
I believe, been erected since the Eussian war. Beyond these, 
and such instruction and amusement as I could derive from 
our travelling companions, there was little to break the 
monotony of the road till we arrived at our halting -place 
about 3 P.M. As the khdn was full, we were obliged to be 
content with quarters even less luxurious ; and even there the 
mucUr, with prudent forethought, secured the best room for 
himself and his companions. 

Hasan-Kara is, like Ilija, which is about equidistant from 
Erzeroum on the other side, remarkable for its natural hot- 
springs, over which a bath has been erected. The imuUr was 
anxious to visit these springs, and invited us to accompany 

liim. To this I agreed, but H , not feeling well, 

preferred to remain quiet. The bath consists of a circular 
basin, twenty -five or thirty feet in diameter, surrounded with 
masonry and roofed in by a dome. In the summit of the 
dome was a large aperture through which we could see the 
stars shining. The water, which is almost as hot as one can 
bear with comfort, bubbles up from the centre of the basin, 
and is everywhere out of one's depth. After a most refresli- 
ing bathe, we returned to our quarters. 

Next day we started about 6 a.m., and were presently 



3S A YKAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

joined by :i 'I'mkish mufti proceeding to B;'iyczi'd, willi wliom 
I conversed lor some time in Persian, wliicli lie spoke 
very incorrectly and with great effort. He was, liowever, 
an amusing companion, and liis conversation beguiled the 
time pleasantly enough till "vve halted about mid-day at 
a large squalid Armenian village called Kunuisur. Our 
Turkish fellow-travellers occupied the mvs((fir-vdii, or guest- 
room, ami intimated to us that they wished to be left undis- 
turbed for their mid -day devotions, so we were compelled to 
be content with a stable. As the rest of the caravan had not 
yet come up, we had nothing for lunch but a few biscuits and 
a little brandy and water, which we fortunately had with us. 
Several of the Armenian villagers came to see us. They were 
apathetic and dull, presenting a sad contrast to the Armenians 
of the towns. They talked much of their grievances, 
especially of the rapacity of the multezim, or tax-gatherer, of 
the district, who had, as they declared, mortally wounded one 
of the villagers a few days previously, because he had brought 
eight piastres short of the sum due from him. They said 
that the heaviest tax was on cereals, amounting to 1 in 8 
of their total value, and that for the privilege of collecting 
this the tax-gatherer paid a certain fixed sum to the Govern- 
ment and made what profit he could. 

Quitting this unhappy spot as soon as the rest of our 
caravan appeared, we again joined the mudir's party, which 
had been further reinforced by a clidiviish (sergeant) and two 
zdbtiyy4s, one of whom kept breaking out into snatches of song 
in the shrillest voice I ever heard. For some time we suc- 
ceeded in keeping up with these, who were advancing at a 
pace impossible for the baggage animals, but presently our 
horses began to flag, and we were finally left behind, in some 
doubt as to the road wdiich we should follow. Shortly after 
this, my horse, in going down a hill to a river, fell violently 
and threw me on my face. I picked myself up and re- 
mounted, but having proceeded some distance, discovered that 
my watch was gone, having probably been torn out of my 
pocket when I fell. We rode back and sought diligently for 
it, but without success ; and while we were still so occupied, 
Farach the muleteer came up with 'Ali. These joined us in 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 39 

the fruitless attempt to find the lost watch, the former attri- 
Ijuting my misfortune to the inconsiderate haste of the mudir, 
the latter attempting to console me with the philosophical 
reflection that some evil had evidently been destined to befall 
me, and that the loss of the watch had probably averted 
a more serious catastrophe. At length the near approach of 
the sun to the horizon warned us that we must tarry no 
longer ; and though we made as much haste as possible, it was 
dark before we reached the village of Deli Baba. 

Here we obtained lodgings in a large stable, at one side 
of which was a wooden platform, raised some two feet above 
the ground and covered with a felt carpet. On this our host 
spread cushions and pillows, but the hopes of a comfortable 
night's rest which these preparations raised in our minds 
were not destined to be fulfilled, for the stable was full of 
fowls, and the fowls swarmed with fleas. There were also 
several buffaloes in the stable, and these apparently were 
endowed with carnivorous instincts, for during the night they 
ate up some cold meat which was to have served us for 
breakfast. At this place I tasted buffalo's milk for the first 
time. It is very rich, but has a peculiar flavour, which is, 
to my mind, very disagreeable. 

On starting the next day, we found that the mudir, who 
had obtained quarters elsewhere in the village, had already set 
out ; neither did we again overtake him. Soon after leaving 
our halting-place we entered a magnificent defile leading into 
the mountains and surrounded by precipitous crags. On the 
summit of one of these crags which lay to our left was a 
ruined castle, said to have been formerly a stronghold of the 
celebrated bandit-minstrel, Kurroghlu. The face of the rock 
showed numerous cave -like apertures, apparently enlarged, if 
not made, by the hand of man, and possibly communicating 
with the interior of the castle. 

About noon we reached a Kurdish village, situated amidst 
grassy uplands at the summit of the pass, and here we halted 
for a rest. Most of the male inhabitants were out on the 
hills looking after their flocks, but the women gathered round 
us, staring, laughing, and chattering Kurdish. Some few of 
them knew a little Turkish, and asked us if we had any 



40 .-/ y/iA/^ AMONGST 71 IE PERSIANS 

munjas to give thcni. This word, whicli I did not understand, 
appeared to denote some kind of ornament. 

On qiiittinji: tliis villa<4e our way led us tlirou^di fertile 
uplands covered thinly with low shrubs, on which hundreds 
of draught camels were feeding. The bales of merchandise, 
unladen from their backs, were piled up in hollow squares, in 
and around whicli the Persian camel-drivers were resting till 
such time as the setting of the sun (for camels rarely travel 
by day) should give the signal for departure. 

A little farther on we passed one of the battlefields of the 
Iiussian war, and were shown an earthwork close to the road, 
where we were told that F;irik Piishi'i had been killed. Soon 
after this, on rounding a corner, the mighty snow -crowned 
cone of Mount Ararat burst upon our view across a wide hill- 
girt plain, into which we now began to descend. During this 
descent we came upon a party of Kurdish mountebanks, 
surrounded by a crowd of peasants. In the midst of the 
group a little girl, in a bright red dress, was performing a 
dance on stilts, to the sound of wild music, produced by a 
drum and a flute. It was a pretty sight, and one which I 
would fain have watched for a time ; but the muleteers were 
anxious to reach the end of our day's journey, and indeed it 
was already dusk when we arrived at the village of Zeyti- 
Kyau. The inhabitants of this place were, as we entered it, 
engaged in a violent altercation, the cause of which I did 
not ascertain ; while a few Turkish zahtiyyis were making 
strenuous efforts to disperse them, in which they eventually 
succeeded. It was only after 'Ali had been to haK the 
houses in the village that he succeeded in obtaining a lodging 
for us in the house of a poor Armenian family, who were 
content to share with us their only room. As usual, no 
sort of privacy was possible, numbers of people coming in to 
stare at us, question us, and watch us eat. 

Next day's march was both short and uninteresting. At 
2 P.M. we reached the large squalid village of Kara Kilisa. 
As the day was still young, and the place far from attractive, 
we were anxious to proceed farther, but this the muleteers 
declined to do, answering, after the manner of their class, that 
they had agreed to take us to Tabriz in twelve days from 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 41 

Erzeroum, and that this they would do ; but that for the rest 
we must allow them to arrange the stages as they thought fit. 
Farach concluded the argument by making me a propitiatory 
gift of a melon, which he had just received from a fellow- 
countryman whom he had met on the road ; and, half amused, 
half annoyed, I was obliged to acquiesce in his arrangement. 

We obtained wretched quarters in the house of a very ill- 
favoured and inquisitive Armenian, and, after allaying our 
ill-humour with tea, strolled through the village to see the 
yuz-hdslii, or captain of the police, about securing a zaUiyye as 
an escort for the morrow. From him we learned that our 
friend the mudir had not forgotten us, for on his way through 
the village that morning he had left instructions that we were 
to be provided with a zahtvjye, should we require one. The 
dustiness of the streets, combined with the inquisitiveness of 
the inhabitants, soon drove us back to our lodging, where a 
night disturbed by innumerable fleas concluded a miserable 
day. 

In spite of our desire to quit so unattractive a spot, we 
did not start till 7.45 a.m. (a much later hour than usual), 
partly because we knew that the stage before us was a short 
one, and had no reason to anticipate better quarters at the 
end of it than those we were leaving; partly because 'All's 
whip had disappeared, and could not be found till our host was 
informed that no money would be paid him until it was forth- 
coming ; whereupon it was speedily produced. We were 
accompanied by a fine old Armenian zahtiyyi, who presented 
a thoroughly soldierly, as well as a very picturesque, appearance. 
The scenery through which we passed reminded me more of 
England or Scotland than anything which I had seen since 
leavinof home. Close to the road ran a beautiful clear river, 
rippling down over its stony bed to join the Western Euphrates. 
On either side of this lay undulating grassy hills, beyond 
which appeared in the distance more lofty mountains. The 
warm, cloudy day, too, and the thin mists which lay on the 
hills, favoured the fancy that we were back once more in our 
native land. 

About 1 P.M. we reached our halting-place, Tashli-Chay, and 
found lodgings in a gloomy hovel, which served the double 



42 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

purpose of a rostiiig-]>lacc for guests and a stable for buffaloes. 
The people, however, were better than the place. Our host 
was an old Persian with henna-dyed beard and nails, who 
manifested his good feeling towards ns by plunging his hand, 
with an introductory " Bismi 'Udh" into the dish of poached eggs 
which was set before us for luncheon. His sou, a Itright 
handsome lad of sixteen or seventeen, made every eflbrt to 
enliven us, and, on my enquiring whether there were any fisli 
in the river, offered to conduct us thither, and show ns not 
only where they were, but how to catch them. Having 
collected several other youths, he commenced operations by 
constructing a dam of stones and turf half across the river, 
at a point where it was divided into two branches by a bed 
of shingle. The effect of this was to direct the bulk of the 
water into the left-hand channel, while the deptli of that 
which remained in the right-hand channel (at the lower end 
of which a boy was stationed to beat the water with a stick, 
and so prevent the imprisoned fish from effecting their escape) 
sunk to a few inches. Having completed these preparations, 
the operators entered the water with sticks in their hands, 
struck at the fish as they darted past, thereby killing or 
stunning them, and then picked them up and tossed them 
on to the bank. One lad had a sort of gaff wherewith he 
hooked the fish very dexterously. In less than an hour we 
had nearly fifty fish, several of which must have weighed 
2-0- or 3 lbs. Some of these we ate for supper ; others 
we gave to the muleteers and to our fellow-travellers. 
They were not unpalatable, and made a pleasing change 
from the fowls and eggs of which our fare had so long 
consisted. 

Although our lodging was not much superior, in point 
of cleanliness and comfort, to that of the preceding night, it was 
with something like regret that I bade farewell to the kindly 
folk of Tashli-Chay. Farach had started on in front with the 
baggage, leaving his brother Feyzu 'IMh, of whom we had 
hitherto seen but little, to bear us company. This Feyzu 'llah 
was a smooth-faced, narrow-eyed, smug-looking, sturdy rascal, 
whose face wore a perpetual and intolerable grin, and whose 
head was concealed rather than crowned by the large, low. 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 43 

conical, long-haired ixqxtkh which constitutes the usual head- 
dress of the peasants inhabiting that region which lies just 
beyond the Turco-Persian frontier. We were also accompanied 
by a Turkish zabtiyy6, who proved to be unusually intelligent ; 
for when we were come opposite to the village of Uch-Kilisa, 
which lies on the farther side of the river, he told us that 
there was an old Armenian church there which was worth 
looking at, and that we should by no means neglect to pay 
our respects to an aged Armenian ecclesiastic, entitled by him 
the " MurahhMias Efcndi" who, as he assured us, enjoyed such 
influence in the neighbourhood that, were he to give the 
command, a hundred men would escort us to Tabriz. 

We therefore turned aside from our course (to the infinite 
disgust of Feyzu 'llah, whose only desire was to reach the end 
of the stage as soon as possible), and first proceeded to the 
church. This was a fine old building, but it had suffered at 
the hands of the Kurds during the Eussian war, and the 
beautiful designs and paintings with which it had before that 
time been adorned had for the most part been destroyed by 
fire. Leaving the church, we passed the house and mill of 
the " Muraklikhas Efendi" who, on hearing of our approach, 
came out to meet us, and begged us to enter his house and 
partake of some refreshment. The opposition offered by 
Feyzu 'llah to any further delay compelled us to decline his 
hospitality ; yet would he scarcely take nay for an answer, 
saying that he was ashamed to let strangers pass by without 
alighting at his house. Finally, seeing that we were firm in 
our resolve, he bade us farewell with the words, " I pray 
Almighty God that He will bring you in safety to Tabriz." 

It was with a sense of comfort and encouragement that 
we parted from the venerable and reverend old man ; but this 
feeling was presently changed to one of indignation against 
Feyzu 'llah, who had urged the length of the stage as a reason 
for hastening on, when, not much after 1.30 p.m., we arrived 
at the wretched town of Diyadi'n, where we were to sleep for 
the last time on Turkish territory. A more desolate spot I 
do not think I have ever seen ; the dirty, dusty town, which 
scarcely contains two respectable houses, stands in a barren, 
treeless waste, and is half encompassed by a vast crescent- 



44 A YFAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

slia])ed cliiisiu with precipitous sides. Heaps of refuse lie 
about in all directions, both before the doors of the miserable 
hoN'els which compose the town, and amon^^st the f,a'aves of 
the extensive and neglected cemetery which surrounds it. Of 
the two respectable houses which I have noticed, one belongs 
to the governor, the other is the post-office. To the latter we 
paid a visit, and conversed for a while with the postmaster 
and telegraph -clerk (for both functions were united in one 
individual), who was a Turk of Adrianople. He complained 
bitterly of the dulness of Uiyadi'n, where he had been for two 
years, and to which a marriage contracted with a Kurdish girl 
had failed to reconcile him. On returning to our lodging we 
found that the aperture in the roof which did duty for 
window and chimney alike admitted so much wind and dust 
that we were compelled to cover it with sacking ; while to 
add to our miseries we discovered that all our candles were 
used up. Having eaten our supper by the dim light of a 
little earthenware lamp, we had therefore no resource but to 
seek forgetfulness of our discomforts in sleep. 

Next morning (23rd October), the seventh day of our 
departure from Erzeroum, we were in the saddle by 6 a.m. 
My spirits were high, for I knew that before sunset we should 
enter the land which I had so long and so eagerly desired to 
behold. The zabtiyy6 who accompanied us (remarkable for 
an enormous hooked nose) took pains to impress upon us the 
necessity of keeping well together, as there w^as some danger 
of robbers. Presently, on rounding a corner, a glorious view 
burst upon us. Ararat (which had been hidden from us by 
lower hills since we first saw it from the heights above 
Zeyti-Kyan) lay far to the left, its snowy summit veiled in 
clouds, which, however, left unconcealed the lower peak of 
little Ararat. Before us, at the end of the valley, perched 
midway up the face of a steep, rocky mountain, lay the town 
and fortress of Bayezid, which keeps solitary watch over the 
north-east frontier of the Turkish Empire. This we did but 
see afar off, for, while two or three hours' march still separated 
us from it, we turned sharply to the right into the valley 
leading to Kizil-Dize, the last village on Turkish soil. At 
this point we left the telegraph wires, which had, since our 



FROM ENGLAND TO THE PERSIAN FRONTIER 45 

departure from Trebizonde, kept us company and indicated the 
course of our road. 

Soon after mid-day we reached Kizil-Diz^, and, leaving 
our baggage in the custom-house, betook ourselves for rest and 
refreshment to a large and commodious Jilidn. The custom- 
house officials gave us no trouble ; but as soon as we were 
again on the road Farach informed us, with many lamenta- 
tions, that they had exacted from him a sum of forty-five 
piastres, alleging, as a pretext for this extortion, that whereas 
lie had brought seven horses with him on his last journey into 
Turkey, he was returning witli only five ; that they suspected 
him of having sold the two missing horses in Turkish territory ; 
and that they should therefore exact from him the duty pay- 
able on animals imported into the country for purposes of 
commerce. It was in vain that Farach protested that the two 
horses in question had died on the road, for they demanded 
documentary proof of this assertion, which he was unable to 
produce. And, indeed, to me it seemed an absurd thing to 
expect a certificate of deatli for an animal which had perished 
in the mountains of Asia Minor. 

The hook-nosed veteran who had accompanied us from 
Diyadin had yielded place to a fresh zaMiyyi, who rode 
silently before us for two hours, during which we continued 
to ascend gradually through wild but monotonous hills, till, 
on reaching a slight eminence over which the road passed, he 
reined in his horse, and, turning in his saddle, said, " Farther 
I cannot go with you, for this is our frontier, and yonder 
before you lies the Persian land." 



CHAPTEli III 

FROM THE TERSIAN FRONTIER TO TABRIZ 

" Che khusli hdshad ki had az intizdri 
Bi-ummidi rasad ummklvdrl ! " 

" How good it is when one with waiting tired 
Obtaiueth that which he hath long desired ! " 

{Sa'di.) 

" Kunj-i-'uzlat, ki tilismdt-i-' ajaih ddrad, 

Fat-h-i-dn dar nazar-i-ldmmat-i-darvisluln-ast. " 
" The talisman of magic might, hid in some ruin's lonely site, 

Emerges from its ancient night at the mild glance of dervishes." 

(Hdfiz, rendered by Herman Bicknell.) 

There is always a pleasant sense of excitement and expecta- 
tion in entering for the first time a foreign country. 
Especially is this the case when to visit that country has long 
been the object of one's ambition. Yet that which most 
sharply marks such a transition, and most forcibly reminds 
the traveller that he is amongst another race — I mean a change 
of language — is not observable by one who enters Persia from 
the north-west; for the inhabitants of the province of 
Azarbaijan, which forms this portion of the Persian Empire, 
uniformly employ a dialect of Turkish, which, though differing 
widely from the speech of the Ottoman Turks, is not so far 
removed from it as to render either lancjuasze unintelligible to 
those who speak the other. If, amongst the better classes in 
the towns of Azarbaijan, and here and there in the villages, the 
Persian language is understood or spoken, it is as a foreign 
tongue acquired by study or travel ; while the narrow, affected 
enunciation of the vowels, so different from the bold, broad 



FROM THE PERSIAN FRONTIER TO TABRIZ 47 

pronunciation of Persia proper, and the introduction of the 
Y-sound after K and G, at once serve to mark the province to 
which the speaker belongs. It is not till Kazvin is reached, 
and only four or five stages separate the traveller from 
Teheran, that the Persian distinctly predominates over the 
Turkish language ; while even four stages south of the capital, 
as far as the sacred city of Kum, the latter is still generally 
imderstood. 

The country immediately beyond the frontier was as 
desolate and devoid of cultivation as that which we had just 
quitted, and it was not until we reached the Persian frontier- 
village of Avajik that we had any opportunity of observing 
that change of costume which constitutes the other cjreat siu'u 
of entry amongst a new race. Indeed the approach of night, 
which overtook us ere we reached our destination, prevented 
us even then from getting more than a very partial idea of the 
differences which distinguish a Persian from a Turkish village. 
So far as we could see, however, the change was distinctly for 
the better ; the square houses, built of unbaked clay, were clean 
and commodious, while a goodly array of poplar trees gave to 
the place an appearance of verdure which contrasted pleasantly 
with our too vivid recollections of the hideous waste of 
Diyadin. 

Immediately on our arrival we sent our letter of introduc- 
tion, which had been given to us by the Persian Consul at 
Erzeroum, to Pasha Khan, the sar-hadd-ddr, or Warden of the 
Marches, intending to pay our respects to him in the morning 
before our departure. While we were eating our supper, how- 
ever, a message came from him to say that he would, if we 
pleased, receive us at once, as he was in the habit of rising 
late. As this invitation was practically equivalent to a 
command, we hastened, in spite of our weariness and dis- 
inclination to move, to respond to it, and were presently 
ushered by our host, who was one of the great man's retainers, 
into the presence of Pashti Khan, having previously removed 
our boots on an intimation from the farrdshes who stood at the 
door of the presence-chamber. We were invited to seat our- 
selves on the floor opposite the frontier-chief, who sat in a 
corner of the room, on the side next the door, reclining on 



48 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

cushions. On one side of liini was seated his vazir, on the 
other a i,'rini-k)oking secretary, whose face was adorned with a 
pair of tioroe moustaches, and wliose hand still held the letter 
of introduction which he had been reading to IVislui Kluin. 
The Warden of the IMarches conversed with me for a short 
time, in a somewliat fitful manner, in Persian, enquiring par- 
ticularly about the terms on which England stood with Kussia. 
Seeing, however, that he was disinclined to prolong the inter- 
view, and that he appeared moody and preoccupied (a fact 
due, as we subsequently learned, to a quarrel which had arisen 
between him and his brother), we were preparing to take our 
leave when several servants entered bearing trays oi inlaw and 
slurhct, of which, though we had already supped, we were com- 
pelled by politeness to partake. The sherbet was excellent, 
as was also the pilmv (consisting of pieces of lamb's flesh 
buried in rice), which we had to eat, awkwardly enough, with 
our hands. This accomplishment, which, in spite of assiduous 
efforts, I never succeeded in thoroughly acquiring, is far from 
being so easy as might at first sight appear. The rice is 
pressed by the four fingers into a wedge-shaped bolus, which 
is then thrust into the mouth by an upward motion of the 
terminal joint of the thumb, placed behind it. Any grains of 
rice which remain clinging to the fingers must then be collected 
by a semi-circular sweep of the thumb into another smaller 
bolus, which is eaten before a fresh handful of rice is taken up. 
It is wonderful what dexterity the Persians acquire in this 
method of eating, which is indeed far more cleanly and con- 
venient than might be supposed. To the foreigner, however, 
it is hardly less difficult of acquisition than the Persian manner 
of sitting on the heels ; and if, on this our first attempt, we 
did not meet with the ridicule of our entertainers, it was 
rather from their politeness than from any dexterity on our 
part. On the conclusion of the meal we took our leave. Pasha 
Khan ordering our host in his capacity oi farrdsh to accompany 
us on our journey as far as Kara Ayne. For this we were 
very grateful, not so much because we hoped for any advantage 
from our escort, as because we had feared that it mi^rht be 
larger; for a large escort naturally involves considerable ex- 
pense. 



FROM THE PERSIAN FRONTIER TO TABRIZ 



49 



Next day (24th October) we started a little before 8 
A.M., and we were now able to contrast the appearance of the 
numerous villages through which we passed with those on the 
Turkish side of the frontier. The comparison was certainly 
very much to the advantage of Persia. The houses, surrounded 
by gardens of poplars, were neater, cleaner, and better built 
than is usual in Turkey ; while nearly every village contained 
at least one house of considerable size. The change in the 
costume of the people was equally striking : the fez had 
entirely disappeared, and its place was taken either by the 
thickly -lined, close-fitting skull-cap of cloth trimmed with 
black wool, which is called " shikciH" or by the hideous long- 
haired pdpdkh of black or brown colour which I have already 
noticed as constituting the head-dress of our muleteers. 

Before we had gone very far we were overtaken by two 
more of Pasha Khan's mounted irregulars, who appeared 
desirous of attaching themselves to us as an additional escort, 
in spite of our unwillingness to accept their services. About 
2 P.M. we reached the village of Kara Ayne, which was to be 
our halting-place for the night. Hearing that there was a 
bazaar, I was minded to visit it, but found it to be a single 
sho]3 kejit by a leper, whose stock-in-trade appeared to consist 
chiefly of small tawdry mirrors and very rank tobacco. 

On the following day we were joined by two more armed 
horsemen, making five in all, so that our cavalcade now pre- 
sented a most imposing appearance, and there seemed to be 
every chance that, at this rate of proceeding, we should ac- 
cumulate a small army before reaching Tabriz. In order, as 
I believe, to sustain our flagging faith in their utility, and to 
convince us of the danger of the road, an alarm of robbers was 
started by our escort as we were traversing a narrow defile. 
Assuring us that only three days ago three men had been 
robbed and murdered in this very spot, they galloped wildly 
ahead, now cautiously ascending and peeping over the summit 
of a hillock, now madly descending it at break-neck speed, and 
scouring across the country. In the caravan all were huddled 
together in a compact mass ; and, in spite of our scepticism, 
'All insisted on the rifle being got ready for action, while he 
continued to brandish an old sword (which he had bought at 

4 



50 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



Erzcroum) in the most truculent manner. Notwithstanding all 
these preparations, no robbers appeared ; and, after we had 
been sutliciontly entertained by the evolutions of our escort, 
we were permitted to lapse once more into tranquillity, li^arly 
in the afternoon, after fording a river (the eminently picturesque 
brid'^e being broken down), and passing a pretty hamlet 
situated by the side of a stream, we arrived at the village of 
Zor;iwa, where we halted for the night. Here we obtained 
very fair quarters in the house of a fine-looking old man, with 
some knowledge of Persian. Four or five of the inhabitants 
came in to stare at us and smoke their halydns (" hubble- 
bubbles "), with intermittent attempts to mend a broken door. 
'All struck up a great friendship with our host, and, inspired 
by this, and the reilection that on the morrow we should reach 
a town of some importance, made him a present of all that 
remained of our tea. 

Next day (2Gth October) we found to our delight that our 
escort was reduced to two, who still continued their attempts 
to scare us with alarms of robbers. Whether the road was 
indeed dangerous I do not know, but it was certainly amazingly 
bad. About mid-day, on emerging from a very fine gorge, we 
saw at our feet a wide and cultivated plain, surrounded almost 
entirely by mountains, except to the right, in the direction of 
Urumiyye. In this plain lay the beautiful little city of Khiiy, 
and, somewhat nearer to us, the suburb of Pir(^ — both sur- 
rounded by a mass of gardens. The latter we reached in about 
an hour, and here we rested for a while. Thence onwards to 
the very walls of Khuy (appropriately styled " Bariis-mfd" 
" the Abode of Delight ") our way lay through pleasant gardens 
of poplars, willows, and fruit-trees, and fields planted with 
cotton. At 3.30 p.m. we entered the town, and put up at a 
clean and well-constructed caravansaray. 

"VAHiile the baggage was being unloaded, I perceived that 
we were undergoing an attentive scrutiny on the part of a 
magnificent-looking dervish, who wore on his head a green 
turban, of which one end depended over his shoulder, and 
carried in his hand a shining battle-axe. Presently he began 
to address enquiries to 'Ali, and, on learning from him that I 
spoke Persian, approached me and entered into conversation. 



i 



FROM THE PERSIAN FRONTIER TO TABRIZ 51 

He proved to be a native of Kirman, Mir Jalalu 'cl-Din by 
name ; and liis extraordinary fertility of imagination, which 
often carried him far beyond the bounds, not only of the 
jDrobable, but of the possible, rendered him a very amusing 
companion, if not a very reliable informant. He at once 
constituted himself our guide, philosopher, and friend, and 
hardly quitted us during the three days which we spent at 
Khuy, declaring that he perceived us to be excellent fellows, 
worthy of his society and conversation. He assured us that 
he had travelled much, and had thrice visited London, once in 
company with the Shah ; that he had instructed members of 
the Eussian royal family in Persian ; and that besides this, 
his native tongue, he was conversant with no less than ten 
languages, including Kurdish, Eussian, and the dialect of 
Sistan on the eastern frontier of Persia. Having given us 
these details about himself, he began to question us as to our 
destination, and, on learning that we were bound for Tabriz, 
told us that we must on no account omit to visit the towns of 
Salmas, Khusravabad, and Dilmaghan, more especially the 
latter, in which, as he declared, there were no less than a 
thousand English residents, who, through converse with 
dervishes and Sufis, had become enlightened and philosophical. 
While we were engaged in conversation, a man entered the 
room to enquire our names and whence we came, the object 
for which this information was sought being, as Mir Jalalu 'd- 
Din informed us with perfect gravity, that it might be 
inserted in the newspapers of Tabriz ! His imagination being 
now temporarily exhausted, our worthy friend bade us good- 
night ; and, promising to be with us betimes in the morning, 
and to show us something of the town, left us to repose. 

Our first business on awaking in the morning was to make 
enquiries as to the possibility of obtaining a bath in the 
adjacent licmimdm, and this indulgence was without difficulty 
accorded to us. On our return we found our friend the 
dervish awaiting our arrival. He at once launched out into a 
disquisition on things pertaining to his order. The true 'drif 
or adept, he informed us, was distinguished by four external 
signs : the tabar, or axe, which serves to protect him during 
his wanderings in the desert from ferocious beasts ; the 



52 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Irshhil, or gourd sluug on chains, in which he receives ahns ; 
the tdj, or felt cap embroidered witli texts, which crowns his 
head ; and the i/isii, or long locks, which fall over his shoulders. 
He then showed nie some pills, compounded, as he assured me, 
after a ju'escription of the sage Lokm;in, of a substance called 
harsh, and known by the name of habh-i-nishdt, or " pills of 
gladness." One of these he offered me to eat, assuring me 
that it would not fail to produce a most delightful sense of 
exhilaration and ecstasy ; but, although I complied with his 
invitation, I failed to observe any such effect. 

About i 1 A.M. we accompanied him for a stroll through the 
town. He first took us to a neighbouring caravansaray and 
introduced us to a Syrian Christian of Urumiyye, named 
Simon Abraham, who practised the trade of a photographer, 
and spoke English (which he had learned from the missionaries 
settled at that place) very well. He, in his turn, introduced 
us to another Syrian Christian, called Dr. Samuel, who kept 
a dispensary at the opposite side of the caravansaray, and who 
likewise possessed a good knowledge of English. Both received 
us very cordially, and did much to render pleasant our sojourn 
at Khuy. 

In the afternoon we were taken by the indefatigable Mir 
Jalalu 'd-Din to visit a tcky6, or retreat for dervishes, situated 
near the walls of the town. The dervishes, who were a most 
heterogeneous crew, including, besides Persians, Kurds and 
negroes, received us very hospitably, and gave us tea. On our 
return to the caravansaray, our companion introduced us to a 
rammdl, or geomancer, who occupied a room adjacent to ours. 
This votary of the occult sciences, Mirza Taki by name, was 
a native of Kirniiinshah. So far as I could see, he never 
quitted his cell, dividing his time between opium-smoking, 
tea-drinking, and casting the four dice-like brass cubes pivoted 
together whereby he essayed to unravel the mysteries of the 
future. After offering us a share of his tea, he proceeded to 
cast his dice and tell me my fortune, scribbling on a piece of 
paper the while, somewhat as follows : — " Three, tioo, one, two " 
(counting the numbers uppermost on the dice), " Praise be to 
AlliUi ! thou wert born under a lucky star. One, one, three, 
four ; thy journey will be a long one, and seven months at 



FROM THE PERSIAN FRONTIER TO TABR/Z 53 

least will elapse ere thou slialt see again thy native land. 
Tivo, two, four, two ; I take refuge with Allah, the Supreme, 
the Mighty! What is it that I see? Thou shalt without 
doubt incur a great danger on the road, and indeed it seemeth 
to me that one will attempt thy life before thou reachest 
Tabriz. Four, three, one, four ; thou hast already lost, or wilt 

sliortly lose, two things of value " (I immediately thought 

of my watch, and then recollected that I had informed Mir 
Jalalu 'd-Din of its loss). " Four, four, two, one ; our refuge 
is in God ! A violent storm will overtake thee on thy voyage 
homewards, but from this thou wilt, In-slia 'lldh, escape, by 
means of a talisman which I will prepare for thee. Thire, one, 
one, three ; on thy return home thou wilt marry and have four 
sons and three daughters. Four, tivo, three, one; thou hast, 
alas ! several powerful enemies, and an evil influence threatens 
thy star; but shouldst thou escape these (rs, please God, thou 
wilt do, by the help of a charm which I will presently write 
for thee), thou wilt without doubt gain the favour of thy Queen, 
and attain unto great prosperity — In-sha 'IWi ! Thy fortune," 
he continued, sweeping up the implements of his craft, " is, 
praise be to Allah, far from bad ; a proof of which is that thou 
hast fallen in with one truly skilled in the occult sciences, and 
endowed with all kinds of knowledge, who is able not only to 
warn thee of the misfortunes which threaten thee, but also 
to provide thee with the means of averting, or at least of 
mitigating, the same. The talismans which thou needest now 
are as follows : — One to protect thee from the attempt on thy 
life which will be made before thou reachest Tabriz ; one to 
ensure thy safety in the storm which will assail thee on thy 

homeward voyage ; one " 

" Honoured sir ! " I interrupted at this point, " before 
giving you the trouble of writing so many charms, I would 
fain have some further proof of the efficacy of your science. I 
do not, indeed, like many of my countrymen, deny its exist- 
ence, but of its truth I would desire a proof which 570U can 
easily afford me. To describe the events of the past is without 
doubt less difficult than to predict those of the future. Tell me, 
then, the name of my birthplace, the number of my brothers 
and sisters, and the adventures which have already befallen 



54 ^i YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

1110. Thou, iiuleed, shall T know for certain that you aro a 
skilful luai^ician, and that the science which you practise is not 
(as some of my uulx'licvin_Ljf countrymen assert) a vain and 
useless thing." 

lieasonable as this request appeared to niu to be, it did not 
seem to meet with the approbation of the geomancer, who 
appeared suddenly to lose interest in the conversation, seeing 
which we withdrew to our own room, where we subsequently 
received a visit from our Syrian friends, 

Next morning, before I was dressed, ]\Iir Jahilu 'd-Di'n 
appeared with two small manuscripts, both of which, he said, 
belonged to a poor Sufi, who was willing to sell them for a 
small sum only because he was stricken down by a mortal 
disease. One of these manuscripts contained, besides the well- 
known philosophical poem of Sheykh Mahmud Shabistari 
known as the G^ulshan-i-Rdz or " Eose Garden of Mystery," a 
treatise on the mystical science of managing the breath, from 
which he read me several long extracts. The other consisted 
of a few scattered pages from a work on medicine, which, he 
gravely informed me, had been written hj the hand of Galen 
himself, and discovered by himself and a comrade amongst the 
ruins of one of the lyyramids destroyed hy the English ! Not 
wishing to hurt the feelings of my ingenious friend by giving 
expression to my doubts, and thinking that some compensation 
was due to him for the trouble which he had been at to 
entertain us, I agreed to purchase these manuscripts for the 
moderate sum which he named. 

We next visited the dispensary of Dr. Samuel, whither 

H had already preceded us. Here for the first time I 

was able to appreciate the difficulties incidental to the practice 
of medicine amongst a people whose curiosity prompts them 
to hover round the physician long after their own cases have 
been dealt with, and who are only too eager to throw out 
hints on diagnosis and treatment whenever they get the oppor- 
tunity. Our visit to the dispensary was so far unfortunate 
that, on returning to our caravansaray towards evening, after a 
stroll in the bazaar and a chat with the postmaster, I found a 
crowd of people assembled outside, who, on beholding me, cried 
out, " He comes ! the Firangi hahim has arrived," and thronged 



FROM THE PERSIAN FRONTIER TO TABRIZ 55 

after me into the square. This assembly consisted of several 
sick people, accompanied by a number of their friends and 
relatives, who, hearing that we had some knowledge of medi- 
cine, were anxious to consult us. On enquiry I learned that 
they had previously been attending Dr. Samuel, from whom 
they had obtained medicine, of which they had only made a 
very brief trial. I therefore told them that they had better 
give his treatment a fair chance before deserting it for some 
new remedy, especially as I was convinced, both by conversa- 
tion with the Syrian doctor, and by observation of his practice, 
that he was at least as competent as myself to advise them. 

It was with much reoret that on the followino; morniucf 
(29th October) we prepared to quit Khuy. For some time I 
despaired of ever getting off. Inside the room, where we were 
vainly attempting to pack our things, were our Syrian friends, 
together witli Mir Jalalu 'd-Din, who had come to bid us fare- 
well. Outside were crowds of sick people come for advice 
and treatment, irregular soldiers anxious to be engaged as an 
escort, and idle spectators ; while above all was visible the 
ugly grinning face of Feyzu llah, the muleteer, trying to 
hasten our departure with cries of " Giclakh ! " which, in the 
Turkish dialect of Azarbaijan, signifies " Let us go." At 
length, about 11 a.m., our preparations were completed, and 
we were on the point of starting, when Mir Jalalu 'd-Din 
(who had disappeared for a while previously) approached me 
to bid me farewell and to give me two more proofs of his good 
will. The first of these was a letter of introduction to a 
brother dervish at Tabriz, who, he assured me, would very 
probably consent to accompany me on my travels, and would 
perhaps even return with me to my native country. Unfor- 
tunately, I was unable to put tliis statement to the test, and 
the letter was never used. The second was a small white 
circular object, looking like an unperforated and much-worn 
shirt button, which he said was a talisman, sufficient, in all 
probability, to protect me against the danger of being robbed 
or murdered which had been predicted by the opium-smoking 
geomancer. As a further precaution, however, he added that 
I should do well, in the event of robbers making their appear- 
ance, to dismount from my horse, take a handful of dust from 



56 A YEAR AAfONGST THE PERSIANS 

the road, Mow on it, and scatter it around me, at the same time 
uttering the " ])wni Ih'th," wlien the robbers would infallibly 
disperse. He then asked me to give him a nazr, or oflering of 
money, for the dervishes, who would exert their influence to 
protect me from harm, and, having received this, he finally 
bade me farewell. 

Quitting the town by a gate opposite to that by which we 
had entered it, we passed through a long avenue of poplars, 
and shortly afterwards reached a point where the road bifur- 
cated, one branch running southwards in tlie direction of 
Urumiyy6, and the other, which we pursued, eastwards 
towards the hills which we must cross to reach Tabriz. Near 
the summit of one of these hills was a small imdmzddS, or 
shrine, which, as Farach informed us, was reputed most effica- 
cious in curing persons afflicted with hydrophobia, or bitten 
by a serpent. After a short stage of four hours we reached a 
little village called Seyyid Tiiju 'd-Din, where we halted for 
the night. 

Next day we continued to ascend for about two hours, 
until we reached the top of the pass. From this we had a 
magnificent view of the great salt lake of Urumiyy^, glittering 
in the sun, and studded with numerous rocky islands, which, 
as an effect of the mirage, aj^peared deeply indented at the 
base. Descending by the dry bed of a river which did duty 
for a road, we soon entered the plain which skirts the lake on 
this its northern side. Here we fell in with a wandering 
snake-charmer, who, after exhibiting to us the immunity with 
which he handled his snakes, pressed us to buy pieces of dirty 
bread, which he assured us would prove an infallible remedy 
for snake-bites. This, however, I declined to do, for I thought 
myself sufficiently provided with talismans for the present. 

Before 2 p.m. we reached our halting-place, Tasuch, a large 
but uninteresting village distant about a mile from the shore 
of the lake. Nothing worthy of note befell us here, except 
the loss of a purse of money, which event our friend the 
geomancer, had he known of it, might perhaps have claimed as 
the fulfilment of a part of his prediction. 

The following day's march took us to Dize-Khalil, a good- 
sized village with a fair bazaar, situated amidst gardens of 



FROM THE PERSIAN FRONTIER TO TABRIZ 57 

poplars near the north-east corner of the lake. Here we 
obtained good quarters, where our host brought us, together 
with a present of flowers, an old copy of the Pilgrims Progress 
left behind by some previous traveller. 

Next day, Tuesday, 1st November, after a tedious march 
of nearly ten hours, broken by a short halt about 2 p.m. at 
a disconsolate village called Miyan, we reached Tabriz, the 
capital of the province of Azarbaijan, the residence of the 
Vali-ahd, or Crown Prince, and one of the largest, if not the 
largest, of the cities of Persia. Although we were provided 
with letters of introduction to Mr. Abbott, the British Consul, 
it was too late to think of presenting them that evening, and 
accordingly, after threading our way for nearly an hour 
through the vast suburbs which surround the city, we were 
glad to alight at the first respectable caravansaray which we 
came to. 

On the following morning we repaired to the British 
Consulate, and were very kindly received by Mr. Abbott and 
his wife, who invited us to be their guests during our sojourn 
in Tabriz. We gladly accepted this invitation, for we had not 
seen a European since leaving Erzeroum, and had not slept in 
a proper bed since we quitted the Hotel d'ltalie at Trebizonde. 

We remained at Tabriz four days. During this time we 
became acquainted with Mr. Whipple, one of the American 
missionaries, who kindly undertook to pilot us through the 
interminable labyrinth of bazaars (perhaps the most extensive 
in Persia), and the Turkish Consul, Behjet Bey, who, in 
addition to an excellent knowledge of Persian, possessed the 
best temper, the keenest sense of humour, the cheeriest laugh, 
and the most voracious appetite that I have ever seen in one 
of his nation. 

Although Tabriz is so important a town, it offers few 
attractions to the sight-seer beyond the bazaars, the " Blue 
Mosque " {Masjid-i-Kabud), and the citadel (Arg), of which the 
two last are said to date from the time of Haninu 'r-Eashid. 

Both of these monuments of antiquity we visited on the 
second day after our arrival. The Blue Mosque is now little 
more than a ruin, but the handsome tiles and inscriptions 
which still adorn its walls bear witness to its ancient splendour. 



58 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

The citadel (also said to have been originally a mosque) 
consists of a square enclosure with a sinf^le entrance, o])posite 
to M^hich rises a lol'ty, massive rectangular tower, accessible by 
means of a staircase in tlie left lateral wall of the quadrangle. 
The opposite side of the quadrangle is formed by a large 
amhdr, or magazine, now used as a storehouse for arms and 
ammunition. 

The view from the summit of the citadel is very extensive, 
and enabled me in some degree to realise the magnitude of the 
city, which lay below us like a map. From this height, in 
former days, criminals were sometimes hurled into the ditch 
below. On one occasion, we were informed, a woman con- 
demned to suffer death in this manner was so buoyed up by 
the air inflating her loose garments that she reached the 
ground uninjured. Whether this story is true or false I 
cannot say, neither did I pay much attention to its recital, my 
thoughts being occupied with the tragic death of the young 
prophet of Shiraz, Mirza 'Ali Muhammad, better known as 
the Bab, which took place on 9th July 1850, at or near this 
spot. As I shall have to say a good deal about the Babi 
religion in subsequent chapters, it may not be altogether out 
of place to give here a brief account of the life and death of 
its founder, although the history of these is well known, and 
has been repeatedly set forth.^ 

Mi'rza 'All Muhammad was born at Shiraz on 9th October 
1820. His father, Seyyid Muhammad Eiza, a cloth-merchant 
in that town, died while he was still of tender age, leaving 
him to the care of his uncle Haji Seyyid 'Ali. At the age of 
seventeen he was sent to the port of Bushire on the Persian 
Gulf, where, while engaged in transacting the business with 
which he had been entrusted, he rendered himself conspicuous 
not less by the austerity of his morals than by the sweetness 
and amiability of his disposition. Addicted from an early age 

^ See Gobineau's Religions et Philosopldes clans VAsic Centrale ; Jlirza Kazem- 
Beg's articles on Bab et les Bdbys in the Journal Asiatiquc for 1866 ; several 
articles by myself in the Jov^rnal of the Royal Asiatic Society for 1889 and 1892 ; 
the Traveller's Narrative, written to illustrate the Episode of the Bah, edited, 
translated, and annotated by me for the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 
(1891) ; and my forthcoming translation of the New History of Mirzd 'Ali 
Muhammad the Bdb (1893). 



FROM THE PERSIAN FRONTIER TO TABRIZ 59 

to religious meditation, he was soon impelled to abandon com- 
mercial pursuits and to undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca and 
the shrines of the Imams (so dear to every pious Persian) at 
Nejef and Kerbela. Here he became the pupil of Haji Seyyid 
Kazim of Eesht, a theologian who, notwithstanding the enmity 
and opposition of the orthodox Shi'ite clergy, had already 
begun to exert a considerable influence on Persian thought, 
and to gather round him a numerous band of ardent disciples. 
Mi'rza 'All Muhammad, in spite of his youth and retiring dis- 
position, soon attracted the attention of this teacher, who did 
not fail to be struck by the sweet and thoughtful countenance 
of the young Shirazi. Nor was Seyyid Kazim the only one who 
yielded to a charm which few could wholly resist. Many 
other learned and devout men began to look with respect and 
affection on one whose humility only served to throw his other 
virtues into bolder relief. Thus were sown the seeds of that 
devotion which was destined ere long to write the testimony of 
its sincerity in letters of blood throughout the length and 
breadth of the Persian land, and which was to prove once 
more to the world that all the torments which the tyrant can 
devise or the torturer execute are impotent to subdue the 
courage born of faith and enthusiasm. 

It is unnecessary for me to describe in detail the process 
whereby there grew up in the mind of Mirza 'Ali Muhammad 
a conviction that he was destined to become the reformer and 
saviour of his nation. Suffice it to say, that, after a prolonged 
inward struggle, on 23rd May 1844 he proclaimed himself 
to the world as the Bah or Gate whereby men might win to 
the sacred mysteries and spiritual truths of which he had 
become the recipient. 

Before long he had gathered round himself a number of 
disciples. Amongst these were many of the most distinguished 
pupils of Seyyid Kazim, whose recent death had left them 
temporarily without a recognised head. They eagerly adopted 
the doctrines of their former fellow-student, and began to 
preach them openly wherever they went, so that in a short 
time the fame of Mi'rza 'All Muhammad was noised abroad 
throughout the whole of Persia, and everywhere men began to 
say that the Imam Mahdi had come at last for the deliverance 



6o .-; YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

of the nations ami the establishment, of universal justice ami 
peace. 

At first but little attention M^as paid to the new sect by 
the government or clergy, but towards the end of tlie summer 
of 1845 they began to be alarmed at its rapid spread, and 
took measures to check its progress. The Bi'ib, who had just 
returned from Mecca to Bushire, was brought to Shiraz and 
placed in confinement. His followers were prohibited from 
discussing his doctrines in public, and some of the more active 
were beaten, mutilated, and expelled from the town. In the 
early summer of 1846, however, a plague broke out in Shi'nlz, 
and, during the general consternation caused by this, the ]3;Lb 
effected his escape, and made his way to Isfahan, where he 
was well received by Minuchihr Khan, governor of that city, 
who afforded him protection and hospitality for nearly a 
year. 

Early in 1847 Minuchiln- Khan died, and his successor, 
anxious to curry favour with the Government, sent the Bab, 
under the care of an escort of armed horsemen, to the capital. 
So serious were the apprehensions already entertained by the 
Government of a popular demonstration in the prisoner's 
favour, that his guards had received instructions to avoid 
entering the towns by which they must needs pass. At 
Kashan, however, a respectable merchant named Mirza Jjini',^ 
who subsequently suffered martyrdom for his faith, prevailed 
on them by means of a bribe to allow their prisoner to tarry 
with him two days. At the village of Khanlik, also near 
Teheran, a number of believers came out to meet the Bab. 
Amongst these was Mirza Huseyn 'Ali of Nur in Mazandaran, 
who, at a later date, under the title of BcMu'lWi (" the Splen- 
dour of God "), was recognised by the great majority of the 
Babis as their spiritual chief, and who, till his death on 16 th 

^ Mirza Jani's chief claim to distinction is as the historian of the move- 
ment for which he gave his life. His liistory, of primary importance for the 
study of Babiism, contains a vast number of curious particulars, doctrinal and 
biographical, which have been omitted (not unintentionally) by later Babi 
■writers. It is, however, exti-emely rare. So far as I knoAV, only two manuscri})ts 
of it exist, and one of these contains only a third part of the work. Both these 
manuscripts belonged fonnerly to the Comte de Gobineau, and both are now in 
the Bibliotheque Rationale at Paris. See my translation of the New liistory, 
Introduction, and Appendix ii. * 



\ 



FROM THE PERSIAN FRONTIER TO TABRIZ 6i 

May 1892, resided at Acre in Syria, surrounded by a band 
of faithful followers, and visited yearly by numbers of 
pilgrims. 

The late king, Muhammad Shah, and his chief minister, 
Haji Mirza Aghasi, dreading the effect likely to be produced 
in the capital by the presence of the Bab, determined to send 
him to the fortress of M;ikii on the north-west frontier of 
Persia, without allowing him to enter Teheran. Thither he 
was accordingly conveyed ; but at Zanjan and Milan he 
received a popular ovation, and even at Maku it was found 
impossible to prevent him from receiving occasional letters and 
visits from his adherents. Nor did the plan of transferrin q; 
him to the sterner custody of Yahya Khan, governor of the 
castle of Chihrik, near Urumiyye, meet with much better 
success in this respect. 

Meantime, while the Bab was occupying the weary days of 
his imprisonment in compiling and arranging the books des- 
tined to serve as a guide to his followers after the fate which 
he had but too much cause to apprehend should have removed 
him from their midst, his emissaries were actively engaged in 
propagating his doctrines. Fiery enthusiasm on the part of 
these was met by fierce opposition from the orthodox party, 
headed by the clergy, and it needed only the confusion and 
disorder introduced into all departments of the empire by the 
death of Muhammad Shah (5th October 1848) to bring the 
two factions into armed collision. The strife, once kindled, 
rapidly assumed the most alarming proportions, and the reign 
of the present king, ISTasiru'd-Din Shah, was inaugurated by 
formidable insurrections of the Babis at Yezd, Ni'riz, Zanjan, 
and in Mazandaran. Of the two latter risings I shall have to 
say something when I come to speak of the j)laces at which 
they occurred. For the present it is sufficient to state that, 
after the rising in Mazandaran had been suppressed with 
great difficulty and the sacrifice of many lives, a revolt, which 
threatened to defy the united efforts of the whole Persian 
army, broke out at Zanjan. Thereupon, by the advice of Mirza 
Taki Khiin (at that time prime minister to the young king), 
an attempt was made to strike terror into the hearts of the 
insurgents, and to fill their minds with despair, by the public 



62 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

execution of (lie r.;ll), nvIki, though innocent of any direct 
share in the plans or councils of the rebels, was regarded as 
tlie source from which they drew the enthusiasm wliich in- 
spired them with a resolution so obstinate and a courage so 
invincible. 

Accordingly, orders were despatched to I'abn'z to bring 
the Biib thither from his prison-house, and, after the form of 
a trial, to put him to death. After enduring all manner of 
insults at the hands of the Government authorities, the clergy, 
and the rabble of the city, through the streets of which he 
was dragged for many hours, he was finally brought to the 
place of execution, near the citadel, a little before sundown. 
An immense crowd, drawn thither some by sympatliy, others 
by a vindictive desire to witness the death of one whom they 
regarded as an arch-heretic, but actuated for the most part, 
probably, by mere curiosity, was here assembled. Many of 
those who composed it were at least half- convinced of the 
divine mission of the Bab ; others, who had come with feel- 
ings of animosity or indifference, were moved to compassion 
by the sight of the youthful victim, who continued to manifest 
the same dignity and fortitude which had characterised him 
during the whole period of his imprisonment. 

The Bab was not to suffer alone. The sentence which 
had been pronounced against him included also two of his 
disciples. One of these, Aka Seyyid Huseyn of Yezd, who 
had been his companion and amanuensis during the whole 
period of his captivity, either actuated by a momentary but 
uncontrollable fear of death, or, as the Babis assert with more 
probability, obediently to orders received from his Master, 
bidding him escape at all hazards and convey to the faithful 
the sacred writings of which he was the depositary, declared 
himself willing to renounce the creed for which he had 
already sacrificed so much, and tlie Master to whom he had 
hitherto so faithfully adhered. His recantation was accepted 
and his life spared, but his death was only deferred for two 
years. In September 1852 he met the fate which he no 
longer affected to fear amongst the martyrs of Teheran. 

The other disciple was a young merchant of Tabriz, named 
Aka Muhammad 'Ali. Although every effort was made to 



FROM THE PERSIAN FRONTIER TO TABRIZ 63 

induce him to follow the example of his comrade, and though 
his wife and little children were brought before him, entreat- 
ing him with tears to save his life, he stood firm in his faith, 
and only requested that at the moment of death he might still 
be allowed to fix his gaze on his Master. Finding all efforts 
to alter his decision unavailing, the executioners proceeded to 
suspend him alongside of his Master at the distance of a few 
feet from the ground by means of cords passed under the 
arms. As he hung thus he was heard to address the Bab in 
these words : " Master ! art thou satisfied with me ? " Then 
the file of soldiers drawn up before the prisoners received the 
command to fire, and for a moment the smoke of the volley 
concealed the sufferers from view. "When it rolled away, a 
cry of mingled exultation and terror arose from the sjDectators, 
for, while the bleeding corpse of the disciple hung suspended 
in the air pierced with bullets, the Bab hod disappeared from 
sight ! It seemed, indeed, that his life had been preserved by 
a miracle, for, of the storm of bullets which had been aimed 
at him, not one had touched him ; nay, instead of death they 
had brought him deliverance by cutting the ropes which 
bound him, so that he fell to the ground unhurt. 

For a moment even the executioners were overwhelmed 
with amazement, which rapidly gave place to alarm as they 
reflected what efiect this marvellous deliverance was likely to 
have on the inconstant and impressionable multitude. These 
apprehensions, however, were of short duration. One of the 
soldiers espied the B;ib hiding in a guardroom which opened 
on to the stone platform over which he had been suspended. 
He was seized, dragged fortli, and again suspended ; a new 
firing -party was ordered to advance (for the men who had 
composed the first refused to act again) ; and before the 
spectators had recovered from their first astonishment, or the 
Babis had had time to attempt a rescue, the body of the 
young prophet of Shiniz was riddled with bullets. 

The two corpses were dragged through the streets and 
bazaars, and cast out beyond the city gates to be devoured by 
dogs and jackals. From this last indignity, however, they 
were saved by the devotion of Suleyman Khan and a few 
other believers, who, whether by force, bribes, or the influence 



64 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

of powerful friends, succeeded in obtaining possession of them. 
They were wrapped in white silk, })laced in one coIlin, and 
sent to Tolionin, where, by order of Mi'rzii Yahyt'i Huhk-i-Ezcl 
(" the ^lorniug of Eternity," who, thougli but twenty years of 
age, had been chosen to succeed the Bab), they were deposited 
in a little shrine called Imdm-zdd4-i-Ma sibn, which stands by 
the Hamadiin road not far from liibat-Kari'm. Here they 
remained undisturbed for seventeen or eighteen years, till the 
schism originated by Beh;i deprived his half-brother Ezel of 
the supremacy in the B;ibi Church which he had hitherto 
enjoyed, when they were removed by the Beha'is, to whom 
alone is now known the last resting-place of the glorious 
martyrs of Tabriz. 



CHAPTER IV 

FEOM TABRfz TO TEHERAN 

"We have a liorrour for uncouth monsters; but, upon experience, all these 
bugs grow familiar and easy to us." — L' Estrange. 

On Monday, 7tli November, bidding farewell to onr kind host, 
we quitted Tabriz as we had entered it, with Farach's animals, 
which we had decided to re-engage at sixty-five krdns a head 
(nearly £2 sterling) for our journey to the capital. Contrary 
to the general rule, we managed to begin our journey with a 
good long stage of eight farsakhs} We passed nothing of 
interest except a large sheet of water, lying to the north of the 
road, on which were multitudes of water-fowl ; and, as we had 
made a late start, it was more than an hour after sundown 
when we reached Haji-Aka, where we halted for the night. 

Next day we were joined on the road by a horseman of 
respectable appearance, who accompanied us on our journey as 
far as Miyane. His name, as I discovered, was Mirzu Htishim, 
and his conversation did much to beguile the tediousness of 
the way. Approaching the subject with some diffidence, I 
asked him to tell me what he knew about the Babi insur- 
rection at Zanjan. He answered that he could not tell me 
much about it, except that the insurgents, whose numbers 

^ The farsakJi, farsang, or parasang is a somewhat variable measure of length 
averaging about 3| miles. As Dr. Wills has remarked {Land of the Lion and 
the Sun), it varies with the nature of the ground, being longer when the road is 
good, and shorter when it is bad. This leads me to believe that it is intended to 
indicate the distance which can be traversed in an hour by a good horse going 
at walking pace. It is, however, considerably longer than the Turkish "hour" 
(saat), which is only 3 miles. A caravan rarely covers afarsakh in an hour. 

5 



66 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

hardly oxcecclecl 300 fighting men, hold at bay an ;iniiy (if 
nearly 10,000 men for nine months. He added that he liad 
himself known one of them who had succeeded in eflecting his 
escape after the sack of the town, and wlio used to boast that 
he had with his own hand slain lOOU ui' the royal troops ! 

In the course of the morning we passed a fine -looking 
though somewhat ruined building, situated on the left side of 
the road opposite to the village of Tikme-Tash, Mdiich our 
companion informed us was a palace built for the Shjih nearly 
forty years ago, on the occasion of his visiting this part of his 
dominions. Since then it has remained unused, and has been 
allowed to fall into disrepair. Another neglected palace of 
this sort exists farther east, at Sultitniyye. 

Farther on w^e passed two fine old caravansarays, constructed 
with the care and solidity which characterise all the work 
done in the glorious days of the Safavi kings. These, how- 
ever, we passed without halting, and pushed on to ly'ira 
Chiman, a picturesquely situated village, lying somewhat to 
the south of the main road in a little valley through which 
runs a river bordered with groves of poplar trees. Here we 
obtained very good quarters in a clean, well-constructed hdld- 
khdn6 (upper room), commanding a fine view of the valley, 
river, and village. 

Next morning (9th Xovember) we passed, soon after start- 
ing, two large villages, situated at some distance from the road, 
the one to the north, the other to the south. The former is 
called Bashsiz, the latter Bulgliawar. Beyond tliese there was 
little worthy of note in the parched-up undulating country 
through which our road lav, until, about ?> P.M., we reached 
our halting-place, Suma, wdiere we obtained good quarters at 
the house of one Mashhadi Hasan. In the evening we received 
a \dsit from our travelling companion, Mirza Ilashim ; and as 
our next stage would bring us to ]\Iiyaue, which enjoys so evil 
a reputation by reason of the poisonous bugs which infest it, 
we asked him whether it was true, as is currently reported, 
that the bite of these animals proves fatal to a stranger. After 
assuring us that this was sometimes the case, he informed us 
that the so-called " Miyan^ bug," or '' mala" was not altogether 
confined to that town, but that it also occurred in Suma, the 



FROM TABRIZ TO TEHERAN 67 

village wherein we then were. The villagers, he added, have 
the following curious story about its origin : — 

Once upon a time a native of Siinia went to the neigh- 
bouring village of Hashtarud, where he became involved in a 
quarrel with the inhabitants, which culminated in his being- 
murdered by them. From the body of the murdered man 
emerged a number of these malas, which established themselves 
in the villagre of Si'una. Whenever a native of Hashtarud 
arrives there, they remember the blood -feud which exists, and 
avenge the death of their " ancestor " by inflicting a fatal bite 
upon the descendant of his murderers. To all others, however, 
their bite, though painful, is comparatively harmless. 

Mi'rza Hashim then told us of the severity of the winters 
at Ardabil, and showed us a woollen cap with coverings for the 
ears, admirably adapted for a protection against severe cold. 
Having informed me that he had refused to sell it for fifteen 
krdns (rather less than ten shillings), he offered to make me a 
present of it. Of course I politely declined his offer, telling 
him that I could not consent to deprive him of so valuable a 
possession ; for I had no need of the cap, and did not think it 
worth the sum he had mentioned. 

Europeans travelling in Persia have sometimes complained 
of what they regard as the meanness of the Persians in offering 
presents in return for which they expect money. It appears 
to me that this complaint arises from a failure to understand 
the fact that such an offer from a man of distinctly lower rank 
than oneself is merely tantamount to a declaration that he is 
willing to sell or exchange the article in question. When he 
offers to give it as a present, he merely uses the same figure of 
speech as did Ephron the Hittite in negotiating the sale of the 
cave of Machpelah with Abraham. All peoples make use, to a 
greater or less extent, of similar euphemisms, and we have no 
more right to blame a poor Persian for offering us a " present," 
in return for which he expects to receive equivalent value, 
than to censure as sordid the desire expressed by a cabman to 
be " remembered " by us. 

As I have touched on this subject, I may as well say 
something about presents in general. There are not fewer 
than eight words more or less commonly used in Persian 



68 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

in this sense. Of these, tliree, viz. armwjhdn, rah-dvard, ami 
fiduyhiU, signify any object which one brings back from a jour- 
ney to give to one's friends at home. YddifjAr is a keepsake, 
to remind the owner of the absent friend by whom it was given. 
Iladii/i/t' is a general term for any sort of present. There 
remain the terms tadrvf, pish-lxsh, and in dm, each of which 
requires a somewhat fuller explanation. 

The first of these signifies a present given to some one of 
about the same social rank as the donor. In such cases no 
return is usually expected, at any rate in money. Sometimes, 
however, the term is used by one who, while desirous of receiv- 
ing the monetary equivalent of that which he offers, does not 
wish to admit his social inferiority to the person to whom the 
" present " is offered by using the term 2nsh-kcsh. 

When, however, a peasant, servant, muleteer, gardener, or 
the like, offers a present of fiowers, fruits, or fowls to the 
traveller, he calls it a iJish-kcsh (offering), and for such he gener- 
ally expects at least the proper value in money of the article 
so offered. When the " present " is something to which a 
definite monetary value can be assigned {e.g. an article of food), 
this is only right and proper. To expect a poor villager to 
supply travellers gratis with the necessaries of life, W'hicli he 
can often ill spare, and to blame him for desiring to receive the 
value of the same, is surely the height of absurdity. With 
presents of flowers the case is somewhat different. It often 
happens that the traveller, on visiting a garden, for instance, is 
confronted on his exit by a row of gardeners, each of wliom 
offers him a bunch of flowers. He is then placed in rather a 
dilemma, for, on the one hand, he feels some delicacy^ in refus- 
ing what may, after all, be a gift prompted solely by courtesy 
and kindness ; while, on the other hand, he may not care to 
pay several krdns for that which is of no use to him. Even in 
this case I think that EurojDeans are partly to blame for a 
custom which has, in some of the more frequented parts of 
Persia, become an intolerable nuisance. My reason for believ- 
ing that what sometimes amounts to little less than a system 
of extortion (theoretically capable of unlimited expansion so long 
as there is a handful of flowers in the village and a peasant to 
bring and offer the same) originally grew out of a graceful and 



FROM TABRIZ TO TEHERAn 69 

courteous custom of welcoming a stranger by presenting him 
with a nosegay, is that in parts of Persia less frequently visited 
by Europeans, such as the neighbourhood of Yezd and Kirman, 
I have often been given a handful of roses or other flowers by 
a passing peasant, who continued on his w^ay after the accom- 
plishment of this little act of courtesy without once pausing or 
looking back in expectation of receiving a reward. 

As regards the last kind of present, the in Am, or gratuity, 
it is, as its name implies, one bestowed by a superior on an 
inferior, and is almost always given in the form of money. 
The term is applied not only to the presents of money spoken 
of above, but to the gratuities given to villagers in whose 
houses one puts up for the night, keepers of caravansarays and 
post-houses at which one alights, 8Muj%rd-cli{i'pars who accompany 
one on each stage in posting to show the way and bring back 
the horses, servants in houses at which one stays, and, in short, 
any one of humble rank who renders one a service. To 
determine the amount which ought to be given in any 
particular case is sometimes rather a difficult matter for the 
traveller. 

A reliable native servant is of great use in this matter ; 
and should the traveller possess such, he will do well to follow 
his advice until he is able to judge for himself. The most 
costly 171 dms, and those which one is most inclined to grudge, 
are such as must occasionally be given to the farrdsJies of a 
governor or other great man, who are sent to bear a present 
from their master, or to meet the traveller and form his 
escort. To these I shall have occasion to allude again. 

I must now return from this digression to our march of 
10 th November. The day was cloudy and overcast, and soon 
after we had started a gentle rain began to fall. We crossed 
the river Kizil Uzan in several places, and for a considerable 
distance wended our way along its broad gravelly bed. 
Traversing the crest of a hill soon after mid-day, we came in 
full view of the little town of Miyane, which looked very 
pretty with its blue domes and background of poplars and 
willows. We had no sooner reached the outskirts of the town 
than we were met by a number of the inhabitants, each eager 
to induce us to take up our quarters at his house, the 



70 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

ailvantages of wliiili lu' loudly proclaiinod. No sooner had we 
aliLjlited at one i)laee to examine the quarters offered, than all 
the competitors of its owner cried out with one accord that if 
we put up tliQre we should assuredly suffer from the bite of 
the poisonous bugs with which, they averred, the house in 
question swarmed. We accordingly moved on to another 
house, where the same scene was repeated, each man represent- 
ing his own house as the one place in the town free from this 
pest, and everyone except the owner uniting in the condemnation 
of any quarters which we seemed likely to select, finally, in 
despair we selected the first clean-looking room which presented 
itself, and occupied it, regardless of the warnings of the 
disappointed competitors, who at length departed, assuring us 
that we had pitched on one of the very worst houses in the 
whole town. 

Soon after our arrival we took a walk through the town, 
and visited the tolerably good bazaars (in which we purchased 
some dried figs, and a fruit called idar, or, in Turkish, hliunnOb, 
somewhat resembling a small date, with a very large stone), and 
the imdmzdde, of which the blue dome is the most conspicuous 
feature of Miyand. Here, as it was Thursday evening (shah-i- 
junia, the eve of Friday), many people were assembled to 
witness a taziya, or representation of the sufferings of the 
Im;ims Hasan and Huseyn. In the enclosure surrounding the 
building was seated a half-naked man, who held in his hand a 
scourge armed with iron thongs, wherewith he occasionally 
struck himself on the shoulders and back. All those who 
entered this enclosure, from which we were excluded, kissed 
the chains which hung in festoons across the gate. 

On returning to our quarters we found a man who had 
brought his horse to consult us about its eye, which had 
received a slight injury. After advising him as to its 
treatment, we entered into conversation with him. He warned 
us that in spite of the apparent cleanliness of our lodging, he 
knew for certain that there were bugs in it ; but on questioning 
him further, it appeared that his only reason for saying so was 
that he had seen one three years ago. Nevertheless, he advised 
us to take two precautions, which he assured us would protect 
us from injury : firstly, to keep a candle burning all night ; 



FROM TABRIZ TO TEHERAN 71 

secondly, to take a small quantity of the spirit called 'arah 
just before going to bed. We neglected the first of these 
measures, but not the second ; and whether owing to this, or to 
the absence of the malas, we slept untroubled by the noxious 
insects which have given to Miyane so evil a reputation. 

Our road next day led us towards the imposing-looking 
mass of the Kaflan-Kiih. A tortuous path brought us to the 
summit of the pass, whence we again descended to the river, 
which we crossed by a fine bridge. On the other side of this 
bridge we were met by a man who besought us to help him in 
recovering his horse from the soldiers at an adjacent guard- 
house, who had, as he alleged, forcibly and wrongfully taken it 
from him. We accordingly went with him to the guard-house, 
and endeavoured to ascertain the truth of the matter, and, if 
possible, effect a satisfactory settlement. lu answer to our 
enquiries, the soldiers informed us that they had reason to 
suspect that the horse had been stolen, as it was too valuable 
an animal to be the lawful property of the man in whose 
possession they had found it. They added that if he desired 
to recover it, he must go to Miyan^ and obtain a paper from 
some respectable citizen to certify that the horse really 
belonged to him, when it would be restored to him. With 
this explanation and promise we were compelled to be satis- 
fied, and proceeded on our way till we reached another pass. 
On crossing this, we entered on an immense flat table-land, 
the surface of which was thrown into conical mounds resembling 
gigantic ant-hills, and thinly covered with mountain plants, which 
perfumed the air with their fragrance. The ground was riddled 
with the holes of what appeared to be a kind of jerboa. These 
little animals were very fearless, and allowed us to approach 
quite close to them before they retreated into their burrows. 

About 4 P.M. we reached the compact and almost treeless 
village of Sarcham, where we halted for the night. Just before 
reaching it we came up with one of those " caravans of the 
dead," so graphically described by Vambery. The coffins 
(which differ in some degree from those used in Europe, the 
upper end being flat instead of convex, and furnished with two 
short handles, like a wheelbarrow) were sewn up in sacking, to 
which was affixed a paper label bearing the name of the 



72 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

deceased. Each niiiinal in this dismal caravan was laden M'illi 
two or three cothns, on llm lop of which was mounted, in sonic 
cases, a man or woman, related probably to one of tlic 
deceased, whose bodies were on their M'ay to their last resting- 
place in the sacred precincts of Kum. 

We had no ditliculty in getting lodgings at Sarcham, for 
the place contains an extraordinary number of caravansarays, 
considering its small size, and the inhabitants vied with each 
other in offering hospitality. 

Next day (Saturday, 12 th November) we started early, 
being given to understand that a long stage lay before us. All 
day we followed the course of the river, which is a tributary of 
the Kizil Uzan, though here it seems to be known by the name 
of the Zanj;in-ab. Dense fogs obscured the sun in the earlier 
part of the day, but these rolled away as the heat increased, 
leaving a cloudless sky. The air was perfumed with the scent 
of the plant which we had observed on the preceding day. 
On our march we passed three immense caravans, consisting 
respectively of 102, 72, and 39 camels, bearing merchandise 
to Tabriz. There is to my mind an indescribable dignity 
about the camel, who seems to eye one scornfully with half- 
turned head as he passes majestically on his way ; and the 
sight of a string of these animals was one of which I never 
grew weary. On the road we saw a serpent, as well as 
numbers of lizards, and a small tortoise, which our muleteers 
called s2Mrghd, a word which I have never heard elsewhere, 
and which seems to be purely local. 

About 3 P.M. we reached the village of Nikh-beg, where we 
halted. It is a squalid-looking place, devoid of trees, and only 
remarkable for a very fine old caravansaray of the Safavi 
period, which bears an inscription over the gateway to the 
effect that it was repaired by order of Shah Safi, who alighted 
here on his return from the successful siege of the fortress of 
Erivan, While copying this inscription, we were surprised 
and pleased to perceive the approach of Mr. Whipple, the 
American missionary, who was posting from Tabriz to 
Hamadan to visit his fellow- workers there. 

Our next stage brought us to the considerable town of 
Zanjan, so celebrated for its obstinate defence by the Babis 



FROM TABRIZ TO TEHERAn -ji 

against the royal troops in the year 1850. It lies in a plain 
surrounded by hills, and is situated near, but not on, the river 
called Zanjan-ab, which is at this point surrounded by gardens. 
The town has never recovered from the effects of the siege, for, 
besides the injury which it sustained from the cannonade to 
which it was exposed for several months, a considerable 
portion was burnt by the besieged on one occasion, when they 
were hard pressed by the enemy, to create a diversion. We 
entered the town by the western gate, passing on our left an 
extensive cemetery, of which two blue-domed imdmzdcUs con- 
stitute the most conspicuous feature. 

We alighted at a caravansaray near the bazaar, which we 
visited shortly after our arrival. It is not very extensive, 
being limited to one long street running east and west more 
than half through the town (which is much longer in this 
direction than from north to south). The great drawback to 
Zanjan is the enormous number of beggars who throng its 
streets and importune the traveller for alms with cries of 
"Allah oiejdt versin ! Alldh nejdt versin ! " (" May God give you 
salvation ! ") In this respect it is unrivalled, so far as I have 
seen, by any town in Persia, with the exception of Kirman ; 
and even there, though the poverty of the mendicant classes is 
probably greater, their importunity is far less. 

In the evening we received a visit from a very rascally- 
looking Teherani with a frightful squint, who enquired if we 
had any 'arak, and, on learning that we had, requested per- 
mission to introduce some companions of his who were waiting 
outside. These presently appeared, and, having done full 
justice to the 'arah, which they finished off" suggested that we 
might perhaps like to hear a song. Without waiting for an 
answer, one of them broke forth into the most discordant 
strains, shouting the end of each verse which struck him as 
peculiarly touching into the ear of the man who sat next him, 
who received it with a drunken simper and a languid " Bali " 
("Yes"), as though it had been a question addressed to him. 
When this entertainment had come to an end, the eyes of our 
visitors fell on my pocket-flask, which they began to admire, 
saying, " This bottle is very good, and admirably adapted for 
the pocket . . . but we have already given enough trouble." 



74 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

As I affected not to uiiderstaiul tlio purport of their remarks, 
tliey ])re.sently departed, to our ^i;reat satisfaction. From the 
dilllculty which the squint-eyed man seemed to experience in 
gettinjj; his feet into his shoes, I fancied that our 'aixik was not 
the first wliich he had tasted tliat night. 

"We remained at ZanjVin during the next day, for I was 
anxious to examine the town and its walls, with a view to 
obtaining a clearer idea of the history of the siege, and the 
causes which had enabled the Babi insurgents to keep the 
royal troops at bay so long. Sir Henry Bethune, quoted by 
Watson in his History of Persia render the Kdjdr Dynasty, says 
that in his opinion the place ought to have been subdued by a 
regular army in a few days, and, so far as I can judge, it 
possesses no natural advantages as a stronghold. It is true 
that it is surrounded by a wall (now destroyed in some places), 
but though this averages twenty or twenty-five feet in height, 
it is built of no stronger material than unbaked clay. The 
desperate resistance offered by the Babi's must therefore be 
attributed less to the strength of the position which they 
occupied than to the extraordinary valour with which they 
defended themselves. Even the women took part in the 
defence, and I subsequently heard it stated on good authority 
that, like the Carthaginian women of old, they cut off their long 
hair, and bound it round the crazy guns to afford them the 
necessary support. The fiercest fighting was on the north and 
north-west sides of the town, by the cemetery and Tabriz gate. 
Unfortunately there was no one from whom I could obtain 
detailed information about the siege. This I regretted the 
more because I was convinced that, could I have found them, 
there must have been many persons resident in Zanjan who 
had witnessed it, or even taken part in it. I had, how- 
ever, at that time no clue to guide me to those who would 
probably have preserved the most circumstantial details about 
it, viz. the Babis. There was therefore nothing to induce me 
to prolong my stay, and accordingly, after one day's halt, we 
left Zanjan on 15th November for Sultaniyye. 

The road from Zanjan to Sultaniyye runs through a per- 
fectly flat stony plain bounded by low hills to the north and 
the south, and is devoid of interest. Nearly three hours 



FROM TABRIZ TO TEHERAN 75 

before reaching the latter place we could plainly see the great 
green dome of the mosque for which it is so celebrated. From a 
distance this appeared to form part of a mass of buildings, 
which, on nearer approach, proved to be a large palace con- 
structed in the modern style, and situated some way to the 
north-west of the mosque. 

We paid a visit to the mosque immediately on our arrival, 
and were shown over it by an old Seyyid who spoke Persian. 
It is built in the shape of an octagon, and is surmounted by 
the large green dome which forms so conspicuous a feature of 
the landscape. From one side of the octagon (that farthest 
from the road) is thrown out a rectangular annexe containing 
the milirdh. The main entrance is on the east side. The 
interior of the building is lined with most exquisite tile-work, 
and beautiful inscriptions in Arabic. In some places, where 
these tiles have been destroyed or removod, an older, deeper 
layer of still finer pattern is visible. As the mosque is no 
longer used, the European traveller meets with none of the 
difficulties which usually form an insuperable obstacle to 
visiting similar buildings in Persia. The village of Sultaniyy^ 
must formerly have been a flourishing place, but it now consists 
of only a few hovels, which form a sad contrast to the ancient 
splendour of the mosque. 

As to the date when the mosque was built, our guide was 
unable to inform us, but he said that it had been repaired 
and beautified by Shah Ivhuda - Bande, concerning whom he 
repeated some lines of doggerel, which we had already heard 
from the muleteer, and which ran as follows : — 

" Ey Shah Khudu-Bande, 
Zulm kunande, 
Ihi toy'dk Mr kande ! " 

" Shah Khuda-bancle, practiser of tyranny, two fowls to one village ! " 

The last line of this is Turkish : what event it alludes to, or 
what its real purport is, I was unable to ascertain. Our 
guide informed us that some time ago a European engineer 
had spent a week at this place, making elaborate plans and 
drawings of the mosque. Having completed our inspection, 
we offered a small sum of money to the old Seyyid who had 



76 .-/ YEAR ylAfONGST THE PERSIANS 

accompanied us; 1ml he bade us give wliatever we wished to 
his sou, a little boy, who liad also followed us. I accordingly 
gave him two krdns, wliich appeared to mo a sufficient recom- 
pense for the amount of trouble we luul ^iven, but the Seyyid 
seemed to be of a different opinion, remarking tliat it was " a 
very trivial sum for people of distinction." I asked him what 
reason he had for supposing that we were " people of distinc- 
tion," to which he only replied that we were " vniklddr " 
— free to do as we pleased. 

Besides the mosque and the palace, there are several little 
imdmzdd^s at Sultiiniyye, and I was anxious to remain another 
day to examine these. Farach, however, appeared to divine 
my intention and took pains to frustrate it, for he avoided me 
all the evening, instead of coming in after supper, as he 
usually did, to discuss the events of the day, and sent off all 
the baggage early in the morning, so that we had no course 
open to us but to proceed. After another uneventful stage, 
we reached our next halting-place of Khurram-der^ — a pretty 
village situated on a river, surrounded by poplars and willows 
— about 4.30 p.m. Here, as usual, we were very hospitably 
received by the villagers, two of whom came out some 
distance to meet us and conduct us to their house, where we 
were lodged in a very good upper room, thickly carpeted, 
and furnished with eight large windows provided with 
shutters. 

Next day we started early, the muleteers pretending that 
they would try to reach Kazvin that evening, which, as I 
believe, they had from the first no intention of doing. Our 
road ran towards the north-east in the direction of a low 
range of hills. On reaching the highest point of the ridge we 
could see before us the mighty range of the Elburz mountains, 
which separates Persian 'Irak from the humid, richly -wooded 
provinces bordering on the Caspian Sea. Between us and 
these mountains lay a wide, flat, stony plain, in which the 
position of Kazvin was clearly indicated by the thin pall of 
blue smoke which hung over it. Towards this plain our road 
now began to descend, and in a few minutes we arrived at the 
village of Kirishkin, where the muleteers announced their 
intention of halting for the night — a decision from which it 



FROM TABRIZ TO TEHERAN 77 

was impossible to move them, and to which I was in great 
measure reconciled by the kindly welcome given to us by the 
inhabitants. Here, indeed, a marked change was observable 
in the people, who appeared much brighter, more intelligent, 
and more amiable than the natives of Azarbaijan. The latter, 
with their scowling faces and furtive gray eyes, are not 
popular amongst the Persians, whose opinion about the 
inhabitants of their metropolis, Tabriz, is expressed in the 
following rhyme : — 

" Zi Tabrtzl hi-juz Mzi na-hint : 
Hamdn bihtar hi Tabrki na-bini.'' 

" From a Tabrizi tliou wilt see naught but rascality : 
Even this is best, that thou shouldst not see a Tabrizi." 

The change in the appearance of the people is accompanied 
by a change in language, for this was the first place we came 
to at which the Persian tongue appeared to preponderate over 
the Turkish. 

At this village we obtained the most sumptuous quarters 
in a large room, twenty-five feet long by fifteen wide, thickly 
spread with carpets, A few works of Persian poetry, placed 
in niches in the wall, showed that our entertainers united a 
taste for literature with a love of comfort. In the course of 
the evening we received a visit from our host and his sons. 
One of the latter — the one to whom the books chiefly 
belonged — was a bright intelligent youth who discussed the 
merits of various Persian and Turkish poets with great zest. 
I was much amused at one remark which he made. Speak- 
ing of the recently-concluded taziyas (dramatic representations 
of various moving episodes in the lives of the Prophet and his 
successors), and especially of the scene wherein the " Firangi 
ambassador " at the court of Damascus, moved by the misfor- 
tunes and patience of the captive believers, embraces Islam, and 
is put to death by the cruel tyrant Yezid, he said, " How I 
wish you had come here a little earlier, for then we could 
have borrowed your hats and clothes for the Pirangis, and 
indeed you might have even taught us some words of your 
language to put in the mouths of the actors who personated 
them. As it was, not knowing anything of the tongue of the 



78 ./ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Firan<,'is, wo had In make tlic actors wlio represented them 
talk Turkisli, Avhich seemed to us the nearest approach 
possible to Firangi speech." 

Xext day we reached Kazvi'u after a shurt stage, during 
which we descended into the i^lain of which I have already 
spoken. Here we intended to halt for a day to see the town, 
which is of considerable size and contains many fine buildings. 
Amongst these is a mihmdn-hhdiiA, or guest-house, which is 
one of a series constructed between Enzeli and Teheriin, and 
thence as far south as Kum. At this, however, we did not put 
up, as I was anxious to cling for a few days longer to the more 
Oriental abodes to which I had become not only accustomed, 
but attached, and which I foresaw would have to be aban- 
doned on reaching Teheran in favour of more civilised modes 
of existence. Unfortunately, our muleteers, either through 
indifference or ignorance, took us to a very poor caravansaray, 
far inferior in comfort to the quarters which we had enjoyed 
since leaving Zanjan, where we had suffered in a similar way. 
Indeed it is usually the case that the traveller (unless pro- 
vided with introductions) fares less well in the towns than in 
the villages. 

We spent most of the following day in wandering through 
the bazaars and examining the appearance of the town and 
its inhabitants. The bazaars were much like those which 
we had already seen at Khiiy, Tabriz, and Zanjan; but as 
regards the people, the advantage was decidedly in favour of 
the Kazvinis, who are more pleasing in countenance, more 
gentle in manners, and rather darker in complexion than the 
Azarbaijauis. Persian is spoken by them universally, but 
almost all understand Turkish as well. 

The road from Eesht to Teheran, which is the route 
usually taken by those entering Persia from Europe, passes 
through KazWu. This road we now joined, and by it we 
proceeded to the capital, accomplishing the journey thither in 
three days. As it is probably the best known and the least 
interesting of all the roads in Persia, I will not describe it in 
detail, and will only notice certain points which appear 
worthy of mention. 

First of all the milimdn-khd'tTAs, or guest-houses, of which 



FROM TABRIZ TO TEHERAN 79 

I have already spoken, merit a few words. They were built, 
I believe, by order of the present Shah on his return from his 
first visit to Europe. They are intended to afford the 
traveller by the ordinary route to the capital greater comfort 
and better accommodation than are obtainable in cara- 
vansarays, and to fulfil in some degree the functions of a 
hotel. I cannot say that I was at all favourably impressed 
by these institutions, at the first of which, called Kishlakh, we 
arrived on the evening of the day of our departure from 
Kazvi'n (20th November). It is true that they are well 
built, and stand in gardens pleasantly surrounded by trees ; 
that the rooms are furnished with European beds, chairs, and 
tables ; and that cooked food can be obtained from the attend- 
ants. But these advantages are, to my mind, far more than 
counterbalanced by the exorbitance of the charges and the 
insolence of the servants, which contrasted painfully with the 
ready hospitality, genial courtesy, and slight demands of the 
villagers in whose humble but cleanly homes we had hitherto 
generally found a resting-place at the end of our day's journey. 
The mihmdn-hhmU, in short, has all the worst defects of 
a European hotel without its luxury. Let me briefly describe 
our experiences at one — that of Kishlakh — as a specimen 
which will serve for all. On our first arrival we are dis- 
courteously told that there is no room. Eemonstrances and 
requests are alike useless, so we prepare to move on and try to 
find a village where we can halt for the night, which is now 
rapidly advancing. We have hardly started, after a con- 
siderable delay to allow of the baggage-animals coming up, 
when a man runs after us and informs us that there is room. 
No explanation or apology is offered for the previous statement, 
but, as no other habitation is in sight, we decide to turn back. 
On dismounting, we are conducted to a room littered up, rather 
than furnished, with several beds, a number of cane-bottomed 
chairs, and a table or two. The windows are furnished with 
tawdry curtains ; the walls are bedecked with tinselled mirrors 
and gaudy pictures; while on the washing-stand a single 
ragged tooth-brush is ostentatiously displayed by the side of a 
clothes-brush, which would seem to be intended to serve as a 
hair-brush as well. 



8o A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

While coutemplating this chaos of luxury, and meditating 
somewhat sadly ou the unhappy cftect produced in Eastern 
lauds by the adoption of Western customs, I became aware of 
a stir outside, and, rushing out, was just in time to see the 
Imihn-Junia, or chief ecclesiastic, of Tabriz drive up in a 
carriage followed by a number of attendants in other vehicles. 
By the side of the road lay the bleeding carcase of a sheep, 
whose throat had just been cut to do honour to the approaching 
dignitary. This not very graceful custom is common in Persia, 
and Mr. Abbott, the British Consul at Tabriz, informed me 
that he had great difficulty in preventing its performance 
whenever he returned to Persia after an absence in Europe. 

Before we retired for the night — not on the unattractive- 
looking beds, but, as usual, on our Wolseley valises — we 
received another proof of the advance of European ideas in the 
neighbourhood of the capital in the form of a till (a thing 
which we had not seen since we left Erzeroum), in which two 
krdns were charged for " service," which charge the bearer of 
the document was careful to inform us was not intended to 
prevent us from bestowing on him a further gratuity. The 
total amount of the bill was eight krdns — not much, indeed, 
but about double the sum which we had usually expended for 
a night's lodging hitherto — and we were requested to settle it 
the same evening — a request which showed that a becoming 
suspicion of one's fellow-creatures was amongst the European 
" improvements " introduced by the mihmdn-khdnds. 

The muleteers, who had been compelled to pay an exorbit- 
ant price for food for their animals, were not less disgusted 
than ourselves, and declared that they would henceforth avoid 
mihmdn-khdn^s entirely. Next day, accordingly, passing two 
of these, we made a long stage, and halted about nightfall at 
a walled village called Kara-i-Imam-Jum'a, where we were 
assured by Earach that we should find " everything that our 
hearts desired." Unless he fancied that our hearts would 
desire nothing but melon-peel, which was scattered freely 
about the floor of the little cell where we took up our quarters, 
Farach's promise must have been dictated less by a strict 
regard for truth than by a fear of being compelled by us to 
halt at a mihmdn-khdnd. However, we eventually succeeded 



FROM TABRfZ TO TEHERAN 8i 

iu obtaining some bread from a kindly Persian who had become 
cognisant of our need, and with this, and the last remains of 
the preserved meats bought at Trebizonde, we managed to 
appease our hunger, consoling ourselves with the thought that 
this would be our last night in the wilderness for the present, 
and that on the morrow we should be amongst the fleshpots of 
Teheran. 

Next morning we were astir early, for the excitement of 
being so near the Persian capital made sloth impossible. Yet 
to me at least this excitement was not free from a certain 
tinge of sorrow at the thought that I must soon bid farewell 
to the faithful Farach, whom, notwithstanding his occasional 
obstinacy and intractability, I had learned to like. Moreover, 
difficult as may be the transition from European to Asiatic 
life, the return is scarcely easier. I sighed inwardly at the 
thought of exchanging the free, unconsLrained, open - air 
existence of the caravan for the restraints of society and the 
trammels of town life ; and it was only when I reflected on 
the old friends I should see again, and the new friends I 
hoped to make, that I felt quite reconciled to the change 
before me. 

This day's march was the most interesting since leaving 
Kazvin. To the north, on our left liand, towered the long 
range of the Elburz mountains, much loftier and bolder in 
outline here than at their western extremity ; nor had we 
proceeded far when there burst suddenly on our view the 
majestic snow-capped cone of Mount Demavend, where, as 
ancient legend runs, the tyrant-parricide, Zuhliak, lies bound 
in chains. At the base of this giant wall are gentler slopes, 
covered with villages which serve as a summer retreat to the 
more opulent when the heat of the capital has become intoler- 
able. Kear the road for some distance runs the river Karach, 
bright and rippling ; while, to the south of this, numerous little 
villages set with poplars diversify the monotony of the gray 
stony plain. Once or twice we passed bands of soldiers 
returning from their military service to their homes in 
Azarbaijan, and then a mighty caravan of 1 11 camels wending 
its slow course westwards. Then, all at once, our eyes were 
dazzled by flashes of light reflected from an object far away 



82 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

towards the south, which shone likegtiM in the sun. Tliis I 
at first imagined must be the situation df the capital, hut I 
was mistaken ; it was the dome of tlie lioly slirinc of 8]i:ih 
'Abdu 'I-'Azim, situated five or six miles south of Tehenin, 
which, lying as it does somewhat in a hollow, is not clearly 
seen until it is almost reached. At length, however, at a 
little roadside tea-house, where we halted for refreshment, we 
came in sight of it. 

j\Iany such tea-houses formerly existed in the capital, but 
most of them were closed some time ago by order of the Sh;lh. 
The reason commonly alleged for this proceeding is that they 
were supposed to encourage extravagance and idleness, or, as 
I have also heard said, evils of a more serious kind. Outside 
the town, however, some of them are still permitted to 
continue their trade and provide the " hond fide traveller " 
with refreshment, which, needless to say, does not include 
wine or spirits. 

At length, about sunset, we entered the city by the 
Deinvdz6-i-Nmu (New Gate), and here we were accosted by one 
Yiisuf 'All, who, though he wore the Persian dress, was, as he 
proudly informed us, a British subject of Indian nationality. 
We asked him what accommodation was to be found in Teheran. 
He replied that there were two hotels, one kept by a family 
called Prevost, of Prench or Swiss extraction, the other by a 
man called Albert, and advised us to go to the latter, because 
it was cheaper. As, however, we purposed making a sojourn 
of some length in the capital, and the comfort of our abode 
was therefore a matter of more importance than when we were 
halting only for a niglit or two, we determined to inspect both 
places on the following day, and in the meantime, as it was 
now late, to take up temporary quarters at a caravansaray 
situated not far from the gate whereby we had entered. 



CHAPTEE V 



TEHEKAN 



"There was a most ingenious Arcliitect, who had contrived a new Method for 
building Houses, by beginning at the Roof, and working downwards to the 
Foundation, which he justified to mo, by tlie like Practice of those two prudent 
Insects, the Bee and the Spider." — Swift. 

Hitherto I have, in describing my travels, followed pretty 
closely the journals which I kept during their continuance, 
only amplifying such things as appeared unfamiliar or 
interesting, and suppressing or abridging entries which I 
deemed to be of consequence to no one but myself. Now, 
however, a different plan becomes necessary ; for since I 
continued at the Persian capital for about ten weeks, and 
since many days passed uneventfully, either in study or in 
conversation w^ith friends and acquaintances, a full record of 
this period would necessarily be both prolix and unprofitable. 
I shall therefore include in this chapter all that I have to say 
about the people, topography, institutions, public buildings, 
gardens, squares, palaces, mosques, and educational establish- 
ments of Teheran, to which I shall add a short notice on the 
royal family, a description of some entertainments to which I 
was admitted as a guest, and a few anecdotes illustrative of 
the Persian genius and character. 

Now, my stay at Teheran was divided into two periods, 
differing somewhat in character. During the first, which began 
on the second day after our arrival (24th November), and 

ended with the departure of my companion H • on 

I 29th December, we lodged at Prevost's Hotel, and were for 
the most part occupied with sight-seeing and social distractions, 



84 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

from both of which we derived much profit ;uul i)leasure. Ihit 
when we IkuI heeonie thus generally conversant willi the hl'e 

of the capital, H , who had no special interest in tlie 

language, literature, or science of the Persians, and whose time 
was, moreover, limited, desired to continue Ids journey to the 
Persian Gulf; while I, finding at Tehenin facilities for the 
prosecution of my studies which I was unwilling to let slip, 
wished to remain there. So, finding our objects incompatible, 
we were compelled to separate. He left Teheran for the 
south on 29tli December, taking with him our Turkish servant 
'All, who was unwilling to remain in Persia longer than he 
could help, since he found the people and the climate equally 
uncongenial. These, then, journeyed gradually southwards, 
halting for a while at the chief towns through which they 
passed, until about the beginning of April they reached Bushire, 
and thence took ship homewards. 

Soon after their departure, about the beginning of the 
new year (1888), I was invited by my friend the Nawwab 
Mirzii Hasan 'All Khan, a Persian nobleman whose acquaintance 
I had made in Loudon, to take up my abode with him in a 
house which he had rented near the English Embassy. Of this 
kind offer I very gratefully availed myself, and continued for 
the remainder of my stay in Teheran {i.e. till 7th February 1888) 
an inmate of his house, to my great j)leasure and advantage. 
For my whole desire was, as my host well knew, to obtain as 
full an insight as possible into Persian life ; and though he 
was thoroughly conversant with the English language, yet, out 
of regard for me, he rarely talked with me save in Persian, 
except that in the evening he would sometimes ask me to read 
with him a chapter of Carlyle's Heroes and Hero- Worship, which 
work, by reason of the favourable oxjinion of the Prophet 
Muhammad entertained by the author, is very highly esteemed 
by Muhammadaus acquainted with English. Moreover most 
of my host's visitors and all his servants were Persian, and 
spoke, for the most part, only Persian (though his younger 
brother, an officer in the Persian army, and two of his nephews, 
whom I had known in London, had been educated partly in 
England and spoke English extremely well), so that I was not only 
able but forced to make much progress in speaking and under- 



teherAn 85 



standing. And during all this time I was able to benefit by the 
teaching of a very able scholar, Mirza Asadu 'llah of Sabzawar, 
a pupil of the late H;iji Mulla Hadi of Sabzawar, the greatest 
philosopher whom Persia has produced during the present 
century. Thus was I enabled to obtain some insight into the 
philosophical doctrines current in Persia, of which I shall say 
something in the next chapter. 

The European colony in Teheran is considerable, and the 
society which it affords equally remarkable for distinction and 
hospitality. It comprises the covps diploviatique attached to 
the different embassies (and almost every European nation of 
note is represented, as well as the United States of America) ; 
the staff of the Indo-European Telegraph ; the American 
missionaries ; several merchants and men of business ; and a 
few Europeans employed in the Persian service. From many 
of these I received much hospitality and kindness, which I 
shall not soon forget, and on which I would gladly dwell did I 
feel justified in so doing. But my business at present is not 
to attempt an inadequate discharge of personal obligations 
(a discharge, moreover, which would probably be unacceptable 
to those to whom I am so indebted), but to depict with such 
fidelity as I may the life, character, and customs of the Persians. 
Of the European colony, then, I will say no more than this, 
that it is associated in my mind with every feeling of gratitude 
and every pleasant remembrance which kindness and hospitality 
received in a strange land can evoke in the heart or impress on 
the mind of the recipient. 

Teheran, as everyone knows, was not always the capital of 
Persia. In the most ancient days the province of Ears, or 
Persia proper, and at a later time Isfahan, generally enjoyed 
this dignity. At other times, when, on the decay of some great 
dynasty, the empire was split up into numerous fragments, 
princes of different dynasties often reigned over one or two 
provinces, fixing the seat of government at the most important 
town in their dominions. Under the Safavi kings, when the 
ancient greatness of Persia enjoyed a temporary revival, it was 
Isfahan which was graced by their splendid court. About a 
century ago, when the great struggle between the Zend dynasty 
and the present reigning family of the Kajars was in progress, 



86 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

the foniier, represented by tlie iiol)le and generous Karfm 
Kluin, had its capital at Shini/, while tlie latter, personified 
by that atrocious and bloodthirsty tyrant Aka Muhammad 
Khan, fixed their headquarters at Tchen'm. On the final 
victory of the latter, the northern city, situated as it is near 
the lands from which sprung the originally Turkish tribe of 
the Kiijars, was definitely raised to the rank of capital, and 
has enjoyed this dignity ever since, while each of the three 
kings who succeeded the founder of the dynasty has further 
exerted himself to enlarge and beautify the city. 

Tehenin, as it is at present, is a large town lying in a 
slight hollow, just sufficient to prevent its being seen from any 
distance on the plain ; roughly speaking circular in shape ; and 
entirely surrounded by walls of unbaked clay, and for the most 
part by a ditch as well. Access is given to the interior by 
twelve gates, which are as follows : — 

Between the north and the east — 

1. Tlie Derwdze-i-Behjetubdd, \ leading to the gardens, palaces, and 

2. The Denvdze-i-Daivlat, V villages situated to the north of the 

3. The Derwdze-i-Shiniran, ) city on the slopes of Elburz. 

Between the east and south — 

4. The Derwdz^-i-Dawshdn-tep^, leading to the Shah's hunting-palace 

of Dawshan-tepe ("Hare-hill"). 

5. The Derwdze-i-D(ddh (" the Mill Gate "). 

6. The Derwdz^-i-Mashhad (" the Mashhad gate "). 

Between the south and west — 

7. The Derwdz^-i-Shdh-Abdu'l-Azlm (through which passes the great 

caravan road to the south). 

8. The JDerwdze-i-Ghdr (" the Cave Gate "). 

9. The Dencdz^-i-Naw (" the New Gate "). 

Between the west and north — 

10. The Derwdze-i-Gumruk (" the Custom-house gate "). 

1 1. The Derwdz^-i-Kazvin (" the Kazvin gate "). 

12. The Derwdze-i-Asp-davdni ("the Eace-course gate"). 

To the north of the city are numerous gardens; some, like 
Behjetabad and Yiisufabad, situated within a short walk of the 
walls ; some in the villages of Shimran, like Kulahak and 



teherAn 87 

Tajrish, which serve as summer retreats to the Europeans and 
rich Persians, distant five or six miles from the town ; and 
others yet more distant, on the slopes of Elburz. Some of the 
gardens belonging to the royal family are very beautifully laid 
out, as, for example, the garden called Kdnirdniyyd, which is 
the property of the Shah's third son, the Na'ibu's-Saltanah. The 
Persians take the greatest delight in their gardens, and show 
more pride in exhibiting them to the stranger than in pointing 
out to him their finest buildings. Yet to one accustomed to 
the gardens of the West they appear, as a rule, nothing very 
wonderful. They generally consist of a square enclosure sur- 
rounded by a mud wall, planted with rows of poplar trees in 
long straight avenues, and intersected with little streams of 
water. The total absence of grass seems their greatest defect 
in the eyes of a European, but apart from this they do not, as 
a rule, contain a great variety of flowers, and, except in the 
spring, present a very bare appearance. But in the eyes of the 
Persian, accustomed to the naked stony plains which con- 
stitute so large a portion of his country, they appear as 
veritable gardens of Eden, and he will never be happier than 
when seated under the shade of a poplar by the side of the 
stream, sipping his tea and smoking his kalydii. What I have 
said applies to the great majority of gardens in Persia, but not 
to all ; for some of those in Shi'raz are very beautiful, and, 
except for the lack of the well-trimmed lawns which we regard 
as so indispensable to the perfect beauty of a garden, might 
well defy all competition. 

Many of the gardens near Teheran are cultivated by 
" Guebres," the remnant of the ancient faith of Zoroaster. The 
headquarters of Zoroastrianism in Persia are at Yezd and 
Kirman, in and about which cities there may be in all some 7000 
or 8000 adherents of the old creed. In other towns they are 
met with but sparingly, and are not distinguished by the dull 
yellow dress and loosely-wound yellow turban which they are 
compelled to wear in the two cities above mentioned. As I 
shall speak of this interesting people at some length when I 
come to describe my stay amongst them in the only two places 
in Persia where they still exist in any numbers, I will not at 
present dwell on their characteristics further than to allude 



88 A YEAR AAWNGST THE PERSIANS 

hvielly to their dal-]nm\ or "tower of silence," situated two or 
three miles south of Telier;'m, ou one of tlie rocky spurs of the 
jagged mountain called Kuli-i-l]ib{ Shahrb;inu. 

Bi'bf Shahr-banu was the daughter of the unfurUnuito 
Yezdigird III, whose sad fate it was to see the mighty empire 
of the Sasanians and the ancient religion of Zoroaster fall in 
one common ruin before the savage onslaught of the hitherto 
despised Arabs, ere he himself, a liunted fugitive, perished by 
the hand of a treacherous miller in whose house he had taken 
refuge. The daughter subsequently married Huseyn, the son 
of 'AH, thus uniting the royal blood of tlie house of Sasan with 
the holy race of the Imams and the kindred of the Arabian 
prophet. To this union is perhaps to be attributed in some 
degree the enthusiasm with which the Persians, bereft of their 
old religion, espoused the cause of 'Ali and his successors (or 
in other words the Shf ite faction of the Muhammadans) against 
the usurpations of those whom the Sunm's dignify with the 
title of Khalifa, or vicegerent of the Prophet. After the 
calamities suffered by the family of 'All at the hands of their 
ruthless foes, Bibi Shahr-banii is said to have fled to Persia, 
and to have found a refuge from her oppressors in the mountain 
just to the south of Teheran which still bears her name. It 
is said that the place where she hid is still marked by a shrine 
which has the miraculous property of being inaccessible to men, 
though women may visit it unimpeded. "Where this shrine is 
I do not know, neither did I make any attempt to test the 
truth of the legend. 

The Guebres' dahhmi is situated midway up a sharp ridge 
which descends from the summit of this mountain on the 
northern side, and is a conspicuous object from a distance. It 
consists of a circular tower of clay or unbaked brick, of the 
grayish colour common to all buildings in Persia. The wall, 
which is provided with no door or gate, is about forty-five feet 
high on the outside ; inside (as we could see by ascending the 
spur on which it stands to a point which overlooks it) its 
height, owing to the raised floor, is probably not more than ten 
feet. The floor of the tower consists of a level surface broken 
at regular intervals by rectangular pits. Whenever a Zoro- 
astrian dies, his body is conveyed hither, and deposited by 



teherAn 89 



two of his co-religionists (set apart for this duty) inside the 
dakhm6 and over one of these pits. The carrion birds which 
hover round this dreary spot soon swoop down, tear it in pieces, 
and devour its flesh, till nothing is left but the disarticulated 
bones, which fall into the pit below. Little, therefore, remains 
to tell of those who have been laid in this charnel-house ; and 
from the ridge above, where I could see almost the whole of 
the interior, I counted not more than two skulls and a few 
long bones. Of course the total number of Zoroastrians in 
Teheran is very small, and the deaths do not probably exceed 
two or three a year, which may to some extent explain the 
paucity of remains in the daklimL Yezd and Kirman have 
each two dakhmes, similarly constructed, and situated in like 
manner on the spurs of mountains at a distance of several 
miles from the city. These five dakhmds constitute, so far as 
I know, the total number now in use in Persia. This method 
of disposing of the dead often strikes Europeans as very dis- 
gusting, and, indeed, it would clearly be inapplicable to a 
thickly-populated, flat country with a humid atmosphere. In 
Persia, however, where the air is so clear, the sun so strong, 
the population so sparse, and mountains so numerous, I can 
well imagine that no inconvenience was caused by its adoption, 
even in the days when the whole population was Zoroastrian. 

Near the mouth of the valley which lies to the north of the 
Kuh-i-Bibi Shahrbanu, and on the opposite side to the dakhmc, 
is a tablet cut in the rock (in rough imitation of the ancient 
monuments about Persepolis), bearing the figure of a king, and 
an inscription in modern Persian. Though of such recent 
date, it possesses none of the clearness still discernible in its 
Sasanian prototypes, and the writing on it is already almost 
illegible. 

Below this, at the end of the valley, are to be seen the 
remains of gigantic mud walls, which are said to have formed 
a portion of the ancient city of Ptey (Phages), though by some 
this is supposed to have lain farther from Teheran towards the 
east, near the present village of Varamin. Eather nearer to 
the Shah 'Abdu 'l-'Azim road (which crosses the mouth of the 
valley at right angles), are two high brick towers, one of which 



is called the Tower of Toghrul. 



90 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

C)f till' little town of Sh;ili 'Alulu 'l-'A/i'in itsi'lf, which is 
chietly iiotablo for its very fine mosque and its very detestable 
population (the place being what is called "has.t" that is, a 
sanctuary or city of refuge, where all criminals are safe from 
pursuit), I shall linve something to say in another chapter. 
It was to this place that the railway of which such great 
things were expected, and which it was hoped might be ex- 
tended farther south — perhaps even to the Persian Gulf — was 
laid from Teller;! n. When I returned there in the autumn of 
1888 on my way home, this railway was open, and was run- 
ning some eight or ten trains a day each way. Its prosperity, 
alas ! was short-lived : before the end of the year it was torn 
up and completely wrecked by a mob, exasperated at the 
accidental death of a man who had tried to leap from the 
train while it was in motion. 

That the friends of this man, whose death was brought 
about solely by his own folly and rashness, acted unreasonably 
in revenging themselves on the railway I do not for a moment 
wish to deny. That the deep-seated prejudice against this and 
other European innovations which found its manifestation in 
this act is equally unreasonable, I am not, however, dis- 
posed to admit. I think that the jealousy with which the 
Persian people are prone to regard these railways, tramways, 
monopolies, concessions, and companies, of which so much has 
been heard lately, is both natural and reasonable. These 
things, so far as they are sources of wealth at all, are so, not 
to the Persian people, but to the Shah and his ministers on 
the one hand, and to the European promoters of the schemes on 
the other. People who reason about them in Europe too often 
suppose that the interests of the Shah and of his subjects are iden- 
tical, when they are in fact generally diametrically opposed ; and 
that the Shah is an enlightened monarch, eager for the welfare 
and progress of a stubborn and refractory j)eople who delight 
in thwarting his benevolent schemes, when in reality he is a 
selfish despot, devoid of public spirit, careful only of his own 
personal comfort and advantage, and most averse to the intro- 
duction of liberal ideas amongst a people whose natural quick- 
ness, intelligence, and aptitude to learn cause him nothing 
but anxiety. He does everything in his power to prevent the 



TEHERAN 91 

diffusion of those ideas which conduce to true progress, and 
his supposed admiration for civilisation amounts to little more 
than the languid amusement which he derives from the con- 
templation and possession of mechanical playthings and in- 
genious toys. 

