Excerpts from The Voyages and Travels of the Ambassadors ...

By Adam Olearius

Translated by John Davies (1662)
Edited by Lance Jenott (2000)

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The present selection is taken from the 1662 English translation. For the most part I have made an effort to leave the seventeenth-century text in its original form. Some archaic words and grammar do appear, but spelling and punctuation have been modified to facilitate the reading. In some instances I have replaced Olearius' transliterations with more recognizable ones, but in others the original has been kept. Notes, alternative spellings, and short explanations are given throughout the text in brackets, usually accompanied by an equal sign in the format: [=note]. Footnotes are included for longer explanations.

Adam Olearius was a seventeenth-century German scholar, employed as secretary to an embassy sent by the small German state of Holstein to explore an overland trade route with Persia. The first embassy was dispatched to Russia in 1633-34 to secure the tsar's permission to travel and ship through his realm. The second was sent in 1635 to complete the deal with the king (shah) of Persia. Although the commercial mission failed miserably, the embassy was successful in the incredible amount of information gathered by Olearius. After returning to Holstein in 1639, Olearius continued in the Duke's service and published the first edition of his travels in 1647. In 1656 he released a second, enlarged edition which became very popular throughout Europe and within a few years was translated into Dutch, French, Italian and English.

  • Map of Olearius' Route

  • Genealogy of the Safavid Dynasty

  • Select Bibliography

  • TABLE of CONTENTS: (This table consists of general topics. It should be kept in mind that there is overlap and that other minor topics are discussed throughout the selection. If this is being viewed from a web-browser, the FIND (Ctrl-F) function can be helpful to locate specific words and topics.)

    Persian Money
    Soil & Farming
    Domestic Animals
    Camels, Horses, Mules, Asses
    Silk Production
    The Persians' Appearance
    The Persians' Vices
    Food and Drink
    Opium, Tobacco, Coffee and Tea
    Occupations & Commerce
    Marriage & Polygamy
    Schools & Writing
    Sciences, Philosophy, History
    Astrology & Divination
    The Monarch
    State Revenue
    Royal Officers
    Law & Punishments

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    ISFAHAN [pp. 291-303]

    Source: Olearius

    Ere we leave the city of Ispahan [=Isfahan], which is now the metropolis of the whole kingdom of Persia, it will not be amiss [if] I gave the reader an account of what I found therein worthy my observations during our abode there for the space of five months, and to give here such a description thereof as he must expect to be so much the more full and particular inasmuch as there is not any author who hath hitherto written of it, hath done it with exactness enough to satisfy even a mean curiosity.


    [I have omitted a paragraph on the history of the name ‘Isfahan’.]


    This city lies in the province of Erak [=Iraq] or Heirack[1], which is the ancient Parthia, in a spacious plain, having on all sides at about three or four leagues[2] distance a high mountain which compasses it like an amphitheater, at thirty-two degrees, twenty-six minutes latitude, and eighty-six degrees, forty minutes longitude; and I have observed, that the needle declined there seventeen degrees from the north towards the west.  It hath, toward the south and south-west side, the mountain of Demawend[3]; and on the north-east side, towards the province of Masanderan [=Mazandaran], the mountain of Jeilak-Perjan.  The author of the French book, entitled Les Estats & Empires, puts it in the province of Chuaressen [=Khurasan]: but he is mistaken, for Khurasan is a province of the Usbeques, Tartars, at 43. degrees latitude, and lies at a great distance from that of Iraq.


    If you take in all its suburbs it will be found that it is above eight German leagues in compass, in so much that it is as much as a man can do to go about it in one day.  The city hath twelve gates, whereof there are but nine open; above eighteen thousand houses, and about five-hundred thousand inhabitants.[4]  The walls of it are earth, low and weak, being below two fathoms, and above but a foot thick, and its bastions are of brick but so poorly flanked that they do not anyway fortify the city, no more than does the ditch which is so ruined that both summer and winter a man may pass over it dry-foot.  F. Bizarro, and some others affirm that the walls are of chalk; but I could find no such thing, unless it were that in the castle, which hath its walls distinct from those of the city, there are some places which look as if they were whitened or done over with chalk or lime.


    The Allahverdi-khan Bridge
    Source: Sanson

    The river Sendurat [=Zayanda-rud] which rises out of the adjacent mountain Demawend runs by its walls on the south and south-west side, on which side is the suburbs of Tzulfa [=Julfa].  Before it comes into the city it is divided into two branches, one whereof falls in the park called Hasartzebib [=Hazarjarib], where the king keeps all sorts of deer, and from the other there is drawn a current of water which passes by channels under ground into the garden of Tzarabagh [=Charar Bagh]. This river supplies the whole city with water, there being hardly a house into which it comes not by pipes, or so near, as that it is no great trouble to them to fill their cisterns of it, which they call haws and burke; though besides this convenience of the river they have wells, the water whereof is as good as that of the river.  Allawerdi-Chan[5], sometime governor of Shiras [=Shiraz], built at his own charge the fair stone bridge which is between the garden of Charar Bagh and the city upon this river, which is as broad in that place as the Thames is at London.


    Shah Abbas [r. 1588-1629] had a design to bring into the river of Zayanda-rud that of Abkures [=Kuhrang] which rises on the other side of the same mountain of Demawend; and whereas to bring these two rivers into the same channel there was a necessity of cutting the mountain, he employed, for the space of fourteen years together, above a thousand pioneers at that work.  And though they met with extraordinary difficulties, not only in that they had to do with pure rock which in some places was above two hundred foot deep, but also in regard the mountain being covered with snow for near nine months of the year; they had but three to work in, yet had he the work constantly carried on with such earnestness, that all the khans and great lords sending their work-men thereto, upon their own charges, there was in a manner no doubt made of the success of that great enterprise, since there remained to do but the space of two hundred paces when Shah Abbas died, leaving the consummation of the imperfect work to his successor, who hath as yet done nothing therein.


    If Ali, the patron and great saint of the Persians, had lived in that time he might have done Shah Abbas a very great kindness by opening that rock at one blow with his sword and so made way for the river, as he sometime did, according to the relations of the Persians, in the Province of Karabach [=Qarabagh], where he made a passage for the river Aras through the mountain which he opened with his sword and which upon that occasion is to this day called Ali eressi, that is, the Straights of Ali.


    The city of Isfahan was twice destroyed by Tamerlane; once, when he took it from the king of Persia; and the other when the said city would have revolted from him, and become subject to its lawful Prince.  Jos. Barbaro, who traveled into Persia in the year 1471 says that about twenty years before, Chotza, who he calls Giausa, King of Persia, desirous to punish this city for its rebellion, commanded his soldiers not to come thence, unless they brought with them the heads of some of the inhabitants of Isfahan; and that the soldiers, who met not every day with men, cut off women’s heads, shaved them, and so brought them to Chotza, and that by this means the city was so depopulated that there were not people enough left to fill the sixth part of it