I can only pause to notice one other object of interest 
outside the city walls, to wit, the pleasantly-situated palace of 
Dawshan-tepe (which means in Turkish " Hare-hill"), where 
the Shah often goes to pnrsne the chase, to which he is pas- 
sionately devoted. This palace, of dazzling whiteness, stands 
on an eminence to the north-east of the town, and forms a 
very conspicuous feature in the landscape. Besides the palace 
on the hill, there is another in a garden on its southern side, 
attached to which is a small menagerie belonging to the Shah. 
This collection of animals is not very extensive, but includes 
fine specimens of the Persian lion {sliir)} whose most famous 
haunt is in the forests of Dasht-i-Arjin, between Shiraz and 
Bushire, as well as a few tigers (babr), leopards {imlang), and 
baboons (sJiangdl). 

Having spoken of what is without the city, I must now 
say something about the chief monuments contained within 
its walls. These are very few, and, for the most part, of little 
interest. Teheran is an essentially modern town, and as such 
lacks the charm which invests Isfahan, Shiriiz, Yezd, and other 
Persian cities of more respectable antiquity. In the eyes of 
its own inhabitants, however, it appears the oic ^^/ws ultra of 
splendour. It has two European hotels ; it is intersected, 
especially in the northern quarter, by several wide straight 
thoroughfares, some of which are even lighted by gas, and one 
of which certain Europeans and their Persian imitators are 
pleased to designate the " Boulevard des Ambassadeurs." 
There are also several large squares, some of which are em- 
bellished with tanks and fountains worthy of a sincere 
admiration. In addition to all this the bazaars (situated in 
the southern quarter) are extensive and flourishing ; the situa- 
tion of the town, in full view of the snow-capped mountains 

^ I mention this chiefly because this word, mispronounced sher (like English 
" share"), is applied in India to the tiger, which animal is properly termed bahr 
in Persian, as stated in the text. 



92 .•/ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

of Klbui'z, is iiiii[Uostional)ly line; and the air is clear ami 
exhilaratinij;. In a word, it is a pleasant place to stay in, 
rather than an interestinjj; place to see. Nevertheless, some 
of my readers may desire to obtain a clearer notion of what is, 
after all, the present capital of Persia. Let me ask them, 
then, to accompany me in imagination for a stroll througli the 
northern quarter of the city, in which are situated most of the 
parks, palaces, and public buildings, all the embassies except 
the Russian, and the residences of almost all the Europeans 
and many of the more opulent and iniluential Persians. 

We will begin our w^alk at the northern end of the 
Kliiydhdn-i- Aid 'u'd-Dawlah (" Boulevard des Ambassadeurs "), 
a fine broad, straight avenue, running almost due north and 
south. Entering this from the north through the waste land 
which intervenes (or did intervene six years ago) between it 
and the Behjetabad and Dawlat Gates, we first pass, on the 
right-hand side, the fine garden and buildings of the English 
Embassy. Lower down on the same side are the German and 
American Legations. Near the latter, a street running west- 
wards leads to the church, schools, and residences of the 
American missionaries. On the left (east) side of the avenue 
the finest building is the Turkish Embassy, remarkable for 
a magnificent gate adorned with an inscription in letters of 
gold. On the same side are the French and Italian Legations, 
and a little lower down the office of the Indo-European 
Telegraph. Beyond this are a few European .shops, as well 
as the two hotels already mentioned ; opposite these are several 
more shops, one of which belongs to a photographer — a 
Eussian, I believe — who sells excellent photographs at the 
very cheap price of four titindiis (about twenty-four shillings) 
a hundred. Below this point, as well as in some places above 
it, the sides of the avenue are formed by colonnades of brick, 
within which are situated a few small Persian shops, dealing 
chiefly in groceries. Passing under an archway guarded by 
sentries, we enter the north-west corner of the Mcyddn-i- 
TopkhdnS, or Artillery Square. This is of great size, and is 
surrounded by barracks, the white walls of which are profusely 
decorated with rude representations of the national symbol, the 
lion and the sun. 



TEHERAN 93 

rrom this square emerge five great streets or avenues ; 
one, sometimes called the " Eue cle Gaz," on the east side ; two 
on the south ; and two (one of which we have already traversed) 
on the north. Leaving the three which belong to the eastern 
portion of the square for future consideration, we continue in 
a direct southward line across the western end, and enter 
another avenue, which leads us past some of the Persian 
Government Offices (the road opposite to which is, during a 
considerable part of the day, blocked by carriages and horses) 
into a very pretty square, well paved and girt with trees, called 
the Mcyddn-i-Arg (" Citadel Square "). The central portion 
of this is occupied by a large basin of water of octagonal shape, 
surrounded by gas lamps. At its southern end is a raised 
stone platform, on which stands a large gun mounted on 
wheels. This gun is remarkable, in common with Shah 'Abdu 
'l-'Azim, the royal stables, and sundry other places, as afford- 
ing sanctuary to those who are pursued by the law. It has, 
indeed, the disadvantage of being a very small " city of refuge," 
and one which would not long be tenable ; nevertheless, for 
the time being, the fugitive is safe in its shadow. 

Quitting the Mcyddn-i-Arg, and traversing a short bazaar 
containing a few small shops, we come out into another broad 
street, wliich at this point runs at right angles to our path, 
but which, if we turned to the left and followed its course 
eastwards, would be found to bend gradually into a northerly 
direction, and would conduct us back to the 3fcyddn-i-To2}Midn4. 
By this road we propose to return ; but before doing so, let us 
take a crlance at the intricate mazes of the bazaar. To do 
this, we cross the road and enter a square known as the Sctbzd- 
Mcyddn, or " Herb Market." In its centre is the usual tank 
of water, and it is surrounded by the shops of watchmakers, 
tobacconists, and other tradesmen, mostly of Armenian nation- 
ality. We cross towards its southern side, and enter the hat- 
makers' bazaar {KucM-i-hiddh-duzdn), where any variety of 
Persian head-dress may be purchased, from the light cloth hat 
affected by the Armenians and Europeanised {firangi-ma'dh) 
Persians, costing only three or four krdns (about two shillings), 
to the genuine lambskin hiddh, costing thirty, forty, or even 
fifty I'rdns. 



k( 



94 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Hnviiig passed llic hatmakers, we come to llic slioe- 
niakers, ami, if we continue our way perseveringly towards the 
south, we shall eventually arrive at the gate of Sh;ih 'Ahdn '1- 
'Azim, unless, as may easily happen, we lose our bearings hope- 
lessly in the labyrinthine mazes which we must traverse, 
distracted either by a string of majestic camels, past which we 
contrive to edge ourselves, or by a glittering array of antique 
gems, seals, and torquoises, exposed in a case at our very 
elbow. 

As, however, we have already visited the dahlimd in tlie 
jMountain of Bibi Shahrbanu and the ruins of Eey, and as we 
shall pass through Shah 'Abdu 'l-'Azi'ni on our journey south- 
wards, it is unnecessary to explore the bazaar any farther at 
present. Bazaars, after all, are much alike, not only in 
Persia, but throughout the Muhammadan world ; there are the 
same more or less tortuous vaulted colonnades, thronged with 
horses, camels, and men ; the same cool recesses, in which are 
successively exhibited every kind of merchandise; the same 
subdued murmur and aroma of spices, which form a tout 
ensemble so irresistibly attractive, so continually fresh, yet so 
absolutely similar, whether seen in Constantinople or Kirm;in, 
Teheran or Tabriz. 

Instead of pursuing our way farther, therefore, we strike to 
the left from the shoemakers' bazaar, and, without even pausing 
to examine the array of saddles, bridles, whips, saddle-bags, 
leather water-bags, and other travellers' requisites exhibited to 
our gaze, make for the Bdzdr-i-dumhdl-i-khandak {" Market 
behind the moat"), and, following this for a while, soon 
emerge once more into the broad open street which we crossed 
at a point farther west to reach the Sahz^-Mcyddn. At the 
point where we have now entered it, it has already begun to 
assume a northerly direction to reach the Meyddn-i-To'pkhdnd, 
towards which we again bend our steps. On our left we pass 
the very modern-looking palace called Shamsitl- Imdra (" the 
Sun of Architecture "), with its lofty tower, and come to the 
Ddru 'l-Funun, or university. Here English, French, Eussian, 
Medicine (both ancient and modern), Mathematics, and other 
useful accomplishments are taught on European methods. 
The students vary in age from mere boys to youths of eighteen 



TEHERAn 95 

or uineteen, and are distinguished by a military -looking 
uniform. They not only receive their education free, but are 
allowed one meal a day and two suits of clothes a year at the 
public expense, besides being rewarded, in case of satisfactory 
progress and good conduct, by a very liberal distribution of 
prizes at the end of the session. Arabic, Theology, and Meta- 
pliysic do not enter into the curriculum, but are relegated to 
the ancient madrasas attached to some of the mosques and 
endowed by pious bequests. The best madrasas, however, 
must be sought for, not in Teheran, but in Isfahan, the former 
capital. 

Just above the Ddi^it 'l-Fumbi is another fine building, 
intended, I believe, to serve as a Central Telegraph Office 
which shall combine the hitherto separated European and 
Persian branches. Not far above this we re-enter the 
Meyddn-i-To2'>lchdn6, this time at the south-east corner. To 
our right the " Eue de Gaz " emerges from the square, and 
runs eastwards. In it dwells a Turkish haircutter of well- 
deserved fame, but beyond this it possesses few features of 
interest, and we may therefore pass it by, and cross to the 
north-east corner of the square, whence we enter another 
avenue similar to and parallel with the Khiydhdn-i- Aid hCd- 
Dawlah in which we commenced our walk. This avenue is 
bounded on the right by a fine garden, the Bdgli-i-LdU-zdr 
(" Garden of the Tulip-bed "), which belonged, I believe, to the 
talented Eiza-Kuli Khan, generally known as the Ldld-bdslii, 
or chief tutor of the Shah, whose numerous works, varied in 
matter but uniform in merit, are alone sufficient to prove that 
Persian literary ability has not, as some would pretend, ceased 
to exist. Little else besides this claims our attention here, 
and if we pursue our way up this avenue we shall finally 
reach a point where it is crossed by another broad road 
running at right angles to it. This latter, if we follow it to 
the left, will bring us out where we started from, in front of 
the English Embassy. 

Although the walk just described has led us through most 
of the principal streets and squares, and past a number of the 
chief buildings and palaces, a few objects of interest which lie 
apart from the route traversed deserve a brief notice. 



96 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

First anioiitrst these I will mention — because it can be 
disposed of in a very low words — another large square, called 
^[ci/ddn-i-MasJik (" Drill Square "), which lies to the north- 
west of the Mcydim-i-TojjkhcUid. Though somewhat smaller 
than the latter, it is very spacious, and serves admirably the 
purpose to which, as its name implies, it is appropriated — that 
of a place (Varmcs, or exercising-ground for the troops. 

Next to this, the palace called Nigdristdn (" Picture 
Gallery "), which was the favourite residence of the second 
king of the present dynasty, Fath-'Ali Shah, deserves mention. 
It is situated at no great distance from the English Embassy, 
and derives its name from the numerous highly-finished 
paintings with which the walls of some of its chambers are 
decorated. In the largest room I counted no less than 118 
full-length portraits, which included not only Eath-'Ali Shah 
and his nmnerous sons and ministers, but also the staffs of the 
French and English Embassies (headed respectively by General 
Gardanne and Sir John Malcolm) then resident at the Persian 
Court, the names of all these being indicated in Persian char- 
acters. The portraits, which seem to have been carefully and 
accurately executed, were completed in the year a.h. 1228 
(a.d, 1812-1813) by one 'Abdu 'Hah, as is Avitnessed by an 
inscription placed under them. The only other noticeable 
feature of the Nigdristdn is a beautiful marble bath, furnished 
with a long smooth glissoire, called by the Persians sursurah 
(" the slide "), which descends from above to the very edge of 
the bath. Down this slope the numerous ladies of Fath-'Ali 
Shah's harem used to slide into the arms of their lord, who 
was waiting below to receive them. 

It remains to say a few words about the mosques, which 
are of less interest than those of almost any other Muham- 
madan city of equal size. One of the finest is quite recent, 
and was, indeed, still in process of construction when I visited 
it. It was commenced by the late Sipdhsaldr, whose career is 
generally reported to have been brought to an abrupt close by 
a cup of " Kajar coffee," while he was in retirement and 
disgrace at Mashhad. The construction of the mosque, rudely 
interrupted by this sad event, was subsequently resumed by 
his brother, the MusMrio 'd-JDaivlah, whom I had the honour of 



TEHERAN 97 



visiting. He received me with the easy courtesy characteristic 
of the Persian nobleman ; questioned me as to my studies, the 
books I had read, and the towns I proposed to visit on leaving 
Teheran ; and, after allowing me to inspect the various rooms 
(some furnished in Persian and others in European style) in 
his large and beautiful house, kindly sent a servant with me to 
show me the mosque, which I might otherwise have had difficulty 
in seeing. The fine large court of the mosque, in the centre 
of which is a tank of water, is surrounded by lofty buildings, 
devoted partly to educational, partly to religious purposes. 
On the walls of these is inscribed on tiles the wakf-ndm6, or 
detail of the endowment, in which is set forth the number 
of professors and students of theology and the kindred sciences 
who are to be maintained within the walls of the college. Of 
the former there were to be four, and of the latter, I think, 150. 

It is generally very difficult to visit the interior of mosques 
in Persia ; for in this respect the Shi'ite Muhammadans are 
much more strict than the Sunnis, and a non-Muslim can, as 
a rule, only enter them in disguise. I once resorted to this 
expedient to obtain a glimpse of another mosque in Teheran, 
the Masjid-i- Shall, which I visited with two of my Persian 
friends. Although we only remained in it for a very short 
time, we did not wholly escape the critical gaze of sundry 
mullds who kept hovering round us, and I was not sorry to 
emerge once more into the bazaar ; for the consequences of 
discovery would have been, to say the least of it, disagreeable. 
From the little I have seen of the interiors of Persian mosques, 
I should say that they were decidedly less beautiful than those 
of Constantinople or Cairo. 

I have already had occasion to speak of the Bdru 'l-Funun, 
or university, and I mentioned the fact that it included a 
school of medicine. Through the kindness of Dr. Tholozan, 
the Shah's physician, I was enabled to be present at one of 
the meetings of the Majlis-i-Sihhat (" Congress of Health," or 
Medical Council), held once a week within its walls. The 
assembly was presided over by the learned Muklibiru 'd-Dawlah, 
the Minister of Education, and there were present at it sixteen 
of the chief physicians of the capital, including the professors 
of medicine (both the followers of Galen and Avicenna, and 

7 



98 yl YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

those el" tlio iDddorn scliool). The discussion was conducted 
ibr the most part in Persian, ])r. Tholozan and myself being 
the only Europeans jn-csent ; hut occasionally a few remarks 
were made in Inench, with which several of those present 
were conversant. After a little desultory conversation, a 
gi'eat deal of excellent tea, flavoured with orange-juice, and the 
inevitable kalydn, or water-pipe, the proceedings commenced 
with a report on the death-rate of Teheran, and the chief 
causes of mortality. This was followed by a clear and 
scientific account of a case of acute ophthalmia successfully 
treated by inoculation, the merits of which plan of treatment 
were then compared with the results obtained by the use of 
jequirity, called in Persian chashm-i-kJmrils, and in Arabic 
'aynu 'd-dik, both of which terms signify "cock's eye." lieports 
were then read on the death-rates and causes of mortality at 
some of the chief provincial towns. According to these, 
Kirmansluih suffered chiefly from ague, dysentery, and small- 
pox, while in Isfah;in, Kirman, and. Shahriid, typhus, or typhoid, 
joined its ravages to those of the above-mentioned diseases. 
My faith in these reports was, however, somewhat shaken 
when I subsequently learned that they were in great measure 
derived from information supplied by those whose business it 
is to wash the corpses of the dead. Some account was next 
given of a fatal hgemorrhagic disease which had lately 
decimated the Yomut Turkmi'ins. As these wild nomads 
appeared to entertain an unconquerable aversion to medical 
men, no scientific investigation of this outbreak had been 
possible. Finally, a large stone, extracted by lithotomy, was 
exhibited by a Persian surgeon ; and after a little general 
conversation the meeting finally broke up about 5 p.m. I 
was very favourably impressed with the proceedings, which 
were, from first to last, characterised by order, courtesy, and 
scientific method ; and from the enlightened efforts of this 
centre of medical knowledge I confidently anticipate consider- 
able sanitary and hygienic reforms in Persia. Already in the 
capital these efforts have produced a marked effect, and there, 
as well as to a lesser extent in the provinces, the old Galenic 
system has begun to give place to the modern theory and 
practice of medicine. 



teherAn 



99 



Having now spoken of the topography, buildings, and 
institutions of the capital, it behoves me to say something 
about its social aspects. I begin naturally with the royal 
family. 

Of Nasiru 'd-Di'n Shah, the reigning king, I have already 
said something. His appearance has been rendered so familiar 
in Europe by his three visits to the west, that of it I need 
hardly speak. He has had a long reign, if not a very glorious 
one, for he was crowned at Teheran on 20th October 1848, 
and there seems every likelihood that he will live to celebrate 
his jubilee. He came to the throne very young, being not 
much more than seventeen or eighteen years of age. Before 
that time he had resided at Tabriz as governor of the province 
of Azarbaijan, an office always conferred by Kajar sovereigns 
on the Crown Prince. The Kajars, as I have already said, are 
of Turkish origin, and the language of Azarbaijan is also a 
dialect of Turkish ; whence it came about that Nasiru 'd-Din 
Shah, on his accession, could scarcely express himself at all in 
Persian — a fact to which Dr. Polak, about that time his court 
physician, bears testimony. Even now, though he habitually 
speaks and writes Persian, and has even composed and pub- 
lished some poems in that language, he prefers, I believe, to 
make use of Turkish in conversation with such of his intimates 
as understand it. 

I wish to insist on the fact that the reigning dynasty of 
the Kajars are essentially of Turkish race, because it is often 
overlooked, and because it is of some political importance. 
When the Shah was in England, for instance, certain journals 
were pleased to speak of him as a " descendant of Cyrus," 
which is about as reasonable as if one should describe our 
own Prince of Wales as a descendant of King Arthur. The 
whole history of Persia, from the legendary wars between the 
Kiyanian kings and Afrasiyab down to the present day, is the 
story of a struggle between the Turkish races whose primitive 
home is in the region east of the Caspian Sea and north of 
Khurasan on the one hand, and the southern Persians, of 
almost pure Aryan race, on the other. The distinction is well 
marked even now, and the old antipathy still exists, finding 
expression in verses such as those quoted above at p. 7 7, and 



v^ 



loo A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

ill anecdotes illustrative of Turkish stupidity and dullness of 
wit, of Avhich I shall have occasion to give one in a subsequent 
chapter. I'thnologically, therefore, there is a marked dis- 
tinction between the jjeople of the north and the people of the 
south — a distinction which may be most readily apprehended 
by comparing the sullen, moody, dull-witted, fanatical, violent 
inhabitants of AzarbaijVm with the bright, versatile, clever, 
sceptical, rather timid townsfolk of Kirm;in. In F;irs, also, 
good types of the Aryan Persian are met with, but there is a 
large admixture of Turkish tribesmen, like the Kashkai's, who 
have migrated and settled there. Indeed this intermixture 
has now extended very far, but in general the terms 
" northern " and " southern " may, with reservation, be taken 
as representing a real and significant difference of type in the 
inhabitants of Persia. Since the downfall of the Caliphate 
and the lapse of the Arabian supremacy, the Turkish has 
generally been the dominant race ; for in the physical world it 
is commonly physical force which wins the day, and dull, 
doGf^ed courage bears down versatile and subtle wit. Thus it 
happens that to-day the Kajars rule over the kinsmen of 
Cyrus and Shapiir, as ruled in earlier days the Ghaznavids and 
the Seljiiks. But there is no love lost between the two races, 
as anyone will admit who has taken the trouble to find out 
what the southern peasant thinks of the northern court, or 
how the Kajars regard the cradle of Persia's ancient greatness. 
Of the Shah's character I do not propose to add much to 
what I have said already, for, in the first place, I am con- 
scious of a prejudice against him in my mind arising from the 
ineffaceable remembrance of his horrid cruelties towards the 
Babis ; and, in the second place, I enjoyed no unusual facilities 
for forming a weighty judgment. I have heard him described 
by a high English official, who had good opportunities of 
arriving at a just opinion, as a liberal-minded and enlightened 
monarch, full of manliness, energy, and sound sense, who, in a 
most difficult situation, had displayed much tact and wisdom. 
It must also be admitted that, apart from the severities prac- 
tised against the Babis (which, with alternate remissions and 
exacerbations, have continued from the beginning of his reign 
down to the present time), his rule has been, on the whole, 



teherAn 



lOI 



inild, and comparatively free from the cruelties which mar 
nearly every page of Persian history. During the latter part 
of his reign, especially, executions and cruel j)unishments, for- 
merly of almost daily occurrence, have become very rare ; but 
this is partly to be attributed to the fear of European public 
opinion, and desire to be thought well of at western courts and 
in western lands, which exercise so strong an influence over 
his mind. 

For most of the more recent Babi persecutions the Shah 
was not directly responsible. It was his eldest son, the Zillu 's- 
Sultan, who put to death the two " Martyrs of Isfahan " in 
1879, and Mirza Ashraf of Abad6 in 1888 ; and it was in his 
jurisdiction (though during his absence) that the persecutions 
of Sih-dih and Najaf-abad occurred in the summer of 1889 ;^ 
while the cruel murder of seven innocent Babis at Yezd in May 
1890 lies at the door of Prince Jalalu 'd-Dawla, son of the 
Zillu 's-Sultan, and grandson of the Shah. The last Babi put 
to death actually by the Shah's order was, I think, the young 
messenger, Mi'rza Badf , who brought from Acre, and delivered 
into the king's own hands at Telieran, the remarkable apology 
for the Babi faith addressed to him by Beha'u'lL'ih." This 
was in July 1869. 

In extenuation of the earlier and more wholesale persecu- 
tions, it has been urged that the Babis were in rebellion 
against the Crown, and that the most horrible of them, that of 
September 1852, was provoked by the attempt made by three 
Babis on the Shah's life. But this attempt itself (apart from 
the fact that, so far as can be ascertained, it was utterly un- 
authorised on the part of the Babi leaders) was caused by the 
desperation to which the Babis had been driven by a long series 
of cruelties, and especially by the execution of their Founder in 
1850.^ Amongst the victims, also, were several persons who, 
inasmuch as they had been in captivity for many months, 
were manifestly innocent of complicity in the plot, notably 
the beautiful Kurratu 'l-'Ayn, whose heroic fortitude under the 

^ See Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society for 1889, pp. 998-9 ; and vol. ii of 
my TravelUr's Narrative, pp. 400-412. 

" A translation of this is given in my Traveller's Narrative, vol. ii, ]ip. 108- 
151, and 390-400. 3 ggg p_ go suiyra. 



I02 A YEAR AMOA'GST THE PERSIANS 

most cniol tortiiros excited the admiration ami woikUt of Dr. 
Tolak/ the only European, probably, mIio witnessed her death. 
Those executions were not merely criminal, but foolish. 
The barbarity of the persecutors defeated its o\vn ends, and, 
instead of inspiring terror, gave the martyrs an opportunity of 
exhibiting a lieroic fortitude which has done more than any 
propaganda, however skilful, could have done to ensure the 
triumph of the cause for which they died. Often have I 
heard Persians who did not themselves belong to the proscribed 
sect tell with admiration how Suleyman Khan, his body pierced 
with well-nigh a score of wounds, in each of which was in- 
serted a lighted candle, went to the place of execution singing 
with exultation : 

" Yak dast jdm-i-bdd^, va yak dast zulf-i-ydr — 
Raksi chimin meydne-i-meyddnam drz'dst ! " 

" In one liand tlie wine-cup, in the other the tresses of the Friend — 
Sucli a dunce do I desire in the midst of the market-place ! " 

The impression produced by such exhibitions of courage and 
endurance was profound and lasting ; nay, the faith which in- 
spired the martyrs was often contagious, as the following inci- 
dent shows. A certain Yezdi rough, noted for his wild and 
disorderly life, went to see the execution of some Babi's, per- 
haps to scoff at them. But when he saw with what calmness 
and steadfastness they met torture and death, his feelings 
imderwent so great a revulsion that he rushed forward crying, 
" Kill me too ! I also am a Bubi ! " And thus he continued 
to cry till he too was made a partaker in the doom he had 
come out only to gaze upon. 

During my stay in Teheran I saw the Shah several times, 
but only once sufficiently near to see his features clearly. 
This was on the occasion of his visiting the new telegraph- 
office on his w^ay to the University, where he was to preside 
over the distribution of prizes. Through the kindness of 
Major Wells, then superintendent of the Indo-European Tele- 
graph in Persia, H and myself were enabled to stand in 

the porch of the building while the Shtih entered, surrounded 
by his ministers. We afterwards followed him to the Uni- 

^ See Polak's Persien, vol. i, p. 353. 



TEHERAN 103 

versity and witnessed the distribution of prizes, which was on 
the most liberal scale, most of the students, so far as I could 
see, receiving either medals, or sums of money averaging three 
or four tumdns (about £1). The Shah sat in a room opening 
out into the quadrangle, where the secretaries of state 
(mustawfls), professors, and students were ranged in order. 
Around him stood the princes of the royal family, including 
his third son, the Nd'ihu 's-Saltana, and the ministers of state. 
The only person allowed to sit beside him was his little 
favourite, " Manijak," who accompanied him on his last journey 
to Europe. 

The Shah's extraordinary fondness for this child (for he 
did not, at the time I saw him, appear to be more than eleven 
or twelve years old) was as annoying to the Persian aristocracy 
as it was astonishing to the people of Europe. It galled the 
spirit of the proud nobles of Persia to watch the daily-in- 
creasing influence of this little wizened, sallow-faced Kurdish 
lad, who was neither nobly born, nor of comely countenance, 
nor of pleasant manners and amiable disposition ; to see honours 
and favours lavished upon him and his ignoble kinsmen ; to be 
compelled to do him reverence and bespeak his good offices. 
All this now is a thing of the past. Within the last year or 
so Ghulam 'All Khan, the Kurd, better known as " Manijak " 
(which, in the Kurdish tongue, signifies a sparrow), and some- 
while dignified by the title of 'Azizu 's-Sultdn (" the Darling of 
the King "), fell from favour, and was hurled from the pinnacle 
of power down to his original obscurity. The cause of his fall 
was, I believe, that one day, while he was playing with a 
pistol, the weapon exploded and narrowly missed the Shah. 
This was too much, and " Manijak " and his favoured kinsmen 
were shorn of their titles and honours, and packed off to their 
humble home in Kurdistan. Perhaps it was, after all, as well 
for them ; for " the Darling of the King " was far from being 
the " Darling of the Court." Sooner or later his fall was 
bound to come, and had it been later it might have been yet 
more grievous. 

The Shah has five sons. Two of these, the Sdldru 'l-Mulk 
and the Buknu 'l-Mulk, were, at the time of which I write, 
mere children. They were described as beautiful and attrac- 



I04 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

tive boys, but neglected by tlieir father in I'avoiir of Manijak. 
The third son is entitled NiVihu 's-Saltana. He resided in 
Teheran, and to him was entrusted the government of the city 
and the suiireme military connnand. 

Tlie two elder sons were born of different mothers, and as 
the mother of the Vali-ahd was a princess, he, and not his 
elder brother, was chosen as the successor to the throne. That 
the ZiUn 's-SuUdu inwardly chafed at being thus deprived of 
his birthright is hardly to be doubted, though he was in the 
meanwhile compensated for this in some measure ])y being 
made governor of the greater part of Southern Persia, including 
the three important cities of Shi'raz, Yezd, and Isfahan, at 
the last of which he resided in almost regal state. Here he 
collected together a considerable body of well-drilled troops, 
who were said to be more efficient and soldierly than any of 
the regiments in Teheran. Besides these he had acquired a 
number of guns, and his magazines were well provided with 
arms and ammunition. In view of these preparations, and the 
energy and decision of character discernible in this prince, it 
was thought possible that, in the event of his father's death, 
he might dispute the crown with his younger and gentler 
brother, the Vali-ahd, in which case it appeared not improb- 
able that he might prove victorious, or at least succeed in 
maintaining his supremacy over Southern Persia. 

All such speculations, however, were cast to the winds by 
an utterly unforeseen event which occurred towards the end of 
February 1888, while I was at Isfahan. In the beginning of 
that month l3oth the Zillu 's-Sidtdn and the Vali-ahd had 
come to Teheran, the former from Isfahan, the latter from 
Tabriz, to pay a visit to their father. A decoration was to be 
]3reseuted to the former by the English Government for the 
protection and favour which he had extended to English trade 
and enterprise, towards which he had ever sliown himself 
well disposed. Suddenly, without any warning, came the 
news that he had been deprived of all his governments, with 
the exception of the city of Isfahan ; that he and some of his 
ministers wdio had accompanied him to the capital were kept 
to all intents and purposes prisoners within its walls ; that 
his deputy-governors at Yezd, Shiraz, and other towns were 



TEH ERA N 105 

recalled ; and that his army was disbanded, his artillery re- 
moved to Teheran, and his power effectually shattered. On 
first hearing from the Shah that of all the fair regions over 
which he had held sway, Isfahan only was left to him, he is 
reported to have said in the bitterness of his heart, " You had 
better take that from me too " ; to which the Shah replied, 
" I will do so, and will give it to your son " (Prince Jalalu 'd- 
Dawla, then governor for his father at Shiraz). This threat was, 
however, not carried out, and the Zillu 's-Sultdn still possesses 
the former capital as a remnant of his once wide dominions. 

Passing from the Shah and his sons, we must now turn 
our attention to one or two other members of the royal 
family. Foremost amongst these is (or rather was, for he died 
in 1888, while I was still in Persia) the Shah's aged uncle, 
Perhad Mirza, Mictamadu \l-Dawla, with wdiom, through the 
kindness of Dr. Torrence of the American Missionary Establish- 
ment, and by means of his interest with Prince Ihtishamu' d- 
Dawla (the son of Ferhad Mirza, and, since the downfall of 
the Zillu 's-SultAn, governor of Shiraz and the province of 
Fars), I obtained the honour of an interview. We found him 
seated, amidst a pile of cushions, in his andarun, or inner 
apartments, surrounded by well-stocked shelves of books. He 
received us with that inimitable courtesy whereby Persians of 
the highest rank know so well how to set the visitor completely 
at his ease, and at the same time to impress him with the 
deepest respect for their nobility. I was greatly struck by 
his venerable appearance and dignified mien, as well as by the 
indomitable energy and keen intelligence expressed by the 
flashing eye and mobile features, which neither old age nor 
bodily infirmity was able to rob of their animation. He 
talked much of a book called Nisdh, written by himself to 
facilitate the acquisition of the English language (with which 
he had some acquaintance) to his countrymen. Of this w^ork 
he subsequently presented me w4th a copy, which I value 
highly as a souvenir of its illustrious author. It is arranged 
on the same plan as the Arabic Nisdhs ^ so popular in Persia — 

1 The best known of these is the Nisdhu 's-Sibydn of Abu Nasr Farahi, who 
flourished in the beginning of the seventh century of the 7iym' (thirteenth of 
our era). 



io6 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

that is to say, it consists ol' a sort of iliyined vocabulary, in 
^vhic]l tlic Englisli words (represented in llie text in Persian 
characters, and repeated in English characters at the head of 
the page) are explained successively by the corresponding 
Persian ■word. The following lines, taken from the commence- 
ment of the work, and here represented in English characters, 
will serve as a specimen of the whole : — 

" Dar mah-i-Dcy jain-i-mey clih, cy nvjar-i-mdhrfc, 
Kaz shamlm-i-an dimayh-i-akl ijardad mushh-hft. 
* Hid ' sar-ast, {o ' noz ' biiii, ' lip ' lab-ast, iv ' iiy ' cliu chashin ; 
' Tilth ' dindan, ' fut ' pa, it ' hand ' dasl, ii ' feys ' rii. 
Gfish ii gardan * i'r ' ft ' nik ' ; ' chik ' chihr^, ' tang ' dmad uibdn ; 
Ndf ' ni'vil ' dan, it pistdn-m ' buzam ' ; hhv-dn ' hi'ar ' mf«,' 

" In the month of Dey^ give the cup of ^viue, moon-faced beauty, 
So that by its fragrance the palate of the intellect may become per- 
fumed as with musk. 
Head is sar, and nose hint, lip is lah, and eye like clmslim ; 
Tooth dindan, foot pd, and hand dast, and face rio. 
Gfish and gardan ear and neck ; cheek chihrif, tongue becomes zabdji ; 
Eecognise ndf as navel, and pistdn as bosom ; call hair m/t." 

I doubt greatly whether such a method of learning a 
language would commend itself to a European student, but 
with the Persians, endowed as they are with a great facility 
for learning by heart, it is a very favourite one. 

Prince Eerhad Mi'rza professed a great kindliness for the 
English nation as well as for their language ; nor, if the follow- 
ing narrative be true, is this to be wondered at, since his life 
was once saved by Sir Taylor Thomson when endangered by 
the anger of his nephew, the Shah. Fleeing from the messen- 
gers of the King's wrath, he took refuge in the Englisli 
Embassy, and threw himself on the protection of his friend the 
Ambassador, who promised to give him shelter so long as it 
should be necessary. Soon the royal farrdshes arrived, and 
demanded his surrender, which demand was unhesitatingly 
refused. They then threatened to break in by force and seize 
their prisoner, whereupon Sir Taylor Thomson drew a line 
across the path and declared that he would shoot the first man 
who attempted to cross it. Thereupon they thought it best to 

^ The tenth month of the old Persian solar year, con-esponding to December- 
January. 



TEHERAN 107 

retire, and Ferhad Mi'rza remained for a while the guest of the 
British Embassy, during which time Sir Taylor Thomson never 
suffered him to partake of a dish without first tasting it himself, 
for it was feared that, violence having failed, poison might, per- 
haps, be employed. Ultimately the Shah's anger subsided, and 
his uncle was able again to emerge from his place of refuge. 

Before the close of our audience, Ferhiid Mirzd asked me 
how long I intended to stop in Teheran, and whither I 
proposed to go on leaving it. I replied that my intention was 
to proceed to Shiraz as soon as the spring set in, since that 
it was the Dc'tritl- Ilm (Abode of Knowledge), and I thought 
that I might better pursue my studies there, " That," replied 
Ferhdd Mirzu, "is quite a mistake: 500 years ago Shiraz 
was the DArul- Urn, but now that has passed, and it can only 
be called the Bdru'l-Fisk " (Abode of Vice). 

Ferhiid Mirza has little reason to like Shiraz, nor has 
Shiraz much better reason to like Ferhad Mirza. He was 
twice governor of that town and the province of Fars, of which 
it is the capital, and was so unpopular during his administration 
that when he was recalled the populace did not seek to hide 
their delight, and even pursued him with jeers and derisive 
remarks. Ferhad Mirza swore that the Shirazis should pay 
for their temporary triumph right dearly, and he kept his word. 
After a lapse of time he was again appointed governor of the 
city that had insulted him, and his rule, never of the gentlest, 
became sterner than ever. During his four years of office (ending 
about 1880) he is said to have caused no less than 700 hands 
to be cut off for various offences. In one case a man came and 
complained that he had lost an ass, which was subsequently 
found amongst the animals belonging to a lad in the neighbour- 
hood. The latter was seized and brought before Ferhad Mirza, 
who, as soon as the ass had been identified by the plaintiff, 
ordered the hand of the defendant to be cut off without further 
delay, giving no ear to the protestations of the poor boy that 
the animal had of its own accord entered his herd, and that he 
had not, till the accusation of theft was preferred against him, 
I been able to discover its owner. Besides these minor punisli- 
ments, many robbers and others suffered death; not a few 
were walled up alive in pillars of mortar, there to perish 



loS A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

miseraV)ly. Tlu' remains of tliesc living tombs may still Ix; 
seen just outside the Dcr\mzi-i-Ka><^i'ih-l:hdni (Slaughter-house 
gate) at Shi'raz, while another series lines the road as it enters 
the little town of Abiide, situated near the northern limit of 
the province of Fars. On another occasion a certain Slieykh 
j\Ia/.kur, who had revolted in the garmdr, or hot region 
bordering on the Persian Gulf, and had struck coins in his 
own name, was captured and brought to Shi'raz, together with 
two of his followers, one of whom was his chief executioner. 
Ferhad Mirza first compelled the Sheykh to eat one of liis 
own coins, and then caused him and his followers to be 
strangled and suspended from a lofty gibbet as a warning to 
the disaffected. Notwithstanding his severity, Ferhad Mi'rzd 
enjoyed a gi'eat reputation for piety, and had accomplished 
the pilgrimage to Mecca. His son, as I have said, was, early 
in 1888, appointed Governor of Shfniz, where the reputaticjn 
of his father caused his advent to be looked forward to with 
some apprehension. 

The only other member of the Persian royal family whom 
I met was one of the brothers of the Shah, entitled 'Izzu 'd- 
Dawla, who, if less important a personage than Ferhad Mi'rza, 
was by no means less courteous. He asked many questions 
about recent inventions in Europe, manifesting an especial 
interest, so far as I remember, in patent medicines and 
dynamite. 

Having now completed all that I have to say about the 
reigning dynasty, I will speak shortly of Persian dinner-parties at 
Teheran. As these are seen in a more truly national form in the 
provinces, where chairs, tables, knives, and forks have not yet ob- 
truded themselves to such an extent as in the semi-Europeanised 
capital, I shall leave much that I have to say on this subject 
for subsequent pages. Most of the Persians with whom I was 
intimate at Teheran had adopted European habits to a 
considerable extent ; and during my residence there I was only 
on two occasions present at a really national entertainment. 

The order of procedure is always much the same. The 
guests arrive about sundown, and are ushered into what 
corresponds to the drawing-room, where they are received by 
their host and his male relations (for women are, of course, 



& 



TEHERAN 109 

excluded). Kalyans (water-pipes) and wine, or undiluted 
spirits (the latter being preferred), are offered them, and they 
continue to smoke and drink intermittently during the whole 
of the evening. Dishes of " djil " (pistachio nuts and the like) 
are handed round or placed near the guests ; and from time to 
time a spit of Iccbdhs (pieces of broiled meat) enveloped in a 
folded sheet of the fiat bread called ndn-i-sangak} is brought 
in. These things bring out the flavour of the wine, and serve 
to stimulate, and at the same time appease, the appetite of the 
guests, for the actual supper is not served till the time for 
breaking up the assembly has almost arrived, which is rarely 
much before midnight. 

As a rule, music is provided for the entertainment of the 
guests. The musicians are usually three in number : one plays 
a stringed instrument (the si-tdr') ; one a drum {dunhak), 
consisting of an earthenware framework, shaped something like 
a huge egg-cup, and covered with parchment at one end only ; 
the third sings to the accompaniment of his fellow-performers. 
Sometimes dancing-boys are also present, who excite the 
admiration and applause of the spectators by their elaborate 
posturing, which is usually more remarkable for acrobatic skill 
than for grace, at any rate according to our ideas. These, 
however, are more often seen in Shiniz than at Teheran. 
Occasionally the singer is a boy ; and, if his voice be sweet and 
his appearance comely, he will be greeted with rapturous 
applause. At one entertainment to which I had been invited, the 
guests were so moved by the performance of the boy-singer that 
they all joined hands and danced round him in a circle, chanting 
in a kind of monotonous chorus, " Bdraka 'lldh, Kuclmdu! Bdraka 
'lldh, Kucludu ! " (" God bless thee, little one ! God bless thee, 
little one ! "), till sheer exhaustion compelled them to stop. 

When the host thinks that the entertainment has lasted 
long enough, he gives the signal for supper, which is served 
either in the same or in another room. A cloth is laid on the 

^ Sangak ("pebble") is the diminutive of sang ("a stone"). This bread is 
called "pebble-bread" because the bottom of the oven in which it is baked is 
formed by a sloping bank of pebbles, on which the flat cakes of dough are 
thrown. It is very pleasant to the taste, and the only objection to it is that 
sometimes a stray pebble gets incorporated in its substance, to the manifest peril 
of the teeth of the consumer. 



I lo A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

floor, round whicli are arranged the long Hat cakes of " pebble- 
bread " whii'li do double duty as food and plates. The meats, 
consisting for the most part oi inUiios and childws^ of diflerent 
sorts, are placed in the centre, together with bowls of sherbet, 
each of which is supplied with a delicately-carved wooden 
spoon, with deej) boat-shaped bowl, whereof the sides slope 
down to form a sort of keel at the bottom. The guests squat 
down on their knees and heels round the cloth, the host 
placing him whom he desires most to honour on his right side 
at the upper end of the room (i.e. opposite the door). At the 
lower end the musicians and minstrels take their places, and 
all, without further delay, commence an attack on the viands. 
The consumption of food progresses rapidly, with but little 
conversation, for it is not usual in Persia to linger over meals, 
or to prolong them by talk, which is better conducted while 
the mouth is not otherwise employed. If the host wishes to 
pay special honour to a guest, he picks out and places in his 
mouth some particularly delicate morsel. In about a quarter 
of an hour from the commencement of the banquet most of 
the guests have finished and washed their hands by pouring 
water over them from a metal ewer into a plate of the same 
material, brought round by the servants for that purpose. They 
then rinse out their mouths, roll down their sleeves again, 
partake of a final pipe, and, unless they mean to stay for the 
night, depart homewards, either on foot or on horseback, 
preceded by a servant bearing a lantern. 

Such is the usual course of a Persian dinner-party ; and 
the mid-day meal (nahdr), to which guests are sometimes 
invited, differs from it only in this, that it is shorter and 
less boisterous. Although I have described the general 
features of such an entertainment in some detail, I fear that 
I have failed to convey any idea of the charm wliich it really 
possesses. This charm results partly from the lack of 
constraint and the freedom of the guests ; partly from the 

1 The basis of both ^J2-7ai/;s aud childvss is boiled rice flavoured with different 
meats ; the difference between them is, that in the former the mixture is effected 
by the cook, in the latter by the guest, who takes with the plain rice whatever 
delicacy most tempts his palate. There are many varieties of jyildiv, two of the 
nicest of which, in my opinion, are orange-2nldw aud what is called hdhuiie- 
pildw. 



teherAn 



III 



cordial welcome which a Persian host so well knows how to give ; 
partly from the exhilarating influence of the wine and music 
(which, though so different from that to which we are accustomed, 
produces, in such as are susceptible to its influence, an inde- 
scribable sense of subdued ecstasy) ; but more than all 
from the vigour, variety, and brilliancy of the conversation. 
There is no doubt that satiety produces somnolence and 
apathy, as is so often seen at English dinner-parties. Hence 
the Persians wisely defer the meal till the very end of the 
evening, when sleep is to be sought. During the earlier 
stages of the entertainment their minds are stimulated by 
wine, music, and mirth, without being dulled by the heaviness 
resulting from repletion. This, no doubt, is one reason why 
the conversation is, as a rule, so brilliant ; but beyond this 
the quick, versatile, subtle mind of the Persian, stored, as 
it usually is, with anecdotes, historical, literary, and incidental, 
and freed for the time being from the restraint which custom 
ordinarily imposes on it, flashes forth on these occasions in 
coruscations of wit and humour, interspersed with pungent 
criticisms and philosophical reflections wliicli display a wonder- 
ful insight. Hence it is that one rarely fails to enjoy thoroughly 
an evening spent at a Persian banquet, and that the five 
or six hours during wliich it lasts hardly ever hang heavily on 
one's hands. 

The Persians have only two full meals in the day — nahdr, 
which one may call indifferently either breakfast or lunch, 
since on the one hand it is the first meal of the day, and on 
the other it is not taken till a little before noon ; and slidiii, or 
supper, which, as I have already stated, is eaten the last thing 
before retiring for the night. Besides these two meals, tea 
is taken on risino; in the mornino- and ac^ain in the after- 
noon. 

The usual way in which a Persian of the upper classes 
spends his day is, then, somewhat as follows : — He rises early, 
often before sunrise (which, indeed, he must do, if devotionally 
inclined, for the morning prayer), and, after drinking a glass 
or two of tea (without milk, of course) and smoking a kalydn, 
1 sets about the business of the day, whatever it may be. About 
noon, or a little earlier, he has his breakfast {nahdr), which 



112 yl YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

dilTers littlo from supper as regards its material. After this, 
especially if the season be siinimer, he usually lies down and 
sleeps till about 3 p.m. From this time till sunset is the 
period for paying calls, so he either goes out to visit a friend, 
or else stays at home to receive visitors. In either case, tea 
and hdyi'ins constitute a prominent feature in the afternoon's 
employment. Casual visitors do not, as a rule, remain long 
after sunset, and on their departure, unless an invitation to 
supper has been given or received, the evening is quietly passed 
at home till the time for supper and bed arrives. In the case 
of government employ^, as well as shopkeepers, tradesmen, 
and others, whose hours of work are longer, a considerable 
portion of the afternoon may have to be spent in business, 
but in any case this rarely lasts after 4 or 5 p.m. Calls may 
also be paid in the early morning, before the day's work 
commences. The true Persian life is, however, as I have 
before remarked, much better seen in the provinces than in 
the capital, where European influences have already wrought a 
creat change in national customs. Further remarks on it will 
therefore find a fitter place in a subsequent chapter. 

I must now return to my life in the Nawwab's house, and 
the society which I there met. Amongst the visitors were 
a certain number of Afghans who had formed the suite of 
Ayub Khan before his attempted escape, and who were now 
to be transferred to Eawal Pindi in India, by way of Baghdad. 
The arrangements for their journey were entrusted mainly to 
my host, and, for a time, few days passed without his receiving 
visits from some of them. On these occasions I used often to 
remain in the room during the conversation, half of which, 
although it was conducted in Persian, was nearly iinintelligible 
to me ; for the Afghans speak in a manner and with an accent 
quite peculiar to themselves. These Afghans, who wore 
coloured turbans wound round a conical cap, after the Indian 
fashion, were troublesome and cantankerous fellows, seeming 
never to be satisfied, and always wanting something more — a 
larger allowance of money, more horses, or more sumptuous 
litters for the journey. As a rule, too, their expressions 
betokened cruelty and deceit, though some of them were fine- 
looking men, especially an old rmdld called Kazi 'Abdu 's- 



TEHERAN 113 

Salam, who had held an important position under the late 
Amir, Shir 'Ali. 

For the most part, however, the visitors were Persians, and 
of these a large proportion were natives of Shiraz, to whose 
eulogies of their beloved city (for all Shirazis are intensely 
patriotic) I used to listen with unwearying delight. They 
would praise the beautiful gardens, the far-famed stream of 
Euknabad, the soft, sweet speech of the south, and the joyous- 
ness of the people ; but when I exclaimed that Shiraz must be 
a very paradise, they would shake their heads sadly and say, 
" the place, indeed, has no fault — vali sctliihi na-ddrad — but it 
has no master," thinking, perhaps, of the happy time when the 
virtuous and noble Karim Kh;in the Zend held his court there, 
and rejoiced in his palace, when he heard the sounds of merri- 
ment from the town, that his people should be free from care 
and sadness. 

One constant visitor was the Nawwab's brother-in-law, 
Aka Muhammad Hasan Khan of the K;Lshka'i tribe which 
dwells in the neighbourhood of Shiraz. When he had ceased 
for a while the disquisitions on philosophy which were his 
favourite theme, and had temporarily exhausted the praises of 
" the Master," as he called his teacher in the science, Mirza 
Abu 'l-Hasan-i-Jilvc, he, too, used to revert to the inexhaustible 
subject of the beauties of his native land. " You must on no 
account postpone your visit to Shiniz later than the Nawriiz " 
(the Persian New Year's Day, which corresponds with the 
vernal equinox), he would say, " for then, indeed, there is no 
place on the face of the earth so beautiful. You know what 
the Sheykh (i.e. Sa'di) says — 

' KJmshd tafarruj-i-Naivrfoz, Ichdsse dar Shiraz, 
Ki bar hancul dil-i-mard-i-mxiscifir az ivatanash.' 

' Pleasant is the New Year's outing, especially in Sliirdz, 
Wliicli turns aside the heart of the traveller from his native land.' " 

In the evening, when I was alone with the Naww;ib, or 
his brother 'Isa Khan, a colonel in the Persian army, or my 
old friends, his nephews, the talk would turn on religion, 
philosophy, or literature. Sometimes they would entertain 
me with anecdotes of celebrated men and accounts of curious 

8 



114 ^ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

superstitions and customs ; sometimes the Nawwub would play 
ou the si-fitr, on \vhich he was a proficient; while sometimes 
they would explain to me the intricacies of the Mnhanniiadan 
prayers and ablutions, and the points wherein the Shi'ites 
dift'er from the Sunni's, both in practice and beliel". They 
did not fail on these occasions to point out the meaning- wliich 
underlies many of the ordinances of Ishhn. " The fast of 
Kamaziiu," they said, " appears to you a most grievous burden 
for a prophet and legislator to lay upon his followers, but in 
truth in this is its very value, for, as it is enjoined on all alike, 
the rich are made to realise what hunger and thirst, which 
they would otherwise never experience, really are. Thus they 
are enabled to understand the condition of those who are 
always exposed to these trials, and brought to sympathise with 
them and to strive to ameliorate their lot more than they 
would otherwise do. So, too, with our prayers, and the 
ablutions by which they must be proceeded. It is true tliat 
there is no special virtue in praying and washing oneself five 
times a day ; but it is evident that one who is enjoined to 
remember his Creator thus often, and to keep his body pure 
and clean, will always have these objects in view, and will 
never through negligence fall into forgetfulness of God and 
disregard of personal cleanliness. Moreover, we are forbidden 
to pray in any place which has been forcibly taken from its 
owner, or in which he does not give us permission to perform 
our devotions. This continually serves to remind us to be 
just and courteous in all our dealings, that our prayers may 
be acceptable to God." 

Sometimes the conversation was of a lighter character, and 
turned on the sayings of witty and learned men, their ready 
replies, and pungent sarcasms. Of these anecdotes I will give 
a few specimens. 

Sheykh Sa'di was unrivalled in ready wit and quickness of 
repartee, yet even he once met with his match. It happened 
in this wise. The young prince of Shiraz, who was remarkable 
for his beauty, went one day, accompanied by his retinue, to 
visit a mosque which was being built by his orders, and which 
is still standing. As he passed by a workman who was 
digging, a piece of mud flew up from the spade and touched 



I 



TEH ERA N 115 

his cheek. Sa'di, who was Avalking near him, saw this, and 
immediately exclaimed, making use of a quotation from the 
Kur'an, " Y& laytani huntu turdhd ! " (" would that I were 
earth ! " ^) The prince, hearing Sa'di speak, but failing to 
catch his remark, asked, " What does the Sheykh say ? " 
Another learned man who was present instantly interposed : 
" May I be thy sacrifice ! it was naught but a quotation from 
the Holy Book — - 'fa - Jcdia 7 - Jcdfiru, " Yd laytani himtu 
turdhd ! " ' (" and the infidel said, ' would that I were earth ! ' ") 
Sa'di had made use of the quotation, forgetting for the moment 
in whose mouth the words were placed. His rival had not 
forgotten, and, while appearing merely to justify Sa'di, 
succeeded in applying to him tlie opprobrious term of Icdfir 
(infidel). 

'Obeyd-i-Zakani was another celebrated poet, chiefly noted 
for the scathing satires which flowed from his pen. Even when 
he was on his death-bed his grim humour did not desert him. 
Summoning successively to his side his two sons and his 
daughter, he informed them, with every precaution to ensure 
secrecy, that he had left behind for them a treasure, which they 
must seek for, on a particular hour of a certain day after his 
death and burial, in a place which he indicated. " Be sure," 
he added in conclusion, " that you go thither at that hour and 
at no other, and above all keep what I have said secret from 
my other children." Shortly after this the poet breathed his 
last, and when his body had been consigned to the grave, and 
the day appointed for the search had come, each of his three 
children repaired secretly to the spot indicated. Great was 
the surprise of each to find that the others were also present, 
and evidently bent on the same quest. Explanations of a not 
very satisfactory character ensued, and they then proceeded to 
dig for the treasure. Sure enough they soon came on a large 
parcel, which they eagerly extracted from its place of conceal- 
ment, and began to unfold. On removino- the outer coverino- 
they found a layer of straw, evidently designed to protect the 
valuable and perhaps fragile contents. Inside this was another 
smaller box, on opening which a quantity of cotton -wool 
appeared. An eager examination of this brought to light 

^ Kur'an, ch. Ixxviii, v. 41. 



.1 



116 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

notliing but a small slij) (»t' ])aper on which sonietliinf^ was 
written. ])isa])pointed in their searcli, but still lio])in_t,f that 
this document might prove of value, either by guiding them to 
the real treasure, or in some other way, they hastily bore it to 
the liirht, and read these words — 

'■'■ K)iud<'nj danad, ii man danam, H tfc ham d(7ni 
Ki yakfulfcs na-ddrad ^ Obeyd-i-Zdkani ! " 

"Goil knows, and I know, and thou too knowest, 
That 'Obeyd-i-Z;ik;uu does not possess a single copper ! " 

AVhether the children were able to appreciate this final 
display of humour on the part of their father is not narrated 
by the historian. 

Satire, though, for obvious reasons, cultivated to a much 
smaller extent than panegyric, did not by any means cease 
with the death of 'Obeyd-i-Zakani, which occuiTcd about the 
year a.d. 1370. The following, composed on the incapable 
and crotchety H;iji Mirza Akasi, prime minister of the late 
king, ]\Iuhanimad Shiih, may serve as an example : — 

" Na^g'zdsht dar mulJc-i-Shdh Hdji dirami ; 
Kard hluircli-i-kandt it, tfip har hish ii kami ; 
Na mazrd -i-dftst-rd az dn kandt naml, 
Na khdye'-i-dushman-rd az dn tiip (jlmmV 

" The Haji did not leave a single dirham in the domains of the king ; 
Everything, small or great, he expended on kandts and guns — 
Kandts which conveyed no water to the fields of his friends, 
And guns which inflicted no injury on his enemies." ^ 

The wasteful and useless extravagance of Hi'iji Mi'rza Akasi' 
here held up to ridicule was unfortunately far from being his 
greatest or most pernicious error. It was he who ceded to 
the Eussians the sole right of navigating the Caspian Sea, 

^ A kaiuit is an underground channel for bringing water from those places 
where its presence has been detected by the water-finder {imikanni-hdshl) to 
towns or villages where it is needed. The liorizontal shaft is made by first 
sinking vertical ones and connecting these with one another by tunnelling. The 
cost of these ka'iidts (which abound in most parts of Persia) is veiy great. They 
are generally made by a rich man at his own risk and expense, according to 
the advice of the mukanni-hdshl. The water is then sold to those who use it. 
The object of this satire was celebrated for his passion for trying to invent new 
guns, and making kccndts which proved worthless. (See Gobiueau, Religions et 
Philosophies dans I'Asie Centralc, p. 163.) The last line, containing, as it does, a 
crude but forcible Persian idiom, I merely paraphrase. 



TEH ERA N 117 



remarking, with a chuckle at his own wit, " MA murghdhi 
nistim hi dh-i-shur Idzim ddshfe hdsliim," "We are not water- 
fowl that we should stand in need of salt water," to which he 
presently added the following sage reflection : — " Bardyi mvsliti 
dh-i-shur na-mi-shavad hdin-i-shirin-i-dust-rd talhh namud " 
(" It wouldn't do to embitter the sweet palate of a friend for 
the sake of a handful of salt water "). 

Readiness is a sine qud non in a Persian poet. He must 
be able to improvise at a moment's notice. One day Path-' All 
Shah was riding through the bazaars surrounded by his 
courtiers when he happened to notice amongst the apprentices 
in a coppersmith's shop a very beautiful boy, whose fair face 
was begrimed with coal dust. 

" Bi-gird-i-'ariz-i-mis-gar nishaste gard-i-zughal " 
("Around the cheeks of the coppersmith has settled i!ie dust of the coal"), 

said the King, improvising a hemistich ; " now. Sir Laureate " 
(turning to his court-poet), " cap me that if you can ! " 

^' /Sadd-yi mis hi-falah mi-ravad Id ondh giriftast " 
("The chaiig of the copper goes up to heaven because the moon is eclipsed"), 

rejoined the Laureate, without a moment's hesitation. To ^ 
appreciate the appositeness of this verse the reader must know 
that a beautiful face is constantly compared by the Persians to 
the moon, and that when there is an eclipse of the moon it is 
customary in Persia to beat copper vessels to frighten away 
the dragon which is vulgarly supposed to have " eaten " it. 
This rhetorical figure (called " husn-i-talil"), whereljy an 
observed effect is explained by a fanciful cause, is a great 
favourite with the Persian poets. Here is another instance of 
a more exaggerated type, in a verse addressed by the "poet 
Easikh to his sweetheart — 

" Husn-i-mah-rd bd tH sanjidam hi-viizdn-i-kiyds : 
Pcdle'-i-mah bar falak shud, fc tfc mdndl bar zamin!" 

" I weighed thy beauty against that of the moon in tlie balance of my 
judgment : 
The scale containing the moon flew up to heaven, and thou wert left 
on the earth ! " 



Ii8 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Could a neater compliment, or one mure exaggerated, be 
inia'jfined ;" 

It is the fashion with some scholars to talk as il' literary 
and iHietical talent were a thing of the past in I'ersia. No 
mistake could possibly be greater. Everyone is aware of that 
form of hallucination whereby the Past is glorified at the 
expense of the I'resent ; that illusion wdiich is typilied both in 
the case of individuals and nations in the phrase, " the happy 
days of childhood." Men not only forget the defects and 
disagreeables of the past, and remember only its glories, but 
they are very apt to weigh several centuries of the Past against 
a few decades of the Present. " Where," the enthusiastic 
admirer of older Persian literature exclaims, " are the Rudagis, 
the Firdawsi's, the Mzami's, the 'Omar Khayyams, the Anvari's, 
the Sa'dis, the Hafizes, the Jamis, of the glorious Past ? 
Where are such mighty singers to be found now ? " Leaving 
aside the fact that these immortal bards ranged over a period 
of five centuries, and that when, at certain periods, the 
munificent patronage of some prince collected together a 
number of contemporary poets (as at the so-called "Eound 
Table " of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni), posterity (perhaps 
wisely) often neglected to preserve the works of more than one 
or tw^o of them, it may confidently be asserted that the 
present century has produced a group of most distinguished 
poets, wdiose works will undoubtedly, when duly transfigured 
by the touch of antiquity, go to make up " portions and 
parcels " of the " glorious Past." Of modern Persian poets the 
greatest is perhaps Ka'ani, who died about a.d. 1854. In 
panegyric and satire alike he is unrivalled ; and he has a 
wealth of metaphor, a flow of language, and a sweetness of 
utterance scarcely to be found in any other poet. Although he 
lacks the mystic sublimity of Jami, the divine despair of 
'Omar Khayyam, and the majestic grandeur of Pirdawsi, he 
manifests at times a humour rarely met with in the older 
poets. One poem of his, describing a dialogue between an old 
man and a child, both of wdiom stammer, is very humorous. 
The child, on being first addressed by the old man, thinks that 
his manner of speech is being imitated and ridiculed, and is 
very angry ; but, on being assured and finally convinced that 



TEH ERA N 119 

liis interlocutor is really afflicted in the same way, he is 
appeased, and concludes with the words — 

" Ma-ma-man ham, (ju-cju-gunij-am ma-ma-misl-i-tu-tu-tfi, 
Ta-ta-tk ham gu-gu-gungt 7na-via-'misl-i-ma-ma-man." 

" I also am a stammerer like unto thee ; 
Thou also art a stammerer like unto me." 

The best poets at present living are Mirza-yi-Farhang ^ and 
Mirza-yi-Yezdani, both of whom I met at Shiraz. They are 
tlie only two surviving brothers of Mirza Davari, also a poet of 
great merit ; their father, whose nom-cle-guerre was Wisal, was 
widely famed for his poetic talent ; and their sons already 
manifest unmistakable signs of genius. 

The conversation of my kind friends, who desired that I 
might become acquainted with everything calculated to illus- 
trate Persian life, did not, however, confine itself only to the 
masterpieces of national poetry. Nursery rhymes and school- 
boy doggerel also came in for a share of attention. As a 
specimen of these I may quote the following : — 

" ' Tahlxd yada Ahi La' ' 

Akliimd bi-kesh tavlla ; 
Kahash hi-clih bi-mire', 
Javash hi-dih na-viire'." 

Which may be paraphrased thus : — 

" ' Abu Laliab's imdc shall fall ' — ^ 
Put the master in the stall ; 
He will die, if chaff you give. 
Give him oats and he will live." 

I have already alluded to practical jokes, and described 
one perpetrated by a wit of the fourteenth century. Let me 
add another of the present day, which, if rougher than that of 
'Obeyd-i-Ziikani, was at least intended to convey a salutary 
lesson to the person on whom it was practised. Amongst the 
dependants of the governor of a certain town Avas a man who 

^ Mil'za-yi-Farhang, I regret to say, is no longer alive. The news of his 
death reached me a few months ago. 

- The first line is a mutiLated fragment of the first verse of the 111th silra of 
the Kur'an, — " Tabhat yada Ahi Lahah'" wa iabb," "The hands of Abu Lahab 
shall perish and he shall perish." This chapter, being one of the shorter ones at 
the end of the Kur'an, is amongst the earliest learnt by Persian children. 



I20 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

was possessed l>y tlu' (U'sin' to iliscover sonic means of render- 
ing himself invisible. At length lie had the good fortune (as 
he thought) to meet with a dervish wlio agreed, for a certain 
sum of money, to supply him with some pills which would 
produce the desired effect. Filled with delight at the success 
which appeared at length to have crowned his elforts, the 
would-be dabbler in the occult sciences did not fail to boast 
openly before his comrades, and even before the governor, that 
on a certain day he would visit them unseen and prove the 
efficacy of his new acquisition. On the appointed day, having 
taken one or two of the magical pills, he accordingly came 
to the governor's palace, filled with delightful anticipations of 
triumph on his own part and envious astonishment on the part 
of his friends. Now the governor was determined, if possible, 
to cure him of his taste for the black art, and had therefore 
given orders to the sentries, servants, and other attendants, as 
well as to his own associates, that when the would-be mai^ician 
arrived they were all to behave as though they were unable to 
see him. Accordingly, when he reached the gate of the palace, 
he was delighted to observe that the sentries omitted to give 
him the customary salute. Proceeding farther, he became 
more and more certain that the dervish's pills had produced 
the promised effect. No one looked at him ; no one saluted 
him ; no one showed any consciousness of his presence. 
At length he entered the room where the governor was sitting 
with his associates. Finding that these too appeared insensible 
to his presence, he determined to give them a proof that he 
had really been amongst them in invisible form — a fact which 
they might otherwise refuse to credit. A halycin, or water- 
pipe, was standing in the middle of the room, the charcoal in it 
still glowing. The pseudo-magician applied his lips to the 
mouth-piece and began to smoke. Those present at once broke 
out into expressions of astonishment. " Wonderful ! " they 
exclaimed, " look at that halydn ! Though no one is near it, 
it is just as if some one were smoking it : nay, one can even 
hear the gurgle of the water in the bowl." Enchanted with 
the sensation he had caused, the " invisible " one became 
bolder. Some lighted candles were in the room ; one of these 
he blew out. Again exclamations of sur^Drise arose from the 



TEHERAn 121 



company. " Marvellous ! " they cried, " there is no wind, yet 
suddenly that candle has been blown out ; what can possibly 
be the meaning of this ? " The candle was again lighted, and 
again promptly blown out. In the midst of fresh expressions 
of surprise, the governor suddenly exclaimed, " I have it ! I 
know what has happened ! So-and-so has no doubt eaten one 
of his magical pills, and is even now present amongst us, 
though we cannot see him ; well, we will see if he is intangible 
as well as invisible. Ho, there ! hacha-hd ! ^ Bring the sticks, 
quick ! Lay al)out you in all directions ; perhaps you will 
be able to teach our invisible friend better manners." The 
famishes hastened to rain down a shower of blows on the 
unfortunate intruder, who cried out loudly for mercy. " But 
where are you ? " demanded the governor. " Cease to be 
invisible, and show yourself, that we may see you." " 
master," cried the poor crestfallen magician, " if I be really 
invisible, how happens it that all the blows of the farrdshes 
reach me with such effect ? I begin to think that I have been 
deceived by that rascally dervish, and that I am not invisible 
at all." On this, amidst the mirth of all present, the sufferer 
was allowed to depart, with a recommendation that in future 
he should avoid the occult sciences ; an injunction which one 
may reasonably hope he did not soon forget. 

^ Bacha-hd means "boys," "children ;" but the term is also commonly em- 
ployed in summoning servants, in this case the farrdshes, whose duty it is to 
administer corporal punishment. 



CH APT Eli VI 

MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 

" Guftagft-yi knfr u din dkhir bi-yakjd mi-kasJind : 
Kliwdb yak khicdb-ast, ammn viukhtalif ta'bir-Jid." 

" Free-thouglit and faith — the upshot's one ; they wrangle o'er a name : 
Interpretations diifer, but the dream is still the same." 

(Sd'ib.) 

' ' Hich kas 'ukda'i az kdr-i-jilidn bdz na-kard : 
Har hi dmad girihi chand barin tdrfuzud," 

" No one yet hath unravelled a knot from the skein of the universe, 
And each who came and essayed the same but made the tangle worse." 

The most striking feature of the Persians as a nation is their 
passion for metaphysical speculation. This passion, so far from 
being confined to the learned classes, permeates all ranks, and 
manifests itself in the shopkeeper and the muleteer, as well as 
in the scholar and the man of letters. Not to give some 
account of this aspect of Persian life would, then, be a grave 
omission, calculated to prevent the reader from obtaining a just 
impression of the national character. 

That dogmatic theology is unfavourable to speculation is 
obvious, and as few theological systems are more dogmatic and 
uncompromising than that of Islam, it might be expected that 
Persia, being one of the strongholds of the Muhammadan faith, 
would afford at best a sterile soil for the growth of other 
systems. Such, however, is far from being the case. Persia 
is, and always has been, a very hot-bed of systems, from the 
time of Manes and Mazdak in the old Sasanian days, down to 
the present age, which has brought into being the Babi's and 
the Sheykhis. 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 123 

When, in the seventh century, the warlike followers of the 
Arabian j)rophet swept across Iran, overwhelming, in their 
tumultuous onslaught, an ancient dynasty and a venerable 
religion, a change, apparently almost unparalleled in history, 
was in the course of a few years brought over the land. Where 
for centuries the ancient hymns of the Avesta had been 
chanted, and the sacred fire had burned, the cry of the 
mu'ezzin summoning the faithful to prayer rang out from 
minarets reared on the ruins of the temples of Ahura Mazda. 
The priests of Zoroaster fell by the sword ; the ancient books 
perished in the flames ; and soon none were left to represent 
a once mighty faith but a handful of exiles flying towards the 
shores of India, and a despised and persecuted remnant in 
solitary Yezd and remote Kirman. Truly it seemed that a 
whole nation had been transformed, and that henceforth the 
Aryan Persian must not only bear the yoke of the Semitic 
" lizard-eater " whom he had formerly so despised, but must 
further adopt his creed, and almost, indeed, his language. 

Yet, after all, the change was but skin-deep, and soon a 
host of heterodox sects born on Persian soil — Shi'ites, Siifis, 
Isma'ilis, philosophers — arose to vindicate the claim of Aryan 
thought to lie free, and to transform the religion forced on 
the nation by Arab steel into something which, though still 
wearing a semblance of Islam, had a significance widely 
different from that which one may fairly suppose was intended 
by the Arabian prophet. 

There is, indeed, another view possible — that of M. Gobin- 
eau, whose deep insight into Persian character entitles his opinion 
to careful consideration — viz., that from the very beginning 
there were latent in the Muhammadan reliuion the germs of 
the most thorough-going pantheism, and that Muhammad him- / 
self did but revive and formulate somewhat differently the 
ancient beliefs of Mesopotamia.^ Whether this be true or 
not (and the point is one which, in my opinion, cannot be 
regarded as altogether settled until the history of Siifiism 
amongst those of Arab race shall have been more carefully 
studied), there is no doubt that certain passages in the Kur'an 

^ See Gobineau's Religions ct Pldlosophies dans I'Asie Centrale, especially 
chapter iii, " La Foi des Arabes." 



124 A YEAR AMONGST TJIE PERSIANS 

are susceptible to a certain degree df myslical interpretation, 
lake, for instance, the 17th verse of the Sth chapter, w]u;re 
God reminds .Muhannnad lliat the victory of ]J('(h- was oidy 
in appearance won by the valour of the Muslims : — " Fa lam 
taktuluhum, wa lakinna 'lldha katalahum ; iva vid ramcyta idh 
ramcyta, wa lahinna 'lldha ramd," — "And thou didst not slay 
them, but God slew them ; and tliou didst not slioot when 
thou didst shoot, but God shot." Although there is no need 
to explain this otherwise than as an assurance that God sup- 
ported the faithful in their battles, either by natural or (as the 
commentators assert) by supernatural means, and although it 
lends itself far less readily than many texts in the New and 
even in the Old Testament to mystical interpretation, it never- 
theless serves the Persian Sufi's as a foundation-stone for 
their pantheistic doctrines. " The Prophet," they say, " did 
not kill when men fell by his hand. He did not throw when 
he cast the handful of stones which brought confusion into 
the ranks of the heathen. He was in both cases but a mirror 
wdierein was manifested the might of God. God alone was 
the Eeal Agent, as He is in ;dl the actions which we, in our 
spiritual blindness, attribute to men. God alone is, and we 
are but the waves which stir for a moment on the surface of 
the Ocean of Being, even as it runs in the tradition, ' God was, and 
there vxis nanght hut He, and it is novj even as it vxis then. 
Shall we say that God's creation is co-existent with Him ? 
Then are we Mauicheans and dualists, nay, polytheists ; for 
we associate the creature with the Creator. Can we say that 
the sum of Being was increased at the time when the Pheno- 
menal World first appeared ? Assuredly not ; for that would 
be to regard the Being of God as a thing finite and condi- 
tioned, because capable of enlargement and expansion. What 
then can we say, except that even as God (who alone is en- 
dowed with real existence) was in the Beginning and will be 
in the End (if, indeed, one may speak of ' Beginning' and ' End' 
where Eternity is concerned, and where Time, the element of 
this illusory dream which we call ' Life,' has no place) alone 
in His Infinite Splendour, so also, even now. He alone is, and 
all else is but as a vision "which disturbs the night, a cloud 
which dims the Sun, or a ripple on the bosom of the Ocean ? " 



MYSTICISM, ME TA PHYSIC, AND MAGIC 125 

In such wise does tlie Sufi of Persia read the Kur'au and 
expound its doctrine. Those who are familiar with the different 
developments of Mysticism will not need to be reminded that 
there is hardly any soil, be it ever so barren, where it will not 
strike root ; hardly any creed, however stern, however formal, 
round which it will not twine itself. It is, indeed, the eternal 
cry of the human soul for rest ; the insatiable longing of a 
l)eing wherein infinite ideals are fettered and cramped by a 
miserable actuality ; and so long as man is less than an angel 
and more than a beast, this cry will not for a moment fail to 
make itself heard. Wonderfully uniform, too, is its tenour : in 
all ages, in all countries, in all creeds, whether it come from the 
Brahmin sage, the Greek philosopher, the Persian poet, or the 
Christian quietist, it is in essence an enunciation more or less 
clear, more or less eloquent, of the aspiration of the soul to cease 
altogether from self, and to be at one with God. As sucli it must 
awaken in all who are sensible of this need an echo of 
sympathy ; and therefore I feel that no apology is required for 
adding a few words more on the ideas which underlie all that is 
finest and most beautiful in Persian poetry and Persian thought. 

To the metaphysical conception of God as Pure Being, 
and the ethical conception of God as the Eternally Holy, the 
Siifi superadds another conception, which may be regarded as 
the keynote of all Mysticism. To him, above all else, God is 
the Eternally Beautiful, — '' Jdndn-i-HaMki" t\\Q " True Be- 
loved." Before time was. He existed in His Infinite Purity, 
unrevealed and unmanifest. Why w^as this state changed ? 
Why was the troubled phantasm of the Contingent World 
evoked from the silent depths of the Non-Existent ? Let me 
answer in the words of Jami, who, perhaps, of all the mystic 
poets of Persia best Icnew how to combine depth of thought 
with sweetness and clearness of utterance. Poor as is my 
rendering of his sublime song, it may still suffice to give some 
idea of the original. The passage is from his Yusuf u 
Zulcykhd} and runs as follows : — 

" 111 solitude, where Being signless dwelt, 
And all the Universe still dormant lay 

^ The passage in question is the 11th section of the poem. It will be found 
on p[i. 11-12 of the Lucknow edition, and on pp. 16-17 of Rosenzweig's edition. 



\ 



126 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Concealed in selflessness, One Beinf:; was 

Exempt from ' I-' or 'Thou-' ness, and apart 

From all duality ; Beauty Supreme, 

Unniauifest, except unto Itself 

By Its own lij,dit, yet fraught with power to charm 

The souls of all ; concealed in the Unseen, 

An Essence pure, unstained by aught of ill. 

No mirror to reflect Its loveliness, 

Nor coml> to touch Its locks ; the morning breeze 

Ne'er stirred Its tresses ; no collyrium 

Lent lustre to Its eyes : no rosy cheeks 

O'ershadowed by dark curls like hyacinth, 

Nor peach-like down were there ; no dusky mole 

Adorned Its face ; no eye hail yet beheld 

Its image. To Itself it sang of love 

In wordless measures. By Itself it cast 

The die of love. 

But Beauty cannot brook 
Concealment and the veil, nor patient rest 
Unseen and unadmired : 'twill burst all bonds, 
And from Its prison-casement to the world 
Keveal Itself. See where the tulip grows 
In upland meadows, how in balmy spring 
It decks itself ; and how amidst its thorns 
The wild rose rends its garment, and reveals 
Its loveliness. Thou, too, when some rare tliouglit, 
Or beauteous image, or deep mystery 
Flashes across thy soul, canst not endure 
To let it pass, but hold'st it, that perchance 
In speech or writing thou may'st send it forth 
To charm the world. 

Wherever Beauty dwells 
Such is its nature, and its heritage 
From Everlasting Beauty, which emerged 
From realms of purity to shine upon 
The worlds, and all the souls which dwell therein. 
One gleam fell from It on the Universe, 
And on the angels, and this single ray 
Dazzled the angels, till their senses whirled 
Like the revolving sky. In divers forms 
Each mirror showed It forth, and everywhere 
Its praise was chanted in new harmonies. 

Each speck of matter did He constitute 
A mirror, causing each one to reflect 1 

The beauty of His visage. From the rose ' 
Flashed forth His beauty, and the nightingale 
Beholding it, loved madly. From that Light 



/ 



I 

It 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 127 

The candle drew the lustre which beguiles 
The moth to immolation. On the sun 
His Beauty shone, and straightway from the wave 
The lotus reared its head. Each shining lock 
Of LeylA's hair attracted Majniin's heart 
Because some ray divine reflected shone 
In her fair face. 'Twas He to Shirin's lips 
Who lent that sweetness which had power to steal 
The heart from Parviz, and from Ferhad life. 

His Beauty everywhere doth show itself, 
And through the forms of earthly beauties shines 
Obscured as through a veil. He did reveal 
His face through Joseph's coat, and so destroyed 
Zuleykha's peace. Where'er thou seest a veil, 
Beneath that veil He hides. Whatever heart 
Doth yield to love. He charms it. In His love 
The heart hath life. Longing for Him, the soul 
Hath victory. That heart which seems to love \ 
The fair ones of this world, loves Him alone. 

Beware ! say not, ' He is All-Beautiful, 

And we His lovers.' Thou art but the glass, 

And He the Face ^ confronting it, which casts 

Its image on the mirror. He alone 

Is manifest, and thou in truth art hid. 

Pure Love, like Beauty, coming but from Him, 

Reveals itself in thee. If steadfastly 

Thou canst regard, thou wilt at length perceive 

He is the mirror also — He alike 

The Treasure and the Casket. ' I,' and ' Thou ' 

Have here no place, and are but phantasies 

Vain and unreal. Silence ! for this tale 

Is endless, and no eloquence hath power 

To speak of Him. 'Tis best for us to love. 

And sutler silently, being as naught." 

But is this the sum of the Sufi's philosophy ? Is he to 
rest content with earthly love, because he knows that the 
lover's homage is in truth rendered, not to the shrine at which 
he offers his devotion, but to the Divine Glory — the Shekinah 
— which inhabits and irradiates it? Not so. Let us listen 
once more to the utterance of Jami — 

" Be thou the thrall of love ; make this thine object ; 
For this one thing seemeth to wise men worthy. 

^ So it is written in the Kur'an, ^' Kullu shcy'"^ hdlik"" illd wajhu-hv," 
"All things shall perish save His Face" (Kur'an xxviii, 88). 



128 A YEAR AMONGST TJ/E J'ERSJANS 

Be thou love's tliiiiU, tlial tlniu iiiay'sl win thy freedom, 

Bear on tliy breast its brand, that thou niay'st blithe be. 

Love's wine will warm thee, and will steal thy senses ; 

All else is soulless stupor and self-seeking. 

Remembrances of love refresh the lover, 

"Whose voice when laudiiiLj love e'er waxeth loudest. 

But that he drained a draught from this deep goblet, 

In the wide worlds not one would wot of Majmin. 

Thousands of wise and welldearned men have wended 

Through life, who, since for love they had no liking. 

Have left nor name, nor note, nor sign, nor story, 

Nor tale for future time, nor fame for fortune. 

Sweet songsters 'midst the birds are found in plenty, 

But, when love's lore is taught by the love-learned. 

Of moth and nightingale they most make mention. 

Though in this world a hundred tasks thou tryest, 

'Tis love alone which from thyself will save thee. 

Even from earthly love thy face avert not, 

Since to the Real it may serve to raise thee. ^ 

Ere A, B, C are rightly apprehended, 

How canst thou con the pages of thy Kur'an ? 

A sage (so heard I), unto whom a student 

Came cra\ing counsel on the course before him, 

Said, ' If thy steps be strangers to love's pathways, 

Depart, learn love, and then return before me ! | 

For, should'st thou fear to drink wdne from Form's flagon,V 

Thou caust not drain the draught of the Ideal. > 

But yet beware ! Be not by Form belated ; 

Strive rather wdth all speed the bridge to traverse. 

If to the bourn thou fain wouldst bear thy baggage 

Upon the bridge let not thy footsteps linger.' " ^ 

The renunciation of self is the great lesson to be learned, 
and its first steps may be learned from a merely human love. 
But what is called love is often selfish ; rarely absolutely I 
unselfish. The test of unselfish love is this, that we should 
be ready and willing to sacrifice our own desires, happiness, \ 
even life itself, to render the beloved happy, even though we ' 
know that our sacrifice will never be understood or appre- 
ciated, and that we shall therefore not be rewarded for it Ijy 
an increase of love or gratitude. 

Such is the true love which leads us up to God. We 
love our fellow-creatures because there is in them something | 

^ These two translations are reprinted, almost without alteration, from my 
article on "Sufiism" in Religious Systems of the World (Swan Sounenscliein and 
Co.), where I first puljlished them. 



i 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 129 

of the Divine, some dim reflection of the True Beloved, 
reminding our souls of their origin, home, and destination. 
From the love of the reflection we pass to the love of the 
Light which casts it ; and, loving the Light, we at length 
become one with It, losing the false self and gaining the 
True, therein attaining at length to happiness and rest, and 
becoming one with all that we have loved — the Essence of 
that which constitutes the beauty alike of a noble action, a 
beautiful thought, or a lovely face. 

Such in outline is the Sufi philosophy. Beautiful as it is, 
and worthy as it is of deeper study, I have said as much 
about it as my space allows, and must pass on to speak of 
other matters. 

Mysticism is in its nature somewhat vague and difficult 
to formulate, varying in character between an emotional 
philosophy and a devotional religion. On one side of it 
stands metaphysic, and on the other theology. Of Muham- 
madan theology I do not propose to speak, save incidentally, 
as occasion arises ; neither is this the place to treat system- 
atically of the various schools of philosophy which have 
sprung up in Persia. Of the earlier ones, indeed, one may 
say generally that they are adaptations of either Aristotle or 
Plato, and that they may most fitly be described as the 
scholasticism of Islam. Of two of the later pliilosophers, 
however, — Mulla Sadra of Shirdz, and Haji Mulla Hadi of 
Sabzawar, — I shall say a few words, inasmuch as they mark 
a new development in Persian thought, while at the same 
time they are less known in Europe than the Avicennas, the 
Ghazzalis, and the Farabis of earlier days. 

Mulla Sadru 'd-Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Yahya, 
commonly known as Mulla Sadra, flourished in the latter half 
j of the seventeenth century. He was the son of a rich mer- 
chant of Shiraz, who had grown old without being blessed 
with a son. Being very desirous of leaving an heir to inherit 
las wealth, he made a vow that if God would grant him this 
wish he would give the sum of one tumdn (about 6s.) a day 
to the poor for the rest of his life. Soon afterwards Mulla 
Sadra was born, and the father faithfully accomplished his 
vow till his death. When this occurred, Mulla Sadra, who 

9 



I30 A YEAR AMONGST THE TEKSIANS 

IkuI already inanirested an unusual ai)litiulc for learning and 
a special taste for ]iliiliisopliy, decided, after consulting with 
his mother, to bestow the greater portion of the wealth which 
he had inlierited on the poor, and to go to Isfahan to prosecute 
his studies. 

It was the time when the Safavf Kings ruled over Persia, 
with their capital at Isfaluin, and the colleges of that city 
were famed throughout the East. Mulh'i Hadr;i enquired on 
his arrival there who were the most celebrated teachers of 
philosophy, and was informed that they were three in number, 
Mir Abu'l-Kiisim Fandaraski, Mir Muhammad B;ikir, better 
known as Mir Damad, and Sheykh Beha'u'd-Din 'Aniili. He 
first presented himself before Mir Damad, and asked for advice 
as to his studies. The latter replied, " If you want inward 
meaning only, go to Mir Fandaraski; if you want mere out- 
ward form, go to Sheykh Beha ; but if you desire to combine 
both, then come to me." ]\Iulhi Sadra accordingly attended 
the lectures of Mir Dtimiid regularly, but did not fail to profit 
as far as possible by the teaching of the other professors. 

At length it happened that Mir Damad desired to under- 
take the pilgrimage to Mecca. He therefore bade each of his 
pupils comj)ose during his absence a treatise on some branch 
of philosophy, which should be submitted to him on his 
return, in order that he might judge of the progress they had 
made. Acting on this injunction, Mulla Sadra wrote his first 
great work, the Shavmhid-i-Rululiyy6 (" Evidences of Divinity"), 
which he presented to his teacher on his return from the 
pilgrimage. 

Some time afterwards, when Mulla Sadra was walking 
beside Mir Damad, the latter said to him, " Sadrdjdn! Kitdl- 
i-merd az meydn hurdi!" (" my dear Sadra, thou hast taken 
my work out of the midst " — meaning that he had superseded 
it by the work which he had just composed). This generous 
recognition of his merit by his teacher was the beginning of 
a wide celebrity which has gone on increasing till this day. 
Yet this celebrity brought him into some danger from the 
fanatical mvMds, who did not fail to detect in his works the 
savour of heterodoxy. It was during his residence at Kum 
especially that his life was jeopardised by the indignation of 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 131 

these zealots, but on many occasions he was subjected to 
annoyances and persecutions. He lived at a time when the 
clerical power was paramount, and philosophy in disrepute. 
Had he lived later, he might have been the recipient of favours 
from the great, and have enjoyed tranquillity, and perhaps 
even opulence : as it was, his was the glory of once more 
bringing back philosophy to the land whence it had been 
almost banished. 

Mulla Sadni gained numerous disciples (some of whom, 
such as Mulla Muhsin-i-Feyz, attained to great fame), and left 
behind him a multitude of books, mostly in Arabic, of which 
the Shmvd]hid-i-Ruhubiyy6 already mentioned, and a more sys- 
tematic and voluminous work called the Asfdr-i-arha a {" Four 
treatises "), enjoy the greatest reputation. The three points 
claimed as original in Mulla Sadra's teaching ^ are as follows : — 
(1) His axiom " Basitii 'l-liakikat k^dlu'l-ashyd iva Icysa 
hi-shcy^''^ minhd " — " The element of Eeal Being is all 
things, yet is none of them." 

(2) His doctrine that true cognition of any object only 

becomes possible by the identification of the knower 
with the known. 

(3) His assertion that the Imagination is independent of 

the physical organism, and belongs in its nature to 

the world of the soul : hence that not only in young 

children, but even in animals, it persists as a spiritual 

entity after death. In this point he differed from his 

predecessors, who held that it was only with the 

development of the Eational Soul that immortality 

became possible. 

I must now pass on to Haji Mulla Hadi of Sabzawar, the 

'•reatest Persian philosopher of the present century. He was 

;he son of Haji Mahdi, and was born in the year a.h. 1212 

A.D. 1797-8). He began his studies when only seven years 

)ld, under the tuition of H;iji Mulla Huseyn of Sabzawar, and 

.t the early age of twelve composed a small treatise. Anxious 

pursue his studies in theology and jurisprudence, he visited 

^ A further account of Mulla Sadra, diifering in some points from that which 
here given, will be found in Gobineau's Edigioiis et PhilosojMcs dans VAsic 
\entralc, pp. 80-90. 



132 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

]Maslihad in company with his teacher, and remained there for 
iive years, living in the most frugal manner (not from necessity, 
i'or he M'as far from poor, but from choice), and continuing his 
studies ^vith unremitting ardour. Wlien in his seventeenth 
year he heard of the fame of MulL'i 'Ali Ni'iri, who was tlicn 
teaching in Isfahan, he was very anxious to proceed thither 
at once, but was for several years prevented from so doing by 
the opposition of his friends. Ultimately, however, he was 
enabled to gratify his wishes, and to take up his residence at 
Isfahan, where he diligently attended the lectures of Mulld 
'All Nun'. He appears, however, to have received more 
advantage from the help of one of Mullti 'All's pupils, named 
IMulhi Isma'il, " the One-eyed." In Isfahiin he remained for 
seven years, devoting himself with such avidity to the study 
of philosophy that he rarely slept for much more than four 
hours out of the twenty-four. To combat slothfulness he was 
in the habit of reposing on a cloak spread on the bare brick 
floor of the little room which he occupied in the college, with 
nothing but a stone for his pillow. 

The simplicity and indeed austerity of his life was far from 
being his chief or only merit. Being possessed of private 
means greatly in excess of what his simple requirements 
demanded, he used to take pains to discover which of the 
students stood most in need of pecuniary help, and would then 
secretly place sums of money varying from one to five or even 
ten himdns (six shillings to three jDounds) in their rooms during 
their absence, without leaving any clue which could lead to 
the identification of the donor. In this manner he is said to 
have expended no less than 100,000 tiimdns (about £30,000), 
while he was in Isfahan, leaving himself only so much as he 
deemed necessary for his own maintenance. 

Having completed his studies at Isfahan, he made a pil- 
grimage to Mecca, whence he returned by way of Kirmiin. 
There he remained for a w^hile and married a wife, whom he 
took back to his native town of Sabzawar. Soon after his 
return he paid another visit to Mashhad, and remained there 
ten months, giving lectures on philosophy, but soon returned 
thence to settle in Sabzaw^ar, whither his increasing renown 
began to draw students from all parts of Persia. During the 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 133 

day lie used to give two lectures, each of two hours' duration, 
on Metaphysics, taking as his text either some of the writings 
of Mulla Sadra, or his own notes. The rest of his time was 
spent for the most part in study and devotion. In person 
he was tall of stature, thin, and of slender frame ; his com- 
plexion was dark, his face pleasing to look upon, his speech 
eloquent and flowing, his manner gentle, unobtrusive, and even 
humble. His alistemiousness was such that he would never 
eat more than the limited number of mouthfuls which he 
deemed necessary, neither would he accept the invitations 
which he often received from the great. He was always ready 
to help the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, and ever 
exemplified in his demeanour the apophthegm of Bii 'Ali Sina 
(Avicenna) : " Al-drifu hashsJi'"^, haslisli^'''^, hassdm^^''^ ; iva kcyfa 
Id, VM Jmiva farahdn'^"^ hi'l-hakki wa bi-kulli shey 1 " (" The 
gnostic is gentle, courteous, smiling ; and how should it be 
otherwise, since he rejoices in God and in all things ? ") The 
complete course of instruction in philosophy which he gave lasted 
seven years, at the end of which period those students who had 
followed it diligently were replaced by others. Many, of course, 
were unable to complete their education ; but, on the Avhole, 
nearly a thousand satisfactorily accomplished it. Till within 
three days of his death H;iji Mulla Hadi never disappointed 
his eager audience of a single lecture, and he was actually 
engaged in teaching when struck down by the disease which 
terminated his life. The eager throng of students surrounded 
him in a circle, while he was speaking of the Essence and 
Attributes of God, when suddenly he was overcome by faint- 
ness, and laid down the book which he held in his hand, saying, 
" I have so often repeated the word ' Hu', ' Ru ' " (" He," i.e. God ; 
in which sense only the Arabic pronoun is used by the Per- 
ijians) " that it has become fixed in my head, and my head, 
following my tongue, seems to keep crying ' Hit,' ' Hu.' " 
Having uttered these words, he laid down his head and fainted, 
md two days later he peacefully passed away in the year 
\..H. 1295 (a.d. 1878), sincerely mourned by those to whom 
le had been endeared alike by his learning and his benevolence. 
' jTe was buried, according to instructions contained in his will, 
utside the Mashhad gate of Sabzawar. A handsome tomb 



134 A YEAR AMONGST THE J'ERSJANS 

has been raised over liis grave ])y orders of tlie CJnind A''izier, 
and the spot is regarded as one of great sanctity, and is visited 
l»y numerous pilgrims.^ 

So died, after a noble and useful life, the Sage of Sabzawi'ir. 
His major works amount to about seventeen in number, includ- 
ing an elementary treatise on philosophy, written in Persian, in 
an easy style, at the request of the Sluih, and entitled Asrdrul- 
Hikam (Secrets of I'hilosophy). He was a poet as well as a 
metaphysician, and has left behind him a Divan in Persian, as 
well as two long and highly esteemed versified treatises in 
Arabic, one on logic, the other on metaphysic. He had three 
sons, of whom the eldest (who was also by far the most capable) 
survived him only two years ; the other two are still living at 
Sabzawar, and one at least of them still teaches in the college 
on which his father's talents shed so great a lustre. 

The pupils of the Sage of Sabzawar entertained for him an 
unbounded love and veneration. They even believe him to 
have been endowed with the power of working miracles 
(Jcerdmdt), though he himself never allowed this statement to 
be made before him. My teacher, Mirza Asadu 'llali, informed 
me, however, that the following was a well-known fact. Haji 
Mulla Hadi's son-in-law had a daughter who had been para- 
lysed for years. One night, a year after the Haji's death, she 
saw him in a dream, and he said to her, " Arise, my daughter, 
and walk." The excessive joy which she experienced at seeing 
him and hearing these words caused her to wake up. She 
immediately roused her sister, who was sleeping beside her, 
and told her what she had dreamed. The latter said, "You 
had better get up and try if you can walk ; perhaps there is 
more in the dream than a mere fancy." After a little per- 
suasion the girl got up, and found to her delight that she 
really was able to walk quite well. Next day she went to 
the Haji's tomb to return thanks, accompanied by a great crowd 
of people, to whom her former affliction was as well known as 
her present recovery was obvious. 

^ All these details I obtained from my teacher, Mirza Asadu 'llah of Sabzawar, 
who compiled the original memoir, not only from his own recollections of his 
venerated master in philosophy, but from information supplied by one of Mulla 
Hadi's sons. It is chieflj" by reason of the good authority on which they rest 
that I have decided to give them almost in full. 



i 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 135 

Another event, less marvellous, however, than the above, 
was related to me as follows. When a detachment of the 
army was passing through Sabzawar, a soldier, who had been 
given a requisition for corn for the horses drawn on a certain 
mullet, brought the document to Hiiji Mulla Htidi and asked 
him in whose name it was drawn, as he himself was unable to 
read. The Haji looked at it, and, knowing that the viulld who 
was therein commanded to supply the corn was in impoverished 
circumstances, and could ill support the loss, replied, " I must 
supply you with what you require ; go to the storehouse and 
take it." Accordingly the soldier carried off as much corn as 
he needed, and gave it to the horses. In the morning, how- 
ever, on entering the stable, the soldiers found that the corn 
was untouched. Enquiries were made whence it came, and on 
its being discovered that it was the property of the Haji, it 
was returned to him. This story soon gained currency and 
credence amongst officers and men alike, and added not a little 
to the Haji's reputation, notwithstanding that he himself con- 
tinued to make light of it, and even to deny it. 

It may not be amiss to give some details as to the course of 
study which those who desired to attend the Haji's lectures 
were expected to have already pursued, and the subjects in 
which they had to produce evidence of proficiency before they 
were received as his pupils. These preliminary studies were 
as follows : — 

I. Grammar, Elietoric, etc. (Edebiyye), also called " Preliminaries " 
{Mukaddamdt). — Under this head is included a competent 
knowledge of Arabic and its grammar, with ability to read 
such works as Jdmi's commentary, Suyfcti, and the Mutawwal. 

II. Logic (Alantik), as contained in such treatises as the Kuhrd, the 
Shamsiyye, and the Sharh-i-MatdlC 

III. Mathematics (including Euclid and Astronomy), which is studied 

2Mri-passu with Logic. 

IV. Elements of Jurisprudence (Fikh). 

V. Scholastic Theology {'Ilm-i-Keldm), as set forth in the following 
works : — 

1. The Hiddye of Meybudi, a concise but knotty com- 

pendium of the elements of this science in Arabic. 

2. The Tajrid of Niisiru 'd-Din of Tus, with the com- 
mentary of Mulla 'All Kiishji. 

3. The Shaivdrik of Mulla 'Abdu 'r - Eazzak Lahiji, the 
son-in-law of Mulla Sadra. 



136 A YEAR A.}fONGST THE PERSIANS 

Those studcuts wlio were able to show lliat tlicy IkuI 
acquired a satisfactory kiiowlctlge of tlicse subjects were 
allowed to enroll themselves as the pupils of Haji Mulhi 
Hadi, and to commence their study of Metaphysic proper 
(HiJi/nat -i - I/dhi), as set fortli in liis works and in those of 
]\iull;i 8adr:i. 

1 trust that 1 have succeeded in making it sufliciently 
clear that the study of Persian philosophy is not a thing to 
be lightly undertaken, and that proficiency in it can only be 
the result of diligent application, combined with good natural 
capacity. It is not a thing to play with in a dilettante 
manner, but is properly regarded by its votaries as the highest 
intellectual training, and the crown and summit of all know- 
ledge. It was not long ere I discovered this fact ; and as it 
was clearly impossible for me to go through a tenth part of 
the proper curriculum, while at the same time I was deeply 
desirous of becoming, in some measure at least, acquainted 
with the most recent developments of Persian thought, I was 
fain to request my teacher, IMi'rza Asadu 'Ihih, to take com- 
passion on my infirmities, and to instruct me as far as 
j)0ssible, and in as simple a manner as possible, concerning 
the essential practical conclusions of the doctrines of which 
he was the exponent. This he kindly exerted himself to do ; 
and though any attempt at a systematic enunciation of Haji 
Mulla Hadi's philosophy, even were I capable of undertaking 
it, would be out of place here, I think that it may not 
be uninteresting if I notice briefly some of its more remark- 
able features — not as derived from his writings, but as orally 
expounded to me, with explanations and illustrations, by his 
pupil and disciple. 

As in the Sufi doctrine. Being is conceived of as one : 
" Al-vujudu hakikat^'^ vdhiclat^-^ hasitat^^ va lahu mardtih'"-''"' 
mutafddhila " : — " Being is a single simple Peality, and it has 
degrees differing in excellence." Poetically, this idea is ex- 
pressed in the following quatrain : — 

" Majm{i'a-i-kaicn-rd hi-kdnfm-i-sahak 
Kardim tasaffuh varak'^"' ba'da varak : 
Hakkd ki na-JchvxhuUm it na-dklim dar-it, 
Juz Zdt-i-Hakk, u sifdt-i-zdtiyy^-i-Hakk." 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 137 

" Like a lesson-book, the compendium of the Universe 
We turned over, leaf after leaf : 
In truth we read and saw therein naught 
Save the Essence of God, and the Essential Attributes of God." 

The whole Universe, then, is to be regarded as the unfold- 
ing, manifestation, or projection of God. It is the mirror 
wherein He sees Himself ; the arena wherein His various 
Attributes display their nature. It is subsequent to Him not 
in sequence of time (for time is merely the medium which 
encloses the phenomenal world, and which is, indeed, depend- 
ent on this for its very existence), but in sequence of causa- 
tion ; just as the light given off by a luminous body is 
subsequent to the luminosity of that body in causation 
(inasmuch as the latter is the source and origin of the former, 
and that whereon it depends and whereby it subsists), but not 
subsequent to it in time (because it is impossible to conceive 
of any time in the existence of an essentially luminous body 
antecedent to the emission of light therefrom). This amounts 
to saying that the Universe is co- eternal with God, but not 
co-equal, because it is merely an Emanation dependent on 
Him, while He has no need of it. 

Just as the light proceeding from a luminous body 
becomes weaker and more diffuse as it recedes from its source, 
so the Emanations of Being become less real, or, in other 
words, more gross and material, as they become further 
removed from their focus and origin. This gradual descent 
or recession from the Primal Being, which is called the 
Kaivs -i- Nuziil (" Arc of Descent "), has in reality infinite 
grades, but a certain definite number (seven) is usually 
recognised. 

Man finds himself in the lowest of these grades — the 
]\Iaterial World ; but of that world he is the highest develop- 
ment, for he contains in himself the potentiality of re-ascent, 
, by steps corresponding to those in the " Arc of Descent," to 
I God, his Origin and his Home. To discover how this return 
may be effected, how the various stages of the Kaivs-i-Su'iul 
(" Arc of Ascent ") may be traversed, is the object of 
[philosophy. 

" The soul of man is corporeal in origin, but spiritual in 



138 



A YEAR AAfONGST THE PERSIANS 



coutiiiuance " (^'An-naftnifi 'l-hudiUhijismdnii/j/a, ivaJi'l-hoJcd 'i 
tchinu inihdnii/i/a"). Horn of matter, it is yet capalilc of a 
spiritual (levclopineut which will lead it back to God, and 
enable it, during the span of a mortal life, to accomplish the 
ascent from matter to spirit, from the periphery to the centre. 
In the " Arc of Ascent " also are numerous grades ; but here 
again, as in the " Arc of Descent," seven are usually recog- 
nised. It may be well at this point to set down in a tabular 
form these grades as they exist both in the ]\Iacrocosm, or Arc 
of Descent, and in the Microcosm, or Arc of Ascent, which is 
man : — 



I. Arc of Ascent. 

Seven Principles in Man 
{Latd'if-i-sah ' a). 

1. The most subtle principle 
{Akhf<7). 

2. The subtle principle (Khafa). 
3. The secret (Sirr). 

4. The heart (Kalb). 
5. Tlie spirit (Efi/j). 
6. The soul (Nafs). 
7. The nature {TaJf). 



11. Arc of Descent. 

Series of Emanations. 

1. Exploration of the 
World of Divinity 
(Seyr deer ''ulam-i- 

Ldhruy 

2. Tlie World of Divinity 
(^A lam-i-LuliM)} 
3. The World of the In- 
telligences {'Alam-i- 
JabarfU). 
4. The World of the Angels 
(' A lam-i-MalakM). 
5. The World of Ideas (Alam-i- 
Ma nu). 
6. The World of Form (Alam-i- 
HUrat). 
7. The' Material World (Alam-i- 
Tahfat). 



A few words of explanation are necessary concerning the 
above scheme. Each stage in either column corresponds with 

^ I do not think that these first two should stand thus, for at most they only 
mark two different phases in the experience of the soul — an attaining unto the 
AVorld of Divinity, and a journeying therein. My impression is that they 
should be replaced thus : — 1. The AVorld of Divinity {i.e. the Divine Essence, 
'Alam-i-LdMt) ; 2. The World of the Attributes (^Alam-i-RclMt). This corre- 
sponds to the views given in the commentaries on the Fusus of Sheykh 
Muhiyyu 'd-Dm ibnu 'l-'Arabi and other similar works, where the " Five Planes " 
{ITazrdt-i-kJiams), which coincide with the first five grades given here {i.e. those 
which belong to the Spiritual World), are discussed. I have not, however, con- 
sidered myself justified in making any alteration in Mirza Asadu 'llah's scheme. 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 139 

that which is placed opposite to it. Thus, for instance, the 
mere matter which in the earliest stage of man's development 
constitutes his totality corresponds to the material world to 
which it belongs. In the material world the " Arc of 
Descent " has reached its lowest point ; in man, the highest 
product of the material world, the ascent is begun. When 
the human embryo begins to take form it rises to the World 
of Soul, thus summing up in itself two grades of the Arcs. 
It may never ascend higher than this point; for, of course, 
when the upward evolution of man is spoken of, it is not 
implied that this is effected by all, or even by the majority 
of men. These " seven principles " do not represent neces- 
sarily CO - existing components or elements, but successive 
grades of development, at any one of which, after the first, 
the process of growth may be arrested. The race exists for 
its highest development ; humanity for the production of the 
Perfect Man {Tnsdn-i-Kdmil), who, summing up as he does all 
the grades of ascent from matter — the lowest point of the 
series of emanations — to God, is described as the Microcosm, 
the compendium of all the planes of Existence {Jiazrat-i-jdmi'), 
or sometimes as the " sixth plane " (Jmzrat-i-sddisa) , because 
he includes and summarises all the five spiritual planes. 

It has been said that some men never rise beyond the 
second grade — the World of Soul or Form. These are such as 
occupy themselves entirely during their lives with sensual 
pursuits — eating, drinking, and the like. Previously to Mulla 
Sadra it was generally held by philosophers that these 
perished entirely after death, inasmuch as they had not 
developed any really spiritual principle. Mulla Sadra, how- 
ever, took great pains to prove that even in these cases where 
the " Eational Soul " {Nafs-i-ndtika) had not been developed 
during life, there did exist a spiritual part which survived 
death and resisted disintegration. This spiritual part he 
called " Imaginations " {Khiydldt). 

Yet even in this low state of development, where no effort 
has been made to reach the plane of the reason, a man may 
lead an innocent and virtuous life. What will then be the 
condition after death of that portion of him which survives 
the body ? It cannot re-enter the material world, for that 



140 .; VKAR AMOXGST THE I'EKSIAiWS 

would amount to Metempsychosis, -vvliich, so fiir as I liavo 
been able to ascertain, is uncompromisin^^ly denied liy all 
Persian pliilosopliers. Neither can it ascend higher in IIkj 
spiritual scale, for the period during which progress was 
possible is past. IMoreover, it derives no pleasure from 
spiritual or intellectual experiences, and would not be hap])y 
in one of the higher worlds, even could it attain thereto. It 
desires material surroundings, and yet cannot return to the 
material world. It therefore does what seems to it the next 
best thing: it creates for itself subjective pseudo- material 
surroundings, and in this dream-dwelling it makes its eternal 
home. If it has acted rightly in the world according to its 
lights, it is happy ; if wrongly, then miserable. The happi- 
ness or misery of its hereafter depends on its merit, bnt in 
either case it is purely subjective and absolutely stationary. 
There is for it neither advance nor return : it can neither 
ascend higher, nor re-enter the material world either by 
Transmigration or Resurrection, both of which the philosophers 
deny. 

What has been said above applies, with slight modifica- 
tions, to all the other grades, at any rate the lower ones. If a 
man has during his life in the world attained to the grade of 
the spirit (the third grade in order of ascent) and acquired 
rational or intellectual faculties, he may still have used these 
well or ill. In either case he enters after death into the 
World of Ideas, where he is happy or miserable according to 
his deserts. But, so far as I could learn, any one who has 
during his life developed any of the four highest princij)les 
passes after death into a condition of happiness and blessed- 
ness, since mere intellect without virtue will not enable him 
to pass beyond the third grade, or World of the Spirit. 
According to the degree of development which he has reached, 
he enters the World of the Angels, the World of the Intelli- 
gences, or the AVorld of Divinity itself. 

From what has been said it will be clear that a bodily 
resurrection and a material hereafter are both categorically 
denied by the philosophers. Nevertheless, states of subjective 
happiness or misery, practically constituting a heaven or hell, 
exist. These, as has been explained, are of different grades 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 141 

ill both cases. Thus there is a " Paradise of Actions " 
{Jannatu 'l-Af'dl), where the soul is surrounded by an ideal 
world of beautiful forms ; a " Paradise of Attributes " (Jannaho 
's-Sifdt) ; and a " Paradise of the Essence " {Jannatu z-Zdt), 
which is the highest of all, for there the soul enjoys the con- 
templation of the Divine Perfections, which hold it in an 
eternal rapture, and cause it to forget and cease to desire all 
those objects which constitute the pleasure of the denizens of 
the lower paradises. It is, indeed, unconscious of aught but 
God, and is annihilated or absorbed in Him. 

The lower subjective worlds, where the less fully developed 
soul suffers or rejoices, are often spoken of collectively as the 
'Alam-i-MitJu'd ("World of Similitudes"), or the 'Alcan-i- 
Barzaldh ("World of the Barrier," or "Border-world"). The 
first term is applied to it because each of its denizens takes a 
form corresponding to ^liis attributes. In this sense 'Omar 
Khayyam has said ^ — 

"i^fcl Id jezd-yi-har sifat khwdhad J) fid 
Kadr-i-tu bi-kadr-i-marifat khivdhad hud ; 
Dar husn-i-sifat hush, Id dar r{cz-i-jezd 
Hashrd-tfi hi-sfiratd-sifat khwdhad bitd." 

" On that day when all qualities shall receive their recomj)ense 
Thy worth shall be in proportion to thy Avisdom. 
Strive after good qualities, for in the Day of Recompense 
Thy resurrection shall be in the form of the attribute." 

Thus a greedy gluttonous man takes the form of a pig, and it 
is in this sense only that metempsychosis (tandsukli) is held 
by the Persian philosophers. On this point my teacher was 
perfectly clear and definite. It is not uncommon for Siifis to 
describe a man by the form with which they profess to 
identify him in tlie "World of Similitudes." Thus I have 
heard a Sufi say to his antagonist, " I see you in the World of 
Similitudes as an old toothless fox, desirous of preying upon 
others, but unable to do so." I once said to Mirza Asadu 
'llah that, if I rightly understood his views, hell was nothing 
else than an eternal nightmare : whereat he smiled, and said 
that I had rightly apprehended his meaning. 

1 Ed. Whinfiekl : London, 1883, p. 155, No. 228. 



142 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

AlthouLj;li 11 soul launot rise liigher tlian that world to 
which it lias assimilated itsell" din hil;- life, it may be delayed 
by lower allinities in the "World (if llu; JJarrier" on its way 
thither. All bad habits, even when insuflicient to present 
a permanent obstacle to spiritual progress, tend to cause 
such delay, and to retard the upward ascent of the soul. 
I'rom this it will be seen that the denizens of the " World 
of the Barrier " are of three classes, two of these being 
permanent, and abiding for ever in the state of subjective 
happiness or misery which they have merited, and the 
third consisting of souls temporarily delayed there to 
undergo a species of probation before passing to the worlds 
above. 

On one occasion I put the following question to Mirza 
Asadu 'lliih : — " Two persons, A and B, have been friends 
durinsT; their life-time. The former has so lived as to merit 
happiness hereafter ; the latter, misery. Both die and enter 
the ' World of the Barrier,' there receiving forms appropriate 
to their attributes ; the one, moreover, is happy, the other 
wretched. Will not A have cognisance of B's miserable 
condition, and will not this knowledge tend to mar his 
felicity ? " 

To this question my teacher replied as follows : — " A's 
world is altogether apart from B's, and the two are entirely 
out of contact. In A's world are present all things that he 
desires to have in such form as he pleases, for his world is the 
creation of his Imaginative Faculty freed from the restraints 
of matter and the outward senses, and endowed with full 
power to see what it conceives. Therefore if A desires the 
presence of B as he knew him formerly, B will be present 
with him in that form under which he was so known, and not 
in the repulsive form which he has now assumed. There is 
no more difficulty in this than in a person dreaming in 
ordinary sleep that he sees one of his friends in a state of 
happiness when at that very time his friend is in great pain 
or trouble." 

Such, in outline, are the more remarkable features of this 
philosophy as expounded to me by Mirza Asadu '11; ih. That 
it differs considerably from the ideas formed by most European 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 143 

scholars of the philosophy current in Persia, as represented 
in the books, I am well aware. I can only suppose that 
Gobineau is right as to the extent to which the system of 
'^Jcetmdn" (concealment of opinions) prevails in Persia, — a 
view which my own experience strongly tends to confirm. 
He says, for example, in speaking of Mulla Sadra {Religions ct 
FhilosojyJiics dans VAsie Ccntrale, p. 88), in whose footsteps 
Haji Mulla Hadi for the most part followed : — 

" Le soin qu'il prenait de deguiser ses discours, il etait 7 
necessaire qu'il le prit surtout de deguiser ses livres ; c'est ce 
qu'il a fait, et a les lire on se ferait I'idee la plus imparfaite 
de son enseignement. Je dis a les lire sans un maitre qui 
possede la tradition. Autrement on y penetre sans peine." 
Such a system of concealment may seem strange to those 
accustomed to the liberty of thought enjoyed in Europe, but it 
is rendered necessary in the East by the power and intoler- 
ance of the clergy. Many a philosopher like Sheykh 
Shihabu 'd-Din Suhravardi, many a Sufi like Mansur-i-Hallaj, 
has paid with his life for too free and open an expression of 
his opinions. 

For the rest, many of the ideas here enunciated bear an 
extraordinary similarity to those set forth by Mr. Sinnett in 
his work entitled Esoteric Buddhism. Great exception has 
been taken to this work, and especially it has been asserted 
that the ideas unfolded in it are totally foreign to Buddhism 
of any sort. Of this I am not in a position to judge : very 
possibly it is true, though even then the ideas in question 
may still be of Indian origin. But whatever the explanation 
be, no one, I fell sure, can compare the chapters in Mr. 
Sinnett's book, entitled respectively, " The Constitution of 
Man," " Devachan," and " Kama Loca," with what I have 
written of Haji ]\Iulla Hadi's views on the Nature of Man 
and his Hereafter, without being much struck by the 
I resemblance. 

' Certain other points merit a brief notice. The physical 

sciences as known to Persian philosophy are those of the 

ancients. Their chemistry regards earth, air, fire, and water 

as the four elements : their astronomy is simply the Ptolemaic 

j system. Furthermore they regard the Universe as finite, and 



144 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

adduce many proofs, some rather ingenious, others weak enon<,fli, 
against the contrary hypothesis. Of Uiesi- I will give one only 
as a specimen. 

" Let us suppose," they say, " that the Universe is infinite. 
Then from the centre of the earth draw two straight lines, 
diverging from one another at an angle of 60°, to the circum- 
ference, and produce them thence to infinity. Join their 
terminal points by another straight line, thus forming the base 
of the triangle. Now, since the two sides of the triangle are 
equal (for both were drawn from one point to infinity), there- 
fore the angles at the base are equal ; and since the angle at 
the apex is 60°, therefore each of the remaining angles is 60", 
and the triangle is equilateral. Therefore, since the sides are 
infinite in length, the base is also infinite in length. But the 
base is a straight line joining two points (viz. the terminal 
points of the sides) ; that is to say, it is limited in both 
directions. Therefore it is not infinite in length, neither are the 
sides infinite in length, and a straight line cannot be drawn to 
infinity. Therefore the Universe is finite. Q.E.D." 

This theorem scarcely needs comment. It, along with the 
endless discussions of a similar nature on the " Indivisible 
Atom " {Jawliar-i-fard) and the like, is an inheritance from 
the scholastic theology (^ Ilm-i-Keld-ni), the physics of which 
have been retained by all Persian metaphysicians up to the 
present day. 

A few words may be said about the psychology of the 
system in question. Five psychic faculties (corresponding to 
the five senses) are supposed to exist. These, with their 
cerebral seats, are as follows : — 

' 1. The compoimd perception (Hiss-i-mushtarike), 
which has the double function of receiving and 
apprehending impressions from without. It is 
compared to a two-faced mirror, because on the 
one hand it " reflects " the outward world as 
FoRE-BRAix. -| presented to it by the senses, and on the other, 

during sleep, it gives form to the ideas arising 
in the Mutasarrifa, which will be mentioned 
directly. 
2. The Imagination (Kliiydl), which is the store- 
house of forms. 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 145 

3. The Controlling or Co-ordinating Faculty {Mnia- 
sarrifa), which combines and elaborates the 
emotions or ideas stored in the Vdhime, and the 

^ p 1 images stored in the Imagination. It is therefore 

' sometimes called the " keeper of the two 

treasuries." 

4. The Emotional Faculty ( F(?/m?ie'), which is the seat 
of love, hate, fear, and the like. 

TT T-> (5. The Memory (Hafiza), which is the storehouse 

Hind-Brain. < „ . , ^ \. j . j^ 

\ 01 ideas. 

All these faculties are partial percipients {MuclrikcU-i- 
juz 'iyy6), and are the servants of the Eeason (Akl-i-kulli-i- 
insdni, or Nafs-i-ndtika), which is the General Percipient 
{Mudrik-i-kidli). Of these faculties the Imagination would 
appear to be regarded as the highest, since, as we have seen, 
in those cases in which the Eeason or Eatioual Soul {Nafs-i- 
ndtika) is not developed, it constitutes that portion of the 
individual which survives death and resists disintegration. 
Indeed these five faculties are better regarded as different 
stages in the development of the Eeason. Nothing below the 
plane of the Imagination, however, survives death : e.g. in the 
I lowest animals, whose culminating faculty is a sense of touch 
'(like worms), death brings about complete disintegration. 
I Finally, a few words may be added concerning the view 
taken of the occult sciences. I was naturally desirous to 
learn to what extent they were recognised as true, and accord- 
ingly questioned Mirza Asadu 'ILih on the matter. His 
reply (which fairly represents the opinion of most thoughtful 
Persians of the old school) was briefly to this effect : — As 
I'egards Geomancy (Ibn-i-raml) and Astrology (^ Ilm-i-nvjum) 
'\Q had no doubt of their truth, of which he had had positive 
ji'oof. At the same time, of the number of those wlio pro- 
I'essed to understand them the majority were impostors and 
harlatans. Their acquisition was very laborious, and required 
any years' patient study, and those who had acquired them 
nd knew their value were, as a rule, very slow to exhibit or 
lake a parade of their knowledge. As regards the interpreta- 
on of dreams, he said that these were of three kinds, of 
hich only the last admits of interpretation. These three 
asses are as follows : — 



lU 



10 



146 .-/ VEAR AMOAGST THE PERSIANS 

I. — Dbeams due to disoupeukp IIkalth. — 

1. Jilood. ]{e(l tilings, such as fire, etc., 
are seen. 

2. Bilf. ^ rll(jw lliiiigH, such as the 
_ , . „ sun, ^iiiil, elc, are seen. 
Due to predominance of- - ^ ^,,^^^,^^,^^ AVhite things, such as water, 

snow, etc., are seen. 
4. Melancholy. Bhxck tilings, such as 
ink, etc., are seen. 

II. — Dreams arising from Impressions produced during Waking 
Hours. 

111. DREAM.S NOT ARISING FROM THE EXTERNAL OR INTERNAL CaUSES 

ABOVE ENUMERATED. — These are reflections obtained during sleep 
from the World of Similitudes (^ Alam-i-Mithdl). In some rare 
cases they indicate events as they actually will occur. Generally, 
however, thej^ .show them forth in a symbolical manner, and require 
interpretation. Just as every man has his appropriate " form " in 
the World of Similitudes, so also has everything else, Knoivledge, 
for instance, is symbolised l)y milk ; an enemy by a wo//, etc. 

I discussed the occult sciences with several of my friends, 
to discover as far as possible the prevailing opinion about them. 
One of them made use of the following argument to prove 
their existence : — " God," he said, " has no hvJM (stinginess, 
avarice) : it is impossible for Him to withhold from anyone 
a thincf for which he strives with sufficient earnestness. 
Just as, if a man devotes all his energies to the pursuit of 
spiritual knowledge, he attains to it, so, if he chooses to make 
occult sciences and magical jDowers the object of his aspirations, 
they will assuredly not be withheld from him." 

Another of my intimate friends gave me the following 
account of an attempt at conjuration {ilizdr-i-jinn) at which 

he had himself assisted : — " My uncle, Mirza ," he said, 

" whose house you may perhaps see when you visit Shiraz, 
was a great believer in the occult sciences, in the pursuit of 
which, indeed, he dissipated a considerable fortune, being 
always surrounded by a host of magicians, geomancers, astro- 
logers, and the like. On one occasion something of value had i 
disappeared, and it was believed to have been stolen. It was , 
therefore determined to make an attempt to discover the thief' 
by resorting to a conjuration, which was undertaken by a j 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 147 

certain Seyyid of SJiin'iz, skilled iu these matters. Now you 
must kuow that the operator cannot himself see the forms of 
the jinnis whom lie evokes : he needs for this purpose the 
assistance of a young child. I, being then quite a child, was 
selected as his assistant. The magician began by drawing 
a talismanic figure in ink on the jDalm of my hand, over which 
he subsequently rubbed a mixture of ink and oil, so that it 
was no longer visible. He then commenced his incantations ; 
and before long I, gazing steadily, as I had been instructed to 
do, into the palm of my hand, saw, reflected iu it as it were, 
a tiny figure which I recognised as myself. I informed the 
magician of this, aud he commanded me to address it in a 
peremptory manner and bid it summon the ' King of the 
jinnis ' {Mcdiku 'l-jinn). I did so, and immediately a second 
figure appeared in the ink-mirror. Then I was frightened, 
and began to cry, and hastily rubbed the ink off my hand. 
Thereupon another boy was brought, and the same process 
was repeated till the ' King of the jinnis ' appeared. ' Tell 
him to summon his vazir,' said the magician. The boy did 
so, and the vazir also appeared in the ink-mirror. A number 
of other jinnis were similarly called up, one by one, and when 
they were all present they were ordered to be seated. Then 
the magician took a number of slips of paper, wrote on each 
of them the name of one of those resident in the house, and 
placed them under his foot. He then drew out one without 
looking at it, and called out to the boy, ' Who is here ? ' The 
i)oy immediately read off the name in question in the ink- 
j mirror. The same process was repeated till the name of one 
' »f the servants in the house was reached. ' Well,' said the 
magician, ' why do you not tell me what you see in the 
mirror ? ' 'I see nothing,' answered the boy. ' Look again,' 
said the magician ; ' gaze more fixedly on the mirror.' After 
I little while the boy said, ' I see no name, but only the 
words Bismi 'llcihi 'r-Bahmdni'r-Bahini ' (In the name of God, 
Idle Merciful, the Clement). ' This,' said the magician, ' which 
' hold in my hand is the name of the thief.' The man 
n question was summoned and interrogated, and finally con- 
lissed that he had stolen the missing article, which he was 
ompelled to restore." 



148 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

111 this connection it may not be out of place to give tlie 
experiences of another experimenter in the occnlt sciences, 
who, although at the time sufliciently alarmed by the results 
he obtained, subsequently became convinced that they were 
merely due to an excited imagination, l^ly informant in this 
case was a philosopher of Isfah;in, entitled Aminu 'sh- Sham at, 
who came to Tcherdn in the company of his friend and patron, 
the Binctnu 'l-Mulk, one of the chief ministers of the Zillu 's- 
Sultdn. I saw him on several occasions, and had long dis- 
cussions with him on religion and philosophy. He spoke 
somewhat bitterly of the vanity of all systems. " I have tried 
most of them," he said. " I have been in turn Musulm;'m, Sufi, 
Sheykhi, and even Babi. At one time of my life I devoted 
myself to the occult sciences, and made an attempt to obtain 
control over the jinnis {Taskhir-i-jinn) , with what results I 
will tell you. You must know, in the first place, that the 
modus operandi is as follows : — The seeker after this power 
chooses some solitary and dismal spot, such as the Hazar-Dere 
at Isfahan (the place selected by me). There he must remain 
for forty days, which period of retirement we call cMlU. He 
spends the greater part of this time in incantations in the 
Arabic language, which he recites within the area of the 
mandal, or geometrical figure, which he must describe in a 
certain way on the ground. Besides this, he must eat very 
little food, and diminish the amount daily. If he has faith- 
fully observed all these details, on the twenty-first day a lion 
will appear, and will enter the magic circle. The operator 
must not allow himself to be terrified by this apparition, and, 
above all, must on no account quit the mandal, else he will 
lose the results of all his pains. If he resists the lion, other 
terrible forms will come to him on subsequent days — tigers, 
dragons, and the like — which he must similarly withstand. 
If he holds his ground till the fortieth day, he has attained his 
object, and the jinnis, having been unable to get the mastery 
over him, will have to become his servants and obey all his 
behests. Well, I faithfully observed all the necessary condi- 
tions, and on the twenty-first day, sure enough, a lion appeared 
and entered the circle. I was horribly frightened, but all the 
same I stood my ground, although I came near to fainting 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 149 

with terror. Next day a tiger came, and still \ succeeded in 
resisting the impulse which urged me to flee. But when, on 
the following day, a most hideous and frightful dragon ap- 
peared, I could no longer control my terror, and rushed from the 
circle, renouncing all further attempts at obtaining the mastery 
over the jinnis. When some time had elapsed after this, and 
I had pursued my studies in philosophy further, I came to the 
conclusion that I had been the victim of hallucinations excited by 
expectation, solitude, hunger, and long vigils ; and, with a view to 
testing the truth of this hypothesis, I again repeated the same 
process which I had before practised, this time in a spirit of 
philoso2:)hical incredulity. My expectations were justified ; I 
saw absolutely nothing. And there is another fact which 
proves to my mind that the phantoms I saw on the first 
occasion had no existence outside my own brain. I had never 
seen a real lion then, and my ideas about the appearance of 
that animal were entirely derived from the pictures which may 
be seen over the doors of baths in this country. Now, the 
lion Avhicli I saw in the magic circle was exactly like the latter 
in form and colouring, and therefore, as I need hardly say, 
differed considerably in aspect from a real lion." 

In Teher;in I saw another philosopher of some reputation, 

Mirza Abii '1-Hasan-i-Jilve. The last of these names is the 

takhallm or nom de guerre under which he writes poetry — 

« for he is a poet as well as a metaphysician. Unfortunately I 

I did not have the advantage of any prolonged conversation with 

i him, and even such as I had chiefly consisted in answering his 

questions on the different phases of European thought. He 

was greatly interested in what I told him about the Theoso- 

phists and Vegetarians, and was anxious to know whether 

I phe Plymouth Brethren were believers in the transmigration 

)f souls ! 

Although, as will have already appeared, I acquired a 
■onsiderable amount of information about certain phases of 
'ersian thought during my sojourn in Teheran, there was 
me which, notwithstanding my most strenuous efforts and 
liligent enquiries, had hitherto eluded all my attempts to 
pproach it. This one was Babiism, of the history of which I 
ave already had occasion to speak more than once, and to 



ISO A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

which I shall have to refVv repeatedly in Ihe course of sul)se- 
quent chapters. Althoiiuh 1 exerted In tlic ulmusl all the 
skill, all the tact, and ;dl the caution Nvliich I had at my com- 
mand, I was completely ibiled in my attempts to communicate 
with the proscribed sect. I heard something about them, it 
is true, and what I heard served only to increase my desire to 
know more. I was told tales of their nnllinching courage 
under torture, of their unshakeable faith, of their marvellous 
skill in ar«jjument. " I once met one of them," said a man of 
great learning to me, " as I was returning from Kerbehi, and 
he succeeded in drawing me into a discussion on religious 
matters. So completely was I worsted by him at every turn, 
so thorough was his knowledge of the Kur'an and Traditions, 
and so ingenious was the use he made of this knowledge, that 
I was finally compelled to effect my escape from his irresistible 
logic by declaring myself to be Id-mazhah (a free-thinker) ; 
whereupon he left me, sapng that wdtli such he had nothing 
to do." 

But whether my friends could not give me the knowledge 
I sought for, or whether they did not choose to do so, I was 
unable during my stay in Teheran to become acquainted with 
any members of the sect in question. Some, indeed, of those 
with whom I was acquainted at that time were, as I subse- 
quently discovered, actually Babis ; yet these, although at 
times they asked me about the course of my studies, com- 
mended my devotion to philosophy, and even tantalised me 
with vague promises of introductions to mysterious friends, 
who were, as they would imply, endowed with true wisdom 
{marifat), would say nothing definite, and appeared afraid to 
speak more openly. After arousing my curiosity to the highest 
pitch, and making me fancy that I was on the threshold of 
some discovery, they would suddenly leave me with an expres- 
sion of regret that opportunities for prolonged and confidential 
conversation were so rare. 

I tried to obtain information from an American missionary, 
with similar lack of success. He admitted that he had fore- 
gathered with Babis, but added that he did not encourage 
them to come and discuss their ideas, which he regarded as 
mischievous and fanciful. I asked how he succeeded in re- 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 151 

cognising them, since I had sought eagerly for them and had 
failed to find them. He replied that there was not much 
difficulty in identifying them by their conversation, as they 
always spoke on religious topics whenever an opportunity 
presented itself, and dwelt especially on the need of a fuller 
revelation, caused by the progress of the human race. Beyond 
this I could learn nothing from him. Once, indeed, I thought 
that I had succeeded in meeting with one of the sect in the 
person of an old Shmizi merchant, who, to my astonishment, 
launched forth before several other Persians who were present 
on the excellences of the new religion. He declared that of 
their sacred books those written in Arabic were more eloquent 
than the Kur'an, and those composed in Persian superior in 
style to the writings of Sa'di. He spoke of an Arabic book 
of theirs, of which a copy, written in gold, and worth at 
least 500 tumdns (£150), existed in Teheran. This, he 
added, he might perhaps some day take me to see. All the 
time he was talking he kept looking at me in a peculiar way 
as though to watch the effect produced by his words. I met 
him once again when no one else was present, and easily induced 
him to resume the topic. He spoke of the numerous signs 
and wonders which had heralded the birth of Mirza 'All 
Muhammad, the Bab ; of the wonderful quickness of apprehen- 
sion manifested by him when still but a child ; and of the 
strange puzzling questions he used sometimes to put to his 
teachers. Thus, on one occasion when he was receiving- 
instruction in Arabic grammar, he suddenly demanded, 
" 'Huwa hist ? " (" Who is ' He ' ? ") My informant further 
declared that the Franco-German war and other events had 
been foretold by the Bab's successor ^ sometime before they 
actually occurred. 

On another occasion, in my eagerness to acquire know- 
ledge on this matter, I committed a great indiscretion, and, I 
t'uar, caused considerable pain to my teacher, Mirza Asadu 'llah. 
1 had been informed that he had some time previously been 
arrested as a Babi, and though he was released almost im- 

■^ i.e., Mirza Hiiseyn 'Ali Bclul 'u 'lldh, lately deceased, who was regarded by 
most of the Babis as " He wliom God shall manifest." See my first paper on 
"The Babis of Persia," in the Jouriud of the Royal Asiatic Society for July 1889, 
p. 492, and pp. 318-9 infra. 



152 A YEAR A MO AG ST THE PERSIANS 

inodiately on the representations of tlie English l^^nibassy, it 
was hinted to me that possibly this powcrl'ul luotoctioii, ratlier 
than any clear proof of his ortliodoxy, was the cause of his 
liberation. I therefore determined to sound him on the matter, 
and, unable to control my impatience and await a favourable 
opportunity, 1 approached the subject as cautiously as I could 
the very next time that I saw him. Alluding to a previous 
discussion on the finality attributed by JMuhannnadans to the 
revelation of their prophet, I said that I had recently heard 
that there existed in Persia a number of people who denied 
this, and alleged that a subsequent revelation had been 
accorded to mankind even within the lifetime of many still 
living. IMi'rza Asadu 'llah listened to what I said with a 
gradually increasing expression of dismay, which warned 
me that I was treading on dangerous ground, and made me 
begin to regret that I had been so precipitate. When I had 
finished, he continued silent for a few minutes, and then spoke 
as follows : — 

" I have no knowledge of these people, although you have 
perhaps been informed of the circumstances which give me 
good cause to remember their name. As you have probably 
heard some account of these, I may as \vell tell you the true 
version. Two or three years ago I was arrested in the village 
of Kulahak (which, as you know, serves the English residents for 
a summer retreat) by an officer in command of a party of 
soldiers sent to seize another person suspected of being a Babi. 
They had been unable to find him, and were returning dis- 
appointed from their quest when they espied me. ' Seize hira ! ' 
said the officer; 'that he is devoted to philosophy every one 
knows, and a philosopher is not far removed from a Bt'ibi'.' 
Accordingly I was arrested, and the books I was carrying, as 
well as a sum of money which I had on me, were taken from 
me by the officer in command. I was brought before the 
Nd'ihu 's-Saltana and accused of being a Babi. Many learned 
and pious men, including several mullds, hearing of my arrest, 
and knowing the utter falsity of the charge, appeared spon- 
taneously to give evidence in my favour, and I was eventu- 
ally released. But the money and the books taken from 
me I never recovered ; and then the shame of it, the shame of 



MYSTICISM, METAPHYSIC, AND MAGIC 153 

it ! But though, as you see, I have suffered much by reason 
of these people of whom you spoke just now, I have never met 
with them or had any dealings with them, save on one occasion. 
I was once returning from Sabzawar through Mazandaran, and 
at each of the more important towns on my way I halted for 
a few days to visit those interested in philosophy. Many of 
them were very anxious to learn about the doctrines of my 
master, Haji Mulla Hadi, and I was, as a rule, well received 
and kindly entertained. One day — it was at Sari — I was 
surrounded by a number of students who had come to question 
me on the views of my master, when a man present produced 
a book from which he read some extracts. This book, he said, 
was called ' Hahikat-i-Basita,' and, as this was a term used by 
Haji Mulla Hadi, I thought it bore some reference to the 
philosophy I was expounding. I accordingly stretched out 
my hand to take the book, but the man drew it back out of 
my reach. Though I was displeased at his behaviour, I 
endeavoured to conceal my annoyance, and allowed him to 
continue to read. Presently he came to the term 'mardtib-i- 
ahacliyyat ' (degrees of the Primal Unity). Here I interrupted 
him. ' I do not know who the author of the work you hold in 
your hand may be,' I said ' but it is clear to me that he does 
not understand what he is talking about. To speak of the 
degrees of Primal Unity, which is Pure and Undifi'erentiated 
Being, is sheer nonsense.' Some discussion ensued, and event- 
ually I was permitted to look at the book. Then I saw that 
it was very beautifully written and adorned with gold, and it 
flashed upon me that what I held in my hand was one of the 
sacred books of the Babis, and that those amongst whom I stood 
belonged to this redoubtable sect. That is the only time I 
ever came across them, and that is all that I know about them." 
And that was all — or nearly all — that I knew about them 
for the first four months I spent in Persia. How I came 
across them at last will be set forth in another chapter. 



CHAPTER YII 

FROM TEHERAN TO ISFAHAN 

" Chr. — ' But what have you seen ? ' said Christian. 

"Mex. — ' Seen ! Why, the Valley itself, which is as dark as pitch ; we also saw 
there the Hobgoblins, Satyrs, and Dragons of the Pit : we heard also in that Valley 
a continual Howling and Yelling, as of a People under unutterable misery, who 
there sat bound in affliction and Irons ; and over that Valley hang the discouraging 
clouds of Confusion ; Death also doth always spread his wings over it : in a word 
it is every whit dreadful, being iitterly without Order.' " 

Bunyan's PilgriiriS Progress. 

Although, owing to the kindness of my friends, life in the 
capital was pleasant enough to make me in no liuriy to leave 
it, nevertheless the praises of beautiful Shiniz and the descrip- 
tions of venerable Persepolis w^hich I so often heard were not 
without their effect. I began to grow restless, and to suffer a 
kind of dread lest, if I tarried much longer, some unforeseen 
event might occur to cut short my travels and to prevent me 
from reaching what was really the goal of my journey. After 
all, Persis (Fdrs) is really Persia, and Shiraz is the capital 
thereof; to visit Persia and not to reach Pars is only a degree 
better than staying at home. Therefore, when one morning 
the Nawwab came into my room to inform me that he had 
received instructions to proceed to Mashhad in the course of 
a week or two, and asked me what I would do, I replied with- 
out hesitation that I would start for the south. As he expected 
to leave Teheran about 10th February, I determined to arrange 
my departure for the 7th, which, being my birthday, seemed 
to me an auspicious day for resuming my travels. 

'All the Turk having gone south with H , I was for 

a time left without a servant. Soon after I had become the 



FROM TEHERAn to ISFAHAn 155 

guest of the ISTawwab, however, he advised me to obtain one, and 
promised to help me in finding some one who woukl snit me. 
I was anxious to have a genuine Persian of the south this time, 
and finally succeeded in engaging a man who appeared in every 
respect to satisfy my requirements. He was a fine-looking 
young fellow, of rather distinguished appearance, and a native 
of Shiraz. He made no boast of any special accomplishments, 
and was satisfied to receive the very moderate sum of three 
tumdns a month while in Teheran, where he had a house and 
a wife ; he proved, however, to be an excellent cook, and an 
admirable servant in every respect, though inclined at times to 
manifest a spirit of independence. 

Haji Safar — for that was his name — received the announce- 
ment that I should start for the south in a few days with 
evident satisfaction. A Persian servant has everything to gain 
when his master undertakes a journey. In the first place his 
wages are raised fifty per cent to supply him with money for his 
expenses on the road {jirc). In the second place he receives, 
before starting, an additional sum of money (generally equivalent 
to a month's wages) to provide himself with requisites for the 
road, this allowance being known as 2^ul-i-chch7i(^ va shalwdr 
(" boots and breeches money "). In the third place he has 
more chance of making himself indispensable to his master, 
and so obtaining increased wages. Last of all, there is probably 
hardly a Persian to be found who does not enjoy travelling for 
its own sake, though in this particular case the charm of 
novelty was lacking, for Haji Safar had visited not only Mecca 
and Kerbela, but nearly all the more important towns in Persia 
as well. 

Pour or five days before the date fixed for my departure, 
lie brought me a formidable list of necessaries for the road — 
cooking-pots, with all the appliances for making pilaw ; saddle- 
bags, sponges, cloths, towels, whips, cups, glasses, spits, brooms, 
tongs, and a host of other articles, many of which seemed to 
me unnecessary, besides quantities of rice, onions, potatoes, 
tea, sugar, candles, matches, honey, cheese, charcoal, butter, and 
other groceries. I struck out a few of what I regarded as the 
most useless articles, for it appeared to me that with such stores 
we might be going to Khiva, whereas we should actually arrive at 



IS6 A YEAR AA/ONGST THE PERSIANS 

the considerable town of Kum tlirei' or lour days aCter leaving 
Teheran. On the whole, however, I let him liave his own way, 
ill consequence of which T enjoyed a degree of comfort in my 
future journeyiugs hitherto quite unknown to me, whilst tlie 
addition to my expenses was comparatively slight. 

Then began the period of activity and bustle wliich inevi- 
tably precedes a journey, even on the smallest scale, in tlie 
East. Every day I was down in the bazaars with Haji Safar, 
buying cooking utensils, choosing tobaccos, and examining the 
merits of saddle-bags, till I was perfectly weary of the bargain- 
ing, the delays, and the endless scrutiny of goods which had to 
be gone through before the outfit was complete. Indeed at 
last I nearly despaired of being ready in time to start on tlie 
appointed day, and resigned the management into Haji Bafar's 
hands almost entirely, only requesting him not to invest in any 
perfectly useless chattels or provisions. 

Another and a yet more important matter still remained, 
to wit, the discovery of a muleteer possessed of a small number 
of reasonably good animals, prepared to start on the day I had 
fixed, and willing to make the stages as I wished. This matter 
I regarded as too important to be arranged by deputy, for, when 
one is travelling by oneself, the pleasantness of the journey 
greatly depends on having a cheerful, communicative, and good- 
natured muleteer. Such an one will beguile the way with an 
endless series of anecdotes, will communicate to the traveller 
the w^eird folk-lore of the desert, will point out a hundred objects 
of interest which would otherwise be passed unnoticed, and will 
manage to arrange the stages so as to enable him to see to the 

o o o 

best advantage anything worth seeing. A cross-grained, surly 
fellow, on the other hand, will cast a continual gloom over the 
caravan, and will throw difficulties in the way of every devia- 
tion from the accustomed routine. 

Here I must speak a few w^ords in favour of the much- 
maligned charvaddr. As far as my experience goes, he is, as a 
rule, one of the best fellows living. During the period which 
elapses between the conclusion of the agreement and the actual 
start, he is, indeed, troublesome and vexatious beyond measure. 
He will invent endless excuses for making extra charges ; he will 
put forward a dozen reasons against starting on the prop»osed 



FROM TEHERAn to ISFAHAN 157 

day, or following the proposed route, or halting at the places 
where one desires to halt. On the day of departure he will 
rouse one at a preternaturally early hour, alleging that the 
stage is a long one, that it is eight good farsakhs at least, that 
it is dangerous to Ije on the road after dark, and the like. 
Then, just as you are nearly ready, he will disappear to pro- 
cure some hitherto forgotten necessary for the journey, or to 
say farewell to his wife, or to fetch one of those scraps of 
sacking or ropes which supply him with an unfailing excuse 
for absenting himself Finally, you will not get off till the sun 
is well past the meridian, and may think yourself fortunate if 
you accomplish a stage of ten miles. 

But when once he is fairly started he becomes a different 
man. With the dust of the city he shakes off the exasperating 
manner which has hitherto made him so objectionable. He 
sniffs the pure exhilarating air of the desert, he strides forward 
manfully on the broad interminable road (which is, indeed, for 
the most part but the track worn by countless generations of 
travellers), he beguiles the tediousness of the march with songs 
and stories, interrupted by occasional shouts of encouragement 
or warning to his animals. His life is a hard one, and he has 
to put up with many disagreeables ; so that he might be 
pardoned even if he lost his temper oftener than he usually 
does. 

Yov some time my efforts to discover a suitable muleteer 
were fruitless. I only needed three animals, and I did not wish 
to attach myself to a large caravan, foreseeing that it would 
lead to difficulties in case I desired to halt on the way or 
deviate from the regular track. A very satisfactory arrange- 
ment concluded with two young natives of Kum, who had 
exactly the number of animals I required, was broken off by 
their father, who wished to make me hire his beasts by the 
day instead of for the whole distance to Isfahan. To this I 
refused to agree, fearing that he might protract the journey 
unduly, and the contract was therefore annulled. At length, 
however, two days before I had intended to start, a nmleteer 
who appeared in every way suitable presented himself He 
was a native of the hamlet of Gez, near Isfahan, Eahim 
by name; a clumsy-looking, weather-beaten young man, the 



158 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

excessive ]>lainnoss til" wluxse broad, siiiooih face ^-as redeenied 
by an almost perpetual smile. The bargain was concluded in 
a frw minutes. He engaged to provide me M'iili three good 
animals, to convey me to Isfahan in twelve or thirteen days, 
and to allow me a halt of one day each at Kum and K;isli;'m, 
for the sum of ten tuDuhis (nearly £3). 

All was now ready for the journey, and there only re- 
mained the always somewhat depressing business of leave-taking, 
which fully occupied my last hours in Tehenin. Finally the 
day of departure came, but (as indeed invariably happens) 
endless delays arose before I actually got off, so that it was 
determined that we should that day proceed no farther than 
Shiih 'Abdu '1-Azim (situated some live or six miles to the south 
of the metropolis), whence we could make a fair start on the 
morrow. One of my friends, a nephew of my kind host the 
Xawwjib, announced his intention of accompanying me thus 
far. This ceremony of setting the traveller on his way is 
called hadraka, while the converse — that of going out to meet 
one arriving from a journey — is called istikhdl. Of these two, 
the former is more an act of friendship and less a formality 
than the latter. 

Persian servants having often been described as the most 
sordid and rapacious of mankind, I feel that, as a mere act 
of justice, I must not omit to mention the disinterested and 
generous conduct exhibited by those of the Nawwab's household. 
The system of " tips " being extremely prevalent in Persia, and 
conducted generally on a larger scale than in Europe, I had, 
of course, prepared a sum of money to distribute amongst the 
retainers of my host. Seizing a favourable opportunity, I 
entered the room where they were assembled, and offered the l|| 
present to the major-domo, Muhammad Eiza Khan. To my 
surprise, he refused it unhesitatingly, without so much as 
looking at it. When I remonstrated, thinking that he only 
needed a little persuasion, he replied, " The master told us :, 
when you came here that you were to be treated in every way if 
as one of the family : we should not expect or desire a 
present from one of the family ; therefore w^e do not expect or 
desire it from you. You have been welcome, and we are glad 
to have done what we could to make you comfortable, but we 



FROM TEHERAn to ISFAHAN 159 

desire nothing from you unless it be kindly remembrance." In 
this declaration he persisted, and the others spoke to the same 
effect. Finally, I was compelled to accept their refusal as 
definite, and left them with a sense of admiration at their 
immovable determination to observe to the full their master's 
wishes. 

At length all was ready. The baggage-mules had started; 
the last cup of tea had been drunk, and the last kalydn 
smoked ; and the horses stood waiting at the gate, while Haji 
Safar, armed with a most formidable whip, and arrayed in a 
pair of enormous top-boots, strutted about the courtyard looking 
eminently business-like, and evidently in the best of spirits. 
As I was just about to take my last farewells, I observed the 
servants engaged in making preparations of wliich the object 
was to me totally mysterious and inexplicable. A large metal 
tray was brought, on which were placed the following incongruous 
objects: — A mirror, a bowl of water with some narcissi floating in 
it, a plate of flour, and a dish of sweatmeats, of the kind called 
sliakar-panir (" sugar-cheese "). A copy of the Kur'an was next 
produced, and I was instructed to kiss it first, and then to dip my 
hand in the water and the flour, to rub it over the face of the old 
servant who had brought the tray, pass under the Kur'an, which 
was held aloft for that purpose, and mount my horse without 
once turning or looking back. All these instructions I faith- 
fully observed amidst general mirth, and as I mounted amidst 
many good wishes for my journey I heard the splash of the 
water as it was thrown after me. What the origin of this 
curious ceremony may be I do not know, neither did I see it 
practised on any other occasion. 

Our progress not being hampered by the presence of the 
l)aggage, we advanced rapidly, and before 4 p.m. rode through 
the gate of the city of refuge, Sluih 'Abdu 'l-'Azim. I have 
already stated that the holy shrine for which this place is 
I famous protects all outlaws who succeed in reaching its 
vicinity. In a word, the whole town is what is called " hast " 
(sanctuary). There are, however, different degrees of hast, the 
i area of protection being smaller and more circumscri])ed in 
proportion as the crime of the refugee is greater. Murderers, 
for instance, cannot go outside the courtyard of the mosque 



l6o A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

without running tlie risk of luMnii; Jirrestcd ; debtors, on tlie 
other lianil, are safe anywhere within the walls. It may he 
inia<j;ined that the populace of such a place is scarcely the most 
respectable, and of their churlishness I had convincing proof. 
I was naturally anxious a get a glimpse of the mosque, 
the great golden dome of which forms so conspicuous an object 
to the eyes of the traveller approaching Teheran from the West; 
and accordingly, as soon as we had secured our horses in the 
caravansaray (for the rest of the caravan had not yet arrived), 
I suggested to my companion that we should direct our steps 
thither. Of course I had no intention of attempting to enter 
it, which I knew would not be permitted ; but I thought no 
objection would be made to my viewing it from tlie outside. 
However, we had hardly reached the entrance of the bazaar 
when we were stopped and turned back. Discouraged, but not 
despairing, we succeeded in making our way by a devious and 
unfrequented route to the very gate of the mosque. I liad, 
however, hardly begun to admire it when forth from some 
hidden recess came two most ill-looking custodians, who 
approached us in a threatening manner, bidding us begone. 

My companion remonstrated with these churlish fellows, 
saying that as far as he was concerned he was a good Musul- 
man, and had as much right in the mosque as they had. "No 
good Musulman would bring a Firangi infidel to gaze upon the 
sacred building," they replied ; " we regard you as no whit 
better than him. Hence ! begone ! " As there was nothing to 
be gained by stopping (and, indeed, a fair prospect of being 
roughly handled if we remained to argue the matter), we 
prudently withdrew. I was much mortified at this occurrence, 
not only on my own account, but also because the good-nature 
of my companion had exposed him likewise to insult. I feel 
bound to state, however, that this was almost the only occasion 
on which I met with discourtesy of this sort during the whole 
time I spent in Persia. 

On returning to the caravansaray we found that Haji Safar 
and the muleteers had arrived, the former being accompanied 
by a relative who had come to see him so far on his journey, 
and at the same time to accomplish a visit to the shrine from 
the precincts of which we had just been so ignominiously 



FROM TEH ERA N TO ISFAHAn i6i 

expelled. As it was now getting late, and as most of the 
gates of Teheran are closed soon after sunset, my friend bade 
me farewell, and cantered off homewards, leaving me with a 
sense of loneliness which I had not experienced for some time. 
The excitement of feeling that I was once more on the road 
with my face fairly turned towards the glorious South soon, 
however, came to my relief, and indeed I had enough to occupy 
me in attempting to introduce some order into my utterly 
confused accounts. Before long Haji Safar, who had been 
busy ever since his arrival with culinary operations, brought 
in a supper which augured well for the comfort of the journey, 
so far as food was concerned. 

I had finished supper, and was ruminating over tea and 
tobacco, when he re-entered, accompanied by his relative, who 
solemnly placed his hand in mine and swore allegiance to me, 
not only on his behalf, but for the whole family, assuring me 
in a long and eloquent harangue that he (the speaker) would 
answer for H;iji Safar's loyalty and devotion, and asking me 
in return to treat him kindly and not " make his heart narrow." 
Having received my assurances that I would do my best to 
make things agreeable, they retired, and I forthwith betook 
myself to rest in preparation for the early start which we 
proposed to make on the morrow. 

Next day we were astir early, for there was no temptation 
to linger in a spot from the inhabitants of which I had met 
with nothing but incivility ; and, moreover, I was anxious to 
form a better idea of the muleteers who were to be my com- 
panions for the next fortnight. However, I saw but little of 
them that day, as they lagged behind soon after starting, and 
passed me while I was having lunch. The road, except for 
several large parties of travellers whom we met, presented few 
)oints of interest ; nevertheless, a curious history is attached 
n it, which, as it forms a significant commentary on what one 
nay call the " Board of Public Works " in Persia, I here 
eproduce.-^ 

On leaving Shah 'Abdu' l-'Azim the road runs for a mile 
'r so as straicrht as an arrow towards the south. A little 



o 



^ It is given in Curzon's Persia, vol. ii, pp. 2-6, but I have nevertheless 
-'cided to let it remain here, as I wrote it before the publication of that work. 

II 



1 6- W YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

before it reaches a ranjjjo of low liills whicli lie at ii_<,flit unifies 
to its coui'so it liifuivates. One division goes strait^^lii on ami 
crosses the hills above mentioned to the caravansaray of Kin;'ir-i- 
gird ; the other bends sharply to tlie west for about tliree- 
quarters of a mile, thus turning the edge of the hills, and then 
resumes its southward course. Of these two roads, the first is 
the good old direct caravan -route, described by Viimbery, 
which leads to Kum by way of Kiuiir-i-gird, llawz-i-Sultan, and 
Pul-i-Dall;ik ; the second is the new " improved " road made 
some years ago by order of the Aminii 's-Sultdn, the history of 
which is as follows : — 

When the rage for superseding the venerable and commo- 
dious caravansaray by the new-fangled and extortionate mihmdn- 
khdnd was at its height, and when the road between Tehenin 
and Kazvin had been adorned with a sufficient number of 
these evidences of civilisation, the attention of the Aminu 's- 
Sidtdn and other philanthropists was turned to the deplorable 
and unregenerate state of the great southern road. It was 
decided that, at least so far as Kum, its defects should be 
remedied forthwith, and that the caravansarays of Kinar-i-gird, 
Hawz-i-Sultan, and Pul-i-Dallak, whicli had for generations 
afforded shelter to the traveller, should be replaced by some- 
thing more in accordance with modern Europeanised taste. 
Xegotiatious were accordingly opened by the Aminu 's-Sultdn 
with the owners of the caravansarays in question, with a view 
to effecting a purchase of the land and "goodwill." Judge 
of the feelings of this enlightened and patriotic statesman 
when the owner of the caravansaray at Hawz-i-Sult:in refused 
— yes, positively refused — to sell his heritage. Perhaps he 
was an old-fashioned individual, with a distaste for innova- 
tions ; perhaps he merely thought that his caravansaray brought 
liim in a better income than he was likely to get even by a 
judicious investment of the money now offered for it. Be 
this as it may, he simply declined the offer made to him by 
the Aminu 's-Sultdn, and said that he j^referred to retain in 
his own possession the property he had inherited from his 
father. 

What was to be done ? Clearly it was intolerable that 
the march of civilisation should be checked by this benighted 



FROM TEHERAn to ISFAHAN 163 

old conservative. In the rough days of yore it might have 
been possible to behead or poison him, or at least to confiscate 
his property, but such an idea could not for a moment be 
seriously entertained by a humane and enlightened minister of 
the fourteenth century of the liijra ; no, annoying and trouble- 
some as it was, there was nothing for it but to leave the old 
road in statu quo, and make a new one. This was accordingly 
done at considerable expense, the new road being carried in a 
bold curve to the west, and garnished at suitable intervals with 
fancifully constructed milimdn-'khdnds, situated amidst little 
groves of trees, supplied with runnels of sweet, pure water from 
the hills, and furnished with tables, chairs, and beds in un- 
stinted profusion. But alas for the obstinacy of the majority 
of men, and their deplorable disinclination to be turned aside 
from their ancient habits ! The muleteers for the most part 
declined to make use of the new road, and continued to follow 
their accustomed course, alleging as their reason for so doing 
that it was a good many farsakhs shorter than the other, and 
that they preferred the caravansarays to the new mihmcm-hJidnes, 
which were not only in no wise better adapted to their require- 
ments than their old halting-places, but were very much more 
expensive. Briefly, they objected to " go farther and fare 
worse." 

There seemed to be every prospect of the new road being 
a complete failure, and of the benevolent intentions of the 
Aminu 's-SuUdn being totally frustrated by this unlooked-for 
lack of appreciation on the part of the travelling public, when 
suddenly the mind of the perplexed philanthropist was illumin- 
ated by a brilliant idea. Though it would not be quite con- 
jtitutional to forcibly overthrow the caravansarays on the old 
:oad, it was evidently within the rights of a paternal govern- 
t nent to utilise the resources of nature as a means of com- 
nelling the refractory " sons of the road " to do what was best 
or them. Luckily, these means were not far to seek. Near 
he old road, between Hawz-i-Sultan and Pul-i-Dallak, ran a 
iver, and this river was prevented from overflowing the low 
at plain which it traversed, ere losing itself in the sands of 
he Dasht-i-Ivavir, by dykes solidly constructed and carefully 
ept in repair. If these were removed there was every reason 



1 64 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

to hope that the old road -vvoukl be Hooded juid icndered 
inijn-actic;ibk>. The experiment was tried, and succeeded ])er- 
fectly. Not only the road, but an area of many square miles 
round about it, was completely and permanently submerged, 
and a line lake — almost a sea — was added to the realms of 
the Shah. It is, indeed, useless for navigation, devoid of fish 
(so far as I could learn), and (being impregnated with salt) 
incapable of supporting vegetable life; but it is eminently 
picturesque, with its vast blue surface glittering in the sun, 
and throwing into bolder relief the white salt-strewn expanse 
of the terrible desert beyond. It also constitutes a permanent 
monument of the triumph of science over obstinacy and 
prejudice. 

The Aminu 's-Sultdn might now fairly consider that his 
triumph was complete : suddenly, however, a new difficulty 
arose. The management of the posts w^as in the hands of 
another minister called the Aminu 'd-Dawla, and he, like the 
muleteers, considered the charges which it was proposed to 
make for the use of the new (now the only) road excessive. 
As, however, there appeared to be no course open to him but 
to submit to them (since the posts must be maintained, and 
the old road was irrecoverably submerged), the Aminu 's-Sidtdn 
determined to withstand all demands for a reduction. But 
the Aminu 'd-Dcada was also a minister of some ingenuity, 
and, having the example of his colleague fresh in his mind, 
he determined not to be outdone. He therefore made yet 
another road, wdiich took a yet wider sweep towards the west, 
and, transferring the post-houses to that, bade defiance to his 
rival. 

Thus it has come to pass that in place of the old straight 
road to Kum there is now a caravan-road longer by some four- 
teen miles, and a post-road longer by nearly twenty railes.^ The 
last, indeed, on leaving Teheran, follows the Hamadan road for 
about a stage and a half, diverging from it some distance to 
the south-west of Eibat-Karim, the first post-house, and curv- 
ing back towards the east by way of Pik and Kushk-i-Bahram 

^ Dr. "Wills {Laiul of the Lion and the Sun) gives the distance from Teheran 
to Kum by the old road as tweiity-iouT far sakhs. The present post-road is reckoned 
and charged as twenty- eight/arsaMs, but they appear to me to be very long ones. 



FROM TEHERAN to ISFAHAN 165 

to join the Aminu 's-Sultdns road near the mihvidn-khdnd of 
Shashgird, about ten farsakhs from Kum, 

On the second day after leaving Teheran (9th February), 
soon after quitting the mHimdn-hliAiU of Hasanabiid, we entered 
the dismal region called by the Persians MaJahu 'l-Maiot Bir6 
(the " Valley of the Angel of Death "). Around this spot 
cluster most thickly the weird tales of the desert, to which I 
have already alluded. Indeed its only rival in this sinister 
celebrity is the Hazdr dSrS (" Thousand valleys "), which lies 
just to the south of Isfahan. Anxious to become further 
acquainted with the folk-lore of the country, I succeeded in 
engaging the muleteer in conversation on this topic. The 
substance of what I learned was as follows : — 

There are several species of supernatural monsters which 
haunt the gloomy defiles of the Valley of the Angel of Death. 
Of these the fihuls and Hfrits are alike the commonest and the 
most malignant. The former usually endeavour to entice the 
traveller away from the caravan to his destruction by assuming 
the form or voice of a friend or relative. Crying out piteously 
for help, and entreating the unwary traveller to come to their 
I assistance, they induce him to follow them to some lonely 
I spot, where, suddenly assuming the hideous form proper to 
them, they rend him in pieces and devour him. 

Another monster is the nasnds, which appears in the form 

of an infirm and aged man. It is generally found sitting by 

jthe side of a river, and bewailing its inability to cross. When 

it sees the wayfarer approaching, it earnestly entreats him to 

parry it across the water to the other side. If he consents, it 

^cats itself on his shoulders, and, when he reaches the 

niddle of the river, winds its long supple legs round his throat 

ill he falls insensible in the water and perishes. 

Besides these, there is the 2jd-Us (" Foot-licker "), which 
»nly attacks those who are overtaken by sleep in the desert. 
t kills its victim, as its name implies, by licking the soles of 
lis feet till it has drained away his life-blood. It was on one 
ccasion circumvented by two muleteers of Isfahi'in, who, being 
enighted in the desert, lay down feet to feet, covering their 
odies with cloaks. Presently the pd-lis arrived, and began 
) walk round the sleepers to discover their feet, but on either 



i66 A YEAR AMOA'GST THE PERSIANS 

sule it found a head. \\. last it gave up the search in despair, 
exclaiming as it made oil': 



■o 



" Gashte-avi Jia::ar fc si {i si dcrc, 
Ammd na-didA-am mard-i-du ser^." 

"I have wandered through a thousand and lliiity and tluve valleys, 
But never yet saw a two-headed man ! " 

Auother superstition (not, however, connected with the 
desert), of which I heard at Teheran, may be mentioned in 
this connection. A form of cursing used by women to each 
other is " Al-at hi-zanaJ !" ("May the Al strike tliee ! ") 
The belief concerning the Al is that it attacks women who 
have recently been confined, and tries to tear out and devour 
their livers. To avert this calamity various precautions are 
taken ; swords and other weapons are placed under the 
M'oman's pillow, and she is not allowed to sleep for several 
hours after the child is born, being watched over by her 
friends, and roused by cries of " Yd Mary am ! " ("0 Mary ! ") 
whenever she appears to be dozing off. It is worthy of note 
that the Al, as well as its congeners, is supposed to have flaxen 
hair. 

The scenery through which we passed on leaving the 
Malaku '1-Mawt Dere was savage and sublime. All around 
were wild, rugged hills, which assumed the strangest and most 
fantastic shapes, and desert sjDarsely sown with camel-thorn. 
As we reached the highest point of the road, rain began to fall 
sharply, and it was so cold that I was glad to muffle myself 
up in ulster and rug. Now for the first time the great salt- 
lake made by the Aminu 's-Sididn came in view. It is of 
vast extent, and the muleteers informed me that its greatest 
width was not less than six farsakhs (about twenty-two miles). 
Beyond it stretches the weird expanse of the Dasht-i-Kavir, 
which extends hence even to the eastern frontier of Persia — a 
boundless waste of sand, here and there glimmering white 
with incrustations of salt, and broken in places by chains of 
black savacje -looking mountains. The desolate OTandeur of 
this landscape defies description, and surpasses anything which 
I have ever seen. 

■ The miJwidn-khdnd of 'Ali-abad, which we reached an hour 



FROM TEHERAN to ISFAHAN 167 

or so before sunset, presents no features worthy of remark 
except this, that in the room allotted to me I found three 
books, which proved on examination to be a copy of the 
Kur'an, a book of Arabic prayers, and a visitors' book ! It 
was evident that here, at least, the prototype was afforded by 
the Bible and prayer-book which are usually to be found in 
every bedroom of an English hotel, and the visitors' book 
which lies on the hall-table. I examined this visitors' book 
with some curiosity. It was filled with long rhapsodies on 
the Aminu 's-Sidtdn penned by various travellers, all compli- 
mentary, as I need hardly say. " How enlightened and patriotic 
a minister ! How kind of him to make this nice new road, 
and to provide it with these admirable guest-houses, which, 
indeed, might fairly be considered to rival, if not to excel, the 
best hotels of Firangistan ! " I could not forbear smilincj as I 
read these effusions, which were so at variance with the views 
expressed in the most forcible language by the muleteers, who 
had continued at intervals throughout the day to inveigh 
against the new road, the miJwicin-'khdnds, and their owner 
alike. 

The next day brought us to Kum, after a long, quick 
march of nearly ten hours. The muleteers were suddenly 
seized with one of those fits of energetic activity to which 
even the most lethargic Persians are occasionally subject, so 
that when, early in the afternoon, we reached the mihmdn- 
khdnS of Shashgird (or Manzariyyd — the " Place of Outlook " 
— as it is more pretentiously styled), and Haji Safar proposed 
to halt for the night, they insisted on pushing on to the holy 
city, which they declared they could reach before sundown. 
A lively altercation ensued, which concluded with a bet of 
five krdns offered by Haji Safar, and taken by the muleteers, 
that we should not reach the town before sunset. The effect 
of this stimulus was magical. Never before or since did I see 
muleteers attain such a degree of speed. With eyes con- 
B tinually directed towards the declining sun, they ran along at 
\ a steady trot, occasionally shouting to their animals, and 
leclaring that they would fare sumptuously that night off the 
lelicacies of Kum with the money they would earn by their 
ifforts. The road seemed interminable, even after the golden 



i68 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

dome of the mosque of " Hazrat-i-Ma mma (" Her Holiness the 
Hnmacuhite ") rose up before iis across the salt swamps, ami as 
the sun sank lower and lower towards llic liori/dn \\w. elTorts 
of the muleteers were redoubled, till, Just as the rim of the 
luminary sank from sight l)ehind the western hills, we crossed 
the long, graceful bridge which spans a river-bed almost dry 
except in spring, and, passing benearth the blue-tiled gate, rode 
into the holy city. 

I have already had occasion to allude to the Indo- 
European telegraph, and to mention the great kindness which 
I met with from ]\Iajor Wells (in whose hands the control 
thereof was placed), and from all other members of the staff 
with wdiom I came in contact. This kindness did not cease 
with my departure from Teheran. A message was sent down 
the line to all the telegraph stations (which are situated every 
three or four stages all the way from Teher;in to Bushire) to 
inform the residents at these (most of whom are English) of 
my advent, and to ask them to extend to me their hospitality. 
Although I felt some hesitation at first in thus quartering 
myself without an invitation on strangers who might not wish 
to be troubled with a guest, I was assured that I need have no 
apprehensions on that score, and that I should be certain to 
meet with a hospitable welcome. This, indeed, proved to be 
the case to a degree beyond my expectations ; at all the tele- 
graph offices I was received with a cordial friendliness and 
geniality which made me at once feel at home, and I gladly 
take this opportunity of expressing the deep sense of gratitude 
which I feel for kindnesses the memory of which will always 
form one of my pleasantest recollections of the pleasant year I 
spent in Persia. 

The first of these telegraph stations is at Kum, and thither 
I at once made my way through the spice-laden twilight of 
the bazaars. On arriving, I was cordially welcomed by Mr. 
Lyne and his wife, and was soon comfortably ensconced in an 
easy-chair before a bright fire, provided with those two great 
dispellers of weariness, tea and tobacco. My host, who had 
resided for a long while at Kum, entirely surrounded by 
Persians, was a fine Persian and Arabic scholar, and possessed 
a goodly collection of books, which he kindly permitted me to 



jL i 



FROM TEHERAN TO ISFAHAN 169 

examine. They were for the most part formidable-looking 
treatises on Muhammadan theology and jurisprudence, and had 
evidently been well read ; indeed, Mr. Lyne's fame as a 
" mvllct " is great, not only in Kum, but throughout Persia, 
and I heard his erudition warmly praised even at distant 
Kirman. 

Perhaps it was owing to this tliat I met with such 
courtesy and good nature from the people of Kum, of whom I 
had heard the worst possible accounts. My treatment at 
Shah 'Abdu' l-'Azim had not given me a favourable idea of the 
character of holy cities and sanctuaries, and this prejudice was 
supported in this particular case by the well-known stricture 
of some Persian satirist on the towns of Kum and Kashan : 

" Sag-i-KdsM bih az akabir-i- Kum , 
Bd-vuj(uii hi sag bih az Kashist." 

" A dog of Kashan is better than the nobles of Kum, 
Although a dog is better than a native of Kashau." 

"Whether the inliabitants of Kum have been grossly 
maligned, or whether their respect for my host (for, so far as 
my experience goes, there is no country where knowledge 
commands such universal respect as in Persia) procured for 
me an unusual degree of courtesy, I know not ; at any rate, 
when we went out next day to see the town, we were allowed, 
without the slightest opposition, to stand outside the gate of 
the Mosque and look at it to our heart's content ; several 
people, indeed, came up to us and entered into friendly con- 
versation. Further than this, I was allowed to inspect the 
manufacture of several of the chief products of the city, the 
most important of which is the beautiful blue pottery which 
is now so celebrated. This, indeed, is the great feature of 
Kum, which might almost be described as the " Blue City " ; 
nowhere have I witnessed a greater profusion of blue domes 
and tiles. Many small articles are made of this ware, such as 
j5alt-cellars, lamps, pitchers, pipe-bowls, beads, and button-like 
mulcts of divers forms and sizes, which are much used for 
ecklaces for children, and for affixing to the foreheads of 
lorses, mules, and the like, as a protection against the evil 
ye. Of all of these I purchased a large selection, the total 



I70 .-/ YKAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

cost of wliich <li(.l not exceed a few shillings, for tiioy are 
ridiculously cheap. 

Besides the mosque and the potteries, I paid a visit to a 
castor-oil mill worked hy a camel, and ascended an old 
minaret, furnished witli a double sjtiral staircase in a sad state 
of dilapidation. From this I obtained a fine view of the city 
and its surroundings. It has five gates, and is surroimded by 
a wall, but this is now broken down in many places, and the 
whole of the southern quarter of the town is in a very ruined 
condition. Altogether, I enjoyed my short stay in Kum very 
much, and was as sorry to leave it as I was pleased to find 
how much better its inhabitants are than they are generally 
represented to be. Their appearance is as pleasant as their 
manner, and I was greatly struck with the high average of 
good looks which they enjoy, many of the children especially 
being very pretty. Though the people are regarded as very 
fanatical, their faces certainly belie this opinion, for it seemed 
to me that the majority of them wore a singularly gentle and 
benign expression. 

I could not, however, protract my stay at Kum without 
subjecting my plans to considerable alteration; and accordingly, 
on the second day after my arrival (12th February) I again 
set out on my southward journey. As I was in no hurry to 
bid a final farewell to my kind host and hostess, the muleteers 
had been gone for more than half an hour before I finally 
quitted the telegraph- office ; but about this I did not greatly 
concern myself, making no doubt that we should overtake 
them before we had gone far. In this, however, I was 
mistaken ; for when we halted for lunch, no sign of them had 
appeared. Supposing, however, that Haji Safar, who had 
travelled over the road before, knew the way, I thought little 
of the matter till the gathering shades of dusk recalled me 
from reveries on the future to thoughts of the present, and I 
began to reflect that it was a very odd thing that a stage of 
only four farsaJihs had taken so long a time to accomplish, and 
that even now no signs of our destination were in view. 
Accordingly I pulled up, and proceeded to cross-examine Haji 
Safar, with the somewhat discouraging result that his ignorance 
of our whereabouts proved to be equal to my own. It now 



FROM TEHERAN to ISFAHAn 171 

occurred to nie that I had heard that the caravansaray of 
Pasangan was situated close under the hills to the west, while 
we were well out in the plain ; and I therefore proposed that 
we should turn our course in that direction, especially as I 
fancied I could descry, in spite of the gathering gloom, a group 
of buildings under the hills. Haji Safar, on the other hand, 
was for proceeding, assuring me that he saw smoke in front, 
which no doubt marked the position of our halting-place. 
While we were engaged in this discussion, I discerned in the 
distance the figure of a man running towards us, shouting and 
gesticulating wildly. On its closer approach I recognised in 
it the muleteer Eahim. We accordingly turned our horses 
towards him and presently met him ; whereupon, so soon as 
he had in some measure recovered his breath, he proceeded to 
upbraid Hiiji Safar roundly. " A wonderful fellow art thou," 
he exclaimed (on receiving some excuse about " the smoke 
ahead looking like the manzil ") ; " do you know where that 
smoke comes from ? It comes from an encampment of those 
rascally Shah-sevans, who, had you fallen into their midst, 
would as like as not have robbed you of every single thing 
you have with you, including my animals. If you don't know 
the road, keep with us who do ; and if you thought you were 
going to discover a new way to Yezd across the desert, I tell 
you you can't ; only camels go across there ; and if you had 
escaped the Shah-sevans (curses on the graves of their fathers !), 
it is as like as not that you would have just gone down bodily 
into the salt-swamps, and never have been seen or heard of 
again, as has happened to plenty of people who knew more 
about the desert than you." So he ran on, while we both felt 
very much ashamed of ourselves, till we finally reached 
Pasangan, and took up our quarters at the post-house, which 
looked more comfortable than the caravansaray. 

Next day was beautifully fine and warm, almost like a 
bright June day in England. Our way still lay just beneath 
I the hills to the west, and the road continued quite flat, for we 
were still skirting the edge of the great salt-strewn Dasht-i- 
Kavi'r. About mid-day we halted before the caravansaray of 
Shiirab for lunch : here there is some verdure, and a little 
stream, but the water of this is, as the name of the place 



172 .-/ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSLiNS 

implies, brackisli. Soon after leaving this we met two men 
with great Muc turbans, carelessly and loosely wouml. Tliese 
H;iji Safar at once identified as Yezdi's. " You can always tell 
a Yezdi wherever you see him," he explained, " and, indeed, 
whenever you hear him. As you may like to hear their sweet 
speech, I will pass the time of day with them, and ask them 
whence they hail and whither they are bound." So saying, 
he entered into a brief conversation with them, and for the 
first time I heard the broad, drawling, sing-song speech of 
Yezd, which once heard can never be mistaken. 

We reached the caravansaray of Sinsin quite early in the 
afternoon, the stage being six light farsakhs, and the road good 
and level. This caravansaray is one of those fine, spacious, 
solidly constructed buildings which can be referred, almost at a 
glance, to the time of the Safavi kings, and which the tradition 
of muleteers, recognising, as a rule, only two great periods in 
history — that of Fen'dun, and that of Sh;ih 'Abbi'is the Great — 
unhesitatingly attributes to the latter. The building, although 
it appeared totally neglected, even the doors being torn away 
from their hinges, is magnificently constructed, and I wandered 
with delight through its long, vaulted, dimly-lit stables, its 
deserted staircases, and untenanted rooms. Tlie roof, however, 
solidly built of brickwork, and measuring no less than ninety 
paces from corner to corner of the square, was the great 
attraction, commanding- as it did an extensive view of the flat 
plain around, the expanse of which was hardly broken by 
anything except the little group of houses which constitute 
the village, and a great caravan of camels from Yezd, kneeling 
down in rows to receive their evening meal from the hands of 
their drivers. 

While I was on the roof I was joined by a muleteer called 
Khuda-bakhsh, whom I had not noticed at the beginning of 
the journey, but who had cast up within the last day or two 
as a recognised member of our little caravan, in that 
mysterious and unaccountable way peculiar to his class. He 
entered into conversation with me, anxiously enquired whether 
I was not an agent of my government sent out to examine the 
state of the country, and refused to credit my assurances to the 
contrary. He then asked me many questions about America 



FROM TEHERAN to ISFAHAN 173 

(" Yangi-dunyd " — not, as might at first sight appear, a mere 
corruption of the term commonly applied by us to its 
inhabitants, but a genuine Turkish compound, meaning " the 
New World "), and received my statement that its people were 
of the same race as myself, and had emigrated there from my 
own country, with manifest incredulity. 

Next day brought us to another considerable town — 
Kashan — after an uneventful march of about seven hours, 
broken by a halt for lunch at a village called Nasrabad, at 
which I was supplied with one of the excellent melons grown 
in the neighbourhood. On leaving this place we fell in with 
two Kirmanis — an old man and his son — who were travelling 
back from Hamadan, where they had gone with a load of 
shawls, which had been satisfactorily disj)osed of. They were 
intelligent and communicative, and supplied me with a good 
deal of information about the roads between Shiraz and 
Kirman, concerning which I was anxious for detailed 
knowledge. 

About 3.30 P.M. we reached Kashan, but did not enter the 
town, alighting at the telegraph-office, which is situated just 
outside the gate. Here I was kindly welcomed by Mr. Aganor, 
an Armenian, who spoke English perfectly. Though it was 
not late, I did not go into the town that day, as we received a 
visit from the chief of the custom-house, Mirza Huseyn Khan, 
who was very pleasant and amusing. Besides this, a man 
came with some manuscripts which he was anxious to sell, but 
there were none of any value. In the evening I had some 
conversation with my host about the Babis, whom he asserted 
to be very numerous at Yezd and Abade. At the former 
place, he assured me, the new religion was making great 
progress even amongst the Zoroastrians. 

Next morning we went for a walk in tlie town. Almost 
I every town in Persia is celebrated for something, and Kashan 
is said to have three specialties : first, its brass-work ; second, 
its scorpions (which, unlike the bugs of Miyane, are said 
never to attack strangers, but only the natives of the town) ; 
and third, the extreme timorousness of its inhabitants. 
I Concerning the latter, it is currently asserted that there 
j tormerly existed a Kashan regiment, but that, in consideration 



174 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

of tlio cowardice of its men, and their obvious inelliciency, it 
was dislnuided, and those composing it were tohl lo return to 
their liomes. On the following day a dcpntation of tlie men 
waited on the Sh;ih, asserting that they were afraid of being 
attacked on the road, and begging for an escort. " We are a 
hundred poor fellows all alone," they said ; " send some horsemen 
with us to protect ns ! " 

The scorpions I did not see, as it was winter ; and of the 
alleged cowardice of the inhabitants I had, of course, no means 
of judging ; but with the brass-bazaar I was greatly impressed, 
tliough my ears were almost deafened by the noise. Besides 
brass-work, fine silk fabrics are manufactured in large cpiantity 
at K;isluin, though not so extensively as at Yezd. The road to 
this latter city quits the Isfahihi and Shi'raz route at this point, 
so that Kashan forms the junction of the two great southern 
roads which terminate respectively at Bandar-i-' Abbas and 
Bushire on the l*ersian Gulf. 

In the afternoon Mirza Huseyn Khan, the chief of tlie 
customs, came again. He had his little child of seventeen 
months old (to which he seemed devotedly attached) brought 
for me to look at, as it was suffering from eczema, and lie 
wished for advice as to the treatment which should be adojDted. 
Later in the evening, after the child had gone home, he 
returned with his secretary, Mirzii 'Abdu 'llah, and stayed to 
supper. We had a most delightful evening, the Khan being 
one of the most admirable conversationalists I ever met. 
Some of his stories I will here set down, though it is 
impossible for me to convey an idea of the vividness of 
description, wealth of illustration, and inimitable mimicry, 
which, in his mouth, gave them so great a charm. 

" What sort of a supper are you going to give us, Aganor 
Sahib ? " he began ; " Persian or Firangi ? 0, half one and half 
the other : very good, that is best ; for this Sahib is evidently 
anxious to learn all he can about us Persians, so that he would 
have been disappointed if you liadn't given him some of our 
foods ; while at the same time, being fresh from Piraugist;hi, he 
might perhaps not have been able to eat some of the things 
which we like. How do you like our Persian food so far ? " 
he continued, turning to me ; " for my part, I doubt if you 



FROM TEHERAn to ISFAHAN 175 

have anything half so nice as our pildivs and childws in your 
country. Then there is mast-hhiydr (curds and cucumhers) ; 
have you tasted that yet ? No ? Well, then, you have a 
pleasure to come ; only after eating it you must not drink water 
to quench the slight thirst which it produces, or else you will 
suffer for it, like Manakji S;ihib, the chief of the Guebres, who 
is now residing at Teheran to look after the interests of his 
people. 

"How did he suffer for eating mdst-fcliiydr ^ Well, I 
will tell you. You must know, then, that when he was 
appointed by the Parsees at Bombay to come and live in 
Persia and take care of the Guebres, and try to influence the 
Shah in their favour, he knew nothing about Persia or the 
Persians ; for, though of course the Parsees are really Persians 
by descent, they ha^^e now become more like Firangis. Well, 
Manakji Sahib set sail for Persia, and on uoard the vessel 
(being anxious to remedy this lack of knowledge on his part) 
he made friends with a Persian merchant of Isfahan, who 
was returning to his country. In the course of the voyage 
the ship touched at some port, the name of which I have 
forgotten, and, as it was to remain there all day, tlie Isfahan! 
suggested to Manakji Sahib that they should go on shore and 
see the town, to which proposition the latter very readily 
agreed. Accordingly, they landed, and, since the town was 
situated at a considerable distance from the harbour, hired 
donkeys to convey them thither. Now the day was very hot, 
and as the sun got higher, Manakji Sahib found the heat 
unbearable ; so, espying a village near at hand, he suggested 
to his companion that they should rest there under some old 
[ruins, which stood a little apart, until the sun had begun to 
decline and the heat was less oppressive. To this his com- 
panion agreed, and further suggested that he should go to the 
Ivillage and see if he could find something to eat, while 
iManakji rested amongst the ruins. So they arranged with 
|;he muleteer to halt for an hour or two, and the Isfahani went 
)ff to look for food. Presently he returned with a number 
>f young cucumbers and a quantity of vidst (curds), with 
vhich he proceeded to concoct a bowl of mast-khiydr. 

" Now Manakji (like you) had never seen this compound, 



176 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

aiul (being a man of a suspicious disposition) he began to 
fancy that his companion wanted to poison liiiu in lliis lonely 
spot, and take his money. So wlien the nu'ist-kliiyAr was 
ready, he refused to partake of it, to the great surprise of his 
companion. ' Why, just now you said you were so hungry,' 
said the latter ; ' how is it that you now declare you liave no 
appetite ? ' 'I found a piece of bread in my pocket,' said 
]\Ianakji, ' and ate it while you were away in the village, and 
now my hunger is completely gone.' The more his companion 
pressed him to eat, the more susi^icious he grew, and the more 
determined in his refusal. ' Very well,' said the Isfahiini at 
last, ' since you won't join me, I must eat it by myself,' and 
this he proceeded to do, consuming the mdst-lxhiyar with 
great relish and evident enjoyment. Now when M;inakji saw 
this, he was sorry that he had refused to partake of the food. 
* It is quite clear,' said he to himself, ' that it is not poisoned, 
or else my companion would not eat it ; while at the same 
time, from the relish with which he does so, it is evident that, 
strange as the mixture looks, it must be very nice.' At last, 
when his companion had eaten about half, he could stand it 
no longer. ' Do you know,' he said, ' that my appetite has 
unaccountably come back at seeing you eat ? If you will 
allow me, I think I will change my mind and join you after 
all.' His companion was rather surprised at this sudden 
change, but at once handed over the remainder of the food to 
Mdnakji, who, after tasting it and finding it very palatable, 
devoured it all. 

" Now certain rules must be observed in eating some of 
our Persian foods, and in the case of mdst-khiydr these are 
two in number. The first rule, as I have told you, is that you 
must not drink anything with it or after it ; for, if you do, 
not only will your thirst be increased, but the food will swell 
up in your stomach and make you think you are going to die 
of suffocation. The second rule is that you mvist lie down and 
go to sleep directly you have eaten it. Now Manakji Sahib 
was ignorant of these rules, and so, when his companion lay 
down and went to sleep, he, feeling somewhat thirsty, took a 
draught of water, and then lay down to rest. But, so far 
from being able to rest, he found himself attacked by a strange 



FROM TEHERAN to ISFAHAN 177 

feeling of oppression, and his thirst soon returned twofold. So 
he got up and took another drink of water, and then lay down 
again, but now his state was really pitiable : he could hardly 
breathe, his stomach swelled up in a most alarming manner, 
and he was tormented by thirst. Then his suspicions returned 
with redoubled force, and he thought to himself, ' There is no 
doubt that my companion really has poisoned me, and has 
himself taken some antidote to prevent the poison from affect- 
ing him. Alas ! alas ! I shall certainly die in this horrible, 
lonely spot, and no one will know what has become of me ! ' 

" While he was rolling about in agony, tormented by these 
alarming thoughts, he suddenly became aware of a strange- 
looking winged animal sitting on a wall close to him, and 
apparently gloating over his sufferings. It was nodding its 
head at him in a derisive manner, and, to his excited imagina- 
tion, it seemed to be saying, as plain as \/ords could be, 
' Ahivdl-i-shitmd cM-tawr-ast ? Ahwdl-i-sMimd cM-taior-ast ? ' 
(' How are you ? How are you ? ') Now the animal was 
iiothing more than one of those little owls which are so 
jcommon in ruined places, but Manakji didn't know this, never 
jhaving seen an owl before, and thought it must certainly be 
the Angel of Death come to fetch his soul. So he lay there 
gazing at it in horror, till at last he could bear it no longer, and 
ietermined to wake his companion ; ' for,' thought he, ' even 
Jiougli he has poisoned me, he is after all a human being, 
md his companionship will at least enable me better to bear 
he presence of this horrible apparition.' So he stretched out 
ds foot, and gave his companion a gentle kick. Finding that 
lid not rouse him, he repeated it with greater force, and his 
ompanion woke up. ' Well/ said he, ' what is the matter ? ' 
lauakji pointed to the bird, which still sat there on the 
rail, nodding its head, and apparently filled with diabolical 
QJoyment at the sufferer's misery. ' Do you see that ? ' he 
iquired. ' See it ? Of course I see it,' replied his com- 
anion, ' What of it ? ' Then some inkling of the nature of 
[tinakji's terrors and suspicions came into his mind, and he 
jtermined to frighten him a little more, just to punish him. 
Joesn't it appear to you to be saying something ? ' said 
anakji ; ' I can almost fancy that I hear the very words 

12 



I 



178 yl YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

it utters.' 'Saying sometliiug ! ' answered the Isfaliiinf, 'Of 
course it is : but surely you know wliat it is, and wliat it is 
saying?' 'Indeed I do not,' said M;inakji, 'fur I liave never 
before seen anything like it; and as to what it is saying, it 
appears to me to be enquiring after my health, which, for the 
rest, is sufficiently bad.' 'So it would seem,' said the other; 
' but do you really mean to tell me that you don't know what 
it is ? Well, I will tell you : it is the spirit of the accursed 
'Omar, who usurped the Caliphate, and whose generals over- 
ran Persia. Since his death he has been permitted to assume 
this form, and in it to wander about the world. Now he has 
come to you, and is saying, " I, in my lifetime, took so much 
trouble to overthrow the worship of Fire, and do you dare 
come back to Persia to attempt its restoration ? " ' 

" On hearing this Miinakji was more frightened than ever ; 
but at last his friend took pity on him, and picking up a 
stone threw it at the bird, which instantly flew away. ' I 
was only joking,' he said; 'it is nothing but an owl.' So 
Manakji's fears were dispelled, and he soon recovered from 
the mdst-khiydr ; but though he subsequently found out the 
proper way of eating it, I am not sure that he ever had the 
courage to try it again." 

"We laughed a good deal at this story, and I remarked that 
it was an extraordinary thing that M;inakji S;ihib should 
have been so frightened at an owl. 

" AVell," he said, " it is. But then in the desert, and in 
solitary, gloomy places, things will frighten you that you 
would laugh at in the city. I don't believe in all tliese 
stories about ghuls and 'ifrits which the charvaddrs tell ; but at 
the same time I would rather listen to them here than out 
there in the Jcavir. It is a terrible place that kavir ! All 
sand and salt and solitude, and tracks not more than two 
feet wide on which you can w^alk with safety. Deviate from 
them only a hand's breath, and down you go into the salt- 
swamps, camel, man, baggage, and everything else, and there 
is an end of you. Many a brave fellow has died thus. 

" Have I seen anything of the Tcavir ? ISTo, nor do I wish 
to do so ; hearing about it is quite sufficient for me. I was 
once lost in the salt -mountains near Semnan when a boy, 



FROM TEH ERA N TO ISFAHAN 179 

having run away from my father, who had done something to 
offend me. I only remained amongst them one night, and, 
beyond the bitter brininess of the bright-looking streams at 
which I strove to quench my thirst, and the horror of the 
place and its loneliness, there was nothing half so bad as the 
havir, yet I wouldn't go through the experience again on any 
account. You have probably heard plenty of stories about the 
desert from your cltarvaddrs on the road ; nevertheless, as you 
seem to like hearing them, I will tell you one which may 
be new to you." 

We begged him to give us the story, and he proceeded as 
follows : — " A poor man was once travelling along on foot and 
alone in the desert when he espied coming towards him a 
most terrible -looking dervish. You have very likely seen 
some of those wandering, wild-looking dervishes who go about 
all over the country armed with axes or clubs, and fear 
neither wild beast nor man, nor the most horrible solitudes. 
Well, this dervish was one of that class, only much more 
ill ferocious -looking and wild than any you ever saw; and he 
i was moreover armed with an enormous and ponderous club, 
which he kept swinging to and fro in a manner little 
calculated to re -assure our traveller. The latter, indeed, 
liked the appearance of the dervish so little that he determined 
to climb up a tree, which fortunately stood close by, and wait 
till the fellow had passed. 

" The dervish, however, instead of passing by, seated himself 
on the ground under the tree. Of course the poor traveller 
was horribly frightened, not knowing how long the dervisli 
might choose to stop there, and fearing, moreover, that his 
place of retreat might have been observed. He therefore con- 
tinued to watcli the dervish anxiously, and presently saw him 
pull out of his pocket five little clay figures, which he placed 
in a row in front of him. Having arranged them to his 

satisfaction, he addressed the first of them, which he called 
jOmar, as follows : — 

" ' 'Omar ! I have thee now, thou usurper of the 

'aliphate ! Thou shalt forthwith answer to me for thy 

rimes, and receive the just punishment of thy wickedness. 

"et will I deal fairly with thee, and give thee a chance of 



i8o A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

escape. It may be tliat there were mitigating circumstances 
in the case "vvliich shouhl not be overlooked : inform me, 
therefore, if it be so, and I promise thee I Avill not be un- 
merciful. . . . What ! thou answerest nothing at all ? 
Then it is evident thou can'st think of no excuse for thy 
disgraceful conduct, and I will forthwith slay thee.' Saying 
this, the dervish raised his mighty club over his head, and, 
bringing it down with a crash on the little image, flattened it 
level with the ground. 

" He next addressed himself to the second image thus : 
' Abu Bekr ! Thou also wert guilty in this matter, since 
thou didst first occupy the place which by right belonged to 
'All. JSTevertheless thou art an old man, and it may be that thou 
wert but a tool in the hands of that ungodly 'Omar, whom I 
have just now destroyed. If it be so, tell me, that I may deal 
mercifully with thee. . . . What ! thou too art silent ! Beware, 
or I will crush thee even as I crushed thine abettor in this 
oflence. . . . Thou still refusest to answer ? Then thy blood 
be on thine own head ! ' Another blow with the club, and the 
second figure had followed the first. 

" The dervish now turned to the third figure : ' Murtaza 
'All,' he exclaimed, ' tell me, I pray thee, now that these 
wretches who deprived thee of thy rights have met with their 
deserts, how it was that thou, the chosen successor of the 
Prophet, didst allow thyself to be so set aside. After all, thou 
didst in a manner acquiesce in their usurpation, and I desire 
to know why thou didst so, and why thou didst not withstand 
them even to the death. Tell me this, therefore, I pray thee, 
that my difficulties may be solved. . . . What ! thou also 
art silent ? Nay, but thou shalt speak, or I wall deal with 
thee as with the others. . . . Still thou answerest nothing ? 
Then perish ! ' Down came the club a third time, while the 
poor man in the tree was almost beside himself with horror at 
this impiety. 

" This horror was further increased when the dervish, 
turning to the fourth clay figure, addressed it as follows : — 
' Muhammad ! Prophet of God ! Since thou didst enjoy 
Divine Inspiration, thou didst without doubt know what would 
occur after thy death. How, then, didst thou take no precau- 



FROM TEHERAn to ISFAHAN iSi 

tions to guard against it ? Without doubt, in this, too, there 
is some hidden wisdom which I would fain understand, there- 
fore I beseech thee to tell me of it. . . . Thou answerest not 
a word ? Nay, but thou shalt answer, else even thy sacred 
mission shall in nowise protect thee from my just wrath. . . . 
Still thou maintainest silence ? Beware, for I am in earnest, 
and will not be trifled with. . . . Thou continuest to defy 
me ? Then perish with the rest ! ' Another heavy blow with 
the club, and the figure of the Prophet disappeared into the 
ground, while the poor man in the tree was half-paralysed 
with dread, and watched with fascinated horror to see what 
the dervish would do next. 

" Only one clay figure now remained, and to this the 
dervish addressed himself. ' Allah ! ' he said, ' Thou 
who hadst kuowledize of all the troubles which would befall 
the family of him whom thou didst ordain to be the successor 
of Thy Prophet, tell me, I pray Thee, what divine mystery was 
concealed under that which baffles our weak comprehension ! 
. . . Wilt Thou not hear my prayer ? Art Thou also silent ? 
. . . Nay, Thou shalt answer me or ' 

" ' Wretch ! ' suddenly exclaimed the man in the tree, his 
terror of the dervish for the moment mastered by his indigna- 
tion, ' Art thou not satisfied with having destroyed the 
Prophet of God, and 'Ali, his holy successor ? Wilt thou also 
slay the Creator ? Beware ! Hold thy hand, or verily the 
heavens will fall and crush thee ! ' 

" On hearing this voice, apparently from the clouds, the 
dervish was so terrified that he uttered one loud cry, dropped 
Iiis uplifted club, and fell back dead. The man in the tree 
now descended, and cautiously approached the body of the 
dervish. Being finally assured that he was really dead, he 
proceeded to remove his cloak, which he was surprised to find 
of enormous weight, so that he began to think there must be 
something concealed in the lining. This proved to be the 
case, for, as he cut it open, a hidden hoard of gold pieces 
poured forth on to the ground. These the poor traveller pro- 
ceeded to pick up and transfer to his pockets. When he had 
completed this task, he raised his face to heaven and said, 
' Allah ! Just now I saved Thy life by a timely interference. 



1 82 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

ami for this Thou hast now rewarded me with this store of 
gold, for wliic'li 1 Ik'artily thank Thee.'" 

" "What a very foolisli man the traveller must have been," 
we remarked when the story was concluded ; " lie certainly 
met with better fortune than lie deserved. Of course the 
dervisli was nothing better than a madman." 

" Yes," answered the Kh;in, " and of the two a fool is the 
worse, especially as a friend, a truth which is exemplified in 
the story of the Gardener, the Bear, and the Snake, which well 
illustrates the proverb that ' A wise enemy is better tlian a 
foolish friend.' If you do not know the story I will tell it 
you, for it is quite short. 

" Once upon a time there was a gardener, into whose 
garden a bear used often to come to eat the fruit. Now, 
seeing that the bear was very strong and formidable, the 
gardener deemed it better to be on good terms with it, thinking 
that it might prove a useful ally. So he encouraged it to 
come whenever it liked, and gave it as much fruit as it could 
eat, for which kindness the bear was very grateful. 

" Now, there was also a snake which lived in a hole in the 
garden wall. One day, when the snake was basking in the 
sun half asleep, the gardener saw it and struck at it with a 
spade which he had in his hand. The blow wounded the 
snake and caused it a great deal of pain, but did not kill it, 
and it succeeded in dragging itself back into its hole. From 
this time forth it was filled with a desire for revenge, and a de- 
termination to watch the gardener's movements carefully, so that, 
if ever it saw him asleep, it might inflict on him a mortal wound. 

" Now, the gardener knew that the snake had escaped, 
and was well aware that he had made a deadly enemy of it, 
so he was afraid to go to sleep within its reach unprotected. 
He communicated his apprehensions to his friend the bear, 
who, eager to give some proof of its gratitude, readily offered 
to watch over him while he slept. The gardener gladly 
accepted this offer, and lay down to sleep ; while the snake, 
concealed in its hole, continued its watch, hoping for an oppor- 
tunity of gratifying its revenge. 

" Now, the day was hot, and the flies were very trouble- 
some, for they kept buzzing round the gardener's face, and 



FROM TEHERAN to ISFAHAN 183 

even settling npon it. This boldness on their part annoyed 
the bear very much, especially when he found that he could 
only disperse them for a moment by a wave of his paw, and 
that they returned immediately to the spot from which they 
had been driven. 

" At last the bear could stand it no longer, and determined 
to have done with the flies once and for all. Looking round 
he espied a large flat stone which lay near. ' Ah, now, I have 
you,' he thought, as he picked up the stone and waited for the 
flies to settle again on the gardener's face ; ' I'll teach you to 
molest my friend's slumbers, you miserable creatures ! ' Then, 
the flies having settled, timid ! down came the stone with a 
mighty crash on — the gardener's head, which was crushed in 
like an egg-shell, while the flies flew merrily away to torment 
some new victim, and the snake crept back into its hole with 
great contentment, muttering to itself the proverb in question, 
' A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend.' " 

And now, just outside the walls surrounding the telegraph- 
office, rose a prolonged and dismal howl, followed by another 
and yet another ; while from the city, like an answer, came 
, back the barking of the dogs. " Are those jackals howling out- 
side ? " I asked, " and do they come so close to the town ? " 
" Yes," answered the Khan, " they always do so, and the dogs 
always answer them thus. Do you know why ? Once upon 
a time the jackals used to live in the towns, just as the dogs 
do now, while the latter dwelt outside in the desert. Now, 
the dogs thouo'ht it would be much nicer to be in the town, 
where they would be sheltered from the inclemency of the 
weather, and would have plenty to eat instead of often having 
ito go without food for a long time. So they sent one of their 
number to the jackals with the following message. ' Some 
amongst us,' they said, ' are ill, and our physicians say that 
what they need is change of air, and that they ought, if pos- 
sible, to spend three days in the town. Now, it is clearly 
mpossible for us dogs and you jackals to be in one place at 
he same time, so we would ask you to change places with us 
'or three days only, and to let us take up our quarters in the 
■ity, while you retire into the desert, the air of which will 
loubtless prove very beneficial to you also.' 



1 84 A YEAR AMONGST THE J'ERSIANS 

" Ti) this in-opositiou the jackals agreed, and during llie 
Ibllowini: iiiulit the exchange was ellected. In tlie morning, 
when the people of the city woke up, they found a dog 
wherever there had been a jackal on the previous night. On 
the third night the jackals, being quite tired of the desert, 
came back to the gates of the town, filled with pleasant antici- 
pations of resuming their luxurious city life. But the dogs, 
being very comfortable in their new quarters, were in no hurry 
to quit them. So, after waiting some time, the jackals called 
out to the dogs, ' Nd Ihusli-i-sliumd Ixhuh shu(U-d-d-6V ('Are 
your sick ones well yet ? '), ending up with a whine rising 
and tailing in cadence, just such as you heard a minute 
ago, and (as ]\Iirza 'Abdu 'llah, who is a native of Isfahan, 
will tell you) just such as you may hear any day in the mouth 
of an Isfahan! or a Yezdi. But the dogs, who are Turks and 
speak Turkish, only answered ' Yokh ! Yohh ! ' (' No ! no ! ') 
and so the poor jackals had to go back into the desert. And 
ever since then they come back at night and hail the dogs 
with the same question, as you heard them do just now ; 
and the dogs always give the same reply, for they have no 
wish to go back to the desert. And that is why the jackals 
come and howl round the town after dusk, and why the dogs 
always answer them." 

At this point our host interrupted the conversation to tell 
us that supper was ready. " Supper ! " exclaimed the Khan, 
w^ho had already commenced another story, " Supper, indeed ! 
Am I to have my stories cut short and spoiled by supper? 
No, I shall not go on with what I was saying, even though 
you do beg my pardon ; but I will forgive you, provided always 
that you ask an ' English pardon ' and not a ' Persian pardon.' " 

" What do you mean by a ' Persian pardon ? ' " I asked ; 
" please explain the expression." 

"No, I shall keep my word and tell you no more stories 
to-night," answered the Khan. " I have told you plenty already, 
and you will probably forget them all, and me too. Now you 
will remember me much better as having refused to satisfy 
your curiosity on this one point, and whenever you hear the 
expression 'Fdrdur/i-i-frdni' (so he pronounced it) you will 
think of Mirza Huseyn Khan of Kashan." 



FROM TEH ERA N TO ISFAHAN 1S5 

After supper we had some songs accompanied on the si-tdr, 
all present, except myself, being something of musicians, and 
thus the evening passed pleasantly, till the guests announced 
that they must depart, and I was astonished to find that it was 
close on midnight, and high time to retire for the night. 

Next day (16th February) our road continued to skirt the 
plain for some twelve or fifteen miles, and then turned to the 
right into the mountains. We at first ascended along a river- 
bed, down which trickled a comparatively small quantity of 
water. I was surprised to see that a number of dams had 
been constructed to divert the water from its channel and 
make it flow over portions of tlie bank, whence it returned 
charged with mud. On asking the reason of this strange 
procedure, I was informed that it was done to ])r event the water 
evaporating, as muddy water evaporates less readily than that 
which is clear ! 

On ascending somewhat higher, we came to a place where 
there was a smooth, rather deep, oblong depression in the face 
of the rock. Inside this, as well as on the ground beneath, 
were heaps of small stones and pebbles ; while in every cranny 
and chink of the cliff around and below this spot were planted 
little bits of stick decorated with rags of divers colours placed 
there by pious passers-by. As we came up to this place, 
Khudci-bakhsh, the muleteer, who was a few paces in front, 
, sprang up towards the depression, shouting " Ya 'AH ! " and drew 
I his hand down it, thus affording an indication of the manner 
iu which the wonderful smoothness of its walls had been pro- 
duced. He then informed us that the depression in question 
was the mark left by the hoof of 'All's steed, Duldul, and that 
there were only two or three more such in the whole of Persia. 
Near the village of Gez, he added, there was the mark of 
'All's hand in the rock. Haji Safar, on learning these facts, 
added his quota of pebbles to those already collected on 
the slope. 

Proceeding onwards through very fine scenery, we suddenly 

ame upon a mighty wall of rock wherewith the channel of 

-he stream was barred, and beyond this a vast sheet of water 

nrmed by the damming-up of the water-course. This splendid, 

lalf-natural reservoir, which serves to keep the city of Ktishan 



iS6 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

well supplied with water duriiijj; the hot dry summer, was 
constructed, like so many other useful and iK'nelicial ])ublic 
works, during the period of prosperity which l*er,sia enjoyed 
under the Safavi kings, and is known as the Band-i-Kohrnd. 
"Winding round the right side of this great lake, we presently 
began to see around us abundant signs of cultivation — jilanta- 
tions of trees, orchards, and fields laid out in curious steps for 
purposes of irrigation, and already green with sprouting corn. 
Soon we entered tortuous lanes, enclosed by stout walls of 
stone, and overshadowed by trees, and, after traversing these 
for some distance, we arrived at the village of Javin.in, the 
strange-looking inhabitants of which came out to see us pass. 
The women for the most part wore green shawls and did not 
cover their faces. As we passed we could hear them convers- 
ing in the curious dialect, incomprehensible to tlie ordinary 
Persian, of which I shall have to speak directly. 

About a mile farther on we came to the village of Kohrud, 
where, the chdpdr-khdnd (post-house) being occupied, we found 
quarters at the house of a Seyyid, who appeared to be one of 
the chief men of the village. I had already heard from 
General Houtum-Schindler, who possesses probably more 
knowledge about the geography, ethnology, and local dialects 
of Persia than any man living, of the curious dialect spoken in 
and around Kohrud and Natanz, and, anxious to acquire further 
information about it, I mentioned the matter to my host, who 
at once volunteered to bring in two or three of the people of 
the place to converse with me. Accordingly, as soon as I had 
had tea, a man and his son came in, and, bowing ceremoniously, 
took their seats by the door. 

I first asked them as to the distribution of their dialect, 
and the extent of the area over which it was spoken. They 
replied that it was spoken with slight variations in about a 
dozen or fifteen villages round about, extending on the one 
hand to the little town of Natanz, in the valley to the east, 
and on the other to the mountain-village of Kamsar. Of its 
age, history, and relations they knew nothing definite, merely 
characterising it as " Furs-i-kadim " (Ancient Persian). From 
what I subsequently learned, I infer that it forms one branch 
of a dialect or language spoken with greater or less variations 



FROM TEH ERA N TO ISFAHAN 187 

over a large portion of Persia. With the dialect of Natanz it 
seems almost identical, so far as I can judge from a comparison 
of the specimen of that vernacular (consisting of some thirty- 
words) given by Polak ^ with my own collection of Kohrud 
words. With the so-called Bari language of the Zoroastrians 
of Yezd and Kirman it has also close affinities,^ and it would 
also seem to be near akin to the dialect spoken about Sivand, 
three stages north of Shi'raz. The relations of these dialects 
to one another, and to the languages of ancient Persia, have not 
yet been fully worked out, though excellent monographs on 
several of them exist, and the quatrains of the celebrated 
Baba Tahir, " the Lur," have been published with translation 
and notes by M. Clement Huart.^ It would be out of place 
here to discuss the philological bearings of this question, and 
I will merely observe that the wide distribution of these 
kindred dialects, and the universal tradition of their age, alike 
point to something more than a merely local origin. 

I now for the first time realised the difficulty of obtaining 
precise information from uneducated people with regard to 
their language. In j)articular, it was most difficult to get 
them to give'' me the different parts of the verbs. I would 
ask, for example, " How would you say, 'lam ill ? ' " They 
gave me a sentence which I wrote down. Then I asked, 
" Now, what is ' thou art ill ? ' " They repeated the same 
sentence. " That can't be right," I said ; " they can't both be 
the same." " Yes, that is right," they answered ; " if we want 
to say ' thou art ill ' we say just what we have told you." 

' Well, but suppose you were ill yourself what would you 
siy ? " " Oh, then we should say so-and-so." This readiness 

11 misapprehending one's meaning and reversing what one 

^ Pcrsicn, Das Land uiul seine Bewolmcr, von Dr. Jakob Ecluard Polak 
^eipsig, 1865, vol. i, p. 265. 

" On this dialect, see Zcitschrift der Dcutschen MorgenlandlscJicn GcscUscJia/t, 
n\. XXXV, pp. 327-414, Ueber die 3lmulart von Jezd, by Ferdinand Justi ; and 
'•id. vol. xxxvi, pp. 54-88, Die Parscn in Persicn, Hire Sprache und einige Hirer 
i'brduche, by General A. Houtum-Scliindler. See also Journal Asiatique, 1888, 
iii serie, 2, where M. Clement Huart protests against the application of the 
■nn Dari to this dialect, which he includes along with Kurdish, Mdzandarani, 
'ic patois of Seinndu, etc., under the general appellation of ' Pehlevi llusulmaii,' 
r 'Modern Medic' Cf. p. 389 infra.' 

^ Journal Asiatique, 1885, viii surie, 6, pp. 502-545. 



i88 



A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



had said gave rise to one class of dilficulties. Another dass 
arose from the extreme simplicity of the people. For instance, 
after asking them the words for a number of common olijects 
in their language, I asked, "And what do you call 'city'?" 
" Ivash;in," they replied. " Nonsense ! " I said, " Kiishiin is the 
name of a particular city : what do you call cities in general ? " 
" No," they said, " it is quite right : in I'ersian you say ' ulialir 
mi-ravam' ' I am going to the' city ' : we say ' Kdshdn mi- 
ravam ' : it is all the same." It was useless to argue, or to 
point out that there were many other cities in the world 
besides Kash;hi : to these simple-minded folk K;ish;in remained 
" the city " ^;a?' excellence, and they could not see what one 
wanted with any other. Finally I had to give up the struggle 
in despair, and to this day I do not know whether the 
Kohrudi dialect possesses a general term for " city " or not. 

I here append a list of the words and expressions which 
I took down during the short opportunity I had for studying 
the Kohriid dialect, as I am not aware that anything has been 
published on that particular branch of what M. Huart calls 
" Pehlevi Musulman." For the sake of comparison, I place 
in parallel columns the equivalents in the Natanz dialect given 
by Polak, and those of the so-called Dari of Yezd given by 
General Schindler and Justi. The transcription of these latter 
I have only altered so far as appeared necessary to convey the 
proper pronunciation to the English reader, e.rj. in substituting 
the English y for the German j} 



English. 

Father 
Mother 
Brother 
Son 



Persian. 

jPidar 
yBdhd 

Mddar 

(Birddar 
\jD«(?ar(old) 
fPisar 
{Par (old) 



Kohrudi. Natanzi. 

Bdbd 

Mime Mihne (P.) 

Bddd 

Fiord Ptord (P.) 



Dari of Yezd. 

fPer, Pedar (S.) 

yPdh, Bdbfo (J.) Bdwg (S.) 

I Mar, Md, Mer (S.) 

\Memu (J.) 

JBerdr (S.) 

\l)fihar (J.) 

Pfcr (J.) 

Porer (S.) 



^ In this table the second cohimn contains the Persian words ; the tliird 
their equivalents in the Kohiiid dialect as taken down by myself ; tlie fourth the 
Natanz equivalents given by Polak {loc. ciL), which are marked (P.); and tlie 
fifth and last the equivalents in the Dari of Yezd, as given by Schindler (S.) and 
Justi (J.) respectively. 



FROM TEH ERA N TO ISFAHAN 



189 



English. 


Peksian. 


KoHEuni. 


Natanzi. 


Daiu of Yezd. 




Daughter 


Dukhtar 


DMd 


DMd (P.) 


f Dutch (J.) 

\Dut, Duier, Dofer 


(S.) 


Child 


Bacha 


Vacha 




Vacha (S. & J.) 




Woman 


Zan 


Yand 


Yend (P.) 


Ye7i, Yendk (S.) 




House 


CKhdne ■ 
\Kede 


Kiyd 


Ki'e (P.) 


^Kedeh, Kedah (S.) 
\Khada (J.) 




Door 


Dar 


Bar 




Bar (S. & J.) 




Wood 


Chftb 
' Lirakht 


Chiujd 


... 


Chfi (S.) 
Dirakht (J. & S.) 




Tree 


- Bun (gen. 
in comp.) 


Band 


Bend (P.) 










A 




Vfiv (Beresine, 

by J.)\ 

[ Vv (Yezd), (Kin 


quoted 


Water 


Ah 





Au (P.) 












nan) (S.) 


Fire 


Atash 


Ataah 


. . . 


Tash (J. & S.) 




Apple 


Sib 


So 


... 


SHv (J.) 




Garden 


(Baz = vine) 


Fmz 


Raz 


[i?ft^ = vine (S.)] 




Night 


Shab 


Sh'iiye 




Sh6 (J. & S.) 




Bird 


. . . 


Kdrge 


Kmrgc (P.) 






Dog 


Sag 


Ispd^ 


... 


fSabah (S.) 
\Sevd (J.) 




Cat 


Gurba 


Mdlji 


Mfdjin (P.) Mall (S.) 




Snow 


Barf 


Vdfrd 




f Vabr (Beresine, 
\ by J.) 


quoted 


To-day 


Imr{(,z 


irH 


• • • 


Kmrfi (J.) 




Yesterday 


Dl-rfiz 


Izz^ 


... 


Heze (S.) 




To-morrow FerAd 


Hiyd 


... 


Ardah (S.) 




Begone ! 


(Bi-irnu 
yBi-shaio 


BdsM 


Bashe 


Ve-sho (S.) 





From this sample of the Kohmd dialect it will be seen 
that the following are some of its chief peculiarities, so far as 
generalisations can be drawn from so small a vocabulary : — 

(1) Preservation of archaic forms ; e.g. i)(ir, isjjd, vdfrd (Zend, 
vafra), etc. 

(2) Change of B into V ; e.g. vacha (Pers. bacha), vcdg (Pers. barg, 
leaf) ; but this change does not go so far as in some other dialects, B for 
instance, being preserved in the prefix to the imperative, as in Bdshe 
(Pers. bi-shaiv, Yezdi, ve-sho). The change of Shab (Pers.) into Shaw or 
Sho (Yezdi) and Shiiye (Kohriidi ) ; of Sib (Pers.) into Sfiv (Yezdi) and So 
(Kohrudi) ; and of Ab (Pers.) into (Kohrudi and Kirmani) and v6 
(Yezdi), is doubtless to be accounted for in this way. 

^ Beresine, Rcchcrchcs sur Ics dialectes 2}ersancs, Kazan, 1853. 

" Zcud, f2J«?i, (See Darmesteter, Etudes Iranicnncs, Paris, 1883, vol. i, p. 13.) 



I90 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

(3) II staiuliiig hi'Jore a consonant in a Persian word often stands afUr 
it in tlio Kolirud dialect ; cjj. vCifrd (Pers. harf) ; sometiiiR's its jilacu is 
taken by L ; crj. valj (Pers. bur;/). 

(4) G is sometimes replaced by V ; c.(j. vdiy (Pers. (jur^j, wolf). 

(5) P is sometimes replaced hj F : e.g. n.^/ (Pers. as]}, horse). 

(6) A7i- sometimes drops outwlun il is fnllowcd by another consonant ; 
e.g. hd-mt, (Pers. sftkhte, burnt.)^ 

A few short sentences may be given in conclusion, without 
comment or comparison. I come — Atun. lie is coming 
to-day — /r?t dti. We are coming — Hamd dtimd. You are 
coming to-night — Ishd dtimd. They are coming — Atandn. 
Come, let us go into the country! — Biiri/a, hd.'^hinia sahrd! 
Bring some oil here — Ruglian urge hilrya. Take this and 
give it him — Urgi hl'i de. Take the donkey, go and load it 
with earth, and come here — Khar urgi, hdshS hhdh hdr Id 
hiirya. Throw down the blanket here and sit down — Pd 1)6 
galim ur hunu, duin4 hiichin. Sit here — Hdkum uncltis. I 
sat — Hochistiiin. He sat — IIocMsli. He came here — Bame 
and6. I have not gone there — Nig6 ndshtima. It was day — 
Rii, wd lu. My brother is ill — JDudim nd-sdz-d. Is your brother 
better ? — Aliv:dl-i-dudu hihtar-d ? It is seven farsakhs from 
here to Kashan — And6 td Kdshdn haft farsangd. How far is 
it from here to there ? — And6 td nig6 chan farsang-d ? What 
is your name ? — Ismat clie-chigd ? What does he say ? — Aji 
chi ? — When do you go ? KS ashima ? Whose is this house ? 
Nil kiyd dn-i-ki-d ? Where do you belong to ? — Tii, M gd dgi? 
Whence comest thou ? Irit hi goddt6 ? I come from Kamsar 
— Kamsar d'dtihi. How many days is it since you left ? — 
Chand rug-d hdshtd'i ? It is ten days since I left — Dah rtlg-d 
hashtd'un. This wood is burned — JVa chiigd hdsut. The fire 
has gone out — Ata.sh hd-mar. 'Abdu 'llah is dead — 'Aldu 
lldh hd ma.rdd. Take the pillow and come and put it under 
m\' head — Bdlish iiirgi hilrya., zir-i-saram nu. Why art thou 
such an ass ? — Chird nandaga.r khari ? It has laid eggs — 
Tukhm yu dddd. 

At last I asked my informants (whose number had been 
greatly increased by additions from without) what they said 

^ Cf. M. Huart's article on the Quatrains of Baba Tahir, Journal Asiatigne, 
1885, viii serie, 6, pp. 508-509. In these quatrains sut6 stands for sickhM ; sdtan 
for sdkhtan, etc., almost uniformly. 



FROM TEH ERA N TO ISFAHAN 191 

in their language id'n j)i(lar-suliliU {^'\mxvL\^-i^\hQxl'' the commonest 
term of abuse in Persian). " Bdhd-ld-silt" they cried unani- 
mously, and with much relish; "but we have many other 
bad names besides that, like hcibd hd-mar, ' dead father,' and 
" ; here they poured forth a torrent of Kohriidi objurga- 
tions, which would probably have made me shudder if I had 
understood them. As it was, confusion being prevalent, and 
supper ready, H;iji Safar turned them all out of the room. 

That night snow fell heavily, and I was surprised to see 
that the Kohriidis appeared to feel the cold (though they were 
well wrapped up) much more than any of us did. In the 
morning there was a layer of snow on the ground nearly six 
inches deep, and much more than this in the hollows. Luckily 
there had been but little wind, else it might have gone hard 
with us. As it was, we had difficulty enough. We were 
delayed in starting by the purchase of a quantity oi juzfjhand 
(a kind of sweetmeat made with sugar and walnuts), in which, 
as it was a peculiar product of tlie place, Haji Safar advised 
me to invest. Then various people had to be rewarded for 
services rendered, amongst these my instructors of the previous 
night. The people were a grasping and discontented lot, and 
after I had given the man who had come to teach me the 
elements of Kohrudi a present for himself and his son, the 
latter came and declared that he had not got his share, and 
that his father denied my having given him anything. 

At last we got off, accompanied by another larger caravan 
which had arrived before us on the preceding evening. The 
path being completely concealed, one of the muleteers walked 
in front, sounding the depth of the snow with his staff. At 
first we got on at a fair pace, but as we advanced and 
continued to ascend it got worse and worse. Once or twice 
we strayed from the road, and had to retrace our steps. The 
last part of the climb which brought us to the summit of the 
pass was terrible work. The muleteers lost the road entirely, 
and, after blundering about for a while, decided to follow the 
course of the telegraph poles, so far as this was possible. In 
so doing, notwithstanding the sounding of the snow, we kept 
getting into drifts ; many of the baggage-mules fell down and 
could not regain their feet till they had been unloaded ; and 



192 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

every time this luippcned tlic wlmlr caravan was brouglit to a 
standstill till tlio load had been replaced, the muleteers uttering 
loud shouts of ''Yd AUdh ! Yd 'AH !" and the women in the 
kajdvds (sort of panniers) sending forth piteous cries whenever 
the animals which bore them stumbled or seemed about to 
fall. Altogether, it was a scene of the utmost confusion, 
though not lacking in animation ; but the cold was too 
intense to allow me to take much interest in it. 

After we had surmounted the pass, things went somewhat 
better ; but we had been so much delayed during the ascent 
that it was nearly 6 p.m., and getting dusk, before we reached 
the rather bleak-looking village of Soh. Here also there is a 
telegraph -office, whither I directed my steps. Mr. M'Gowen, 
who was in charge of the office, was out when I arrived, but I 
was kindly received by his wife, an Armenian lady, and his 
little boy. The latter appeared to me a very clever child : he 
spoke not only English, Persian, and Armenian with great 
fluency, but also the dialect of Soh, which is closely allied to, 
if not identical with, the Kohrud vernacular. His father soon 
came in, accomj^anied by two Armenian travellers, one of 
whom was Darcham Bey, wlio is well known over the greater 
part of Persia for the assiduity with which he searches out 
and buys up walnut-trees. I often heard discussions amongst 
the Persians as to what use these were put to, and why any- 
one found it worth while to give such large sums of money 
for them. The general belief was that tliey were cut into 
thin slices and subjected to some process which made " pictures 
come out in the wood " — these pictures being, in the opinion 
of many, representations of events that had occurred under the 
tree which had supplied the w^ood. 

I had a good deal of conversation with Darcham Bey, 
thouGjli much less than I miuht have done had I been less 
overcome with somnolence induced by exposure to the cold. 
He had travelled over a great part of Persia, especially 
Luristan, which he most earnestly counselled me to avoid. 
" The only people that I have seen worse than the Lurs," he 
said, " are the Kashka'is, for though the former will usually 
rob you if they can, and would not hesitate to murder you if 
you refused to give up your possessions to them, the latter, not 



FROM TEHERAN to ISFAHAN 193 

content with this, will murder you even if you make no resist- 
ance, alleging that the world is well quit of one who is such a 
coward that he will not fight for his own." 

Next day's march was singularly dull and uneventful, as 
well as bitterly cold. I had expected a descent on this side 
of the pass corresponding to the rapid ascent from Kashan to 
Kohrud, but I was mistaken : it even seemed to me that the 
difference in altitude between the summit of the pass and Soh 
was at any rate not much greater than between the former 
and Kohrud, while from Soh to our next halting-place, 
Miirchekhar, the road was, to all intents and purposes, level. 
At the latter place we arrived about 5 p.m. It is an un- 
attractive village of no great size. Finding the caravan- 
saray in bad repair, I put up at the post-house, where I could 
find little to amuse me but two hungry-looking cats, which 
came and shared my supper, at first with some diffidence, but 
finally with complete assurance. They were ungrateful beasts, 
however, for they not only left me abruptly as soon as supper 
was over, but paid a predatory visit to my stores during the 
night, and ate a considerable portion of what was intended to 
serve me for breakfast on the morrow. 

The following day's march was a good deal more interest- 
ing. Soon after starting we saw three gazelles {dhu) grazing 
not more than 100 yards off the road. The wind being 
towards us from them, they allowed us to approach within a 
very short distance of them, so that, though I had no gun, I 
was almost tempted to take a shot at them with my revolver. 

A little farther on, at a point where the road, rising in a 
gentle incline, passed between two low hills before taking a bend 
towards the east and descending into the great plain in which 
lies the once magnificent city of Isfahan, we came to the ruins 
of a little village, amidst which stood a splendid, though some- 
what dismantled, caravansaray of the Safavi era. Concerning 
this, one of the muleteers told me a strange story, which, for 
the credit of the present dynasty, I hope was a fiction. " The 
Shah," he said, " was once passing this spot when his courtiers 
called his attention to the architectural beauty and incompar- 
able solidity of this building. ' In the whole of Persia,' they 
said, ' no caravansaray equal to this is to be found, neither can 

13 



194 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

anyone at the present day build the like of it' ' AVliat ! ' 
exclaimed the Sluih, ' are none of the caravansarays which 1 
have caused to be built as fine ? That shall be so no longer. 
Destroy this building Mhicli makes men think lightly of the 
edifices which I have reared.' " This command, if ever given, 
was carried out somewhat tenderly, for the destruction is 
limited to the porches, mouldings, turrets, and other less 
essential portions of the structure. But, indeed, to destroy the 
buildings reared by the Safavi kings w^ould be no easy task, 
and could hardly be accomplished without gunpowder. 

A little way beyond this we reached another ruined 
village, where w^e halted for lunch. We were now in the 
Isfahan plain, and could even discern the position of the city 
by the thin pall of blue smoke which hung over ^t, and was 
thrown into relief by the dark mountains beyond. To our 
left (east) was visible the edge of the Dasht-i-Kavir, which we 
had not seen since entering the Kohrud Pass. Its flat glitter- 
ing expanse was broken here and there by low ranges of black 
mountains thrown up from the plain into sharp rocky ridges. 
To the right (west) were more hills, amongst which lies the 
village of Najafabad, one of the strongholds of the Babis. 

Eesumiug our march after a short halt, we passed several 
flourishing villages on either side (amongst them, and some dis- 
tance to the east of the road, Gurgab, which is so celebrated for 
its melons), and, about 4 p.m., reached our halting-place, Gez. 
I think we might without much difficulty have pushed on to 
Isfahan, which was now clearly visible at a distance of about 
ten miles ahead of us, but the muleteers were natives of Gez, 
and naturally desired to avail themselves of the opportunity 
now afforded them for visiting their families. Personally, I 
should have preferred making an attempt to reach the city 
that night, for Gez is by no means an attractive spot, and I 
could find no better occupation than to watch a row of about 
a dozen camels kneeling down in the caravansaray to receive 
their evening meal, consisting of balls of dough {naiodU), from 
the hands of their drivers. Later on, Ivhuda-bakhsh, the second 
muleteer, brought me a present (pishJxsh) of a great bowl of 
mdst (curds), and tw'o chickens. 

Xext day (20th February) we got off about 8.30. Khuda- 



FROM TEHERAN to ISFAHAn 195 

bakhsh, having received his present (indm), testified his 
gratitude by accompanying us as far as the outskirts of the 
village, when I bade him farewell and dismissed him ; Eahim, 
assisted by a younger brother called Mahdi-Kuli, whom he had 
brought with him from the village, undertaking to convey us 
to Isfahan. I had, while at Teheran, received a most kindly- 
worded invitation from Dr. Hoernle, of the English Church 
Mission, to take up my abode with him at the Mission-House 
during my stay in the city ; and as that was situated in the 
Armenian quarter of Julfa, beyond the river Zayanda-Eud 
(Zindti-Eud of Hafiz), the muleteers wished to proceed thither 
direct without entering the city ; alleging that the transit 
through the bazaars would be fraught with innumerable delays. 
As, however, I was desirous of obtaining some idea of the 
general aspect of the city as soon as possible, I requested them 
to do exactly the contrary to what they proposed, viz. to 
convey me to my destination through as large a portion of the 
bazaars as could conveniently be traversed. This they finally 
consented to do. 

During a portion of our way to the city we enjoyed the 
company of a mukanni-hdsM, or professional maker of kandts 
— those subterranean aqueducts of which I have already 
spoken — with whom I conversed for a time on the subject 
of his profession, since I was very desirous to learn how it was 
possible for men possessed of but few instruments, and those of 
the rudest kind, to sink their shafts with such precision. I 
cannot say, however, that my ideas on the subject were rendered 
much clearer by his explanations. 

As we drew nearer to the city, its numerous domes, 
minarets, and pigeon -towers {kaftar-khdnS) began to be 
clearly discernible, and on all sides signs of cultivation in- 
creased. We passed through many poppy - fields, where 
numbers of labourers were engaged in weeding. The plants 
were, of course, quite small at this season, for they are not 
ready to yield the opium till about a month after the Nawriiz 
{i.e. about the end of April). When this season arrives the 
poppy-capsules are gashed or scored by means of an instrument 
composed of several sharp blades laid parallel This is done 
early in the morning, and in the afternoon the juice, which has 



196 -•/ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

exuded and dried, is scraped off. Tlie crude opium {tirydk-i- 
kltdm) thus obtained is subsequently kneaded u]), purified, 
dried, and finally made into cylindrical rolls about ^ inch or ^ 
inch in diameter. 

At length we entered the city by the gate called Derwaz(5- 
i-Chiirchii, and were soon threading our ways through the 
bazaars, which struck rae as very fine ; for not only are 
they lofty and spacious, but the goods exposed for sale in 
the shops are for the most part of excellent quality. The 
people are of a different type to the Teherani's ; they are not 
as a rule very dark in complexion, and have strongly-marked 
features, marred not infrequently by a rather forliidding ex- 
pression, though the average of good looks is certainly fairly 
high. The character wdiich they bear amongst other Persians 
is not altogether enviable, avarice and niggardliness being 
accounted their chief characteristics. Thus it is commonly 
said of any one who is very careful of his expenditure that he 
is " as mean as the merchants of Isfahan, who put their 
cheese in a bottle, and rub their bread on the outside to give 
it a flavour." ^ Another illustration of this alleged stinginess 
is afforded by the story of an Isfahani merchant, who one day 
caught his apprentice eating his lunch of dry bread and gazing 
wistfully at the bottle containing the precious cheese ; where- 
upon he proceeded to scold the unfortunate youth roundly for 
his greediness, asking him if he " couldn't eat plain bread for one 
day ? " ISTor have the poets failed to display their ill-nature 
towards the poor Isfahanis, as the following lines testify : — 

" Isfahan jannaUst pur mmat ; 
Isfahani dar-fc naml-bdyad." 

" Isfahan is a paradise full of luxuries ; 
There ought (however) to be no Isfahani.s in it." 

At last we emerged from the bazaars into the fine spacious 
square called Meyddn-i-Shdh. On our right hand as we 
entered it was the 'Ali Kdpi (Supreme Gate), which is the 
palace of the Zillu 's-Sultan, the Prince Governor of Isfahan, of 
whom I have already spoken. In front of us, at the other 

^ See Haggard and Le Strange's Vazlr of Lankurun, translation of Act I, 
p. 48, and note on the same, pp. 91, 92. 



FROM TEHERAn to ISFAHAN 197 

end of the square, was the magnificent mosque called Masjid-i- 
Shdh, surmounted by a mighty dome. Quitting the Meydan 
at the angle between these residences of ecclesiastical and 
temporal power, and traversing several tortuous streets, we 
entered the fine spacious avenue called Chalidr Bdgli, which is 
wide, straight, well -paved, surrounded by noble buildings, 
planted with rows of lofty plane-trees, and supplied with several 
handsome fountains. This avenue must have been the pride 
of Isfahan in the good old days of the Safavis, and is still 
calculated to awaken a feeling of deep admiration in the mind 
of the traveller ; but it has suffered considerably in later days, 
not only by the state of dilapidation into which many of the 
buildings situated on its course have been allowed to fall, but 
also by the loss of many noble plane-trees which were cut 
down by the Zillu 's-Sult;in, and sent to Teheran to afford 
material for a palace which he was building there. 

On reaching the end of the Chah;ir Bagh we came in sight 
of the river Zayanda-Paid, which separates the city of Isfahan 
from the Christian suburb of Julfa. This river, though it 
serves only to convert into a swamp (the Gavkhane Marsh) a 
large area of the desert to the east, is at Isfahan as fine a 
stream as one could wish to see. It is spanned by three 
bridges, of which the lowest is called Pid-i-Rasandhdd, the 
middle one Ful-i-si-ii-sih chasliiiU ( " the bridge of thirty-three 
arches "), and the upper one Pul-i-Mdnln, all of them solidly 
and handsomely built. We crossed the river by the middle 
bridge, obtaining while doing so a good view of the wide but 
now half-empty channel, the pebbly sides of which were 
spread with fabrics of some kind, which had just l^een dyed, 
and were now drying in the sun. The effect produced by the 
variegated colours of these, seen at a little distance, was as 
though the banks of the river were covered with flower-beds. 
On the other side of the stream was another avenue closely 
reseml3ling the Chahar Bagh, through which we had already 
passed, and running in the same line as this and the bridge, 
viz. towards the south. This, however, we did not follow, but 
turned sharply towards the right, and soon entered Julfa, which 
is not situated exactly opposite to Isfahan, but somewhat 
higher up the river. It is a large suburb, divided into a 



1 98 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



numlier ot" didereut quarters, cuimmiiiicating with one iiiidtlier 
Ity moans of gates, and traversed by narrow, tortuous lunes 
planted witli trees; in many cases a stream of water runs 
down the middle of the road dividing it in two. After 
passing through a uuuilu r ol' these lanes we finally reached 
the Mission-House, where I was met and cordially welcomed 
by Dr. Hoernle, who, though I had never seen him before, 
received me with a genial greeting which at once made me 
feel at home. Dr. Bruce, who had kindly written to him about 
me, was still absent in Europe, so that all the work of the 
mission had now devolved on him, and this, in itself no small 
labour, was materially increased by the medical aid which was 
continually required of him ; for Dr. Hoernle is the only 
qualilied practitioner in Isfahiin. Nevertheless, he found time 
in the afternoon to take me to call on most of the European 
merchants resident in Julf;i, and the cordial welcome which I 
received from these was alone necessary to complete the 
favourable impression produced on me by Isfahan. 






CHAPTEE VIII 

ISFAHAN 

" Safdhdn ma'ni l-lafz-i-jihdn-ast ; 
Jihdn lafz-ast, u ma'ni Isfahdn-ast." 

" Isfahan is the idea connoted by the word ' world ' ; 
' Workl' is the word, and Isfahan is the meaning." 

"JiJidn-rd agar Isfahdni na-bud, 
Jihdn-dfarin-rd jihdni na-bud." 

" If the workl had no Isfahan, 
The Workl-Creator woukl have no world." 

" Man falaba shcy'"", wajadda ivajada." 
"Whosoever seeketh a thing, and is strenuous in search, findeth it." 

JuLFA is, as I have said, situated at some distance from 
Isfahan, and to walk from the Mission-House to the bazaars 
requires the best part of an hour. Hence it happened that, 
although I remained a fortnight in this place, I did not visit 
the city more than five or six times, and then chiefly for 
business in the bazaars or caravansarays. Four or five days 
after my arrival, however, I accompanied Mr. Aghanor, the 
British agent, into the town, and he kindly devoted several 
hours to showing me some of its more interestino- features. 
Some of these I have already noticed, and it only remains to 
say a few words about the rest. 

The first public building which we visited was the Madrasa, 
or College, built by Sultan Huseyn, in whose unfortunate reign 
(A.D. 1694-1722) the glory of the Safavi dynasty, and with it 
the glory of Isfahan, was brought to a disastrous end by the 



200 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Atyuui iuva^iiui. I'lie Madvasa is built in the furm o|' ;i liollow 
square, and contains about 120 rooms for students and 
teachers, but of these two-thirds arc untenanted. In llic 
centre of the spacious courtyard is a large tank of water, 
pleasantly overshadowed by plane-trees. The entrance to the 
college is through a corridor, now used as a small bazaar, 
furnished on the side towards the road with massive gates 
overlaid with exquisite brasswork, and adorned with Arabic 
inscriptions in the centre and Persian on the margin. The 
walls of the corridor are also ornamented with tiles bearing 
inscriptions. 

Leaving this, we proceeded to the Chaliil sutun (" forty 
columns "), so-called because of a double row of plane-trees 
standing by the side of a stream which traverses the garden. 
The trees in question are only twenty in number, their reflec- 
tions in the limpid water beneath constituting the other twenty 
•' columns." At the farther end of this garden is the beautiful 
little palace called Ilasht Bihisht (" Eight Paradises "). This 
had belonged to the Zillu 's-Sultan's minister, Sdrimu \l-Dawla, 
whose life had recently been brought to an abrupt close by an 
obscure and rapidly fatal disease which defied the skill of the 
physicians. Such was the ofiicial report received from the 
capital, where his decease had occurred : po2:»ular rumour, liow- 
ever, ascribed his death to a cup of " Kajar coffee," which had 
disagreed with the unfortunate nobleman. The walls of this 
palace are beautifully decorated, and adorned with six fine paint- 
ings representing scenes of battle or revelry. Concerning the 
latter, an old Seyyid, who was present, remarked with indigna- 
tion that they were productions of a later age, since such scenes 
of dissipation never disgraced the court of the pious Safavis. Of 
the three battle scenes, one represented the rout of the Uzbegs 
by the Persian army ; another, an engagement between the 
Persians and the Ottoman Turks under Seli'm I ; and the 
third, one of the wars of Nadir Shah with the Indians. Besides 
these, and the two banquet scenes which had roused the 
indignation of the Seyyid, there was a picture representing Shah 
Tahmasp I receiving the fugitive emperor of Hindustan, 
Humayiin. 

Signs of the prevailing vandalism were apparent alike 



ISFAHAN ■ 20 1 



in tlie palace and the garden. In the former, tlie beautiful 
mural decorations (except the pictures) were being covered 
with hideous brick -red paint. In the latter, the plane-trees 
were falling beneath the axes of a party of woodcutters. A 
remonstrance addressed to the latter merely elicited the 
thoroughly Persian reply, " Digar . . . Imkm-ast " (" Well . . . 
it is ordered.") They seemed sorry to be engaged in destroy- 
ing the relics of the glorious past, but — " cM/jar " — what else 
could they do ? They could no more refuse to carry out 
the Prince's wishes than they could venture to criticise his 
decision. 

In another room in a building at the other end of the 
garden were two portraits of a former governor of Isfahan, 
Minuchihr Khan, the Georgian eunuch, who died in a.d. 
1847. He is described by Gobineau as a man " redoute et 
redoutable par ses talents et un pen aussi par sa cruaute," 
and was so powerful that it is related that on one occasion 
the late king, Muhammad Shah, summoned him to Teheran 
and said to him, " I have heard that you are like a king at 
Isfahan," to which the wily old minister promptly replied, 
" Yes, your Majesty, that is true, and you must have such 
kings as your governors, in order that you may enjoy the title 
of ' ShdhinsMh ' (King of kings)." 

We passed through a portion of the palace and paid a 
visit to the Buhnu 'l-Mulk, who was acting as deputy-governor 
during the absence of the Zilhi 's- Sultan. He was a fine- 
looking Shirazi, and received us with great urbanity, bidding 
us be seated, and ordering tea and kalyans to be brought to 
us. At his side sat the Munajjim-bAshi, or Chief Astrologer. 
We presently asked if there was any news from the capital, 
whereupon he informed us, without any outward sign of the 
emotion which so startling an event must have produced in 
him, that a telegram had just arrived announcing that the 
Prince-Governor, the Zillu 's-SidtAn, had " resigned " all his 
extensive governments in Southern Persia, retaining nothing 
but the city of Isfahan. Prom what I have already said 
in a previous chapter, it will be sufficiently evident that the 
term " resignation " was a euphemism. 

I took several walks round the environs of Julfa, and 



202 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Olio ul" ihe lirst pliiees wliicli I visited was tlu^ Anuuniaii 
cemetery. lioro, after some search, I loiiml the j^'rave of 
the Swiss watchmaker who was put to death liy the Mu- 
hauHiiadau clergy two centuries ago, for having, in sell- 
defence, killed a jMusulniiin. He was a great favourite with 
the king, wlio exerted liiinself to save his life, hut the only 
condition on which this was possihle was that he shouUl 
consent to embrace Ishim, which he refused to do. The 
heavy oblong stone which marks the spot where his body 
rests bears the simple inscription " CY git rodolfe." Eound 
about this are the graves of a number of European merchants, 
for the most part Dutch or Swiss, who had been attracted to 
the then famous capital of the Safavis during the latter part 
of the seventeenth and earlier part of the eighteenth centuries. 
Of the few English tombstones wliich I discovered, one bore 
the following curious inscription : — 

MEMENTO MORI 

HIC lACET INSIGNIS DOCTOR R. EDVARDVS PAGETT ANG. 

S. TRIXITATIS COLLEGII APVD CANTABRIGIAJI SOCIVS 

THEOLOGVS ET MATHEMATICVS LVSTRABAT ORBEJI TER 

VT DIVINA COGNOSCERET ET IIVNDAXA 

SED MVNDVM VERE REPVTANS VT PVNCTVM 

EXTEXDEBAT LINEAS VLTRA TEMPVS 

UT PVLCRVM EX ETERXITATE CIRCVLVM FORMARET 

TANDEM QVINQVEGEXARIVS VLTIMO PVNCTO VITAM CLAVSIT 

IX PATRIAJI PER TERRAM REDEVNTEM SISTEBAT MORS 

OBIIT ENIII SPAHANI DIE 21 lANV. A. 1702 SEC"^" STYL. VET. 

AEI VIATOR ET AB INSIGNI DOCTORE 

DISCE IN TEMPORE ETERNITATEM. 

I also ascended two of the mountains which lie beyond 
the cemetery to the south of Julfa. One of these, situated 
just to the west of the Shiraz road, is called Kilh-i-Snfi. On 
the northern face of this is a ruined building, whence I 
obtained a fine view of Isfahan, the size of which now became 
apparent, though the miles of ruins which surround it show 
how much larger it was in former days. The whole of that 
portion of the plain in which the city lies was spread like a 
map at my feet. To the east was the ill-famed Hazar Dere, 
the fabled abode of glc^ds and 'ifrits, a waste of conical hil- 
locks ; and near that side of it which bordered on the Shiraz 



ISFAHAN 



road could be seen the single tree which marks the site of 
the " Farewell Fountain " {Chashmd-i-Khudd-Hdfiz), the spot 
to which the traveller journeying towards the south is usually 
accompanied by his friends. Eight across the plain from 
west to east meandered the Zayanda-Ptud, spanned by its 
three bridges, and girt with gardens. On the farther side of 
this rose the domes and minarets of Isfahan ; opposite the 
city, and on the south side of the river, lay the great Musul- 
man cemetery, called Takht-i-Fuldd ; while on the same side 
of the river, but farther to the west, stretched the Christian 
suburb of Julfa. 

The other mountain which I ascended is called the Takht- 
i-Rustam, and forms the extreme western limit of the range 
which terminates to the east in the Kuh - i - Sufi above 
described. This mountain is crowned l)y a great crest of 
overhanging rocks, along the base of which I had to creep 
before I could ascend to the summit, where stands a small 
building of brick in a very dilapidated condition. From this 
point I could see far away to the west, in the direction of 
Char MahiU and the Bakhtiyari country, and a wild forbid- 
ding landscape it was, hemmed in by black lowering moun- 
tains. Straight below me, on the farther side of the road 
leading to Char Mahal, was a remarkable mass of rock, which, 
seen from certain points of view, looks like a gigantic lion. 
It is often called " the Sphinx " by Europeans. Beyond this 
were gardens and walled villages on either side of the river, 
and beyond these a background of mountains, in the bosom of 
which lies the village of Najaf-abad, one of the Babi strong- 
holds. The exquisite clearness and purity of the atmosphere 
in Persia, enabling one as it does to see for an almost un- 
limited distance, lends an indescribable charm to views such 
as the one wliich now lay before me, and I long gazed with 
admiration on the panorama to the westward. But when I 
glanced down into the dark valley to the south of the ridge 
on which I now stood, towards which the mountain fell away 
so rapidly tliat it seemed as if one might cast a stone into 
it without effort, a feeling akin to terror at its savage lone- 
liness and utter isolation overcame me, and I was glad to 
commence the descent with all speed, lest some uncontrollable 



204 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

impulse should prompt me to cast myself down into this 
"loomv ravine. 

Another day I paid a visit to the celebrated, but some- 
what disappointing, "shaking minarets" (mindr4 - i - junhdn) 
situated to the west of Julfa, wliicli were duly rocked to 
and fro for my entertainment. Beyond these is a curiously- 
shaped hill called the Atash-gdh, on which, as its name 
implies, there is said to exist a ruined Fire -temple. To this, 
however, I had not time to extend my excursion. 

Thus passed the time I spent at the ancient capital, 
partly in walks and sight - seeing, partly in the genial society 
of Dr. Hoernle and the other European residents. In the 
late afternoon we often played tennis, there being two very 
fairly good grounds in Julfa. Of Persian society I saw but 
little, and indeed for the first week I hardly had occasion to 
talk Persian at all except to the MiivA employed by the 
Mission — a man of considerable erudition, not devoid of 
a certain degree of scepticism in religious matters. I several 
times questioned him about the Bi'ibis, and begged him to put 
me in communication with them, or at least to obtain for me 
some of their books. Whether he could or would have done 
so I know not, for an occurrence which took place about a 
week after my arrival rendered me independent of such help, 
brought me into immediate contact wnth the proscribed sect 
which had hitherto eluded all my search, and gave an entirely 
new turn to the remainder of my sojourn in Persia. The 
event wdiich thus unexpectedly enabled me to gratify to tlie 
full a curiosity which difficulties and disappointments had but 
served to increase, was as follows. 

One afternoon, rather more than a week after my arrival, 
and the day after the ascent of the Takht-i-Ptustam above 
described, I was sitting lazily in the sitting-room which over- 
looked the courtyard, wondering when I should again start 
on my travels, and turning over in my mind the respective 
advantages of Shi'raz and Yezd, when two dalldls (brokers, or 
vendors of curiosities), armed with the usual collection of 
carpets, brasswork, trinkets, and old coins, made their ajDpear- 
ance. Eather from lack of anything else to do than because 
I had any wish to invest in curiosities w^hich were as certain 



ISFAHAN 205 



to be dear as they were likely to be spurious, I stepped out 
into the porch to inspect the strange medley of objects which 
tliey proceeded to extract from their capacious bags and to 
display before me. None of them, however, particularly 
took my fancy, and I accordingly refused to treat the prices 
which they named as serious statements, and offered only 
such sums as appeared to me obviously below their real value, 
hoping thereby to cause the dalldls, of whose company I was 
now tired, to withdraw in disgust. The dalldls did not fail 
to discern my object, and the elder one — an old man with 
henna- dyed beard — ventured a remonstrance. " Sahib," he 
said, " we have come a long way to show you our goods, 
and you have taken up a great deal of our time. You will 
not be dealing fairly with us if you send us away without 
buying anything." I was about to remind him that I had 
not asked him to come, and had only consented to examine 
his wares at his own request, and on the distinct understand- 
ing that by so doing I was not in any way binding myself to 
become a purchaser, when the younger dalldl stepped up on to 
the platform where I was standing, put his mouth close to my 
ear, and whispered, " You arc afraid we shall cheat you. I am 
not a 3ficsidmdn that I should desire to cheat you : I AM A 
Babi." 

To this day I am at a loss to account for the motives 
which prompted this extraordinary frankness. Perhaps some 
rumour had reached the man (for rumours in Persia get about 
in the most unaccountable manner) that I was anxious to make 
acquaintance with the sect to which he belonged ; perhaps he 
imagined that all Christians were better disposed towards the 
Babis than towards the Muhammadans ; perhaps the admission 
was merely a random shot, prompted by the consideration that 
at least it was unlikely to expose him to any risk. Be this as 
it may, the effect produced on me by these words was magical. 
Here at last was the long desired opportunity for which I had 
waited and watched for four months. All my apathy was in 
a moment changed into the most eager interest, and my only 
fear now was that the dalldls would take me at my word and go. 

" You are a Babi ! " I said, as soon as my astonishment 
allowed me to speak. " Why, I have been looking for Babis 



2o6 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

ever since I sot foot in Persia. What need to talk about these 
wares, about which I care but little? (Jet nic your books if 
you can ; that is what I want — your books, your books ! " 

" Sahib," he said, " I will do what is possible to gratify your 
wishes : indeed I can promise you at least one or two books 
which will tell you about our beliefs. I'.ut how is it that you 
are so desirous of these ? Where did you hear about us, if, as 
you say, you never yet met with one of our religion ? " 

" I heard about you," 1 replied, " long before I came to 
Persia, or even thought that I should ever do so. A learned 
Frenchman who was living in Tehenin soon after the B;ib began 
to preach his doctrines, who witnessed some of the terrible 
persecutions to which his followers were exposed, and who was 
filled with wonder and admiration at their fortitude and dis- 
regard of death, wrote the history of all these things in his own 
language when he returned to Europe. This history I have 
read, and this w"onder and admiration I share, so that I desire 
to know more of what you believe. Hitherto I have sought in 
vain, and met with nothing but disappointment. Now, please 
God, by means of your help I shall attain my object." 

" So the news of the ' Manifestation ' has reached 
Firangistau ! " he exclaimed. " That is indeed well ! Surely I 
will do all in my power to assist you in your search for know- 
ledge of this matter. Nay, if you would desire to converse 
with one of us who is learned and pious and has suffered much 
for the cause, 1 will arrange that you shall meet him. He is 
our chief here, and once a fortnight he visits the house of each 
one of us who have believed, to assure himself that our house- 
holds are maintained in a becoming manner, and to give us 
instruction and encouragement. I am but a poor ignorant 
dalldl, but he will tell you all that you desire to know." Our 
whispered colloquy was now brought to an end, as the elder 
dalldl began to manifest unmistakable signs of impatience. 
Hastily selecting a few small articles, I presented him with a 
sum of money sufficient to compensate him for his trouble and 
restore his good temper, and took leave of him and his comrade, 
entreating the latter by no means to fail in bringing me the 
books, which he promised to do, if possible, on the morrow. 

Next day, at about the same hour, my anxiety was brought 



ISFAHAN 207 



to an end by the reappearance of the B;ibi dalldl, who signified, 
in answer to my look of enquiry, that he had brought the 
books. I immediately conducted him to my room, but for 
some time I had to restrain my impatience owing to the 
presence of Haji Bafar, who seemed possessed by a desire to 
inspect the wares brought by my new friend, which was as 
unaccountable as it was exasperating, I was afraid to tell him 
to go, lest I should still further arouse that curiosity which I 
had learned to regard as the dominant characteristic of Persians 
in general and Persian servants in particular, so I had to wait 
patiently till he chose to retire. 

No sooner was he out of the room than the Babi produced 
the books, telling me that he expected his companion moment- 
arily, and that as the latter was a Musulman we should do well 
to make the best use of the time at our disposal, since his 
arrival would put an end to conversation on religious topics. 

The books in question were two in number : one was a 
manuscript copy of the Ikcin (" Assurance "), which my 
companion declared to be an incontrovertible proof of the new 
faith, and by far the most important work to prepare me for a 
full comprehension of the Babi doctrines ; the other was a 
small tract, written, as I afterwards learned, by 'Abbas Efendi 
(the son of Beha'u'llah, who is the present chief of the Babis 
and resides at Acre in Syria ^) at the request of 'Ali Shevket 
Pasha in explanation of the tradition, " / was a Hidden Treasure, 
and I desired, to he known ; therefore I created creation that I 
might he hioum ; " which tradition, stated to have been revealed 
to David, constitutes one of the corner-stones of Sufi mysticism. 

The purchase of these books was soon effected, for I was 
prepared to give a much higher price than was actually de- 
manded. Specimens of calligraphy were next produced, some 
of which were the work of one of Beh;i's sons, others of the 
renowned Mushkin-Kalam, who was one of the Babis exiled 
to Cyprus in A.D. 1868 by the Turkish Government,^ and who 

' He died since these words were written, on 16th May 1892, and was succeeded 
by one of his sons entitled Ghusn-i-A'zam (" The Most Mighty Branch "). See 
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society for 1892, pp. 706-710. 

^ I cannot here repeat all that I have written elsewhere on the history, espe- 
cially the later history, of the Babis. Those who desire full information on the 
subject I must refer to my papers in the Joxtrnal of the Royal Asiatic Society 



2oS A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

was, as I gathered, related in some way to my friend the 
dalh'd. Mu-shkin-Kalam's skill in caligra})liy is a matter of 
notoriety amongst the Biibi's, and his writing is, indeed, very 
beantiful. Especially curious were some of his productions, 
ill which the writing was so arranged as to take the form of 
a bird {Khati-i-murghi). The daUdl informed me that these 
would be eagerly sought after liy Persians of all classes, were 
it not that they all bore, as the signature of the penman, the 
following verse : 

" Dar diyar-i-khafi shah-i-saJdh- alam , 
Bande'-i-Bah-i-Beha, Mushkin- Kalam." 

" In the domain of writing a king of note, 
The servant of Bab-i-Beha, Mushkin- Kalani." 

(July and October 1889 ; April, July, and October 1892), and to my translations 
of the Traveller's Narrative (Cambridge, 1891), and the New ^ts^ory (Cambridge, 
1893). For the benefit of the general reader, I give the following brief epitome, 
which will suffice to render intelligible what is said in this book about the sect. 
The Bab, before his death (9th July 1850), had nominated as his successor a 
youth nineteen years of age named Mirza Yaliya, and entitled Subh-i-Ezel 
("The Dawn of Eternity"), who belonged to a noble family of Nur in Mazan- 
daran. His succession was practically undisputed; and till 1866 he was recog- 
nised by all the Bdbis, including his half-brother Mirza Huseyn 'Ali, entitled 
BcJui'xi'Uoh (" The Sjdendour of God "), who was about thirteen years senior to 
him, as the Head of the Babi Church. In 1852, in consequence of the violent 
persecution of the Babis which followed the attempt on the Shah's life, the 
headquarters of the sect were transferred to Baghdad. There the Babi chiefs 
remained till 1862 or 1863, when, at the request of the Persian Government, 
they were transferred by the Turkish authorities to Constantinople (where they 
remained four months), and thence to Adrianople. While they were at Adrian- 
ople, Bella vJlldh announced himself to be "Him vjhom God shall manifest" 
that Great Deliverer and Fulfiller of the New Dispensation, whose advent the 
Bab had announced. Most of the Babis admitted his claim, and became 
Beha'is ; some few adhered to SuIih-i-Ezel, who vigorously contested it, and were 
henceforth known as Ezelis. Disputes and quarrels ensued, and finally, in the 
summer of 1868, the rivals were separated by the Turkish Government. Sulh- 
i-Ezel, with his family and a few of BeJui' \i lUili s followers, including MusKkin- 
Kalam, was sent to Famagusta, in Cyprus, where he still resides, being now a 
pensioner of the English Government. Beha iClldh, with his family, a num- 
ber of his followers, and six or seven of the followers of SvJbli-i-Ezcl, was sent to 
Acre, on the Syrian coast. This is still the headquarters of the Beha'is (who 
constitute the vast majority of Babis at the present day), but Behdhi'lldh him- 
self, as stated in a previous note, died on 16th May 1892. After the occupation 
of Cyprus by the English, the surviving exiles there interned were given per- 
mission to depart if they so pleased. Of this permission Mushkin-Kalam availed 
himself He left Cyprus in September 1886 for Acre where I met him in April 
1890. 



ISFAHAN 209 



As it was, the sale of these works of art was limited entirely 
to the Babi community. 

When the inspection of these treasures was completed, I 
asked the dalldl whether he knew where the two Seyyids who 
suffered martyrdom for the Babi faith about the year 1879 
were buried. 

" Yes," he replied, " I know the spot well, and will take 
you there if you wish it ; but surely, Sahib, you who are so 
eager to obtain our books, who desire to visit the graves of our 
martyrs, must be prompted by some motive beyond mere curi- 
osity. You have been to Acre, you have been honoured by 
beholding the Blessed Countenance, you are yourself a Babi. 
Say, is it not so ? There is no need to conceal anything from 
me." 

" My friend," I answered, " I am neither a Babi, nor have 
I been to Acre ; yet I confess that I am actuated by some- 
thing more than mere curiosity. I cannot but feel that a 
religion which has produced examples of such heroic courage 
and fortitude as yours, merits a careful examination, since that 
must needs contain noble thoughts which can prompt to noble 
deeds. In visiting the graves of your martyrs I would fain 
pay a tribute of respect to those who gave up wealth, ease, 
and consideration, nay, even life itself, for the faith which they 
held dearer than all else." 

At this point our conversation was interrupted by the 
entrance of the other dalldl with a collection of pictures, 
articles of brass-work, and other curiosities, from which I 
proceeded to make a selection. It was proposed by myself, 
and readily agreed to by the dalldls, that there should be no 
bargaining : they would state the price which they had actually 
paid for each of the articles in question, and I, if it appeared 
to me reasonable, would give it, together with a small per- 
centage for their profit. In consequence of this, the trans- 
action was one of the shortest and pleasantest I had ever 
effected in the East, where bartering and haggling about prices 
is usually inevitable ; and, so far as I could judge, I obtained 
the full value of my money. 

Just as they were leaving, the B;ibi found an opportunity 
of whispering in my ear, " Do not forget next Saturday. I 



2IO ' A YEAR AMONGST T/IF ]'F.RSIANS 

will make arrauuenients for someone to meet you at a given 
spot in the town ; if I cannot find anyone else, 1 Mill come 
myself. AVhoever yuur conductor may be, you will lecognise 
him l>y a sign, and will follow liiiii : he will bring you safely 
to my house, and there you Mill meet our chief. I will see 
you again before then, and inform you of the spot determined 
on. May God bo your keeper ! " 

Saturday came at last, and at an early hour my friend the 
dalh'd appeared. After a brief consultation we agreed on one 
of the principal caravansarays in the city as the best rendez- 
vous. I was to be in M-aiting there shortly after midday, 
and either my friend or his associate would come to meet 
me. 

At the appointed time I was in readiness at the spot 
designated, and I had not M^aited long before the elder dcdldl 
appeared, caught my attention, signed to me to follow him, and 
plunged once more into the labyrinth of the bazaars. Once 
assured that I was folloM'ing him, he hardly looked back, till, 
after half an hour's rapid M'alking, we reached the house of 
the Babi, M'ho welcomed me at the door, led me into the 
sitting-room, and, in the intervals of preparing tea for me and 
the distinguished guest he was still expecting, pointed out to 
me a number of his treasures. These included a photograph 
of the above-mentioned Mushkin-Kalam and his two sons, and 
another photograph of the graves of the " Martyrs of Isfahan," 
which he assured me had been taken by a European resident 
M'ho M'as greatly attached to the murdered men. 

After a short M'hile there came a knock at the outer door ; 
my host hastened out and immediately returned, ushering in 
the Babi missionary, to M'hom he presented me. He M'as a 
grave, earnest-looking man of about forty-five years of age, as 
I should guess ; and as he sat opj)Osite to me sipping his tea, 
I had plenty of time to observe his countenance attentively, 
and to note the combination of decision, energy, and thought- 
fulness which it expressed. His manners were pleasing, and 
his speech, when he spoke, persuasive. Altogether he M-as a 
man whom one would not readily forget, even after a single 
interview, and on M'hose memory one dM'ells with pleasure. 

The elder dallcd, M'ho had absented himself for a short 



ISFAHAN 



:ii 



time, soon returned, and with him another Babi, a tile-maker 
by trade. The presence of the former put some restraint on 
the conversation, so that I was unable to ask many questions. 
I learned, however, that he whom I now beheld was one of 
the chief missionaries of the new faith, for which he had 
suffered stripes, imprisonment, and exile more than once. I 
begged him to tell me what it was that had made him ready 
to suffer these things so readily. "You must go to Acre," he 
replied, " to understand that." 

" Have you been to Acre ? " I said, " and if so, what did 
you see there ? " 

" I have been there often," he answered, '"■ and what I saw 
was a man perfect in humanity." 

More than this he would not say. " You are leaving 
Isfahan, as I understand, in a few days," he remarked, " and 
opportunity is lacking to explain to you what you desire to 
know. I will, however, write to the ' Friends ' at Sln'raz, and 
Abiide also if you wish, requesting them to expect your arrival, 
and to afford you all facilities for discussing these matters. 
Should you intend to visit other towns at a subsequent date, 
they will furnish you with all necessary recommendations and 
instructions. The ' Friends' are everywhere, and though 
hitherto you have sought for tlieni without success, and only at 
last chanced on them by what would seem a mere accident, now 
that you have the clue you will meet them wherever you go. 
Write down these two names (here he gave me the names and 
addresses of two of his co-religionists at Abade and Shi'raz 
respectively), and when you arrive enquire for them. Before 
your arrival they will be duly informed of your coming, and 
of vour reason for desiring to converse with them. Now 
farewell, and may God direct you unto the truth." 

" Aku," said the dalldl, " the iS;diib desires to visit the 
graves of the ' King of Martyrs,' and the ' Beloved of Martyrs,' 
and I have promised to take him there. Will you not also 
accompany us, that we may beguile the way with profitable 
conversation ? " 

" It is well that he should visit these graves," answered 
the other, " and w^e thank liim for the good-will towards us 
which his desire to do so implies. Nevertheless, I will not 



212 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

come, for I am perhaps too well known of men, and it is not 
wise to incur needless risk. Farewell ! " 

Soon after tlie departure of the chief, 1 also, Jhulin,if it 
later than I had supposed, rose to go. The tile-maker volun- 
teered to guide me back to the caravansaray. There was but 
little opi^ortunity for conversation on the way thither, nor 
would it have been safe to talk of those matters which occu- 
pied our minds in the open street. " You see, 8iihib," whis- 
pered my companion, " what our condition is. We are like 
hunted animals or beasts of prey, which men slay without 
compunction ; and this because we have believed in God and 
his Manifestation," 

On arriving at the caravansaray whence I had started, I 
bade farewell to my guide, and betook myself to the office of 
Messrs. Ziegler's agents to conclude the arrangements for my 
journey to Shiniz. A muleteer was found, a native of the 
village of Kliuraskan, called 'Abdu 'r-liahim, who agreed to 
furnish me witli three animals at the rate of three tuvidns 
(rather less than £1) a head, to convey me to Shi'raz in four- 
teen marches, and to halt for one day at any place on the 
road which I might choose. Half the money was at once 
paid down, and, the bargain being satisfactorily concluded, I 
walked home to Julfa with Messrs. Ziegler's agent, who had 
kindly assisted me in making these arrangements. 

Next day, early in the afternoon, my friend the clalldl came 
to conduct me to the tombs of the martyrs. After a walk of 
more than an hour in a blazing sun, we arrived at the vast 
cemetery called Talcht - i - FuUid ("the Throne of Steel"). 
Threading our way through the wilderness of tombstones, my 
companion presently espied, and summoned to us, a poor grave- 
digger, also belonging to the persecuted sect, who accompanied 
us to a spot marked by two small mounds of stones and pebbles. 
Here we halted, and the dalldl, turning to me, said, " These are 
the graves of the martyrs. No stone marks the spot, because 
the Musulmtins destroyed those which we placed here, and, 
indeed, it is perhaps as well that they have almost forgotten 
the resting-places of those they slew, lest, in their fanaticism, 
they should yet further desecrate them. And now we will sit 
down for a while in this place, and I will tell you how the 



ISFAHAN 213 



death of these meD was brought about. But first it is well 
that our friend should read the prayer appointed for the visita- 
tion of this holy spot." 

The other thereupon produced a little book from under his 
cloak, and proceeded to read a prayer, partly in Arabic, partly 
in Persian. When this was concluded, we seated ourselves by 
the graves, and the dallM commenced his narrative. 

" This," said he, pointing to the mound nearest to us, " is 
the tomb of Hiiji Mi'rza Hasan, whom we call Sidtdnu 'sh- 
Shuhadd, ' the King of Martyrs,' and that yonder is the resting- 
place of his elder brother, Hi'iji Mirzji Huseyn, called Malihuhu 
'sh-SImhadd, ' the Beloved of Martyrs.' They were Seyyids by 
birth, and merchants by profession ; yet neither their descent 
from the Prophet, nor their rare integrity in business transac- 
tions and liberality to the poor, which were universally 
acknowledged, served to protect them from the wicked schemes 
of their enemies. Amongst their debtors was a certain Sheykh 
Bakir, a mulld of this city, who owed them a sum of about ten 
thousand tumdns (£.3000). Now Sheykh Bakir knew that 
they were of the number of the ' Friends,' and he thought that 
he might make use of this knowledge to compass their death, 
and so escape the payment of the debt. So he went to the 
Imdm-Juma of Isfahan, who was the chief of the clergy, and 
said to him, ' These men are Babis, and as such they are, 
according to the law of Ish'im, worthy of death, since they do 
not believe that Muhammad, the Apostle of God, is the last of 
the Prophets, l^ut hold that Mi'rza 'Ali Muhammad of Shiraz 
received a new revelation whereby the Kur'an is alirogated. 
To my knowledge, also, they are very wealthy, and if they be 
slain for their apostacy from Islam, their wealth will be ours.' 
The Imdm-Jum a was easily persuaded to become a party to 
this design, and these two wicked men accordingly went to the 
Zillu 's-Sidtdn, the Prince-Governor, and laid the matter before 
him. He was by no means averse to a scheme which seemed 
fraught with profit to himself, but nevertheless hesitated to 
decree the death of those whose descent from the Prophet, 
apart from their blameless lives, appeared to entitle them to 
respect and consideration. At length he answered thus : ' I 
cannot myself command their execution, since they have com- 



214 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

mitted no crime against the state. If, however, you, in the 
name of the sacred hiw of IsLhn, condenni theiu to death, I 
shall, \:)i course, not interfere with the execution of the sentence.* 

" Sheykh Bakir and the Inidm-Jum a therefore withdrew, 
and summoned seventeen other mnllds ; and these, after a brief 
deliberation, unanimously signed the death-warrant of the two 
Seyyids, who were forthwith arrested and cast into prison. 
When this transpired there was great consternation and distress 
amongst all classes, including the European residents, to whom 
the uprightness and virtue of the doomed men were well 
known. Application for the remission of the sentence was 
made by telegraph to Teheran, and the request was supported 
by one of the European Ambassadors resident there. The 
Shah consented to grant a reprieve, and telegraphed to the 
Zillu 's-Snltdn to that effect, but too late to stop the execution 
of the sentence. The two Seyyids, having refused to purchase 
life by apostacy,^ had their throats cut ; cords were then 
attached to their feet, and their bodies were dragged through 
the streets and bazaars to the gate of the city, where they were 
cast under an old mud wall, which was then overthrown upon 
them. 

" When it was night an old servant of the martyred men, 
who had marked the spot where their bodies were cast, came 
thither, and extricated them from the cUhris of the ruined wall, 
the fall of which had scarcely injured them. He tenderly 
washed away the blood and dust which covered them wdth 
water from the Zayanda-Eud, and then bore them to the ceme- 
tery, where he buried them in two freshly-made graves. 

" In the morning the soldiers and servants of the Prince 
discovered the removal of the bodies. Suspicion fell on the 



^ The account actually given me by the dallul on this occasion begins here. 
"What precedes was told me subsequently at Shi'raz by another of the Babi mis- 
sionaries, who added other particulars, amongst which was a statement, which 
one cannot but hope may be untrue, that the telegram containing the reprieve 
actually reached the Zillu 's-SuKdn before the execution had taken place ; that 
he divined its contents, laid it aside unojiened till news reached him that the 
Seyyids had been put to death, and then sent an answer to Teheran expressing 
regret that the sentence had been carried out before the remand came. I have 
thought it better to put the whole story in outline in the mouth of the dallcil, 
reserving a few incidents which I subsequently learned for narration in their 
proper place. 



ISFAHAN 215 



faithful old servant, but lie refused to reveal anything under 
the cross-examination to which he was subjected, so that event- 
ually they were compelled to let him go, and the bodies of 
the martyrs were left in peace. But we cannot mark the spot 
where they are buried with a stone, for when one was put up, the 
Musulmans, whose malignity towards us is unbounded, and 
who know very well that we pay visits to these graves in secret, 
overthrew it. Our friend liere " (pointing to his companion) 
" was brought to believe by means of these martyrs. Was it 
not so ? " 

" Yes," answered the other, " some time after tlieir death I 
saw in a dream vast crowds of people visiting a certain spot in 
the cemetery. I asked in my dream, ' Whose are these graves ?' 
An answer came, ' Those of the " King of Martyrs " and the 
"Beloved of Martyrs.'" Then I believed in that faith for 
which they had witnessed with their blood, seeing that it was 
accepted of God ; and since then I visit them continually, and 
strive to keep them neat and orderly, and preserve the spot 
from oblivion by renewing the border of bricks and the heap 
of stones which is all that marks it." 

" He is a good man," rejoined the dalldl, " and formerly 
those of the ' Friends ' who came to visit the graves used to 
rest for a while in tlie little house which he has near here, and 
partake of tea and kalydns. The Musulmans, however, found 
this out, made a raid on his house, abused and threatened him, 
and, before tliey departed, destroyed his tea-things and pipes. 
He is very poor," he added in a whisper, " give him a krdn for 
his trouble ; it is an action which has merit." 

I accordingly gave a small present to our guide, who 
departed with expressions of gratitude. After sitting a little 
while longer we too rose to go, and, taking a last look at the 
graves, from each of which I carried away a small stone as a 
memento, we once more turned our faces towards the city. 
On our way towards the gate of the cemetery we again passed 
the poor gravedigger with his little boy, and he again greeted 
me with expressions of thankfulness and good wishes for my 
journey. 

I was much touched by the kindliness of these poor people, 
and communicated something of my thoughts to my companion. 



2l6 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

" Yes," he answered, " we are much nearer to yon in sym- 
pathy than the IMuhammadans. To them you are unclean and 
accursed : if they associate with you it is only by overcominfij 
their religious prejudices. But we are taught to regard all 
good men as clean and pure, whatever their religion. With 
3'ou Christians especially we have sympathy. Has it not 
struck you how similar were the life and death of our Founder 
(whom, indeed, we believe to have been Christ Himself 
returned to earth) to those of the Founder of your faith ? 
Both were wise, even in their childhood, beyond the compre- 
hension of those around them ; both were pure and blameless 
in their lives ; and both at last were done to death by a 
fanatical priesthood and a government alarmed at the love and 
devotion which they inspired in their disciples,^ But besides 
this the ordinances enjoined upon us are in many respects like 
those which you follow. We are recommended to take to 
ourselves only one wife, to treat our families with tenderness 
and gentleness, and, while paying the utmost attention to 
personal cleanliness, to disregard the ceremonials of purification 
and the minute details concerning legal impurity, of which the 
Musulmans make so much. Further, we believe that women 
ought to be allowed to mix more freely with men, and should 
not be compelled to wear the veil. At present, fear of the 
Muhammadans compels us to act as they do in these matters, 
and the same consideration affects many other ordinances which 
are not obligatory on us when their observance would involve 
danger. Thus our fast is not in Eamazan, but during the 
nineteen days preceding the Naxor^iiz (New Year's Day -) ; we 
are now in this period, but I am not observing the fast, because 
to do so would expose me to danger, and we are forbidden to 
incur needless risk. Our salutation, too, is different from that of 
the Muhammadans ; when we meet, we greet one another with 

^ The Babis for the most part, unlike the Muhammadans, believe that Christ 
was actually crucified by the Jews, and not, as the latter assert, taken uji into 
heaven miraculously, while another, resembling Him in appearance, was crucified 
in His stead. But few of the Muhammadans are conversant with the Gospels, 
while the reverse holds good of the Babis, many of whom take pleasure in reading 
the accounts of the life and death of Jesus Christ. 

- I.e. the old Persian New Year's Day, which falls about 21st March, at the 
vernal equinox. 



ISFAHAN 217 



the words ' Alldim ahhd ' (God is most bright). Of course we 
only use this form of greeting when none but ' Friends ' are 
present." 

" Can you recognise one another in any special way ? " 
I asked. 

" I think we can do so by the light of affection," answered 
my companion, "and in support of this I will tell you a curious 
thing which I myself observed. My little boy, who is not ten 
years old, greeted Mirza Hasan 'Ali, whom you met in my 
house yesterday, with the words ' AlWiti, ahhd ' the very first 
time he saw him, while I have never known him use this 
form of salutation to a Muhammadan." 

" Your doctrines and practices," I observed, " certainly 
seem to me very much better than those of the Musulmans, 
so far as I have understood them at present." 

" Their doctrines," he rejoined, " are as untenable as their 
actions are corrupt. They have lost the very spirit of religion, 
while degrading symbols into superstitions. See, for example, 
what they say concerning the signs of the Imam Mahdi's 
coming. They expect Antichrist to come riding on an ass, the 
distance between the ears of which shall be a mile, while at 
each stride it shall advance a parasang. They further assert 
that each of the hairs on its body shall emit the sweetest 
melodies, which will charm all who allow themselves to listen 
into following Antichrist. Some of the inullds believe that 
this ass, the existence of which it is impossible to credit, if one 
reflects for a moment on the absurdity of the characteristics 
attributed to it, is concealed in Yangi'dunyd (the New World, 
i.e. America), which they say is ' opposite ' to Isfahan, and that 
in the fulness of time it will appear out of a well in this 
neighbourhood. The absence of these impossible and imaginary 
signs was the excuse whereby they justified their disbelief in 
His Highness the Point {i.e. the Bab), and refused to see in him 
the Promised Deliverer whom they professed to be expecting. 
But we, who understand all these signs in a metaphorical 
sense, see very well that they have been already fulfilled. 
Por what is Antichrist but a type of those who oppose the 
truth and slay the holy ones of God ? What is the ass of 
Antichrist, striding across the earth, and seducing all those 



2iS A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

who will give car to the sweet strains proceeding from it, but 
these same foolish muUas who su])port the temporal powers in 
attempting to crush the Truth, and please the natural inclina- 
tions and lusts of men by their false teachings. 'The 
possessions of the infidel are lawful unto you,' they proclaim. 
How easy a doctrine to receive, and how profitable ! This is 
but one instance of these ' sweet strains ' to which all whose 
eyes are not opened to the Truth of God, and whose hearts are 
not filled by the Voice of His Spirit, lend their ears so readily. 
In a similar manner do we understand all the symbols which 
they have degraded into actual external objects. Thus the 
Bridge of Sirdt, over which all must pass to enter Paradise, 
which is ' finer than a hair and sharper than a sword,' what is 
it but faith in the Manifestation of God, which is so difficult 
to the hard of heart, the worldly, and the proud ? " 

Conversing thus, we arrived at the side of the river, just 
where it is spanned by the bridge called Pul-i-Khaju, a much 
finer structure than even the bridge of thirty-three arches 
whicli I had admired so much on my entry into Julfa. My 
companion suggested that we should sit here awhile on the 
lower terrace (for the bridge is built on two levels) and smoke 
a kalydn, and to this I readily consented. 

After admiring the massive piers and solid masonry of the 
bridge, and the wide sweep here made by the Zayanda Eiid, 
we resumed our way along the southern bank in the direction 
of Julfa. On our way we visited the deserted palace called 
Haft-dast (" Seven Hands "). Here was visible the same 
neglected splendour and ruined magnificence which was 
discernible elsewhere. One building, the Namak-ddn {" Salt- 
cellar "), had just been pulled down by one of the ministers of 
the Zillu 's-Sidtdn to afford material for a house which he was 
building for himself Another, called A'ind-khdni ("the 
Chamber of Mirrors "), was nearly stripped of the ornaments 
wdiich gave it its name, the remainder being for the most part 
broken and cracked. Everywhere it was the same — crumbling 
walls, heaps of rubbish, and marred works of art, still beautiful 
in spite of injuries, due as much to wanton mischief as to 
mere neglect. Would that some portion of that money which 
is spent in building new palaces in the capital, and constructing 



ISFAHAN ?.i9 



tnilwidn-khdnSs neither beautiful nor pleasant, were devoted to 
the preservation of the glorious relics of a past age ! That, 
however, is as a rule the last thing an Oriental monarch cares 
about. To construct edifices which may perpetuate his own 
name is of far more importance in his eyes than to protect 
from injury those built by his predecessors, which, indeed, he 
is perhaps not sorry to see crumbling away like the dynasties 
which reared them. And so it goes on — king succeeding king, 
dynasty overthrowing dynasty, ruin added to ruin ; and 
through it all the mighty spirit of the people " dreaming the 
dream of the soul's disentanglement," while the stony-eyed 
lions of Persepolis look forth in their endless watch over a 
nation which slumbers, but is not dead. 



CHAPTER IX 

FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAZ 

" JFajald 's-suyulu'ani 't-tvluU, kaannahd 
Zubu?-^'", tujiddu mutiina-ha aJddmu-hd. 
Fa-waka/tu as'alu-Jid : fa-keyfa s'AVdii,-nd. 
Sn7nm'^" khaivdlida, md yabinu kaldmu-hd?" 

" And the torrents have laid bare its traces, as though 
'Twere a book of which a pen renews the characters. 
And I stood questioning them : but how can we question 
Dumb rocks, whose speech is not clear ? " — Mo'allaka of Lebkl. 

" Sliirdz, u dh-i-Rukiui, va dn hdd-i-khnsh-naslni ; 
'Ayh-ash ma-kun, ki khdl-i-rukh-i-haft kishvar-ast ! " 

" Shiraz, and the stream of Ruknabad, and that fragrant breeze — 
Disparage it not, for it is the beauty-spot of the seven regions ! " 

mijiz. 

" Chiln mi-gnzari hi-khdk 4- Sliirdz 
GH man hi-fuldn zmnln asir-am ! " 

" When thou passest by the earth of Shiraz 
Say I am a captive in such-and-such a land ! " 

Once again the vicissitudes and charms of the road are before 
me, but in this case a new and potent factor, hitherto absent, 
comes in to counteract the regret which one must always feel 
in quitting a place where one has been kindly received and 
hospitably entertained, and where one has made friends, most 
of whom one will in all probability never meet again. This 
potent incentive to delay my departure no longer is the 
thought that when I quit Isfahan, less than a week will see 
me in the classical province of Pars, less than a fortnight will 
bring me to the glories of Persepolis, and that after that two 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIrAz 221 

short days will unfold before my longing eyes the shrines and 
gardens of " the pure earth of Shi'raz," which has been tlirough- 
out the goal of my pilgrimage. 

Of course the first day's march was no exception to the 
general rule I have already laid down. I was aroused before 
8 A.M., and informed that the muleteers were ready to start, 
and desired to do so at once, as they proposed to " break a 
stage," as the expression goes — that is, to push on a distance of 
eight or nine parasangs to Mayar, the second halting- place out 
of Isfahan to the south. I accordingly dressed hurriedly, and 
finished packing, full of anxiety to secure so desirable a con- 
summation as the shortening of the less interesting part of the 
journey by a whole day. When I descended, I found that the 
muleteer had gone off again to fetch the inevitable sacking and 
ropes which are always wanted, and apparently always forgotten. 
I was compelled, therefore, to abandon all hopes of getting 
further than Marg, some three 'parasangs distant from Julf;i, 
and to resign myself to an idle morning. It was not till after 
lunch that all was ready for the start, and, bidding farewell to 
my kind host. Dr. Hoernle, I mounted the sorry steed assigned 
to me, and, with my mind filled with delightful anticipations, 
turned my face in the direction of Shi'raz. Karapit, the head 
servant of the Mission, accompanied me on my way as far as 
the " Farewell Fountain " (rendered conspicuous by the solitary 
tree which stands beside it), and even for some distance beyond 
it, till the post-house of Marg appeared in the distance. Then 
he turned back, wishing us a good journey ; and a monotonous 
ride of an hour or so brought us to our halting-place (which 
the muleteers, for some reason, had changed from Marg to a 
village somewhat further on, called Kara-i-Shiir) while it was 
still early in the afternoon. We put up at a dilapidated 
caravansaray, where nothing occurred to vary the monotony, 
except the arrival, some time after sunset, of a party of Jewish 
minstrels and dancing-boys, who were, like ourselves, bound for 
Shiraz. 

Next day we left the plain, and entered the rugged defile 
known as the Urchini Pass, the somewhat monotonous 
grandeur of which was enlivened by numbers of pilgrims 
bound for Kerbehi, by way of Isfahan and Ivirmunshiih, whom 



7 yi:AR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



Hajf Safar did not fail to greet with a salutation of " Ziydratat 
hxhul ! " (" IMay your pilgrimage be accepted ! "). Here I may 
remark tliat the greetings used on the road dil'ler from tliose 
employed elsewhere, and each one has its appropriate answer. 
The commonest of them are, " Fitrmt hdshad ! " (" May it be 
an opportunity ! "), to which the answer is, " ICJmdd hi-shmnd 
fursat dihad ! " (" May God give you opportunity ! ") ; and 
" Oghur hdshad!" ("IMay it be luck!"), the reply to which 
is, " Ofjliur-i-slucmd hi-khayr hdd ! " {" May your luck be 
good!"'). 

It was not yet 3 I'.M. when we reached May;ir, and halted 
at an old caravansaray, the construction of which was, as usual, 
attributed to Shah 'Abbi'is. There was nothing to do but to 
wile away the time as well as might be by lounging about, 
looking at the few travellers who had taken up their quarters 
at this disconsolate spot, and superintending the culinary 
operations of Htiji Safar. 

The next day's march was almost precisely similar to that 
of the previous day — a gray, stony, glaring plain (thinly 
covered with camel-thorn and swarming with lizards), on 
either side of which were bare black hills of rugged outline. 
Soon after 2 p.m. we came in sight of the blue dome of an 
Imdmzdd6, situated in the precincts of the considerable town 
of Kumishah. As it was a Thursday {Shal-i-Jum' a, Friday 
Eve), which is the great day for performing minor pilgrimages 
and visiting the graves of deceased friends, we met streams of 
the inhabitants coming forth from the town bent on such 
pious errands. Taking them all round, I thmk they were the 
most ill-favoured, dour-looking people I ever saw in Persia. 
Generally, however forbidding the appearance of the men 
may be (of the women one cannot judge, since they keep 
their faces veiled), the children at least are pretty and at- 
tractive. But in all these files of people whom we met I 
hardly saw a single face which was otherwise than sour and 
forbidding. 

Before 3 p.m. I reached the telegraph-station, and was 
welcomed by Mr. Giffbrd, the resident telegraphist, and his 
wife. The son of the Governor of Kumishah, Mi'rza Aka by 
name, was there, and later he was joined by his father, ]\Iirza 



L-, 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIrAz 223 

Mahdi Khan, who had come to try and extract some in- 
formation about the political outlook in Isfahan. It appeared 
that an unfortunate man from Izidkhwast had arrived in 
Kumishah on that or the preceding day, bringing the news of 
the Zillu 's-Sidtdns dismissal. This news was naturally very 
unwelcome to the Governor — so unwelcome that he not only 
declined to believe it, but ordered the man who brought it to 
be bastinadoed. Although this had the effect of checking 
further speculation and gossip, the Governor was unable to 
overcome a certain feeling of uneasiness as to his future tenure 
of office, and hence these visits to the telegraph-oftice. 

Next morning the muleteer came to see me early, and 
offered to push on to Aminabad that day and to Shulghistan 
in Fcirs on the morrow. I found, however, that this pro- 
cedure would involve passing some distance to the east of the 
curious village of Izidkhwast or Yezdikhwast, which I was 
anxious to see. I therefore decided to go no farther than 
Maksud Beg, and as this was only four parasangs distant, I 
gladly accepted the invitation of my kind host to stay to 
lunch and start after midday. The march was absolutely 
without interest, and the village of Maksud Beg, where we 
arrived about 4.30 p.m., was a most desolate -looking spot. 
Here we found the Jewish minstrels who had overtaken us at 
Marg entertaining the muleteers and villagers with a concert 
' in the caravansaray. The music appeared to me very pleasing. 
This, and the exhilarating thought that on the morrow I 
should bid farewell to 'Irak, and enter the classical province of 
Pars, the cradle of Persian greatness, enabled me to bear with 
equanimity the dullness of the dilapidated caravansaray. I 

I was further regaled with a dissertation by Haji Safar on the 
virtues of the wood-louse. This animal, he informed me, only 

I appears for a short period before the Nawruz. At that great 
festival people take it in their hands along with gold coins, 
" for luck." It bears different names in the north and south : 
in Teheran it is called khar-i-khdhi (" Earth-ass "), wdiile in 
Shiniz it enjoys the more pretentious title of kharak-i-khudd'i 
(" Divine little donkey "). 

On the following morning (10th March) we got off about 
7.45 A.M. The scenery was similar to that of the preceding 



224 ^ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

two days — a stony valley, bounded by parallel chains of hills. 
As "vve advanced, the hills to the east l)ecanie lower and lower, 
finally being reduced to broken iin-like ridges, situated one 
behind another, Avhile beyond these, bordering the western 
edge of the plain, high snow mountains began to come into 
view, which the muleteer informed me belonged to the province 
of Luristiin. About 11.15 a.m. we halted for lunch at Ami'n- 
;ibad, the last village in 'Irak. From this point we could 
clearly see before us a small conical hill, beyond which lay the 
hamlet of Yezdikhw;ist, which I was so anxious to see. I had 
read many accounts of this natural fastness, perched on a pre- 
cipitous rock, and accordingly, as we drew near the conical 
hill (which is called TeU-2nldw, I suppose from its resemblance 
in shape to tlie pile of rice which constitutes this dish), I 
strained my eyes eagerly to catch a glimpse of its eyry-like 
abodes. 

My first impressions were a mixture of disappointment 
and surprise. On passing the hill I could plainly discern the 
green dome of a little Imamzi'ide surrounded by a straggling 
cemetery : beyond this, apparently on the same level, and 
situated on the fiat plain which we were traversing, appeared 
the village of Yezdikhwast. Where was its boasted inaccessi- 
bility, and the sheer precipices which, as all travellers asserted, 
rendered it one of the most marvellous natural fastnesses to 
be found in the world ? JSTo amount of exaggeration, I 
thought, could account for such a description of the place I 
saw before me, which apparently did not enjoy even the most 
trifling elevation above the surrounding plain. While I was 
refiecting thus, and wondering if the muleteers had, for some 
object of their own, deceived me, we passed through the ceme- 
tery, and all at once came upon one of the most remarkable 
sights I ever saw. 

Eight across our path lay a mighty chasm, looking like the 
dry bed of some giant river of the j)ast. In the middle of 
this stood what I can only describe as a long narrow island, 
with precipitous sides, the summit of which was crowned with 
tier upon tier of gray, fiat-roofed dwelling.s, which even hung over 
the edge of the cliff", supported by beams and rafters. These, 
projecting outwards in all directions, gave to the place the 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAZ 225 

appearance of some strange collection of birds' nests rather 
than of human habitations. At the upper {i.e. the western) 
end this island was almost joined to the northern edge of the 
chasm, the comparatively shallow depression which separated 
them being spanned by a drawbridge, by raising which all access 
to the town can be cut off. At all other points a sheer preci- 
pice, increasing in height towards the east, protects it from 
all possibility of invasion. 

At Yezdikhwast the road to Shiraz bifurcates. What is 
called the sar-hadd, or summer road, bears to the south-west 
into the mountains ; while the garmsir, or winter road, crosses 
the chasm or valley below Yezdikhwast, and trends towards 
the south-east. As it was still early in the year, and the 
snow was not yet gone from the uplands traversed by the 
former, we had determined on following the latter, which 
course had this additional advantage, that it would lead us 
past Persepolis. 

The inhabitants of Yezdikhwast do not apparently care 
to have strangers dwelling in their cliff- girt abode; at any 
rate, the caravansaray and post-house are both situated at the 
bottom of the chasm, across the little river (Ab-i-Marvan) 
which flows through it, and to the south-east of the crag on 
which the village stands. On coming in sight of the brink of 
the chasm we therefore made a detour to the right (west) 
which brought iis to the point where the drawbridge is placed, 
whence a path leads down the side of the gully to the caravan- 
saray, where we arrived in about a quarter of an hour. It is a 
very fine edifice, built, as an inscription over the gateway 
'testifies, by " the most potent king and most generous prince, the 
diffuser of the faith of the pure Im.ims, . . . the dog of the 
threshold of 'All the son of Abu-Talib, . . . 'Abbas the 
Safavi, may God perpetuate his kingdom and rule ! " The 
inscription is very beautifully executed, but unfortunately it 
has been greatly injured, many of the tiles having been re- 
noved, and others broken. I asked the villagers why they 
lid not take better care of a building of which they ought to 
"eel proud. They replied that it was not their fault : thirteen 
tr fourteen years ago a " Firangi " came by, and, wishing to 
')ossess some of the tiles, offered one of the men at the post- 
15 



226 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

house two or three tumAns if he would remove some of them. 
The temptation was too strong for the latter, and accordingly 
he went the same night with a hammer and chisel to carry 
out the traveller's M-ishes. Of course he broke at least as 
many tiles as he removed, and a noble monument of the past 
was irreparably injured to gratify a traveller's passing whim. 

I was anxious to see the interior of the village, and ac- 
cordingly asked some of the inhabitants who came to stare at 
me whether they could take me over it. They readily agreed 
to do so, and after tea I sallied forth with my guides, crossed 
the fields, already green with sprouting wheat, and, skirting 
the southern face of this natural citadel, reached the draw- 
bridge at the western end. Passing over this, we entered a 
dark passage, which, with occasional outlets into com- 
paratively open spaces, traverses, or rather tunnels through, 
the whole village from west to east. This is the only street, 
for the rock is narrow, though long, and there is not room in 
most places for more than two houses side by side. My 
guides informed me that their town, of which they seemed 
proud in no small degree, was very old — 300 years older 
than Isfahan — and, in proof of their assertion, they pointed 
to a stone in the gateway on which they said I should find 
the date. As a matter of fact, the only date I could see was 
(a.h.) 1218 (about a.d. 1803), but there appeared to be other 
more or less obliterated characters which the gloom pervading 
even the entrance of this dim passage would not suffer me to 
decipher. 

As we advanced, the street, at first open above, became 
entirely covered over by houses, and the darkness was such 
that we could not see a yard ahead, and were only saved from 
continual collisions with other passengers by the cries of " Yd 
Allah " uttered by my companions to give warning of our 
approach. i 

The houses are for the most part three or four stories high, \ 
and are entered by stairs communicating directly with the \ 
street. On the outer side they are furnished with platforms or 
balconies, one above the other, which overhang the cliff in a| 
most perilous manner. On to some of these my guides took 
me that I might admire the view, but my enjoyment of this: 







FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAZ 227 

was somewhat marred by the sense of insecurity with which 
the very frail appearance of the platforms inspired me. " I 
should have thought," said I to my guides, " that these plat- 
forms would have been very dangerous to your children, for I 
observe that they are provided with no rail to prevent anyone 
from falling over." " Tliey are dangerous," was the quite uncon- 
cerned reply ; " hardly a year passes without two or three falling 
over and being killed." " I wonder the houses themselves don't 
fall," I remarked after a brief interval, during which the 
palpable weakness of the flimsy structure had become more 
than ever manifest to me. " They do," replied the unmoved 
villagers ; " look there." I turned my eyes in the direction 
indicated, and saw a dismal wreck hanging over the edge of the 
cliff Feeling my curiosity quite satisfied, I suggested that we 
should continue our tour of inspection, whereupon they took 
me into one of the houses, which appeared to be the chief shop 
of the place, and set before me an array of nuts and fruits, a 
few of which I felt compelled to eat as a matter of courtesy, 
while the villagers watched me with grave and polite atten- 
tion. 

We next visited the mosque, which seemed ancient, though 
I could find no date graven on its walls — nothing but the usual 
summary of Shi'lte faith, " There is no God hut God : Muham- 
mad is the Apostle of God : 'AH is the Friend of God." Though 
more solid in structure than the other buildings, it is very 
simply adorned, for it contains nothing but a minibar, or pulpit, 
looking more like a step-ladder than anything else. This, and 
the arch of the mUprdh by which it stood, were the sole features 
whereby one could divine that the place was not intended for 
a barn or a granary. 

On leaving the mosque we visited the one other shop 
which this primitive place contains, where I was politely com- 
pelled to accept of a quantity of that gruesome sweetmeat 
known as shakkar-panir (" sugar-cheese "). Then we quitted 
the village by the same way whereby we had entered it (for 
indeed there is no other), and returned to the caravansaray. 
Though I retired to bed early, I lay awake for some time 
watching the lights which twinkled from the airy dwellings of 
Yezdikhwast and gave to the shadowy outline of the great 



A ]V:AA' AAWNGSr THE PERSIANS 



rock soinewliat the appearance of a gigantic vessel lying at 
anchor in a river. 

Next (lay we ascended the southern side of the gully by a 
road running eastwards, until we again reached the summit of 
the plateau. Here I halted for a few moments to gaze once 
more on the picturesque scene, and then we struck off towards 
the south, still bearing somewhat to the east. On the road we 
met many peasants and some few travellers ; they nearly all 
carried arms, and were as a rule darker in complexion and 
fiercer in aspect than the inhabitants of 'Ir.ik. About 2.30 
P.M. we arrived at Shulghistan, a small picturesqiie village, 
rendered conspicuous by a green-domed Inidmzjide, close to 
which is situated the dilapidated caravansaray. Since the latter 
appeared incapable of furnishing comfortable quarters, we 
betook ourselves to the chdpdr-khdn6 (post-house) opposite, 
where I was provided with a very comfortable room. The 
postmaster {nd'ih-chdpdr) was extremely courteous and atten- 
tive, and sat conversing with me for some time. From him I 
learned that the news of the Zillu 's-Sultan's fall, and the con- 
sequent dismissal of all his deputy-governors, had created great 
excitement throughout Pars, and especially at Shi'raz, where 
the Siihib-Divan, in whom the administration of the province 
had hitherto been virtually vested, was greatly disliked. His 
dismissal was the signal for universal rejoicing, and it was said 
that Eiza Khan, the chief of one of the Arab tribes settled in 
the neighbourhood of Shi'raz, was encamped near the Tomb of 
Cyrus at Murghab, waiting for the arrival of the ex-governor, 
against whom he was breathing threats of vengeance. The 
postmaster thought, however, that the tidings of the advance 
of the new governor, Prince Ihtishamu'd-Dawla, who had 
already reached, or nearly reached, Isfahan, would prevent him 
from proceeding to extremities. 

Later on another man came in, whose one sole topic of 
conversation was dervishes, for whom he professed the most 
unbounded regard. His enthusiasm had apparently been 
aroused by the recent visit of some celebrated saint from 
Kirman. I ventured to ask him if there were any Babi's in 
Shulghistan, at the very idea of which he expressed the utmost 
horror, adding with pride, " We would at once slay anyone 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAZ 229 

whom we suspected of belonging to that sect, for here, thank 
God, we are all followers of Murtaza 'Ah'." 

His attitude towards the Babis did not encourage me to 
make further enquiries in this direction, and I therefore allowed 
him to ramble on about his dervishes, inicams, and miracles. 
He informed me, amongst numerous other stories of equal 
probability, that there was a mountain two parasangs to 
the east of Yezdikhwast called Shah Kannab. There, he said, 
the two sons of " Hazrat-i-'Abbas " took refuge in bygone days 
from the " army of the infidels." The mountain opened to 
receive them, and they passed within it ; the infidels followed 
after them, but no sooner had they entered than the rocks 
closed up behind them, and shut them in. 

" That was very wonderful," I said, " but tell me what 
became of them, for I should have thought that it would have 
been better if the mountain had closed before the ' army of 
the infidels,' could follow the two saints. As it was, it seems 
to me that they were all shut up together." 

" Yes," replied the narrator, " but, you see, the infidels 
were all turned into stone at once. You might see them 
still if you knew the way which leads to that wondrous 
cavern — men, horses, camels, camel - drivers, children at 
their lessons, still holding in their hands the books they 
were reading, — all turned to stone ! It is a wonderful 
thing ! " 

" So I should think," I answered, wondering inwardly 
whether armies of infidels usually carried a host of school- 
children about with them when they went in pursuit of 
fugitive saints ; " but you haven't told me what happened to the 
Imams who were so miraculously preserved. Did they make 
their escape after this signal mark of Divine Displeasure had 
been accomplished ? " 

" No, they did not," rejoined my informant ; " they dwell 
there still, and by their holy influence many wonderful miracles 
are wrought, some of which I will tell you. There is a shrine 
with two minarets on the mountain, and these minarets every 
year recede farther and farther apart, a fact well known to all 
in this neighbourhood. Furthermore, whoever goes there, and 
prays, and then fixes his thoughts on anything which he 



-.. 



230 .'/ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

desires to possess — gold, silver, or precious stones — can take it 
from the rock to its heart's content." 

•'And pray," I asked, "can one find one's way to this 
marvellous mountain ? " 

" No, you cannot," retorted the other ; " I could take you 

there if I chose, but I will not do so. Siiliib, who was 

formerly tclcgrdfchi at Abade, offered nie money if 1 would 
show him the way, but I refused, for it is not lawful to reveal 
to unbelievers these holy spots." 

" That is a pity," I said ; " and I venture to suggest that you 
act unwisely in tlius hindering them from witnessing miracles 
whereby they might perhaps be brought to embrace Ish'im. 
It is precisely for unbelievers that miracles are intended." 

" Well," replied my informant, " there is perhaps reason in 
what you say. But it is not necessary to go there to witness 
proofs of the power possessed by the blessed Imams. Of this 
we had a signal proof during last Muharram. A pdzan 
(ibex or mountain-goat) came at that time to the Imamzad^ 
across the road, and took up its abode there for six months. 
Finally it died, and is buried under a tree in the courtyard. 
We had no doubt but that it was sent thither by the command 
of the blessed Imams to strengthen the faith of all of us who 
witnessed it." 

Altogether, I spent a very amusing evening with my 
talkative friend, who, delighted to find an appreciative 
listener, remained wdiile I ate my supper, and did not 
finally leave till it was time to retire for the night. 

Next day was bright and windy. The scenery through 
which we passed was of the usual type — a stony plain full of 
camel-thorn (now putting forth beautiful crimson blossoms 
from its apparently sapless branches) between parallel ranges 
of barren hills. The ground swarmed with lizards of two 
distinct types, the ordinary brown lizard and the Buz-majjL 
This latter is an animal which, as I subsequently learned, 
sometimes attains a length of three or four feet, but the length 
of most of those which I saw did not exceed as many inches. 
They have big clumsy heads furnished with spines, and long 
tails constricted at the point where they join the body, which 
they have a habit of jerking up into an erect position. They 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAz 231 

are very nimble in their movements, and when frightened dart 
away like a dusky shadow for a few feet, and again come to a 
standstill. H;iji Safar began to tell me a long rambling story 
about the creation of the Buz-majj6, whereby he sought to 
account for its harmlessness. He related this story in the 
dreamy, visionary manner which occasionally came over him, 
and in the soft lisping accents of the South. I was not paying 
much attention to his narrative, the upshot of which appeared 
to be that the animals after their creation all came into the 
presence of their Creator and sought permission to be allowed 
to injure man, their master and tyrant, at some appointed time. 
All received this permission, except the Buz-majje, which came 
late, and so was forced to be content with a harmlessness far 
removed from its malicious desires. 

My attention revived, however, when he began to talk 
about Shirdz. " In eleven days more, Sahib, you will see 
Shi'raz: perhaps in ten, if you do not stop at Taklit-i-JamsMd 
(Persepolis). You will then enter it on the Nawruz : all the 
people — men, women, and children — will be out in the gardens 
and fields ; many of them in the Tan/i-i-Alldhu-jiTcbar, through 
which you will catch your first glimpse of the city. All will 
be dressed in new clothes, as smart as they can make them- 
selves, enjoying the beautiful green fields, singing, smoking 
kalydns, and drinking tea. There is no other city like Shiraz : 
all about it the earth is green with grass ; even the roofs of 
the bazaars are covered with herbage. It is the Green City of 
Solomon (shahr-i-sabz-i-Suleynidn). And the people are so 
quick and clever and generous. Not like those miserable, 
miserly Isfahanis, nor yet like those stupid, thick-headed 
Khurasanis. Have I ever told you the verses made by the 
Isfahan!, the Shirazi, and the Khurasani, S;ihib ? " 

" No," I answered ; " I sliould like to hear them very much." 
" Once upon a time," he resumed, " an Isfahani, a Shirazi, 
and Khurasani were travelling together. Now, one night they 
succeeded in getting a dish oi pilaw, and the Isfahani, being a 
witty fellow, as well as stingy (like all his rascally countrymen), 
suggested that no one should be allowed to have a share of the 
pilaw unless he could make a verse about his native country. 
To this they agreed, and the Isfahani began — 



1 



232 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

' Az Safahdji vieyve-i-haft-rang mi-thjad hirfm.' 
('From Isfaliiln fruits of seven colours come forth.') 

The Shi'nizi, witliout a niomcut's hesitation — for all Shi'razi's 
have a natural gift for versifying — went on — 

' Ah-i-Ruknithdd-i-md az sang mi-iiyad birfm.' 
('Our stream of Ruknabdd comes forth from the rock.') 

It was now the Xhuras;im"s turn, but he, poor fellow, being 
very stupid and slow, after the manner of his countrymen, 
could not think of a rhyme for a long time, and was in great 
fear that he w^ould lose his pildio after all, when suddenly an 
inspiration came to him, and he concluded the stanza thus : — 

' Az Khurasan misl-i-man aldang mi-dyad birfm.' 
('Out of Kliurdsan come forth blackguards like me.') 

Aldang, you know, is the Ivlmrilsani word for a luti, a rough, 
or street vaofabond." 

About 2 P.M. we arrived at the little town of Abade, another 
stronghold of the Babi's. It will be remembered that the Babi 
missionary at Isfahan, on bidding me farewell, had promised to 
write to one of his co-religionists here, as well as at Shiraz, to be 
on the look-out for me. I therefore hoped that I might have an 
opportunity of holding further conversation with the members 
of the proscribed sect, but in this hope I was disappointed, for 
the shortness of my stay in the town, and the hospitality of 
Sergeant Glover of the telegraph station, did not give me leisure 
to seek out the person indicated to me. I was very favourably 
impressed with Abade in every way, and the approach to it, 
through lanes surrounded by orchards and gardens, the trees 
of which were already bursting into blossom and filling the 
air with their fragrance, was very beautiful. 

At the telegraph station I was cordially received by 
Sergeant Glover and his eldest son, a bright, clever boy of 
about fifteen, who had an excellent knowledge of Persian. I 
was most hospitably entertained, and after dinner we sat up 
late discussing Persian folk-lore, concerning which my host 
was a perfect mine of information. He told me of a place 
called the Pari-hol, or fairy hole, near Soh ; of marvellous wells 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SH/rAZ 233 

and caves in the mountains ; and of a hill where an old fire- 
worshipper was said to have taken refuge from his persecutors, 
who marked the sjDot with a pile of stones, meaning to return 
next day and renew their search. During the night, however, 
by the Divine Power, tlie whole hill was covered with similar 
heaps of stones, which utterly baffled the search of the per- 
secutors. These heaps are said still to be visible. 

Next day a short march of about three hours brought us 
to the post-house of Surme. On arriving there, I was sur- 
prised to see a European traveller standing at the door, who 
greeted me in English. He proved to be one of the telegraph 
staff at Shiraz travelling up to Isfahan and Teheran, and 
kindly offered me a share of the hdld-khdni (upper-room), which 
was the only respectable apartment in the post-house. Even 
that was horribly cold and draughty, for a violent wind was 
still blowing. Notwithstanding this, we spent a very pleasant 
evening together, and, by combining our resources, managed to 
produce a very respectable supper. 

Next day, after a leisurely breakfast, we parted on our 
respective roads. The wind had dropped, the sky was cloud- 
less, and the sun very powerful. We could see the road 
stretching away straight before us for three parasangs or so, 
when it took a sudden turn to the left round an angle of the 
mountains. As we advanced — very slowly, owing to the sorry 
condition of our beasts — the plain gradually narrowed, and 
became broken by great crests of rock rising abruptly out of 
the ground. The mountains on the right (west) grew gradually 
higher and higher, and their summits were now crowned with 
snow. On reaching the angle of the road above mentioned we 
halted by some rocks for lunch. The spot was not devoid of 
beauty, which was enhanced by the numerous pink and crimson 
blossoms of the carnel-thorn {shcih-pasand), which grew in pro- 
fusion round about. 

On leaving this place we began to ascend, and continued 
to do so till, about 4 p.m., we reached the disconsolate stone 
caravansaray of Khan-i-Khurre, which stands quite alone and 
apart from other habitations. It was crowded with people of 
all sorts : Bakhtiyari's, and other tribesmen on their migrations 
towards their summer quarters ; people who had come out from 



234 -•/ YEAR AAfONGST THE PERSIANS 

Shiniz aii(i elsewhere to meet the new Governor and do him 
honour; and a certain small contingent of ordinary travellers. 
I might have had some difficulty in obtaining quarters if my 
acquaintance of the previous day liad not informed me tliat 
there was a special room in the caravansaray, set a])ait for 
members of the telegraph staff, which I might have l)y apply- 
ing to the caravansaray-keeper for the key. 1 did so, and 
thus obtained a warm, snug room, where I might otherwise have 
been compelled to put up with the most miserable quarters. 
Though the caravansaray was in the most ruined and filthy 
condition, the ground being strewn with dead camels and 
horses in various stages of decay, the scene was not lacking in 
interest owing to the strange costumes and stranger appearance 
of the tribesmen. The women do not cover their faces, and 
many of them are endowed with a certain wild beauty. 

After tea I had a visit from the postmaster {nd'ib chdpdr), 
who came to consult me about some disorder of the chest from 
which he was suffering. He soon, however, forgot the object 
which had brought him, and wandered off into a variety of 
topics, which he illustrated with a surprising number of 
quotations from the poets ; and it was only when he rose to 
depart that he again recurred to his ailments. His dreamy 
abstracted manner had already led me to suspect that he was 
a votary of opium and other narcotics, and in reply to a 
question to this effect he answered that he did occasionally 
indulge in a pipe of tirydk when depressed in spirits. 

" Perhaps you take hashish now and then for a change ? " 
I asked. 

" Well," he replied, " I don't deny that I do now and then." 

" Of course you smoke the kalydn too ? " 

" Yes," he said, " what else is there to do in this desolate 
spot where there is no society except these tribesmen ? " 

" Well," I said, " I wish very much that I could do any- 
thing for you, but the state of the case is this : the essential 
principle of treating diseases is to remove their cause, and 
unless this can be done it is very little use to give medicines. 
Xow, smoking kalydns in excess disorders the chest, and I 
understand that you do smoke them very often. Whether the 
opium and hashish which you also take are answerable for the 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAZ 235 

evil in any degree I can't say, but at any rate it is scarcely 
likely that they do you any good. Just now you quoted this 
couplet from Ilafiz — 

' Dihkun-i-sal-'khurde die khush cjuft bd pisar, 

" K'etj nftr-i-chashm-i-man, bi-juz az hishte na-iVravi ! " ' 

' How well said tlie aged farmer to liis son, 

" O Light of my eyes, thou shaltnot reap save that which thou hast sown!"' 

Now people who ' sow ' kalydns (opium) and hashish necessarily 
' reap ' bad chests ; and I am afraid that, unless you can 
manage to give them up, or at any rate confine your indulg- 
ence in them to moderate limits, your chest will not get any 
better. Do you think you can do this ? " 

" You are right," he replied (convinced, I feel sure, more by 
the quotation from Htifiz than by anything else), "and I will try to 
follow your advice." So saying, he departed and left me alone. 

Next day we started early, as the muleteers were anxious 
to " break " a stage — that is, to go three stages in two days ; so 
that our halting-place for the night was not to be Dihbi'd, 
where there is a telegraph station, but Khan-i-Kirgan, situated 
some two hours' march beyond it. Our road continued to 
ascend almost till we reached Dihbid, and once or twice we 
enjoyed a fine view to the east across the Plain of Abarkuh to 
the great range of mountains beyond which lies the city of 
Yezd. We were joined for some distance by a dark, stalwart 
man, who turned out to be a kiUid (courier) carrying letters 
from Abtide to Bawan;it. He was conversationally inclined, 
and told me tales of encounters with wolves and other wild 
animals which abound in these mountains, but the dialect 
which he spoke was diflicult to comprehend, and prevented me 
from profiting by his anecdotes as fully as I might otherwise 
have done. Suddenly we came to a road crossing ours at right 
angles, and thereupon our companion took a long draught from 
our water-bottle, and, without a word of farewell, disappeared 
in a valley leading down into the Plain of Abarkuh. 

After his departure Haji Safar entertained me with a long 
disquisition on kdsids and their marvellous powers of endur- 
ance. He assured me that one had walked from Teher;in to 
Shiraz in five days, while another had gone from Bushire 



236 -•/ yi-:ar amongst the pfrs/ans 

to Shir:iz in two days. He added that the latter had come 
near forfeiting his lite for his prowess, hecause I'rince Ferli;'id 
Mi'rza, then Clovernor of F;irs, hearing of his exploit, liad said, 
" Such a man had best be put to death forthwith, for one wlio 
ctm go on foot from here to Bushire in two days might commit 
murder or liighway robbery, and be in another i)rovince before 
liis crime was even discovered." I am fain to believe that 
this was only a grim jest on the part of Ferhi'id Mi'rzii ; at 
any rate the sentence, as I was informed, was not carried out. 

The wind, which had been gradually increasing in strength 
since the morning, began now to cause us much annoyance, 
and indeed Dihbi'd, as I subsequently learnt by experience, is 
one of the windiest places in Persia, Haji Safar, however, 
declared that in this respect it was far behind Ddmgh;in, on 
the Mashhad road. " This is but a ]ilace which the wind 
visits at times," he remarked, " but it lives there : its abode 
is in a well, and anyone can arouse it at any time by throwing 
dirt or stones into the well, when it rushes out in anger." 

Our road was redeemed from dreariness by the variety of 
beautiful Hewers with which the advancing spring had 
bedecked the upland meadows. I noticed particularly the 
wild hyacinth {sunhul-i-hiyctbdni), and the sight of its long 
narrow dark green leaves enabled me better to understand the 
appositeness of the comparison between it and the " tresses of 
the beloved " so often made by the Persian poets. 

It was nearly 1.30 p.m. when we reached Dihbid, a small 
village consisting of about fifteen or twenty cabins, a very 
dilapidated caravansaray, a post - house, and the telegraph- 
office. To the latter I at once made my way, and was 
welcomed very cordially by Mr. and Mrs. Blake. They 
expressed great regret on learning that I could not stop with 
them for the night, and repeatedly pressed me to do so with a 
hospitality so evidently genuine that I would gladly have 
altered my plans and relinquished the idea of " breaking a 
stage " had that been possible ; but the muleteer had gone 
on with the baggage, and I was therefore compelled to adhere 
to my original intention, contenting myself with a halt of 
three or four hours for rest and refreshment. 

It was beginning to grow dusk when I again set out, and 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAz 237 

the gathering shades of evening warned me that I must bestir 
myself, especially as the muleteer was no longer with us to 
direct our course. Mr. Blake kindly volunteered to ride some 
distance with me to put me in the right way, and this offer I 
was glad to accept. Crossing the little river just beyond the 
village we saw a flight of about a dozen storks, and farther on 
four gazelles. Half a mile or more to the west of the road 
stood an old withered tree close to a ruined caravansaray, and 
this spot, as Mr. Blake informed me, was reputed to be 
haunted by a "white lady," but with the details of this 
superstition he was unable to acquaint me. 

When we had ridden 2l farsalch, my host bade me farewell 
and turned back, whereupon we quickened our pace so as to 
make the best use of what daylight still remained. Long 
before we reached our halting -place, however, it was quite 
dark, and we were left to pick our dubious way by the light 
of the stars and a crescent moon ; so that it was more by good 
luck than good management (for the road had here dwindled 
to the merest track) that we were finally apprised by the 
barking of dogs of the proximity of human habitations. In 
five minutes more we crossed a bridge and found ourselves at 
the solitary caravansaray of Khan-i-Kirgan. 

As it was quite dark, and I was, moreover, very cold and 
tired, I had no opportunity of making any observations on 
the nature of the place or its inhabitants that night, but on 
the following morning I discovered that here also were 
domiciled multitudes of tribesmen on their way to their 
summer quarters. On the road, which wound through beauti- 
ful grassy valleys bedecked with sweet spring flowers, we met 
many more, all bound for the highland pastures which we 
were leaving behind us, and a pretty sight it was to see them 
pass ; stalwart, hardy-looking men, with dark, weather-beaten 
faces ; lithe, graceful boys clothed in skins ; and tall, active 
women with resolute faces, not devoid of a comeliness which no 
veil concealed. They were accompanied by droves of donkeys 
bearing their effects, and flocks of sheep and goats, which 
paused here and there to nibble the fresh grass. 

Early in the afternoon we descended into the valley of 
Murghab, and, passing the hamlet of that name (a well-built 



238 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

and thrivinj^-looking village, pleasantly situaicd by a bcaulilul 
clear streamlet) lialted at l)ih-i-Naw, some three miles farther 
on. The feeling of regret at not having sought for a lodging 
at the former, which the first sight of the somewhat squalid 
appearance of the latter caused me, was at once removed when 
I learned that the group of ancient ruins generally identified 
with the site of the city of Pasargadse on European maps, and 
known to the Persians as Talxlit-i-Sulcymdn ("the Throne of 
Solomon ") and Mayid-i-Mddar-i-Sidcymdn (" the Mosque of the 
Mother of Solomon "), was situated within a few minutes' walk 
of the village. As it was not much past four o'clock in the 
afternoon, I determined at once to visit them, and thus to 
obtain a general idea of their appearance and arrangement, 
reserving a closer inspection of them for the morning. They 
have been so often and so well described that I shall confine 
myself to a brief account of their more salient features. 

Leaving Dih-i-Naw on the south, or Sln'raz, side, the first 
object of interest reached is the Takht-i-Sidcymdn. This, 
consisting of a large platform faced with masonry, projects 
from the face of a hill situated a little to the left (east) of the 
high road, not five minutes' walk from the village. Its 
frontacre must be about 150 feet, and here the conscientious 
thoroughness and solidity of the masonry is most easily 
appreciated. I noticed the holes for the iron clamps (which 
have themselves been removed) noticed by Sir E. Ker Porter, 
and also the peculiar marks on most of the stones which he, if 
I remember rightly, was inclined to regard as characters of 
some ancient language. The villager who accompanied me 
declared that they were marks placed by each mason on the 
stone at which he had worked, in order that the amount of 
his work and the wages due to him might be proved ; and I 
have no doubt that such is their nature. At any rate, they in 
no wise resemble the characters of any known alphabet. 

From the platform of the Takht-i-Suleymdn the whole 
plain of Pasargadae is clearly visible. The Shi'raz road takes 
a bold sweep towards the west ere it quits the plain and 
enters the grand defile through which flows the river Pulvar, 
and all the ruins except the Tomb of Cyrus (or Masjid-i- 
Mddar-i-Suleymdn, as the Persians call it) are situated within 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SH/rAZ 239 

a short distance of it and of one another, on the left hand of 
the southward - bound traveller. The Tomb of Cyrus lies 
about half a mile beyond them, on the opposite side of the 
road : it is encircled by a little village, and is regarded by the 
Persians as a place of considerable sanctity. 

The first building to which I came on descendinor from 
the Takht-i-Suleymdn is that called by Ker Porter Atash-Jcede 
(" the Fire-Temple "). My guide, however, gave it the name 
of Zinddn-khdnS (" the Prison-house.") It is situated close 
to the road, which it faces, and is very solid and massive in 
structure, but bears no inscriptions or carvings. The western 
end of the building only is standing; it is about thirty feet 
high, and contains sixteen courses of stones, and a window, 
below which is a buttress. 

The next object which presents itself is a solitary square 
pillar of white stone in twelve courses, bearing a cuneiform 
inscription of four lines, of which the second is separated 
from the third, and the third from the fourth, by a blank space. 
I could not learn that it had any popular name. 

A short distance beyond this lies the main group of ruins, 
called Nakkdra-k}idn6 - i - Sideymdn ("the Music-hall of 
Solomon "). Amongst these the most conspicuous object is a 
very tall slender column about sixty feet high, white in 
colour, and circular in shape, composed of four stones placed 
one on the other, the length of each one diminishing from 
below upwards. This column is quite plain, and bears n(j 
inscription. There are two or three other pillar-like structures, 
which appear to have formed the corners of the ruined edifice. 
At the back of each I noticed the hoUowin^-out of the stone 
noticed by Ker Porter. One of them bears on its north face 
a cuneiform inscription similar to that already noticed on the 
first column, but containing four or five different characters. 
On the western side of this group of ruins {i.e. on the side 
facing the road) are the remains of two doorways, each about 
five feet in width. The stones forming the sides of these are 
blackish in colour and susceptible of a high degree of polish. 
They are broken off within two feet of the ground, and on 
their inner surfaces are carved two pair of feet, both turned 
towards the entrance. Of these, the outer pair are human 



240 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

feet, the inner pair feet like those of a bird : both are 
beautifully executed. A fragment of a similar doorway also 
exists on the south side, and this is adorned with two pairs of 
human feet. A little beyond this is a portion of wall stand- 
ing, some of the stones of which bear marks similar to those 
observable on the Taklit-i-Sidcymdn. 

A little distance to the east of this group of ruins, i.e. 
farther from the road, stands a solitary column, on the west 
side of which is carved in bas-relief the beautiful winged 
figure described and depicted by Ker Porter and others. I 
was still absorbed in delighted contemplation of this, when my 
guide, impatient at the long delay, called attention to the 
approach of evening, and urged me to return, declaring that it 
was unsafe to be out in the plain after dusk, and reminding 
me that I could complete my examination of the ruins next 
day. With regret I acceded to his request, and reluctantly 
retraced my steps. On the way back my comj)anion talked 
freely of the state of the country and the dismissal of the old 
Sdhih-Bivdn from the government of Fars, at which he 
expressed unbounded delight. I asked if the Sdhih-Divdn had 
been a cruel governor that he had so aroused the hatred of the 
people. To this question my guide replied in the negative, 
alleging his incapacity and lack of integrity as the reason why 
he was so much disliked. " He has made everything dear," 
he concluded, " and we enjoy no sort of protection from the ' 
rapacity of the wandering tribes, who carry off our cattle and 
flocks without the least fear of reprisals. Eiza Khan, his old 
enemy, is now encamped between Seydun and Sivand with all 
his tribe, and has sworn to slay him if he can waylay him on his 
journey north ; in which attempt I, for my part, wish him all 
success. He has already begun stripping and plundering all the 
followers and retainers of the ex-governor on whom he can lay 
his hands, including forty of Zeynu 'l-'Abidin's men who were 
sent out to catch him or drive him away, and who came back to 
Shiraz crestfallen and discomfited, with nothing but their 
shirts. As for the new governor, the Ihtishamu 'd-Dawla, if 
he is like his father. Prince Ferhad Mirza, he will keep things 
in better order. Indeed, already the marauders have desisted 
from their raids, and our flocks and cattle are once more safe." 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SH/rAZ 241 

So my companion ran on ; and I was surprised to see that his 
fear was not so much that the new governor might be too 
harsh, as that he might not govern the province with a 
sufficiently firm hand. 

Next day on quitting Dih-i-ISTaw I again visited the ruins 
above described, and, after reluctantly tearing myself away 
from them, proceeded to explore the tomb of Cyrus. This, 
as I have already mentioned, is called by the Persians " the 
Mosque of the Mother of Solomon," and is regarded as a holy 
place, so that I had some fear lest they should prevent me from 
entering it. This fear fortunately proved to be groundless ; 
indeed, one of the inhabitants of the adjacent village volunteered 
to accompany me as a guide, though such assistance was quite 
unnecessary. 

The Tomb of Cyrus, being built of white stone, forms a 
most conspicuous landmark in the plain of Pasargad?e. It 
consists of a rectangular roofed chamber of extraordinary 
solidity, situated on a square platform approached on all sides 
by steep and lofty steps, up which one must climb, rather than 
walk, to reach the low entrance. The building bears no 
inscriptions in cuneiform or Pahlavi characters, but numerous 
Musulman visitors have engraved their names on its walls and 
steps. I had hitherto imagined that the passion for leaving 
such memorials of one's visit was peculiar to the West, and 
reached its highest development with the English and 
Americans; but not only the ruins of Pasargadse and Persepolis, 
but every post-house and caravansaray in Persia, bear witness 
to the fact that this habit is hardly less rife amongst the 
Persians. De Sacy was, I think, the first to direct attention 
to these interesting relics of former travellers. In pre- 
sence of the ancient cuneiform characters, which carry us back 
to the time of the Achteraenian kings, one is tempted to over- 
look them, though not a few of them date back to the earlier 
Muhammadan period. The longest of these inscriptions is 
situated on the wall to the right of one entering the mausoleum. 
This wall is adorned with a rude miJin'ib (probably made by 
those who first conceived the idea of sanctifying the burial- 
place of the ancient fire-worshipping monarch by connecting it 
with the name of Solomon), on the lower portion of which is 

16 



242 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

cut the word AlU'ili. Tliis is snrrouiuliMl l)y a loiifr rcctan<fulai' 
border raised into a subsidiary rectan^L;b' on the u])i)er side to 
embrace the mihn'th, the \vliole length of which is occn])ied by 
a mucli-worn Arabic inscription, only legible in jiarts, be- 
ginning: " //( the Name of God Ihr Merciful, the Clement. 
Verily we have opened unto thee a perspieuous victory . . ." 
At the left-hand lower corner of tliis border, close to the 
ground, is a Neo-Persian inscription in Arabic characters of an 
archaic type. Across the end of the chamber opposite to the 
door was hung a string, on which were susj^ended ribbons, 
pieces of cloth, beads, pipe-bowls, and other votive offerings 
brought by pious visitors to the shrine ; and in the corner lay 
a copy of the Kur'dn, 

Leaving the mausoleum, I turned to descend, examining 
the steps and the inscriptions cut on them on my way. Some 
of the stones bore mason's marks similar to those referred to 
in speaking of the Takht-i-Snleyman. Besides these there 
were a great many Neo-Persian inscriptions, mostly undated, 
or of comparatively recent date, some almost illegible, others 
as clear as though cut yesterday. 

Around the base of the steps is a small burial-gi'ound 
strewn with fragments of other buildings which have perished. 
At its entrance are two long stones, propped one against the 
other in the shape of an inverted V, which form a sort of gate 
to the enclosure. Each of these is engraved on its inner 
surface with a line of Arabic in a fine bold character. The 
space left between the two stones is very narrow, and their 
surfaces are worn as smooth as glass by the passage of 
generations of pilgrims and visitors. These stones are supposed 
to be endowed with healing virtues, and my guide informed 
me that any one bitten by a mad dog can be cured by crawling 
through the narrow interstice which separates them. To the 
faith of the people in this theory, if not to its truth, the high 
degree of polish on the inner surfaces of the stones in question 
bore witness. 

Turning at length with much reluctance from this interest- 
ing spot, I again mounted and rode forward, and, in a few 
minutes, quitted the plain and entered the splendid rocky 
defile through which the river Pulvar flows down towards 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SH/rAZ 243 

Sliiraz. This defile, with occasional widenings into fertile 
grassy valleys, continues to within two stages of Shir;iz. 
There, a little beyond the post-house of Puze, its rocky walls 
fall sharply away to the east and west as it enters the great 
plain of Marv-Dasht. At that point its width is three or 
four miles ; in the rocks to the right are the tombs called by 
the Persians Naksh-i-Ptustam ; on the left, opposite to these, 
are the sculptures of Xaksh-i-Eajab, the ruins of Istakhr, and, 
just round the angle formed by the Kiih-i-Eahmat (" Mountain 
of Mercy ") the stupendous remains of Persepolis, of which I 
shall shortly have to speak. 

This defile of the Pulvar offers some of the finest and most 
picturesque views in Persia : the rugged cliffs which hem it in 
on either side ; the rushing river meandering through fertile 
meadows under the willows which fringe its banks ; the 
fragrant shrubs and delicate flowers which, at this season, 
perfume the air and delight the eye ; the gaily-plumaged 
hoopoes — the birds of Solomon — which dart through the clear 
sunny air ; but most of all, perhaps, the memories of the 
glorious Past wliich every footstep awakens, all combined to 
render this one of the most delightful parts of my journey. 

Soon after turning into the defile we ascended the rocks 
to the right for some distance, and entered the Sang-hur 
(" Eock-cutting "), a passage two or three hundred yards in 
length, just wide enough to admit a man and horse, hewn out 
of the mountain side. While marvelling at this enduring 
triumph of the engineering skill of ancient Persia, a vision 
arose in my mind's eye of gorgeously apparelled horsemen 
spurring in hot haste with messages to or from the " Great 
King" through the Eock-cutting. I pictured to myself 
the white temples and lofty halls of Pasargadae first bursting 
on their sight, and sighed inwardly as I thought of that 
departed splendour, and of the fickleness of fortune, which has 
taken away the very tomb of Cyrus from him to bestow it 
upon Solomon. 

Soon after leaving the Sang-hur I w^as startled — almost 
frightened — by the sudden apparition of four or five armed 
men, who sprang out from behind a rock and barred my 
progress. The reports which I had heard of the disturbed 



244 A YEAR AMONGSl^ THE PERSIANS 

state of F;irs, the tuvbiilencc of its inlialiitaiits, and tlie deeds 
of liizu KIk'ui llaslied through my mind ; and 1 was in full ex- 
pectation of a summons to smrender my money or my life, when I 
was reassured by a humble request on the part of the spokesman 
of the party that I would be kind enough to " remember the poor 
tvfankchi" who watched over the safety of the roads. 1 was 
so relieved that 1 readily gave him what he desired ; and it 
was not till I had passed on, and these guardians of the peace 
had once more hidden themselves in their ambush, that I was 
struck by the ludicrous nature of the proceeding. Imagine 
policemen or sentinels in England hiding behind rocks and 
leaping out on the passing traveller to ask him for a " present " 
in recognition of their vigilance ! 

About mid-day I halted in a pleasant meadow by the 
river for lunch. The infinitely- varied shades of green and red 
exhibited by the willows, just bursting into foliage, the 
emerald hue of the grass, and the pleasant murmur of the 
rushing river flowing past me, rendered the spot charming 
beyond all description. Haji Safar, whose spirits appeared 
to rise higher and higher as he drew nearer to Shiniz (for, 
whatever he may say, in his heart of hearts every Shinizi 
thinks his own native city incomparable and peerless), was in 
high good humour, — a fact which always disclosed itself by his 
giving me a better meal than usual, — and on this occasion 
he went so far as to kindle a fire and make some tea, 
which he brought me triumphantly when I had finished 
eating. 

Eeluctantly quitting this delightful spot, we again con- 
tinued on our way through scenery as varied as it was grand, 
and presently passed through one of the wide cliff-girt valleys 
into W'hich the Pulvar defile here and there expands. Here 
the rich pastures were dotted with groups of black tents 
belonging to the wandering tribes {ilyc'it) moving northward 
into the mountains, while their flocks of sheep and goats, 
tended by dark -eyed graceful shepherd boys, moved hither 
and thither over the plain. Leaving this happy valley we 
entered another defile, which brought us, a little before 6 P.M., 
to the village of Sivand, in which is situated the last telegraph 
station before Shiraz. Here I was received with the utmost 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SH/rAZ 245 

kindness by Mr. and Mrs. Whittingback, whose little boy had 
ridden out to meet me some while before, for I was expected 
earlier. 

Next morning I did not start till about ten o'clock, being 
unwilling to leave the hospitable roof of my kind entertainers. 
The post-road to Shir;iz continues on the left bank of the 
river, but as I wished to visit the inscriptions on the rocks 
above H;ijiabad, which lies on the opposite side, we forded the 
stream, and followed the western bend of the valley, thus 
shortening our day's march by nearly a parasang. Soon after 
mid-day the village of Hajitlbad came in sight, and, as I was 
uncertain as to the exact position of the inscriptions, I began 
carefully to scrutinise the rocky cliffs to the right, in the 
hopes of discerning some trace of them. Presently I detected 
a small squarish hole hewn in the face of the rocks some 
distance up the side of one of the mountains (which at this 
point receded considerably from the road), and at once pro- 
ceeded to scramble up to it. As usual, the clearness of the 
atmosphere led me to underrate the distance, and it was only 
after a long and hot climb that I finally reached the spot, 
where, to my disappointment, no inscription was visible — 
nothing but the shallow excavation, which in the distance 
looked like the mouth of a tunnel. For what purpose and by 
whom it was made I do not know, but I saw several similar 
excavations in the neighbourhood. Disappointed in my 
search, I again descended to the foot of the mountains, and 
continued my way along their base, eagerly scanning the 
rugged cliffs above me. I was much afraid that after all I 
might fail in discovering the object of my search, so numerous 
were the clefts, valleys, and ravines by which the mountains 
were indented and intersected at this point. Presently, how- 
ever, I came to the opening of a wider valley, running straight 
up into the hills, where it divided into two small glens, which 
ascended to the right and left, to lose themselves in the moun- 
tain above. In the mouth of this valley were pitched two or 
three tents, near which a tribesman was watching his grazing 
flock. Accosting him, I enquired whether he knew where the 
writing on the rocks was to be found. 

" Do you mean the ivriting or the sculptures 1 " he demanded. 



2J\6 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

" The writing," T answered ; " T know tiint tlio sculptures 
are lower down the valley." 

"And Avhat do you want with the writing?" asked tlie 
shepherd, suspiciously. " Can you read it ? " 

" No," I replied, " unfortunately I cannot; nevertheless I 
have heard that there are writings from the ancient time 
somewhere in these rocks, and I am desirous of seeing them." 

" You can read them, I know very well," said he, " and 
you hope to find treasures there ; many Firangis come here 
seeking for treasures. However, if you must know, they are 
up there," and he pointed up the valley. I wished to ask him 
in which bifurcation of the valley they were, but he had re- 
turned to his sheep, evidently disinclined to give me any 
further information. 

There was nothing for it but to explore both of the gullies 
in question, and I began with the one to the right. It led me 
up into the heart of the mountain, and, after scrambling up 
amongst huge rugged boulders, I finally found myself at the 
mouth of a most gloomy-looking cavern, which appeared to 
run straight into the hillside. From the rocks above and 
around the water dripped with a sullen plash ; a few bones 
scattered on the ground irresistibly suggested the thought that 
I was in close proximity to the lair of some wild beast, and 
caused me instinctively to feel in my pocket for my revolver; 
while the silence and loneliness of the spot, whence I could 
not even see the road, being hemmed in on all sides by 
beetling rocks, made me in no wise sorry to retrace my steps 
as soon as I was well assured that the object of my search 
was not to be found here. 

I now proceeded to explore the other ravine, which, if less 
gloomy, was hardly less imposing than that which I had just 
quitted. As I ascended, its sides grew steeper and steeper, 
until, approaching one another more and more closely, they 
terminated in sheer precipices. At this point several huge 
boulders lay at their feet, seeming to bar all farther progress, 
and I was beginning to doubt the advisability of trying to 
proceed farther, when, raising my eyes to the rocks on the 
right, I espied, some distance up, a long depression, looking 
dark in the sunshine, on the wall of which I thought I could 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAZ 2^7 

discern a prepared tablet of cruciform shape. Hastily ascend- 
ing to this, I perceived with joy that my conjecture was right. 
On the rock forming the back of this hollow was a prepared 
surface, shaped roughly like a cross with very thick limbs, 
along the transverse length of which were four tablets hewn 
in the mountain face. Of these tablets the two situated to 
the left were bare, having apparently never received the in- 
scriptions for which they were destined ; but each of the other 
two bore an inscription of some length in Pahlavi characters. 
The inscriptions in question have been fully treated of by 
Haug in his admirable Essay on the Fahlavi Language, and it 
is therefore unnecessary for me to say more of them in this 
place than that one of them is in Sasanian, and the other in 
Chaldceo-Pahlavi ; that both belong to the reign of Shiipur I, 
the son of Ardashir Btibakan, the founder of the dynasty; and 
that consequently they date from the third century of the 
Christian era. 

Having satisfied my curiosity, I returned to H;iji' Safar, 
who was awaiting me with the horses in the road, and we 
proceeded in a straight line towards the village of Zangavar 
(situated on the same side of the river as Hajiabad, nearer the 
end of the valley), where I proposed to halt for the following 
day, as it forms the best starting-point for visiting Persepolis 
and the rock-sepulchres of ISTaksh-i-Eustam. Our progress 
was, however, soon checked by innumerable streams and 
ditches, and we were compelled to return to the road skirting 
the base of the mountains on the western side of the valley. 
Annoying as this delay at first appeared, it was in truth a 
most fortunate occurrence, for, while looking about for signs 
of a path which would lead us more directly to our goal, I 
suddenly caught sight of a large cruciform excavation on the 
face of the rock, which I at once recognised, from the descrip- 
tions I had read and the sketches I had seen, as one of the 
tombs of Naksh-i-Rustam, on which I had thus unexpectedly 
chanced. Haji Safar seemed scarcely so well pleased as I 
was, for he well knew that this discovery would involve a 
further delay, and, as the day had now turned cold and windy, 
he would doubtless fain have reached the halting-place as soon 
as possible. Since an hour or two of daylight still remained. 



248 .-/ Vr:AR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

however, it was obviously out of the question to waste it ; and 
as I knew that tlie morrow wouhl be all too short fully to 
explore the wonders of Persepolis, I was anxious to get a clear 
impression of the monuments which so thickly beset this angle 
of the valley. 

Accordingly I spent about an hour in examining and taking 
notes of these — a delightful hour, which passed only too quickly. 
The monuments in question are well known to all travellers 
and antiquarians, and have been fully described in many 
books, so I shall content myself with merely enumerating 
them. 

They are as follows : — 

(i) Four rock-sepulchres dating from Achremenian times. 
Externally, these present the appearance of crosses cut in the 
rock, with limbs equal in length and about half as wide as 
they are long. The aperture affording access to the inner 
gallery (which corresponds to the horizontal limbs of the cross 
in length, height, and position) is near the centre. Of the 
interior I shall have to speak shortly. Two pillars carved out 
of the rock stand on either side of this aperture, which is forty 
or fifty feet above the ground. Tlie upper limb of the cross is 
adorned with sculptured symbols, amongst which a fire-altar sur- 
mounted by a crescent moon, a priest engaged in devotional 
exercises, and, over all, the winged figure girt with the symbol 
of infinity, which forms so constant a feature in the Acha^menian 
tombs, are most conspicuous, 

(ii) Six tablets bearing inscriptions and bas-reliefs of 
Sfisanian workmanship. Close to the first of these (proceeding 
from the north southwards) is a modern Persian inscription,^ 
bearing the date a.h. 1127 (a.d. 1715), which is already 

^ This is not the onlj' place where the kings of modern Persia liave adopted 
this time-honoured means of perpetuating their fame. A similar tablet, hearing 
a bas-relief of the king on horseback spearing a lion, as well as a Neo-Persiau 
inscription (also barely legible), may be seen in the rocks to the north of what 
is generally regarded as the site of Key, near Teheran. I believe that it was 
cut by order of Fath-'Ali Shah. Another and a much better tablet, containing, 
besides a Persian inscription, bas-relief portraits of the present Shah (by whose 
command it was cut) surrounded by his ministers, forms a conspicuous object on 
the rocks above the admirably-constructed new road leading through i\Iazandaran 
from the capital to Amul, about two stages south of tlie latter town. This will 
be further noticed in its proper place. 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAZ 249 

almost as much defaced as the Sasauian inscriptions by the 
side of which it stands, and far more so than the exquisite 
cuneiform of the Acha^menians. Of the six Sasanian tablets, 
most of which are commemorative of victories over the Eomans, 
and one or two of which bear long Pahlavi inscriptions, the 
first is adjacent to the Neo-Persian inscription noticed above, 
and stands about half-way between the first and second rock- 
tombs, but close to the ground ; the second is placed under 
the second rock-tomb ; the tliird between the second and third 
rock-tombs ; the fourth under the fourth rock-tomb ; and the 
fiftlb and sixth, one above the other, just before the angle 
formed by the falling away of the cliff's to the west where the 
valley enters the plain of Marv-Dasht. 

(iii) Oj)posite the last rock-tomb, on the other side of the 
road (which runs close to the face of the cliff), is a square 
building of very solid construction, bearing some resemblance 
to the Tomb of Cyrus. This can be entered by climbing with- 
out much difficulty. It is called by the villagers Kaha-i- 
Zardtusht {" the Caaba of Zoroaster"). 

(iv) On a summit of the rocks which form the angle of 
the valley is a cylindrical pillar about five feet high, sunk in a 
socket cut to receive it. This is called Dasta-i-Pirc-Zan 
(" the Old Woman's Pestle"). 

(v) Beyond the angle formed by the junction of the Pulv.ir 
valley with the Marv-Dasht, and consequently concealed from 
the sight of one standing in the former, are two altars, each 
about 4|- feet high, hewn out of the solid rock. These are 
well described and figured by Ker Porter. 

The above list comprises all tlie remains included by the 
Persians under the name " Naksh-i-Ptustam," and, with the excep- 
tion of a brief description of the interior of one of the rock- 
tombs which I shall shortly attempt, I shall say no more 
about them, since they have been exhaustively described by 
many writers far more competent in this matter than myself. 

Wliile engaged in examining the Naksh-i-Eustam, we were 
joined by a villager wlio had been collecting a plant called 
hangar in the mountains. Some of this he gave to Haji Safar, 
who cooked it for my supper. It is by no means unsavoury, 
and resembles celery more than anything else I can think of. 



V 



A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



This villnij;ov proved to lio n native of Zangavar, the village 
whillior Me were bound ; and on learning that 1 proposed to 
spend the morrow there, so as to explore the antiquities in the 
neighbourhood, he oflered to obtain the help of one or two 
other men, who, by means of a rope, would haul me \\\) to the 
platform of one of the rock-tombs, so as to enable me to 
examine its interior. 

As the gathering dusk warned me that T must postpone 
further explorations till the morrow, I regretfully turned my 
back on the Naksh-i-Iiustam, and, after a ride of fifteen or 
twenty minutes, reached tlie large straggling village of Zangavar, 
Here I was informed that the Kcdkhudd (chief man of the 
village), apprised by the muleteer of my arrival, had assigned 
quarters to me in the taky6 consecrated to the Muharram 
passion-plays. Proceeding thither, I found a clean and com- 
fortable room set apart for me, in which I had hardly 
installed myself when the Kedkhudd in person, accompanied 
by one or two friends, came to pay his respects. He was a 
nice old man, very courteous and kindly in his manners, and 
we had a long conversation, of which the antiquities in the 
neighbourhood formed the principal topic. He told me that 
a little while ago two Frenchmen (working for M. Dieulafoy) 
had been engaged for some time in making plans and taking 
photographs of Persepolis and the Naksh-i-Eustam, in front of 
which they had erected a sort of scaffold {manjanik), the better 
to reach its upper part. They had lodged in this village ; but, 
the Kedkhudd complained, had been very unsociable and 
reticent, refusing to allow the people to watch their work or 
see their photographs and sketches. 

This subject exhausted, the Kedkhudd began to question 
me concerning our religion, and to ask me whether I had 
heard of the European doctor who had recently embraced the 
Muhammadan faith at Shiniz. I answered that I had read 
about his conversion in a Persian newspaper which I had seen 
at Isfahan, and that I was very desirous of conversing with 
him, so that I might learn the reasons which had led him to 
abandon his own creed in favour of Islam. 

" Perhaps you, too," said the Kedkhudd, " will, by the 
grace of God, be brought to believe in the religion of our 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAZ 251 

I'rophet. You have come to see our country from afar; do 
not, like the majority of the Firangi's, occupy yourself with 
nothing but dumb stones, vessels of brass, tiles, and fabrics ; 
contemplate the world of ideas rather than the world of form, 
and seek for Truth rather than for curiosities. Why should 
you not even pay a visit to the most holy tombs of our Imams 
at Kerbela and Nejef ? There you might see the miracles 
whereby they prove to all that they still live and rule." 

" Gladly would I do as you advise," I replied, " and I 
trust that I am not so bigoted as to refuse fairly to consider 
whatever proofs can be adduced in favour of your religion. 
Unfortunately, however, your countrymen and co-religionists, 
so far from offeriug any facilities to ' unbelievers ' for witness- 
ing the miracles whereljy, as you say, the Imams continue to 
manifest their power and presence to the world, would drive 
me from their shrines like a dog if I attempted to approach 
them, even as they did at the shrine of Sh;ih 'Abdu 'l-'Azim. 
Surely they act most unwisely in this matter ; for if, as you 
say, miracles are there wrought, they must be intended not so 
much for those who believe as for those who doubt, and wlio 
might be convinced thereby." 

" You are perhaps right," said the KedhhuclA, after a 
moment's reflection, " yet still I would urge you to make the 
attempt, even if you must disguise yourself as a Persian to do 
so. It would be a pity that you should come here at so much 
trouble and expense, and should take back nothing with you 
but a collection of those curiosities and antiquities with which 
your people seem for the most part to be so strangely in- 
fatuated." So saying, the Kedhhudd took his departure and 
left me to myself. 

Although I was up in good time next day, all eagerness to 
make the best use of an opportunity which I should in all 
probability never again enjoy, I was delayed in starting for 
some time by a crowd of people who, hearing that I possessed 
some medical knowledge, desired to consult me about their 
various disorders ; and it was not till nine o'clock that I 
finally left the village, accompanied by the villager whom I 
had met on tlie previous day, two younger men provided with 
ropes, and a little boy who enlivened the way with his childish 



/ YEAR yl.UONGST THE PERSIANS 



prattle. Arrived opposite the Naksh-i-Rustam, iny guides 
advanced to tlie second rock-tomb, wliich is soniewliat nearer 
the ground tlian tlie others, and more readily accessil)le. 0)ie 
of them climbed up the rocks with marvellous agility to the 
narrow platform which crosses the entrance. He then let 
down the rope, by the aid of which the others followed him. 
The rope was again low^ered. I Ixjund it lirndy round my 
waist, and, not without sundry bumps and abrasions, was 
hauled up to where they stood. 

Entering the tomb by the low doorway opening on to this 
ledge or platform, I found myself in a long gallery correspond- 
ing to the transverse limb of the cross carved on the face of the 
rock. This gallery was twenty-seven paces in length from end to 
end, three paces in width, and perhaps twenty feet in height. 
On the side opposite to the entrance, four rectangular recesses are 
hewn out of the rock, the width of each being about 4l paces. 
The floors of these are not level with the ground, but raised 
some three feet above it. Out of each of these floors are hewn 
three parallel tombs or sarcophagi, their greatest length being 
parallel to the gallery, and consequently transverse to the 
recess in which they lie. These sarcophagi were, of course, 
empty (except for some cUhris of stones and rubbish), and 
their coverings had been destroyed or removed. 

On completing my examination of the tomb and descending 
to the ground, I found a small knot of people collected. These 
asked me whether I could read the inscriptions, and would 
hardly believe my assertion that I was unable to do so, asking 
me if I were not a " mulld." Indeed, one or two appeared to 
imagine that they were written in my own language, or in one 
of the languages of Firangistan. 

We now struck across the valley towards Persepolis — 
" Takht-i-JamsMcl " (" the Throne of Jamshid "), as it is called 
by the Persians — fording the river Pulvar, and passing a square 
stone platform on its further side, called " TalM-i-TcCiis" ("the 
Peacock Throne "). Following the eastern side of the valley 
for a short distance, we presently turned the corner formed by 
its junction with the great plain of Marv-Dasht, and all at 
once there burst on my wondering gaze the stupendous ruins 
of Persepolis. 



Ill 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAZ 253 

Of the ruins of Pasargadaj, the tomb of Cyrus, and the 
rock-sepulchres of Naksh-i-Paistam I have attempted to set 
down some description, however meagre. In the case of 
Persepolis it would be vain to make this attempt, since the 
three or four hours during which I wandered through its 
deserted halls, trod its silent stairs, and gazed in admiration, 
such as I have seldom before experienced, on the endless 
succession of lofty columns, giant statues, and delicate traceries 
(whose beauty long ages, kinder than the besotted Macedonian 
who first stretched forth his impious hand against them, have 
scarcely marred), were hardly sufficient to enable me to do 
more than wonder and admire. To study Persepolis would 
require months ; to describe it, volumes. It has already been 
studied and described by others far more competent than 
myself. All that I shall do, then, is to notice certain minor 
details which happened to strike me. 

On the stones of Persepolis, as on the monuments which 
I have already noticed, a host of travellers of many ages and 
many nations have carved their names, their sentiments, and 
their reflections, by the side of the ancient cuneiform inscriptions. 
Only, by as much as Persepolis exceeds all tlie other ruins in 
extent and splendour, by so much do these memorials exceed 
all the rest in number and interest. The two great stone 
lions which guard the entrance of the eastern hall, and the 
adjacent walls, seem to have been the favourite spots. Amongst 
the European names recorded here, those of Malcolm and his 
suite, carved in large bold Poman characters, are most con- 
spicuous ; while, amidst the remainder, cut or written in every 
possible fashion, the names of not a few distinguished travellers 
are to be found. The sense of admiration and awe with 
: which the place inspired me made me feel that to follow their 
example would be almost a profanation, and I turned to 
examine the similar memorials left by Musulman visitors. 

Many of these consisted, like their European congeners, of 
mere names and dates, and to these I paid but little attention. 
Here and there, however, a few lines of poetry, or a reflection 
on the transitoriness of earthly glory in Arabic or Persian, 
showed me that the same feeling of mixed awe and sadness 
I with which the place inspired me had affected others. Some 



254 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

of these inscriptions were not devoid of grace and beauty, and 
I could not liel}) thinking that, if one must leave a token of 
one's visit to such a spot, these records of the solemn feelings 
evoked thereby were more seemly and more congruous than 
aught else. As a specimen of their tenour I append transla- 
tions of two, both in Arabic : one in prose, one in verse. 

The first was written in a.h. 1206 (a.d. 1791-2) by a son 
of Sh;ih-Eukh Mi'rza, and runs as follows : — 

" JFhere are the proud momirchs of yore? Tliexj multijilied treasures 
which endured not, neither did they endure." 

The second consists of four lines of poetry, attributed by 
the carver to 'Ali, the successor of the Prophet : — 

" TFliere are the kings who exercised dominion 

Until the cup-bearer of Death gave them to drinlc of his cup ? 

How many cities xchich have been built bettvixt the horizons 

Lay ruined in the evening, xchile their dwellers were in the abode of death?" 

This was cut by 'Ali ibn Sult;in Khali'd ibn Sultiin 
Khusraw. 

In one of the windows a stone was pointed out to me, so 
highly polished that I could clearly see therein my reflection 
as in a mirror. Here and there excavations have laid bare 
loner-buried chambers. Some of these excavations were under- 
taken by the command of Ferhad Mirza, the Shah's uncle — less, 
I fear, from a disinterested love of antiquarian research than 
from a hope of finding treasure, which, according to the 
universal belief of the Persians (based, perhaps, on traditions 
embodied in Firdawsi's Book of Kings), is concealed in the 
neighbourhood. My guides assured me that a large " brick " 
or ingot of solid gold had actually been discovered, and that it 
had been sent to Teheran, where it was preserved in the 
treasury of the Shah. They also pointed out to me the spot 
w^here Ferhad Mirza had caused some delinquent to be hanged 
over the parapet of the great terrace. 

It was sad to note how in many places the faces of such 
bas-reliefs and figures as could be reached from the ground had 
been wilfully defaced by fanaticism or ignorance, while many 
of the animals carved on the walls and staircases had been 
made the targets of marksmen, as witnessed by the numerous 



i 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIrAZ 255 

bullet-marks which they bore. But in all cases, so far as I 
saw, the winged genius girt with the girdle typifying infinity, 
which, looking forth from almost every column and cornice, 
seemed to watch still over the cradle of Persia's greatness, had 
escaped uninjured. 

On reaching the edge of the platform next the mountain 
from the face of which it is built out, two sejoulchres on the 
hillside above attracted my attention, and I was making 
towards them when I suddenly espied two figures approaching 
me. The pith hat worn by one stamped him at once as a 
European, and I, thinking that it must be my friend and late 

fellow traveller, H , hastened forward to meet him. A 

nearer approach, however, showed that I was mistaken. The 
wearer of the pith hat proved to be an English officer who 
had been staying for some days in Shiraz on his homeward 
road from India. He was now bound for Teheran, and thence 
for England by way of Paissia. From him I learned that 

H had posted up to Persepolis and back to Shiriiz a day 

or two before, and that he had probably already set out for 
Bushire. After a short conversation we separated, and I 
proceeded to examine the tombs above mentioned, which, in 
general plan, closely resemble the sepulchres of Naksh-i-Eustam, 
with this important difference, that being situated on a sloping 
hillside, instead of on the face of a cliff', they are entered with- 
out difficulty, the inner floor being level with the ground 
outside. Besides this, they only contain two sarcophagi 
a-piece, and a single recess, which is vaulted instead of being 
rectangular. 

Short as the time had seemed to me, symptoms of 
impatience began to manifest themselves' in my guides. 
Although it was not yet four o'clock, they declared that the 
lateness of the hour made it advisable to withdraw from this 
solitary spot, lest robbers, tempted from their hiding-places in 
the mountains by the approach of night, should waylay us. 
Without attaching much credence to their representations I 
was forced to yield to them, and, with many a backward 
glance of regret, to turn my back on Persepolis. On the way 
back to the village I lingered for a while to examine the 
Sasanian bas-reliefs of Naksh-i-Ptajab, which are situated in a 



256 -•/ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

little hollow on the mountain side just behind the post-house 
of Fuze', and attoniptod to transcribe the Greek inscription 
of Sluipur I, wliieh aiTorded the key whereby the mysteries 
of the anomalous and ambiguous Pahlavi tongue were iirst 
unlocked. 

Next morning I quitted Zaugavar, and iiL^iiin turned my 
face southwards. Our departure was greatly delayed by a 
crowd of sick people seeking medical advice, and, even when 
we at length escaped from these, an unwise attempt to talce 
a short cut towards the main road resulted in a further loss of 
time. All the morning our course lay across the Hat marshy 
plain of ]\Iarv-Dasht — a vast amphitheatre, surrounded by 
mountains of which some of those to the west assume the 
wildest shapes. Amongst these one, on which the ruins of an 
ancient fortress are said still to exist, is conspicuous for its 
precipitous and apparently inaccessible summit. The day was 
cold and cloudy with some rain, a state of things wliich 
rendered travelling over the naturally moist and marshy plain 
rather unpleasant. I was surprised, at this distance from the 
sea, to observe a number of gulls. They are called by the 
Persians ^Iv.rfih-i-Nmvruzi {" New Year's Bird "), so that their 
appearance (which is, perhaps, limited to this season) was very 
appropriate ; for we were now within a day of that most 
ancient and most popular festival, the feast of the New 
Year ( Id-i-Nawruz), whereby the Persians have, from time 
immemorial, celebrated the advent of spring. 

About mid-day we reached the end of the plain and 
entered another valley, in w^hich we presently came to a 
great sheet of water, stretching away to the east towards the 
Band-i-Amir} This is traversed by a stone causeway, and 
swarms with a variety of waterfowl. Leaving this behind, 
and bendinfT somewhat to the left towards the mountains 
which form the eastern limit of the valley, we reached 
Zargan, our last stage before Shiraz, about dusk. 

During the morning we had passed eight or ten horsemen, 
whose arrogant bearing and unprovoked incivility proclaimed 
them servants of the ex-governor ; and while passing the sheet 

^ The " Bendemeer's stream" of the poet Moore. Its name signifies "the 
Amir's Dyke." 



\'. 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAZ 257 

of water above mentioned we had heard numerous shots in 
the surrounding hills and on the borders of the lake, which 
testified to the presence of a party of sportsmen. Eumour 
had, moreover, apprised us of the fact that Prince Jalalu 'd-Dawla 
(the son of the fallen Prince Zillu 's-Sultan, and the nominal 
governor of Shi'raz), as well as the aged Sahib-Divan, the 
virtual governor, had quitted the city, in which they had no 
excuse for remaining longer, and were on their way northwards 
to the capital with a large company of followers and retainers. 
On reaching Zargan it was, therefore, with more annoyance 
than surprise that I found the whole town filled with the 
soldiers and servants of the young prince and his minister. 
Enquiries for lodgings were everywhere met with the same 
reply, that there was not a room to be had for love or money 
in the place ; and it was only after a protracted search through 
every part of the town that I was fortunate enough to secure 
a lodging for the night in a small room which served during 
the day as a weaver's shop. While the implements of the 
owner's craft were being removed, I was scrutinised with 
sullen curiosity by a small knot of villagers, over whose 
spirits the jDresence of the soldiers appeared to have cast a 
gloom which rendered them silent and abstracted. 

And here at Zargan I was like to have suffered yet graver 
trouble, and came near perishing, as H;iji Safar poetically 
observed, " like a moth consumed in the candle of Shin'iz," ere 
ever I set eyes on that beautiful and classical city. Por 
while, according to my wont, I lay smoking and reading in 
my camp-bed before composing myself to sleep, slumber over- 
took me unawares, and I lost all consciousness of my surround- 
ings till I suddenly awoke with a sense of suffocation and 
contact with something hot. A moment's examination showed 
me that the quilt on which I lay was smouldering and aglow 
with sparks. I immediately sprang up and dragged it on to 
:he ground, when I found the mischief to be much more ex- 
tensive than I had imagined, at least a third of its lower fold 
being in a state of ignition. Having neither water nor light 
it my disposal, I was compelled to awaken Haji Safar, who 
|Vas sleeping outside on the ground ; and our united efforts 
oon succeeded in extinguishing the flames, but not till the 

17 



ii 



258 A YICylR AAfONGST THE PERSIANS 

gvoiitor part of the quilt had Leeu consumed. Neither was 
this tlie only nn'schief done, for my coat and waistcoat had 
Loth sullered in greater or less degree, while the smoke and 
steam produced by the conflagration and its extinction idled 
the room, and rendered the atmosphere well nigh unbearable. 
I was thankful enough, however, to have escaped so lightly 
from the effects of my own carelessness, and, leaving the door 
open, and rolling myself up as best I could in the remnants of 
my bedding, was soon asleep again. Haji Safar, who, though 
at times self-willed and refractory, was never wanting in time 
of need, insisted, in spite of my remonstrances, in covering me 
with his cloak, which he could ill spare (the night being chilly), 
so that I enjoyed a greater measure of comfort than I deserved. 

When I awoke in the morning all recollections of the 
disaster of the previous night were obliterated by the joyous 
thought that before tlie sun was down I should set foot in 
that city which, for seven years, it had been the chief ambition 
of my life to behold. Leaving Zargan, we had first to strike 
out into the plain to join the main road (remarkable for its 
excessive stoniness), which, crossing over a low pass, brought 
us to a building called Baj-gdh ("the Toll-House"), where 
customs' dues were formerly levied. I was surprised at the num- 
ber of travellers whom we met — more, I think, than on any 
previous day's march since we quitted Trebizonde. Many of 
these were servants or messengers of the old or the new adminis- 
tration, but at all times the traffic between Zargan and Shiraz 
seems to be considerable. Beyond this there was little to attract 
my interest till, about 1.30, on surmounting another pass, Haji 
Safar cried out " RuhndhAd ! Rukndhdd ! " and, with a thrill of 
pleasure, I found myself at the source of that stream, so dear 
to every Shirazi, of which Hafiz declared, in perhaps the best 
known of his poems, that Paradise itself could not boast the 
like. 

But for the rich associations which the sight of it evoked 
in my mind, I might perhaps have experienced that sense of 
disappointment with which Vamb^ry declares he was affected 
by the first view of this classic stream. As it was, I saw 
nothing but the limpid water rushing from its rocky source; 
heard nothing but its melodious ripple ; thought nothing but 



FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIRAz 259 

those thoughts which rise in the mind of one who first stands 
in the favourite haunt of an immortal bard who immortalises 
all that he touches. One often hears the expression, " I had 
heard so much of such-and-such a thino; that when I saw it I 
was quite disappointed." This may happen in the case of objects 
admired or loved only for themselves, but not of those endeared 
by their associations. One does not love Hafiz because he 
wrote of Euknabad : one loves Euknabad because it was written 
of by Hafiz. 

In this pleasant spot I tarried for about an hour, eating 
my lunch under the shadow of one of the trees which stand 
by the edge of the stream. Again setting out, we came in 
about an hour to a building called KJial' at-2nisM, where, as its 
name implies, governors of Shiraz, honoured by receiving such 
a distinction from the Shah, come out to meet the bearers of 
the royal favours, and are invested with the roloe of honour. 
Shortly after passing this spot we perceived a horseman ad- 
vancing towards us, who proved to be the chief servant of my 
host, the ISTawwab INIirza Haydar 'Ali Kh;in. After presenting 
the Nawwab's compliments and regrets that he had been un- 
able himself to come out to welcome me by reason of the 
multitudinous social duties incidental to the Naw-n'iz, the 
servant turned his horse's head and led the way towards the 
city. We were, I gathered, quite close to it now, and I was 
so full of expectancy that I had but little inclination to talk. 
Suddenly we turned a corner, and in that moment — a moment 
of which the recollection will never fade from my mind — 
there burst upon my delighted gaze a view the like of which 
(in its way) I never saw. 

We were now at that point, known to all students of Hafiz, 
called Tang-i-AlWiu Akhar, because whoever first beholds 
I Shiraz hence is constrained by the exceeding beauty of the 
isight to cry out in admiration " ^//aAw Akbar" — "God is 
most great ! " At our very feet, in a grassy, fertile plain 
girt with purple hills (on the loftier summits of which the 
snow still lingered), and half concealed amidst gardens of dark 
stately cypresses, wherein the rose and the judas-tree in luxuri- 
ant abundance struggled with a host of other flowers for the 
iiastery of colour, sweet and beautiful in its garb of spring 



J 



26o A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

vordinc which clothed the very roofs ol" the bazaars, studded 
witli many a slender minaret, and many a turquoise -hued 
dome, lay the home of Persian culture, the mother of Persian 
genius, the sanctuary of poetry and philosopliy, S]n'r;iz. liiveted 
on this, and this alone, with an awe such as that wherewitli 
the pilgrim approaches the shrine, with a delight such as that 
wherewitli the exile again beholds his native land, my eyes 
scarcely marked the remoter beauties of the scene — the glitter- 
ing azure of Lake Mah;ilu to the east, the interminable gardens 
of Masjid-Bardi to the west. Words cannot describe the 
rapture which overcame me as, after many a weary march, I 
gazed at lengtli on the reality of that whereof I had so Ioul;- 
dreamed, and found the reality not merely equal to, but far 
surpassing, the ideal which I had conceived. It is seldom 
enough in one's life that this occurs. When it does, one's 
innermost being is stirred with an emotion which baflles 
description, and which the most eloquent words can but 
dimly shadow forth. 

From the Tang-i-Allahu Akbar the road runs broad and 
straight to the gate of the city, to reach which a wide and 
well-built bridge spanning a river-bed (which, even in spring, 
contains comparatively little water except after heavy showers, 
and wdiich in summer must be almost dry) is crossed. De- 
scending this road, which at this festal season was enlivened 
by hundreds of pleasure-seekers, who, dressed in their best, 
had come out from the city to enjoy the fragrance of the 
air and the beauty of the fields, we first passed under the arch, 
in a chamber over which is preserved the great " Kur'iin of 1 7 
maunds " {Kur dn-i-hifdah mani), whereof it is fabled that a 
single leaf, if removed, would Nveigh as much as the whole 
volume. Lower down, just to the right of the road, Musalla, 
another favourite haunt of Hafiz, was pointed out to me. The 
building wdiich at present stands there is quite modern, and 
the "rose-walks," on which Hafiz dwells so lovingly, have dis- 
appeared. To the left of the road were the gardens of Jdifir 
numd, Dil-gushd, Chahil-tan, and Haft-tan ; beyond these were 
visible the cypresses which overshadow the grave of Hafiz; 
while farther still the tomb of Sa'di could just be discerned. 
To the right lay a multitude of other gardens of less note; 






FROM ISFAHAN TO SHIrAZ 261 

everywhere the fresh grass clothed the plain with a robe of 
verdure such as is seen but rarely in Persia ; while the soft 
spring air was laden with the perfume of a thousand flowers. 
I ceased to wonder at the rapturous enthusiasm wherewith 
the Shirazi speaks of his native city, or to regard as an ex- 
aggeration far removed from the truth that verse of Sa'di's 
which I have already quoted : — 

" Khushd tafarritj-i-Nawrftz, khusse dar Slurdz, 
Ki bar kanacl dil-i-mard-i-musi'ijir az watanasli." 

" Pleasant is the New Year's outing, especially in Shiraz, 
Which turns aside the heart of the wanderer from his native land. " 

Nay, in these "meadows set with slender galingale," in this 
" laud where all things always seemed the same," I felt con- 
strained to " fold my wings, and cease from wanderings " ; 
almost as though a voice from the unseen had whispered them, 
there sounded in my ears the lines — 

" Our island home 
Is far beyond the wave ; we will no longer roam." 

A little before reaching the bridge which leads to the Isfahan 
gate, we turned to the right, and continued outside the city 
wall till we came to the " Gate of the King's Garden " 
{Dcrivdz6-i-Bdg]i-i-Shdh), by which we entered. A short ride 
through the narrow, tortuous streets brought us at length to 
the house of my host, the Nawwab. Dismounting at the 
gate, I was ushered into a large and handsome courtyard 
paved with stones and traversed by a little stream of clear 
water which flowed from a large square tank at the upper end. 
On either side of this stood a row of stately sycamores, inter- 
spersed with orange-trees, while a mass of beautiful flowers 
tastefully grouped lent brightness to the view and fragrance to 
the air. 

! As I stood here the Nawwab himself came out to welcome 
ime with that easy courtesy and unaffected hospitality wherein 
the Persians excel all other nations. Taking me by the hand, 
I he led me into a room opening into the courtyard, where, as 
is customary at the New Year, and for the twelve days which 
[Succeed it (during which all work is laid aside, and paying and 



262 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

receiviug cougratulatory visits is the sole business of all), a 
multitudinous array of all manner of sweetmeats was laid out. 
The samdvar (urn) hissing in a corner gave promise of the 
welcome tea, which did not delay to make its appearance. 
After I had partaken of two or three cups of this, and 
answered the usual questions concerning the friends I had left 
at Teheran, the journey, and my health, the Nawwiib rose and 
conducted me to the rooms which, at the special request of 
his elder brother, the Nawwab Mirz;i Hasan 'Ali Klu'in (in 
whose house at Teheran I had spent so pleasant and j)rofi table 
a month), had been set apart for me. Pleasant and commo- 
dious as they were, and luxurious as they seemed after the 
hardships of the road, their chief charm in my eyes was that 
they had given shelter to poets whose names form the brightest 
ornament of modern Persian literature — poets amongst whom 
in sweetness, melody, wealth of metaphor, and purity of dic- 
tion, the brilliant genius of Ka'ani stands unrivalled and 
unsurpassed. 



CHAPTEK X 



SHIEAZ 



" Dil mi-harand Kazvinidn, shakar-lahaiul Tabrizidn, 
Khuband Isfaluiiiidn, mem handa-am Shirdz-rd." 

" The Kazvinis steal our hearts, the Tabrizis have lips like sugar, 
Beautiful are the Isfahanis, but I am the slave of Shiraz." 

" Khushd Shiraz u vaz -i-hl-misdl-ash ! 
Khuddvavdd, nigah ddr az zaivdl-ash ! " 

" Sweet is Shiraz and its incomparable site ! 
O God, preserve it from decline ! " — Hafiz. 

To the three weeks which I spent in Shi'ruz I look back with 
immixed pleasure. The associations connected with it are 
familiar to every student of Persian ; its natural beauties I 
have already feebly attempted to depict ; its inhabitants are, 
amongst all the Persians, the most subtle, the most ingenious, 
the most vivacious, even as their speech is to this day the 
purest and most melodious. 

For seeing all that was most worth seeing, mixing in the 
society of the town, and forming an estimate of its life and 
thought, I enjoyed rare facilities. Living as I did in the heart 
of the city, in the house of one universally respected, not 
merely as the representative of an ancient and noble family, 
but as a gentleman whose genial manners, enlightened views, 
and liberal patronage of talent, rendered him peculiarly fitted 
for the responsible post which he occupied of Agent to the 
British Government, 1 was enabled to move freely in circles to 
which I might 'otherwise have failed to gain access. For 
acquiring fluency in the Persian language also I had continual 



^\ 



264 .-/ IVfy/A- AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

oppnvtiinities. My host, it is true, possessed some knowledge 
ot" English, but preferred to employ his own language in con- 
versation ; a preference which, it is needless to say, I was far 
from regretting; while few of the visitors, and none of the 
servants, with whom I came into daily contact, spoke anything 
but Persian. 

Although the visitors who came to the house were 
numerous, there was, except my host (with whom, when 
no other engagement prevented it, I took my meals), but one 
constant guest at table. This was the Nawwab's uncle, " Hdiji 
Dai " (" Uncle Haji "), as he was usually called for the sake of 
brevity, who had come from Fasa (where he habitually resided) 
to Shiraz on a New Year's visit. For him I conceived, after a 
wliile, a great liking and admiration, though at first unable to 
penetrate liis unusual taciturnity. Except in this respect, he 
was a thorough Persian of the old school, in dress as in every- 
thing else, and I was never tired of admiring the scrupulous 
neatness of his appearance, or the beautiful brocade lining 
revealed by the backward turn of the cuffs of his kahd. As I 
have already said, he was sparing of words, but when he spoke 
it was to the point ; while the interesting details concerning 
the country east of Shiraz which at times he would give me 
were enhanced by a peculiar piquancy of idiom and expres- 
siveness of gesture which I have never seen equalled. Thus, 
for example, in speaking of the length of a stage between two 
places near Kum he remarked, "They call it seven farsakhs, 
but such a seven farsakhs as would burn the father of nine 
farsakhs " (" hamchunin haf farsakhi ki pidar-i-nuh farsakh-rd 
hi-silzdnad "); in answering my question as to whether the 
water in Lake Ni'riz was fresh or salt, he said, " So salt that I 
take refuge with God ! " (" chundn talkh ki pendh bar Khudd !"); 
neither shall I ever forget the tone of the " Estaghfiru 'lldh ! " 
{" I ask pardon of God ! ") with which, in true Persian fashion, 
he would answer any question which he wished emphatically 
to negative. 

Besides Haji Da'i there was but one of the Nawwab's 
relatives resident in the house whom I often saw (for from the 
society of his sisters and other female relations I was naturally 
excluded). This was the son of my friend Aka Muhammad 



SHIRAz 265 

Hasan Khan Kashka'i, who, when he bade me farewell at 
Teher;in, had specially commended his boy to my notice. 
The latter, who was also the Nawwab's nephew, came to pay 
me a visit a day or two after my arrival. He was a bright 
handsome lad of about twelve or thirteen years of age, and, 
though rather shy at first, soon became very friendly, and 
would eagerly listen to anything which I told him about my 
native land or my travels. 

Of the Nawwab's numerous servants one or two deserve 
some brief mention. Of these the chief was he who had come 
out to meet me on my first arrival, and who was indeed rather 
a steward than a servant. He had a brother, Shukru 'llah by 
name, who played with exquisite skill on the rebeck {si-tar), 
to the accompaniment of which he would also sing in a sweet 
melodious voice. The poor fellow was blind, and I shall never 
forget the pathos of his tones when, as I was seated one 
evening with the Nawwab and a chance guest by the side of 
the stream in the courtyard under the moonlit plane-trees, he 
heard the former address me in an interval of the music as 
" Haldm Sahib," and eagerly exclaimed, " Hakim ! did you say 
hakim, Master ? Is our guest a physician ? Can he not 
perhaps cure my blindness and enable me once more to behold 
the light ? " And when the Nawwab answered gently, " No, 
my poor fellow, he is a metaphysician (haJcim-i-ildhi) rather 
than a physician (hakim-i-tahii); he can do nothing for you," 
it went to my heart to see the momentary expression of 
anxious hope which had crossed the face of the blind minstrel 
pass, through a quiver of disappointment, into the look of 
patient sadness which his countenance habitually wore. 

Of all the servants, however, he with whom I had most 
to do, and indeed the only one with whom I habitually 
conversed much, was a black called Elmas (" Diamond "). He 
had been in the family, to which he was deeply attached, for 
many years, and had, I suppose, been born in Persia or 
brought thither when a child ; at any rate he spoke Persian 
with no foreign accent which I could detect. To him was 
entrusted the duty of attending on me ; he used to bring me 
iniy tea in the morning, announce meals or visitors, and often, 
'when I was alone, would stop and talk for aii hour at a time. 



266 // YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

A pious Musulnuin, and extremely attentive to all the duties 
of his relij^ion, he yet seemed quite free from that fanaticism 
and distrust of those belonging to other creeds with wliicli 
piety is sometimes associated. Often he would talk to nic uf 
his master and his master's friends ; of the noble families of 
Shi'raz, its poets, its learned men, and its governors, especially 
Ferli;'id ]\Iirza, concerning whom he related many strange things ; 
how he had hanged Sheykh Mazkur on a lofty gibbet, after 
making him eat one of the coins he had struck in his own 
name ; how he had put down Muhammad Tahir Gilladari, who, 
from the fastness near Diinibjird where he dwelt, sallied forth 
to plunder caravans till none dared pass that way ; how he 
had bricked-up alive a multitude of less notable outlaws by 
the side of the highways which had witnessed their depreda- 
tions ; and how, never forgetting the slight put upon him by 
the people of Shi'ruz when he was recalled from his first 
administration, he ever cherished towards the city and its 
inhabitants an unconquerable aversion. 

Thoroughly imbued with the superstitions of the country, 
Elmas would sometimes talk of Jinnis, Ghuls, 'Ifri'ts, and other 
sprites and hobgoblins which are said to infest its desert places. 
One day, soon after my arrival, while crossing the courtyard 
with the Nawwab on my way to lunch, I saw a strange sight. 
Lying on his back on the ground, with outstretched arms, legs raised 
in the air, and soles upturned to heaven as though to receive 
an invisible bastinado, was a man of the lower classes whom I 
did not recognise as one whom I had previously seen about 
the house. How he came there I know not, nor what ailed 
him ; and when I asked my host he merely shook his head 
silently. As we continued to watch him, he suddenly gave a 
deep groan, and rolled over on his side with legs still Hexed ; 
whereupon Elmas, who had been standing quietly by, an 
unmoved spectator of the scene, approached him, and began to 
adopt the necessary measures for his revival. In the evening 
when Elmas came to my room I questioned him as to this 
strange occurrence. 

" It was the Jinnis," he answered ; " this man had doubtless 
offended them, and therefore do they torment him thus." 

" In what wav do men offend the Jinnis ? " I asked. 



SHIRAZ 267 

" In many ways," replied Elmas, " as, for instance, by 
throwing a stone witliout first giving them warning by 
exclaiming ' Bismi 'lldhi 'r-Rahmdni 'r-IlaJiim ' (' in the name 
of God the Merciful, the Clement ' ). In such cases the stone 
may strike an invisible Jinni and blind him or otherwise cause 
him injury ; such injury the Jinni's never forgive, but continue 
at intervals to inflict chastisement on the offender, even as you 
saw to-day." 

I then proceeded to tell Elmas the stories I had heard 
from the muleteers in the Valley of the Angel of Death about 
the various hobgoblins whose favourite haunt it is supposed to 
be. With most of these he acquiesced, but of the Nasnas he 
gave a somewhat different account. 

" It does not injure people " ; he said, " it is of a playful 
disposition, and contents itself with frightening. For 
instance, a man was riding between Shiraz and Bushire when 
he saw what he took to be a lamb by the roadside. He 
picked it up and placed it in front of him across his saddle- 
bow. After he had gone some distance, he chanced to glance 
down on it, and saw with terror and amazement that it had 
grown and grown in length till its head and tail trailed on 
the ground on either side of the horse : whereat, being greatly 
alarmed, he cast the tiling from him and galloped off as hard 
as he could. These are the sort of pranks the Nasnas delights 
to play ; but, so far as I have heard, it never inflicts more 
serious injury." 

One morning, a day or two after my arrival, Elmas an- 
nounced to me that Mirza Farhang, with his brother Mirzd 
Yezdani (both poets of note, and sons of the celebrated poet 
Wisal), were below and desired to see me. Anxious to make 
the acquaintance of two of the most talented men in Shiraz, 
from a perusal of whose poetry (which, though perhaps scarcely 
equal to that of their elder brother, Mirza Davari, now deceased, 
is extremely fine) I had already derived much pleasure, I 
hastened down to greet my illustrious visitors. Mirza Yezdani 
was accompanied by his son, and the son of another of his 
brothers (also deceased), who wrote under the name of Himmat. 
My conversation was entirely with the elder poets, chiefly with 
Mirza Earhang; for, however talented a son may be, and how- 



268 ,/ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

ever lionoured, it is contrary to Persian custom and etiquette 
for him to speak much in the presence of his father. I was 
ijreatly impressed with tlie appearance and manners of my 
talented visit(.)rs, especially with those of Mi'rzii, Farhang, to 
whose conversation an unusual breadth of knowledge and 
quickness of apprehension, combined with a soft voice and 
gentle unassuming manner, lent an irresistible charm. Poetry 
and philosojihy naturally formed the chief topics of discussion ; 
concerning the philosophy of the Hindus, and the method em- 
ployed in deciphering the cuneiform inscriptions, Mirza Farhang 
manifested a special interest. The time passed all too quickly, 
and I was equally surprised and sorry when the visitors, 
declaring that they had already outstayed the ordinary limits 
of a morning call, rose to n;o. 

To the European doctor who had embraced Ish'im I have 
already alluded. I was naturally anxious to see him, and 
learn what causes had induced him to take this step. This at 
first appeared to be more difficult than I had supposed, for he 
seemed to dislike meeting other Europeans, though whether 
this arose from fear of being made the object of reproaches, or 
from a feigned fanaticism, I could not learn. At length, after 
several disappointments, business brought him to the Nawwab's 
house, and he sent up a message by H;iji Safar that he would 
be glad to pay me a visit if I was disengaged. I at once sent 
word that I should be pleased to see him if he would come up, 
and in a few minutes he entered the room. The Persian dress 
which he had adopted did not appear to sit easily on him, and 
harmonised ill with his personal appearance, which was any- 
thing but Oriental; neither did he seem to have become 
accustomed to his new part, for, on entering the room, he 
removed his lamb-skin hat, revealing hair cut in the Persian 
fashion, the natural reddish hue of which had been heightened 
rather than concealed by the henna with which it had been 
dyed. Thinking it unwise to question him at once on the 
causes which had led him to change his creed, I asked him ! I 
concerning his adventures and travels. He informed me in 
reply that, having completed his medical studies at one of the 
large London hospitals, he had taken a post as surgeon on 
board an emigrant ship, in which capacity he had visited 



SHIRAz 269 

America, China, India, and Australia. After many wanderings 
and adventures, including a quarrel in the gold-fields wherein 
he had received a shot in the arm (the scar of which he showed 
me), he had finally arrived at Jedda. While he was residing 
there (according to his account) a message came that the Sherif 
of Mecca had been wounded with a knife in the abdomen, and 
desired the services of a European surgeon, if such were 
obtainable. Accordingly he proceeded thither, and treated the 
wound of his distinguished patient so successfully that in a 
short time it was cured, and the Sherif, moved by gratitude to 
his preserver, not only allowed him to remain at Mecca during 
the Pilgrimage, but also permitted him to visit Medina. The 
ceremonies of the Hajj, especially the " stoning the devil " at 
Arafat, and the sacrifice of sheep at Mina, he described in detail ; 
of the latter he spoke with mingled disgust and amazement, de- 
claring that the ground was literally covered with innumerable 
carcases of slaughtered animals, which were, for the most part, 
left to rot and poison the atmosphere with their noisome stench. 
From Mecca he had returned to Jedda, and thence by Bushire 
to Shirdz, where he had resided three or four months as a 
medical practitioner. 

" I am tired of this place now," he said in conclusion, " and 
as I have seen everything worth seeing in the city, including 
Shah Chiragh and the other mosques (to which, I suppose, you 
have not been able to gain access), I intend to move on some- 
where else. Where are you going when you leave ? " 

" Yezd and Kirman," I answered, wondering inwardly if 
he would propose to accompany me, a plan to which, for several 
reasons, I should have refused to consent ; " and you ? " 

" I think that will be about my line of country," he replied, 
" I want to get to Mashhad, whence I shall return home, for I 
am tired of wanderings and adventures, and would like to see 
my old mother again, who must be wondering at my long 
absence, if, indeed, she be not anxious on my account." 

At this moment a young friend of mine, with whom I had 
first become acquainted some years before in Europe, and whom 
I shall henceforth designate as Mi'rza 'Ali, entered the room, 
accompanied by an aged Seyyid. As I knew the latter to be 
not only a follower but a relation of the Bab, and as the rene- 



270 A YEAR AMONGST THE TERS/ANS 

gade doctor was accompanied by an individual professedly 
devoted to tlie Sufi philosophy and styling luniself " ^fur.sh^d " 
(spiritual director), who was bitterly opposed to tlie new 
religion, I became very uneasy lest some collision shoidd occur 
between my visitors. Such ill-timed encounters fill us witli 
anxiety even in England, where self-restraint and avoidance of 
dangerous topics are inculcated on all : in I'ersia, where religious 
questions form one of the most usual subjects of conversation, 
where religious feeling is so strong, the passion for discussion 
so great, and caution so scanty, they become positively dreadful, 
and I would almost as lief carry a lighted brand through a 
powder magazine as assist again at some of those terri])le 
reunions at which (especially in Kirnuin) it was my fate — I 
can hardly say my privilege — to be present. 

On this occasion, however, my worst apprehensions were 
not destined to be fulfilled, though the direction given to the 
conversation by Mirza 'All kept them fully alive till the doctor 
and his companion departed, leaving the field to the B;ibis. It 
was, of course, necessary that I should introduce my Muham- 
madan compatriot to the new-comers ; I hesitated whether to 
style him by the name which he had adopted on changing his 
creed, or by that which he had previously borne. Eventually 
I chose the latter course. 

" May I introduce to you Dr. ," I said, " if, as it 

appears, you have not already made his acquaintance ? " 

" If I have not met him I have heard about him," answered 
Mirza 'All ; then, turning to the renegade, " What evil did you 
see in your own religion," said he, " or what good in Islam, 
that you have abandoned that for this ? You, who appear to 
me to speak Persian but indifferently, do you know enough 
Arabic to understand the Kur'an ? " 

The object of this somewhat scornful address replied that 
he had read a translation of the sacred book. 

" Translation ! " exclaimed Mirzti 'Ali witli ill-concealed 
contempt, " and pray wdiat particular passage or doctrine so 
commended itself to you that you became convinced of the divine 
origin of Islam ? Eor of course you had some strong reason 
for casting aside the faith in which you were born." 

The other muttered something about " liking the whole 



J 



SHIRAz 271 

thing," "being a Voltairian who regarded Christian and 
Muhammadan as one and the same," and " doing at Eome as 
Eome does," — to all of which his interrogator vouchsafed no 
reply but a short laugh and a silence more chilling than words. 
The situation was painful and constrained in the extreme, and 
I was sincerely thankful when it was brought to an end by 
the departure of the discomfited doctor and his ally " MursMd." 
The latter was present at another similarly ill-assorted 
gathering which chanced in the same room a few days later. 
On that occasion he was accompanied by another friend, whom 
he introduced as a profound philosopher, but whom the Babi's 
described subsequently as a notorious atheist (Id-maz-hab). 
They had hardly entered when they were followed by two of 
my Biibi friends, one of whom was a zealous propagandist and 
missionary of the sect, the friend, fellow-worker, and companion 
in numerous hardships of him whom I had met in the house 
of tlie dallcd at Isfahan. Though he was only a temporary 
resident at Shirtiz, which he has since quitted, I do not con- 
sider it advisable to mention his real name, and (since I shall 
liave occasion to allude to him repeatedly) shall henceforth 
tlesiguate him as Haji Mirza Hasan. His companion was a 
young Seyyid, well known as a zealous partisan of the new 
religion. Although, fortunately, no overt passage of arms took 
place (the Babis, as before, being soon left in complete posses- 
sion of the field), Murshid's suspicions were aroused by meeting 
notorious Babis in my room on each of the two occasions on 
which lie had visited me. A few days before I left Shiraz I 
was informed by a young Armenian gentleman with whom I 
was pretty intimate that Murshid, who was assisting him in 
Ids studies, had sent me a special message warning me against 
Hi'iji Mi'rza Hasan, and assuring me that I should do well to 
be more careful in clioosing my associates, as a report (probably 
originated by himself) had got about Shiraz that I had become, 
or was on the point of becoming, a Babi. To this caution it 
is almost needless to say that I paid no attention, being amused 
rather than disquieted by this absurd rumour ; indeed, I con- 
fess that I considered myself honoured rather than insulted by 
being identified with a body which can boast of a past so 
heroic. 



272 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

This was not tlie first warning which Murshid had given 
me on this point. The occasion of his first attempt to alienate 
me from his enemy, Haji Mirza Hasan, ai'fords an example of 
that extraordinary readiness in divining one's train of thouglit 
freqnently possessed by the Persians, concerning which Vjimbcry 
says that it often caused him the most lively disquietude 
when, in dervish habit, he was pursuing his adventurous journey 
to Turkistan. To explain how the occasion in question arose, 
it is necessary to make a digression, and go back to the circum- 
stances which first made me acquainted witli Murshid. 

My young Armenian friend (who, though born in Persia, 
had received an English education in Bombay, and spoke my 
native language at least as fluently as his own) was extremely 
kind in taking me to see whatever was of interest in the 
neighbourhood. Indeed, but for his good nature my stay at 
Shiraz would have been much less entertaining and profitable 
than it actually was, and many places of interest to which he 
guided me would have remained unvisited. One day he asked 
me if I should like to accompany him on a visit to some 
distinguished Persian friends of his. 

" I came to know them through my Mi'rza {Murshid)" said 
he, " and as I must go and see them to offer them my 
congratulations for the New Year, I thought you might like to 
accompany me. They are of royal blood, being descended from 
the Farindn-farmd, who was the eldest son of Fath 'All Shah, 
and a man of great consequence and some literary attainments.^ 
If you care to come, I am sure that they will be pleased to 
see you," 

Of course I readily agreed to the proposition, being always 
eager to enlarge my knowledge of Persian society. Accordingly, 
in the afternoon I accompanied my Armenian friend to the 
house of his aristocratic acquaintances, who received us very 
hospitably, and urged us to partake of the tea, kalydns, sweet- 

^ He wrote several works, including the SMrdz-ndm6 ("Book of Shii'i'iz"), 
Kitdb-i-Dilgushd ("Book of Dilgusha," or "Book expanding the Heart") and 
Safinatu'n-Najdt ("Ark of Salvation"), ruled Shiraz and the province of Fars 
for nearly forty years, and adorned the former with the garden called Bdgh-i-Naw. 
His daughter was the mother of the late Nawwdb j\Iuliammad-Kuli Khan, whose 
sons my new acquaintances were. These details were given me by Murshid, who 
professed himself devoted to the family, at whose house he was a constant guest. 



SH/rAZ ■ 272> 

meats, and other delicacies which, couformably to Persian 
custom at this festal season, were set before us in unstinted 
profusion. I was surprised to see amongst these a dish of 
dried prawns, wliich, I was informed, are brought from the 
Persian Gulf. They are called in Persian mcygtl, and are 
esteemed a luxury, though, in my opinion, undeservedly. 

The Princes were very curious to know what had brought 
me to Persia, how I liked Shiraz, and how I was in the habit 
of travelling. They affected great surprise on learning that I 
had no horse of my own, and had only hired three animals from 
a charvadctr. I met their expressed astonishment and implied 
contempt not by an argument (wliich I knew would be useless), 
but by an apologue. 

" I have read in some book," I remarked, " that the great 
philosopher Diogenes used continually to decry the luxury 
which he saw around him, declaring that for him three things 
sufficed as furniture and clothing : the cloak wherewith he 
covered his nakedness, the staff wherewith be supported his 
steps, and the cup wherewith he quenched his thirst. Now 
one day, as he was drawing near to a stream to drink, he saw 
a child bending down over it, and raising the water to its lips 
by means of its hands, which it had placed together to form a 
cup. When Diogenes saw this, he threw away the cup which 
he carried, and cried out, ' Alas ! alas ! for years I have been 
inveighing against unnecessary luxury, and all the while I 
carried with me an encumbrance of which this child has taught 
me the uselessness ! ' The moral of this is obvious, to wit, that 
what is really indispensable to us is but little." 

" Wah ! wall ! " replied my hosts, "that is indeed tajarrud " 
(freedom from worldly ties) : " we have only the name ; you 
have the reality." 

Harmony being thus happily restored, I was taken to see a 
room, the walls of which were adorned with family portraits 
and paintings illustrative of scripture history. The portraits, 
of which my friends seemed justly proud, included one of Path 
All Shiih, very finely executed ; one of the grandfather of my 
'losts; and one of their uncle. The scripture subjects were 
our: Moses and the Burning Bush; Abraham offering up 
'shmael (according to the version of this event given in the 



274 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

KurVm) ; Joseph taking leave of Jacob ; and Christ with the 
Vii'uin jMary. While examining these M'orks of art (wliicli, 
indeed, well deserved attentive consideration) sundry little 
giggles of laughter and whisperings, proceeding from behind a 
carved wooden screen occupying the upper portion of the wall 
on one side of the room, caused me to glance in that direction, 
where several pairs of bright eyes, just visible through the 
interstices of the woodwork, left no doubt in my mind that 
the ladies of the harem were making merry at my expense. 

Before I left, my hosts exacted from me a promise that I 
would accompany them, on a day subsequently to be fixed, to 
an old rum called Kasr-i-Abu-JVa.^r, situated some miles to the 
east of Shiniz, which they declared to be equal in age to 
Persepolis. The day fixed for this excursion was that 
succeeding the morning which had witnessed the encounter 
between INIurshid and the Babis, in my room. The time was 
afternoon. The party consisted of IMurshid, my Armenian 
friend, and myself, together with our hosts, the princes, and 
one or two servants. 

We left Shiniz by the gate of the slaughter-house (Denvdz4- 
i-kasmh-Jchdn^), somewhat appropriately so named, as it 
seemed to me ; for just outside it, on either side of the road, 
was a double series of pillars of mortar, ten or twelve in 
number, each of which had formed the living tomb of an 
outlaw. There they stood, more or less disintegrated and 
destroyed, exposing here and there a whitened bone, to bear 
grim testimony to the rigour of the redoubtable Ferhad Mirza. 
Turning my back on these dismal relics, as well as on the 
tomb of Sheykh Paiz-bahan, a saint of some repute, I rode 
slowly forward with Murshid. A pause occurring in the 
course of conversation, I said, more for the sake of making a 
remark than anything else : 

" I heard rather a curious expression the other day." 
" Did you ? " replied Murshid, " what was it ? " 
Xow the expression in question was " ass's head " (in 
Arabic, rdsvJl-himdr ; in Persian, sar-i-khar), which signifies 
one whose presence in an assembly prevents free and 
unrestrained conversation. Thou^di I had indeed heard it 
from the Babis, and though it most happily described the 



sh/rAz 275 

position of Mursliid in my room on the previous day, it had 
not been applied to him, though a train of thought, of which I 
was myself unconscious, undoubtedly prompted me to make 
this unhappy and very mal-a-propos remark. 

" ' Bc'tsu 'l-himdr^ " I answered, without reflection. 

Murshid did not fail to detect a sequence in my thought 
of which I myself was quite unaware. 

" Yes," said he, somewhat grimly, " a very curious 
expression ; generally used in its Persian form, \sar-i-khcir.' 
From whom did you hear it ? " 

" Oh," I replied in some confusion, " I am not sure — I 
have almost forgotten — That is, a friend of mine " 

" — was kind enough to apply it to me when I so 
inopportunely broke in upon your little private conference." 

I attempted to stammer a disavowal, feeling extremely 
annoyed with myself for the folly of which I had been guilty, 
and yet half amused at the readiness with which a cap that 
fitted so remarkably well had been snatched up. Murshid 
paid no heed to my explanations. 

" As you are so fond of metaphysics," he remarked severely, 
gazing straight before him the while, " you have no doubt 
studied the Masnavi of Mawlana Jalalu 'd-Din Eumi, and 
may perhaps remember these lines, which I would in any case 
strongly commend to your attention — 

' Chfm basi ihlts-i-udaiii-rUy hast, 
Pas bi-har dasti na-shdyad dad dast.' 

j ' Since there are many devils in the guise of men, 

I One should not give one's hand into every hand.' " 

" I am sure I hope there are not many such human devils 
iin Shirilz," I exclaimed. 

" On the contrary," he answered shortly, " in Shi'rilz they 
are particularly abundant." 

The subject dropped, but it took some time to smooth the 
jruffled feelings of my companion. Indeed, I am not sure that 
I ever regained his goodwill, or succeeded in obliterating the 
■emembrance of my unhappy remark. 

Except for this incident the excursion was a very pleasant 
)ne, though we halted so long in two gardens belonging to the 



276 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Princes (who were much more bent on a good ride, and a qnict 
tea and smoke under the trees of their lieritages, than on 
antiquarian research) that \vc had very little time lell to 
examine the Kasr-i-Abii Nasr. It is quite a small enclosure 
surrounded by stones, carved with a few bas-reliel's like those 
at Persepolis, but devoid of inscriptions. Whether these 
undoubtedly ancient stones were originally placed in their 
present position I do not know ; but one does not see what 
object can have induced anyone to bring them there from 
Persepolis or Darabjird. Of the four doorways which the 
building possessed, only one is standing, the other three having 
fallen, in consequence of " excavations " undertaken at the 
command of Perhad ]\Iirz;i. The faces of the beautiful great 
figures cut in bas-relief on the stones of the gateway have, like 
some of those at Persepolis, been wilfully destroyed. On one 
of the fallen stones, however, is a bas-relief representing a 
procession of captives or slaves laden with presents, which is 
almost uninjured. 

Small as the extent of this interesting spot was, I had not 
time to examine it satisfactorily. The sun was close to the 
horizon when we reached the ruins, and had now completely 
disappeared from view. It was high time to direct our steps 
towards the city with all haste, if we did not desire to be 
benighted in the open plain. As it was, we nearly lost our 
way several times, and only regained the city after blundering 
through marshes and streams innumerable towards the 
twinklino' liohts which marked its situation. 

The badness of the road prevented us all riding together, 
and I found myself, during the greater part of the way, next 
one of the princes. After he had exhaustively questioned me 
concerning the amount of my income, the sources whence it 
was derived, my occupation, my object in visiting Persia, and 
the like, he expressed a great desire to travel in Europe. 

"Do you think I could find any employment in England?" 
he asked. 

" It would not be easy," I answered, " for our country is 
already over-full, and many are compelled to emigrate. 
Besides, you do not know our language. If you did come, I 
doubt if you would like it after the novelty was gone. Why 



SHIrAZ -277 

should you desire to leave Shi'rdz ? Your lot seems to me very 
enviable : you have a beautiful house, numerous horses and 
servants, gardens and villages such as we have visited to-day, 
and all this in one of the fairest spots I have ever seen. What 
motive can you possibly have for desiring to leave all this ? " 

" I am tired of the useless and aimless life we are compelled 
to lead here," he replied ; " every day it is the same thing : — 
in the morning we read or practise calligraphy till lunch ; after- 
wards we sleep for an hour or two ; then we have tea and 
smoke kalydris ; then — unless we have visitors — we go for a 
ride or walk ; then supper and bed. It is wearisome." 

" Could you not obtain some definite employment from the 
Government here ? " I demanded. 

" The Government would not employ us," he answered, " just 
because we are of royal descent. Is it so in your country ? Is 
high birth there an impediment to promotion ? But they are 
distrustful of us because we are of kingly race. They prefer 
to employ persons of lowly origin, whom they can chastise for 
any fault. But suppose it were us, suppose we were to neglect 
our work or help ourselves to the public money, they could not 
punish us because we are so distinguished {mutashakhkhas). 
So they decline to employ us at all." 

This was the longest excursion which I made while 
resident in Shiraz. Indeed the objects of interest in the 
immediate vicinity of the city are so numerous that it is not 
necessary to go far afield. Of some of these it is time to speak 
briefly. 

Of course the tombs of Hafiz and Sa'di first attracted my 
footsteps ; indeed I would have visited them the first day after 
my arrival had it been possible, and was unable to rest till I 
had done so. Before speaking of them in detail it will be well 
to give the reader some idea of the relative situations of the 
various places which I shall notice. 

Most of these lie to the north of the city. Let the reader, 
itherefore, suppose himself to have followed the Isfahan road 
(already partially described at the end of the preceding chapter) 
for about a mile and a half, and to have ascended the rise 
[leading to the Tang-i-AlWiu Aklar. Spanning this at its 
'aarrowest point is tlie arch on which rests the kur'dn-i-liifdali 



27S A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

mani already mentioned. Close to this, on the western side of 
the road, is a raised platform called Maslirikcyn, on which is a 
little pleasure-garden and coffee-house commanding a fine view. 
On the opposite side of the valley, a little above the bottom, 
along which Hows the stream of Ihikndldd, is another building 
standing on a platform. This is called Takld-i-Nizdm, and is 
a celebrated resort of gamblers and dice-players. On the 
summit of the hill above this {i.e. the hill to the east of the 
Tang) is a curious little brick building called Kelivdri-i-Div 
(" the Demon's Cradle "), probably by reason of two horn-like 
projections from the roof. 

Here we pause, and, looking southward towards the city, 
enjoy a magnificent view, bisected, as it w^ere, by the broad 
white line formed by the road along which we came from the 
town to the Tawj-i-Alldhu Alcbar. Let us first consider the 
objects of interest which lie to the east of this. The chief of 
these, beginning with the remotest, are as follows : — 

The Sadiyy6 (Tomb of Sa'di) standing somewhat apart from 
the gardens scattered in such rich profusion in the plain below 
us. It lies at the foot of the hills, half concealed in a little 
valley which runs into them at this place, and is not conspicuous 
from most points of view. 

The Hdfiziyyd (Tomb of Hafiz), far more popular and better 
cared for, rendered conspicuous by its tall dark cypresses and 
wliite w^alls, 

Chahil-tan ("Forty bodies"), and Haft-tan ("Seven bodies"), 
pleasant shady groves interspersed with commodious buildings, 
which afford a quiet retreat to those who, wearied of worldly 
cares, adopt the calm life of the dervish. 

Then come the gardens, amongst which two are con- 
spicuous — 

Bdgh-i-Dilgushd, the favourite haunt of the Sahib-Divan; 
and — 

Bdgh-i-Jdn-numd, situated close to the road. 

This completes what w^e may call the " eastern hemisphere " 
of our panorama, with the exception of the Chdh-i-3hirtazd-' AH 
('All's well), situated on another summit of the hills behind 
and to the east of our place of outlook, the Kehvdr4-i-Div. Of 
this I shall speak presently. 



shirAz 279 

Let us now turn to the " western hemisphere." Crossing 
the road from the Bdgh-i-Jdn-numd just mentioned, we come 
to another very fine garden, the Bdgh-i-Naiv} 

Some distance to the north-west of this, farther from the 
road and on the slopes of the hills, is the splendid but neglected 
Bw]h-i- Taklit ("Garden of the Throne"), conspicuous for the 
white terraces and buildings which stand at its farther end, 
looking towards the city over avenues of judas-trees (crghavdn). 

Beyond and above this, perched half-way up the mountain 
side, stands a small white edifice surrounded by a few cypresses. 
This is called Bdbd Kuld. 

The whole plain is dotted with gardens, but on the slopes 
of the hills which bound it towards the west, overlooked by the 
dazzling summit of the Kuh-i-Barf (" Snow Mountain "), there 
is a compact mass of them extending for several miles. This 
is Masjid-Bardi. 

Amongst the gardens west of the city are two belonging 
to my host the Nawwab. The nearer of these is called Bdyh-i- 
Slieykh, and the pleasant dwellings situated therein are 
occupied by the English members of the telegraph staff, the 
Superintendent, and the Doctor, while their Armenian colleagues 
dwell in the town. The further one, distant perhaps two or 
three miles from the city, is situated close to the river-bed, on 
its northern side. It is called Bashk-i-Bihislit (" the Envy of 
Paradise"). Two pleasant picnics in this charming spot (of 
which the second was brought to an untimely end, so far as I 
was concerned, by an event which cut short my stay at Shin'iz 
and altered all my plans) will be spoken of presently. 

Having now given a general, and, I hope, a sufficiently 
clear account of the topography of Shi'raz, I shall proceed to 
notice some of the places above mentioned in greater detail, 
beginning with the tombs of Htifiz and Sa'di. 

Both of these, together with the Bdgh-i-Dilgushd, I visited 
on the same day, in company with one of the Nawwab's 
servants. Though they are within an easy walk of the town, 
one of the Nawwab's horses was placed at my disposal. It 
was a most beautiful animal, and the play of the muscles under 
its glossy skin gave token of great power, which, accompanied 

^ See footnote on p. 272, siqjra. 



2So A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

as it was by a display of freshness and spirit (" play," as the 
Persians admiringly call it), M'as to me a source rather ol' 
anxiety than of gratification. I would greatly have prel'erred 
to walk, but it is hard to persuade a l*ersian that one prefers 
walking to riding, and I was constrained to accept an offer 
which was kindly intended. 

The tomb of Hatiz occupies the centre of an enclosed 
garden beautifully planted with cyjoresses and orange-trees. 
It is marked by a simple oblong block of stone, engraved with 
inscriptions consisting for the most part of quotations from the 
poet's works. At the top is the following sentence in Arabic : — 

" HuwA 'l-bak! wa kullu shey''" hIlik." 
" He (i.e. God) is the Enduring, and all else passeth away." 

Beneath this is the ode beginning — 

" Miizhd^-i-wasl-i-ta Mi ? KPaz sar-i-jdn bar JcMzam ; 
TdHr-i-kuds-am, va az ddm-i-jihdn bar hhizam." 

" "Where is the good tidings of union with Thee 1 for I will rise up with 
my whole heart ; 
I am a bird of Paradise, and I will soar upwards from the snare of the 
world." 

Eound the edge of the stone is inscribed the ode beginning — 

" Ey dil, ghuldm-i-shdh-i-jihdn hash, ft shah bash ! 
Peyvast^ dar himdyat-i-lutf-i-Ildh bash ! " 

" heart, be the slave of the King of the World, and be a king ! 
Abide continually under the protection of God's favour ! " 

Written diagonally across the two triangular spaces formed by 
the upper corners of the tombstone is the couplet — 

"Bar sar-i-turhat-i-md chfm guzart himmat l;hwuh, 
Ki ziydrat-(jah-i-rinddn-i-jihun khwdhad shud." 

" When thou passest by the head of our tomb, invoke a blessing, 
For it will be the place of pilgrimage of (all) the libertines of the world," 

The corresponding spaces at the lower end of the tablet bear 
the well-known lines composed to commemorate the date of 
the poet's death : — 



SHIRAZ 281 

" Ghiruyh-i-ahl-i-mdna Kli^nje H<^'fi^, 
[Ki shami bftd az nfcr-i-tajalld, 
Gha dar khdk-i-Musalld sdkht manzW] 
Bi-jfc tdrikh-ask az ' KhIk-i-Musalla.' " 

" That Lamp of the mystics, Master Hafiz, 
[Who was a candle of lij^lit from the Divine Effulgence, 
Since he made his abode in the Earth of Musalld] 
Seek his date from » the Earth of Musalla.' " i 

The unequalled popularity still enjoyed by Hafiz is attested 
by the multitude of graves which surround his tomb. What 
Persian, indeed, would not desire that his ashes should mingle 
with those of the illustrious bard from whom contemporary 
fanaticism would fain have withheld the very rites of sepulture t 

More remote from the city, and marked by a much humbler 
edifice, lies the grave of Sa'di. Popular — and deservedly 
popular — as his Gulistdn and Biistdn are, alike for the purity 
of style, richness of diction, variety of matter, and sententious 
wisdom which characterise them, in Persia itself his Divan is 
probably more widely read and more highly esteemed. Indeed 
it may be questioned whether in his own country his odes are 
not as much admired, as ardently studied, and as often quoted 
as those of Hi'ifiz. But over his memory lies a shadow sufficient 
to account for the fact that few, if any, of his countrymen have 
cared to share his last resting-place, and that his grave stands 
alone in the little enclosure. Sa'di, it is generally believed, 
was a Sunni ; and whether it be true, as some of his admirers 
assert, that in professing this form of belief he merely practised 
the concealment of his real convictions {Jcctmdn) authorised by 
Shi'ite ethics wdienever considerations of personal safety appear 
to require it, the suspicion that he was really an adherent of 
this sect, so odious to every Shi'ite Persian, was sufficiently 
strong to impel a fanatical Mnjtctliid of Shir;iz to destroy the 
tombstone originally erected over the poet's grave. The present 
stone was set up at the expense, and by the orders, of the 
Kiwani — the father of the present Sahib-Divan. It bears the 

^ Only the first and last of these four lines are given on the tombstone, the 
intermediate ones having probably been omitted for lack of space. Each letter 
of the Arabic alphabet has a numerical value (these values ranging through the 
units, tens, and hundreds to one thousand), and the words " Klidk-i- Musalld" 
("Earth of Musalla ") are numerically equivalent to [a.h.] 791 ( = a.d. 1389). 



282 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

same Arabic inscription, testifyinjj^ to the transitoriness of all 
things but God, as that which is engraved on the tomb of 
Hiitiz. Below this are engraved the opening lines of that 
canto of the Bustdn written in praise of the Prophet. 

At the Hdfiziyy6 I had been unable to see the copy of 
the poet's works kept there for purposes of divination and 
augury, as the guardian of the shrine {mutavxdli) was engaged 
in performing his devotions. At the Sadiyyd I was more 
fortunate ; the mutaivalli was disengaged, and readily produced 
the manuscript of the complete works {hulliydt) of the poet. 
It is very well written, and beautifully ornamented, but not old, 
for it dates only from the reign of Karim Khan the Zend (c. a.d. 
1770). Twelve pages, which had been destroyed or lost, have 
been replaced by the skilful hand of Mi'rza Farhang, the poet. 

The Garden of Dilgush;i, whither I proceeded on leaving 
the Sa'diyye, is very beautiful, with its tanks of clear water, 
avenues of orange-trees, and variety of flowers. The gardener 
brought me a present of wall-flowers (Jcheyri), and I entered 
into conversation with him. He said that the Sahib-Divan, to 
whom it had belonged, had been passionately attached to it, 
and that the thought of abandoning it to strangers, who might 
neglect it or injure its beauty, had added the sharpest sting to 
the humiliation of his dismissal. That the Sahib-Di'van was 
a bad administrator I have no doubt, but he was not cruel, and 
this love for his garden appears to me a pleasing trait in his 
character. Indeed, one cannot help pitying the old man, dis- 
missed from the office he had so long held, and recalled from 
his beloved Shiraz to the capital, to meet the doubtful mood of 
a despot, while the name he left behind served as the butt 
whereon the poetaster and the satirist might exercise their wit till 
such time as a new object of scorn and derision should present 
itself. For it is not only the graceful and melodious lays of 
Hafiz, Sa'di, or Ka'ani, which, accompanied by the soft strains 
of the si-tdr and the monotonous beat of the dumhak, delight the 
joyous revellers who drink the wine of Klmllar under the roses 
bordering some murmuring streamlet ; interspersed with these 
are rhymes which, if less lofty, seldom fail to awaken the 
applause of the listeners. We are apt to think of the Persians 
as an entirely sedate, grave, and almost melancholy people ; 



SHIRAZ 283 

philosophers, often pessimist, seldom mirthful. Such a type 
does indeed exist, and exists in plenty. Yet amongst all 
Orientals the Persians are perhaps those whose idea of humour 
most nearly approaches our own, those in whom the sense of 
the ludicrous is most highly developed. One is amazed at the 
ready repartees, brilliant sallies of wit, bon-mots, and "chaff" 
which fly about on all sides in a convivial gathering of Persian 
literary men, 

" ' Chaff,' " the reader may exclaim, " is it possible that the 
compatriots of 'Omar Khayyam can condescend to 'chaff' ?" 

Not only is it possible, but very far from unusual; more 
than this, there is a very rich vocabulary of slang, of which the 
existence would hardly be suspected by the student of Persian 
literature. This is not all. The Persians have a multitude 
of songs — ephemeral, of course, and not to be bought in the 
bookshops — which, if they are not comic, are most decidedly 
topical. These compositions are called tasnif, and their authors, 
for the most part, modestly — perhaps wisely — prefer to remain 
anonymous. 

In such lampoons, in words devoid of ambiguity, and with 
a frankness bordering on brutality, were the faults and failings 
of the Sahib-Divan held up to ridicule and obloquy. I only 
remember a few lines of one of the most popular of these 
songs. They ran as follows : — 

" Dilgushd-rd sakht zir-i-sursurah, 
Dilgushd-ru sdkht bd chfib fc falak, 
Heyf-i-Dilguslut ! 
Heyf-i-Dilgiishd ! " 

"He made Dilgusha under the ' Slide,' ^ 
He made Dilgusha with the sticks and pole, - 
Alas for Dilgusha ! 



o"- 



Alas for Dikaisha ! '■ 



o^ 



^ The "Slide" (sursurak) is a smooth incline on the hillside to the east of 
the Tang-i-Allahu Akbar above the garden of Dilgusha. 

" " The sticks and pole," i.e. the bastinado. The pole in question is employed 
to retain the ankles of the culprit during the infliction of the punishment. It 
is simple in construction, consisting merely of a straight piece of wood pierced 
towards the middle by two holes a short distance apart, through which is passed 
a loop of rope. This loop, thrown round the ankles of the victim, and made taut 
by a few turns, renders flinching impossible. 



284 ^' YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

From all tliat I have said it will be suflicieiitly evident 
that the S;ihib-Div:iii was extremely unpopular with tlie 
Shi'razis. Perhaps his own misdeeds were not the sole cause 
of this unpopularity. The memory of the black treachery of 
his ancestor, Huji Ibr;iliim Khan, may be answerable to some 
extent for the detestation in which he was held. The story of 
this treachery is briefly as follows : — 

On the death of Kan'm Khi'in, the noble and chivalrous 
prince of the Zend dynasty, and the succession of the no less 
noble, no less chivalrous, but far more unfortunate Lutf 'Ali 
Khan, H;iji Ibrahim Khiin was retained by the latter in the 
influential position which he had previously occupied. So far 
from suspecting that one attached to him and his family by 
every bond of gratitude could meditate his betrayal, Lutf 'Ali 
Khan reposed the fullest confidence in his unworthy minister, 
and entrusted to him those powers which rendered possible an 
act of infamy as hateful as the tyrant in whose service it was 
done. The fortune of the Zend was already on the decline : 
already the tide of battle had turned against him, and Shiraz 
had awakened from a dream of happiness to find the K;ijar 
bloodhounds baying beneath her walls. Then Haji Ibrahim 
Khiin conceived the diabolical idea of securing his own safety 
and wealth by selling his kind master to a foe as implacable 
as he was cruel, as mean in spirit as he was hideous in aspect. 
Aka Muhammad Khan readily accepted the traitor's services, 
promising in return for these that so long as he lived Ibrahim 
Khan should be honoured and protected. So one night the 
gates of Shiraz were opened to the usurper; and it was only by 
heroic efforts that Lutf 'All Khan succeeded in escaping for 
the time from his cruel enemy, and, cutting his way through 
all who sought to bar his progress, fled eastwards towards 
Kirman. 

Aka Muhammad Khan kept his word to the letter. So 
long as he lived, Htiji Ibrahim Khan was loaded with favours. 
But when the tyrant felt his last hour approaching, he called 
to his side his successor, Fath 'Ali Shah, and addressed him in 
words to this effect : — 

"As soon as I am dead, and you are established on the 
throne which I have won, let your first act be to extirpate, 



sh/rAz 285 

root and branch, the family of Haji Ibrahim Khan. I swore 
to him that, as a reward for his treachery, I wonkl protect and 
honour him as long as I lived. This oath I have faithfully 
kept ; but when I am dead it will be no longer binding. 
Therefore I counsel you to be rid of the traitor and all his 
brood, for one who did not scruple to betray a master who had 
shown him nothing but kindness will certainly not hesitate to 
do the same again should opportunity offer. Let not one of 
that accursed family remain, for truly has the poet said — 

'^Akibat gurg-zdde gurg shavad, 
Garche bd ddami buzurg shavad.' 

' At leugtli the wolf-cub will become a wolf, 
Even though it grow up amongst men.' 

Let no compunction stay your hand ; let no false clemency 
tempt you to disobey my dying injunctions." 

Fath 'All Shah had no sooner mounted the throne than he 
proceeded to execute the last behest of his predecessor. From 
all parts of the empire the descendants of the traitor to whom 
the new king owed his undisputed sujDremacy were sought out. 
Perhaps, when he had in some measure slaked his thirst for 
blood, Fath 'Ali Sluih remembered that the black sin which he 
was now visiting on the innocent progeny of the criminal had 
after all been perpetrated in his interests and for the con- 
solidation of his power. At any rate, he so far mitigated the 
rigour of his instructions as to spare some few of the doomed 
family after they had been deprived of their eyesight and 
otherwise mutilated. Only one, whose tender years moved the 
compassion of the executioners, escaped unharmed. That one 
was the father of the Sahib-Divan. Can we wonder if, when 
such punishment was meted out to the offspring of the traitor 
by the tyrant whom he served, hatred should be the portion of 
his descendants from the city which he betrayed ? So much 
for the Sahib-Divan. We must now return to Shiraz and its 
environs. 

The garden of Haft-tan I visited with my Armenian friend. 
It is a pleasant secluded spot, well fitted to calm the spirits 
and elevate the thoughts of the dervishes who dwell within its 
shady precincts. The presence of a large and savage-looking 



286 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

dog, whicli rushed at us with loud barkings as soon as we 
entered tlie gate, somewhat marred tliis impression of quietude 
at tirst : it was, however, soon secured by one of tlie dervislies. 
AVe sat for a while by the seven graves from which the place 
takes its name, and drank tea, which was brouglit to us by the 
kindly inmates. A venerable old den^ish entered into conversa- 
tion with us, and even walked with us as far as the gate of 
the city. He was one of those dervishes who inspire one with 
respect for a name which serves but too often to shelter 
idleness, sloth, and even vice. Too often is it the case that 
the traveller, judging only by the opium -eating, hashish- 
smoking mendicant, who, with matted hair, glassy eyes, and 
harsh, raucous voice, importunes the passers-by for alms, con- 
demns all dervishes as a blemish and a bane to their country. 
Yet in truth this is far from being a correct view. Nowhere are 
men to be met with so enlightened, so intelligent, so tolerant, so 
well-informed, and so simple-minded as amongst the ranks of 
the dervishes. 

The only other object of interest outside the city which 
demands any detailed notice is the Chdh-i-Murtazd 'AH; for 
the gardens not described above, beautiful as they are, possess 
no features so distinctive as to render description necessary. 
The Chdh-i-Murtazd 'AH ('All's well) is situated about half a 
mile to the north-east of the Kehvdrd-i-Div, on the summit of 
the hills east of the Tang-i-AlWiu Akhar. A building of 
considerable size, inhabited by the custodian of the shrine and 
his family, surmounts the " well," which is reached by descend- 
ing a very slippery stone staircase of nineteen steps. This 
staircase opens out of a large room, where visitors can rest and 
smoke a kalydn. Above the archway which surmounts it are 
inscriptions in Arabic and Persian of no very ancient date. 
Half-way down the rocky stair is a wider space, which forms a 
sort of landing. At tlie bottom is a small cave or grotto, 
wherein is a little well, such as one often sees by English 
roadsides, into the basin of which water continually drips 
from the rock above. Opposite this a tablet shaped like the 
tombstones seen in old churchyards is carved on the wall. In 
the centre of this is a rude design, which appears to be intended 
for a flower growing in a flower-pot. On either side of this 



sh/rAz 287 

are two lines in Arabic, but these are so effaced by time and 
the touches of visitors to the shrine that they are almost 
illegible. In front of this tablet is a place for votive candles, 
which are brought hither by the devout. We were not 
allowed much time for examining the place, the guardian of 
the shrine continually calling out to us from above that the 
air was bad and would do us an injury, which, indeed, was 
possibly true, for it seemed to me to be loaded with carbonic 
acid or other stifling gases. Having ascended again to the 
room above, we stayed a while to smoke a kalydn and talk to 
the custodian. He knew little about the age or history of the 
place, only asserting that in ancient days it had been a fire- 
temple, but that in the days of Muhammad the fire had been 
for ever quenched by a miraculous bursting forth of the water 
from the well. 

I have now described all the more interesting places 
outside the city which I visited. It remains to say 
somethino; of those situated within its walls. There are 
several fine mosques, the most celebrated of which is Shah 
Chiragh, but to these I was not able to gain access, and of 
them I cannot therefore speak. The narrow, tortuous streets 
differ in no wise from those of other Persian towns, but the 
bazaar demands a few words of notice. It was built by 
Karini Khan the Zend, and, though not very extensive, is wide, 
lofty, and well constructed. As regards the wares exposed 
for sale in its shops, the long muzzle-loading guns manufactured 
in the city (which, primitive as they may appear to a European, 
are capable of doing wonders in the hands of the Persian 
marksmen) chiefly attract the notice of the stranger. The 
book-shops are few in number, and the books which they 
contain are Ijrought for the most part from Teheran, there 
being no printing-press in Shiraz. Indeed, so far as I know, 
the only presses in Persia are at Teheran, Isfahan, and Tabriz. 

All, or nearly all, the European wares sold in Shin'iz are, 
as one would expect, of English manufacture. The sale of 
these is chiefly in the hands of the Armenian and Zoroastrian 
merchants who inhabit the Kdravctn-sardy-i-Baivghani and the 
Kdravdn-sardy-i-Mushir. In the shop of one of the Armenian 
traders I observed English guns, ammunition, tennis-shoes, 



288 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

tobacco, preserves, potted meats, writincj materials, note-books, 
an Indian sun-hehnet, and a musical box ; articles which 
would be vainly sought for in Teheriin, where nearly all, if not 
all, the European goods come from Iiussia. 

The number of Zoroastrians in Shiniz does not exceed a 
dozen. They are all merchants, and all natives of Yezd or 
Kirm;in. To one of them, named Mihraban, a Yezdi, I paid 
one or two visits. On the occasion of my first visit he 
informed me with delight that he was expecting a Parsee from 
Bombay in a few days, and expressed a hope that I would 
come and see him. A fortnight later, as I was passing near 
the caravansaray, I heard that the expected guest had arrived, 
and turned aside to Mihraban's shop to see him. At first 
sight I took him for a European, for he wore English clothes, 
and on his head a cloth cap of the kind known as " deer- 
stallcers." Our conversation was conducted in English, which 
he spoke well — much better than Persian, in which, at any 
rate colloquially, he was far from proficient, having learned to 
pronounce it after the fashion prevalent in India. I found 
that he was on his way to Europe, Avhich he had already 
visited on a previous occasion, and that he had chosen the 
overland route through Persia, because he desired to behold the 
ancient home of his ancestors. I asked him how he liked it. 

" Not at all," he replied ; " I think it is a horrible country : 
no railways, no hotels, no places of amusement — nothing. I 
have only been in Shiraz a couple of days, and I am tired of 
it already, and mean to leave it in a day or two more." 

" I think it is a beautiful place," I answered, " and though 
I have been here more than a fortnight, I am in no wise 
wearied of its charms, and have not begun to think of quitting 
it yet." 

" Beautiful ! " he exclaimed ; " you cannot surely mean that 
you admire it ? What can you find to like in it — you, who 
have seen London and Paris — who have been accustomed to 
civilised countries ? " 

" Perhaps that is just the reason why I do like it," I 
answered, " for one just gets the least bit tired of ' civilised 
countries ' after a while : they are all so much alike. Here 
everything is delightfully novel and refreshing. Of 



shirAz 289 

course you will go to Yezd to see your co-religionists 
there ? " 

" Not I ! " he replied ; " I shall go straight to Teheran as 
fast as I can, only stopping a day or two in Isfahan on the 
way. My sole desire is to get out of this country as soon as 
I can into one where there are railways and other appliances 
of civilisation. As for my co-religionists, I have no particular 
wish to see more of them than I have done at present. I 
suppose they are all like this man " (pointing to his host, who 
stood by smiling, unconscious of the purport of his guest's 
remarks) — "little better than savages." 

" Well," I said, mentally contrasting the ingratitude of this 
admirer of civilisation with the humble but cordial hospitality 
of the host whom he affected to despise, " I am not a Zoroastrian, 
yet I intend to visit Yezd before I leave Persia, expressly to 
see your co-religionists there, and I wonder that you too do 
not wish to acquaint yourself with their condition." 

I then bade farewell to my Parsee friend and his host, but 
I fell in with the former again on his journey northwards, as 
will be set forth in its proper place. 

The Sahib-Divan had quitted Shi'raz before the Feast of 

the Nawruz. The new governor, Prince Ihtishamu 'd-Dawla 

(the son of Ferhad Mirza), whom I had already seen at Teheran, 

(lid not enter the city till the thirteenth day after it. This 

circumstance was for me very fortunate, since it enabled me 

not only to witness the ceremonies attendant on his entry, but 

|a.lso to visit the citadel i^Arg) during his absence. 

j The entry of the new governor into the city was a very 

ine sight. He had been in the neighbourhood for several 

lays, but the astrologers had fixed on the thirteenth day after 

he IsTawriiz as most auspicious for his inauguration. From a 

'ursian point of view it was so, for, as it is a universal 

loliday, all the people were enabled to take part in the rejoic- 

ngs. From a European standpoint the selection seemed 

carcely so happy, for the day chosen was the first of April. 

Having been misinformed as to the time when the Prince 
*^ould arrive, I was too late to see more than the entry of the 
recession into the great square in front of the citadel {McydAn- 
■Arg). From the lofty roof of the majestic building which 

19 



J 



290 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

now contains tlie telegraph - offices I obtained a uood 
view of tlie Avliole pageant. The l*rince, mounted on a hand- 
some gray liorse, was surrounded by all the nobles of 
Sln'nlz and the neighbourhood, and preceded by a number of 
soldiers and couriers, and a band mounted on camels, while a 
vast crowd followed and filled the square. A roar of artillery 
greeted his arrival, causing the building on which we stood to 
tremble. From what I heard 1 should fancy that the sight 
outside the city was even finer. Both sides" of the road as fiir 
as the Tang-i-Allc'iMi Alcbar were lined with spectators, while 
numerous deputations came out to meet and welcome the 



o 



new governor. 



The citadel (Arg) is a large and handsome pile containing 
a fine garden, in the centre of which is a building called, from 
the shape of its roof, KuWi-i-Firangi (" the European's Hat "). 
The interior of this is cruciform, four elongated rooms opening 
out of the central hall, in the middle of which is a fountain. 
The lower part of the walls is composed of the beautiful 
marble of Yezd. The building is entered on either side by 
three steps, each of which is made of a single block of stone. 
It was in this building, I believe, that the Babi captives taken 
at Ni'riz were exhibited to Firiiz Mi'rza, then governor of Shiraz. 
These captives, consisting entirely of women and little children 
(for the men had all been slain on the spot), were subsequently 
confined in an old caravansaray just outside the Isfahan gate, 
where they suffered great hardships, besides being exposed, as 
the Babi historian asserts, to the brutality of the soldiers. 

On the outer wall of the principal block of buildings is a 
series of bas-reliefs representing the exploits of the old heroes 
of ancient Persia. These have been gaudily coloured by order 
of the young Prince Jalalu 'd-Dawla. Some of the rooms in 
this block are very beautiful, but several have been converted 
into bakehouses, and the paintings on their walls blackened 
with smoke and dirt. One very pretty room contained a por- 
trait of the present Shah, painted at the beginning of his reign, 
while the ceiling w^as adorned with representations of female 
figures. On the side of the room opposite to the windows 
and entrance were three doors leading to apartments beyond. 
Over each of these was inscribed a verse of poetry. 



SHIRAZ 291 

The first ran thus : — 

" Sar-i-dushman 'ti ditst bar in dar-ast. 



') 



Bar in (istdn pdsban kaysar-ast. 

Yaki khwdst Fafsar nihad — soa' nihdd : 

Yaki sar nihdd — dngah afsar nihdd." 

" At this door are laid the heads of enemies and friends, 
On this threshold kings stand sentinel. 
One desired to wear a crown — he lost his head : 
Another laid down his head — and then wore a crown." ^ 

The second was as follows : — 

" Bdshad dar-i-rahnat ki Khudd karde firdz ! 
Mardtim sH-yi Ix, dm ka'ba drand namdz ! 
Chfin kaba bi-khivdnamash ? Ki dyad bi-niydz 
Injd Murjh k HindU ih Ahisulmdn bi-namdz." 

" May it be the door of mercy which God has opened ! 
May men pray towards it as towards the Kaba ! 
How shall I call it ^Ka^ba' ? For hither come in supplication 
Magian and Hindu and MusulmAn to pray." 

The third ran thus : — 

" In dar (Id bdd td bi-abad sijda-gak-i-khalk !) 
Did dsmdn, ii fiuft, ' Bar-u pdsbdn man-am ! ' 
Dawlat bar astdne-i-fi bar nihdd sar 
Yant, ' Kamine chdkar-i-in dstdn man-am / ' " 

" This door (may it be till eternity the place of the people's 
reverence !) 
Heaven saw, and said, ' Over it I am the sentinel ! ' 
Fortune laid down her head on its threshold. 
As though to say, ' I am the humble servant of this threshold.' " 

Several of the fireplaces in the different rooms bore 
ippropriate verses inscribed on them. Two of these may 
fjerve as examples. The first runs thus : — 

" Az bulhdri md tarik-i-dftsti dmfikhtim, 
Klivnshtan-rd az bardiji hamnishindn sftkhtim." 



I 



" We have learned the way of friendship from the grate, 
We have consumed ourselves for the sake of our neighbours." 

^ That is, one revolts and is beheaded, while another submits and is 
ivarded with a crown. 



292 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

The second is as follows : — 

" Bi-ghayr az bukMri na-dldlm Icasi 
Ki bu dushman fi dUst garmi dihad." 

" Excejjt the grate, we have seen no one 
Who is wurni alike towards friend and foe." 

Having now attempted to depict the city of Shiriiz — its 
palaces, gardens, shrines, pleasure - grounds, and places of 
resort — I must return once more to the life within its walls. 
As I have said, there was no lack of society, and I enjoyed 
opportunities of witnessing a variety of Persian entertain- 
ments. As I have already described the general features 
of these in speaking of Teheran, I shall endeavour to be as 
concise as possible in this place, merely noticing such points 
as were novel to me. 

Two days after my arrival at Shi'raz I was invited with 
the Nawwiib to an entertainment given by an Armenian 
gentleman connected with the telegraph. On reaching the 
house soon after sunset I was cordially received by the host, 
who introduced me to his wife and another lady relative, and 
to his cousin, whom I have already had occasion to mention 
more than once as the companion of my excursions. The 
latter was about tw^enty-one years of age, had resided for a 
long time in Bombay, where he had been connected with the 
press, and spoke English perfectly, as did my host. The 
ladies preferred to talk Persian, in which language one of 
them was remarkably proficient, reading with ease the most 
difficult poetry. After a short while the other guests arrived. 
These were three in number : the Bcglcr-hegi, a young and 
somewhat arrogant nobleman ; a friend of his, less arrogant 
but more boisterous ; and a turbaned and bearded philosopher. 
To the latter I was introduced as a student of Metaphysics, 
and he at once proceeded to question me on the books I had 
read, the teachers with whom I had studied, and, finally, on 
some of those knotty problems which, long buried in oblivion 
in Europe, still agitate the minds and exercise the ingenuity 
of the Persian schoolmen. From a trying cross-examination 
as to my views on the primordial atom {juz allaclM Id 
yatajazzd) I was fortunately relieved by the entrance of two 



J, 



shirAz 



^93 



Jewish minstrels and a dancing -boy, who had been engaged 
for our entertainment. The attention of the philosopher 
began to wander ; his eyes were fixed on the evolntions of 
the dancer ; his hands and feet beat time to the music. Wine 
was offered to him and not refused ; metaphysic was exorcised 
by melody ; and ere the hour of departure arrived, the 
disciple of Aristotle and Avicenna lay helpless on the floor, 
incapable of utterance, insensible to reproof, and oblivious 
alike of dignity and decorum. It is but just to say that this 
was the only occasion on which I witnessed so disgraceful 
a sight in Shiraz. 

The Jewish minstrels of whom I have spoken appeared 
to be the favourite artists in their profession, for they were 
present at almost every entertainment of which music formed 
a part. One of the two men was noted for the hideous 
contortions into which he could twist his face. He was also, 
as I learned, an admirable mimic, and excelled especially in 
personating the Firangi Sahib and the Muhammadan Mulla. 
These representations I did not witness, the former being 
withheld out of respect for my feelings, and the latter reserved 
for very select audiences who could be trusted to observe a 
discreet silence ; for a poor Jew would not willingly run the 
risk of incurring the resentment of the powerful and fanatical 
priests. The dancing-boy cannot have been more than ten 
or eleven years old. When performing, he wore such raiment 
as is usual with acrobats, with the addition of a small close- 
fitting cap, from beneath which his black hair streamed in 
long locks, a tunic reaching half way to the knees, and 
a mass of trinkets which jingled at every movement. His 
evolutions were characterised by agility and suppleness rather 
than grace, and appeared to me somewhat monotonous, and 
at times even inelegant. I saw him for the second time at 
the house of H;iji Nasru 'llah Khan, the Ilkhani. On this 
occasion he superadded to his ordinary duties the function 
of cup-bearer, which he performed in a somewhat novel and 
jcurious manner. Having filled the wine-glass, he took the 
edge of the circular foot on which it stands firmly in his 
teeth, and, approaching each guest in turn, leaned slowly 
-lown so as to bring the wine within reach of the drinker. 



294 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

continually bending his body more and more forwards as 
the level of the liquid sunk lower. One or two of the 
guests appeared particularly delii,dited with this manceuvre, 
and strove to imprint a kiss on the boy's cheek as he quickly 
withdrew the empty glass. 

Amongst the guests was one who had just arrived from 
the north with the new governor. He was very conversa- 
tional, and his talk was almost entirely about philosophy. 
What his views were I could not ascertain ; at first I was 
inclined to suspect he might be a B;ibi', for he greeted me 
with the remark that he had been looking forward to seeing 
me ever since he left Isfahan, where he had heard a good 
deal about me. This remark he accompanied with a look 
full of meaning, and followed it up by asking me if I had 

met a young Frenchman, M. R , who had lately passed 

through Persia. This strengthened my suspicions, for I 
had heard much of the gentleman in c^uestion : how he had 
been for some while amongst the B;ibis in Syria, how he 
had received from their chiefs letters of introduction and 
recommendation, and how, by reason of these, he had been 
greeted with a perfect ovation by the Babis in every Persian 
town which he had visited. I began to be afraid that some 
indiscretion on the part of my loquacious friend would 
betray my dealings with the Babi's, which, for many reasons, 
I was anxious to keep secret. I therefore answered guardedly 
that I had not met the French traveller, and enquired what 
manner of man he was. 

" I met him several times and liked him very much," he 
replied. 

One or two of those present who had been listening to 
our conversation began to manifest signs of curiosity, observ- 
ing which I hastened to change the subject. It was not 
long, however, before religious topics again came up, and 
I began to think that I had mistaken my friend's opinions, 
for now he spoke in the strangest manner, alternately putting 
forward views quite incompatible, and delighting, apparently, 
in the perplexity "which his paradoxes caused me. At last I 
asked him point-blank what his real opinions were. 

" You know very well," he replied. 



sh/rAz 295 

I assured him that he was mistaken, and pressed him for 
a clearer answer. 

" Well, they are the same as yours," he said ; and with 
this unsatisfactory reply I was forced to be content. 

I have already alluded to the pleasant picnics in the 
garden of Bashk-i-Bilmlit, to which, on two occasions, I 
accompanied the Nawwab. The number of guests at each of 
these was about a dozen, while at least as many servants 
were in attendance to cook the food, lay the cloth, and 
prepare tea and hcdydns. On the first occasion I was 
awakened at half - past seven in the morning by Haji 
Safar, who informed me that the Nawwab was already 
preparing to start. I dressed as quickly as I could, but on 
descending into the courtyard found that he had already gone 
on to receive his guests, leaving his uncle, Ilaji Da i, to wait, 
not in the best of tempers, for my appearance. I apologised 
meekly for my unpunctuality, excusing myself by saying that 
I did not know we were to start so early. 

" Of course we were to start early," he retorted, " before 
the sun should be high and the day grow hot." 

" Yes, if it were summer that would be necessary," I 
answered, " but it is hardly spring yet. I don't think it will 
be very hot to-day," I added, gazing at the cloudy sky. 

" Well, the guests were asked for this time, the ISTawwab 
f, has already gone on to receive them, and the horses have 
\\ been waiting for a long while. Come ! Let us start at 
\ once." 

On reaching the garden, which was situated at a distance 
of about two miles from the town, we found the chief guests 
already assembled. Amongst them were two princes, Siyavush 
iJMirza and Jalalu 'd-Din Mirza, cousins to one another, and 
descendants of Fath-'Ali Shah's eldest son, the Farmdn-farmd. 
The latter was accompanied by his son, a handsome boy of 
about fourteen. Of the remaining guests, three were brothers 
belonging to a family of some consideration in Shiraz. One 
of them, Abii'l - Kasim Khan, I had already met at the 
Nawwab's ; another, Hidayatu 'llah Khan, attracted my atten- 
jtion by his firm refusal to drink wine, which he appeared to 
regard with unqualified disapproval. I had a good deal of 



^^% 



296 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

conversatiou with him subsequently, and found him l)otli 
agreeable and intelli<Tent. The eldest brother was named 
Kh;in-r>;ib;i-Kh;iu. A previous acquaintance of mine, re- 
markable not less for his great business capacities and intimate 
knowledge of the country round Shi'raz than for his extremely 
ugly countenance, which had gained for him the sobriquet of 
" Haji Ghul" (" the ogre," as one may translate it), joined us 
somewhat later. One of the Jewish minstrels of whom I 
have spoken, Arzani by name, was also present, and continued 
during the morning to entertain us with music and song, 
assisted therein by Shukru Ihih, the blind minstrel, and occa- 
sionally by such of the guests as possessed musical talent. 

The rain, which had been threatening all the morning, 
presently descended in a steady downpour. As we watched 
the dripping trees from the shelter of the summerhouse 
where we were seated, I expressed regret that the weather 
should be so bad. 

" Bad ! " was the answer I received, " why, it is beautiful 
weather ! Just the day one would wish ; a real spring day." 

I found it difficult at first to understand this view, which 
was evidently shared by all present except myself. The fact 
is, that in Persia, where during the summer hardly a drop of 
rain descends to moisten the parched earth, the welcome 
showers of spring, on which the abundance of the crops, and 
consequently the welfare of all classes, so entirely depends, 
are regarded with a genuine delight and admiration which we 
can scarcely comprehend. There is nothing which a Persian 
enjoys more than to sit sipping his wine under the shelter of 
a summerhouse, while he gazes on the falling rain-drops, and 
sniffs up the moist, soft air, laden with the grateful scent of the 
reviving flowers. 

After lunch, which was served about midday, the room 
was darkened by lowering a great curtain suspended outside 
the windows, and most of the guests composed themselves to 
sleep. About 3 p.m. they began to rouse themselves ; tea and 
pipes were brought, and conversation and music recommenced 
till about sunset. The rain having ceased, we mounted our 
horses and wended our way back to the city. 

It "udll be seen that I had plenty of amusement during 



^i 



shirAz 297 

my stay at Shiraz, and that of a varied character. To have 
described all the social gatherings wherein I took a part would 
have been wearisome to the reader, and I have therefore 
selected as specimens only those which were typical of a class, 
or marked by special features of interest. Neither was I 
limited to Persian society. The chief of the telegraph, as 
well as the medical officer attached to that department, had 
left Shiraz on a visit of inspection the day after my arrival, 
so that I had only met them once on the morning of their 
departure. But with the rest of the telegraph staff, several of 
whom were married, I spent many pleasant hours, and often 
enjoyed a game of tennis with them in the garden where they 
dwelt. 

Hitherto I have spoken only of the lighter aspect of Per- 
sian life in Shiraz ; of social gatherings where wine and music, 
dance and song, beguiled away the soft spring days, or the 
moonlit nights. It is time that I should turn to other 
memories — gatherings where no wine flowed and no music 
sounded ; where grave faces, illumined with the light of in- 
ward conviction, and eyes gleaming with unquenchable faith, 
surrounded me ; where the strains of the rebeck were replaced 
by low, earnest tones speaking of God, of the New Light, of 
pains resolutely endured, and of triumph confidently expected. 

The memory of those assemblies can never fade from my 
mind ; the recollection of those faces and those tones no time 
can efface. I have gazed with awe on the workings of a 
mighty Spirit, and I marvel whereunto it tends. people of 
the Bab ! sorely persecuted, compelled to silence, but stead- 
fast now as at Sheykh Tabarsi and Zanjan, what destiny is 
concealed for you behind the veil of the Future ? 



i 



CHAPTEE XI 

SHIRAZ — {continued) 

" Shi7-dzpur kmvghd shavad, skakkar-labl peydd sJiavad ; 
Tarsam k'az dshiib-i-lab-ash bar ham zanad Baghddd-rd. " 

" Shmiz shall be full of tumult ; one shall appear with lips sweet as sugar ; 
I fear lest through the riot of his lips he may cast Baghdad into confusion." 

" Ey ki ini-pursi zi rdh-i-ka^ba-i-iuasl-am nisJu'm, 
Z'xistakhivdn-i-kushtagdn rdhist sar td sar safid I " 

" thou who askest a sign of the road to the Sanctuary of my Presence, 
It is a road white from beginning to end with the bones of the slain ! " 

In attempting to convey a correct impression of past events, 
it is often difficult to decide how far their true sequence may 
be disregarded for the sake of grouping together things natu- 
rally related. To set down all occurrences day by day, as they 
actually took place, is undoubtedly the easiest, and, in some 
ways, the most natural plan. On the other hand, it often 
necessitates the sej)aration of matters intimately connected 
with one another, while the mind is distracted rather than 
refreshed by the continual succession of topics presented to it. 
For this reason I have thought it best to include in a separate 
chapter all that I have to say concerning my intercourse with 
the Babi's in Shiraz. Had this intercourse been more closely 
interwoven with the social life which I have endeavoured to 
pourtray in the preceding chapter, such dissociation might 
have been inadvisable, and even impossible. As it was, it 
was a thing apart ; a separate life in a different sphere ; a 
drama, complete in itself, with its own scenes and its own 
actors. 

Those who have followed me thus far on my journey will 



^A 



SHIRAZ 299 

remember how, after long and fruitless search, a fortunate 
chance at length brought me into contact with the Babis at 
Isfahan. They will remember also that the Babi apostle to 
whom I was introduced promised to notify my desire for fuller in- 
struction to his fellow-believers at ShiKiz, and that he further 
communicated to me the name of one whose house formed 
one of their principal resorts. I had no sooner reached 
Shfraz than I began to consider how I should, without attract- 
ing attention or arousing comment, put myself in communi- 
cation with the person so designated, who occupied a post of 
some importance in the public service which I will not more 
clearly specify. His name, too, I suppress for obvious reasons. 
Whenever I have occasion to allude to him, I shall speak of 
him as Mirza Muhammad. 

Whilst I was still undecided as to the course I should 
pursue, another unlooked-for event suddenly removed all diffi- 
culties. I have already mentioned Mirza 'Ali, a young 
Persian with whom I had previously been intimately ac- 
quainted in Europe. Three days after my arrival he came to 
pay me a visit. I hardly recognised him at first, in the tall 
lambskin cap and long cloak which he wore, and was equally 
surprised and delighted at this unexpected meeting. He did 
not stay long, but before leaving invited me to come and see 
him on the following day. 

I had scarcely entered the room where he was waiting to 
receive me, when the cursory glance which I cast round was 
rivetted by an Arabic text which hung on the wall. Yet it 
was not so much the Arabic characters which attracted my 
attention (though these too seemed in some way strangely 
familiar), as a line of writing beneath them. There was no 
mistaking the parallel oblique strokes and the delicate curves 
and spirals which sprang from them. Only once before had I 
seen that character in the hands of the Babi dalUd at Isfahan. 

I withdrew my eyes from the tablet and turned them on 
Mirza 'Ali, who had been attentively watching my scrutiny. 
jOur glances met, and I knew at once that my conjecture was 
right. 

" Do you know Mirza Muhammad ? " I asked presently. 

" I know him well," he replied ; " it was he wdio informed 



300 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

me that you were coming. You have not seen liim yet ? 
Then I will take you there one clay soon, and you shall meet 
other friends. I must find out when he will he disengaged, 
and arransTe a time." 

" 1 did not know," said I, " that you .... Tell me what 
you really think. ..." 

" I confess I am puzzled," he answered. " Such eloquence, 
such conviction, such lofty, soul-stirring words, such devotion 
and enthusiasm ! If I could believe any religion it would be 
that." 

Before I left he had shown me some of the books which he 
possessed. One of these was a small work called Muduniyijat 
(" Civilisation"), lithographed in Bombay, one of the few 
secular writincrs of the Biibi's. Another was the Kitdh-i-AMas 
(" Most Holy Book"), which contains the codified prescriptions 
of the sect in a brief compass. The latter my friend particu- 
larly commended to my attention. 

" You must study this carefully if you desire to under- 
stand the matter," he said ; " I will get a copy made for you 
by our scribe, whom you will also see at Mi'rza Muhammad's. 
You should read it while you are here, so that any difficulties 
which arise may be explained. I am acquainted with a young 
Seyyid well versed in philosophy, who would perhaps come 
regularly to you while you are here. This would excite no 
suspicion, for it is known that you have come here to study." 

Eejoiced as I was at the unexpected facilities which ap- 
peared to be opening out to me, there was one thing which 
somewhat distressed me. It was the Bab whom I had learned 
to regard as a hero, and whose works I desired to obtain and 
peruse, yet of him no account appeared to be taken. I ques- 
tioned my friend about this, and learned (what I had already 
begun to suspect at Isfahan) that much had taken place 
amongst the Babis since those events of which Gobineau's 
vivid and sympathetic record had so strangely moved me. 
That record was written while Mi'rza Yahya, Suhh-i-Ezd (" the 
Morning of Eternity") was undisputed vicegerent of the Bab, 
and before the great schism occurred which convulsed the 
Babi community. Now, I found, the Bab's writings were but 
little read even amongst his followers, for Beha had arisen as 



I 



_k 



SHIRAZ 301 

"He whom God shall manifest" (the j)romised deliverer fore- 
told by the Bab), and it was with his commands, his writings, 
and his precepts that the Babi messengers went forth from 
Acre to the faithful in Persia. Of Mirza Yahya, whom I had 
expected to find in the place of authority, I could learn little. 
He lived, he was in Cyprus, he wrote nothing, he had hardly 
any followers ; that was all I was told, and I was forced to 
try to reconcile myself to the new, and at present ill-compre- 
hended, position of affairs. At any rate I had found the B;ibis, 
and I should be able to talk with those who bore the name 
and revered the memory of one whom I had hitherto admired 
in silence — one whose name had been, since I entered Persia, a 
word almost forbidden. For the rest, I should soon learn about 
Bella, and understand the reasons which had led to his recog- 
nition as the inaugurator of a new dispensation. 

A day or two after the events narrated above I received 
another visit from Mirza 'Ali, who was on this occasion ac- 
companied by the young Babi Seyyid of whom he had spoken. 
They remained with me more than an hour, and the Seyyid 
talked much, asking me numberless questions about anatomy, 
physiology, chemistry, and other sciences, but sj)eaking little 
about his own views. Before they left it was arranged that 
on the following afternoon I should accompany them to the 
house of Mirza Muhammad. 

On the following afternoon I sallied forth to the house 
of Mirza 'Ali, accompanied by my servant, Haji Safar, whom I 
would rather have left behind had I been able to find the way 
by myself. I met Mirza 'Ali at the door of his house, and we 
proceeded at once to the abode of Mirza Muhammad. He 
was not in when we arrived, but appeared shortly, and 
welcomed me very cordially. After a brief interval we were 
joined by another guest, whose open countenance and frank 
greeting greatly predisposed me in his favour. This was the 
scribe and missionary, Haji Mirza Hasan, to whose inopportune 
meeting with Murshid in my room I have already alluded. 
He was shortly followed by the young Seyyid who had visited 
me on the previous day, and another much older Seyyid of 
very quiet, gentle appearance, who, as I afterwards learned, 
was related to the Bab, and was therefore one of the Afndn 



A ]'EA/^ AAfONGST T//£ PEJiS/ANS 



(" Brauches ") — a title given by the B;ibf.s to all related, 
witliin certain degrees of atlinity, to tlie founder of tlieir 
faith. One or two of my host's colleagues completed the 
assembly. 

I was at first somewhat at a loss to know how to begin, 
especially as several servants were standing about outside, 
watching and listening. I enquired of Mirza 'All if I might 
speak freely before these, whereupon he signified to Mirza 
Muhammad that they should be dismissed. 

" Xow," he said, when this order had been given and 
obeyed, " speak freely, for there is no ' ass's head ' (rdsu 'l-himdr •*) 
here." 

I then proceeded to set forth what I had heard of the 
Biib, his gentleness and patience, the cruel fate which had 
overtaken him, and the unflinching courage wherewith he and 
his followers, from the greatest to the least, had endured the 
merciless torments inflicted on them by their enemies. 

" It is this," I concluded, " which has made me so desirous 
to know what you believe ; for a faith which can inspire 
a fortitude so admirable must surely contain some noble 
principle." 

Then began a discussion between myself on the one hand, 
and the young Seyyid and Haji Mi'rza Hasan on the other, of 
which I can only attempt to give a general outline. Dis- 
regarding those details of persons, past events, and literary 
history about which I was so desirous to learn, they proceeded 
to set forth the fundamental assumptions on which their faith 
is based in a manner which subsequent experience rendered 
familiar to me. 

" The object for wdiich man exists," they said, " is that he 
should know God. JSTow this is impossible by means of his 
unassisted reason. It is therefore necessary that prophets 
should be sent to instruct him concerning spiritual truth, and 
to lay down ordinances for his guidance. From time to time, 
therefore, a prophet appears in the world with tokens of his 
divine mission sufficient to convince all who are not blinded 
by prejudice and wilful ignorance. When such a prophet 
appears, it is incumbent on all to submit themselves to him 

^ See pp. 274-5 supra. 



M 



sh/rAz J03 

without question, even though he command what has formerly 
been forbidden, or prohibit what has formerly been ordained." 
" Stay," I interposed ; " surely one must be convinced that 
such prohibition or command is sanctioned by reason. If the 
doctrine or ordinance be true, it must be agreeable to the idea 
of Absolute Good which exists in our own minds." 

" We must be convinced by evidence approved by reason 
that he who claims to be a prophet actually is so," they 
replied ; " but when once we are assured of this, we must 
obey him in everything, for he knows better than we do what 
is right and wrong. If it were not so, there would be no 
necessity for revelation at all. As for the fact that what is 
sanctioned in one ' manifestation ' is forbidden in another, and 
vice versa, that presents no difficulty. A new prophet is not 
sent until the development of the human race renders this 
necessary. A revelation is not abrogated till it no longer 
suffices for the needs of mankind. There is no disagreement 
between the prophets : all teach the same truth, but in such 
measure as men can receive it. One spirit, indeed, speaks 
through all the prophets ; consider it as the instructor 
{murabhi) of mankind. As mankind advance and progress, 
they need fuller instruction. The child cannot be taught in 
the same way as the youth, nor the youth as the full-grown 
man. So it is with the human race. The instruction given 
by Abraham was suitable and sufficient for the people of his 
day, but not for those to whom Moses was sent, while this in 
turn had ceased to meet the needs of those to whom Christ 
was sent. Yet we must not say that their religions were 
opposed to one another, but rather that each ' manifestation ' 
is more complete and more perfect than the last." 

" What you say is agreeable to reason," I assented ; " but 
tell me, in what way is the prophet to be recognised when he 
3omes ? By miracles, or otherwise ? " 

" By miracles (if by miracles you mean prodigies contrary 
-0 nature) — No ! " they answered ; " it is for such that the 
gnorant have always clamoured. The prophet is sent to 
listinguish the good from the bad, the believer from the 
jinbeliever. He is the touchstone whereby false and true 
aetal are separated. But if he came with evident super- 



i 



304 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

natural power, who could help believing ? who would dure 
oppose him? The most rebellious and unljelievini,' man, if 
he found himself face to face with one who could raise the 
dead, cleave the moon, or stay the course of the sun, would 
involuntarily submit. Tlie persecutions to which all the 
prophets have been exposed, the mockery to which they have 
been compelled to submit, the obloquy they have borne, all 
testify to the fact that their enemies neither feared them nor 
believed that God would support them ; for no one, however 
foolish, however froward, would knowingly and voluntarily 
fight against the power of the Omnipotent. No, the signs 
whereby the prophet is known are these : — Though untaught 
in the learning esteemed of men, he is wise in true wisdom ; 
he speaks a word which is creative and constructive ; his 
word so deeply affects the hearts of men that for it they are 
willing to forego wealth and comfort, fame and family, even 
life itself. What the prophet says comes to pass. Consider 
Muhammad. He was surrounded by enemies, he was scoffed 
at and opposed by the most powerful and wealthy of his 
people, he was derided as a madman, treated as an impostor. 
But his enemies have passed away, and his word remains. 
He said, ' You shall fast in the month of Eamaziin,' and 
behold, thousands and thousands obey that word to this day. 
He said, ' You shall make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you are 
able,' and every year brings thither countless pilgrims from 
all quarters of the globe. This is the special character of the 
prophetic word ; it fulfils itself ; it creates ; it triumphs. 
Kings and rulers strove to extinguish the word of Christ, but 
they could not ; and now kings and rulers make it their pride 
that they are Christ's servants. Against all opposition, 
against all persecution, unsupported by human might, what 
the prophet says comes to pass. This is the true miracle, the 
greatest possible miracle, and indeed the only miracle which 
is a proof to future ages and distant peoples. Those who are 
privileged to meet the prophet may indeed be convinced in 
other ways, but for those who have not seen him his word 
is the evidence on wdricli conviction must rest. If Christ 
raised the dead, you were not a witness of it ; if Muhammad 
cleft the moon asunder, I w^as not there to see. No one can 



Jl 



sh/rAz 305 

really believe a religion merely because miracles are ascribed 
to its founder, for are they not ascribed to the founder of 
every religion by its votaries ? But when a man arises 
amongst a people, untaught and unsupported, yet speaking a 
word which causes empires to change, hierarchies to fall, and 
thousands to die willingly in obedience to it, that is a proof 
absolute and positive that the word spoken is from God. 
This is the proof to which we point in support of our religion. 
What you have already learned concerning its origin will 
suffice to convince you that in no previous ' manifestation ' was 
it clearer and more complete." 

" I understand your argument," I replied, " and it seems 

to me a weighty one. But I wish to make two observations. 

Firstly, it appears to me that you must include amongst the 

number of the prophets many who are ordinal ily excluded, as, 

for example, Zoroaster; for all the proofs which you have 

enumerated were, so far as we can learn, presented by him. 

Secondly, though I admit that your religion possesses these 

proofs in a remarkable degree (at least so far as regards the 

.rapidity with which it spread in spite of all opposition), I 

annot altogether agree that the triumph of Islam was an 

jtnstance of the influence of the prophetic word only. The 

influence of the sword was certainly a factor in its wide 

liftusion. If the Arabs had not invaded Persia, slaying, 

i)lunderiug, and compelling, do you think that the religion of 

lluhammad would have displaced the religion of Zoroaster ? 

'0 us the great proof of the truth of Christ's teaching is that 

'j steadily advanced in spite of the sword, not by the sword : 

he great reproach on Islam, that its diffusion was in so large 

measure due to the force of arms rather than the force of 

rgument. I sympathise with your religion, and desire to 

now more of it, chiefly because the history of its origin, the 

■uel fate of its founder, the tortures joyfully endured with 

■aroic fortitude by its votaries, all remind me of the triumph 

' Christ, rather than the triumph of Muhammad." 

"As to your first observation," rejoined the Biibi spokes- 
an, " it is true, and we do recognise Zoroaster, and others 
hom the Musulmans reject, as prophets. For though 
Isehood may appear to flourish for a while, it cannot do so 

20 



3o6 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

for long. God will not permit an utterly false religion to Le 
the sole guide of thousands. But with Zoroaster and other 
ancient prophets you and I have notliing to do. The question 
for you is whether another prophet has come since Christ : 
for us, whether another has come since Muhammad." 

" AVell," I interrupted, " what about the propagation of 
Ishim by the sword ? For you cannot deny that in many 
countries it was so propagated. What right had Muhammad 
— what right has any prophet — to slay where he cannot con- 
vince ? Can such a thing be acceptable to God, who is 
Absolute Good ? " 

"A prophet has the right to slay if he knows that it is 
necessary," answered the young Seyyid, " for he knows what 
is hidden from us ; and if he sees that the slaughter of a few 
will prevent many from going astray, he is justified in 
commanding such slaughter. The prophet is the spiritual 
physician, and as no one would blame a physician for sacrific- 
ing a limb to save the body, so no one can question the right 
of a prophet to destroy the bodies of a few, that the souls of 
many may live. As to what you say, that God is Absolute 
Good, it is undeniably true ; yet God has not only Attributes 
of Grace but also Attributes of Wrath — He is Al-Kakhdr 
(the Compeller) as well as Al-Latif (the Kind) ; Al-M'mitakim 
(the Avenger) as well as Al-Ghafur (the Pardoner). And 
these Attributes as well as those must be manifested in the 
prophet, who is the God-revealing mirror." 

" I do not agree with you there," I answered. " I know 
very well that men have often attributed, and do attribute, 
such qualities as these to God, and it appears to me that in so 
doing they have been led into all manner of evil and cruelty, 
whereby they have brought shame on the name of their 
religion. I believe what one of your own poets has said : 

' Az Khayr-i-Mahz juz nik^'i ndyacl,' 
' Nauglit but good comes from Absolute Good,' 

and we cannot falsify the meaning of words in such wise as to 
say that qualities which we universally condemn in man are 
good in God. To say that revenge in man is bad, while 



shIrAz 307 

revenge in God is good, is to confound reason, stultify speech, 
and juggle with paradoxes. But, passing by this question 
altogether, you can hardly imagine that a prophet in whom the 
' Attributes of Wrath ' were manifested could attract to himself 
such as have believed in a prophet in whom were reflected 
the ' Attributes of Grace.' Admitting even that a prophet 
sent to a very rude, ignorant, or froward people may be justi- 
fied in using coercion to prepare the way for a better state of 
things, and admitting that Muhammad was so justified by the 
circumstances under which he was placed, still you cannot 
expect those who have learned the gentle teaching of Christ 
to revert to the harsher doctrines of Muhammad, for thouoh 
the latter was subsequent as regards time, his religion was 
certainly not a higher development of the religion of Christ. 
I do not say that Muhammad was not a prophet ; I do not 
even assert that he could or should have dealt otherwise with 
his people ; but, granting all this, it is still impossible for any- 
one who has understood the teaching of Christ to prefer the 
teaching of Muhammad. You have said that the God-given 
message is addressed to the people of each epoch of time in 
such language as they can comprehend, in such measure as 
tliey can receive. Should we consider time only, and not 
hxcc ? May it not be that since the stages of development at 
wliicli different peoples living at the same time have arrived 
ire diverse, they may require different prophets and different 
■eligions ? The child, as you have said, must be taught dif- 
'erently as he grows older, and the teacher accordingly employs 
lifferent methods of instruction as his pupil waxes in years 
nd understanding, though the knowledge he strives to impart 
('mains always the same. But in the same school are to be 
lund at one time pupils of many different ages and cajDacities. 
l|V^hat is suitable to one class is not suitable to another. May 
i not be the same in the spiritual world ? " 

At this point there was some dissension in the assembly ; 
16 young Seyyid shook his head, and relapsed into silence ; 
[irza 'All signified approval of what I had said ; Haji Mirza 
asan strove to avoid the point at issue, and proceeded thus : 

" I have already said that what is incumbent on every man 
that he should believe in the ' manifestation ' of his own 



I) 



3oS A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

age. It is not required of liiiu tliat lie should discuss ;iiiil 
compare all ])revious ' inaiiifestatioiis.' You have been 
brought up a follower of Christ. We have believed in this 
' manifestation ' which has taken place in these days. Let us 
not waste time in disputing about intermediate ' manifesta- 
tions.' We do not desire to make you believe in Muhannuad, 
but in Beha. If you should be convinced of the truth of 
Bella's teaching you have passed over the stage of Islam 
altogether. The last ' manifestation ' includes and sums up all 
preceding ones. You say that you could not accept Ishim 
because its laws and ordinances are harsher, and, in your eyes, 
less perfect than those laid down by Christ. Very well, we 
do not ask you to accept Islam ; we ask you to consider 
whether you should not accept Beh;i. To do so you need not 
go back from a gentle to a severe dispensation. Beha has. 
come for the perfecting of the law of Christ, and his injunctions 
are in all respects similar ; for instance, we are commanded to 
jjrefer rather that we should he Jcilled than that we should kill. 
It is the same throughout, and, indeed, could not be otherwise, 
for Beha is Christ returned again, even as He promised, to 
perfect that which He had begun. Your own books tell you 
that Christ shall come ' like a thief in the night,' at a time 
when you are not expecting Him." 

" True," I replied, " but those same books tell us also that 
His coming shall be ' as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the 
one "part wilder heaven and shineth unto the other part under 
heo.ven! " 

" There can be no contradiction between these two similes," 
answered the Babi ; " and since the phrase ' like a thief in the 
night ' evidently signifies that when Christ returns it will be 
in a place where you do not expect Him, and at a time when 
you do not expect Him — that is, suddenly and secretly — it is 
clear that the comparison in the other passage which you 
quoted is to the suddenness and swiftness of the lightning, not 
to its universal vividness. If, as the Christians for the most 
part expect, Christ should come riding upon the clouds sur- 
rounded by angels, how could He be said in any sense to 
come ' lil'e a thief in the night ? ' Everyone would see him, 
and, seeing, would be compelled to believe. It has always 



sh/rAz 



309 



been through such considerations as these that men have 
rejected the prophet whose advent they professed to be expect- 
ing, because He did not come in some unnatural and impos- 
sible manner which they had vainly imagined. Christ was 
indeed the promised Messiah, yet the Jews, who had waited, 
and prayed, and longed for the coming of the Messiah, rejected 
Him when He did come for just such reasons. Ask a Jew 
now why he does not believe in Christ, and he will tell yon 
that the signs whereby the Messiah was to be known were 
not manifest at His coming. Yet, had he understood what 
was intended by those signs, instead of being led away by vain 
traditions, he would know that the promised Messiah had 
come and gone and come again. So with the Christians. On 
a mountain ^ close by Acre is a monastery peopled by Christian 
priests and monks, assembled there to await the arrival of 
Christ on that spot as foretold. And they continue to gaze 
upwards into heaven, whence they suppose that He will 
descend, while only a few miles off in Acre He has returned, 
and is dwelling amongst men as before. be not blinded by 
those very misapprehensions which you condemn so strongly 
I in the Jews ! The Jews would not believe in Christ because 
' He was not accompanied by a host of angels ; you blame the 
Jews for their obstinacy and frowardness, and you do rightly. 
But beware lest you condemn yourselves by alleging the very 
same reason as an excuse for rejecting this ' manifestation.' 
Christ came to the Jews accompanied by angels — angels none 
ithe less because they were in the guise of fishermen. Christ 
returns to you as Beh;i with angels, with clouds, with the 
sound of trumpets. His angels are His messengers ; the clouds 
are the doubts which prevent you from recognising Him ; the 
3ound of trumpets is the sound of the proclamation which you 
low hear, announcing that He has come once more from 
leaven, even as He came before, not as a human form descend- 
ng visibly from the sky, but as the Spirit of God entering into 
■\ man, and abiding there." 

" Well," I replied, " your arguments are strong, and 
ertainly deserve consideration. But, even supposing that 
ou are right in principle, it does not follow that they hold 

^ Mount Carmel. 



A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



good in this particular case. II' I grant that the return df 
Christ may he in such wise as you indicate, nevertheless mere 
assertion will not prove that Beha is Christ. Indeed, we are 
told hy Christ Himself that many will arise in llis name, saying 
' See here,' or ' See there,' and are warned not to follow them." 

" Many have arisen falsely claiming to be Christ," he 
answered, "but the injunction laid on you to beware of these 
does not mean that you are to refuse to accept Christ when 
He does return. The very fact that there are pretenders is a 
proof that there is a reality. You demand proofs, and you 
are right to do so. What proofs would suffice for you ?" 

" The chief proofs which occur to me at this moment," I 
replied, " are as follows : — You admit, so far as I understand, 
that in each ' manifestation ' a promise has been given of a 
succeeding ' manifestation,' and tliat certain signs have always 
been laid down whereby that ' manifestation ' may be recog- 
nised. It is therefore incumbent on you to show that the 
signs foretold by Christ as heralding His return have been 
accomplished in the coming of Beha. Furthermore, since each 
* manifestation ' must be fuller, completer, and more perfect 
than the last, you must prove that the doctrines taught by 
Beha are superior to the teaching of Christ — a thing which I 
confess seems to me almost impossible, for I cannot imagine a 
doctrine purer or more elevated than that of Christ. Lastly, 
quite apart from miracles in the ordinary sense, there is one 
sign which w^e regard as the especial characteristic of a prophet, 
to wit, that he should have knowledge of events which have 
not yet come to pass. No sign can be more appropriate or 
more convincing than this. For a prophet claims to be in- 
spired by God, and to speak of the mysteries of the Unseen. 
If he has knowledge of the Unseen he may well be expected 
to have knowledge of the Future. That we may know that 
what he tells us about other matters beyond our ken is true, we 
must be convinced that he has knowledge surpassing ours in 
some matter which we can verify. This is afforded most 
readily by the foretelling of events which have not yet 
happened, and which we cannot foresee. These three signs 
appear to me both sufficient and requisite to establish such a 
claim as that which you advance for Beha." 



SHIRAZ 311 

"As regards knowledge of the future," replied Haji Mirzd 
Hasan, " I could tell you of many occasions on which Beha has 
given proof of such. Not only I myself, but almost all who 
have been at Acre, and stood in his presence, have received 
warnings of impending dangers, or information concerning 
forthcoming events. Some of these I will, if it j)lease God, 
relate to you at some future time. As regards the superiority 
of Bella's doctrines to those of Christ, you can judge for your- 
self if you will read his words. As regards the news of this 
' manifestation ' given to you by Christ, is it not the case that 
He promised to return ? Did He not declare that one should 
come to comfort His followers, and perfect what He had 
begun ? Did He not signify that after the Son should come 
the Father ? " 

" Do you mean," I demanded in astonishment, " that you 
regard Beha as the Father ? What do you intend by this 
expression ? You cannot surely mean that you consider Beha 
to be God Himself?" 

" What do you mean by the expression ' Son of God ' ? " 
f| returned the Babi. 

" Our learned men explain it in different ways," I answered ; 
" but let us take the explanation which Christ Himself gave in 
answer to the same question — ' As many as do the will of 
God are the sons of God.' Christ perfectly fulfilled the will of 
God ; He had — as I understand it — reached the stage which 
your Siifi's call ' annihilation in God ' (yfcnd filWi) ; He had 
become merged in God in thought, in will, in being, and could 
Ijsay truly, ' I am God.' Higher than this can no one pass ; 
I how then can you call Beha * the Father,' since ' the Father ' is 
Infinite, Invisible, Omnipresent, Omnipotent ? " 

" Suppose that in this assembly," replied the other, " there 
were one wiser than all the rest, and containing in himself all, 
xnd more than all, the knowledge which the others possessed 
collectively. That one would be, in knowledge, the Father of all 
ihe others. So may Beha be called ' the Father ' of Christ and 
i )f all preceding prophets." 

"Well," I answered, by no means satisfied with this ex- 
)lanation, " apart from this, which I will pass by for the 
) present, it appears to me that you confuse and confound 



.1 



312 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

difterent tliinu;s. The coming of the Comforter is not the same 
thing, as we nnderstand it, as the return of Christ, yet both of 
these you decLare to be fulfilled in the coming of Behil. And 
whereas you spoke of Belu'i a little while ago as Christ re- 
turned, vou now call him ' the Father.' As regards the 
Comforter, we believe that he entered as the Holy Spirit into 
the hearts of the disciples soon after the Jews had put Christ 
to death. I know that the ]\Iuhamniadans assert that the 
prophecies which we apply to this descent of the Holy Spirit 
were intended to refer to Muhammad ; that for the word 
•7rapdK\i]To<; they would substitute TrepiKXvro'?, which is in 
meaning nearly equivalent to Ahmad or Muhanunad, signify- 
ing one ' praised,' or ' illustrious.' But if you, as I suppose, 
follow the Muhammadans in this, you cannot apply the same 
prophecy to Beh;i. If the promise concerning the advent of 
the Comforter was fulfilled in the coming of Muhammad, then 
it clearly cannot apply to the coming of Beha. And, 
indeed, I still fail to understand in what light you regard 
Islam, and must return once more to the question concerning 
its relation to Christianity and to your religion which I put 
some time ago, and which I do not think you answered clearly. 
If news of the succeeding ' manifestation ' is given by every 
messenger of God, surely it is confined to the ' manifestation ' 
immediately succeeding that wherein it is given, and does not 
extend to others which lie beyond it. Assuming that you are 
right in regarding Ishim as the completion and fulfilment of 
Christianity, your religion must be regarded as the completion 
and fulfilment of Islam, and the prophecies concerning it must 
then be sought in the Kur'an and Traditions rather than in 
the Gospel. It is therefore incumbent on you, if you desire 
to convince me, first of all to prove that Muhammad was the 
promised Comforter, and that his religion was the fulfilment 
of Christianity ; then to prove that the coming of the Bab was 
foretold and signified by Muhammad ; and only after this has 
been done, to prove that Beha is he whom the Bab foretold. 
For it is possible to believe in Muhammad and not to believe 
in the Bab, or to believe in the Bab and not to believe in 
Beha, while the converse is impossible. If a Jew becomes a 
Muhammadan he must necessarily accept Christ ; so if a 



^< 



SHIRAZ 313 

]\Iuhammadau becomes a believer in Behti he must necessarily 
believe in the Bab," 

" To explain the relations of Islam to Christianity on the 
one hand, and to this manifestation on the other, would require 
a longer time than we have at our disposal at present," re- 
plied the Babi apologist ; " but, in brief, know tliat the signs 
laid down by each prophet as characteristic of the next mani- 
festation apply also to all future manifestations. In the books 
of each prophet whose followers still exist are recorded signs 
sufficient to convince them of the truth of the manifestation of 
their own age. There is no necessity for them to follow the 
chain link by link. Each prophet is complete in himself, and 
his evidence is conclusive unto all men. God does not suffer 
His proof to be incomplete, or make it dependent on knowledge 
and erudition, for it has been seen in all manifestations that 
those who have believed were men whom the world accounted 
ignorant, while those who were held learned in religion were 
the most violent and bitter opponents and persecutors. Thus 
it was in the time of Christ, when fishermen believed in Him 
and became His disciples, while the Jewish doctors mocked Him, 
persecuted Him, and slew Him. Thus it was also in the time 
of Muhammad, when the mighty and learned among his 
people did most furiously revile and reproach him. And 
although in this manifestation — the last and the most com- 
plete — many learned men have believed, because the proofs 
were such as no fair-minded man could resist, still, as you 
know, the Muhammadan doctors have ever shown themselves 
jour most irreconcilable enemies, and our most strenuous 
ijopposers and persecutors. But those who are pure in heart 
N and free from prejudice will not fail to recognise the manifest- 
iijation of God, whenever and wherever it appears, even as 
£ Mawlana Jalalu 'd-Din Eiimi says in the Masnavi — 

' Dlde'i hCajacl hi bdshad shah-shinus 
Td shindsad Shdh-rd dar liar libds.' 

' One needs an eye which is king-recognising 
j To recognise the King under every disguise.' " 

j As it was growing late, and I desired to make use of the 
')resent occasion to learn further particulars about the litera- 



314 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

ture of the B;ib/s, I allowed the discussion to stand at this 
point, and proceeded to make enquiries about the hooks whicli 
they prized most highly. In reply to these enquiries they 
informed me that Mirzii 'Ali Muhammad the B;ib had composed 
in all about a hundred separate treatises of diflerent sizes ; 
that the name Bcydn was applied generally to all of them ; 
and that the book whicli I described as having been translated 
into French by Gobineau must be that specially designated as 
the Kitdhu 'l-AliMm (" Book of Precepts "). Beha, they added, 
had composed about the same number of separate books and 
letters. I asked if all these works existed in Shiraz, to which 
they replied, " No, they are scattered about the country in the 
hands of believers — some at Yezd, some at Isfahiin, some in 
other places. In Shiraz the total number of separate works is 
altogether about a dozen." 

" If that be so," I remarked, " I suppose that some few 
works of greater value than the others are to be found in every 
community of believers ; and I should be glad to know which 
these are, so that I may endeavour to obtain them." 

" All that emanates from the Source (masdar) is equal in 
importance," they answered, " but some books are more 
systematic, more easily understood, and therefore more widely 
read than others. Of these the chief are: — (1) The Kitt'ib-i- 
Akclas (' Most Holy Book '), which sums up all the commands 
and ordinances enjoined on us ; (2) The Ikdn (" Assurance,") 
which sets forth the proofs of our religion ; (3) Dissertations 
on Science — astronomy, metaphysics, and the like — which we 
call BiLwar-i- Tlmiyy^ ; (4) Prayers (Mundjdt) and Exhortations 
{Khutah). Besides these there is a history of the early events 
of this ' manifestation,' written by one who desired to keep 
his name secret." 

" Can you get me these ? " I enquired, " especially the 
Kitdh-i-AMas and the History (for I already possess the IJcdn) ? 
And was the writer of the History one of yourselves ? " 

" I will get a transcript of the Kitdh-i-Akclas made for you 
if I can," replied Mirza 'Ali, " and meanwhile I will borrow a 
copy for you to read. I daresay some of us can lend you the 
History also. It is not altogether good. The author devotes 
too large a portion of his work to abuse of the Muhammadan 



SHIRAZ 315 

doctors and reflections on the Persian Government, while, on 
the other hand, he omits many events of real importance. 
Besides that, I do not like his pretence of being a French 
traveller ; for we all know, and indeed any one who reads his 
book can see, that he was not a European. I do not know 
his name, but I expect Haji Mirza Hasan does." 

" I know it," answered the person appealed to, " but it is 
a secret which I am not entitled to divulge, though, as the writer 
is dead now, it could make very little matter even were it 
generally known. I may tell you this much, that he was one 
of the secretaries of Manakji ^ Sahib at Teheran. When he 
began to write he was quite impartial, but as he went on he 
became convinced by his investigations of the truth of the 
matter, and this change in his opinions is manifest in the later 
portion of the work. The book was sent to the Supreme 
Horizon - when it was finished, but was not altogether approved 
there, and I believe that another and more accurate history 
is to be written.^ However, you will learn a good deal from 
this one." 

" Have you got any of the poems of Kurratu l-'Ayn ? " I 
demanded ; " I have heard that she wrote poems, and should 
like very much to see some of them, and obtain copies." 

" Yes," they answered, " she wrote poems, and some of 
them are still extant ; but we have none of them here in 
Shi'raz. You would most likely find them, if anywhere, at 
Kazvin, her native place, at Hamadan, which she visited after 
her conversion, or at Teheran, where she suffered martyrdom. 
In Khurasan and Mazandaran, also, they might be found, but 
here in the South it is difficult." 

It was now past sunset, and dusk was drawing on, so I 
was reluctantly compelled to depart homewards. On the 
whole, I was well satisfied with my first meeting with the 

■* Manakji, the son of Limji Hushang Hataryari, was for many years main- 
tained by the Parsees of Bombay at Teheran to watch over the interests of the 
Persian Zoi'oastrians. He died within the last year or two. Full particulars of 
•he cii-cumstances under which the New History here alluded to was composed 
vill be found in the Introduction to my translation of that work. 
- I.e. Acre, the residence of Beha 'u 'llah, " the Sun of Truth." 
^ The TrarcHcr's Narrative, composed by Beha 'u 'llah's son, 'Abbas Efendi, 
bout the year 1886, was the outcome of this intention. It was published by me 
ith a translation in 1891. 



3i6 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Biibis of Sliiraz, and looked forward to many similar confer- 
ences during my stay in Persia. They had talked freely and 
without restraint, had received me with every kindness, and 
appeared desirous of affording me every facility for compre- 
hending their doctrines; and although some of my cncpiiries 
had not met with answers as clear as I could have desired, I 
was agreeably impressed with the fairness, courtesy, and free- 
dom from prejudice of my new acquaintances. Especially it 
struck me that their knowledge of Christ's teaching and the 
gospels was much greater than that commonly possessed by 
the Musulmans, and I observed with pleasure that they re- 
garded the Christians ^vith a friendliness very gratifying to 
behold. 

Concerning the books, they were as good as their word. 
I received on the following day manuscripts of the History 
and of the Kitdh-i-AIcdas, and was told that I might keep 
them as long as I liked, but that a fresh copy of the latter 
would be made for me by H;iji Mirz;i Hasan, the scribe. 
Both books were finally, ere I left Persia, made over to me 
as a free gift, and are now in my possession. 

Four days after the conference described above, I received 
a note from Mirza 'Ali informing me that Haji Mirz;i Hasan 
had come to see him, and that I might join them if I wished. 
Of course I hastened thither at once, taking with me the 
Kitdh-i-Akdas (which I had meanwhile read through) to ask 
the explanation of certain passages which I had been unable 
fully to understand. Most of these Haji Mirza Hasan ex- 
plained to me, but the very complicated law of inheritance he 
could not altogether elucidate. In answer to my question 
whether polygamy was sanctioned by their religion, he replied 
that two wives are allowed, but believers are recommended to 
limit themselves to one. I then enquired whether it was true, 
as asserted by Gobineau, that circumcision had been abolished. 
He answered that it was ignored, being a thing altogether 
indifferent. Sundry other points wherein the ordinances of the 
new reKgion differed from those of Islam, such as the prohibition 
of shaving the head or wearing long locks (zidf) like the 
Persians, and the regulations for prayer, were then discussed. 

Two days later Mirza 'All again paid me a visit, and 



shirAz 



317 



remained for about two hours. From him I learned sundry 
particulars about the Babis of which his European education 
had enabled him to appreciate the interest, but wliich would 
probably never have been mentioned to me by Hiiji Mirza 
Hasan or my other friends, who, as is so often the case in the 
East, could not understand a mere desire for information as 
such, and who therefore would speak of little else but the 
essential doctrines of their religion. Amongst other things he 
told me that, besides the new writing (known only to a few), 
many of the Babis had cornelian seals on which was cut a 
curious device. These seals were all engraved by a certain 
dervish belonging to the sect, who spent his life in travelling 
from town to town. The device in question, which I subse- 
quently saw, is shaped thus : — 



il 




ir 



As to its significance ^ Mirza 'Ali professed himself ignor- 
ant. I questioned him about the prophecies of Beha alluded 
to at the house of Mirza Muhammad, and he replied that I 
had better ask H;iji Mirza Hasan, who had been much at Acre, 
and knew far more about them than he did. One of the best 
known instances, he added, was connected with the history of 
the martyrs of Isfahan. Soon after their death, Sheykh Bakir, 
who had been chiefly instrumental in bringing it about, 
'eceived a terrible letter of denunciation from Acre, wherein it 
vas announced that he would shortly die in disgrace and 
gnominy, which actually occurred a little while afterwards. 
' Sheykh B;'ikir's miserable end is a matter of notoriety in 
rsia," concluded my friend, " but I will try and get Haji 
^Iirza Hasan or one of the others to show you the epistle in 

I have since learned that it is a monogram of Beha's name. Cf. p. 477 infra. 



3i8 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

which it is foretokl, and to relate to you all tlic details of 
the inattor, for I quite understand the importance which you 
attach to prophecy in the sense in which you commonly 
understand it in Europe." About sunset Mirzi'i 'Ali rose to 
depart, but before leaving invited me to spend the next day in 
a garden near Masjid-Bardi which belonged to him. " I shall 
ask Hiiji Mirza Hasan and some other friends," he added, 
" and we can discuss matters undisturbed and uninterrupted, 
for I shall take care not to have any prating inquisitive 
servants about; only my faithful lilack, and one or two others 
on whom I can rely." I gladly accepted the invitation and 
we parted. 

Early next morning I met my friend and Haji Mi'rza 
Hasan at the gate of the city. As soon as I perceived them 
I gave H;iji Safar permission to withdraw, telling him that I 
should not need him again before evening. When he was 
gone, Mirza 'Ali informed me that the other guests would pro- 
ceed independently to the garden, as it was perhaps inadvisable 
for all of us to be seen together. After a pleasant walk of 
about forty minutes (for I had entreated my friend to dispense 
with horses) we reached the garden, and betook ourselves to 
an upper chamber in a little summer-house standing in its 
midst. Though the day was cloudy, no rain fell till 10.30 
A.M., by which time all the other guests had arrived. These 
were three in number, all men past middle age, grave and 
venerable in appearance. Two of them, both Seyyids, and 
both of the number of the Afndn} I had met already. The 
third wore a white turban, and brought with him, concealed 
beneath his cloak, two books. 

After the usual interchange of greetings, Mirza 'Ali sug- 
gested to the possessor of the books that he should read a portion 
aloud ; and the Epistle addressed to Napoleon III, exhorting 
him to believe and warning him of his approaching humilia- 
tion, was accordingly chosen as containing one of the most 
remarkable prophecies of Beha. The prophecy in question I 
have published elsewhere ^ in an account given to the Eoyal 
Asiatic Society of the Literature and Doctrines of the Babis, 

^ See above, pp. 301-2. 
^ Journal of the Eoyal Asiatic Society, October 1889, p. 968. 



*: 



sh/rAz 319 

but two verses of it may be repeated here. They rim as 
follows : — 

" Because of what thou hast done, affairs shall be changed in thy kingdom, 
and emi)ire shall depart from thine hands, as a punishment for thine action. . . . 

" Thy glory hath made thee proud. By my life ! It sJiall not endure, hut 
shall pass away, unless thou taJcest hold of this firm rope. We have seen 
humiliation hastening after thee, xohile thou art of those that sleep." 

Wlien the reader ceased, I asked for permission to examine 
the books, which was readily accorded. The one from which 
the Epistle to Napoleon had been read, contained, besides this, 
the whole of the Kitdh-i-Akdas, and the other Epistles ad- 
dressed to the rulers of the j^rincipal countries in Europe and 
Asia. These comprised letters to the Queen of England, the 
Emperor of Eussia, the Shah of Persia, and the Pope of Eome, 
as well as one addressed to a Turkish minister who had 
oppressed the Babis. I asked when these were written, but 
no one present seemed to know the exact date, though they 
thought that it was about twenty years ago, when Beha was in 
^Vdriauople. Besides these " Epistles of the Kings " (AhodJp-i- 
Saldtin) were one or two other letters addressed to believers, 
amongst which was one written to the Babi missionary whom 
I had met at Isfahan while he was in exile at Khartoum with 
iHtiji Mirzii Hasan. These epistles were, as I learned, known 
collectively as the Sura-i-Hcykal.^ 

i The other book was a larger volume, containing many siiras 
without name or title, some of considerable length, some quite 
-hort. This collection was termed by my companions " The 
Perspicuous Book " {Kitdl-i-Mubin). While I was engaged in 
examining it breakfast was announced, and we repaired to an 
idjoining room, where a sumptuous repast of savoury pildivs 
2,ind cJiildws, prawns, melons, and other delicacies was laid out. 
wished to take my place on the floor with the other guests, 
)ut this Mirza 'All would not permit, saying that he knew I 
hould be more comfortable if I would sit at the table which 
'.e had provided expressly for me. 

^ Abstracts of these letters were published by me in English in the Journal 

the PMyal Asiatic Society for October 1889, and the full text of the Silra-i-Hcykal 

IS been edited by Baron Rosen in vol. vi of the Cullrdions Scicntifiques de 

Tnstitut des Langues Orientales (St. Petersburg, 1891). Of this edition I pub- 

ihed a notice in the J.E.A.S. for April 1892. 



A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



After the meal one or two of the guests lay down to sleep 
for a while, and in the narrower circle conversation seemed to 
How more freely. I succeeded at length in inducing my ]>;U)i 
friends to give me some further account of the B;ih, and of the 
history of their faith. The sum of what they told me was as 
follows : — 

Each of the prophets is the " manifestation " of one of the 
Names (or Attributes) of God. The name manifested in 11 le 
Bab was the liighest of all — Wdhid, the One. Hence it is 
that 1 9 is amongst the Babi's the sacred number according to 
which all things are arranged — the months of the year, the 
days of the month, the chapters in the Bcydn, the fines imposed 
for certain offences, and many other things. For 19 is the 
numerical value of the word Wdhid according to tlie cibjad 
notation, in which each letter has a numerical equivalent, and 
each word a corresponding number, formed by the addition of 
its component letters. This sacred number was manifested 
even at the first appearance of the Bab, for eighteen of his 
fellow -students at once believed in him. These eighteen are 
called " the Letters of the Living " {Hun'ifdt-i-Hayy), because 
they were the creative agents employed by the B;ib for be- 
stowing new life upon the world, and because the numerical 
value of the word Hctyy is 18. All of them were inspired 
and pervaded by the Bab, the One (Wdhid), and with him 
constitute the manifested Unity {Wdhid) of 19. Thus the 
visible church on earth was a type of the one God, one in 
Essence, but revealed through the Names, whereby the Essence 
can alone be comprehended. But this is not all. Each of 
the nineteen members of the " Unity " gained nineteen con- 
verts, so that the primitive church comprised 361 persons in 
aU. This is called "The Number of All Things" (adad-i- 
kullit shey), for 361 is the square of 19 and the further ex- 
pansion thereof, and it is also the numerical equivalent of the 
word kullu shey, which means " All Things." This is why the 
Babi year, like the Beyan, is arranged according to this number 
in nineteen months of nineteen days each. But the Babi year 
is a solar year containing 366 days. These five additional 
days are added at the beginning of the last month, which is 
the month of fasting, and are commanded to be spent in enter- 



sh/rAz 321 

taining oue's friends and the poor, as it is written in the 
Kitdh-i-Akdas — 

" Place the days ivliich are in excess over the months before the month of 
fasting. Verily we have made them the manifestations of the {letter^ HA 
[ = 5] amongst the nights and days. Therefore are they not comprised within 
the limits of the months. It is incumbent on such as are in Behd to feed 
therein themselves, and their relatives; then the poor and distressed. . . . 
And when the days of giving [which arel before the days of withholding are 
finished, let them enter xipon the fast" 

Immediately after the month of fasting comes the great 
festival of the Nawruz, which inaugurates a new year. That 
the old national festival, which marks the period when the sun 
again resumes his sway after the dark cold winter is past and 
the earth again clothes herself with verdure, should be thus 
consecrated again by the Babi's is one sign amongst many of 
the Persian genius by which the new faith was inspired. 

Sheykh Ahmad Ahsd'i, who taught at Kerbela about the 
beginning of the present century, first began to hint darkly 
that the days wherein the promised Imam should appear were 
at hand. When he died (a.d. 1826) his pupil, Haji Seyyid 
Kazim of Eesht, succeeded him, and spoke more clearly on the 
same theme, especially towards the end of his life. Amongst 
the number of those who attended his lectures were Mirza 'Ali 
Muhammad the Bab, and Haji Muhammad Karim Khan of 
Kirman. Now when the former arose and declared himself to 
be the promised Imam, foretold by the lately deceased teacher, 
the latter strenuously opposed him, and claimed the supremacy 
for himself. And some followed Karim Khan, whilst others (and 
these were the majority) recognised the claim of Mirza 'All 
Muhammad the Bab. These latter were henceforth called Babis, 

I while the former retained the title of Sheykhis, thereby imply- 
ing that they were the true exponents of the doctrine of Sheykh 
Ahmad, and that the Babis had departed therefrom ; for before 

I that time all alike who accepted the Sheykh's teaching were 
called by this name. Thus it is that, although the Bab and 

! the majority of his disciples had previously to the " manifesta- 
tion " been called Sheykhis, the Sheykhis of to-day {i.e. the 
followers of Karim Khan of Kirman) are the bitterest and 
fiercest enemies of the Babis. 

21 



J-- 



A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



Boli;i, whose proper name is Mirz;i Huseyn 'All, of Nur, in 
Mdzandanin, was one of those wlio believed in the B;ib. He 
Avas arrested at Anuil on his way to join tlie liiibis, who, under 
the leadership of IMulLi Iluseyn of IJusliraweyh, were en- 
trenched at Sheykh Tabarsi. In 1852 he narrowly escaped 
death in the great persecution wherein the intrepid Suleyniiin 
Ivhdn, the brilliant and beautiful Kurratu 'l-'Ayn, and a liost of 
others, suffered martyrdom. It was proved, however, that he 
had but just arrived at Teheran, and could not have had any share 
in the plot against the Sh;ih wherein the others were accused 
of being involved, so his life was spared, and, after an imprison- 
ment of about four months, he was allowed to leave Persia 
and take up his residence at Baghdad. Mirza Yahyi'i, " ^vhh- 
i-Ezd " (" the Morning of Eternity "), Beha's half-brotlier (tlien 
only about twenty-two years of age), was at that time recog- 
nised as the Bab's successor, having been designated as such 
by the Bab himself, shortly before he suffered martyrdom at 
Tabriz. His supremacy was recognised, at least nominally, by 
all the Biibis during the eleven years' sojourn of their chiefs at 
Baghdad, but even then Beha took the most prominent part in 
the organisation of affairs, the carrying on of correspondence, 
and the interviewing of visitors. In 1863 the Ottoman 
Government, acceding to the urgent requests of the Persian 
authorities, removed all the Babis, including Behii and Mi'rzd 
Yahya, " Subh-i-Uzel," from Baghdad to Constantinople, and 
thence to Adrianople, where they arrived about the end of the' 
year. Here at length Beha cast aside the veil, proclaimed 
himself as " He whom God shall manifest," whose coming the 
Bab had foretold, and called on all the Babis, including Mi'rza 
Yahya, " Suhh-i-Ezel," to acknowledge his claim and submit to 
his authority. Many of the Babis did so at once, and their 
number increased as time went on, so that now the great 
majority of them are followers of Beha, though a few still 
adhere to Mirza Yahya, and these are called Ezelis. But at 
first the disproportion between the Beha'is and the Ezelis was 
but slight, and the rivalry between them was great, resulting, 
indeed, in some bloodshed. So the Turkish Government 
decided to separate them, and accordingly sent Beha and his 
followers to Acre in Syria, and Mirza Yahya and his family to 



sh/rAz 323 

Famagusta in Cyprus. Now the reason why Beha was sent 
to Acre was, as his followers assert, that its climate is exceed- 
ingly unhealthy, and that it was hoped that he might die 
there. For the Persian ambassador, the French minister, and 
'All P;isha, the Turk, had consulted together as to the means 
whereby the new faitli might be crushed. The Persian sug- 
gested that Beh;i should be killed, but the Turk refused to do 
this openly, saying that it would be a much better plan to 
send him and his followers to a place where they would soon 
die. But Beha divined their wicked intention, and rebuked it 
in the "Epistles to the Kings," declaring that ""Ali Pasha 
should die in exile, and the power of France fail before the 
foe, while he remained unharmed in the place whither they 
had sent him. And these things were fulfilled ; for two years 
later France began to recoil before the Gorman arms, while 
'All Pasht'i died far from his native land. But Beha continued 
to live and prosper, and even dreary Acre smiled with fresh 
gardens and seemed to gain a purer air.^ 

And now, the afternoon being far advanced, it was time to 
retrace our steps to the city. The rain had ceased and the 
evening was soft and balmy, but the roads were terribly 
muddy. In spite of this we had a pleasant walk back to the 
town, where we arrived a little before dusk, after a most 
delightful day. 

On the morrow, as I was sitting in my room after break- 
fast wondering what to do, a note came from Mi'rza 'Ali 
asking me to be ready at 3 p.m. to accompany him to the 
house of one of the Afndn (i.e. a member of the Bab's family), 
and meanwhile to prepare any questions which I might desire 
to ask, as I should meet there one of the most learned Babis 
in Shiraz, whose manifold and undisputed talents had caused 
his co-religionists to bestow on him the title of Kdmil^ 
("Perfect "). Joyfully signifying my acceptance of the invitation, 
I sat down to glance hastily through the Kitdh-i-Akdas and 

■^ I give this account as it was given to me by the Biibis of Shiraz, but I ilo 
not think that it is altogether correct. For instance, I tliink that not 'All 
Paslia, but Fii'ad Pasha, who actually died at Nice in 1869, was the Turkish 
statesman concerned. 

j - His actual title was similar to, but not identical with, this. Considerations 

' of expediency have led me to alter it as above. 



A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 



make notes of such passages as presented any difficulty. At 
tlie appointed time Mirz;i 'All's black servant came to conduct 
me to the place of meeting, where, besides some of those whom 
I had met in the garden on the previous day, the illustrious 
Kamil himself was present. After the customary greetings 
were over, I was invited to lay my difliculties before him, an 
invitation with which I hastened to comply. 

My first question related to the laws of inheritance and 
the partition of property, but here I was not more fortunate 
than on a previous occasion, even Kumil being compelled to 
admit that he could not altogether comprehend them. I 
therefore passed on to the passage in the Kildh-i-Ahdus 
wherein the " Pilgrimage to the House " {Hajju 'l-Bcyt) is en- 
joined on all male believers who are able to perform it, and 
enquired what was meant by " the House " in question. To 
tliis Kamil replied that the house in Shin'iz wherein the Bub 
formerly dwelt was intended. I asked eagerly if I might not 
be permitted to visit it while in Shi'raz, whereat they looked 
doubtfully at one another, and said that they would try to 
manage it, but that it was difficult — firstly, because the present 
inmates of the house were all women ; secondly, because the 
house was well known to the Musulmans, who would not fail 
to remark so unusual an event as the visit of a Firangi to a 
Biibi shrine. 

My third question related to the following verse : — 

" It is not meet for any one to demand pardon before another ; repent 
unto God, in p)resence of yourselves; verily He is Foryiviwj, Bounteous, 
Miyhty, (and) Swift to repentP 

" ^Vllat does this prohibition refer to ? " I demanded of 
Kamil. 

" To the power which your priests claim of absolving men 
of sin," he replied. 

" But surely," I urged, " since this claim is in the first 
place confined to Christendom, and in the second place is 
limited to the priests of one sect amongst the Christians, it 
seems hardly necessary to prohibit it here." 

" It is not confined to Christians," he replied, " for the 
mullds here claim very similar powers, though perhaps they 



SHIRAZ 325 

formulate tliem in a less definite manner. When a man has 
embezzled or extorted money, and his conscience pricks him, 
he goes before one of our clergy and states the case to him, 
whereupon the latter takes a small sum from him in the 
name of religion, and declares the remainder purified thereby. 
All such tricks of priests and mullds are forbidden in this 
verse." 

The fourth question which I put forward provoked a more 
fruitful discussion. It related to the verse wherein the Sufis 
and others who lay claim to inward knowledge are condemned 
in the following terms : — 

" And there are amongst them such as lay claim to the inner and the 
inmost (mystery). Say, ' liar ! By God, ichat thou hast is but husks 
which ice have abandoned, to you as bones arc abandoned to the dogs.' " 

" Surely," I demanded, " not only is the doctrine of the 
Siifis in many ways near akin to your own, but it is also 
purer and more spiritual by far than tlie theology of the 
mullds. Do you condemn Mansiir-i-Hallaj for saying, ' I am 
the Truth ' {And 'l-Hakh), when Behd makes use of the same 
expression ? Do you regard Jalalu 'd-Din Eiimi as a liar 
when you continually make use of the Masnavi to illustrate 
your ideas ? " 

" No, " answered Kamil, " assuredly ]\Iansiir and Jalalu 'd- 
Di'n spoke with a true inspiration. This verse in no wise 
applies to them, nor to any of the Siifis of past days ; these 
were illumined with a true light in such wise that many of 
them clearly hinted at this ' manifestation,' as, for example, 
Hafiz does, where he says — 

' Ey sabd, gar big::ari bar sdhil-i-rud,-i-Aras 
Base zan bar khdh-i-dn ivddi, vet mushkin kun nafas.' 

' zepliyr, if tliou passest by the banks of tlie river Araxes, 
Implant a kiss on tbe earth of that valley, and make fragrant thy 
breath.' 

For it was in the fortress of Maku, by the Araxes, that His 
Highness the Point of Eevelation (i.e. the Bab) spent the last 
three years of his life. Those intended by the verse in question 



326 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

lire sucli as would oppose a pretended inward illnniination 
to the full light ol" the present ' manifestation.' " 

" So far as 1 understand you, then," I replied, " you admit 
the Siifi doctrine, that a man may, by self-renunciation and 
intense abstraction, attain to the degree of 'Annihilation in 
God,' and that in this condition he may truly say, ' I am God,' 
inasmuch as he has foregone self, escaped from the illusions of 
plurality, and realised the unity of True Being. If tliis be so, 
I do not clearly understand in what way you regard the 
prophet as his superior, for surely no degree can be higher 
than this. As your proverb says, ' There is no colour beyond 
black ' (IjdUi-tar az siydli rangi nist). Still less do I see how 
you can speak of one prophet as superior to another, unless 
you place all but the highest in a lower rank than the Sufi 
who has attained to absorption into the Divine Essence." 

" AVhen we speak of one prophet as superior to another," 
answered Kamil, " we speak in a manner purely relative, for 
the Universal Spirit (Eilh-i-KuUi) speaks through all of them 
alike. But inasmuch as they speak in divers manners, accord- 
ing to the capacity of their hearers, and according to the 
requirements of time and place, to us they appear in different 
degrees of perfection. The sun, for example, is the same 
to-day as it was yesterday, yet we say, ' To-day it is hotter than 
it w^as yesterday,' because we enjoy a fuller measure of its 
heat. But we do not by this expression mean to imply that 
there is any alteration in the sun itself. In the World of Ideas, 
regard the Universal Spirit as the sun which rises in each 
' manifestation ' from a different horizon. Or regard it as the 
Instructor of mankind, speaking always to those whom it 
addresses in a manner suitable to their comprehension, just as 
a teacher instructs children in the alphabet, bo}'s in grammar, 
youths of riper age in logic, rhetoric, and other sciences, and 
full-grown men in philosophy. The teacher is always one and 
the same, but he manifests himself more or less perfectly 
according to the aptitude of those whom he addresses. So it 
is with the Universal Spirit, which speaks through all the 
prophets : only its outward vestment changes, and the 
phraseology of which it makes use ; its essence and the 
message which it utters are ever the same. And since this 



sh/rAz 



327 



Universal Spirit is Absolute Good, we must believe that it 
always has a manifestation in the world ; for it is better that a 
tree should continually bear fruit than that it should only bear 
fruit at long intervals, and we are bound to attribute all that 
is best to the Sj)irit. Hence it follows that during the long 
intervals which separate one prophetic dispensation from the 
next, there must be in the world silent manifestations of the 
Spirit intrinsically not less perfect than the speaking manifesta- 
tions whom we call prophets. The only difference is that a 
' claim ' (iddid) is advanced in the one case and not in the 
other. And it is only to this claim that the verse about 
which you enquire refers, as likewise does the verse, ' Whosoever 
claimcth a disjK'nsation before the completmi of a full thousand 
years is indeed a lying imjoostor.' " 

I now put to Kamil the following question, which I had 

already propounded in my first meeting with the Babis of 

Shin'iz : — " If the references to Christ's coming which occur in 

the Gospel refer to this manifestation, then they cannot be 

applied, as they are by the Muslims, to Muhammad ; in which 

case Muhammad's coming was not foretold by Christ, and 

Islam loses a proof which, as I understand, you regard as 

essential to every dispensation, viz. that it shall have been 

foreshadowed by the bearer of the last dispensation." To this 

he replied that in each dispensation announcement was made 

of future manifestations in general, and that what Clirist said 

concerning His return applied equally to the advent of 

I Muhammad, and of the Bab, and of Beha. Muhammad's 

title, Klidtamu 'l-Anhiyd (" Seal of the Prophets "), did not, he 

j explained, signify, as the Muhammadans generally suppose, 

I " the last of the Prophets," as is proved by a passage occurring 

i in one of the prayers used by pilgrims to Kerbela and Nejef, 

wherein Muhammad is called " the Seal of the prophets who 

j have gone before, and the Key of those who are to come." 

I " Do you," I asked, " regard Zoroaster as a true prophet ? " 

" Assuredly," he replied, " inasmuch as every religion which 

1 has become current in the world, and has endured the test of 

time, must have contained at least some measure of truth, 

however much it may have been subsequently corrupted. 

Only a Divine Word can strongly affect and continuously 



__ 



r 



32S .•/ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

control men's hearts : spurious coin will not pass, and the 
uninterrupted currency of a coin is the proof of its genuine- 
ness. The architect is proved to be an architect by his 
ability to construct a house ; the physician is shown to be a 
physician by healing sickness ; and the prophet vindicates his 
claim to the prophetic office by establishing a religion. These 
two things are his sufficient proof, and these only : that he 
has wisdom immediate and God-given, not acquired from men ; 
and that his word so penetrates and controls men that for its 
sake they are willing to give up all that they most prize, and 
even to lay down their lives." 

So completely was K;imil dominated by this conception of 
the nature of the proof required to establish a claim to prophet- 
hood, that I could not make him see the importance of any 
other evidence. " Had the Bab," I enquired, " explicitly or 
by implication signified the attributes, qualities, or personal 
peculiarities of his successor?" "No," he answered, "he 
merely spoke of him as ' Man yudh-hiruhu 'lldh ' {' He whom 
God shall manifest),' without further describing him." " Could 
not dates of publication be proved for some of the prophecies 
wherein, as I had heard, Beha had foretold the downfall of 
Napoleon the Third, the assassination of the late Emperor of 
Eussia, and other events of general notoriety ? " Kamil thought 
that very possibly they could, but he evidently attached no im- 
portance to the question, and did not consider that the power 
of foretelling future events was any proof of a divine mission. 
As to the right of a prophet to inflict death, openly or secretly, 
on those who stubbornly opposed him, he took exactly the 
same view as the young Babi Seyyid whom I had previously 
questioned on this matter. A prophet was no more to be 
blamed for removing an obdurate opponent than a surgeon 
for amputating a gangrenous limb. 

Before I left I was shown several books and epistles which I 
had not previously seen. Amongst the latter was one addressed 
to a Christian, and another containing consolations addressed 
to one of Mirza 'All's uncles on the occasion of his father's 
death and his own bankruptcy, on account of which (for he 
had failed to the extent of 60,000 ticmdns) he was then in 
sanctuary at the IMasjid-i-Naw. I was also shown a specimen 



d 



I 



SHIRAZ 329 

of the Kliatt-i-tcmzili, or " revelation-writing " ; i.e. tlie almost 
illegible draft of Beha's utterances made bv his amanuensis, 
Akii Mi'rza Aka J;in, called Khddimu 'lldh (" the Servant of 
God"), who, as I was informed, writes with such speed that 
he can take down 1500 verses in an hour, this being, as it 
appears, the maximum of rapidity attained by Beha's revela- 
tions. Very few, however, save the amanuensis himself, can 
read this "revelation-writing." 

A seal, on which was inscribed the name Huseyn, both 
in the Arabic character and in the Khatt-i-hadi , or new 
writing invented by the Babis, was also shown to me by one 
of those present. This new writing bears some superficial 
resemblance to the Armenian character. Each letter consists 
of a thick oblique stroke descending from right to left, to 
which are appended various fine curves and flourishes, all the 
thick lines being parallel and equidistant. I finally left at 
about eight o'clock, one of my B;ibi friends remarking on the 
quick flight of the time, which, he added, was due, in their belief, 
to the fact that in spiritual converse such as we had held the 
soul soars above the limitations of Time and Space, and ceases 
to take cognisance of them. 

A few days after this I again called on my friend Mirza 
'All. Shortly after my arrival, Haji Mirz;i Hasan joined us, 
and for nearly three hours we talked without intermission 
about the Babi religion, save for a short time, when we were 
interrupted by an " ass's head." ^ The conversation ran, for the 
most part, on announcements of coming events by Behii, of 
which Haji Mirza Hasan related the following instances from 
his own personal experience : — 

" You have heard of the ' Martyrs of Isfahan,' " - said he. 
" Well, shortly before their death I was at Acre with Haji 
Mirza Hasan 'Ali, whom you met at Isfahan, and Aka Seyyid 
Hadi. A day or two before the time fixed for our return to 
Persia we were with Beha, in a garden whither he sometimes 
repairs. He was seated, and we, according to our custom, 
were standing before him. Presently he bade us sit down, 
and ordered an attendant to give us tea. While we were 
drinking it he said, ' A great event will shortly take place in 

^ See pp. 274-5, sujira. " See pp. 213-21.5, sur)ra. 



330 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Persia.' lu the evening Ak;i Seyyid Hikli privately enquired 
of him where this event would hai)pen, and was informed tliat 
it would be in the 'Land of S;'id ' (Isfali;in). Seyyid IL'idi 
wrote to some of his friends in Persia, and in his letter men- 
tioned this prophecy. When we reached Persia, ILiji Mirzil 
Hasan 'Ali remained at Teheran, while I continued my 
journey towards Isfah;in. At Kashi'iii I was met by the news 
of the martyrs' arrest. As they were very rich I confidently 
anticipated that they would be able to regain their liberty by 
means of a heavy bribe to the authorities ; neither did I 
connect this news with Belui's prophecy, for I rather under- 
stood that as pointing to some general catastrophe, such as a 
plague, famine, or earthquake. Four or five days later, how- 
ever, came the news of their martyrdom, and I, instead of 
proceeding to Isfahan, turned back to Teheriin, knowing now 
that this was the event foreshadowed by Beha.^ At the 
execution the Imdm-Jum a, seeing the headsman waver, had 
put his hand to his throat, and said, ' If there be any sin in 
this, let it be upon my neck ! ' Shortly afterwards he fell 
into disgrace, and retired to Mashhad, where he was attacked 
with abscesses in the throat {khandzir), of which he died. 
About a month after the death of the martyrs, Sheykh B;ikir 
received a letter from Acre containing the most terrible de- 
nunciations and prophecies of misfortune.- He subsequently 
went to Kerbela. On returning thence to Isfahan he dis- 
covered that both his wife and his daughter (who was extremely 
beautiful) had been seduced by the prince-governor. His 
complaints and demands for redress resulted only in the pro- 
duction of a letter from his wife to her paramour, proving that 
she had made the first advances. Other troubles and mis- 
fortunes succeeded this, and Sheykh Bdkir presently died, as 
Beha had foretold, without having been able to enjoy his 
ill-gotten gains. 

" This is one instance of Beha's prescience, about which 
you enquired. I will give you another, in wdiich I myself 

^ Haji Mirza Hasan here added an account of the events which had led to the 
death of the two Seyyids. This I have already given at pp. 213-4, siqjra, so I 
■will not repeat it here. 

2 Mirza 'All told me that he had himself seen and copied this letter when a 
boy, before the calamities which it foreshadowed had befallen Sheykh Bakir. 



shirAz 331 

was more closely concerned; but indeed such experiences are 
common to most of us who have been privileged to hold 
intercourse with our Master. I and Haji Mirza Hasan 'Ali, 
whom you saw at Isfahan, had been to visit Beha at Adrianople 
before he was transferred to Acre. We received instructions 
to proceed thence to Egypt to encourage the Babis resident 
there, and to avert a threatened schism. On the steamer in 
which we took our passage was a merchant of Tabriz, named 
Haji Muhammad Ja'far, who was also a believer. Just before 
we started we were ordered to avoid all conversation with him 
during the voyage. Although we were completely at a loss 
to understand the object of this prohibition, we obeyed it 
implicitly. In due course we safely reached Egypt, and there 
set ourselves diligently to confirm and encourage the believers, 
to clieck the schism which seemed impending, and to spread 
the faith amongst our compatriots in Egypt, so far as occasion 
served. The Persian Consul, unable to prevent our compatriots 
from visiting us, sent word to us that he was desirous of 
hearing about our religion, as he had been long absent from 
Persia, and had been unable to satisfy himself as to the truth 
of the matter. We, suspecting no evil (for we thought that 
in Egypt we ran no risk of arrest or imprisonment), accej)ted 
liis invitation, and, on an evening which he appointed, visited 
him at the consulate. We sat talking with him till five or 
six hours after sunset, speaking freely and unreservedly about 
religious questions. When, however, we rose to take our leave, 
we were seized by the consul's servants and detained in his 
house, while messengers were sent to search our lodgings and 
seize our books and papers. Next day the consul accused us 
to Isma'il Pasha of heresy and sedition, representing us as 
confessedly belonging to a mischievous and dangerous sect, 
, imbued with revolutionary ideas, which was hostile to all 
' authority, and had already attempted the life of the Shah of 
Persia. Of our heresy, he added, the five or six books found 
in our lodgings (books which we regarded as abrogating the 
Kur'an) would afford ample evidence. The case was laid 
[before the Council of Enquiry (Majlis-i-istintdk). We were 
declared infidels and apostates, and, without a hearing, con- 
demned to transportation for life to Khartoum in the Soudan. 



33^ A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Tliither we were sent, together with six or seven of our 
brethren. H;iji' IMulianimad Ja'far of Tabriz, our icllow- 
traveller from Adrianoplc, was amongst the accused, Ijut lie 
was acquitted, as it was proved that wo. had not spoken to liim 
on board the ship, and this was taken as presumptive evidence 
that he had no acquaintance with us. Then we understood 
why Behii had forbidden us to speak with him on the voyage, 
for had we done so he would have been involved in our 
misfortune." 

"How long were you imprisoned at Khartoum?" I en- 
quired ; " and how did you effect your escape ? " 

" We remained there for seven years," replied Hi'iji Mirza 
Hasan, " and for some time we were unable to communicate with 
our Master, or even to ascertain whither he had been removed 
(for vague rumours of his removal from Adrianoj)le reached us). 
At length we foregathered with some Christian missionaries, 
whose goodwill we won by manifesting an interest in their 
doctrines. By means of these we were able to send a letter 
to Beha, imforming him of our condition. On receiving our 
letter, Beha at once indited an answer, consoling us in our 
misfortune and announcing that our oppressor, Isma'i'l Pasha, 
would shortly fall from power, and that we should in a little 
while again stand in the presence of our Master. This letter 
was entrusted to an Arab called Jasim,^ who started at once 
for Khartoum, where he arrived six months later. When we 
received it there seemed to be no likelihood that the promises 
of deliverance which it contained would be fulfilled ; but we 
were at least no longer wholly cut off from our friends, for the 
Arab not only took back with him our answer, but made arrange- 
ments with believers at Suez to forward our letters in the 
future. Soon after this your English general came to Khar- 
toum ; I forget his name, but you will probably remember it." 

" General Gordon," I answered. 

" Yes," rejoined Haji Mirza Hasan, " that was it. Well, 

^ In the Journal of tlie Royal Asiatic Society for April 1892, pp. 311, 312, I 
have attempted to prove that one of the epistles now included in what is called 
by the Babis the Sura-i-Hcykal (the text of which has been published in full 
by Baron Rosen in vol. vi of the Collections Scicntifiques de I'Institut dcs Lmujucs 
Oricntalcs de St. P6tershourg, pp. 149-192) is this very letter. Jdsira, as I was 
informed at Acre, is merely a vulgar and local pronunciation of the name Kasim. 



A 



SHIRAZ 



jjj 



soon after his arrival he enquired about the prisoners whom he 
found in Khartoum, and especially about us and the other 
Persians. As he could find no crime recorded against us, he 
interrogated us as to the reason of our confinement. We told 
him that we were innocent of any crime, and that we had 
been condemned unheard, without a chance of defending our- 
selves. Our statement was confirmed by the prison officials, 
and General Gordon accordingly telegraphed to Isma'il Ptisha 
demanding the reason of our detention. The replies which he 
received were vague and unsatisfactory, and he accordingly 
released us, telling us that we were free to stay or go as we 
pleased. Haji Mirza Hasan 'Ali and myself at once availed 
ourselves of this permission, and set out for Acre, but our 
companions, having wives and families at Khartoum, 
chose to remain there. Soon after this, as you know, Isma'il 
Pasli;i was deposed, and the prophecy contained in the epistle 
was fulfilled. 

" You see that in all these cases when the prophecy was 
uttered there seemed to be no likelihood of its fulfilment ; 
indeed, when we received instructions to act in a certain way, 
we seldom understood the reason till afterwards. Por instance, 
on one occasion Haji Mirza Hasan 'All and myself were 
about to return to Persia from Acre by way of Diyar Bekr, 
Mosul, and Ptawandi'z. We were to take with us certain 
books destined for a believer at Tabriz ; but, though we 
intended to proceed thither ourselves, we were instructed to 
convey them no further beyond the Persian frontier than we 
j could help, but to hand them over to some trustworthy person 
' as soon as possible after entering Persia. Accordingly, when, 
on reaching Soi'ich P)ulak, we heard that a certain believing 
merchant was staying in the caravansaray, we sent a message 
to him, informing him that we wished to see him at once on a 
matter of importance, He understood the nature of our 
business and what was toward, and, though with no small 
trepidation, came out to us at once. We walked away from 
the town, he following us, till we came to a streamlet, where 
we sat down and signed to him to do likewise. We explained 
to him our object in seeking him, and handed over to him the 
books, which he took with some reluctance, promising to 



334 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

couvoy them to Tiibn'z on tlie first opportunity. Next day 
we started for Tabriz, but we liad not gone one parasan<r 
when we were attacked by Kurdish robbers and stripped of 
everything save our shirts and drawers. Had the books been 
with us, they too would have been lost. As it was, we liad 
to return in this plight to Souch Bulak. We laid a complaint 
before the Governor of Tabriz, Huseyn Khan, son of the Siihib- 
Divan, and he promised us a hundred t'u.mdns'^ as compensation, 
but this we never received." 

" These are certainly very strange experiences," I said ; "but 
of course the evidential value of prophecies referring to events 
of public notoriety, and existing in written form before those 
events came to pass, would be greater." 

" Well, is there not the epistle to 'Ali Pasha," ^ answered 
Haji Mirzii Hasan, " in which his death in a foreign land, as 
well as the assassination of the Turkish ministers whom 
Cherkez Hasan slew, is clearly foreshadowed ? And is there 
not also the epistle to Sheykh Btikir, by whom the martyrs of 
Isfahan were done to death, of which you have already 
heard ? These epistles are well known, and the events to 
which they refer are notorious. But let me tell you how 
Haji Muhammad Ja'far, who escaped exile to Khartoum, 
showed his devotion to Behii. When it was decided by the 
Turkish Government to remove our Master and his family and 
relatives, as well as Mirza Yahy^'i,^ from Adrianople, they at 
first determined to dismiss his followers with their passports 
and a sum of money for their journey to Persia. Haji 
Muhammad Ja'far refused to agree to this, declaring that he 
would not be separated from his master. He was told that 
he must obey the Sultan's orders. Thereupon he drew his 
knife, and, before they could prevent him, inflicted a severe 
wound on his throat : neither would he allow the surgeon wlio 

1 £30 sterling. 

- I think, for reasons stated at pp. 271-2 of the Journal of the Eoyal Asiatic 
Society for 1892, that Fu'ad Pasha, not '^li Pasha, is really intended. I have 
not, however, thought myself justified in altering the notes of these conversations 
recorded in my diary. Cf. n.l on p. 323 svpra. 

^ I.e. Subh-i-Ezel. This title, however, is seldom given by the followers of 
Beha to Mirza Yaliya. At most they call him " dii shakhs-i-Ezcl," "that 
person Ezel." 



SHIRAz 335 

was immediately summoned to sew it up until he had received 
an assurance that he should be allowed to accompany Beha to 
Acre. The Turkish authorities were therefore obliged to 
telegraph to Constantinople that Bella's followers could not be 
separated from him, as they would rather kill themselves than 
leave him. However, the Turks tried to send some of them 
with Mirza Yahya to Cyprus ; but these, on discovering 
whither their ship was bound, cast themselves into the sea to 
swim to the ship in which Beha was a passenger. They 
were finally allowed to accompany him to Acre, and only 
Mirza Yahya and his family ^ were conveyed to Cyprus, where 
they still remain." 

" Why," .1 asked, " do you speak of Mirza Yahya as 
though he were of no account ? In the books about your 
religion which I read in Europe he is described as the Bab's 
chosen successor, and, after him, as the chief of your sect ? " 

" Yes," replied Ht'iji Mirza Hasan, " it is true that he was 
one of the early believers, and that at first he was accounted 
the successor and vicegerent of the Bab. But he was 
repeatedly warned not to withhold his allegiance from ' Him 
whom God shall manifest,' and threatened that if he did so he 
would fall from the faith, and become as one rejected. In 
spite of these clear warnings of his Master, he refused to 
acknowledge the new manifestation when it came ; wherefore 
he is now regarded by us as of no account." 

" Has he any followers in Cyprus ? " I asked. 

" Hardly any," answered H;iji ]\Iirza Hasan ; " he writes 
absurd and meaningless letters to his partisans and to such as 
he hopes to persuade ; but he is afraid to come to Persia 
(though the Turks have given him permission to do so -), 
fearing lest we should kill him." 

" And would you kill him ? " I enquired. 

^ This, as I subsequently discovered, is not strictly accurate. Four of 
Bella's followers {Shcykh 'Ali Sayijdh, Muhammad Bdkir, 'Abdu'l Ghaffdr, and 
Mushkin-kalam) were sent with Subh-i-Ezel to Cyprus. The first and second 
died in the island in 1871 and 1872 respectively ; the third escaped in 1870 ; 
and the last left for Acre (where I saw him in the spring of 1890) in 1886. 

- This also is a mistake. It was only after the English occupation of 
Cyprus that the Babis interned at Famagusta were given permission to leave 
the island, on condition of forfeiting the pensions which they enjoy. 



336 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

" I ask pardon of God ! We arc not autliorised to kill 
anyone," replied the Babi missionary. 

Next day I again met Haji Mi'rza Hasan at the house of 
my friend Mh'Zi'i 'All. He had with him a commentary on 
the Kitdh-i-Akdas, with the aid of which we attempted, with 
but partial success, to unravel the complicated law of inherit- 
ance laid down by Beha. I was able, however, to learn from it 
something more about the arrangement of the Babi year. 
This consists of nineteen months of nineteen days each, the 
same names serving alike for the months of the year and 
the days of the month. These names are as follows : — 
(1) Bchci, (2) Jaldl, (3) Jemdl,. (4) 'Azimat, (5) JViir, (6) 
Eahmat, (7) Kalimdt, (8) Kamdl, (9) Asmd, (10) 'Izzat, (11) 
3Iashiyyat, (12) 'Urn, (13) Kuclrat, (14) Kaiol, (15) Masd'il, 
(16) Sharaf, (17) Sultdn, (18) Mulk, (19) ' Vld. According to 
this arrangement, the week is completely abolished : the third 
day of the eighth month, for example, is called Ycaomu 'l- 
Jemdl tnin shahri 'l-Kamal, " the day of Beauty (Jemdl) in the 
month of Perfection (Kamdl)." But, pending the retention of 
the week, new names have been given to the days composing 
it, as foUow^s : — 

Sunday, Yawmu 'I Jemdl. Wednesday, Yawmu 'l-'Iddl. 

Monday, „ Kamdl. Thursday, „ Istijldl. 

Tuesday, „ Fizdl Friday, „ Istikldl. 

Saturday, Yawmu 'l-Jaldl} 

I learned a few more new facts about the Babis on this 
occasion. The relations of the Bab (of whom I saw several 
at Shiraz) are called " Afndn" and the sons of Beha "Aghsdn" 
both of these words meaning " branches," Behi'i's eldest son, 
'Abbas Efendi,- is called Ghum-i-Akhar (" the IMost Great 
Branch "), and also Akdyi Sirru 'lldh (the Master, God's 
Mystery "), while another of his sons, named Mi'rza 

^ For a fuller account of the arrangement of the Babi calendar, and of the 
system of intercalation employed to keep it in correspondence with the solar year 
(for the Nmv-ruz, which corresponds with the entry of the sun into the sign of the 
Ram and the vernal equinox, marks the beginning of the Babi, as of the old 
Persian, year), see vol. ii of my Traveller's Narrative written to illustrate the 
Episode of the Bab, pp. 412-425. See also pp. 320-1 supra. 

2 I have described the impression produced upon me by this remarkable man 
at pp. xxxv-xxxvi of vol. ii of my Traveller's Narrative. 



SHIrAZ 337 

Muhammad 'All, is entitled Ghusn-i-A' zam (" the Most Mighty 
Branch") ^. I was also shown the epistle from Beha to 
Sheykh Bakir of which I had heard so much, and copied from 
it the passage which, as the Btibi's declared, foreshadowed the 
recent disgrace of the Zillu 's-Sultan. The translation of this 
passage is as follows : — " Verily we heard that the provinces of 
Persia ivere adorned with the ornament of justiec ; hut when 
we made enquiry we fonnd them well-springs of injustice and 
sources of violence. Verily toe see justice under the claivs of 
oppression: We ask God to free it hy an exercise of potver and 
an act of authority on His part. Verily He is a Protector over 
whomsoever is in the earth and in the heavens." 

One of the older Babis whom I had previously met was 
present for a while ; and I urgently repeated a request, which 
I had already made, that I might be taken to see the house 
(called " Beyt " — " the House " par excellence) formerly inhabited 
by the Bab. There had been some difficulty about this — firstly, 
because its inmates at that time were without exception 
women ; and secondly, because it was feared that my visiting 
it would excite the suspicion of the Muhammadans, to whom 
also the house was well known ; but these difficulties appeared 
to have been surmounted, and I received a promise that on the 
next day but one my wish should be gratified. It was 
therefore in the highest spirits that I took leave of my Babi 
friends and turned homewards ; but alas for my hopes, destined 
I to disappointment ; for, had I known it, there was already 
I awaiting me there that which was to cut short my pleasant 
days in Shiraz, and debar me from the accomplishment of the 
" visitation " which I so ardently desired to perform. 

^ Him I did not see at Acre ; lie was probably living in seclusion. Since then 
he has become the Pontiff of the Beha'l Babis, agreeably to Beha's testamentary 
depositions, published in the original by Baron Rosen in vol. vii of the Zajnsski, 
pp. 194-6. Beha died on 29th May (16th, old style) 1892. In my diary, as well 
as in my first article on the Babis in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society for 
.July 1888, I have wrongly transposed the titles of these two sons of Beha. 



22 



CHAPTEE XII 

FKOM SHIRAZ TO YEZD 

" Mard dar onanzil-i-Jdndn cM jd-yi- aysh, cJii'm har darn 
Jarasfarydd mi-ddrad, ki 'bar hand'id mahTiiil-hd ? " 

" Shall my Beloved one's house delight me. 
When issues ever and anon 
From the relentless bell the mandate, 
' 'lis time to bind thy litters on ' ? " 

(Hafiz, translated by Herman Bicknell.) 

It was, as I have said, in the best of spirits that I returned on 
the evening of this Friday, the 12th of April, to the house of my 
kind host the Nawwab. I was well pleased with my environment 
at Shmiz, and more especially with the progress which I had 
made in cultivating the acquaintance and winning the con- 
fidence of the Babi's, from whom I had already obtained several 
precious manuscripts and much valuable information. On the 
morrow there was to be another picnic in the garden of 
Mashk-i-Bihislit ("the Envy of Paradise"), and on the 
following day I was to be allowed to visit the Bab's house. 
My mind was therefore filled with pleasant anticipations as 
I entered the Nawwab's house. 

" S;ihib, you are late," exclaimed the servant who met me in 
the doorway ; " where have you been ? A telegram has come 
for you, and we would have sent it to you at once, but we 
knew not where you were." 

I rushed upstairs to my room and tore open the telegram. 
It was a very long one, and the substance of it was this ; 
that a European lady, travelling northwards to Teheran with 
her husband, had been taken ill at Dihbid, five stages from 



FROM SHIRAZ to YEZD 339 

Sliiraz ; that her husband had been obliged to continue his 
journey ; that she had been treated for some time by Dr. 

S (then absent on a tour of inspection along the 

Bushire road), with whom communications had been main- 
tained by means of the telegraph ; that she was now much 
worse, being, indeed, in a very critical condition ; and that 

Dr. S , unable to go to Dihbid himself, had suggested 

that I, having a medical qualification, might go instead of 
him. The symptoms of the patient were fully described, and 
I was asked, in case I could come, to bring with me certain 
drugs which were not contained in the medicine-chest at 
Dihbid. These, it was added, I could obtain from the acting 
head of the telegraph-office at Shiraz. 

I sat down with the telegram in my hand to consider 
what I ought to do. A few moments' reflection showed me 
that, however unwilling I might be to quit Shiraz, and 
however diffident I might be as to my fitness to deal with what 
I clearly perceived was a difficult and critical case, I could 
not with a clear conscience refuse to go. It was a sore dis- 
appointment to me to tear myself away from Shiraz, and to 
forego the visit to the Bab's house, to which I had so eagerly 
looked forward ; to ride post for nearly 120 miles to confront 
a medical crisis, such as my inexperience ill fitted me to cope 
, with, and which, as I anticipated, was but too likely to 
i terminate fatally even before my arrival, was, moreover, a 
prospect that daunted me not a little. My duty, however, 
jwas perfectly clear ; and when I joined the Nawwab and Haji 
Da'i at supper, I told them that in all likelihood it was the last 
meal we should eat to(?ether for some time. As soon as it 
was over, I made the best of my way through the dark lanes 
leading to the Bagh-i-Sheykh, to consult with the acting head 
:if the telegraph, and to obtain such medicines and instruments 
IS I might require. The medical stores, which we ransacked, 
eft very much to be desired, both as regards extent and 
[uality, and it was with a miserably insufficient outfit that I 
eturned about 1 a.m. to my abode. Even then, tired though 
was, it was some while ere my anxiety suffered me to 
leep. 

Next day it seemed at first as though after all I might 



340 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

escape the dreaded ordeal ; for in the inorDiii<;- a message 
came from Dihbi'd giving a somewhat more favourable account 
of the patient, and bidding me not to start till further notice. 
I therefore decided to accompany the Nawwab to the picnic at 
Eashk-i-Biliklit ; but before doing so I made all my arrange- 
ments for quitting Shiniz. I had decided during the night 
that, should I be compelled to go to Dihbid, I would not return 
directly to Shiraz, but would proceed to Yezd (a city that I 
greatly desired to visit, both because of its remote situation and 
essentially Persian character, and because it is the chief strong- 
hold of Zoroastrianism in Persia), and thence make my way 
perhaps to Kirman, and so back by Niriz and Dan'ib. I there- 
fore drew thirty tumdns (nearly £10) in cash for my travelling 
expenses, and obtained a cheque on Ardashir Mihrb;in, the 
leading Zoroastrian merchant at Yezd, for the balance still 
remaining to my credit (147-|- tumdns, or about £45). I also 
obtained a letter of introduction to this same Ardashir from 
one of the Zoroastrians at Shiniz, named Khusraw, and received 
from my kind friend Mirza 'Ali a promise of letters to certain 
highly-considered Seyyids of Yezd to whom he was related. 
Having furthermore purchased a pair of saddle-bags {klmrjin) 
and sundry other necessaries for my journey, I had transacted 
all my business, and was able to follow the Nawwab to the 
garden of Bashk-i-Bihisht. 

I found there the same company as on the previous 
occasion, but, as the weather was fine, they were sitting out in 
the garden on a stone platform overshadowed by trees, instead 
of in the summerhouse. The time passed pleasantly in the 
usual fashion ; and as sunset approached, and still no summons 
came from the telegraph-office, I began to hope that my time 
at Shiraz was, after all, not destined to be cut short. As I 
was returning from a solitary ramble round the garden, how- 
ever, I suddenly caught sight of the fccjTdsh of the telegraph- 
office, and knew, before I had heard the message which he 
brought, that my hope was disappointed. Hastily bidding fare- 
well to the Nawwab and his guests, I set off at once with the 
farrdsh to the Bagh-i-Sheykh. 

" Haste is of the devil, and tardiness from the All- 
Merciful," says a very Oriental proverb, and it is indeed an ill 



FROM SHIrAz to YEZD 341 

thing to be in a hurry in an Eastern land. It was well 
enough to have an order for three post-horses ; but these, not- 
withstanding all my importunity, were not forthcoming till 
the following afternoon, and then, that no element of delay 
might be lacking, I discovered that my servant Haji Safar 
had gone off to the bazaars to buy a saddle. Even when we 
did ultimately start at about 3.15 P.M., I had to submit to 
several further delays for the purchase of sundry forgotten 
articles which were declared necessary ; and it was already late 
in the afternoon when, from the summit of the Tang-i-AlWiu 
Akhar, I turned in my saddle to take what proved to be my 
last look at beautiful Shiraz. It was the very day, even the 
very time, when I was to have made my eagerly-desired visit 
to the Bab's house ; and instead of this, here I was with my 
back to Shiraz, and the rain beating in my face, with a 
hundred miles and more to ride, to what I much feared w^ould 
prove to be a deathbed. Remembering that life hung in the 
balance I urged on my horse, and presently found myself 
in the great plain of Marv-Dasht, Haji Safar and the 
shdgird-chdpdr (post-boy) were far behind me, but, thinking 
that I remembered the way, I heeded this but little, and 
pushed on as fast as I could towards a group of poplar-trees 
beneath the eastern hills, which, as I thought, marked the 
position of Zargiin. I was mistaken, however, for when I 
drew near them I found nothing but gardens ; and it was 
in almost complete darkness and pouring rain that, drenched to 
ithe skin, and in the worst of tempers, I finally entered the 
narrow streets of Zargan, and alighted at the post-house, 
where (as it appeared impossible to proceed further), I spent 
a miserable night, which wet clothes and prowling cats 
rendered almost sleepless. 

Next morning I was off before 7 A.M. My first stage was 
to Puze (" the Snout "), hard by Persepolis and Istakhr, of 
Achtemenian and Sasanian splendour. I had promised the 
^hdfjird-chdjjdr a present of two krdns if he brought me there 
oy 9.30, and our pace at first was consequently good. But 
.vhen the little solitary post-house of Piize was already in 
iight, the miserable, jaded horse which I rode, after relapsing 
rom a spasmodic and laboured trot into a walk of ever- 



34:: A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

increasing slowness, came to a dead stop, aiul I was forced to 
dismount and walk the last few hundred yards. Just before 
this took place, there met us three post-horses which a shdf/ird- 
chdjxlr was leading back from Pi'izu to Zargiin. I stopped 
liim, and demanded whether I should find horses at Puze, as I 
wished to continue my journey without delay ; intending, in 
case of need, to impress into my service the horses of which he 
had charge. He assured me that there were three fresh horses 
iu tlie post-house, ready to start at once, and T left him, 
wondering whether he was speaking the truth. I wronged him 
by my suspicions ; what he had told me was exactly and literally 
true, for, a few minutes later, these " three fresh horses, ready 
to start at once," issued from the post-house (now only 
a hundred yards distant) with another traveller, and set off 
northwards ! 

On reaching the post-house I found, of course, that there 
were no horses to be had ; and there was nothing for it but to 
sit on a carpet on the roof and try to dispel my annoyance 
with tea and tobacco. I found that the traveller who had 
taken off the horses, as it were under my very nose, was none 
other than the Bombay Parsee whom I had met at Shiruz, 
and who was so anxious to get back to a land of railroads and 
hotels. He was so disgusted with caravan-travelling, and 
especially with the extortions of the servant whom he had 
engaged at Bushire, that he had decided to continue his journey 
alone by the post, although he was a very indifferent rider, and had 
only accomplished two stages during the whole of the previous 
day. It appeared that he had slept at Puz^ that night, and 
was loitering about, without much intention of starting, when 
he saw me approaching ; whereupon he hastened to secure his 
horses and set off before I arrived to contest their posses- 
sion. 

It was not till after mid-day that horses were forthcoming 
and I was able to proceed on my journey. At the very last 
moment, a woman brought her son to me, saying that she had 
heard I was a doctor, and begging me to examine an injury in 
his arm and prescribe for him. I was in no mood to tarry 
there any longer, and, telling her that if she had chosen to 
come to me any time during the last three hours I could have 



o 



FROM SHIRAz to YEZD 343 

given her my undivided attention, but that now it was too 
late, I rode rapidly away. The shdgird-chdpAr who accom- 
panied us, stimulated by the promise of a present, exerted 
himself to accomplish his two ^9ar«s«7?//,5 an hour, and, by 
leaving the post-road and fording the river (which here runs 
to the west of it), effected so great a saving of distance that I 
caught up the Parsee just as he was leaving the post-house of 
Kiwam-abad. I was obliged, however, to wait tliere for an 
hour and a half before I could obtain horses to take me on to 
Murghi'ib ; though I was more than ever desirous of reaching 
Dihbid that night if possible, as I had met my friend Muhammad 
Hasan Khan Kashka'i on his way to Shiraz, and he had told 
me that my presence was urgently required there. 

The ride to Murghab was delightful, the horses being good 
and the night superb. I passed the Parsee hard by the Tomb 
of Cyrus, and traversed the ruins of that classic plain by the 
light of a crescent moon, which hung suspended like a silver 
lamp in the clear, dark-blue sky. Once some great beast — a 
hyffina, probably — slunk, silent and shadow-like, across the path 
and disappeared in the bushes. It was 1 p.m. when I reached 
the post-house of Murghab, where, much against my will, I 
was obliged to remain for the night. The Parsee arrived soon 
after me, and we established ourselves in the hdld-l:hdnS or 
upper chamber. I could not help pitying him, for he was 
travelling in a manner at once costly and uncomfortable ; and 
while he had, as he informed me, paid the servant who 
accompanied him from Bushire to Shiraz the exorbitant sum 
of 8^ t'Limdns for eleven days' bad service, he became involved 
in a lengthy, violent, and unprofitable altercation with the 
Ijoy who had brought him from Kiwam-abad about a trifling 
present of a krdn. The consequence of this was that all the 
post-house peoj)le were against him, and my shdijird-chdpdr, 
well pleased with his reward, assured me that I should have 
the best and the Parsee the worst of their horses on the 
morrow. 

Next morning, after a cold and uncomfortable night, I was 
off before 6 a.m., but, for all the fair words of the shdgird- 
phdpdr, there fell to my lot the most miserable and ill-con- 
ditioned beast that ever it was my lot to bestride. So bad 



344 yl YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

were all its paces, and so rough and steep the road, that it was 
past mid-day when I finally alighted at the telegraph-ollice of 
Dihbid. Needless to say liow anxious I was to learn news of 
my patient, or with what heartfelt tliankfulncss 1 heard from 
Mr. and Mrs. Blake, who welcomed me at the door, that she 
had taken a turn for the better, and was now practically out 
of danger. When I had eaten and rested a while, I visited 
her, and found that it was even as they had said : the crisis 
was past, and all that was left for me to do was to watch over 
the period of convalescence, which, fortunately, was short. 
Day by day I had the satisfaction of seeing a marked im- 
provement in her condition, and it was only as a matter of 
precaution, and at the request of my host and hostess, that I 
remained for twelve days at Dihbid, at the end of which time 
she was already able to walk out in the garden. 

Dihbid is one of the loneliest and bleakest spots that I 
saw in Persia. The village, so far as I recollect, consists of 
not more than fifteen or twenty hovels, a dilapidated cara- 
vansaray, the post-house, and the telegraph-office. This last 
is a spacious and comfortable dwelling, with a fair-sized garden 
attached to it ; but its remote and solitary situation, and the 
severe cold of the winter season, must render it a very un- 
desirable station to inhabit for a period of any length. The 
time which I spent there, however, passed pleasantly enough, 
for my host and hostess were kindness itself, and the surround- 
ing country, though desolate, was not altogether devoid of 
interest. The worst feature of the place, indeed, in my estima- 
tion, was the complete lack of educated Persian society, the 
villagers being, without exception, poor peasants and quite 
illiterate. Such as they were, however, I saw a good deal of 
them; for of course it very soon became known that I was 
a " haJdni ; " and not from the village of Dihbid only, but from the 
neighbouring hamlets of Kasr-i-Ya'kub, Kushk, and Khurrami, 
the lame, the halt, and the blind flocked to consult me. 
Indeed, though I had no wish to practise the healing art, I 
I soon found myself in the position of '"le m(3decin malgre 
lui," for it would have been cruel and churlish to refuse these 
poor folk such service as the paucity of drugs and appliances 
at my disposal, and my own lack of practical experience, per- 



FROM SHIRAZ to YEZD 345 

mitted me to render them. So every day, after I had attended 
to my own special patient, and sat for some time conversing 
with lier, playing with her pet mongoose (a charming little 
animal), and hearing how the Persian wise women who had 
been called in before my arrival had treated her with what 
one can only describe as " tincture of Al-coran " (made by 
writing a text from the sacred volume on the inside of a cup 
or saucer, and then dissolving it in water), I used to hold a 
sort of reception for my Persian dienUle. The cases about 
which I was consulted were of the most miscellaneous character, 
varying in gravity from corneal opacities to cardiac disease, 
and from soft corns to epilepsy ; but I do not propose to 
inflict on my readers any account of their symptoms, diagnosis, 
or treatment. Two of them, however, from a certain element 
of pathos which they seem to me to possess, are perhaps, 
deserving of a brief mention. 

The first of them was a little boy, aged twelve, named 
Khan Mirza, who was suffering from paralysis and wasting of 
the arms and legs. When I had completed my examination 
of him and heard the history of his sickness, I knew that I 
could do nothing for him, and, as gently as possible, told his 
father and mother, who had brought him to me, that I was 
powerless to help them, adding that I was doubtful whether 
the best physicians in Firangistan, with the best appliances at 
their disposal, could restore him to health. 

" Sahib,' they wailed, " we know that you can cure him 
if you like. We are only poor peasants, and we cannot 
reward you as you have a right to expect, but tell us what 
sum of money will satisfy you, and if possible we wall 
obtain it." 

I told them that to cure their child it was not money I 
wanted, but the power of working miracles. 

" Can you not believe me," I concluded, " when I tell you 
that I would rejoice to help you if I could, but that it is 
beyond my skill, and not mine only, but that of the greatest 
physicians of our country ? I neither desire nor would con- 
sent to accept your money, but I have no right to deceive you 
with false hopes. Surely you must understand that there are 
diseases which no physician can heal, and that, for instance, 



346 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

when the cjel ^ comes, Jah'iuis and J]ukr;it - themselves liave no 
resource but to cry, ' there is no strcmjth and no 2wu-cr save in 
God the Supreme, the MvjhtijV"^ 

" You speak truly," answered the father ; " but that only 
holds good of death." 

" How, then," said I, " does it come to pass tliat even 
amongst the rich there are blind and deaf and halt and dumb 
persons, who would give any price to be restored to health if 
they could find one to cure them, but who go down to their 
graves unhealed ? " 

" It is because they cannot get hold of a physician like 
you," * replied the man. In the face of such faith what could 
one do but make up a prescription which, if it were not likely 
to do much good, could at least do no harm ? 

The other case to which I have alluded was a poor old 
man, called Mashhadi Khuda-Eahm, who lived at some dis- 
tance from Dihbid. The first time he came was late one after- 
noon, when I had seen all my other patients, and was resting 
after my labours. My servant (whether out of consideration 
for me, or to emj)hasise his own importance) refused to let 
him see me or to inform me of his arrival. The poor old man 
thought that he had been turned away because he had not 
brought a present, and when he returned and was finally 
admitted to me, he had in his hands a couple of fowls as 
a propitiatory offering. These he begged me to accej)t, promis- 
ing that in the morning he would bring me a lamb ; and it 
was with great difficulty that I succeeded in making him 
understand that I had no wish to deprive him of any portion 
of his scanty possessions. I found that his son had gone 
down to the turbulent and lawless town of Abarkiih some two 
months previously, and had there been stabbed in a quarrel 
about a girl to whom he was attached. Since then the old 

^ I.e. the appointed time to die. 

^ I.e. Galen and Hippocrates, who still to the Persian typify the perfection of 
medical skUl. 

^ " Ld hawlawa Id kuwata Hid bi'lldhi 'l-'Aliyyi 'l-'Azim," a form of words used 
by the Muhammadans when all hope is gone, and only a miracle can avert disaster. 

* "Bi-jihat-i-dnki ynisl-i-shiimd fuikmii gir-ashd/i nami-dyad." The expression 
gir dinadan (to be got hold of), though not, I think, found in classical, is common 
in colloquial Persian. 



FROM SHIrAZ to YEZD 347 

father's eyesight had been gradually failing " throngh much 
weeping," as he said ; and it was for this that he had sought 
me. I did the best I could for him (which, I fear, was not 
much), and he went on his way and was no more seen by me. 
Of the country round about Dihbid I need say but little. 
Hard by the village stands a ruined tov/er, with enormously 
thick walls built of dried clay, which the country-folk believe 
to have been one of the seven hunting-palaces of Bahram 
Giir.^ I was informed by one of the inhabitants that coins 
and ornaments had been dug up in its vicinity. Eound about 
the tower are some curious rocks, looking like dried masses of 
mud. Many of these are hollowed out into caves, in which 
the wandering tribesmen take up their abode in summer. The 
stream which flows past Dihbid, crossing the main road a few 
yards south of the telegraph-office, runs in a south-westerly 
direction to Kasr-i-Ya'kub (" Jacob's Castle "), where, as I was 
told, it forms a lake, in which are fish of considerable size. 
Some distance to the east of the stream, and about two and 
a half or three miles south-west of Dihbid, stands a solitary 
withered tree hard by a ruined and deserted village and grave- 
yard known as Mazra'i-Sabz. This tree, as I was informed 
by Mr. Blake, is said to be haunted by a white-robed woman. 
I could learn no particulars about the legend connected with 
this ghost, and only mention it because it is the sole instance 
of this type of apparition which came to my knowledge in 
Persia. To the north and north-west of Dihbid lie the 
hamlets of Kushk, Huseyn-abad, and Khurrami, which I did not 
visit, and which are, I believe, places of but little importance. 
The whole plateau is, as I have said, of considerable elevation, 
and owing, I suppose, to the rarefaction of the air, one is liable 
when walking to experience a certain curious and unpleasant 
shortness of breath. 

^ " The 7za/"((f7?mJ?t:;" of Bahram (or Varahran)V, surnamed "(?itr"(the "wild 
ass"), from his fondness for chasing that animal, are familiar to every student of 
Persian literatm-e. The king in question reigned from A. d. 420 to 438. At Shiraz 
I was told by Haji Nasru 'llah Khan, the tl-Klidni, that the sites of all these seven- 
liued palaces were known to him. He gave me a list of them, but I did not 
write it down at the time, and only remember that he identified the Kasr-i-zard 
or "yellow tower" with Kushkizard, on the sar-hacld (or high-level) road to 
Shiraz. 



348 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

It was 29th April when, my patient being convalescent 
and able to take the air in the garden adjoining the telegraph- 
office, I finally quitted Dihbfd and turned iny face eastwards 
towards Yezd. After the somewhat monotonous thou<j]i 
pleasant fortnight which I had spent at Dihbi'd, I looked 
forward eagerly to the excitement of a journey through country 
far wilder and less known than any which I liad hitherto 
traversed. I had some diiftculty in obtaining animals for the 
march, but at length succeeded in hiring a mare for myself, 
and two donkeys for my servant and baggage, for which I was 
to pay the moderate sum of seven tumdns (rather more than 
£2), it being understood that the journey to Yezd was to be 
accomplished in six or seven days. A fine handsome young 
man named Babii Khan was to act as guide, and to take charge 
of the animals. This arrangement, satisfactory enough to 
myself, was very distasteful to Haji Safar, who was greatly 
incensed at being expected to ride a donkey, and was only 
pacified with some difficulty. 

We left Dihbi'd about 7.30 in the morning, as our in- 
tention was to push past the caves of Hanishk (where two or 
three musket-men are stationed as a guard, and where it is 
possible to halt for the night) and reach one of the flourishing 
villages which lie like islands of verdure in the sandy desert 
of Abarkiih. The Yezd road quits the main road from Shiraz 
to Isfahan close to the Dihbid caravansaray, and runs in a 
north-easterly direction towards the tail of the mountains 
above Hanishk. These we reached about 10.30 a.m., and then 
began the long descent towards the plain. The sides of the 
narrow ravines through which our path wound were abund- 
antly decked with flowers, concerning which I questioned Baba 
Khan, who turned out to be a very intelligent and agreeable 
companion. There were tall, hyacinth-like spikes, with white 
blossoms and very thick succulent stems, called KurroghUt ; fine 
large mountain chrysanthemums, called Dd'i^idi; abundance of 
wild rhubarb (Biwds) ; and a little ill-smelling plant with orange- 
brown flowers, named Mdr-giydh (snake-grass). After passing 
a beautifully green grassy spot called Giishti, well watered 
by a stream which ran down the ravine, where some peasants 
were pasturing their cows and donkeys, we came, at 11.15 



FROM SHIrAz to YEZD 



349 



A.M., to a point where tlie valley opened out somewhat and 
allowed us to see for the first time the great sandy plain {kaff6) 
of Abarkuh spread out at our feet. This plain, which at its 
narrowest point (where we proposed to cross it) is about fifteen 
parasangs (fifty-two miles) in width, runs, roughly speaking, from 
north-west to south-east, and is bounded on both sides by 
mountains, the highest of which, behind which lies Yezd, were 
streaked with snow. The plain itself is a dreary, sandy 
waste, encrusted here and there with patches of salt ; yet 
notwithstanding this (or perhaps partly because of this), the 
villages which lie on its western border— Isminabad, Mihrabiid, 
Sharaz, and the larger town of Abarkuh — present a singularly 
fresh and verdant appearance. Near to the town of Abarkuh, 
and to the east of it, is a line of black jagged hills, rising 
abruptly from the plain, and crowned with ruins of some size, 
amongst which a dome called Gunbuz-i-'Ali is particularly 
conspicuous. 

At 11.30 we reached Hanishk, and halted for lunch. 
There are no buildings here, but only a few caves in the rock, 
which serve the tufanJxhis (musket-men) there stationed for a 
dwelling ; a couple of fine mulberry-trees, under which we 
rested ; a stream; and a spring of clear, cool water. Leaving 
Hanishk again at 12.45, we continued our descent, and finally, 
at about 2.15 p.m. emerged from the narrow jaws of the ravine 
into the plain, which from this point slopes but very slightly 
downwards towards Abarkuh. At 3.30 we passed a ruined 
cistern (dh-anbdr) covered by a dome, and about 6.30, just as 
the sun was setting, reached the beautiful green oasis formed 
by the gardens of Mihnibad, where we were to halt for tlie 
night. Eound about these, enclosed within a high outer wall 
to keep off the drifting sand, lay fields of corn and of the white 
poppy (for opium is largely produced in all this district) ; and 
I was amazed to see what the skilful irrigation of the 
Persians could do for even so unpromising a soiL It is 
more irrigation, not railways and factories, that Persia needs 
to increase her prosperity ; and were the means for this forth- 
coming, many a dreary desert might yet blossom with the rose 
and the poppy. 

There is, of course, no post-house at Mihrabad, nor, so far. 



3SO A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

as I know, a caravansaray; but I was far from regretting this, as 
I obtained a much more delightful resting-place in a beautiful 
rose-garden near the gate of the village. I was, it is true, 
obliged to sleep in the open air ; but, apart from the lack of 
privacy which it involved, this was a luxury rather than a 
hardship, the temperature in this low hill-girt plain being 
so much higher than at Dihbi'd that I seemed to have passed 
in one day from early spring to midsummer. In a sort of 
alcove in the high mud wall a carpet was spread for me, and 
here I ensconced myself, H;iji Safar taking up his position 
under the opposite wall. Tea was soon prepared, and while I 
was drinking it the gardener brought me two great handfuls of 
loose rose-leaves — a pretty custom, common in this more eastern 
part of Persia. 

Needless to say, visitors soon began to arrive ; and, as none 
of them thought of moving till midnight, I had plenty of 
opportunity of observing their characteristics. In several ways 
they appeared to me to differ very widely from any type of 
Persian which I had hitherto seen, notably in this, that they 
manifested not the least curiosity about my business, nationality, 
or religion. Sullen, independent, quarrelsome, and totally devoid 
of that polished manner which characterises most of their 
countrymen, they talked for the most part with one another, and 
appeared to take little interest in anything except sport, horses, 
fire-arms, spirits, and opium. The only occasion on which Darab 
Khtin, the son of a local magnate, addressed me with any appear- 
ance of interest was when he demanded whether I had with me 
any strong drink. I told him I had not. " You lie," replied he ; 
" all Firangi's drink." I then recollected that I had a little 
pocket-flask half-filled with whisky. " Well, I have this small 
quantity," I said, " in case of emergencies." " liCt me see it," 
said he. I handed it to him, whereupon he unscrewed the top, 
sniffed at the whisky, and finally put the flask to his mouth, 
drained it at one gulp, and threw it back to me with a grimace. 
I asked him what he thought of it. " Poor stuff," he said — " no 
better than our 'arak, if as good. You are certain you have 
no more ? " I told him I had not another drop, and thereat he 
ceased to pay any other further heed to me. 

Darab Kh;in had with him a very handsome page ; another 



FROM SHIRAZ to YEZD 351 

most savage-looking attendant named Huseyn, with enormously 
long drooping moustaches, which gave him somewhat the 
appearance of a Chinaman ; one or two younger brothers ; and 
several friends. They all sat together, servants and masters, 
without distinction of rank ; they were nearly all armed to the 
teeth ; and they nearly all smoked opium and drunk as much 
spirits as they could get. 

As we had made a long stage on the first day, and as the 
heat was now considerable, Baba Khan decided to await the 
approach of evening before starting to cross the desert. In 
consequence of this I saw plenty of Darab Khan and his 
dissolute companions, who kept coming and going from 8 a.m. 
onwards. One, Ja^far Khan, also came to consult me with 
symptoms of indigestion and disordered liver. Having received 
a blue pill, he became communicative, and entertained me with 
a panegyric on a certain Mulla Ghulam Eiza of Taft (near Yezd), 
who was highly reputed for his medical skill, and a dissertation 
on Persian pharmacology. Drugs, he explained, were primarily 
divisible into two classes : " hot " (used for combating " cold " 
diseases), amongst which the most efficacious were ht'tbunc^ 
i(fsantin-i-Rumi, and gul-i-gdv-zabdn ; and " cold " (useful for 
the treatment of "hot" maladies), of which risJi^-i-khatmi 
(hollyhock root), HsM-i-kdsni, and risM-i-kaclu enjoyed the 
highest reputation. This interesting dissertation was unfor- 
tunately interrupted by the arrival of two or three of Darab 
Khan's younger brothers (so, at least, I judged them to be from 
their likeness to him), who forthwith began to pull about my 
effects and examine my clothes and bedding. One of them, 
' seeing Haji Safar smoking a cigarette, plucked it out of his 
mouth and began to smoke it himself, whereupon he was, to 
my great delight, seized with so violent a fit of coughing that 
lie had to retire. The relief afforded by his absence was, 
however, of short duration, for he soon came back, accompanied 
by a man who complained of that most usual of Persian ailments 
" pain in the loins " {dard-i-hamar). This latter I declined 
jto treat, whereupon he said, " Since you will not give me 
'any medicine, I will have a cigarette." I accordingly made 
liim one, which he smoked rapidly, but without much apparent 
enjoyment, for he suddenly threw it away and departed hastily 



352 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

without a Avord. It was evident that cigarettes were a 
novelty in the plain of Abarki'ih. 

I was now left for a while in comparative peace; for my 
host, after amusing himself for a while by firing bullets witli 
his long Shinizi gun at the birds on the garden wall, turned 
Danib Khan's troublesome young brothers out of the garden 
and shut the door. At 3.30 p.m. the animals were laden and 
ready to start. Haji Safar gave the owner of the garden five 
krdns (about three-and-sixpence), with which he was evidently 
well satisfied, for he came and showed me the money, remark- 
ing, " This was not necessary, nor so much." He then gave 
me a large bunch of roses as I was about to mount, and 
walked beside me to the outskirts of the village, where he 
bade us farewell. As soon as he had gone, Haji Safar began 
to abuse the people of the village roundly for their churlishness, 
adding that one of the boys had stolen a pair of goloshes and 
other articles out of my baggage, but that he had recovered 
them. " I should like to have given him a good thrashing," 
he concluded, " but I thought you would not like it." Prudence, 
I imagine, had something to do with his self-restraint, for the 
Abarkiihis are not the kind of people one would care to 
anger. 

Our course at first lay nearly due north, towards the 
fantastic, jagged hills which rise abruptly from the sandy 
plain close by the city of Abarkiih. As we passed between 
two ridges of these, I could plainly see the ruined domes, 
minarets, and walls which crown their summits. The largest 
dome stands at the northern end of the northern ridge, and is 
called Gunhuz-i- AIL I should greatly have liked to explore 
these ruins, and to see something of the city of Abarkiih, 
which Ja'far Khan declared to be " the oldest city in Persia, 
except Salkh " (by which, I suppose, he meant Istakhr), and to 
be full of ancient monuments ; but unfortunately this was im- 
possible. Emerging from between these rocky ridges, we found 
ourselves once more in the open sandy plain, and could discern 
at a short distance several small villages. In a little while 
we passed one of them, called Sharaz, just beyond which the 
road bifurcated, the left-hand or more northerly branch (for we 
had now again turned nearly due east) leading to Shamsabud ; 



FROM SHIRAz to YEZD 353 

the right or more southerly one to Hakim. We followed the 
latter, and reached Hakim about 6.45 p.m. as it was getting 
dusk. Here we found a small caravan of donkeys, laden with 
wheat for Yezd ; and, learning that this was not to start till the 
moon rose, we halted in the plain for rest and refreshment. 

After supper I lay gazing at the starry sky till sleep over- 
came me. About midnight Haji Safar awoke me, and soon 
afterwards we started at a good pace (for these caravans of 
donkeys travel faster than ordinary caravans) on the long desert 
stage which was to bring us to Chah-Begi, the first habitable 
spot on the Yezd side of the desolate plain. Bare and hideous 
as this desert is by day, seen in the silver moonlight it had a 
strange weird beauty, which produced on me a deep impression. 
The salt-pools and salt-patches gleamed like snow on every 
side ; the clear desert air was laden with a pungent briny 
smell like a sea-breeze; and over the sharply-defined hills 
of Yezd, towards which we were now directly advancing, 
hung the great silvery moon to the right, and the " Seven 
Brothers " Qiaft hirddardn), or Great Bear, to the left. I kept 
in advance of the caravan, and watched with a keen pleasure 
the stars " beginning to faint on a bed of daffodil sky," till first 
the " caravan-killer " (Jcdravdn- or charvaddr-kush) and then 
the morning star dissolved in the rosy flush which crept 
upwards from behind the eastern mountains, and suddenly, like 
la ball of fire, the sun leaped up over their serrated summits, 
scattering the illusions of the night, and bringing into view 
chains and ridges of low hills which had hitherto seemed to 
form part of the main mass. 

As it grew light, a man carrying a large wallet over his 

shoulders, and walking rapidly, came up with me. I saluted 

him, and entered into conversation. He was, as I gathered, a 

'cdsid, or courier, with letters from Abade for Yezd. He told me 

.hat he had been a soldier in one of the Zillu 's-Sultan's regiments 

ill these were disbanded. He did not like a soldier's life, and 

lad once deserted, walking from Isfahan to Abade (about 130 

ailes) in two days. He had also walked from Yezd to Mash- 

lad by the desert road in twenty days, and from Teheran to 

tiashhad in the same time. He asked me many questions 

bout England and its government, and complained bitterly of 

23 



354 ^ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

the heavy taxation to wliich the Persian peasantry were 
subjected. The tax on a donkey was, he said, two ti'uiidns (about 
13s.) a year, and on a sheep three tumdns (nearly £1), He 
further informetl nie tliat bread was dear at Yezd, costing 
three pandhdts (one and a lialf krdns, or about lid. 
tlie vian ; and that during the great famine about sixteen 
years ago it had risen to sixteen krdns (about 10s.) the 
man, and that tlie people were in some cases driven to eat 
human flesh to appease their hunger. As we approached Chdh- 
Begi we passed numerous tamarisk-bushes {gaz), which, as my 
companion told me, had formerly been much more abundant, 
till they were cut down by order of the Government, because 
they afforded a harbour to highway robbers of the Bakhtiyari 
and other nomad tribes. He gave the people of Abarkuh 
a very bad character, declaring that fatal quarrels were of 
constant occurrence there. 

We reached Chah-Begi, a miserable walled village, con- 
taining a few sordid and quarrelsome inhabitants, a little before 
7 A.M., and alighted at the dilapidated caravansaray, in front of 
which stand several sickly trees. I spent the whole day in 
the large, dusty, ruinous chamber allotted to me ; sleeping, eat- 
ing, washing to the very limited extent permitted by the sur- 
roundings, and writing up my diary, being the only resources 
available for passing the long, hot day, A certain excitement, 
which can hardly be described as pleasurable, was produced 
from time to time by the appearance of sundry large and 
offensive insects ; first a tarantula {rotcyl, or khdy4-gaz), which 
was killed on the wall where it sat by a kick from Baba Khan, 
who informed me in an encouraging manner that they had just 
killed another one outside, and that, as these were probably a 
pair, there was nothing to apprehend, I failed to see the con- 
clusiveness of this reasoning, and (as I had left my bedstead at 
Shiraz, and was therefore obliged to spread my bedding on the 
floor) continued to keep a good look-out, for which I was 
presently rewarded by seeing a large black creature, shaped 
something like a gigantic w^ood-louse, emerge deliberately from 
a cranny in the wall, I threw half a brick at it, and it vanished 
with a horrid splash. After this I felt little inclination for 
sleep, but after supper fatigue overcame me and I fell into a 



A. 



FROM SHIRAz to YEZD 355 

deep slumber, from which I was aroused about an hour after 
midnight by Haji Safar. 

It was with sincere delight that I quitted this detestable 
spot about 1.30 a.m., and found myself once more on the road 
in the cool, clear moonlight. Having nothing else to do, I 
watched and timed the changes in the sky which heralded the 
dawn. At 3.30 a.m. the "False Dawn" {Sitbh-i-Kdzih) ap- 
peared, a little to the north of the point whence the sun 
subsequently arose. At 3.45 a rosy tinge was perceptible in 
the sky. At 4.0 the morning star began to shine over the 
hills. At 4.30 it was quite light, and at 4.55 the sun rose; 
but it was not till 6 a.m. that the day began to grow warm. 
An hour later we entered the village of Baghistan, where the 
road bifurcated. Taking the right-hand branch, we presently 
passed the castellated village of Irdiin, situated on a small hill, 
and, at about S a.m., reached a beautiful village named God-i- 
Shirdan or Sharifabad, which, with its shady lanes, rippling 
streams, and verdant trees, reminded me more of my native 
land than anything I had seen for many a long day. Here 
we halted ; and in one of the well-kept gardens which gave to 
the village so flourishing an appearance I spread my bed under 
a yellow rose-tree, and slept for a while till tea was ready. I 
then found that the little streamlet beside me had been diverted 
into another channel for the irrigation of another j)art of the 
garden, and, as it now threatened to inundate my resting-place, 
I was obliged to alter my position. Just as I had effected 
this, and was preparing to go to sleep again, a deputation of 
I the principal inhabitants of the village and the neighbouring 
hamlet of Dih-i-Pa'in was announced. Of course they wanted 
medical advice ; but, needless to say, they did not touch on 
the business which had brought them till they had exhausted 
all other topics of conversation. Amongst other things they 
informed me that two men had lately been put to death by 
the new Governor of Yezd for drinking wine. I expressed 
surprise, adding that if the Governor of Shiraz were to take it 
into his head to deal thus harshly with wine- drinkers, he would 
50on have no subjects left to govern. " Yes," replied my 
nformant, " but, thank God, this is not Shimz." 

Other persons gradually joined the group wliich had 



356 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

gathered rouiul me, amongst these being a respectable-looking, 
though poorly-clad, man, who had joined our caravan at Hakfni. 
Presently one of those present asked me if I knew IJussian. 
" No," I said, " why should I ? A great distance separates the 
English from the Eiissians." " One man only intervenes between 
them," remarked my fellow-traveller. I looked at him in 
wonder. " You are not a Eussian," I exclaimed. " I am a 
Eussian subject, at any rate," he replied, " though a Musulman ; 
my native place is Erivan." 

At length my visitors began to approach the object which 
had brought them. " Was it true," they asked, " that I had 
some knowledge of medicine ? " I answered in the affirmative. 
" Would I visit a woman in their village who was stricken 
with a grievous sickness ? " they continued. I asked whether 
she could not come and see me, but they told me that she was 
too ill, adding that their village was C|uite close at hand. It 
proved to be about two miles off, and on my arrival there 
the whole population (some twenty or thirty souls) turned out 
to stare at me, and followed me into the sick-room. The 
patient, a middle-aged woman, was lying on the floor in the 
middle of the room, and w^as evidently very ill ; though, owing 
to the impossibility of making a careful examination, and the 
distracting effect of the eager crowd of onlookers, who kept up 
a continual buzz of conversation, I was unable to satisfy myself 
as to the nature of her complaint. When I had prescribed 
such medicines as appeared to me most likely to afford her 
some relief, I was called upon to examine several other sick 
persons, and it was only with much difficulty that I was able 
to get away. As I was leaving, one of the principal inhabitants 
of the village presented me, as a reward for my trouble, with a 
saddle-cover, which I bestowed on Baba Khan, who had come 
with me to carry my box of drugs and instruments. Haji 
Safar was greatly annoyed at what he called the meanness of 
the people, declaring that I might have gained a hundred 
Hmdns in fees since I left Dilibid but for my lamentable 
weakness in giving advice gratis. 

AVe left God-i-Shirdan about 4.30 next morning, it being 
then quite light ; but though it was midday before we reached 
Sunij, our next halting-place, w^e did not suffer any incon- 



\ 



FROM SH/rAZ to YEZD 357 

venience from the heat, as we were again ascending into a cool 
and mountainous region. The wheat-laden donkeys had started 
at an earlier hour, but the Erivani, whose acquaintance I had 
made on the previous day, had preferred to wait for us, and I 
had a good deal of conversation with him. I found him a 
pleasant and intelligent companion, for he had travelled widely, 
and spoke, besides his own Caucasian Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, 
Russian, Persian, and Arabic. He told me that it was now 
three years since he had left Erivan, whence he had journeyed 
to Tabriz, Teheran, Isfahan, Kirmanshah, Baghdad, Bushire, 
and Shiraz. He was now proceeding to Yezd, having come 
with a caravan northward bound as far as Dihbid, where he 
had been detained for ten days ere he could find means of con- 
tinuing his journey. He had heard at Dihbid that I was going 
to Yezd, but had hesitated to join me, not knowing what 
manner of man I might be. "Yesterday, however," he con- 
cluded, " I watched you with those people in the garden, and 
saw that you were not wanting in ' crop,' ^ for you never once 
showed any irritation at their absurd and impertinent questions, 
but continued to answer them with a smile and a jest." I 
asked him whither he was bound, and when he expected to 
return to his home. He replied that from Yezd he intended 
to go to Mashhad, and thence through Afghanistan to India ; 
and that it would be two years at least ere he again reached 
Erivan. I asked him if he did not fear to trust himself 
amongst the treacherous and cruel Afghans, but he answered, 
"No, with patience and courage a man can go wheresoever he 
will on God's earth." 

The road which we traversed this day was singularly 
beautiful, and the country looked prosperous and well cared 
for. We passed two villages, however, one on the right and 
another on the left, named Haydar-abad and 'Abbas-abad 
respectively, which had been deserted owing to the failure of 

^ Hawsala, properly the crop of a bird, or the stomach of an animal, is commonly 
ased in Persian in the sense of patience, evenness of temper, or capacity for stomach- 
;ing insults or annoyances. So a short-tempered or impatient man is described as 
ang-havmila. Thus the present Shah says in one of his poetical compositions — 

' Diist na-hiiyad zi dust dar cjilah bdshad ; Mard na-hdyad lei tang-haicsala 

bdshad." 
' Friend should not complain of friend ; a man should not be short-tempered." 



35S A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

their water supply. The trees in their gardens were still for 
the most part green and luxuriant, but already the fragile nnid 
walls were falling into ruin ; and, meditating on this ])rocess of 
rapid decay, I ceased to wonder at the many Persian towns 
and villages mentioned by early geographers and historians of 
which no trace remains, and which it seems impossible to 
identify. At a considerable distance to the right (north), on a 
low conical hill, the Castle of Bunaft, witli the village of the 
same name below it, was clearly visible ; and, farther east, the 
precipitous black crag called Kal'at-i-Zard (the Yellow Castle), 
which, as Baba Kh;in informed me, is only accessible by one 
path, and at the foot of which lies the village of Balkh-u-Gun'z. 
Farther on w^e passed the village of Kattu (also on the right), 
by which runs the direct road from Yezd to Bawantit, and soon 
afterwards turned the northern end of the vast pile of cliffs 
which forms this western face of the Shir-Kuh, and, following 
a ravine to the left, down which rushed a clear, cool mountain 
stream, presently reached the beautiful Alpine village of 
Sunij, a mass of gardens and groves situated amidst the grandest 
rock-scenery. A more charming spot for a summer residence 
could hardly be conceived, and the people of Yezd are fortunate 
in being able to retreat so easily from their baking, sandy plains 
to this and other equally delightful highland resorts, 

I succeeded in obtaining a very comfortable lodging, past 
the door of which ran a stream of beautiful clear water. In 
the afternoon I was visited by a number of the inhabitants, 
who were of the true Yezdi type, fair-skinned and gray-eyed, 
with loosely-coiled bluish turbans, and the curious sing-song 
drawl which always characterises the speech of Yezd. This 
accent reminded me strongly of the south Northumbrian in 
English, the modulation of the voice in both cases being very 
similar ; it is generally much laughed at in Persia, but to me 
it always seemed soothing, and at times rather pretty. My 
visitors, of course, were very inquisitive, and asked me more 
than the usual number of questions, chiefly about my religion 
and the business that had brought me into a region so seldom 
traversed by Europeans. "Was it true," they asked, "that 
Europeans accounted the flesh of the pig a lawful food ? " 
" Had we fixed ablutions and prayers ? " " How were mar- 



J 



FROM SHIRAz to YEZD 359 

riages celebrated in Europe, and what were the regulations as 
to dowry ? " Presently a comical-looking old man broke in, 
declaring that as for my business, he had no doubt that I had 
come " to effect disruptions in Church and State " {raJclonS dar 
din It mamlakat kardan), else how did I come to know the 
geography of the country, and to be so anxious for information 
as to the names of all the villages, mountain-j)eaks, and streams 
in the neighbourhood ? Here the Erivani interposed, saying 
that all the Europeans, even the children, learned geography 
by means of maps such as I possessed. Thereupon rny map 
was at once called for and exhibited to an admiring crowd, 
some of whom, however, expressed great disappointment that I 
had not also a microscope {khmxU-Mn), so that they might by 
its aid see what was going on in the streets of Yezd ! 

Next day we were off about 5.30 a.m., many people assem- 
bling to witness our departure. Amongst these was the old 
man who had regarded me with such suspicion on the previous 
evening, but he seemed to have changed his opinion of me for 
the better, for, in bidding me farewell, he begged me, should I 
again pass that w\ay, by no means to omit a visit to the ancient 
castle of Shawwaz, situated ten parasangs away, in the direc- 
tion of 'Ali-abad. Our host accompanied us till we were clear 
of the village and on the road to Taft, his little son following 
us somewhat farther, plaintively calling out to Haji Safar in 
his childish Yezdi drawl, " Ye ta mdcham na-kardi ! " (" Thou 
hast not given me one kiss ") — a remark to which Haji Safar 
only replied with an outburst of mirth and mimicry, which 
caused the boy to turn petulantly away. 

The road which we followed was again singularly pictur- 
esque, for it led us almost immediately below the rugged and 
precipitous cliffs of the Shir-Kuh, rent and shattered on every 
ridge into fantastic towers and needles. We were now again 
descending towards the plain of Yezd, and in a valley to the 
left could discern amongst several others the village of 'Ali- 
abad, through which passes another road from Yezd to Abarkuh. 
The conversation of my Erivani friend did much to dispel 
the monotony inseparable from even the most picturesque 
march. Amongst other things, he told me a rather clever 
variation of the well - known, though probably fictitious, 



36o A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

anecdote coiiceniing the interview between the poet H;iliz iiiid 
Ti'nu'ir-i-lang, the Tartar conqueror, hetter known as Tamerlane, 
wdio, as the story runs, angrily demanded of ]r;ifiz how he had 
dared, in one of his poems, to say that he would give Samar- 
kand and Bukhara for the black mole on his beloved's cheek. 
According to the usual version of the tale, Hiifiz replied, 
" Yes, sire, and it is by such acts of generosity that I have 
been reduced to the poverty in which you see me " ; whereupon 
Timi'ir laughed, and ordered a sum of money to be given him. 
According to my companion's account, however, the poet 
effected his deliverance by an ingenious emendation in the 
obnoxious line, " 'Bakksham Samarkand it BtiJchdrd-rd ! ' " ('I 
would give Samarkand and Bukhara ') he exclaimed ; " those 
are not my words ! What I wrote was, ' hakhsham si man 
kand li, du kJmrmd-rd ' (' I would give three stone of sugar 
and a couple of dates '), and some ignorant scribe has altered 
it into this ! " 

We reached the large and flourishing village of Taft about 
mid-day, two hours and a half after passing another prosperous 
and pretty village called Khurash^. Taft was looking its best 
on that fine May morning, the luxuriant green of its gardens 
being pleasantly varied by the bright red flowers of the pome- 
granates in which they abound. A wide, sandy river-bed, at 
this season devoid of water, divides it into two parts, whereof 
the northern is inhabited by the Zoroastrians and the southern 
by the Muhammadans. We followed this river-bed, which 
appeared to serve also as a road, for some distance, till we 
came to a point where the houses were more abundant and 
the gardens fewer. Here we halted, and began to look for a 
lodging, which I finally obtained in a sort of pavilion in the 
middle of a large square. Four rooms, raised somewhat above 
the level of the ground, opened out of the central hall of this 
pavilion, which was surrounded by a few trees, and appeared 
to offer desirable and comfortable quarters. Unfortunately, 
these rooms were lighted by iron-barred windows opening on 
to the square, and I soon found myself an object of interest to 
a crowd of blue-turbaned, bearded men, and fair-faced, gray- 
eyed boys, who watched me using a knife and fork to eat my 
lunch with uncontrolled delight and amusement. They were 



FROM SHIrAZ to YEZD 561 

perfectly well-behaved, and evidently had no desire to annoy me ; 
but I never before realised what the lions in the Zoological 
Gardens have to put up with ! 

Later in the afternoon I went for a short walk down the 
road-river with my Erivani friend, after extricating myself 
with some difliculty from a crowd of people with sore eyes and 
other ailments for which they desired treatment. In the 
course of our walk we were accosted, to my great delight, by 
two of the yellow-robed Zoroastrians, whom I now saw for the 
first time in the raiment which in Yezd and Kirman serves 
to distinguish them, even at a distance, from their Muham- 
madan fellow-citizens, but which in other parts of Persia they 
are permitted to lay aside. The Erivani asked them what 
was their religion, to which they proudly replied, " ZardusMi, 
Kiydni " (" Zoroastrian, Achaemenian "), wherci.t he laughed not 
a little. On returning to my lodging, I found a handsome 
clever-looking man waiting to see me. From his talk I had 
little doubt that he was a Babi, for he enquired very minutely 
into the Christian belief as to the advent of the Messiah, 
adding, " Perhaps He has come, and you have not recognised 
Him," and presently, " Have you heard news of the Manifesta- 
tion ? " But when I asked him point-blank whether he was 
" of that sect " {az an Uiifa), he only replied " Klmula ddnd " 
(" God knows "), and soon after left me. 

Next morning (Saturday, 5th May) we started about 5 

A.M., so as to reach Yezd before the day grew hot. Our road 

sloped continuously, but gently, downwards towards the city, 

which was in view almost from the beginning of the march. 

As we were leaving Taft, a little boy came up and presented 

me with a rose, and farther on an old man who was working 

in a field near the road offered me the like attention, neither 

of them expecting or receiving any reward for what, in these 

jparts of Persia, which have not yet been spoiled by Europeans, 

is an act of pure kindliness and courtesy towards strangers. 

iWe passed successively the large and flourishing villages of 

Mubarake and Chamr on the right, and Zeynabad on the left, 

while on a low spur of the mountains to the south of the road 

the white daklmU or " tower of silence " of the Zoroastrians 

\vas plainly visible. Leaving these behind us, we presently 



362 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

entered tlie sandy plain wlierein lies the ancient city of Yezd, 
towards which we wound our way througli gardens and corn- 
fields. As we approached it, I was nuich puzzled as to the 
nature and function of numerous tall chimney-like structures, 
the like of which I had not hitherto seen. Knowing that 
Yezd gloried in the title of " Ddru 'l-Ihddat " (" the Abode of 
Devotion "), I was for a moment disposed to regard them as a 
new variety of minaret ; but I soon learned that they were 
really hdd-girs or wind-chimneys, designed to collect and convey 
into the interiors of the better class of houses such breaths of 
fresh breeze as miglit be stirring in the upper regions of the air 
which lay so hot and heavy over that sun-parched plain. It 
was still comparatively early in the day when we passed 
through the city gates, and, after some enquiry, alighted at the 
caravansaray of Haji Kambar, where we secured two rooms, or 
rather cells, at a little distance from one another. My first 
business was to despatch my letters of introduction to the 
Seyyids and to Ardasln'r Mihraban the Zoroastrian, requesting 
them to appoint a time at which I might call and see them ; 
having done which, I occupied the interval which must elapse 
before the return of my messenger in maldng such toilette as 
the circumstances admitted of. 



CHAPTEE XIII 



YEZD 



' ' Ey sabd ! hi sdkindn-i-shahr-i- Yezd az md bi-gil, 
' ICey sar-i-hakk-nd-shindsdn gAy-i-chaivgdn-i-shumd ! 
GarcM dilr-im az hisdt-i-kurh, Munmat dUr nist ; 
Bajidi-i-Shdh-i-shumd'im, it, sand-khwdn-i-shuind I ' " 

' ' East-wind, when to Yezd thou wingest, say thou to its sons from me, 
' May the head of every ingrate ball-like 'neath your mall-bat be. 
What though from your dais distant, near it by my wish I seem, 
Homage to your King I render, and I make your praise my theme.' " 

(Hafiz, translated by Herman Bicknell). 

Scarcely had I cleansed myself from the dust of travel, when 
I was informed that one had come who would have speech 
with me ; and on my signifying my readiness to receive him, 
a portly old man, clad in the dull yellow raiment of the 
guebres, was ushered in. Briefly saluting me, he introduced 
himself as the Dastur Tir-andaz, high-priest of the Zoroastrians 
, of Yezd, and proceeded to inform me that the Governor of the 
city, His Highness Prince 'Imadu 'd-Dawla, having learned 
that a European had just arrived in the town, had instructed 
him to interview the said European and ascertain his nation- 
ality, the business which had brought him to Yezd, and his 
rank and status, so that, if he should prove to be " dis- 
tinguished " (nmtashakhkhas), due honour might be shown 
him, 

" As for my nationality," I replied, " I am English. As for 
my business, I am travelling for my own instruction and amuse- 
ment, and to perfect myself in the Persian language. And as 
!"or my rank, kindly assure the Governor that I have no 



364 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

official status, and am not ' distinguished ' at all, so that he 
need not show nie any honour, or put himself out of the way 
in the least degree on my account." 

" Very good," answered the fire-priest, " but what brings 
you to Yezd ? If your only object were to learn Persian, you 
could have accomplished that at Teheran, Isfah;in, or Sliir;iz, 
without crossing these deserts, and undergoing all the fatigues 
involved in this journey." 

" Well," I said, " I wished to see as well as to learn, and 
my travels would not be complete without a sight of your 
ancient and interesting city. Besides which, I desired to learn 
something of those who. profess the faith of Zoroaster, of which, 
as I understand, you are the high-priest." 

" You would hardly undergo all the fatigues of a journey 
across these deserts for no better reason than that," he re- 
torted ; " you must have had some other object, and I should 
be much obliged if you would communicate it to me." 

I assured him that I had no other object, and that in 
undertaking the journey to Yezd I was actuated by no other 
motive than curiosity and a desire to improve my mind. 
Seeing, however, that he continued sceptical, I asked him 
point-blank whether he believed my word or not ; to which 
he replied very frankly that he did not. At this juncture 
another visitor was announced, who proved to be Ardashir 
Mihrabcin himself. He was a tall, slender, handsome man, of 
about forty-five or fifty years of age, light-complexioned, black- 
bearded, and clad in the yellow garments of the Zoroastrians ; 
and he spoke English (which he had learned in Bombay, where 
he had spent some years of his life) fluently and well. After 
conversing with me for a short time, he departed with the 
Dastiir. 

Hardly had these visitors left me when a servant came 
from the Seyyids to whom I had letters of introduction, to 
inform me that they would be glad to see me as soon as I 
could come. I therefore at once set out with the servant, 
and was conducted by him first to the house of Haji Seyyid 

M , who, surrounded by some ten or a dozen of his friends 

and relatives, was sitting out in the courtyard. I was very 
graciously received by them ; and, while sherbet, tea, and the 



YEZD 365 

kalydn, or water-pipe, were successively offered to me, the 
letter of introduction given to me by Mirza 'Ali was passed 
round and read by all present with expressions of approval, 
called forth, as I suppose, not so much by the very flattering 
terms in which it had pleased my friend to speak of me, as by 
what he had written concerning my eagerness to learn more of 
the Biibi religion, to which my new friends also belonged. 
Nothing was said, however, on this topic ; and, after about an 
hour's general conversation, I left in company with Mirza 

M to visit his father Haji Mirza M T , to whom 

also I had a letter of introduction. There I remained con- 
\'ersing till after dusk, when I returned to the caravansaray, 
and, while waiting for my supper, fell into so profound a 

j slumber that my servant was unable to wake me. 

I To go supperless to bed conduces above all things to early 
rising, and by 6.30 a.m. on the following morning I had 

I finished my breakfast, and was eager to see something of the 

city of Yezd. My servant wished to go to the bath, but the 

Erivani, who had attached himself to me since I first made his 

acquaintance, volunteered to acompany me. We wandered for 

a while through the bazaars, and he then suggested that we 

should enquire of some of the townsfolk whether there was 

any public garden where we could sit and rest for a time. I 

readily acquiesced in this plan, and we soon found ourselves in 

the garden of Dawlat-abad, where we sat in a shady corner 

and conversed with an old gardener who had been for thirteen 

[months a slave in the hands of the Turcomans. He had been 

taken prisoner by them near the Karat-i-Nadiri about the time 

that Hamze Mirza was besieging Mashhad (1848), and 

described very graphically his experiences in the Turcoman 

slave-market ; how he and his companions in misfortune, 

stripped almost naked, were inspected and examined by 

ntending purchasers, and finally knocked down by the broker 

.0 the highest bidder. He had finally effected his escape 

luring a raid into Persian territory, in which he had accom- 

ibanied the marauders as a guide, exactly after the manner of the 
mmortal Haji Baba. He and the Erivani joined cordially in 
Lbusing the Turcomans, whom they described as more like wild 
' ')easts than men. " They have no sense of fear," said the latter. 



I 



366 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

" and will never submit, however great may be the odds 
against them ; even their women and children will die 
fighting. That was why the liussians made so merciless a 
massacre of them, and why, after the massacre was over, they 
piled up the bodies of the slain into a gigantic heap, poured 
petroleum over it, and set it on fire, that perhaps this horrible 
spectacle might terrify the survivors into submission." 

About mid-day we returned to the caravansaray, and I 
was again forced to consider my plans for the future, for 
Baba Khan came to enquire whether he should wait to convey 
me back to Dilibid, or whether I intended to proceed to 
Kirman on leaving Yezd. I paid him the remainder of the 
money due to him, gave him a present of seven ki'dns, and 
told him that, unless he heard from me to the contrary before 
sunset, he might consider himself free to depart. 

Later in the afternoon, two Zoroastrians came to inform 
me that Ardashi'r Mihraban, in whose employment they were, 
was willing to place his garden and the little house in it 
at my disposal during my stay at Yezd. It had been occupied 
about a month before by another Englishman, Lieutenant H. 
B. Vaughau, who had undertaken a very adventurous and 
arduous journey across Persia, from Bandar-i-Lingd, on the 
Persian Gulf, to Damghan or Shahriid, on the Mashhad-Tehenin 
road, and who had tarried for some while at Yezd to make 
preparations for crossing the western corner of the great Salt 
Desert. I of course gratefully accepted this offer, for the 
caravansaray was not a pleasant dwelling-place, and besides 
this, I was anxious to enjoy more opportunities of cultivating 
the acquaintance of the Zoroastrians, for which, as I rightly 
anticipated, this arrangement would give me exceptional 
facilities. I could not repress a feeling of exultation when I 
reflected that I had at length succeeded in so isolating myself, 
not only from my own countrymen, but from my co-religionists, 
that the most closely allied genus to which I could be 
assigned by the Yezdis was that of the guebres, for whom I 
already entertained a feeling of respect, which further know- 
ledge of that much-suffering people has only served to 
increase. 

Hciji Safar was out when this message was brought to me, 



A 



YEZD 367 

and, as I could not leave the caravansaray until I had 
instructed him as to the removal of my baggage, we were 
compelled to await his return. During this interval a message 

came from Hiiji Seyyid M , asking me to go to his house, 

whither, accordingly, on my servant's return, I proceeded in 
company with the two Zoroastrians, one of whom, named 
Bahman, spoke English well. 

On arriving at Haji Seyyid M 's house, I was delighted 

to find a theological discussion in progress. An attempt was 
evidently being made to convert an old mulld, of singularly 
attractive and engaging countenance, to the Babi faith. Only 
one of the Babis was speaking, a man of about thirty-five 
years of age, whose eloquence filled me with admiration. It 
Avas not till later that I learned that he was 'Andalib (" the 
! Nightingale "), one of the most distinguished of the poets who 
liave consecrated their talents to the glory of the New 
i Theophany. " And so in every dispensation," he resumed, as 
soon as I had received and returned the greetings of those 
jiresent, "the very men who professed to be awaiting the new 
^Manifestation most eagerly were the first to deny it, abandon- 
ing the ' Most Firm Hand-hold ' of God's Truth to lay hold of 
I he frail thread of their own imaginings. You talk of 
miracles ; but of what evidential value are miracles to me, 
unless I have seen them ? Has not every religion accounts of 
miracles, which, had they ever taken place, must, one would 
have thought, have compelled all men to believe ; for who 
would dare, however hard of heart he might be, to fight with 
I Power which he could not ignore or misunderstand ? No, it 
s the Divine Word which is the token and sign of a prophet, 
he convincing proof to all men and all ages, the everlasting 
iiiracle. Do not misunderstand the matter : when the 
.'rophet of God called his verses " signs " {aydt), and declared 
he Kur'an to be his witness and proof, he did not intend 
imply, as some vainly suppose, that the eloquence of the 
/ords was a proof. How, for instance, can you or I, who are 
*ersians, judge whether the eloquence of a book written in 
Lrabic be supernatural or not ? No : the essential character- 
itic of the Divine Word is its penetrative power (imfuz) : it 
, not spoken in vain, it compels, it constrains, it creates. 



368 A YEAR AMONGST TI/F. PERSIANS 

it rules, it \vorks in men's liearts, it lives and dies not. Tlie 
Apostle of God said, ' in the month of l\amaz;in men shall last 
from sunrise to sunset' See liow haul a thint^' this is ; and 
yet here in Yezd there are thousands who, if you bade them 
break the fast or die, would prefer death to disobedience. 
Wherever one arises speaking this Word, know him to be 
a Manifestation of the Divine Will, believe in him, and take 
his yoke upon you." 

" But this claim," said the old mulld, " this claim ! It is 
a hard word that He utters. What can we do or say ? " 

" For the rest, He hath said it," replied 'Andalib, " and it 
is for us, who have seen that this Divine Word is His, to 
accept it." There was silence for a little while, and then the 
old mulld arose with a sigh, and repeating, " It is diliicult, 
very difficult," departed from our midst. 

Soon afterwards I too left, and, accompanied by my 
Zoroastrian friends, made my way to the garden of Ardashi'r 
Mihrabiin, situated at the southern limit of the town, hard by 
the open plain. I found my host and the old fire-priest 
awaiting me, and received from both of them a most cordial 
welcome. The latter informed me with some elation that the 
Governor, Prince 'Imadu 'd-Dawla, had, in spite of my 
representations (which he, like the Dasti'ir, no doubt regarded 
as the fabrications of an accomplished liar, whose readiness in 
falsehood afforded at least some presumptive evidence of a 
diplomatic vocation), decided to treat me as " distinguished," 
and would on the morrow send me a lamb and a tray of 
sweetmeats as signs of his goodwill. " His Highness wished 
to send them sooner," he concluded, " but I told him that you 
were not yet established in a suitable lodging, and he 
therefore consented to wait. When the presents come, you 
will have to call upon him and express your thanks." I was 
rather annoyed at this, for " distinction " in Persia means 
much useless trouble and expense, and I wished above all 
things to be free and unconstrained ; but I did not then know 
Prince 'Imadu 'd-Dawla for what he was, the most just, 
righteous, and cultured governor to be found in any town or 
province of Persia, Devotion to philosophical studies, and the 
most tolerant views of other religions, did not prevent him 



^ 



YEZD 369 

from strictly observing the duties laid upon him by his 
own creed ; he was adored by the poor oppressed Zoroastrians, 
who found in him a true protector, and, I believe, by all well- 
disposed and law-abiding persons : and it was with a very 
sincere sorrow that I learned, soon after my return to 
England, that he had been dismissed from the office which he 
so nobly and conscientiously filled. 

The change from the hot, dusty caravansaray to this 
beautiful garden was in itself a great pleasure, and my delight 
was enhanced by the fact that I was now in an environment 
essentially and thoroughly Zoroastrian. My servant and the 
Erivani, indeed, still bore me company ; but, except for them 
and occasional Musulman and Btibi visitors, I was entirely 
thrown on the society of the yellow-robed worshippers of tire. 
The old priest, Dastiir Tir-andaz, who at first seemed to 
regard me with some suspicion, was quite won over by finding 
that I was acquainted with the spurious " heavenly books " 
known as the Desdtir, about the genuineness of which neither 
he nor Ardashir appeared to entertain the slightest doubt. 
Ardashi'r sat conversing with me after the others had 

1 departed, for it had been stipulated by H;iji Seyyid M 

'that my meals were to be provided by himself; and as his 

'house was at some distance from the garden, it was nearly 

1 P.M. before I got my supper. " K]idn4-i-du ked-hdnii 

iid-ruft6 hihtar " (" The house with two landladies is best 

unswept "), remarked my host, as the night advanced without 

my sign of supper appearing. However, the time was not 

vvasted, for I managed to get Ardashir to talk of his religion 

md its ordinances, and especially of the kushti or sacred cord 

.vhich the Zoroastrians wear. This consists of seventy-two 

ibres woven into twelve strands of six fibres each, the twelve 

trauds being further woven into three cords of four strands 

ach. These three cords, which are plaited together to form 

he kushti, represent the three fundamental principles of 

he Zoroastrian faith, good thoughts {hu-7nanisJmi), good 

/'ords (Jiu-gdishni), and good deeds {hii-kunishni), the other 

Libdivisions having each in like manner a symbolical meaning. 

'he investiture of the young Zoroastrian with the kushti 

dmits him formally to the church of " those of the Good 

i 24 



370 A YKAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Eeligioii " {Bih-ilini'in) ; and he is tlicu taught how to tie 
the peculiar knot wherewith it must be re-fastcncd at each of 
the 2^<^(>fJ-!/"^h "^'i' ^"ive times of prayer. Ardashir also spoke 
of the duty incumbent on them of keeping pure the lour 
elements, adding that they did not smoke tobacco out of 
respect for fire. 

Although of tlie three weeks that I spent at Yezd there 
was not one day which passed unprofitably, or on which I did 
not see or hear some new thing, I think that I shall do l)ctter 
to disregard the actual sequence of events in recording what 
appears worthy of mention, so as to bring together kindred 
matters in one connection, and so avoid the repetitions and 
ruptures of sequence which too close an adherence to a diary 
must necessarily produce. 

First, then, of the Zoroastrians. Of these there are said 
to be from 7000 to 10,000 in Yezd and its dependencies, 
nearly all of them being engaged either in mercantile business 
or agriculture. From what I saw of them, both at Yezd and 
Kirm;iu, I formed a very high idea of their honesty, integrity, 
and industry. Though less liable to molestation now than in 
former times, they often meet with ill-treatment and insult at 
the hands of the more fanatical Muhammadans, by whom they 
are regarded as pagans, not equal even to Christians, Jews, and 
other " people of the book " (aJilu 'l-Jcitdh). Thus they are 
compelled to wear the dull yellow raiment already alluded to 
as a distinguishing badge ; they are not permitted to wear 
socks, or to wind their turbans tightly and neatly, or to ride a 
horse ; and if, when riding even a donkey, they should chance 
to meet a Musulman, they must dismount while he passes, and 
that without regard to his age or rank. 

So much for the petty annoyances to which they are con- 
tinually subject. These are humiliating and vexatious only; 
but occasionally, when there is a period of interregnum, or 
when a bad or priest-ridden governor holds office, and the 
" lutis," or roughs, of Yezd wax bold, worse befalls them. 
During the period of confusion which intervened between the 
death of Muhammad Shah and the accession of Nasiru 'd-Din 
Shah, the present king, many of them were robbed, beaten, 
and threatened with death, unless they would renounce their 



YEZD 371 

ancient faith and embrace Islam ; not a few were actually- 
done to death. There was one old Zoroastrian still livino- at 
Yezd when I was there who had been beaten, threatened, and 
finally wounded with pistol shots in several places by these 
fanatical Muslims, but he stood firm in his refusal to renounce 
the faith of his fathers, and, more fortunate than many of his 
brethren, escaped with his life. 

So likewise, as I was informed by the Dastur, about twelve 
years previously the Muhammadans of Yezd threatened to sack 
the Zoroastrian quarter and kill all the guebres who would not 
consent to embrace Islam, alleging as a reason for this atrocious 
design that one of the Zoroastrians had killed a Musulman. 
The governor of Yezd professed himself powerless to protect 
the guebres, and strove to induce them to sign a document 
exonerating him from all blame in whatever might take place ; 
but fortunately they had the firmness to refuse compliance 
until one of the Musulm;ins who had killed a Zoroastrian 
woman was put to death, after which quiet was restored. 

On another occasion a Musulman was murdered by another 
^lusulman who had disguised himself as a guebre. The 
]\Iuhammadans threatened to sack the Zoroastrian quarter and 
make a general massacre of its inmates unless the supposed 
murderer was given up. The person whom they suspected 
I was one ISTamdar, a relative of the chief fire-priest. He, 
i innocent as he was, refused to imperil his brethren by remain- 
ing amongst them. " I will go before the governor," he said, 
1" for it is better that I should lose my life than that our whole 
Icommunity should be endangered." So he went forth, pre- 
pared to die ; but fortunately at the last moment the real 
murderer was discovered and put to death. Ardashir's own 
irother Eashid was murdered by fanatical Musulmans as he 
.vas walking through the bazaars, and I saw the tablet put up 
his memory in one of the fire-temples of Yezd. 

Under the enlightened administration of Prince 'Imddu 'd- 
)awla, the Zoroastrians, as I have already said, enjoyed com- 
larative peace and security, but even he was not always able 
keep in check the ferocious intolerance of bigots and the 
avage brutality of IMis. While I was in Yezd a Zoroastrian 
''as bastinadoed for accidentally touching with his garment 



372 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

some fruit exposed for sale in the bazaar, and tliereby, iu the 
eyes of the Musuhn;ins, rendering it unclean and unfit for 
consumption by true believers. On another occasion I heard 
that the wife of a poor Zoroastrian, a woman of singular 
beauty, was washing clothes near the town, when she was 
noticed with admiration by two Musulmans who were passing 
by. Said one to the other, "She would do well for your 
embraces." " Just what I was thinking," replied the other 
wretch, who thereupon approached her, clasped her in his 
arms, and tried to kiss her. She resisted and cried for helj), 
whereupon the Musulmans got angry and threw her into the 
stream. Next day the Zoroastrians complained to the Prince- 
Governor, and the two cowardly scoundrels were arrested and 
brought before him. Great hopes were entertained by the 
Zoroastrians that condign and summary punishment would be 
inflicted on them ; but some of the mullds, acting in concert 
with the Maliku 't-tujjdr or chief merchant of Yezd (a man of 
low origin, having, as was currently reported, Icoli or gipsy 
blood in his veins), interfered with bribes and threats, and 
so intimidated an old Zoroastrian, who was the chief witness 
for the prosecution, that he finally refused to say more than 
that he had heard the girl cry out for help, and on looking 
round had seen her in the water. I know not how the matter 
ended, but I greatly fear that justice was defeated. 

On another occasion, however, the Prince- Governor inter- 
vened successfully to check the following unjust and evil 
practice. When a Zoroastrian renounces his faith and embraces 
Islam, it is considered by the Musulmans that he has a right 
to the property and money of his unregenerate kinsmen. A 
case of this sort had arisen, and a sum of ninety Mmdns 
(nearly £28) had been taken by the renegade from his relatives. 
The latter appealed to the Prince, who insisted on its restora- 
tion, to the mortification of the pervert and his new friends, 
and the delight of the Zoroastrians, especially old Dastur Tir- 
andaz, who, when he related the incident to me, was almost 
incoherent with exultation, and continually interrupted his 
narrative to pray for the long life and prosperity of Prince 
'Imadu 'd-Dawla. Nor was this the only expression of 
gratitude which the Prince's justice and toleration called forth 



YEZD 373 

from the poor oppressed guebres. One day, as he himself in- 
formed me, on the occasion of my farewell visit to his palace, 
he was riding abroad accompanied by three servants only (for 
he loved not ostentation) when he met a party of Zoroastrian 
women. Eeining in his horse, he enquired how things went 
with them, and whether they enjoyed comfort and safety. 
They, not knowing who he was, and supposing him to be an 
ordinary Persian gentleman, replied that, though formerly they 
had suffered much, now, by the blessing of God and the justice 
of the new governor, they enjoyed perfect safety and security, 
and feared molestation from none. Then they asked him to 
what part of the country he belonged ; and he, when he had 
fenced with them for a while, told them, to their astonishment 
and confusion, who he was ! 

I was naturally anxious to see some of the fire-temples, 
and finally, after repeated requests, a day was fixed for visiting 
them. I was taken first to the oldest temple, which was in a 
very ruinous condition (the Muhammadans not suffering it to 
1)0 repaired), and presented little of interest save two tablets 
bearing Persian inscriptions, one of which bore the date a.y. 
1009 as that of the completion of the tablet or the temple, I 
know not which. Leaving this, we proceeded to a newer, 
larger, and much more flourishing edifice, on entering which I 
saw, to my great delight, in a room to the left of the passage 
of entry, the sacred fire burning bright on its tripod, while 
around it two or three mitbads or fire-priests, with veils cover- 
ing their mouths and the lower part of their faces, droned their 
Zend liturgies. These veils, as Ardashir informed me, are 
intended to obviate the danger of the fire being polluted by 
the officiating priest coughing or spitting upon it. I was not, 
lowever, allowed to gaze upon this interesting spectacle for 
nore than a few moments, but was hurried on to a large and 
-veil-carpeted room in the interior of the building, looking out 
)n a little courtyard planted with pomegranate trees. Here I 
vas received by several of the fire-priests, who regaled us with 
, delicious sherbet. The buildings surrounding the other three 
ides of the courtyard were, as I was informed, devoted to 
ducational purposes, and serve as a school for the Zoroastrian 
liildren. This temple was built comparatively recently by 



374 ^ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

some of Ardashir's relatives, and on one of its walls was the 
memorial tablet to liis murdered l)rother Easlii'd. 

Leaving this, we visited a third temple, a i)orli(ni of which 
serves as a theological college for the training of youths destined 
for the priesthood, who, to some extent at least, study Zend 
and Pahlavi ; though I do not fancy that any high standard of 
proficiency in the sacred languages is often attained by them. 
The space allotted to these young theologians was not very 
ample, being, indeed, only a sort of gallery at one end of the 
chief room. At the opposite end was spread a carpet, on 
which a few chairs were set ; and in a niche in the wall stood 
a little vase containing sprigs of a plant not unlike privet 
which the dastur called by a name I could not riglitly catch, 
though it sounded to me like " ndtvd." This plant, I was 
further informed, was used in certain of their religious ceremonies, 
and " turned round the sun " ; but concerning it, as well as 
sundry other matters whereof I would fain have learned more, 
my guides showed a certain reserve which I felt constrained 
to respect. Here also I was allowed a glimpse of the sacred 
fire burning in a little chamber apart (whence came the odour of 
ignited sandal-wood and the droning of Zend chants), and of 
the white-veiled muhad who tended it. A picture of Zoroaster 
(taken, as Ardashir told me, from an old sculpture at Balkh), 
and several inscriptions on the walls of the large central room, 
were the only other points of interest presented by the building. 

On leaving this temple, whicli is situated in the very 
centre of the " Gabr-Mahcdla" or Zoroastrian quarter, I was 
conducted to the house of Ardashir's brother, Giidarz, between 
rows of Zoroastrian men and boys who had come out to gaze 
on the Firangi stranger. To me the sight of these yellow- 
robed votaries of an old-world faith, which twelve centuries of 
Ijersecution and insult have not succeeded in uprooting from 
its native soil, was at least as interesting as the sight of me 
can have been to them, and I was much struck both by their 
decorous conduct and by the high average of their good looks. 
Their religion has prevented them from intermarrying with 
Turks, Arabs, and other non-Aryans, and they consequently 
represent the purest Persian ty]^)e, which in physical beauty 
can hardly be surpassed. 



^i. 



YEZD 375 

At the house of Ardashir's brother, Gudarz, I met the chief- 
priest of the Zoroastrians, who was suffering from gout, and a 
number of my host's male relatives, with whom I stayed con- 
versing till 8.30 P.M., hospitably entertained with tea, wine, 
brandy, and kebdhs. Wine-drinking plays a great part in the 
daily life of the guebre ; but, though I suppose not one total 
abstainer could be found amongst them, I never but once saw a 
Zoroastrian the worse for drink. With the Musulmans the 
contrary holds good ; when they drink, it is too often with the 
deliberate intention of getting drunk, on the principle, I sup- 
pose, that " when the water has gone over the head, what 
matters it whether it be a fathom or a hundred fathoms ? " 
To a Zoroastrian it is lawful to drink wine and spirits, but not 
to exceed ; to a Muhammadan the use and the abuse of 
alcohol are equally unlawful. The Zoroastrian drinks because 
lie likes the taste of the wine and the glow of good fellowship 
which it produces ; the Muhammadan, on the contrary, com- 
monly detests the taste of wine and spirits, and will, after 
each draught, make a grimace expressive of disgust, rinse out 
his mouth, and eat a lump of sugar ; what he enjoys is not 
drinJdng, but Icing drunk, even as the great mystical poet 
Jalalu 'd-Dm Paimi says — 

'■'■ Nang-i-hang ■ti Miamr bar klnid mi-nihi 
Td dami az klvwlshtan t(c vd-rihi." 

" Thou takest on thyself the shame of hemp and wine 
In order that thou may'st for one moment escape from thyself." 

The drinking-cup (jdm) used at Yezd and Kirman is not a 
L^lass but a little brass bowl. On the inside of this the Zoroas- 
trians often have enoraved the names of dead friends and 
relatives, to whose memory they drink as the wine goes round 
with such formulae as " KJiudd pidarat hiydmurzad " (" May 
God pardon thy father ! "), " EJiudd mddarat hiydmurzad " 
'" May God pardon thy mother ! "), " Kliudd hiydmurzad hama- 
• -raftagdn-rd " (" May God pardon all the departed ! "). The 
bllowing inscription from Ardashir's drinking-cup may suffice 
IS a specimen : — 

" Sdhiha-i-marMim Mihrahdn ibn Rustam-i-Bahrdm. liar Jcas Mr 
arrmyad ' Khudd, biyamurzi ' hi-Mihrahdnri-Bustdm, va Sarvar-i-ArdasMr, 



376 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

ra (Tith-hiltr-i-Mihj-abdn hi-dihad : haflad lyusht-i-fuihdn amurzid^ bad! 
1286 hijr'i." 

"The wife of the beatified Mihrabaii, the son of Rustain, [the son] of 
Babrani. Let every one who may make use [of tliis cup] give a ' God 
pardon ! ' to Mihrabdn [the son] of Rustam, and Sarvar [the son] of 
Ardashir, anei Gulchihr [the daughter] of Mihraban : may they be par- 
doned unto seventy generations! a.h. 1286." 

lu drinking to the health of companions the formula 
(used also by Muhammadans when they drink) is " JBi- 
saldmati-i-shumd ! " (" To your health ! "), the answer to which 
is " NiLsh-i-jdn-hAd ! " (" May it be sweet to your soul ! ") I 
I had ample opportunity of learning how to drink wine " accord- 
ing to the rite of Zoroaster," for almost every afternoon 
Ardashir, accompanied either by Dastiir Ti'r-andaz, or by his 
brother Giidarz, or by his manager Bahman, or by other 
Zoroastrians, used to come to the garden and sit by the little 
stream, which for a few hours only (for water is bought for a 
price in Yezd) refreshed the drooping flowers. Then, unless 
Muhammadan or Babi visitors chanced to be present, wine 
and 'arak were brought forth by old Jamshid, the gardener, or 
his little son Khusraw ; fresh young cucumbers, and other 
relishes, such as the Persian wine-drinker loves, were produced ; 
and the brass drinking-cups were drained again and again to 
the memories of the dead and the healths of the living. 

It was on these occasions that conversation flowed most 
freely, and that I learned most about the Zoroastrian religion 
and its votaries. This is not the place to deal with the subject 
systematically, and I shall confine myself to noticing a few 
matters which actually came under discussion. 

The Zoroastrian year is solar, not lunar like the Muham- 
madan, and consists of twelve months of thirty days each, and 
five additional days called gMd (corresponding to the Muham- 
madan " khamsa-i-mustaraka ") to bring the total up to 36 5. 
The year begins at the vernal equinox, when the sun enters 
the sign of Aries (about 21st March), and is inaugurated by 
the ancient national festival of the Naw-Ruz, or New Year's 
Day, which, as has been already mentioned, is observed no 
less by the Muhammadans than by the Zoroastrians of Persia. 
Each day of the month is presided over by an angel or arch- 



YEZD 



377 



angel (of whom there are seven, called AmshasjMnds, to each 
of which a day of the first week is allotted), save that three 
days, the 8th, 15th, and 23d of the month, are, like the first, 
sacred to Ormuzd. These are holy days, and are collectively 
known as the Si-dcy. The following is a list of the days of 
the month, each of which is called by the name of the angel 
presiding over it: — (1) Ormuzd; (2) Baliman, the angel of 
flocks and herds; (3) Urdi-biliisht, the angel of light; (4) 
Shahrivar, the angel of jewels, gold, and minerals; (5) Sipan- 
darmaz, the angel of the earth ; (6) Kliurddd, the angel of 
water and streams ; (7) Amurddd, the angel of trees and 
plants ; (8) Dcy-hi-Azar, the first of the Si-dey, sacred to 
Ormuzd; {^) Izar ; {10) lUn; (11) Khir; (12) Mdh ; (13) 
Tir ; (14) Gush; (15) Dcy-hi-Mihr, the second of the Si-dcy ; 
(16) Ilihr; (17) Simish ; (18) FMsJm ; (19) Farvardin ; (20) 
Bahrdm; (21) Bdm ; (22) Dad; (23) Dey-U-Din, t\\Q third 
of the Si-dey; (24) Dili; (25) Ard ; (26) Ashtdd ; (27) 
jCsmdn ; (28) Zdmydd ; (29) Muntra-siioand ; (30) Andrdm. 
Of these thirty names twelve belong also to the months, as 
follows : — 



Spring 
(Bahdr). 



Summer 
{Tdbistcin). 

The week 



Farvardin. 

Urdi-bihisht. 

Kliurddd. 

Tir. 

Amurddd. 

Shahrivar. 



Autumn 
{Pd'iz). 



Mihr. 
Abdn. 
Azar. 



Winter 

(Zamistdn). 



Dey. 

Bahman. 

Sipandai-maz. 

calendar, with 



9. 

10. 
11. 
12. 

no place in the Zoroastrian 
which, as I have elsewhere pointed out (Traveller's Narrative, 
vol. ii, p. 414, n. 1; and J.E.A.S for 1889, p. 929), the 
arrangement of the solar year instituted by the Babis presents 
many points of similarity which can hardly be regarded as 
accidental.-^ As an example of the very simple manner in 
which dates are expressed according to the Zoroastrian calendar, 
I may quote the following lines from a Persian poem occurring 

":in a Zend-Pahlavi MS. of the Vendidad of which I shall have 

j 

(Something more to say shortly : — 

j " Bi-r{iz-i-Giish, xl dar mdlv-i-Amurddd 

Sene nuh-sad, digar bud haft u hqftdd, 



1 Cf. p. 336, supra. 



378 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Zi fawt-i- Yazdijird-i-shnhriydrCtn 
Kuja higzashtc hUd az ruzgaran, 
Navishtam nisf-i- Vcndlddd-i-avval 
Easanidam, bi-lutf-i-Hakk, bi-manzil." 

" On the day of Giish (the 14th day), and in the month of Amurdad (the; 
5th month), 
"Ulion nine hundred years, and beyond that seven and seventy, 
From the death of Yazdijird the king 
Had passed of time, 
I wrote the first half of the Vendidad, 
And brought it, by God's grace, to conclusion." 

A little consideration ^vill show the reader that one day in 
each month will bear the same name as the month, and will 
be under the protection of the same angel. Thus the nine- 
teenth day of the first montli will be " the day of Farvardi'n in 
the month of Farvardin," the third day of the second month 
" the day of Urdi-bihisht in the month of Urdi-bihisht," and 
so on. Such days are kept as festivals by the Zoroastrians. 

The angel Eashn, who presides over the eighteenth day of 
each month, corresponds, in some degree, to the angels Munkir 
and Nakir in the Muhammadan system. On the fourth day 
after a Zoroastrian dies this angel comes to him, and weighs in 
a balance his good and his bad deeds. If the former are in 
excess, the departed is admitted into paradise ; if the latter, he 
is punished — so my Zoroastrian friends informed me — by 
being re-incarnated in this world for another period of proba- 
tion, which re-incarnation is what is signified by the term 
" hell " {duzahh)} Paradise, in like manner, was understood by 
my friends of Yezd in a spiritual sense as indicating a state 
rather than a place. I shall not readily forget an altercation 
on this subject which arose between the Dastiir Tir-andaz 
and my Muhammadan servant Haji Safar. The latter had, I 
think, provoked the dispute by applying the term dtash-parast 
(" fire -worshipper ") to the followers of Zoroaster, or it had 
been otherwise introduced. The Dastur at once flashed out in 
anger. " What ails you if we prostrate ourselves before the 
pure element of fire," said he, " when you Muhammadans 
grovel before a dirty black stone, and the Christians bow down 

1 I suspect, however, that this is a modern doctrine, derived from the apocry- 
phal Dcsdtir alluded to at p. 369, supra. 



YEZD 379 

before the symbol of the cross ? Our fire is, I should think, at 
least as honourable and appropriate a kibla as these, and as for 
worshipping it, we no more worship it than do you your 
symbols. And you Muhammadans " (turning to Haji Safar) 
" have of all men least right to charge us with holding a gross 
or material creed ; you, whose conception of paradise is as a 
garden flowing with streams of milk and wine and honey, and 
inhabited by fair boys and languishing black-eyed maidens. 
Your idea of paradise, in short, is a place where you will be 
able to indulge in those sensual pleasures which constitute 
your higliest happiness. I spit on such a paradise ! " Haji 
Safar cried out u]3on him for a blasphemer, and seemed dis- 
posed to go further, but I bade him leave the room and learn 
to respect the religion of others if he wished them to respect 
his. Later on, when the Zoroastrians had gone, he renewed 
the subject with me, remarking that the Dastur deserved to 
die for having spoken such blasphemy ; to which I replied that, 
though I had no desire to interfere with his conscience, or, in 
general, to hinder him in the discharge of the duties imposed 
upon him by his religion, I must request him to put a check 
upon his zeal in this matter, at least so long as he remained 
in my service. 

In general, however, I found my Zoroastrian friends very 
tolerant and liberal in their views. Ardashir was never tired 
of repeating that in one of their prayers they invoked the 
help of " the good men of the seven regions " {khi'ibdn-i-haft 
kishvar), i.e. of the whole world ; and that they did not regard 
faith in their religion as essential to salvation. Against the 
Arabs, indeed, I could see that they cherished a very bitter 
hatred, which the Dastur at least was at little pains to con- 
ceal ; Kadisiyya and Nahavand were not forgotten ; and, with 
but little exaggeration, the words of warning addressed to the 
Arabs settled in Persia in the second century of the hijra by 
Nasr ibn Seyyar, the Arab governor of Khurasan, might be 
applied to them : 

" Fa-man yakun siVili "an asli dinihimu, 
FaHnna dinahumu an yuktala 'l-Arabu." 

" And should one question me as to the essence of tlieir religion, 
Verily tlaeir religion is that the Arabs should be slain." 



38o A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

From these poor giiebrcs, however, I received more than 
cue lesson in meekness and toleration. " Injustice and harsh- 
ness," said Bahman to me one day, " are Lest met with sub- 
mission and patience, for thereby the hearts of enemies are 
softened, and they are often converted into friends. An 
instance of this came within my own experience. One day, as 
I was passing through the mcijcldn, a young Muhammadan 
purposely jostled me and then struck me, crying, ' Out of the 
way, guebre ! ' Though angered at this uncalled for attack, I 
swallowed down my anger, and replied with a smile, ' Very 
well, just as you like.' An old Seyyid who was near at hand, 
seeing the wanton insolence of my tormentor, and my sub- 
mission and patience, rebuked him sharply, saying, ' What 
harm had this poor man done to you that you should strike 
and insult him ? ' A quarrel arose between the two, and finally 
both were taken before the Governor, who, on learning the 
truth of the matter, caused the youth to be beaten. Now, 
had I in the first instance given vent to my anger, the Seyyid 
would certainly not have taken my part, every Musulman 
present would have sided with his co-religionist against me, 
and I should probably have been beaten instead of my 
adversary." 

On another occasion I had been telling another of Ard- 
ashir's assistants named Iran about the Englishman at Shiraz 
who had turned Muhammadan. " I think he is sorry for it 
now," I concluded, " for he has cut himself off from his own 
people, and is regarded with suspicion or contempt by many 
of the Musulmans, who keep a sharp watch over him to see 
that he punctually discharges all the duties laid upon him by 
the religion of Islam. I wish him well out of it, and hope 
that he may succeed in his plan of returning to his home and 
his aged mother; but I misdoubt it. I think he wished to 
join himself to me and come here, that he might proceed 
homewards by way of Mashhad ; but I was not very desirous 
of his company." 

" It is quite true," replied Iran, " that a bad companion is 
worse than none, for, as Sa'di says, it is better to go barefoot 
than with tight shoes. Yet, if you will not take it amiss, 
would you not do well, if you return to Shiraz, to take this 



YEZD 381 

man with you, and to bring him, and if possible his Muham- 
madan wife also, to England ? This would assuredly be a 
good action : he would return to the faith he has renounced, 
and his wife also might become a Christian ; they and their 
children after them would be gained to your religion, and 
yours would be the merit. Often it happens that one of us 
Zoroastrians, either through mere ignorance and heedlessness, 
or because he is in love with a Muhammadan girl whom he 
cannot otherwise win, renounces the faith of his fathers and 
embraces Islam. Such not unfrequently repent of their action, 
and in this case we supply them with money to take them to 
Bombay, where they can return, without the danger which they 
would incur here, to their former faith. Often their Muham- 
madan wives also adopt the Zoroastrian religion, and thus a 
whole family is won over to our creed." 

' I was not aware," I remarked, " that it was possible 
under any circumstances for one not born a Zoroastrian to 
become one. Do you consent to receive back a renegade after 
any lapse of time ? " 

" No," answered Iran, " not after six months or so ; for if 
they remain Musulmans for longer than this, their hearts are 
turned black and incurably infected by the law of Islam, and 
we cannot then receive them back amongst us." 

Of the English, towards whom they look as their natural 
protectors, the Persian Zoroastrians have a very high oj^inion, 
though several of them, and especially Dastiir Tir-andaz, de- 
Iplored the supineness of the English Government, and the 
;i[)athy with which it regards the hands stretched out to it for 
help. " You do not realise," said they, " what a shield and 
protection the English name is, else you would surely not 
grudge it to poor unfortunates for whom no one cares, and 
who in any time of disturbance are liable to be killed or 
plundered without redress." After my return to England I, 
and I think Lieutenant Vaughan also, made certain representa- 
tions to the Foreign Office, which I believe were not ineffectual ; 
for, as I subsequently learned, a Zoroastrian had been ap- 
)ointed British Agent in Yezd. This was what the Zoroastrians 
-.0 earnestly desired, for they believed that the British flag would 
jrotect their community even in times of the gravest danger. 



382 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Although the Zoroastrian women do not veil their faces, 
niKi are not subjected to the restrictions imposed on their 
Muluunmadan sisters, I naturally saw but little of them. 
Twice, however, parties of guebre girls came to the garden to 
gaze in amused wonder at the Firangf stranger. Those composing 
the first party were, I believe, related to Ardashir, and were ac- 
companied by two men. The second party (introduced by old 
Jamshid the gardener, who did the honours, and metaphorically 
stirred me up with a long pole to exhibit me to better advan- 
tage) consisted of young girls, one or two of whom were 
extremely pretty. These conducted themselves less sedately, 
and, to judge by their rippling laughter, found no little amuse- 
ment in the spectacle. 

Old Dastiir Tir-andaz was to me one of the most interest- 
ing, because one of the most thoroughgoing and least 
sophisticated, of the Zoroastrians. He appeared to be in higli 
favour with the governor, Prince 'Imadu 'd-Dawla, from whom 
he was continually bringing messages of goodwill to me. In 
three of the four visits which I paid to the Prince, he bore 
me company, standing outside in the courtyard while I sat 
within. My first visit was paid the morning after I had 
received the lamb and the tray of sweetmeats wherewith tlie 
Prince, on the representations of the Dastur, already described, 
was graciously pleased to mark his sense of my " distinction." 
Accompanied by the Prince's 'pislililvidmat, or page-in-waiting 
(an intolerably conceited youth), and several farrdshcs, who had 
been sent to form my escort, we walked to the Government 
House, which was situated at the other end of the town, by the 
Arg or citadel. The Dastur, who walked by my side, was 
greatly troubled that I had not a horse or attendants of my 
own, and seemed to think that my apparel (which, indeed, was 
somewhat the worse for wear) was hardly equal to the occa- 
sion. As I preferred walking to riding, and as I had not come 
to Yezd to see princes or to indulge in ostentatious parade, 
these considerations did not affect me in the least, except that 
I was rather annoyed by the persistence with which the Dastur 
repeated to the Prince-Governor that I had come chdpdr (by 
post-horses) from Shi'raz with only such effects as were abso- 
lutely necessary, and that a telegram must be sent to Shiraz 



YEZD 383 

to have my baggage forwarded with all speed to Yezd. The 
Prince, however, was very good-natured, and treated me with 
the greatest kindness, enquiring especially as to the books on 
philosophy and mysticism which I had read and bought. I 
mentioned several, and he expressed high approval of the 
selection which I had made, especially commending the LawCiih 
of Jami, Liihiji's Commentary on the Gulshcm-i-Bdz, and Jdmi's 
Ashi'ahc 'l-Lamadt, or Commentary on the Lamadt of 'Iraki. Of 
Haji Mulla Hadi's Asrdru 'l-Hikam, on the other hand, he 
did not appear to have a very high opinion. He further 
questioned me as to my plans for the future, and, on learning 
that I proposed to proceed to Kirmun, promised to give me a 
letter of recommendation to Prince ISTasiru 'd-Dawla, the gover- 
nor of that place, and also, to my consternation, expressed his 
intention of sending an escort with me. I was accompanied 
back to the garden by the farrd&lus, to whom I had to give a 
present of two Utrndns (about 13s.). 

The Prince's attentions, though kindly meant, were in truth 

somewhat irksome. Two days after the visit above described, 

he sent his conceited pishhhidmat to enquire after my health, 

;md to ask me whether I had need of anything, and when I 

intended to visit a certain waterfall near the Shir-Kuh, which 

lie declared I must certainly see before quitting his territories. 

For the moment I escaped in polite ambiguities ; but two days 

later the ^^^sA/t^w?'/«a^5 again came with a request that, as 

Piamazan was close at hand, I would at once return with him 

to the Government House, as the Prince wished to see me ere 

jthe fast, with the derangement of ordinary business consequent 

on it, began. I had no resource but to comply, and after 

giving the j^'lshklddmat tea, which he drank critically, I again 

set out with him, the Dastiir, and the inevitable farrdshes, for 

the Prince's residence. On leaving the palace shortly before 

lunset, the Dastiir mysteriously asked me whether, if I were 

in no particular hurry to get home, he might instruct the 

farrdshes to take a more devious route through the bazaars. I 

consented, without at first being able to divine his object, 

,vhich was no doubt to show the Musulmans of Yezd that I, 

he Pirangi, was held in honour by the Prince, and that he, the 

ire-priest, was on the most friendly and intimate terms with me. 



3S4 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

After this visit I enjoyed a period of repose, for which, as 
I imaifine, I was indebted to the fast of Jiamazan. The Zoro- 
astrians, of course, like myself, were unaffected by this, and so 
was my servant Haji Safar, who came to me on the eve of the 
fast to know what his duty in the matter miglit be. He ex- 
plained that travellers were exempt from the obligation of 
fasting, provided they made good the omission at some future 
date ; but that if I could promise to remain at Yezd for ten clear 
days of Eamazan, he could fast for those ten days, postponing 
the remainder of his fast till some more convenient time. It 
was of no use, he added, to begin fasting unless he could 
reckon on ten consecutive days, a shorter period than this not 
entering into computation. I declined to bind myself by any 
such promise (feeling pretty sure that Haji Safar would not 
be sorry for an excuse to postpone the period of privation till 
the season of short days), and so, though it was not till Eamazan 
13th that I actually quitted Yezd, he continued to pursue 
the ordinary tenor of his life. 

Amongst the minor annoyances which served to remind 
me that even Yezd was not without its drawbacks, were the 
periodical appearances in my room of scorpions and tarantulas, 
both of which abound in the dry, sandy soil of this part of 
Persia. Of these noxious animals, the latter were to me the 
most repulsive, from the horrible nimbleness of their move- 
ments, the hideous half-transparent grayness of their bodies, 
and the hauiness of their legs and venomous mandibles. I 
had seen one or two in the caravansaray where I first alighted, 
but, on removing to the clean and tidy little house in Ardashir's 
garden, hoped that I had done with them. I was soon unde- 
ceived, for as I sat at supper the day after my arrival, I saw 
to my disgust a very large one of singularly aggressive appear- 
ance sitting on the wall about three feet above the floor. I 
approached it with a slipper, intending to slay it, but it appeared 
to divine my intentions, rushed up the wall and half across 
the ceiling with incredible speed, dropped at my feet, and made 
straight for the window, crossing in its course the pyramid of 
sweetmeats sent to me by the Prince, over which its horny 
legs rattled with a loathsome clearness which almost turned 
me sick. This habit of dropping from the ceiling is one of 



YEZD 385 

the tarantula's many unpleasant characteristics, and the Per- 
sians (who call it roUyl or lihAyS-gaz) believe that it can only 
bite while descending. Its bite is generally said to be hardly 
less serious than that of the scorpion, but Ardashir assured 
me that people were seldom bitten by it, and that he had 
never known its wound prove fatal. The Yezdis, at all events, 
regarded its presence with much more equanimity than I did, 
and the Kaldntar, or mayor, of the Zoroastrians displayed no 
alarm when a large specimen was observed sitting on the 
ceiling almost exactly over his head. The Prince-Governor 
manifested somewhat more disgust when a tarantula made its 
appearance in his reception-room one evening when I had gone 
to visit him ; but then he was not a Yezdi. 

As regards scorpions, I killed a small whitish one in my 

room shortly after I had missed my first tarantula. A day or 

two afterwards old Jamshid the gardener brought me up 

another which he had just killed in the garden, and seized the 

occasion to give me a sort of lecture on noxious insects. The 

l>Iack woodlouse-like animal which I had slain at Chah-Begi 

he declared to have been a " siismdr " (though this word is 

'j,enerally supposed to mean a lizard). Having discussed this, 

le touched briefly on the tir-mdr (earwig ?), sad-pa (centipede), 

ind liaz&r-'pd (millipede), concluding with the interesting 

;tatement that in every ant-hill of the large black ants two 

arge black scorpions live. I suggested that we should dig up 

,.n ant-hill and see if it were so, but he declined to be a party 

10 any such undertaking, seeming to consider that such a 

-rocedure would be in very indifferent taste. " As long as 

he scorpions stay inside," said he, " we have no right to 

lolest them, and to do so is to incur ill-luck." So my 

iiriosity remained unsatisfied. 

Old Jamshid was very particular in the observance of his 
'ligious duties, and I constantly heard him muttering his 
'ayers under my window in that peculiar droning tone 
hich so impressed the Arabs that they invented a special 
ord for it. Ardashir, who had seen the world and imbibed 
-fcitudinarian ideas, affected to regard this performance with 
i good-natured contempt, which he extended to many of 
tje Dastur's cherished convictions. One day, for instance. 



386 .•/ YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

mentiou \vas imide of (jhi'ih and otlier snpcniatural beings. 
" Tush," said Ardasln'r, " tliere are no sucli things." " No 
such things ! " exclaimed the Dastiir, " why, 1 have seen one 
myself." " No, no," rejoined Ardasln'r, " you saw u man or a 
mule or some other animal in the gloaming, and, deceived by 
the half-light, the solitude, or your own fears, supposed it to 
be a glii'd." Here I interposed, begging the Dastiir to narrate 
his experience, which he readily consented to do. 

" I was riding back from Taft to the city one evening," 
said he, " when, nearly opposite our daJihmd, I lost my way. 
As I was casting about to discover the path, I suddenly saw a 
light before me on the right. I thought it must come from 
the village of Kasimabad, and was preparing to make for it, 
when it suddenly shifted to my left hand and began to 
approach me. It drew quite near ; and I then saw a creature 
like a wild pig, in front of which flitted a light like a large 
lantern. I was horribly frightened, but I repeated a prayer 
out of the Desdtir, whereupon the thing vanished. It soon 
reappeared, however, this time in the form of a mule, preceded 
by a man bearing a lantern, and thus addressed me : ' Ey 
ddami-zdd ! Iwjd cM ini-ku7ii V ('0 son of man ! What dost 
thou here ? ') I replied that I had lost my way. Thereupon 
it pointed out a path, which, as it assured me, would lead 
me to the city. I followed this path for some distance, but it 
only led me farther out of my way, until at last I reached a 
village where I found some of our own people. These set me in 
the right road, and would have borne me company to the city, 
but I would not suffer them to do so, believing that I should 
have no further difficulty. On reaching a bridge hard by the 
city, I again saw the creature waiting for me by the roadside : 
it again strove to mislead me, but this time I paid no heed to 
it, and, pushing past it, reached my house in safety. Its 
object was to lead me into some desolate spot and there 
destroy me, after the manner of ghuls. After this experience 
you will understand that I am firmly convinced of the exist- 
ence of these creatures." 

I was not so much troubled at Yezd by applications for 
medical advice and treatment as I had feared, partly because, 
after my experiences at Dihbid and God-i-Shirdan, I had 



YEZD 3S7 

forbidden Haji Safar and Baba Khan to say a word about my 
having any medical knowledge, and partly because Ardashir 
would not suffer strangers of whom he knew nothing to 
come to his garden to see me. Once, however, when I was 
sitting talking to Bahman and Iran in Ardashir's office 
(situated on the ground floor of one of the chief caravansarays 
in the city), a crowd of people assembled outside to stare at 
me, from which a Seyyid presently disengaged himself, and 
asked me whether I would cure him of an enlarged spleen. I 
asked him how he knew that it was his spleen that was 
affected. He replied that the Persian doctors had told him so. 
" What the Persian doctors can diagnose, can they not treat ? " 
I enquired. " Yes," he replied, " they can ; but they prescribe 
only two remedies, sliirctb and zahrc'ib} of which one is unlaw- 
ful and the other disgusting." I finally told him that I could 
not undertake to treat him without first examining him, and 
that if he wished this he must come and see me in Ardashir's 
|.;arden. He never came, however ; or, if he did, he was not 
jidmitted. 

The Zoroastrians are, as a rule, good gardeners, and have 

ome skill in the use of simples. From Ardashir and his 

;ardener, Jamshid, I learned the names and supposed properties 

f many plants which grew in the garden. Unfortunately the 

ittle botanical knowledge I ever possessed had grown so rusty 

y long disuse that often I was unable to supply the English 

ame, or even to refer the plant to its proper order. How- 

yer, I give the following list as a contribution towards a 

btter knowledge of the Persian nomenclature. P'Adana or 

'Idanak ; Jcdsni, accounted " cool " and good for the liver ; 

om it is prepared a spirit called ' arak-i-kdsni ; turh (radish) ; 

, ■v-gush (fighting-cock) ; dftdh-garddn, or gul-i-kJmrsMd (sun- 

)wer) ; lAd.-anjir, or Md-angir (castor -oil plant); rdzdmv' 

I innel), said to be an analgesic ; yunjS (clover) ; tarS, a small 

]ant resembling garlic and with a similar smell, said to be 

^od for hffimorrhoids ; shdli-tarS, accounted " hot and moist " ; 

c decoction of it, taken in the morning on an empty stomach, 

i said to be good for indigestion and disorders of the stomach ; 

s tvij, a " hot " umbelliferous plant with a yellow blossom ; 

1 ^ Wine and urine. 



3SS A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

gashnij, a " cold " uinbelliferous plant with a white liowcr ; chugh- 
andar (boetvoot) ; [/ul-i-khatmi (hollyhock); kalam (cabbage), 
calletl by the giiebres in their dialect kumni ; isfindj 
(spinach ?) ; kdhfc (lettuce) ; kadi'ijd (ragged-robin or campion) ; 
karanjil (passion-llower). 

I have alluded to the dialect spoken amongst themselves 
by the Zoroastrians of Persia, and by them called " Dari." 
This term has been objected to by M. Clement Huart, who 
has published in the Journal Asiatiqiie several valuable papers 
on certain Persian dialects, which he classes together under the 
name of " Pehlevi-Musulman," and regards as the descendants 
of the ancient Median language preserved to us in the Avesta. 
The chief ground of his objection is that the description of the 
Dari dialect given in the prolegomena of certain standard 
Persian dictionaries does not at all agree with the so-called 
Dari spoken by the guebres of Yezd and Kirman, Personally, 
I confess that I attach but little importance to the evidence of 
the Persian lexicographers in this matter, seeing that it is the 
rarest thing for an educated Persian to take any interest in 
local dialects, or even to recognise their philological import- 
ance ; and I shall therefore continue provisionally to call the 
dialect in question by the name given to it by those who 
speak it. That it is closely allied to the Kohrudi, K;ishani, 
Sivandi, Luri, and other dialects spoken in remote and isolated 
districts of Persia, and generically termed by the Persians 
" Furs-i-kadim" ("Old Persian"), is, however, not to be 
doubted. • 

This Dari dialect is only used by the guebres amongst 
themselves, and all of them, so far as I know, speak Persian as 
well. When they speak their own dialect, even a Yezdi 
Musulman cannot understand what they are saying, or can 
only understand it very imperfectly. It is for this reason 
that the Zoroastrians cherish their Dari, and are somewhat 
unwilling to teach it to a stranger. I once remarked to 
Ardashir what a pity it was that they did not commit it to 
writing. He replied that there had at one time been some 
talk of translating the Gidistdn into Dari, but that they had 
decided that it was inexpedient to facilitate the acquisition of 
their idiom to non-Zoroastrians. To me they were as a rule 



YEZD 389 

ready enough to impart information about it ; though when I 
tried to get old Jamshid the gardener to tell me more about 
it, he excused himself, saying that a knowledge of it could be 
of no possible use to me. 

The following is a list of the Dari words and phrases 
which I collected at Yezd: — 

Hamtislitudivun, to arise (shortened in speaking to hamushtun) ; im- 
perative, hamusht ; present tense (1) hamushtude' or hamushtudem ; 
(2) hamushtudi, (3) hamushtud, (1 pi.) haviushtudim, (2 pi.) 
hamiishtudid, (3 pi.) hamushtudand. 

TFot'Wun, to say; imperative, ve-va ; past tense, dm-vut, ud-vut or 
t'ad-vut, osh-vut or inoshvut, (plural) md-vut or mu-vid-vut, do-vuty 
sho-vut. Don't talk = vuj khe'ma-ku' (khe = Jcliiid, self ; ma-kii' = ma- 
kun, do not do or make). 

Grdftun, to take ; ashmiftan, to hear ; dklivim, to see ; kushtwun, to 
strike. 

Venodwun, to throw. " Turn (lit. throw) the water into that 
channel," " IForv de o jfi vc-ven " {looiv = water ; de = to, into ; 
= that). 

Ndshte' or ndshtem, I sat ; (2 sing.) ndshtt ; (3 sing.) ndsht ; (1 plur.) 
md-ndshtun. Imperative (2 sing.) iinik ; (2 plur.) UnigU. 

Ve-shu, go ; ko'isM, whither goest thou ? Hamashtfm va-shim., let us 
arise and go ; Qiid ve-sMm, let us go. Ve-shu gau, go down ; 
sliumd gav-shU, do you go down. Me-wfo ve-she, I want to go. 

Bi-yf(, come ; mfcne fi, come here ; me byfi't, may I come ? 

OmMa ve-bf(, be ready. 

TFoiv, water. Dumincd, 'arak, spirit (so called, they say, because it 
distils " from the end of the pipe," dum-i-netj). Kiloioel, wine (said 
to be onomatopadc, from the noise it makes as it is jDoured out of 
the bottle). Wakt-i-kilowel davarta, the time for wine has passed. 
i Gaff, talk ; gaff^ zadan, to talk. Bawz, a bee. S&zhgdrat 7iydk, good 
day. 

Those who desire fuller information about this interesting 
ialect, which well deserves a more careful and systematic 
tudy than it has yet received, may consult General Houtum- 
chindler's admirable paper on the Zoroastrians of Persia 
Die Parscn in Persicn, Hire Sprache, etc.) in vol. xxxvi of the 
'citsclirift der Dcutsclien Morgcnlancliselien GescUscliaft (pp. 
4-88); Ferdinand Justi's article in vol. xxxv of the same 
3riodical (pp. 327-414); Beresine's Dialectes Fersanes (Kazan, 
853) ; and the articles of M. Huart in series viii of the Journal 
siatique, (vol. vi, p. 502 ; vol. xi, p. 298 ; vol. xiv, p. 534). 

In this connection I may also cite a verse written in the 



390 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Kiishuni dialect l»y a Kaslii who wislied to "take ofT"^ the 
speech of his fcllow-townsmeu. 

"'Pas-khfm u pisJi-khfin lei pur hafr bid 
Shubbe na-durad hi zamcystUn risid. 
Kise-i-sahbfm bi-tih-i-salt nih ; 
Bhjh rjidand ; nawhat-i-Jjammi'm riskl." 

" Now that the I'runt-yanl and back-yanl are lull ol' snow, 
There is no doubt that winter has come. 
Put the soap-bag in the bottom of the basket {1) ; 
They are blowing the horn ; the time for the bath has come." 

While I am on the subject of these linguistic curiosities, I 
may as well mention a method of secret communication some- 
times employed in Persia, the nature and applications of which 
were explained to me by my Erivani friend a few days before 
his departure for Mashhad. Such of my readers as have 
studied Arabic, Persian, Turkish, or Hindustani will know that 
besides the ordinary arrangement of the letters of the Arabic 
alphabet there is another arrangement called the " ahj'ad "(from 
the four letters alif, hd, Jim, cldl which begin it) representing 
a much older order. The order of the letters in the ahjad is 
expressed by the following series of meaningless words, con- 
sisting of groups of three or four letters each supplied with 
vowel-points to render them pronounceable : — ahjad, liavxiz, hoti, 
kalaman, sa'fas, karasliat, thakhadh (sakhaz) dhadhaf/ha 
{zazaglm). In this order each has a numerical value ; alif= 1, 
hd — 2, jim = 3, ddl = 4, and so on up to yd-=l^ ; then come 
the other tens, kdf=20, ldm=oQ, and so on up to kdf= 
100; then the other hundreds up to gheyn= 1000. The 
manner in which, by means of this ahjad, words and sentences 
may be made to express dates is familiar to all students of 
these languages, and I will therefore only give as a specimen, 
for the benefit of the general reader, the rather ingenious 
chronogram for the death of the poet Jami, premising that he 
was a native of the province of Khurasan ; that " smoke " or 
" smoke of the heart " is a poetical term for sighs ; and that 

^ The slang expression for " to take a person off" (in the sense of to make fun 
of or mimic him) is " tii-yi Mk-i-kasi raftan." Kiik kardan means to wind up a 
watch ; applied to a person it means to rile, put in a passion. " I riled him and 
he got in a wax" is in Persian slang, " kiik-ash kardam u bi-dsnuiii raft," "I 
wound him up, and he went up to the sky. " 



YEZD 391 

to " come up from " in the case of a number means to be 
subtracted from. 

This, then, is the chronogram: "Bud az Kliurdsdn bar 
dmad," " Smoke (sighs) arose from Khurasan," or " diid 
(d(U = 4, vdv=6, ddl = 4:; total 14) came up (i.e. was sub- 
tracted) from Khurasan" (M«=600, 7-^=200, cdif=l, 
sin=QO, alif=l, nun =50; total 912). Taking 14 from 
912 we get the date of Jami's death, a.h. 898 ( = a.d. 1492). 

The method of secret communication above alluded to con- 
sists in indicating first the word of the ahj'ad in which the letter 
to be spelt out occurs, then its position in that word. In com- 
municating by raps, a double rap knocks off each word of the 
abjad, while on reaching the word in which the desired letter 
occurs its position in that word is indicated by the requisite 
number of single raps. An instance will make this clearer. 
It is desired to ask, " Ndm-i-tit cJiist ? " (" What is thy name ? ") : 
the letters which spell out this message are — 717^/^, alif, mim, 
td, vdvj'ini (for cMm), yd, sin, td. Nun is in the fourth word of 
the ahjad, and is the fourth letter in that word {kalaman). 
It is therefore indicated by three double raps (removing or 
knocking off the three first words, ahj'ad, haivaz, hoti, and thus 
bringing us to the next word, kalaman), followed by four single 
raps (showing that it is the fourth letter in this word). The 
remaining letters are expressed in similar fashion, so that if we 
represent double raps by dashes and single raps by dots, the 
whole message will run as follows : — — • — .... {mm) ; 
. {alif) ; . . . {mim) ; . . . . {td) 

— . . {vdv) ; . . . {chim or jim) ; . . . (7/d) ; 

— . {sin) ; . . . . {td). 

Messages can be similarly communicated by a person 
smoking the kalydn or water-pipe to his accomplice or partner, 
without the knowledge of the uninitiated. In this case a long 
pull at the pipe is substituted for the double rap, and a short 
pull for the single rap. Pulling the moustache, or stroking the 
neck, face, or collar (right side for words, left side for letters), 
is also resorted to to convert the system from an auditory into 
a visual one. It is expressed in writing in a similar fashion, 
each letter being represented by an upright stroke, with 
ascending branches on the right for the words and on the left 



392 A YEAR AMONGST THE TERSIANS 

for the letters. This writing is called, from the appearance of 
the letters, Jchaft-i-sarvi {" cypress-writing ") or IhaU-i-shajari 
(" tree-writing "). Tn this character (written, in the usual way, 
from right to left) the sentence which we took above (" ndm-i-tit 
chist?") will stand as follows: — 

The mention of cniiiniatical writings reminds me of a 
matter which I omitted to speak of in its proper place — I mean 
the Pahlavi and Zend manuscripts preserved in the fire-temples 
of Yezd. Although I knew that Yezd had long since been 
ransacked for such treasures, and that, even should any old 
manuscripts remain, it would be impossible to do more than 
examine them (a task which I, who knew no Pahlavi and only 
the merest rudiments of Zend, was but little qualified to under- 
take), I naturally did not omit to make enquiries on the 
subject of the Dastur and Ardashir. As I expected, most of the 
manuscripts (especially the older and more valuable ones) had 
been sent to the Parsees of Bombay, so as to be safe from the out- 
bursts of Muhammadan fanaticism to which the Zoroastrians of 
Yezd are always liable ; but in one of the fire-temples I was 
shown two manuscripts of the sacred books, the older of which 
was, by the kindness of the Dastur, lent to me during the 
remainder of my stay at Yezd, so that I was enabled to 
examine it thoroughly. 

This manuscript, a large volume of 294 leaves, contained, 
so far as I could make out, the whole of the Vendidad, with 
interspersed Pahlavi translation and commentary written in 
red, the headings of the chapters being also in red, and the 
Avesta text in black. On f. 158 was inscribed a Persian 
poem of fifty-nine couplets, wherein the transcriber, Bahram, 
the son of Marzaban, the son of Feridiin, the son of Bahram, 
details the circumstances of his life and the considerations 
which led him to undertake the transcription of the sacred 
volume. Prom this it appeared that when the aforesaid 
Bahram was thirteen years of age,his father, Marzaban-i-Feridun, 
left his country (presumably Yezd), and, at the command of 
the reigning King, settled in Kazvin, After a while he went to 
ELhurasan, and thence to Kirman, where he died at the age of 



yEZD 393 

fifty-seven. The death of his father turned Bahram's thoughts 
to his religion, which he began to study dihgently with all 
such as could teach him anything about it. At the age of 
sixteen he seems to have transcribed the Yashts ; and at the 
age of twenty he commenced the transcription of the Vendidad, 
of which he completed the first half (as stated in the verses 
cited on pp. 377-8 supra), on the l-4th day of the month of 
Amurdad, a.y. 977. On the page facing that whereon this 
poem is written are inscribed the dates of the deaths of a 
number of Zoroastrians (belonging, probably, to the family of 
the transcriber), beginning with Bahram's father Marzaban-i- 
Feridun, who died on the day of Varahram (Bahram), in the 
month of Farvardin, A.Y. 970. The last date is a.y. 1069. 
The writing of the manuscript is large, clear, and legible, and 
it bears throughout the signs of careful work. One side of 
f. 29 is occupied by a diagram indicating, I believe, the 
successive positions in which the ofiiciating priest or muhacl 
must stand in relation to the fire-altar while performing some 
of the ceremonies connected with the homa-sacrifice. This 
sacred plant (the Iwma, or hum, as it is now called) is found in 
the mountains about Yezd, but I could not succeed in obtain- 
ing or even in seeing a specimen while I was there. After my 
return to Cambridge, however, the Dastur kindly sent me some 
of the seeds and stalks of it packed in a tin box. I gave some 
of the former to the Cambridge Botanical Gardens. Un- 
fortunately they did not grow up, but they were identified by 
Mr. Lynch, the curator, as a species of Ephedra. 

Near the end of the volume I found the following short 
prayer in Persian : " Shihast u zad had Ahriman-i-durvand-i- 
kaj, avct hamd divdn u drujAn u jdduvdn" " Defeated and 
smitten be Ahriman the outcast, the froward, with all the 
demons and fiends and warlocks." Some of the original leaves 
of the manuscript had been lost, and replaced by new ones 
written in a bad hand on common white paper. 

It is time, however, to leave the Zoroastrians, and to say 
something of the Babis of Yezd, with whom also I passed 
many pleasant and profitable hours. But this chapter has 
already grown so long that what I have to say on this and 
some other matters had better form the substance of another. 



CHAPTEE XIV 

YEZD {continued) 

'* Cfiand, chand az Jdkmat-i-Yiindniydn 
IFikmat-i-fmdniydn-rd ham bi-khwdn ! " 

" How long, how long of the wisdom of the Greeks ? 
Study also the wisdom of the people of faith ! " 

' ' An GJieyb-i-mumtani' , ki hami-guft ' Lan tard I ' 
fnak, tardiie-gil hi-jihdn dshikdr shud. 
Kashf-i-hijdh kard : khudd-hd, bashdratl I 
Jtnak, zuhtlr-i-a'zam-i-Farvardigdr shud ! " 

"That unapproachable Unseen, which was wont to say, 'Thou 
shalt not see Me,' 
Lo, melodious with song, hath appeared in the world ! 
It hath lifted the veil : good tidings, gods ! 
Lo, the Supreme Theophany hath come ! " 

In the last chapter I have spoken chiefly of the Zoroastrians ; 
in this I propose to say something concerning my dealings with 
the Babis of Yezd, of whom also I saw a good deal. And first 
of all a few words are necessary as to the relations subsisting 
between the votaries of these two religions, the oldest and the 
newest which Persia has produced. Their relations to one 
another are of a much more friendly character than are the 
relations of either of them towards the Muhammadans, and this 
for several reasons. Both of them are liable to persecution at 
the hands of the Muhammadans, and so have a certain fellow- 
feeling and sympathy. Both of them are more tolerant towards 
such as are not of their own faith than the Muhammadans, the 
Zoroastrians, as already said, regarding " the virtuous of the 
seven climes " as their friends, and the Babis being commanded 



YEZD 395 

by Bella to " associate with men of all religions with spirituality 
and sweet savour," and to regard no man as unclean by reason 
of his faith. Moreover the Babis recognise Zoroaster as a 
prophet, though without much enthusiasm, and are at some 
pains to conciliate and win over his followers to their way of 
thinking, as instanced by the epistles addressed by Beha from 
Acre to certain of their number ; while some few at least of 
the Zoroastrians are not indisposed to recognise in Behii their 
expected deliverer, Shah Bahram, who, as Dastiir Tir-andaz 
informed me, must appear soon if they were to be rescued from 
their abasement, and " the Good Eeligion " re-established. The 
Dastur himself, indeed, would not admit that Beha could be 
this promised saviour, who, he said, must come before the next 
Naw-riiz if he were to come at all ; but others of his co- 
religionists were less confident on this point, and in Kirman I 
met at least one who was, so far as I could ascertain, actually 
a Bcibi. The marked predilection towards the Babis displayed 
by Manakji, the late Zoroastrian agent at Teheran, at whose 
instigation the Tdrikli-i-Jadid, or " New History " of the Bab's 
" Manifestation," was written, must also have re-acted power- 
fully on his Zoroastrian brethren.-^ 

I may here mention a very absurd fiction, which I have 
more than once heard the Zoroastrians maintain in the presence 
of Musulmans or Babis, namely, that Zoroaster was identical 
with Abraham. The chief argument whereby they seek to 
establish this thesis is as follows : " You recognise five ' nabi-i- 
mursal ' " (prophets sent with new revealed scriptures, as 
opposed to prophets merely sent to warn and preach repentance, 
who are called " nabi-i-munzir "), say they, " to wit, Abraham 
with the Suhnf (' Leaves,' ' Tracts,' or ' Epistles '), Moses with 
the Tawrdt (Pentateuch), David with the Mazdmir (Psalms), 
Jesus with the Injil (Gospel), and Muhammad with the 
Kurdii; and you believe that the book of each of these five, 
and a remnant of his people, shall continue in the world so 

^ I have already remarked on the hatred with which the Zoroastrians regard 
the Arabs, and the fact that the Babi movement was entirely Persian in origin 
no doubt inclines them to look favourably on it. One of them said as much to 
me ; the Semitic peoples, he added, were comparable to ravening beasts of prey, 
and the Aryan races to the peaceful and productive animals. An unmodified 
Semitic religion, he maintained, could never be really acceptable to Aryans. 



396 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

long as it lasts. Now of each of the last four the l)ook and 
the people exist to our day, l)ut where is tlie Suhi'f of 
Abraham, and where liis followers ? Does it not seem probable 
to you tliat the Suhuf is our Avesta, that Abraham is but 
another name for Zoroaster, and that we are his people ? " As 
further proof of this contention, Ardashir declared that mention 
was made of Baralu'm, who was evidently the same as Ibnihi'm 
(Abraham), in the Shah-nAm4 ; and 1 think he strove to con- 
nect this word with Brahman and Bahram, for he was capable 
of much in the way of etymology and comparative philology. 
I do not supjDose that in their hearts many of the Zoroastrians 
really believe this nonsense, but it has always been a great object 
M'ith them to get themselves included amongst the aldu 'l-kitdb, 
or people to whom a revealed book recognised by the Muham- 
madans has been vouchsafed, inasmuch as these enjoy many 
privileges denied to the pagan and idolater. 

My first introduction to the Bubi's of Yezd I have already 
described. The morning after I had taken up my quarters in 
Ardashir's garden I received a message from H;iji Seyyid 

M about 6 A.M., inviting me to take my early tea in a 

garden of his situated close at hand. Thither I at once re- 
paired, and, after a while, found myself alone with the Babi 
poet 'Andalib. 

" How was it," he began, " that the Jews, although in ex- 
pectation of their Messiah, failed to recognise him in the Lord 
Jesus ? " 

" Because," I answered, " they looked only at the letter 
and not the spirit of their books, and had formed a false con- 
ception of the Messiah and his advent." 

" May not you Christians have done the same," he con- 
tinued, " with regard to Him whose advent you expect, the 
promised ' Comforter ' ? May He not have come, while you 
continue heedless ? Within a few miles of Acre is a monastery 
of Carmelite monks, who have taken up their abode there to 
await the return of Christ, because their books tell them that 
He will return there. He Jias returned there, almost at their 
very door, yet they recognise Him not, but continue gazing up 
to heaven, whence, as they vainly suppose, He will descend." 

" Consider the parable of the Lord of the vineyard," he 



YEZD 397 

resumed after a while, " which is contained in your gospel. 
First, He sent servants to demand his rights from those 
wicked men to whom the vineyard was let ; these were the 
prophets before Christ, Then He sent His own Son, whom 
they killed ; this was Christ Himself, as you yourselves admit. 
And after that what shall the Lord of the vineyard do ? 'He 
will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the 
vineyard unto others.'"^ 

"Do you then regard Beha as the Lord of the vineyard, 
that is to say, as God Himself ? " I enquired in astonishment. 

" What say your own books ? " he replied. " Who is He 
who shall come after the Son ? ' " 

" Well, but what then say you of Muhammad ? " I de- 
manded, " for if you accept this parable and interpret it thus 
there is no place left for him, since he comes after the Son 
and before the Lord of the vineyard," 

" He was a messenger sent to announce the advent of the 
Lord of the vineyard," replied 'Andalib, 

" Then," said I, " he was less than the Son." 

" Yes," answered 'Andalib, " he was." He then spoke of 
other matters ; of the devotion of the youth Badf, who came 
on foot from Acre to Teheran, there to meet a cruel death, 
with Bella's letter to Nasiru 'd-Din Shah ; of the martyrs of 
Isfahan, and the miserable end of their persecutors, Sheykh 
Bakir and the Imam- Jum'a ; of the downfall of Napoleon III, 
foretold by Beha in the epistle addressed to the French 
Emperor when he was at the zenith of his power, and read by 
himself four years before the accomplishment of the prediction. 
Concerning Badi' he remarked, " Even Christ prayed that, if 
possible, this cup might pass from Him, while this lad joy- 
fully hastened with unhalting and unswerving feet over many 
a weary mile of desert and mountain, bearing his own death- 
warrant in his hand, to quaff the draught of martyrdom," As 
we were leaving the garden he took me by the hand and be- 
sought me to go to Acre and see Beha for myself. " How 
noble a work might be yours," he said, " if you could become 
assured of the truth of his claim, in spreading the good news 
through your country ! " 

^ Mark xii, 9. 



39S A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

Next day I received a visit from a sarliang, or colonel, 
who lilled at that time a rather responsil)lc post at Yezd, 
whence he has since been transferred to another important 
town in the south of Persia. He too proved to be a ]>;'il)i, 
and conversed very freely about the new Manifestation. "In 
accordance with the injunction ' address men aecordiiuj io ike 
measure of their understanding,' " said he, " it behoves every 
divine messenger to impart to his people only so much spirituul 
knowledge as they are capable of receiving ; wherefore, as 
mankind advances in education, the old creeds necessarily lose 
their significance, and the old formulae become obsolete. So, 
if a child were to ask what we meant by saying that knowledge 
was sweet, we might give it a sugar-plum and say, ' It re- 
sembles this,' so that the child, liking the sugar-plum, might 
desire knowledge ; though, as a matter of fact, the two have 
nothing in common. To rough uncultivated men, such as the 
Arabs with whom Muhammad had to deal, the pleasures of 
Divine Love cannot be more clearly symbolised than as a 
material paradise of beautiful gardens and rivers of milk and 
wine and honey, where they shall be waited on by black-eyed 
maidens and fair boys. Now we have outgrown this coarse 
symbolism, and are fitted to receive a fuller measure of 
spiritual truth and wisdom from him who is the Fountain-head 
of wisdom and the wisest of all living men, Beha." 

Two days later I was invited by Haji Seyyid M to 

spend the day with him and his friends in one of his gardens 
situated outside the town, on the road to Taft. He kindly 
sent his servant wath a horse to convey me thither, and I had 
lunch and tea there, returning home about sunset. There 
were a good many guests (all, so far as I could make out, 
being Babis), including 'Andalib and a very vivacious little 
merchant on whom, in consideration of the very humorous 
manner in which he impersonated, for our amusement, the 
venal conduct of a certain eminent mulld of Yezd on the 
judgment-seat, the title of " Sheykh " was bestowed. The 
garden, with its roses, mulberry-trees, pomegranates in full 
blossom, syringas (nastarjan), cool marble tanks, and tiny 
streams, was like a dream of delight, and I have seldom spent 
a pleasanter day anywhere. I conversed chiefly with 'Andalib, 



YEZD 399 

who read me some of his own poems, and also wrote down for 
me one of the beautiful odes attributed to the Babi heroine 
and martyr Kurratu 'l-'Ayn.^ He talked a good deal about the 
identity of all the prophets, whom he regarded as successive Mani- 
festations or Incarnations of the Divine Will or Universal Eeason. 

" If that is so," I urged, " how can you speak of one 
Manifestation as more perfect than another, or one prophet as 
superior to another ? " 

" From our human point of view," he replied, " we are en- 
titled to speak thus, although from the standpoint of the 
Absolute it is incorrect. It is the same sun which rises every 
day to warm and light us, and no one for a moment doubts 
this ; yet we say that the sun is hotter in summer than in 
winter, or warmer to-day than yesterday, or in a different sign 
of the zodiac now from that which it occupied a month ago. 
Speaking relatively to ourselves this is perfectly true, but 
when we consider the sun apart from accidents of time, place, 
environment, and the like, we perceive it to be ever one and 
the same, unchanged and unchangeable. So is it with the 
Sun of Truth, which rises from the horizon of the heart, and 
illuminates the Spiritual Firmament." 

" Is it not strange, then," I asked, " that different prophets 
should advance different claims, one announcing himself as 
the ' Friend of God,' another as the ' Interlocutor of God,' 
another as the ' Apostle of God,' another as the ' Son of God/ 
and another as God Himself ? " 

" No," he answered, " and I will strive to make it clearer 
by means of a parable. A certain king holding sway over a 
vast empire desired to discover with his own eyes the causes 
of disorders which prevailed in one of his provinces, so that he 
might take effectual measures to remedy them. He determined, 
therefore, to go thither himself, and, laying aside his kingly 
state, to mix with the people on terms of intimacy. So he 
wrote a letter, declaring the bearer of it to be an officer of the 
king's household, sealed it with the royal seal, and, thus pro- 
vided, went in disguise to the province in question, where he 
announced that he was an officer sent by the king to enquire 

^ The text of this, with a translation into English verse, will be found at pp. 
314-6 of vol. ii of my Travellers Narrative. 



400 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

into the disorders prevailing amongst the people, in proof of 
which he produced the royal warrant which he had himself 
written. After a while, when order had been in some degree 
restored, and men were more loyally disposed, he announced 
himself to be the king's own minister, producing another royal 
warrant in proof of this. Last of all he threw off all disguise 
and said, ' I am the king himself.' Now, all the time he was 
really the king, though men knew him not ; yet was his state 
and majesty at first not as it was at last. So is it with the 
Divine Will or Universal Eeason, which, becoming manifest from 
time to time for our guidance, declares Itself now as the 
Apostle of God, now as the Son of God, and at last as God 
Himself "We are not asked to acknowledge a higher status 
than It sees fit to claim at any particular time, but the royal 
signet is the sufficient proof of any claim which It may ad- 
vance, including that of the Supreme Majesty itself. But, as 
Mawldna Jalalu 'd-Di'n Eumi says, 

' DidA 'i bdyad M bdshad shah-sliinds, 
Td shindsad Shdh-rd dar liar libds.' 

' It needs an eye which is king-discerning 
To recognise the King in whatever garb.' 

Later on I asked Haji Seyyid M what he considered 

to be the difference between the Sufi saint who had attained 
to the " Station of Annihilation in God," wherein, like 
Mansur-i-IIallaj, he could cry, "I am the truth," and the 
prophet. " What, in short," I concluded, " is the difference 
between the ' / am God ' of Mansur, and the ' I am God ' of 
Beha ? For, as your own proverb has it, ' There is no colour 
beyond black.' " 

" The difference," said he, " is as the difference between 
our sitting here and saying, ' See, this is a rose-garden,' and 
one saying, ' I am such-and-such a rose in that garden.' The 
one reaches a point where, losing sight and cognisance of self, 
he wanders at will through the World of Divinity ('Alam-i- 
Ldhut) ; the other is the throne on wliich God sits, as He 
Himself saith, ' He set Himself upon the Throne ' (istawd 'ala 
'l-'arsh)} One is a perfect reflection of the sun cast in a pure 
clear mirror ; the other is the sun itself" 

^ Kur'an vii, 52 ; x, 3 etc. 



■■o 



YEZD 401 

A few days later, after the montli of Eamazan had begun, I 

paid another visit to Haji Seyyid M 's house, where 

three of my Zoroastrian friends presently joined me. 
'Andalib, as usual, was the chief spokesman, and, amongst 
other things, laid down the dogma that faith and unbelief 
were the root or essence of the whole matter, and good or 
bad actions only branches or subsidiaries. This position I 
attacked with some warmth. 

" Suppose a Jew and a Christian," said he, " the former 
merciful, charitable, benevolent, humane, pious, but rejecting 
and denying Christ ; the latter cruel, selfish, vindictive, but 
accepting and reverencing Him. Of these two, which do you 
regard as the better man ? " 

'• Without doubt the Jew," I answered. 

" God forbid ! " replied he. " Without doubt the Christian. 
God is merciful and forgiving, and can pardon sin." 

" Can He not then pardon unbelief ? " I demanded. 

" No," he answered, " from those who do not believe 
is taken the spirit which once they had, to which the 
present wretchedness and abasement of the Jews bears 
witness." 

As it did not appear to me that the nations professing the 
Christian religion had suffered much abasement on account of 
their rejection of Muhammad, I said, thinking to get the better 
of the argument, " Do you consider that every people which 
rejects a new Manifestation must be similarly abased ? " 

He did not fall into my trap, however. " No," he answered, 
" not unless they have been guilty of some special act of 
hostihty or cruelty towards the bearer of the new gospel." 

" What, then," I demanded, " of the Muhammadans ? Can 
one conceive of greater hostility or cruelty than they showed 
towards the Bab and those who followed him ? Shall they 
too be abased?" 

" Yea, verily," he answered, " and grievous shall be their 
abasement ! Look at these poor guebres " (pointing to my 
Zoroastrian friends), " how miserable is their condition ! And 
why ? Because of the sin of Khusraw Parviz, wlio tore up 
the letter which the Apostle of God sent to him, inviting him 
to embrace Islam. Yet had he some excuse ; for he was 

26 



402 A YEAR AMONGST THE PEESIANS 

a great kiiisj;, belonging to a mighty dynasty wliicli had ruled 
for many generations; while the letter was from an unknown 
member of a despised and subject race, and was, moreover, 
curt and unceremonious in the extreme, beginning, ' TJiis is a 
htUr from Muhammad, the Apostle of God, to Khusraw Parviz.' 
What shall we say of the king who not only tore up the letter, 
but slew with the most cruel torments the messenger of one 
greater than ]\Iuhammad, the letter being, moreover, written 
in the most courteous and conciliatory tone ? But the 
Christians never acted thus towards Muhammad, and some, 
such as the Abyssinian Najiishi, did all in their power to 
succour and protect those who, for their belief in him, had 
become wanderers and exiles." 

I tried to ascertain 'Andalib's beliefs as to the future life, 
a subject on which I have always found the Babis singularly 
reticent, and he told me that, according to their belief, the 
body, the vegetable soul, and the animal soul — all the lower 
principles, in fact — underwent disintegration and redistribution, 
while the " luminous spirit " (ntJi-i-mlrdni) survived to receive 
rewards or punishments, whereof the nature was unrevealed 
and unknown. He then turned upon the Zoroastrians and 
upbraided them for their indifference in matters of religion. 
" For all these years," he concluded, " you have been seeing 
and hearing of Jews, Christians, and Muhammadans : have 
you ever taken the trouble to ascertain the nature of their 
beliefs, or of the proofs and arguments by which they support 
them ? If for a single week you had given half the attention 
which you devote to your worldly business to a consideration 
of these matters, you would, in all probability, have attained 
to certainty. What fault can be greater than this indifference 
and neglect ?" 

A few days after this I returned the Sarhang's visit. He 
received me very kindly in his house, situated near the mosque 
of Mir Chakmakh, and, though it was Eamazan, gave me tea, 
and himself drank a little hot water. The conversation atj 
once turned on religion. He began by discussing the martyr- 
dom of Imam Huseyn, " the Chief of Martyrs," and of 'Abbas, 1 
'All Akbar, and the rest of his relatives and companions, at 
Kerbela, declaring that had it not been for the wrongs suffered! 



YEZD 403 

by these, Islam would never have gained one-tenth of the 
strength it actually possesses. From this topic he passed to 
the Bcibi insurrection, headed by Aka Seyyid Yahya of Darab, 
which was put down with great severity in the summer of 
1850. 

" Two of my relatives were in the army of the malignants," 
he began, " so I know a good deal about what took place, and 
more especially how God punished them for their wickedness. 
When orders came from Teheran to Shiraz to put down the 
insurrection, my maternal grandfather, the Shujd'u 1-MuIJc, 
received instructions to march against the Babis of Niri'z. He 
was somewhat unwilling to go, and consulted two of the clergy, 
who reassured him, telling him that it was a jihdd, or holy 
war, and that to take part in it would ensure him a great 
reward in the future life. So he went, and what was done 
was done. The malignants, after they had slain 750 men of 
the Babis, took the women and children, stripped them nearly 
naked, mounted them on camels, mules, and asses, and led 
them forth through an avenue of heads severed from those 
who had been their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons, 
towards Shiraz. When they arrived there they were lodged 
in a ruined caravansaray just outside the Isfahan gate, opposite 
to an imdmzdfU, near to which the soldiers encamped under 
some trees. There, exposed to all manner of hardships, insults, 
and persecutions, they were kept for a long while, during 
which many of them died. And now hear how God took 
vengeance on some of those who were prominent as persecutors 
of his saints. 

" My grandfather, the Shuj'au 'l-Mtdk, when stricken down 
by his last illness, was dumb till the day of his death. Just 
at the end, those who stood round him saw his lips move, and, 
stooping down to hear what he was whispering, heard him 
repeat the word ' Babi ' three times. Immediately afterwards 
he fell back dead. 

" My great-uncle, Mirza Na'im, who also took part in the 
suppression of the ISTiriz rising, fell into disgrace with the 
Government, and was twice heavily mulcted — 10,000 tiimdns 
the first time, 15,000 tiimdns the second. His punishment 
did not stop here : he was made to stand bareheaded in the 



404 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

siui, with syrup smeared over his face to attract the Hies ; liis 
feet were crushed in tlie Kajar boot; .md liis liands submitted 
to the el-chclc, that is to say, pieces of wood were insert cd 
between his fingers, round which whip-cord was tightly bound, 
and on the \vhip-cord cokl water was poured to make it con- 
tract. Nor were these the worst or most degrading torments 
to which he was subjected.^ 

" I will tell you another instance of Divine Vengeance. 
There was in Shi'raz a certain Sheykh Huseyn, who bore the 
honorific title of JVdzimu 'I- Ulamdjhnt who was generally known, 
by reason of his injustice, as 'Zdlim' ('Tyrant'). He was not only 
concerned in the events I have described, but manifested a speci- 
ally malignant hatred towards the Bab. So far did this hatred 
carry him, that when the B;ib was before Huseyn Khan, the 
Governor of Fars, he drew his penknife from his pen-case, and 
cried, ' If yon will not order his execution, I will kill him with 
this.' Later on, when the Bab had gone to Isfahan, he followed 
him thither, declaring that he would not cease to dog his 
footsteps till he had enjoyed the satisfaction of carrying out 
the death sentence on him ; till at last the Governor of Isfahan 
sent him back to Shi'raz, telling him that whenever that time 
came the mir-ghazah, or executioner, would be ready to do his 
duty. Well, after his return to Shiniz, he became affected 
with a scrotal swelling, which attained so enormous a size that 
he could hardly sit his horse, and had to be lifted into the 
saddle. Later on, before he died, his face turned black, save that 
one side was flecked with white spots ; and thus he lay in his 
bed, loathsome alike to sight and smell, smearing his counte- 
nance with filth, and crying upon God to whiten his face on the 
Last Day, when the faces of others should be black. So he died." 

A few days after this I again paid a visit to Haji Seyyid 

M 's house. 'Andalib, of course, w^as there, and took tea 

with me, explaining that as his throat was sore he was not 
fasting that day. He had found the passages, occurring in 
Bella's epistle to one of the Turkish ministers who had oppressed 
him, wherein the catastrophes impending over the Ottoman 
Empire were foretold. The first (which was in Arabic) ran 
as follows : — 

^ Tukhm-i-Tnurgh-hd-yi garm dar Tnalc ad-ash firii kardand. 



I 



YEZD 405 

" Andj if He please, He ivill assuredly make yoti as scattered dust, and 
will overtake yoic with vengeance on His part : trouhle shall appear in your 
midst, and your realms shall be divided : then shall ye lament and humble 
yourselves, and shall not find for yourselves any ally or helper." 

The second (in Persian) ran thus : 

" But wait, for God's ivrath is made ready, and ye shall shortly behold 
that which hath descended from the Pen of Command." 

It was a pretty sight to see Haji Seyyid M with his 

little child, to which he appeared devotedly attached, and 
which he would seldom suffer to be lonff out of his siaiit. 
When I had read the passage above translated, he took the 
book from me and held it out to the little one, saying " Kitdh- 
rd mdch lam " (" Kiss the book "), which, after some coaxing, 
it was prevailed upon to do. A baby Babi ! 

On the following afternoon I again visited the Sarhang. 
Another man, to whom he did not introduce me, was with him 
when I arrived, but soon left. The Sarhang upbraided me for 
wishing to leave Yezd so soon, saying that he had not seen 
nearly as much of me as he would have liked, and then asked 
me whether I had attained any greater certainty in the matter 
of the Babi religion. I stated certain difficulties and objections, 
which he discussed with me. He also showed me some Babi 
poems, including one by " Jcndh-i-Maryam" (the sister of 
Mulla Huseyn of Bushraweyh, the Bab's first convert and 
missionary), written in imitation of a rather celebrated ode of 
Sharas-i-Tabriz. While we were examining these, a servant 
entered and announced the arrival of " Khudd" ("God"), and 
close on his heels followed the person so designated — a 
handsome, but rather wild-looking man — whose real name I 
ascertained to be Haji Mirzii Muhammad, commonly called 
" Divdn6" ("the Madman"). The Sarhang introduced him as 
one controlled by Divine Attraction ("majzilb"), whose excessive . 
love for God was j)roof against every trial, and who was deeply 
attached to the words of Christ (especially as recorded in the 
Gospel of St. Matthew), which wovild move him to tears. The 
"Madman," meanwhile, had taken up one of the volumes of 
Babi AlwdJi (Epistles) which the Sarhang had brought out, and 
began to read from it in a very melodious voice. " If you 



4o6 yl YEAR AMONGST THE rURSlAAS 

could understand all the beauties of these words," he said, 
as he concluded his reading and laid down the book, "you 
would at once be firmly convinced of the (rutli of the New 
Manifestation." 

I tried to put some questions on religious matters to them, 
but at first they would hardly listen to me, pouring forth 
torrents of rhapsody. At length, however, I succeeded in 
stating some of the matters on which I wished to hear their 
views, viz., the position accorded by them to Ishini in the 
series of Theophanies, and the reasons for its lower standard 
of ethics and morality, lower ideal of future bliss, and greater 
harshness of rule and practice, as compared with Christianity. 
The answers w^hich they returned made me realise once again 
how widely separated from each other were our respective 
points of view. They seemed to have no conception of 
Absolute Good or Absolute Truth : to them Good was merely 
what God chose to ordain, and Truth what He chose to reveal, 
so that they could not understand how any one could attempt 
to test the truth of a religion by an abstract ethical or 
moral standard. God's Attributes, according to their belief, 
were twofold — "Attributes of Grace" {8ifdt-i-Jemdl or Luff), 
and " Attributes of Wrath " {8ifdt-i-Jaldl or Kahr) : both were 
equally divine, and in some dispensations (as the Christian and 
Babi) the former, in some (as the Mosaic and the Muhammadan) 
the latter predominated. A divine messenger or prophet, having 
once established the validity of his claim by suitable evidence, 
was to be obeyed in all things without criticism or questioning ; 
and he had as much right to kill or compel, as a surgeon has 
to resort to amputation or the actual cautery, in cases where 
milder methods of treatment would be likely to prove ineffi- 
cacious. As for the Muhammadan paradise, with its jewelled 
thrones, its rivers of milk and wine and honey, its delicious 
fruits, and its beautiful attendants, it fulfilled its purpose ; for 
every people must be addressed in words suited to the measure 
of their intellectual capacity, and the people to whom the 
Prophet Muhammad was sent could not have apprehended a 
higher ideal of future bliss. They could see nothing immoral 
or unsatisfactory in a man's renouncing pleasures forbidden in 
this life so as to enjoy them everlastingly in a future state. 



YEZD 407 

Wishing to ascertain the views of the Sarhang and his 
friend " BvvdnS" on Siifi'ism and its saints, I briefly described 
to them certain phases of thought through which I myself had 
passed, and certain conclusions as to the relation and signifi- 
cance of different religions which its teachings had suggested to 
me. " In a well-known aphorism," I concluded, " it is said 
that ' the loays unto God are as the imivibcr of the souls of the 
children of men.' Every religion is surely an expression, more 
or less clear and complete, of some aspect of a great central 
Truth which itself transcends expression, even as Nizami 
says : — 

' Sitdnad zabdn zi rakibdn-i-rdz, 
Ki td rdz-i-Sulkm na-guyancl hdz.'' 

' He taketh the tongue from such as share the mystery, 
So that they may not repeat the King's secret.' 

Thus in Islam the Absolute Unity of God is above all 
insisted upon ; in the Dualism of the Zoroastrians the eternal 
conflict between Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, Being and 
Not-being, the One and the Many, is symbolised ; while the 
Christian Trinity, as I understand it, is the Trinity of the Sun, 
the Sunbeams which proceed from the Sun, and the Mirror, 
cleansed from every stain, wherein these falling produce 
(neither by Absorption of the Mirror into the Sun, nor by 
Incarnation of the Sun in the Mirror, but by Annihilation of 
the Mirror-hood of the Mirror in the Sun's effulgence) a 
perfect image of the Sun. Even Idolatry subsists only by 
virtue of a truth which it embodies, as Sheykh Mahmiid 
Shabistari says : — 

' M'usulmdn gar bi-ddnisti hi hut cMst, 
Bi-ddnisti ki din dar but-parasttst.' 

' Did the Musulmdn understand what the Idol is, 
He would know that tliere is religion even in idolatry.' 

So in every religion there is Truth for those who faithfully 
and earnestly seek it ; and hence we find amongst the followers 
of religions apparently most divergent, living in lands and 
times so widely separated as to preclude all possibility of 
intercommunication, men who, led by that Inner Light which 



4o8 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

lightcth every oue who cometli into the world, liavc airivcMl at 
doctrines practically identical. Is not this identity a sign of 
their truth ? Is it not, moreover, far more consistent with 
God's universal mercy to reveal Himself thus inwardly to 
every pure soul than by a written scripture confided only to a 
comparatively small section of the human race ? If salvation 
is only for the people of the KurMn, then how hard is the lot 
of my people, to most of whom no more than its name, if so 
much, is known ! If, on the other hand, only the people of 
the Gospel are to be saved, what possible chance of eternal 
happiness has been given to the great bulk of your fellow- 
countrymen ? " 

From a Sufi I shonld have confidently expected a cordial 
endorsement of these views, but not from a Babi ; and I was 
therefore surprised by the acclamations witli which both of 
my companions received them, and still more so by the out- 
burst of wild enthusiasm which they evoked in " DivdtiA" who 
sprang from his seat, waving his arms and clapping his hands, 
with cries of " You have understood it ! You have got it ! 
God bless you 1 God bless you ! " 

" Well, then," I continued, " what do you consider to be 
the difference between a prophet and a saint who by purifica- 
tion of the heart and renunciation of self has reached the 
degree of ' Annihilation in God ? ' For, as your own proverb 
says, ' There is no colour beyond black ? ' " 

" The difference," they replied, " is this. The saint who 
has reached this degree, and can, like Mansiir the wool-carder, 
say, ' / am the Truth' has no charge laid on him to guide and 
direct others, and is therefore not bound to be cautious and 
guarded in his utterances, since the possible consequences of 
these concern himself alone, and he has passed beyond himself; 
while the prophet is bound to have regard to the dictates of 
expediency and the requirements of the time. Hence it is 
that, as a matter of fact, most of the great Siifi saints were 
put to death, or subjected to grievous persecutions." 

I did not see " the Madman " again, but the Sarhang paid 
me a farewell visit on the morrow, and brought with him 
another officer, who, as I was informed, belonged to the 'Ali- 
Ilahi sect, and was, like many of that sect, very favourably 



YEZD 409 

disposed towards Babiism, coucerning which the Sarhang spoke 
freely before him. 

Meanwhile the time of my departure was drawing near, 
and it was in some degree hastened by the kindly-meant but 
somewhat irksome attentions of the Prince- Governor. He, as 
I have already mentioned, had set his heart on my visiting a 
certain waterfall in the mountains, without which, he declared, 
my journey to Yezd would be incomplete. As I had no 
particular desire to see this waterfall, and was anxious to 
avoid the trouble and expense in which the mounted escort 
which he wished to send with me would certainly have 
involved me, I determined to parry his proposals with those 
expressions of vague gratitude which I had already learned to 
regard as the most effectual means of defence in such cases, 
and meanwhile to complete my preparations for departure, and 
quietly slip away to Kirmun with a farewell letter of thanks 
and apologies, to be despatched at the last moment. 

There was no particular difficulty about obtaining mules 
for the journey, but it appeared to be impossible to hire a 
horse for myself to ride. Personally, I was quite indifferent 
as to whether I rode on a horse or a mule, but my friends, 
both Babi's and Zoroastrians, were horrified at the idea of my 
entering Kirnuin on the humbler quadruped : " it would be so 
undignified," they said, "so derogatory to my state, so incom- 
patible with the idea of distinction ! " At first I was disposed 
to deride these notions, pointing out that the well-known 
Arabic proverb, " Shai'afu 'l-maMn hi 'l-maJdn " (" the dignity 
of the dwelling is in the dweller ") might fairly be parallelled 
by another, " Sharafu 'l-marJcab hi 'r-rdkih " (" the dignity of 
the mount is in the rider ") ; but they evidently felt so strongly 
on the subject that, seeing that I had received much kindness 
at their hands, and was the bearer of letters of recommendation 
to their friends at Kirmdn, I finally gave way, and asked them 
what they advised. 

" I advise you to give up the idea of going to Kirman 
altogether," said ""Andalib ; " you will get no good by it, and 
you see the difficulties that it involves. Go to Acre instead ; 
that will be easily done on your homeward journey, and there- 
from far greater blessings and advantages are likely to result." 



4IO A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

" But," said I, " I am in some sort pledged to go to 
Kirin;iu, as I have written to Slifniz and also to my friends in 
England stating this to be my intention." 

" You are quite right," said Ardashi'r, " and I for my part 
advise you to adhere to your plan, for to change one's plans 
without strong reason is to lay one's self open to a charge of 
indecision and lack of firm purpose." 

" Well," I rejoined, " if I am not to go there on a mule, 
and cannot hire a horse, what am I to do ? Shall I, for 
instance, walk, or would it be more ' dignified ' to go on a 
camel ? " 

" Post," said one. 

" Buy a horse," said another. 

" As for posting," I said, " I have had enough of that. I 
never understood the force of the proverb, " Bs-safar sakar" 
(" Travel is travail " ^) till I posted from Shiraz to Dihbid. 
But as for buying a horse, that is a more practicable idea, 
supposing that a suitable animal is forthcoming at a moderate 
price. A friend of mine at Teheran told me that he kept a 
horse so as to be able to enjoy the luxury of going on foot ; 
because, so long as he had no horse, it was supposed that the 
cause of his walking was either parsimony or poverty ; but 
when it was known that he had one, his pedestrian progress 
was ascribed to eccentricity. Now I do not wish to be regarded 
as poor, still less as parsimonious ; but I have no objection to 
being credited with eccentricity, and I should greatly enjoy 
the liberty of being able to walk as much and as often as I 
please." 

After my guests had gone I talked the matter over with 
Hiiji Safar, who was strongly in favour of my buying a horse. 
Although he continued to recur with some bitterness to the 
fact that he had entered Yezd riding on a donkey, he was 
good enough to make no difficulties about riding a mule to 
Kirman. 

1 Literally, "travel is hell-fire." Between Safar and Sakar there exists 
that species of word-play technically termed tajnis-i-khatti, or " linear pun " ; 
that is to say, the two words, as written in the Arabic character, are identical in 
outline, and differ only in diacritical points. This play is ingeniously preserved 
in Sir Richard Burton's translation or paraphrase of the proverb, which is here 
given in the text. 



YEZD 411 

Next day Bahman came bringing with him the muleteer 
who was to supply me with the two mules I needed for my 
journey. He also brought a horse belonging to a Zoroastrian 
miller, who was willing to sell it for eighteen Utmdns (nearly 
£6). It was by no means an ill-looking animal, and both 
Haji Safar and myself, having mounted it and tried its paces, 
liked it well. However, with a view to forming a better idea 
of its capacities, I had it saddled again in the evening and 
went for a short ride outside the town, from which I returned 
delighted, with a full determination to buy it. Shortly after 
my return the owner came to the garden, and the bargain was 
soon concluded to the satisfaction of all concerned. Haji Safar 
was especially delighted. 

" You will have to give me three or four Utmdns a month 
more now," he said, " to look after your horse." 

" Or else engage another servant," I suggested. His face 
fell. 

" Don't be afraid," I continued : " I have enough trouble 
with you already. You shall have the groom's wages in 
addition to your own, and you can either look after the horse 
yourself or engage someone else to do so ; only, in the latter 
case, please to understand clearly that the selection, appoint- 
ment, payment, and dismissal of the groom is to be entirely 
in your hands, and that in no case will I listen to any 
complaints on either side, or mix myself up in any way in the 
quarrels you are sure to have." 

Haji Safar was so elated by this arrangement that he 
launched out into a series of anecdotes about one of his former 
masters, named Haji Kambar, who had held some position of 
authority (that of chief constable or governor, I believe) in 
Teheran, some fifteen years previously. Although his own 
morals do not seem to have been beyond reproach, he punished 
the offences of others with great severity. He ordered a 
dervish who had got drunk on 'arak to be bastinadoed for 
three hours ; and even Seyyids were not protected from 
castigation by their holy lineage, for which, nevertheless, he 
would profess the greatest respect, causing the dark blue 
turbans and sashes which were the outward sign thereof to be 
transferred to a tree or bush, to which he would then do 



412 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

obeisance ere he bade liis farrdslics beat tlie iinliicky owner of 
the sacred tokens within an incli of liis life. " One evening," 
continued H;iji Safar, " I anel three others of his pisld-hidmats 
(pages) were taking a stroll in the town when we noticed in a 
coireo-house a man accompanied by what we at first took to l)o 
a very handsome youth, round whose kuldk a handkerchief 
was tied in Kurdish fashion, so as to conceal the hair. On 
looking more attentively, however, we were convinced that 
this seeming youth was really a woman in disguise, so we 
arrested the two, and brought them to Hi'iji Kambar's house. 
Then I went to him and said, ' Master, we have brought 
something to show you.' ' And what may that be ? ' he asked. 
' Come with me,' I said, ' and I will show you.' So he 
followed me into the room where our prisoners were waiting. 
' A nice-looking boy, is he not ? ' said I, pointing to the younger 
of the two. ' Well, what have you brought him here for ? ' 
demanded my master. ' And nicely dressed too/ I continued, 
disregarding his question ; ' look at the pretty Kurdish hand- 
kerchief he has wound round his kuldh^ and as I spoke I 
plucked it off, and the girl's hair, escaping from constraint, fell 
down over her shoulders. When the Haji discovered that our 
prisoner was a girl dressed in man's clothes he was very angry, 
reviled her in unmeasured terms, and ordered her to be locked 
up in a cupboard, on which he set his seal, till the morning. 
In the morning she was taken out, placed in a sack, and beaten 
all over by the farrdshes, after which her head was shaved, 
and she was released." 

I had not yet bought my horse or completed my prepara- 
tions for departure, when I was again sent for by the Prince- 
Governor. This time I had not to go on foot, for one of my 
Babi friends insisted on lending me a very beautiful white 
horse which belonged to him. I tried to refuse his kind offer, 
saying that the Dastur was to accompany me to the Govern- 
ment-house, and that as he could not ride I would rather 
go on foot also. 

" In our country," I said, " we are taught to respect age 
and learning, and the Dastur is old and learned, for which 
reason it appears to me most unseemly that I should ride and 
he walk beside me. He is a Zoroastrian, I am a Christian ; 



YEZD 413 

both of us are regarded by tlie Musulmans as infidels and 
unclean, and, if tliey could, they would subject me to the same 
disabilities which are imposed on him. Let me, therefore, 
walk beside him to show my contempt for those disabilities, 
and my respect for the Dastur and his co-religionists." 

" If you desire to better the Zoroastrians," replied my 
friend, " it is advisable for you to go to the prince with as 
much state and circumstance as possible. The more honour 
paid to you, the better for them." The Dastur himself took 
exactly the same view, so there was nothing for it but to 
acquiesce. 

Half an hour before sunset the horse and servant of my 
friend came to the garden, and immediately after them the 
usual band of Government farrashcs with a large lantern. I 
had arrayed myself in a new suit of clothes, made by a Yezdi 
tailor, of white shawl-stuff, on the pattern of an English suit. 
These were cool, comfortable, and neat; and though they 
would probably have been regarded as somewhat eccentric in 
England, I reflected that no one at Yezd or Kirman would 
doubt that they were the ordinary summer attire of an Eng- 
lish gentleman. Haji Safar, indeed, laughingly remarked 
that people would say I had turned Babi (I suppose because 
the early Babi's were wont to wear white raiment), but other- 
wise expressed the fullest approval. 

The first question addressed to me by the prince on my 
entering his presence was, " When are you going ? " On hear- 
ing that I proposed to start on the next day but one, he 
turned to the Dastur and enquired whether he intended to 
accompany me. The Dastur replied that he could not do so, 
as one of the Zoroastrian festivals, which necessitated his 
presence in Yezd, was close at hand, and that as it lasted a 
week I could not postpone my departure till it was over. 
Hearing this, the prince wished to rearrange my plans entirely. 
I must go on the morrow, he said, to visit the waterfall and 
the mountains, remain there five days, then return to the city 
to see the Zoroastrian festival, and after that accompany the 
Zoroastrians to some of their shrines and holy places. Pro- 
testations were vain, and I was soon reduced to a sulky 
silence, which was relieved by the otherwise unwelcome 



414 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

intrusion of a larye tarantula, and its pursuit and slauglitor. 
After conversing for a Avhilo on general topics, and receiving 
for translation into English the rough draft of a letter which 
the prince wished to send to I'ondjay to order some photo- 
graphic apparatus for his son, Minuchihr Mirza, I was suffered 
to depart. 

I now determined to carry into effect my plan of taking 
French leave of the prince ; and accordingly, my preparations 
being completed, on the very morning of the day fixed for my 
departure I wrote him a polite letter, thanking liim very 
heartily for the many attentions he had shown me ; expressing 
regrets that the limited time at my disposal would not suffer 
me either to follow out the programme he had so kindly 
arranged for me or to pay him a farewell visit ; and conclud- 
ing with a prayer for the continuance of his kindly feeling 
towards myself, and of his just rule over the people of Yezd. 
This letter I confided to the Dasti'ir, who happened to be 
going to the Government-house, together with the English 
translation of the order which the prince wished to send to 
the Bombay photographer. 

I now flattered myself that I was well out of the difficulty, 
and returned with relief to my packing; but I had reckoned 
altogether without my host, for in less than an hour I was 
interrupted by the prince's self-sufficient inshkhidmat, who 
brought back the letter to the Bombay photographer with a 
request that I would write a literal translation of it in Persian. 
This involved unpacking my writing materials, and while I 
was engaged in this and the translation of the letter, one of 
the servants of my Babi friends came with a horse to take me 
to their house. Towards this man the pishkhidmat behaved 
with great insolence, asking him many impertinent and irrele- 
vant questions, and finally turning him out of the room. At 
length I finished the translation, and, to my great relief, got 
rid of the pisliMiidmat, as I hoped, for good. I then proceeded 
to the house of my Babi friends, bade them a most affectionate 
farewell, received from them the promised letters of recom- 
mendation for Kirman, and the names of the principal Babi's 
at Niik, Bahramabad, and Ni'ri'z, and returned about sunset to 
the garden. Here I found the Dastiir, Ardashir, and Bahman 



YEZD 415 

awaiting me, and also, to my consternation, the irrepressible 
pishhhidmat, who brought a written message from the prince, 
expressing great regret at my departure, and requesting me, if 
possible, to come and see him at once. As the hour of depar- 
ture was now near at hand, and I was weary and eager for a 
little rest before setting out on the Ion" nitrht-march to Sar-i- 
Yezd, I would fain have excused myself ; but, seeing that my 
Zoroastrian friends wished me to go, I ordered my horse to be 
saddled, and set out with the lAshJiliidmat. We rode rapidly 
through the dark and narrow streets, but in crossing the waste 
ground in front of the Government-house my horse stumbled 
in a hole and fell with me, luckily without doing much harm 
to himself or me. The prince was greatly concerned on hear- 
ing of my fall, and would hardly be persuaded that it was of 
no consequence ; indeed, I was rather afraid that he would 
declare it of evil augury for my journey, and insist on my 
postponing my departure. However, this, my farewell inter- 
view, passed off as smoothly as could be wished, and I sat for 
about an hour smoking, drinking sherbet, and conversing. He 
paid me many undeserved compliments, declaring that the 
letter I had written to him was better than he could have 
believed it possible for a European to write, and that he 
intended to send it to the prime minister, the Aminu 's-Sidtdn. 
I, in return, expressed the genuine admiration with which I 
regarded his just, liberal, and enlightened rule ; prayed that 
God might prolong his shadow so long as the months repeated 
themselves and the days recurred ; and finished up by putting 
in a good word for the Zoroastrians. So we parted, with 
mutual expressions of affection and esteem ; but not till he 
had made me promise to accept the escort of a mounted 
tufankcM or musket-man, and further placed in my hands a 
letter of recommendation to the Prince-Governor of Kirman. 
Of this, which was given to me open and unsealed, I preserved 
a copy, which, as it may be of interest to the curious, I here 
translate, premising only that the terms in which Prince 
Imadu'd-Dawla was kind enough to describe me, exaggerated 
as they appear in English, are but the commonplaces of polite 
Persian. 



4i6 A Y'EAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

^' In the Abode of Sccnrihj of KirmXx. May it be honoured by the 
august service of the desirable, most honourable, most illustrious, nobly-born 
lord, the most mighty, most puissant prince. His Highness Nasiru \l-l)awla 
{may his glory endure /), governor and ruler of the spacious domain of Kir- 
miin. 

" On the fourteenth uf llamazdn was it despatched. 2Jf.GS.^ 

" May I be thy sacrifice ! 

" Please God [our] religious devotions are accepted, and the care of 
God's servants, which is the best of service, on the part of the desirable, 
most honourable, most illustrious, most mighty and eminent prince (may 
his glory endure !) is approved in the divine audience-hall of God ; for 
they have said — 

' By service and succour of men we win to the grace of the Lord : 
By this, not by rosary, gown, or prayer-mat, we earn our reward.' 

"At all events, the bearer of this letter of longing and service is my 
respected and honoui-ed friend, of high degree, companion of glory and 
dignity, IduArd Bariim Sahib, the Englishman, who, having come to visit 
this country, and being now homeward bound, hath set his heart on Kirman 
and the rapture of waiting upon the servants of the nobly-born prince. Of 
the characteristics of this illustrious personage it is needless for me to 
make any representation. After meeting him you will be able to appre- 
ciate his good qualities, and the degree of his culture, and how truly 
sensible and well informed he is, for all his youth and fewness of years. 
The laudable traits which he possesses, indeed, are beyond what one can 
represent. Since he has mentioned that he is setting out for Kirmiin, 
my very singular devotion impelled me to write these few words to the 
Blessed Presence. I trust that the sacred person of Your desirable, most 
illustrious, most mighty, and eminent Highness may be conjoined with 
health and good fortune. More were redundant." 

{Sealed) 'Imadu 'd-Dawla. 

It was two hours after sunset when I returned to the 
garden, and finally got rid of the prince's jpishkkiclmat with a 
present of two or three Uimdns. Haji Safar said that he 
should have had a watch or some other gift of the kind rather 
than money, which, he feared, might be refused or taken amiss. 
However, I had no watch to spare ; and I am bound to confess " 
that he was condescending enough to accept the monetary 
equivalent with grace if not gratitude. The farrdshes having 
likewise been dismissed with presents of money, I was left in 
peace with my Zoroastrian friends, who, after drinking a fare- 

^ This mystic number, corresponding to the word Badiih, is generally written 
under the address on a letter to ensure its safe arrival. Redhouse says it is the 
name of an angel who is supposed to watch over letters, but I never succeeded 
in obtaining a satisfactory explanation of it. 



YEZD 417 

well cup with me, departed, with the exception of Bahman, 
Ardashir's confidential clerk, who remained behind to give me 
a statement of my finances, and to pay over to me the balance 
still to my credit. The amount for which I had brought a 
cheque from Shiraz was 147|- Mmdns (nearly £45), of which 
I found that I had drawn 45 tumdns during my stay at Yezd. 
The balance of 102^ tumdns I elected to receive in cash to 
the amount of 32-|- Mmdns and a cheque on a Zoroastrian 
merchant of Kirman for the remaining 70 tumdiis, both of 
which Bahman, who was as business-like, careful, and courteous 
as any English banker could have been, at once handed over 
to me, receiving in return a receipt for tlie whole sum with 
which I had been credited at Yezd. 

Little now remained to be done but to eat my supper, put 
a few finishing touches to my packing, and distribute small 
presents of money to some of those who had rendered me 
service. They came up in turn, called by Haji Safar ; old 
Jamshid the gardener received 12 krdns, his little son Khus- 
raw 6 krdns, another gardener named Khuda-dad 12 krdns, 

and Haji Seyyid M 's servant, 20 krdns. The farewells 

were not yet finished, for just as I was about to drink a last 
cup of tea, two of my Babi friends came, in spite of the late- 
ness of the hour, to wish me Godspeed. Then they too left 
me, and only Bahman was jDresent to watch the final departure 
of our little caravan as it passed silently forth into the desert 
and the darkness. 



27 



CHArXER XV 

FROM YEZD TO KIIfMAN 

' ' Jlaftam u hirda7n ddgh-i- Tii dar dil 
Wddl bi-wddi, manzil bi-manzil." 

" I journeyed on, bearing the brand of Thy grief in my heart, 
From valley to valley, from stage to stage." 

Five men and five beasts constituted the little company in 
which I quitted Yezd. Besides myself and my horse, there 
was Amir Kh;in, one of the " Arab " tribesmen of Ardistan, 
whom the prince had sent as a mounted escort to see me 
safely to the marches of his territory ; the nmleteer with his 
three mules, two of which only were hired by me ; my servant 
Hiiji Safar ; and a young Tabrizi named Mirza Yrisuf, who had 
formerly been his fellow-servant, and to whom, at his re- 
quest, and on the recommendation of my friend the Sarhang, 
I had given permission to accompany me to Kirman (where 
he hoped to obtain employment from Prince Nasiru 'd-Dawla) 
and to ride on one of the lightly-laden mules. Mirza Yusuf, 
a conceited and worthless youth, had, as I subsequently dis- 
covered, and as will be more fully set forth in its proper place, 
been passing himself off at Yezd as a Babi, so as to obtain 
help and money from rich and charitable members of that 
sect; and it was by this means, no doubt, that he had induced, 
the Sarhang to bespeak my favour for him. Were all hisj 
fellow-townsmen like him, no exaggeration would be chargeable] 
asainst the satirist who wrote — 



"O 



" Zi Tabrizi hi-juz Jiizi na-hini : 
Hnman bihtar, hi Tabrizi na-bini." 

" From a Tabrizi thou wilt see naught but rascality : 
Even this is best that thou should'st not see any Tabrizi. 



FROM YEZD TO KIRMAn 419 

Outwardly, however, Mirza Yusiif was sufficiently well favoured 
and civil-spoken, and it was only after my arrival in Kirman 
that I detected in him any worse quality than complacent self- 
satisfaction and incurable idleness. 

Amir Khan, being well mounted, soon wearied of the slow 
march of the caravan, and urged me to push on with him at a 
brisker pace. I did so, thinking, of course, that he knew the 
way ; but this proved to be a rash assumption, for, after 
traversing the considerable village of Muhammadiibad, he lost 
the road and struck off into the open desert, where the soft 
sand proved very arduous to my horse, which began to lag 
behind. A halt which Amir Khan made (not to allow me to 
come up with him, but to say his prayers) brought us once 
more together, but the subsequent appearance of two gazelles 
at some distance to our left was too much for his self-control, 
and he set off after them at full gallop. I soon abandoned all 
idea of following him, and, having now realised his complete 
uselessness, both as a guide and a guard, continued to make 
my solitary way in the direction which I supposed to be 
correct. After some time, Amir Khan, having got a shot at 
the gazelles and missed them, returned in a more subdued 
frame of mind ; and, after again losing the way several times, we 
finally reached the post-house of Sar-i-Yezd about sunrise. 
The remainder of the caravan being far behind, I had nothing 
to do, after seeing to the stabling of my horse, but to lie down 
on the mud floor with my head on the rolled -up greatcoat 
which I had strapped to the saddle at starting, and go to 
sleep. 

I was awakened about three hours later by Hiiji Safar for 
my morning tea, and passed the day in the post-house writing 
and making up my accounts. About sunset I received a visit 
from a Zoroastrian who was coming up to Yezd from Kirman. 
He remained with me for about an hour, chatting and drinking tea, 
and informed me, amongst other things, that he had spent several 
years in Bombay and Calcutta ; that the Governor of Kirman, 
Prince Nasiru 'd-Dawla, was a most enlightened and popular 
ruler ; that Kirman was much cooler than Yezd, as proved by 
the fact that the mulberries were not yet ripe there, and 
that cucumbers were still scarcely to be obtained ; that the 



420 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

poverty of the inhabitants, always great, had been increased 
by the depreciation in shawls, which fetched less than a third 
of their former price ; but that, as against this, the crops, and 
especially the opium crop, had been remarkably good in tlie 
last year. 

We left Sar-i-Yezd between three and four hours after 
sunset by the light of a nearly full moon, my Zoroastrian 
friend coming to bid me farewell and wish me Godspeed. 
Amir Khan, who kept dozing oft' in his saddle, again led us 
astray ; and, while we were wandering about amongst the 
sandhills, there reached our ears a faint cry, which, in that 
solitary and ghostly desert, caused us to start with surprise. 
Amir Khan, however, followed by myself, made for the spot 
whence it appeared to come, and there, huddled together be- 
tween two sandhills, we presently discerned a group of about 
half a dozen persons (three men, three women, and, I think, 
one child at least) gathered round a diminutive donkey. As 
we approached, they again addressed us in tones of entreaty, 
but in a dialect which was to me quite unintelligible. Amir 
Khan, however, understood them. They were from the " City 
of Barbar " {Sliahr-i-Bcirhar, which, he explained, was near 
Sistiin, on the eastern frontier of Persia), and were bound for 
Kerbela, drawn thither by a longing desire to visit the place 
of martyrdom of the Inii'im Huseyn. They had lost their 
way in the desert and were sorely distressed by thirst, and 
the boon they craved was a draught of water. My heart 
was filled with pity for these poor people, and admiration 
for their faith and piety ; and as I bade Haji Safar give 
them to drink from the leather bottle he carried, there ran 
in my mind the words of Hafiz — 

" Anche jan-i-ashihhi az dast-i-hajrat mi-Jcashad 
Kas na-dide dar jihdn, juz tishnagihi-i-Kerbeld." 

" Wliat tlie souls of thy lovers suffer at the hands of thy separation 
None hath experienced in the world, save the thirsty ones of Kerbela." 

Thereat, and by the blessings and thanks which they poured 
forth as they gulped down the water, was my compassion still 
further moved, and I felt constrained to give them also a small 



FROM YEZD TO KIRMAn 421 

piece of money. For this Amir Khan warmly applauded me, 
as we rode off, telling the pilgrims that they were within a 
short distance of the village of Sar-i-Yezd. " Those who give," 
said he, " of that which God hath given them will never want, 
and those who will not give are not profited, even in this life, 
by their avarice. Only yesterday a beggar asked me for 
money. I replied that I had none, though I had three kriins 
and a half in my pocket at that moment. But when I looked 
for these a little later, I found that they were gone, no doubt 
to punish me for my niggardly conduct." 

After this incident the march continued in sleepy 
silence ; but towards dawn Amir Khan, who was riding beside 
me, suddenly woke up from his doze, and remarked, with 
complete irrelevance to anything that had gone before, " No 
sect are worse than the Babis." 

" Why ? " I enquired, wondering what had caused him to 
introduce spontaneously a subject generally avoided with the 
most scrupulous care by Persian Musulmans. 

" They worship as God," he replied, " a man called Mirza 
Huseyn 'All, who lives at Adrianople. A friend of mine at 
Yezd once told me that he was going there. I asked why. 
' To visit God ' (bi-ziydrat-i-Hakk), he answered. When he 
got there he was asked what work his hands could do. 
* None,' said he, ' save writing ; for I am a scrivener by pro- 
fession.' ' Then,' said they, ' there is no place for you here, 
and we do not want you.' He was not allowed to see Mirza 
Huseyn 'Ali at all, but was given a handkerchief which he 
had used, and invited to make an offering of three tilmdns. 
So he returned thoroughly disgusted, ' for,' said he, ' God does 
not take presents.' " 

While I was considering how I should meet this sally, 
and whether Amir Khan, knowing that I had had dealings 
with the Babis at Yezd, was anxious to warn me against them, 
he solved the difficulty by again dozing off into a fitful slumber, 
from which he awoke " between the wolf and the sheep " 
{mcydn-i-gurg ii niish), as the Persians say — that is, at early 
dawn. As soon as he had collected his scattered wits, he cast 
his eyes round the horizon in hopes of being able to discern 
our next halting-place, Zeynu 'd-Din, and, after some scrutiny, 



422 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

doelaivd lluit we hud passed it duriiii; his sh'ej), and that it 
was " over there" (pointing to a (hirk line on the ])h\in behind 
us, some distance oil' the track which we were I'ollowing). 
Luckily, warned by previous experience, I paid no heed to his 
opinion, and, supported by H;iji Safar, insisted on continuing 
our advance, for which we were rewarded by (iiidiiig ourselves 
in less tlian half an hour at Zeynu 'd-i)iu, where there is 
nothing but a caravansaray and a very good post-house. I 
alighted at the latter, and, after a cup of tea, slept for about 
six hours. 

Zeynu 'd-Di'n is the last halting-place within tlie terri- 
tories of Yezd, and consequently Amir KIklu had been 
instructed to accompany me only thus far on my journey, and 
to obtain for me another mounted guard belonging to the 
jurisdiction of the Governor of Kirman. I had, however, no 
desire to avail myself of this unnecessary luxury, and hinted 
as much to Amir Khan as I placed in his hand ten krdns. 
He took the hint and the money with equal readiness, and we 
parted witli mutual expressions of esteem. The evening was 
cloudy, with occasional gusts of wind, and every now and then 
a great pillar of sand or dust would sweep across the plain, 
after the fashion of the jinnis in the Arabian Nights. The 
road presented little of interest, being ever the same wide ill- 
defined track, through a sandy plain enclosed between two parallel 
mountain chains, running from the north-west to the south-east. 
At one place I noticed a number of large caterpillars (larvaa 
of Deilephila Euphorbise, I think), feeding on a kind of spurge 
which grew by the roadside. No trace of cultivation was 
visible till we came within o^farsakh of Kirmanshahan, when we 
passed two or three villages at about the same distance to the 
east of the road. "We reached Kirmanshahan half an hour 
before sunset, and alighted at the post-house, which was the 
best I had seen in Persia. There are also two caravansarays, 
one old and one new. As no meat was obtainable, I made my 
supper off eggs fried in oil, and then went to sleep. 

I woke about two hours before dawn to find the people of 
the post-house eating their morning meal preparatory to enter- 
ing on the day's fast. Hiiji Safar and the muleteer, however, 
were sleeping so peacefully that it seemed a shame to wake 



FROM YEZD TO KIRMAN 



them, so I lay down again and slept for another two hours, 
when I was awakened by Haji Safar, It was quite light 
when we started, but this was of little advantage, as the 
scenery was precisely the same in character as on the previous 
dav. The road, however, huo;"ed the western range of moun- 
tains more closely, and indeed at one point we passed inside 
a few outlying hills. Kirmanshahan was in sight for two 
hours and a quarter after we had left it, and we had no sooner 
crossed a slight rise which finally hid it from our view than 
we caught sight of the caravansaray of Shemsh, which, how- 
ever, it took us nearly three hours more to reach. 

A more dismal spot than Shemsh it would be hard to 
imagine. There is nothing but the aforesaid caravansaray 
and a post-house (singularly good, like all the post-houses 
between Yezd and Kirman) standing side by side in the sandy, 
salt-strewn plain. As I rode up to the latter edifice, I saw a 
little stream, very clear and sparkling, carefully banked up be- 
tween mud walls which conducted it into a small pond. Being 
overcome with thirst, I flung myself from my horse and 
dipped my face into it to get a long draught of what I sup- 
posed to be pure fresh water. To my disappointment it 
proved to be almost as salt as the sea. There was no other 
water to be had, and Haji Safar had thrown away what was 
left from Kirmanshahan ; nor did my hope that boiling might 
improve it, and that a decent cup of tea might at least be 
obtainable, prove well-founded. No one who has not tried 
it can imagine how nasty a beverage is tea made in a copper 
teapot with brackish water. Luckily my kind Zoroastrian 
friends had forced me to accept two bottles of beer from them 
as I was leaving Yezd, and these, in that thirsty wilderness, 
were as the very elixir of life. Even so the day was a 
horrible one, and seemed almost interminable. Swarms of 
flies, distant thunder, and a violent gusty wind increased my 
despondency ; and the only discovery in which a visit to a 
neighbouring mud-ruin resulted was a large and very venomous- 
looking serpent. Altogether I was heartily glad to leave this 
detestable place about four and a half hours after sunset, by the 
light of a radiant moon. 

The monotony of the march to the next stage, Anar, was 



424 A YEAR AMONGST TJ/E PERSIANS 

only twice lirokcii, tiist liy iiieotin<f a string; of lAventy-five 
camels going i)p to Yez<l, whose drivers greetcil us willi the 
usual " Furmt IxUhad!" ("May it be o])])ortune ! ") ; iiiid 
secondly by the appearance of some wild l)east which was 
prowling about by the road, but wliieh, on our a])proach, slunk 
off into the desert. About dawn we arrived at An;ir, a 
flourishing village containing a good many gardens, and sur- 
rounded by fields in which men were busy rea})ing the corn. 
Here we alighted at the post-house to rest and refresh our- 
selves before continuing our march to the next stage, Beyaz, 
which we reached without incident a little before sundown. 

Beytiz is a small hamlet containing a few trees, and not 
devoid of signs of cultivation. Three or four camels were resting 
and taking their food in a field opposite the post-house, where I 
alighted in preference to the large but dilapidated caravansaray. 
Soon after our arrival, a party of mounted (/huldms rode up, and 
bivouacked outside under the trees. One of these, as Haji 
Safar informed me, was anxious to " challenge " my horse. 
This practice (called muivdzi hastan) I was surprised to find 
amongst the Persians, as I had hitherto only met with it in 
the pages of Mr. SiJonges Sporting Tour. For those not 
familiar with that entertaining work, I may explain how the 
transaction would have been conducted if I had given my 
consent (which, needless to say, I did not do). The ghiddni 
who had " challenged " my horse suggested that the post- 
master {nd'ib clidpdr) should act as umpire between the two 
animals, and to this Haji Safar (acting, as he chose to consider, 
as my representative) agreed. Haji Safar then informed the 
'nd'ib clidpdr that I had bought my horse for thirty Mmdns (as a 
matter of fact it had only cost me sixteen Hmdns), but the 
latter valued it still higher, at thirty-five Hmdns. However, 
he valued the ghuldm's horse at forty tiimdns (it was probably 
worth twelve at the outside), so that the " award " was that 
my horse should " give " tlie ghuldms horse five tumdns, or, in 
other w^ords, that I should give the ghuldm my horse and five 
tumdns in money for his horse. 

We left Beyaz about four hours before sunset, and con- 
tinued our south-easterly march along a track so ill-defined 
that I felt impelled to make a wide detour towards the 



FROM YEZD TO KIRMAn 425 

telegraph-posts, which lay some distance to the east, in the 
expectation of finding something more like a high road. As 
dusk drew on the whole character of the country began to change: 
rivulets and streams intersected it in every direction ; the air 
grew moist and damp, like that of a fen ; and the night re- 
echoed with the shrill chirping of grasshopj^ers and the hoarse 
croaking of frogs. Once we lost our way amongst the ditches 
and cornfields, and floundered about for some time in the dark 
ere, rather by good luck than good management, we again 
struck the road. Flickering lights in the distance, probably 
will-o'-the-wisps, kept our hopes of speedy arrival alive ; but 
it was only after repeated disappointments that the welcome 
outline of tlie post-house of Kushkiih loomed out, like some 
" moated grange," through the darkness. We had to wake 
the postmaster ere we could gain admission, and no sooner 
was my bed spread in the porch of the ''>Ald-hhan6, or upper 
chamber, than I fell sound asleep, lulled by a chorus of frogs 
and grasshoppers, till supper-time, after which I again com- 
posed myself for slumber. 

When Haji Safar brought me my tea next morning, he 
informed me that the muleteer, Zeynu 'l-'Abidin, had decided 
to remain at Kushkiih, to rest his beasts after their forced 
marches of the last day or two, till sundown, so as to 
accomplish the seven long parasangs which separated us from 
the considerable town of Bahramabad {the capital of the 
district known as Eafsinjan) during the night. I was not 
sorry for the rest, and, though much pestered by flies, passed a 
tolerably comfortable day in the little post-house. We started 
by starlight about three hours after sunset, but in about an 
hour the moon rose up to light us on our way. The night was 
quite chilly and the march very tedious, and even when soon 
after dawn we sighted Bahramabad, a weary length of wilfully 
sinuous and serpentine road remained to be traversed ere we 
finally alighted at the post-house. 

At Bahramabad I had a letter of introduction from Haji 

Seyyid M to the chief of the posts in that district, which, 

after lunch, I caused to be conveyed to him. He came to visit 
me without delay, and after sitting for a short time carried 
me off to his office in the caravansaray. While I was there 



426 A YEAR AMOA'GST THE PERSLiAS 

several persons came to see liim, ainougst tlicm a line-lookiiiL;- 
young Kh;hi of l\afsinj;in, who had just returned from Shji'in 
by way of Piiriz and God-i-Ahmar, He Iiad with liim the 
body of an enormous lizard {hnz-majji) which he liad sliot on 
the road. About three hours before sunset my host took me 
to his house and gave me tea, after which I was waited upon 
successively by deputations of Zoroastrians and Hindoos, botli 
of which classes regard an Englishman as their natural friend 
and ally. The Zoroastrians were only three in number : one 
of them was Ardashir Mihraban's agent, and of the other two 
one was an old man called JMihraban, and the other a young 
man named Ardashir. They told me that there were in idl 
about twenty or twenty-five Zoroastrians in Bahramabad ; that 
their co-religionists in Kirman were much less subject to insult 
and annoyance, and in all ways better off, than those in Yezd ; 
and that the chief products of Eafsinjan were, besides cereals, 
almonds and pistachio-nuts, which were exported to India. 

After the departure of the Zoroastrians, the whole Hindoo 
community (save one, who was ill) waited upon me. There 
were fourteen of them, men and youths, all natives of Shikarpnr, 
and they brought me as a present an enormous block of sugar- 
candy. One of them had recently been robbed of a large sum 
of money, and, as the Persian Governor could not succeed in 
capturing the thief, and would not make good the loss, he 
begged me to make a representation of the facts to the English 
Embassy at Teheran. I promised to come and inspect the 
scene of the outrage, if I had time, without further committing 
myself; and shortly afterwards the deputation withdrew. I 
remained to supper with the postmaster, who made me eat to 
repletion of his excellent pildiu, washed down with a delicious 
sherbet, and strove to persuade me to stay the night with him ; 
but I excused myself on the ground that the muleteer would 
probably wish to start. However, on arriving at the chd2)dr- 
khdiiS, whither he insisted on accompanying me, I found that, 
as the morrow, Eamazan 21st, was the anniversary of the Imam 
'All's death, and consequently an unlucky day, neither Haji 
Safar nor the muleteer wished to continue the march till the 
following evening. 

I did not go out next day till about three hours before 



FROM YEZD TO KIRMAN 427 

sunset, when the postmaster sent his servant to bring me to 
his house. I conversed with him for about two hours, and he 
enquired very particularly about the signs which should herald 
Christ's coming, but did not make any further allusion to the 
beliefs of the Biibis, which, I believe, were his own. Our con- 
versation was interrupted by the arrival of one of the Hindoos, 
who wished me to inspect the scene of the recent robbery, 
which I agreed to do. We found all the other Hindoos 
assembled in the caravansaray where they lodged, and I was 
at once shown the inner room whence the safe (containing, as 
they declared, 400 tumcins in cash, and 14,000 Piimdns in 
cheques and letters of credit) had been abstracted by the 
thieves, who, as it was supposed, had entered by the chimney. 
Ten or fifteen men had been arrested on suspicion by the 
Governor, Mi'rza Hidayatu 'llah, but, as there was no sufficient 
evidence against any of them, they had been released, I took 
notes of these matters, and promised to bring them to the 
notice of some of my friends in the English Embassy if I got 
the chance ; and we then conversed for a time, while I smoked 
a kalydn which they brought me. They questioned me 
closely as to the objects of my journey, and refused to credit 
my assertion that I was travelling for my own instruction and 
amusement, declarincj that I must be an agent of the EnQ-lish 
Government. 

" Why don't you take Persia ? " said one of them at 
length : " you could easily if you liked." 

" I suppose the thief who took your money put the same 
question to himself with regard to it," I replied, " and yet you 
feel that you have a just ground of complaint against him. 
People have no right to take their neighbours' property, even if 
they think they can do so with impunity, and states are no 
more entitled to steal than individuals." The Hindoos 
appeared to be still unconvinced, and my sympathy for their 
loss was considerably abated. 

I returned to the postmaster's house for supper, after 
which he caused soft pillows and bolsters to be brought, and 
insisted on my resting for a couple of hours before starting. 
At the end of this time Haji Safar awoke me to tell me that 
the caravan was ready to start, and, after a final cup of tea 



438 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

and a hasty farewell to my kind host, I was once more on thr, 
road. We lost onr way at llie very start, and wandered 
about for some time in the starlight, until we came to one or 
two small houses. The nd'ih-chApdr of Bahri'imiibi'id, who had 
joined our party, hammered at the door of one of these till an 
old peasant, aroused from his sleep, came out, and directed us 
on our way. But this did not satisfy the nd'ih-chdpdr, who 
compelled the poor old man to accompany us for a mile or so, 
which he rather unwillingly did ; though two h'dns which I 
gave him as he was leaving us more than satisfied him for the 
trouble he had incurred. 

About dawn, while still distant some two parasangs from 
our halting-place, Kabutar Kh;in, we passed a company of 
men, with a young girl enveloped in a white chddar, who were 
going down to Kirman, and exchanged a few words with them. 
We reached the post-house of Kabutar Khan (which seemed 
to be entirely in the charge of a very quaint old woman) 
about an hour after sunrise, and remained there till about 
three hours after sunset, when we again set out for Baghin. 
The man who had been our companion on the previous stage 
again joined us, being now mounted on a very small donkey 
which he had hired for thirty shdMs (about twopence) to 
take him to Baghin. A little boy named 'Abbas accom- 
panied the donkey, and several times the man dismounted 
to allow him to ride for a while, on which occasions he 
would break out into snatches of song in his sweet, childish 
voice. 

Before we reached Baghin, the great broad plain running 
towards the south-east, which we had followed since leaving 
Yezd, began to close in, and mountains appeared in front of us, as 
well as on either hand. Soon after dawn we reached Baghin 
(which is a small village surrounded by a considerable extent 
of cultivated grouudj, and, as usual, put up at the post-house. 
Here we remained till four hours after sunset, when the mules 
were loaded up for the last time, for that night's march was to 
bring us to our journey's end. Our course now lay nearly 
due east, along a good level road ; and when the dawn began 
to brighten over the hills before us, Kirman, nestling, as it 
seemed, at the very foot of their black cliffs, and wrapped like 



FROM YEZD TO KIRMAn 429 

one of her own daughters in a thin white mantle of mist and 
smoke, gladdened our straining eyes. 

My original intention had been to alight in the first 
instance at the post-house, but as this proved to be situated 
at some distance outside the city walls, and as I was eager to 
be in the very centre of the town without further delay, I 
decided to take up my quarters instead at one of the caravan- 
sarays. It was fortunate that I did so ; for events so shaped 
themselves that my sojourn at Kirman, instead of lasting only 
ten days or a fortnight, as I then intended, was prolonged for 
more than two months; and, for reasons soon to be mentioned, 
it would probably have been difficult for me to have quitted 
the post-house if I had once taken up my abode there without 
offending my good friend the postmaster of Kirman. 

On entering the city we first made our way through the 
bazaars to the caravansaray of the Vakil, which we were told 
was the best ; but here there was no room to be had, so, after 
some delay, during which I was surrounded by a little crowd 
of sight-seers, we proceeded to the caravansaray of Haji 'All 
Aka, where I obtained a lodging. While the beasts were being 
unloaded I was accosted by two Zoroastrians, one of whom 
proved to be Ardashi'r Mihraban's agent, Mull a Gushtiisp. (All 
the Zoroastrians in Kirman are entitled " Mulla," even by the 
Muhammadans.) They came into my room and sat down for 
a while, and Gushtasp told me that he had found a place for 
me to stay in during my sojourn at Kirman in a garden outside 
the town. They soon left me, and, after a wash and a shave, 
I slept till nearly noon, when I was awakened by a/«?Tds/t from 
the telegraph-office, who was the bearer of a telegram from 
Cambridge, which had been sent on from Shiraz. The original, 
which, of course, was in English, arrived by post the same 
evening, and ran — " Please authorise name candidate for Persian 
readership, Neil." The Persian translation (made, I believe, 
at Kashau, where the wires from Shiraz and Kirman to the 
capital join) was as follows : — " Khiodhish ddratn izn hi-dihicl 
sh'umd-rd hardyi mu cdlimi-i-fdrsi taklif Icunam. Nil." I was 
ratlier overwhelmed by the reflection that even here at Kirman 
I was not beyond the reach of that irrepressible nuisance of 
this age of ours, electricity. 



430 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

H;iji Safar IkuI nlivady succeediMl in discovering a relative 
in Kirnuin (a cousin on his mother's side, as I understood) — 
a sleek, wily-looking man of ahout lifty, generally known as 
" Nii'ib Hasan" — whom he bruuglit to see me. Wliih; lie 
was with me, a Greek of Constantinople, whu had turned 
Musulnuin and settled in Kirman, joined the party, and 
conversed with me a little in Turkish. Then came servants 
from the telegraph-office to enquire on the i)art of their 
master (a prince as well as a telegraphist, but then, as I have 
already remarked, princes are not rare in Persia) how I did, 
and when I w^ould come and visit him (for I had an introduc- 
tion to him from my friends at Yezd, who had also written to 
him about me) ; and hard on the heels of these came the son 
of the postmaster of Kirman (to whom also I had letters of 
recommendation), so that I had hardly a moment's leisure. 
This last visitor carried me off to see his father at the Central 
Post Ofl&ce in the town. The postmaster, a kindly-looking 
man, past middle age, with a gray moustache and the rank of 
colonel {sartip), gave me a most friendly welcome, but 
reproached me for being a day later than he had been led to 
expect by the postmaster of Bahnimabad, who appeared to have 
sent him a message concerning me. " Although I am in poor 
health," said he, " and am, as you see, lame in one foot, I rode 
out nearly three parasangs to meet you yesterday, for I wished 
to be the first to welcome you to Kirman ; and I also wanted 
to tell you that the chdpdr-klidni, which is well built and 
comfortable, and is intended for a residence, is entirely at 
your disposal, and that I hope you will stay in it while you 
are here," 

I next proceeded to the telegraph - office to visit the 
prince, whom I found sitting at the instrument with his 
pretty little sou opposite him. He in turn insisted that I 
should take up my abode at a new telegraph - office wdiich 
had just been completed for him, and it was with great 
difficulty that I got him to acquiesce in the plan which 1 
had formed of inspecting the three residences chosen for me 
in advance by my kind friends of Kirman. Indeed I was 
somewhat embarrassed by their hospitality, for I was afraid 
that, whichever place I selected, I could hardly hope to avoid 



FROM YEZD TO KIRMAN 431 

giving offence to the owners of the other two. As, however, 
it was clear that I could not live in all of them, I decided 
in my own mind that I would just choose the one I liked 
best ; and accordingly, after I had conversed for a short while 
with the prince, I set off with the postmaster's son to visit 
the clKqjAr-khdnd to the north, and the Zoroastrian garden 
to the south, of the town. 

The chdpAr - l^Jidnd proved fully worthy of the praises 
bestowed on it by the postmaster, for the rooms in it were 
spacious, clean, and comfortable, and looked out on to a 
pleasant garden. We smoked a cigarette there, while horses 
were saddled to take us to the garden of the Zoroastrians. 
Thither we rode through the town, which we entered by the 
north gate (called Dcrivdz6-i-Sidtdni) and quitted by the south 
gate {Derwdz6-i-Ndsiriyy6). In the garden, which was just 
outside the latter, we found the two Zoroastrians who had 
first accosted me in the caravansaray, Ardashir's agent, 
Gushtasp, and Feridun, a man of about twenty -five years of 
age, with both of whom I afterwards became very intimate. 
After sitting for a while in the clidr-fasl or summer-house, 
which stood in the middle of the garden, and partaking of 
the wine, 'arak, and young cucumbers which the Zoroastrians, 
according to their usual custom, had brought with them, we 
returned together to the caravansaray. Na'ib Hasan presently 
joined us, and outstayed all my other visitors. As he seemed 
inclined to take the part of confidential adviser, I informed 
liim of the difficulty in which I was placed as to the selection 
of a lodging from the three proposed. After reflecting a 
moment, he said, " Sdhih, you must of necessity run the risk 
of offending two out of three persons, and therefore, as you 
cannot avoid this, you need only consult your own inclination 
in the matter. If you accept the prince's offer and take up 
your abode in the telegraph - office, you will be continually 
subjected to some degree of constraint, and will be always 
surrounded by inquisitive and meddlesome servants. If you 
go to the clidpdr-khdnS, you will be outside the city, and 
will only see the friends of the sartip of the post-office. In 
the guebres' garden, on the other hand, you will be your own 
master, and will be free and unconstrained. My advice, 



432 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

therefore, is, that you should select the last, and make polite 
excuses to the prince and the sartip." As this counsel 
seemed good to me, I determined to act on it without delay ; 
and it was arranged, at Nii'il) Hasan's suggestion, that I 
should transfer myself and my possessions to the garden on 
the following morning, so that ere my apologies should reach 
the prince and the sartip the transfer might be an accom- 
plished fact, admitting of no further discussion. Soon after 
this Na'ib Hasan departed, and I was left at leisure to enjoy 
the welcome letters which that day's post had brought me 
from home. 

The move to the garden was duly effected on the follow- 
ing morning (Wednesday, 5th June, Eamazan 25th) with the 
help of Ni'i'ib Hasan, Feridiin, and a Zoroastrian lad named 
Eustam, who was brother to my friend Bahman of Yezd. Of 
this garden, which was my residence for the next two months, 
I may as well give a brief description in this place. Its 
extent was several acres. It was entirely surrounded by a 
high but rather dilapidated mud wall. It was divided 
transversely {i.e. in a direction parallel to the main road 
leading to the Derwdz^-i-Ndsiriyyi, or southern gate of the 
city, which bounded it to the west) by another mud wall 
(in which was a gap which served the purpose of a gate), and 
longitudinally by a stream — not one of the niggardly, three- 
hours -a- day streams of Yezd, but a deep, clear brook, in 
which I was often able to enjoy the luxury of a bathe. 
Besides the summer - house, or chdr -fad, of which I have 
already spoken, and which stood in the middle of the northern 
half of the garden, about half way between the stream and 
the northern w^all, there was a larger building, consisting of 
two rooms and a small courtyard, standing on the very edge 
of the stream. It was in this more spacious building that 
I established myself on my arrival, using the larger of the 
two rooms (which had windows to the east and south, the 
former looking out into the courtyard, the latter on to the 
stream) for myself, and leaving the smaller chamber at the 
back to Haji Safar and Mirza Yusuf ; but afterwards, when 
the heat waxed greater (though it was at no time severe), I 
lived for the most part in the little summer-house, which, 



FROM YEZD TO KIRMAN 433 

being open to the air on all four sides, was cooler and 
pleasanter. From the larger building another wall ran 
westwards towards the main road leading to the DerivAz6-i- 
N6jsiriyyi, partially cutting off the south-west portion of the 
garden from that which I occupied. This south - west or 
outer part of the garden appeared to be in some measure 
public j^ropertj, for often, as I passed through it to reach 
the gate, I saw groups of women washing their linen in the 
stream which traversed it. The garden had been originally 
planned and laid out by a former vizier of Kirman (whose 
son, Mirza Jawad a man of about iifty years of age, occupied 
a house in another garden not far distant from this), but he, 
ere his death (so, at least, I gathered), having fallen into 
disgrace and comparative poverty, it had been neglected 
and suffered to run wild, and was now let to some of the 
Zoroastrians, who used it chiefly for the cultivation of plants 
useful either as food or medicine. In truth it was rather 
a wilderness than a garden — albeit a fair and fragrant wilder- 
ness ; and never a calm, clear summer night, sweet with the 
scent of the rose and melodious with the song of the night- 
ingale, but I am again transported in the spirit to that 
enchanted ground. Is there one who dares to maintain that 
the East has lost its wonder, its charm, or its terror ? Then 
he knows it not ; or only knows that outer crust of common- 
place which, under the chill influence of Western utilitarianism 
and practical sense, has skimmed its surface. 



28 



CHAPTEK XVI 

KIKMAN SOCIETY 

' ' Har chand ki az r'Ayi karimdn khajilim, 
Gham nist, ki parvardi-d-in db u gillra : 
Dar riiyi zamin nist chii KirmdnjA 'i ; 
Kirmdn dil-i-'dlmn-ast, u md ahl-i-dillni ! " 

" Although we stand abashed in the presence of the noble, 

It matters not, since we have drawn nourishment from this earth and water : 
On the face of the earth there is no place like Kirman ; 
Kirman is the heart of the world, and we are men of heart." 

In no town which I visited in Persia did I make so many- 
friends and acquaintances of every grade of society, and every 
shade of piety and impiety, as at Kirman. When I left I 
made a list of all the persons who had visited me, or whom 
I had visited, and found tliat the number of those whom I 
could remember fell but little short of a hundred. Amongst 
these almost every rank, from the Prince-Governor down to the 
mendicant dervish, was represented, as well as a respectable 
variety of creeds and nationalities — Beliichi's, Hindoos, Zoroas- 
trians, Shi'ites and Sunnis, Sheykhis, Sufis, Babis, both Behai 
and Ezeli, dervishes, and kalandars belonging to no order, 
fettered by no dogma, and trammelled by but few principles. 
Hitherto I had always been more or less dependent on the 
hospitality of friends, whose feelings I was obliged to consult in 
choosing my acquaintances ; here in Kirman the garden where 
I dwelt was open to all comers, and I was able without let or 
hindrance to pursue that object which, since my arrival in 
Persia, had been ever before me, namely, to familiarise myself 
with all, even the most eccentric and antinomian, developments 
of the j)rotean Persian genius. I succeeded beyond my most 



KIRMAN society 435 



sanguine expectations, and, as will presently be set forth, 
found myself ere long in a world whereof I had never 
dreamed, and wherein my spirit was subjected to such alterna- 
tions of admiration, disgust, and wonder, as I had never before 
in my life experienced. 

All this, however, did not come to me at once, and would 
not, perhaps, have come at all but for a fortunate misfortune 
which entirely altered all my plans, and prolonged the period 
of my stay at Kirman from the fortnight or three weeks 
which I had originally intended to a couple of months. For 
just as I was about to depart thence (having, indeed, actually 
engaged a muleteer for the journey to Shi'raz by way of Sirjan, 
Khir, and Niriz), I fell a victim to a sharp attack of 
ophthalmia, which for some weeks compelled me to abandon 
all idea of resuming my travels. And this ophthalmia, from 
which I suffered no little pain, had another result tending to 
throw me more than would otherwise have been the case into 
the society of dervishes, dreamers, and mystics. Judge me 
not harshly, thou who hast never known sickness — ay, 
and for a while partial blindness — in a strange land, if in 
my pain and my wakefulness I at length yielded to the voice 
of the tempter, and fled for refuge to that most potent, most 
sovereign, most seductive, and most ■ enthralling of masters, 
opium. Unwisely I may have acted in this matter, though 
not, as I feel, altogether culpably ; yet to this unwisdom I 
owe an experience which I would not willingly have forfeited, 
though I am thankful enough that the chain of my servitude 
was snapped ere the last flicker of resolution and strenuous- 
ness finally expired in the Nirvana of the opium -smoker. I 
often wonder if any of those who have returned to tell the 
tale in the outer world have wandered farther than myself 
into the flowery labyrinths of the poppy-land, for of him who 
enters its fairy realms too true, as a rule, is the Persian 
opium-smoker's epigram — 

" Hazrat-i-afy{mi-i-md liar marazi-rd rewdst, 
Llk chd 'ddi shudi, Jchud maraz-i-bi-dewdst." 

" Sir Opium of ours for every ill is a remedy swift and sure, 
But lie, if you bear for a while Ins yoke, is au ill which knows 



436 A YEAR AMOAO^T THE PERSIANS 

Altliougli it was soino while after my arrival in Kirman 
that I became numbered amongst the intimates of the afore- 
said Sir Opium, he' lost no time in introducing himself to my 
notice in the person of one of his faithful votaries, Mi'rza 
Huseyn-Kuli of Bam (a pleasant, gentle, dreamy soul, of 
that type which most readily succumbs to the charm of the 
poppy), who came to visit me in Naib Hasan's company on 
the very day of my entry into the garden. Soon after this, 
too, I came into daily relations with another bondsman of 
the all - potent drug, one 'Alxlu '1 Iluseyn, whom Haji Safar, 
in accordance with the agreement made between himself and 
myself at Yezd, had hired to look after my horse. He was 
far advanced on the downward path, and often, when sent to 
buy bread or other provisions in the shops hard by the city- 
gate, would he remain away for hours at a time, and return 
at last without having accomplished his commission, and 
unable to give any account of how the time had passed. This 
used to cause me some annoyance till such time as I too 
fell under the spell of the poppy -wizard, when I ceased to 
care any longer (because the opium-smoker cares not greatly 
for food, or indeed for aught else in the material world save 
his elixir) ; nay, I even found a certain tranquil satisfaction 
in his vagaries. But I must leave for a while these delicious 
reminiscences and return to the comparatively uneventful 
fortnight with which my residence at Kirman began. Of 
this I shall perhaps succeed in giving the truest picture by 
following in the main the daily entries which I made in my 
diary. 

On the day of my instalment in the garden {Wednesday, 
^th June, 25th Bamazdn) I received several visitors besides 
the opium - smoker of Bam. Chief amongst these was a 
certain notable Sheykh of Kum, whose doubtful orthodoxy 
had made it expedient for him to leave the sacred precincts 
of his native town for happy, heedless Kirman. Here he 
had succeeded in gaining the confidence and esteem of Prince 
Nasiru 'd-Dawda, the Governor, in whose society most of his 
time was passed, either in consultation on affairs of state, or 
in games of chance, for which he cared the less because he 
was almost invariably tlie loser. He was a burly, genial, 



KIRMAn society 437 

kind - hearted gentleman, with but little of the odour of 
sanctity so much sought after in his native town, and a fund 
of wit and information. I afterwards saw much of him, and 
learned that he was an Ezeli Babi, so far as he was auytliing 
at all (for by many he was accounted a free-thinker, " lA-maz- 
hah ") ; but in this first interview he gave no further indica- 
tion of his proclivities than to enquire whether I had not 
a copy of M;inakji's New History of the Babi Theophany. 
With him came two brothers, merchants of Yezd, whom I 
will call Aka Muhsin and Aka Muhammad Sadik. Of the 
former, who was an orthodox Shi'ite, I saw but little subse- 
quently ; but with the younger brother, a man of singular 
probity and most amiable disposition, I became rather inti- 
mate, and from him I met with a disinterested kindness which 
I shall not omit to record in its proper place. He too was a 
Babi, but a follower of Beha, not of Ezel ; as also was a third 
brother, who, being but a lad of fifteen or sixteen, was 
suddenly so overcome by a desire to behold the face of 
Bella that he ran away from Kirman with only five hhndns 
in his pocket, with the set purpose of making his way to 
Acre, on the Syrian coast, in which project, thanks to the 
help of kindly Zoroastrians at Bandar - i - 'Abbas, and the 
Babis of Bombay and Beyrout, he was successful. I subse- 
quently made the acquaintance of another lad whose imagina- 
tion was so stirred by this exploit that he was determined to 
imitate it at the first opportunity, though wdiether or no his 
plan was realised I cannot say. 

Thursday, Gth June, 26th Bamazdn. — Soon after I was up I 
received a visit from Na'ib Hasan (who, indeed, lost no time in 
establishing himself in the position of my guide, philosopher, 
and friend, and who seldom allowed a day to pass without 
giving me the pleasure of his society for a good many hours, 
including at least one meal). With him came Eustam, the 
young Zoroastrian of whom I have already spoken, who, on this 
occasion, outstayed the Na'ib. This Eustam was a well- 
mannered and intelligent lad, whose only fault was an unduly 
deferential manner, which at times I found rather irksome. 
He asked me many questions about my country and about 
America (" Yangi-du7iyd" " the ]^ew World "), in which, like 



43^ A YEAR A.UONGST THE PERSIANS 

several otlicr rersians wlioiii I incl, lie appeared to take; an 
extraordinary interest ; for what reason I know not, since he 
luul not the excuse of supposing, like some ]\Iuhannnadans, 
that thence, by some underground channel. Antichrist {Dajjdl) 
shall reach the well in Isfah;in from wliich, at tlie end of time, 
he is to appear. 

In the afternoon I went into the town, accompanied by 
Hiiji Safar and Mi'rza Yusuf, notwithstanding a message wliich 
I received from the Sardar of Sist;hi informing me of his 
intention of paying me a visit. We passed the walls, not by 
the adjacent Derwazd-i-Niisiriyya, but by another gate called 
Derwaze-i-Masjid (" the Mosque Gate "), lying more to the 
west, from which a busy thoroughfare (thronged, especially on 
" Friday eve," with hosts of beggars) leads directly to the 
bazaars, and paid a visit to my Zoroastrian friends in the 
caravansaray of Ganj 'Ali Khan (where, for the most part, 
their offices are situated) and to the post-office. In the 
bazaars I met a quaint-looking old Hindoo, who persisted in 
addressing me in his own uncouth Hindi, which he seemed to 
consider that I as an Englishman was bound to understand. 
We returned about sunset by the way we had come, and met 
crowds of people, who had been to pay their respects to a 
deceased saint interred in a mausoleum just outside the Mosque 
Gate, re-entering the city. 

On reaching the garden I found another visitor awaiting 
me — an inquisitive, meddlesome, self-conceited scion of some 
once influential but now decayed family, who, in place of the 
abundant wealth which he had formerly possessed, subsisted on 
a pension of 150 tumdns allowed him by the Prince-Governor 
in consideration of his former greatness. For this person, 
whose name was Haji Muhammad Khan, I conceived a very 
particular aversion. He manifested a great curiosity as to my 
rank, my income, and the object of my journey, and presently 
assured me that he detected in me a remarkable likeness to the 
Prince of Wales, with whom, he declared, he had struck up an 
acquaintance one evening at the Crystal Palace. " Don't 
attempt to deceive me," he added, with many sly nods and 
winks : " I understand how one of noble birth may for a time 
be under a cloud, and may find it expedient to travel in 



KIRMAn society 439 

disguise and to forego that state and circumstance to which he 
is justly entitled. I am in somewhat the same position my- 
self, but I am not going to continue thus for long. I have had 
a hint from the Amhvu ^s-Sultdn, and am wanted at Teheran. 
There are those who would like to prevent my reaching the 
capital," he continued mysteriously, " but never fear, I will 
outwit them. When you leave Kirman for Shiraz, I leave it 
in your company, and with me you shall visit Shahr-i-Babak 
and many other interesting places on our way thither." Na'ib 
Hasan fooled him to the top of his bent, unfolding vast and 
shadowy pictures of my power and affluence, and declaring that I 
had unlimited credit with the Zoroastrian merchants of Kirman ; 
which falsehoods Haji Muhammad Khan (whom copious liba- 
tions of beer were rendering every moment more credulous 
and more mysterious) greedily imbibed. When he had gone I 
remonstrated vigorously with the Nti'ib for his mendacity. " I 
suppose it is no use for me to remind you that it is wicked to 
tell lies," I remarked, " but at least you must see how silly and 
how futile it is to make assertions whereof the falsity cannot 
remain hidden for more than a few days, and which are likely 
to land me in difficulties." But the Na'ib only shook his head 
and laughed, as though to say that lying was in itself an 
artistic and pleasurable exercise of the imagination, in which, 
when there was no reason to the contrary, he might fairly 
allow himself to indulge. So, finding remonstrance vain, I 
presently retired to rest in some disgust. 

Friday, ^th June, lltli Bamazdn. — In the morning I was 
visited by an old Zoroastrian woman, who was anxious to learn 
whether I had heard in Teheran any talk of Aflatim (" Plato ") 
having turned Musulman. It took me some little while to 
discover that the said Aflatun was not the Greek philosopher 
but a young Zoroastrian in whom she was interested, though 
why a follower of " the good Mazdayasnian religion " should 
take to himself a name like this baffles my comprehension. In 
the afternoon I was invaded by visitors. First of all came a 
Beliich chief named Afzal Khan, a picturesque old man with 
long black hair, a ragged moustache, very thin on the upper 
lip and very long at the ends, and a singularly gorgeous coat. 
He was accompanied by two lean and hungry-looking retainers. 



440 A VEAK AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

all skill aiul sword-bliide ; but tli()\iL;li lu' talked inucli 1 1i;m1 
some ditliculty in uuderstjiuding liini at times, since he spoke 
Persian after the corrupt and vicious fashion prevalent in India. 
He enquired much of England and the iMiulish, whom he 
evidently regarded with mingled respect and dislike. " Karat- 
i-Nasiri is my city," he replied, in answer to a question whicli 
I put to him ; " three months' journey from here, or two months 
if your horse be sound, swift, and strong. Khi'in Khudi'idi'id 
Xh;in is the Amir, if he be not dead, as I have heard men say 
lately." He farther informed me that his language was not 
Beh'ichi but Brahu'i, which is spoken in a great part of 
Beluchistan. 

The next visitors to arrive were the postmaster, Aka 
]\Iuhammad Sadik (the young Yezdi merchant of whom I have 
already spoken), and the eldest son of the Prince-Telegraphist. 
The last upbraided me for taking up my abode in the garden 
instead of in the new telegraph-office, which his father had 
placed at my disposal ; but his recriminations were cut short 
by the arrival of a Tabrizi merchant, two Zoroastrians, an 
Ezeli Babi (whom I will call MuUa Yiisuf, to distinguish him 
from my Tabrizi satellite Mirza Yiisuf), who appeared on this 
occasion as a zealous Musulman, and undertook to convince me 
on some future occasion of the superiority of Isli'im to 
Christianity; and a middle-aged man of very subdued 
demeanour (how deceptive may appearances be !), dressed in a 
long juhM, fez, and small white turban, after the manner of 
Asiatic Turks, to whom, under the pseudonym of Sheykh 
Ibrahim of Sultanabad, I shall have frequent occasion to refer 
in this and the succeeding chapter. These, in turn, were 
followed by four more Zoroastrians, including Gushtasp, 
Feridiin, and Eustam, who outstayed the other visitors, and 
did not depart till they had pledged me in wine after the rite 
of the Magians, after which I had siqjper with Na'ib Hasan, 
and sat talking w4th him till nearly midnight. 

Saturday, 8 th June, 28tJi Baonazdn. — In the morning I 
visited one of the shawl-manufactories of Kirman in company 
with Eustam, Na'ib Hasan, and Mirza Yiisuf of Tabriz. Our 
way lay through the street leading to the Mosque Gate, which, by 
reason of the Saturday market {Bdzdr-i-Shaiiiba), was thronged 



KIRMAN society 441 

with people. The shawl-manufactory consisted of one large 
vaulted room containing eleven looms, two or three of which 
were standing idle. At each loom sat three workers, one 
skilled workman in the middle, and on either side of him a 
sMigird or apprentice, whom he was expected to instruct and 
supervise. There were in all twenty-five apprentices, ranging 
in years from children of six and seven to men of mature age. 
Their wages, as I learned, begin at ten tilmdns (about £3) a 
year, and increase gradually to twenty-four or twenty-five 
tumdns (about £7 : 10s.). In summer they work from sunrise 
to sunset, and in winter they continue their work by candle- 
light till three hours after sunset. They have a half-holiday 
on Friday (from mid-day onwards), thirteen days' holiday at 
the Naw-Euz, and one or two days more on the great annual 
festivals, wdiile for food they get nothing as a rule but dry 
bread. Poor little Kirmanis ! They must toil thus, deprived 
of good air and sunlight, and debarred from the recreations and 
amusements which should brighten their childhood, that some 
grandee may bedeck himself with those sumptuous shawls, 
which, beautiful as they are, will evermore seem to me to be 
dyed with the blood of the innocents ! The shawls manu- 
factured are of very different qualities. The finest, of three or 
three and a half ells in length, require twelve or fifteen 
months for their completion, and are sold at forty or fifty 
tiwidns a piece ; others, destined for the Constantinople market, 
and of much coarser texture, can be finished in a month or 
six weeks, and are sold for ten or fifteen krdns. Of late, how- 
ever, the shawl trade had been on the decline ; and the pro- 
prietor of this establishment told me that he was thinking of 
closing his workshops for a year, and making a pilgrimage to 
Kerbela, hoping, I suppose, to win by this act of piety the 
Divine favour, which he would have better merited by some 
attempt to ameliorate the condition of the poor little drudges 
who toiled at his looms. 

I next visited the one fire-temple which suffices for the 
spiritual needs of the Kirman Zoroastrians, and was there 
received by the courteous and intelligent old dastur and my 
friend Feridun. I could not see the sacred fire, because the 
miihad whose business it was to tend it had locked it up and 



442 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

taken the key away with him. In Ljeneral appearance this 
fire-teni])le resembled those wliich 1 liad seen at Yezd. I 
enquired as to the manuscripts of the sacred books preserved 
in the temple, and was shown two : a copy of the Avesta of 
210 leaves, transcribed in the year A.u. 108G (a.d. 1G75-G), 
and completed on " the day of Ab;in, in the month of ]jaliman, 
in the year 1044 of Yezdigird," by the hand of iJastur 
Marzabiin, the son of Dastiir Bahnim, the son of Marzabdn, the 
son of Feri'di'in ; and a copy of the Yashts, completed by the 
hand of Dasti'ir Isfandiyiir, the son of Dastur Nushirv;in, the son 
of Dastur Isfandiyar, the son of Dastur Ardashi'r, the son of 
Dastur Azar of Sistan, on " the day of Bahman, in the montli 
of Isfaudarmad, in the year 1108 of Yezdigird," corresponding 
to A.H. 1226 (a.d. 1811). I found that the Dastur was much 
interested in the occult science of geomancy (^ilm-i-ramal), 
which, he informed me, required the assiduous study of a life- 
time ere one could hope to attain proficiency. He was also 
very full of a rare old book called the Jdmdsjj-ndma, of which 
he said only one copy, stolen by a Musulman named Huseyn 
from the house of a Zoroastrian in Yezd, existed in Kirman, 
though he had information of another copy in the library of 
the Mosque at Mashhad. This book he described as contain- 
ing a continuous series of prophecies, amongst which was 
included the announcement of the return of Shuh Bahrum, the 
Zoroastrian Messiah, to re-establish "the Good Eeligion." 
This Shah Bahram, to whose expected advent I have already 
alluded at p. 395 supra, is believed to be a descendant of 
Hurmuz the son of Yezdigird (the last Sasanian king), who fled 
from before the Arab invaders, with Peshiitan and other fire- 
priests, to China; whence he will return to Fars by way of 
India in the fulness of time. Amongst the signs heralding 
his coming will be a great famine, and the destruction of the 
city of Shush tar. 

In the evening I went for a ride outside the city with 
Feridun, Eustam, and the son of the postmaster. We first 
visited a neighbouring garden to see the working of one of the 
duldhs generally employed in Kirman for raising water to the 
surface. The duldh consisted of two large wooden wheels, one 
set horizontally and the other vertically in the jaws of the 



KIRMAn society 443 

well, cogged together. A blindfolded cow harnessed to a 
shaft inserted in the axle of the former communicated a rotatory 
motion to the latter, over which a belt of rope passed down- 
wards into the well, to a depth of about five ells. To this 
rope earthenware pitchers were attached, and each pitcher as 
it came uppermost on the belt emptied its contents into a 
channel communicating wdth a small reservoir. The whole 
arrangement was primitive, picturesque, and inefficient. 

From the dXiULb we proceeded to the " old town " {sliahr-i- 
kadim), situated on the craggy heights lying (if I remember 
rightly) to the west of the present city, and said to date from 
the time of Ardashir Babakan, the founder of the Sasanian 
dynasty. There are a number of ruined buildings on these 
heights, including one known as the Kadam-gdh, where vows 
and offerings are made by the Kirmanis. From this place we 
proceeded to another valley, closed to the south by beetling 
cliffs studded with cavernous openings which are said to extend 
far into the rock. High up on the left of this valley is a little 
building known as Darya-Kuli Beg, whither, leaving our horses 
below, we ascended, and there sat for a while drinking wine 
by the light of the setting sun. My companions informed me 
that formerly the mouth of the valley below had been closed 
by a " hand " or dyke, and all the upper part of it converted 
into a gigantic lake whereon boat races, watched by the king 
and his court from the spot where we sat, took place on certain 
festal occasions. 

As we rode homewards in the gathering twilight the post- 
master's son craved a boon of me, which I think worth 
mentioning as illustrative of that strange yearning after 
martyrdom which is not uncommon amongst the Babis. 
Bringing his horse alongside of mine at a moment when the 
two Zoroastrians were engaged in private conversation, he thus 
addressed me : — " Sahib, you intend, as you have told me, to 
visit Acre. If this great happiness be allotted to you, and if 
you look upon the Blessed Beauty {Jemdl-i-Mubdrak, i.e. 
Beha 'u 'llah), do not forget me, nor the request which I now 
prefer. Say, if opportunity be granted you, ' There is such an 
one in Kirman, so-and-so by name, whose chief desire is that 
his name may be mentioned once in the Holy Presence, that 



444 ^^ y/:AR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

he may ouce (if i( l>t' not too nuicli to ask) be lidiioiiicd liy :ui 
Epistle, and tluit he may then (|uair the th-au^ht ol' niartyrdoni 
ill the way of the Beloved.' " 

Sunday, ^tli June, 29th linmazdn. — To-day I received a 
demonstration in f;eoinancy ('ilvi-i-ramal) from a youn^ Zoro- 
astrian, Lahrani-i-Bihruz, whom I met in Mulla Gushtiisp's 
room in the caravansaray of Ganj-'Ali Khi'in. The informa- 
tion about myself with which his science supplied him was almost 
entirely incorrect, and was in substance as follows : — " A month 
ago you received bad news, and suffered much through some 
absent person. . . Fifteen days ago some physical injury befell 
you. . . By the next post you will receive good news. . . 
In another month you will receive very good news. . . You 
are at present in good health, but your caloric is in excess and 
the bilious humour predominates. . . Your appetite is bad, and 
you should take some laxative medicine." This is a fair 
specimen of the kind of answer which he who consults the 
rammdl (geomancer) is likely to get ; but it is fair to say that 
Bahram laid claim to no great proficiency in the science. 
However, he promised to introduce me to a Musulman who 
was reputed an adept in the occult sciences, including the 
taskhir-i-jinn, or command of familiar spirits, and this promise, 
as will presently be set forth, he faithfully kept. 

While Bahram was busy with his geomancy, a dervish boy, 
who afterwards proved to be a Bfibi, entered the room where 
we were sitting (for the dervish is free to enter any assembly 
and to go wherever it seemeth good to him), and presented me 
with a white flower. I gave him a krdn, whereupon, at the 
suggestion of one of those present, he sung a (jhazal, or ode, 
in a very sweet voice, with a good deal of taste and feeling. 

Later on in the day I visited Mi'rza Eahim Khan, the 
Far-rdsh-hdsJd, and Sheykh Ibrahim of Sultanab;id, whom I have 
already had occasion to mention. The latter, as I discovered, 
had, after the manner of halanclars of his type, taken up his 
abode in the house of the former, till such time as he should 
be tu-ed of his host, or his host of him. Thence I went to the 
house of the Sheykh of Kum, where I met two young artillery 
officers, brothers, one of whom subsequently proved to be an 
Ezeli Babi. I was more than ever impressed with the Sheykh's 



KIRMAN society 445 

genial, kindly manner, and wide knowledge. I enquired of 
him particularly as to the most authentic and esteemed collec- 
tions of Shi'ite traditions, and he mentioned two, the Mi'rdjus- 
Saddat (" Ascent of Happiness "), and a very large and detailed 
w^ork in fifteen or sixteen volumes, by Jemalu 'd-Di'n Hasan ibn 
Yiisuf ibn 'Ali of Hilla entitled 'Alldma (" the Great Doctor "), 
called Bihdru 'l-Anvdr (" Oceans of Light "). We then talked 
for a while about metaphysics, and he expressed astonishment 
at the lack of interest in the subject generally prevalent in 
Europe ; after which we passed by a natural transition to the 
doctrines of the Sheykhis and Babi's, about which he gave me 
not a little information. It had been intended that I should 
visit the Prince-Governor in company with the Sheykh, but 
the visit was postponed, as the Prince sent word that he was 
indisposed, and wished to sleep. 

In the evening I received another visit from the garrulous 
Haji Muhammad Khan, who seemed to me rather less dis- 
agreeable than on the occasion of his first call. After his 
departure a temporary excitement was caused by the discovery 
of a theft which had been committed in the garden. A 
Shinizi muleteer, who intended shortly to return home by way 
of Sirjan and Nmz, had greatly importuned me to hire his 
mules for the journey, and this I had very foolishly half con- 
sented to do. These mules were accordingly tied up in the 
garden near my horse, and it was their coverings which, as 
the muleteer excitedly informed us, had been removed by the 
thief The curious thing was that my horse's coverings, which 
were of considerably more value, had not been touched, and I 
am inclined to believe that the muleteer himself was the thief. 
He caused me trouble enough afterwards ; for when, owing to 
the ophthalmia with which I was attacked, I was obliged to 
rescind the bargain, he lodged a complaint against the poor 
gardener, w^hom he charged with the theft. A farrdsh was 
sent by the vazir to arrest him ; whereupon the said gardener 
and his wife, accompanied by the myrmidon of the law, came 
before me wringing their hands, uttering loud lamentations, 
and beseeching me to intercede in their favour. So, though 
my eyes ached most painfully, I was obliged to write a long 
letter to the vazir in Persian, declaring the gardener to be, to 



446 A YEAR AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

the best of my belief, an lionest and wortliy fellow, aiul re- 
questing, as a personal favour, that he niiu;hl be sultjeeted to 
no further annoyance. I furthermore took the precaution of 
]iromi.sing a present of money to iha farrdsh when he returned 
with the gardener, in case the latter had suffered no ill-treat- 
ment ; and, thanks to these measures, I succeeded in delivering 
him from the trouble in which the malice of the muleteer 
threatened to involve him ; but the effect of Llie exertion of 
my eyes in writing the letter was to cause a recrudescence of 
the inflammation, which had previously been on the decline. 
So the muleteer had his revenge, which, I suppose, was what 
he desired and intended. 

Monday, IQth June, 30th Bamazdn. — In the morning I 
visited several persons in the town, including two of my 
Zoroastrian friends, Shahriyar and Bahman. The shop of the 
former was crowded with soldiers just home from Jask and 
Bandar-i-' Abbas, so that conversation was impossible, and I 
left almost immediately. Bahman, on the other hand, had 
only one visitor, an old seyyid named Aka Seyyid Huseyn of 
Jandak, of whom I afterwards saw a good deal — in fact rather 
more than I washed. He conversed with me in a very 
affable manner, chiefly, of course, on religious topics, and, 
amongst other things, narrated to me the following curious 
legend about Christ : 

" Once upon a time," said the Seyyid, " the Lord Jesus 
(upon whom be peace) entered into a certain city. Now, tlie 
king of that city had forbidden any one of his subjects, on pain 
of death, to shelter Him or supply Him with food ; neverthe- 
less, seeing a young man of very sorrowful countenance. He 
craved his hospitality, which was at once accorded. After the 
Lord Jesus had supped and rested. He enquired of His host 
wherefore he was so sorrowful, and eventually ascertained that 
he had fallen in love with the king's daughter. Then said the 
Lord Jesus, ' Be of good cheer, thou shaft win her. Go to the 
king's palace to-morrow, and demand her in marriage, and 
your proposal will not be rejected.' So the young man, mar- 
velling the while at his own audacity, repaired on the morrow 
to the palace, and demanded to see the king, into whose 
presence he was presently ushered. On hearing his proposal 



KIRMAN society 447 

the king said, ' My daughter shall be yours if you can give 
her a suitable dowry,' So the young man returned sadly to 
his home (for he knew that such a dowry was far beyond his 
means) and told the Lord Jesus what had passed. Then said 
the Lord Jesus, ' If you will go to such-and-such a spot and 
search there you will find all that you need.' Lie did so, and 
found much gold and silver, and many precious stones of great 
w^orth — diamonds, pearls, rubies, emeralds, and the like, beyond 
all that even the daughter of a king could expect or desire. 
So the king bestowed on him his daughter's hand. But after 
a time the Lord Jesus bade him leave all this and follow Him, 
and he, knowing now that the Great Treasure, compared to 
which all that he had given as the princess's dowry was as 
mere worthless dross, was with Christ alone, abandoned all for 
his Master's sake. And indeed, as this legend shows, amongst 
all the prophets there was none who taught the ' Path ' 
{Tarikat) like the Lord Jesus, and this remains amongst you 
Christians in some measure even now, though the ' Law ' 
{Shan at) which he brought has little by little disappeared 
before Islam, so that no vestige of it is left." 

In the evening I received a visit from some of the leading 
members of the Hindoo community, thirteen or fourteen in 
number, who begged me to let them know if, at any time, 
they could be of service to me in any way. " We owe you 
this," said they, " for it is through the protection of your 
government that we are able to live and carry on our business 
here in safety and security." Later in the evening I partook 
of supper with several of the Zoroastrians at the dulcib of the 
elder Gushtasp. 

Tuesday, llth June, 1st Shawivdl. — In the morning I 
had a visit from Eustam, the young Zoroastrian. He told me, 
amongst other things, of the persecutions to which his co- 
religionists were occasionally exposed. " Formerly," said he, 
"it would often happen that they carried off one of our boys 
or girls, and strove to compel them by threats and torments to 
become Musulmans. Thus on one occasion they seized upon a 
Zoroastrian boy twelve years of age, carried him to the public 
bath, and forced him to utter the Muhammadan profession of 
faith, and to submit to the operation of circumcision. On 



44S .•/ YKAK AMONGST THE PERSIANS 

another occasion tliey abiluctcd two Zoroastrian girls, aged 
tifteen and twenty respectively, and, l)y every means in tlieir 
power, strove to compel them to embrace the religion of 
Islam. One of them held ont against their importunities for 
a long while, until at last they turned her out almost naked 
into the snow, and she was ultimately compelled to submit." 

In the afternoon I again went into the town to pay some 
visits. I entered it by the Derwaze-i-Gabr, to the east of the 
Derwazd-i-Nasiriyye, and visited an old mosque situated near 
to that gate. This mosque had, as I was informed, been 
wilfully destroyed by a former governor of the city, but it still 
showed traces of its ancient splendour. After visiting the 
Hindoos and some of my Zoroastrian friends, I proceeded to 
the house of the Sheykli of Kum, with whom, as it had been 
arranged, I was to pay my respects to the Prince-Governor. 
After drinking tea we accordingly repaired to the Bagh-i- 
Nasiriyye, which is situated near to the gate of the same 
name. On the arrival of Prince Nasiru 'd-Dawla we were 
conducted to an upper chamber, where he received me in the 
kindliest and most friendly manner. He talked to me chiefly 
about the condition of Beliichistan (which, as well as Kirnuin, 
was under his government), and declared that a very notable 
improvement had taken place during the last few years. I 
then presented my letter of recommendation from Prince 
'Imadu 'd-Dawla of Yezd, and took occasion to mention the 
forlorn condition of Mirza Yiisuf of Tabriz, and his hope that 
the shadow of the Eoyal Protection might not be withheld 
from him, and that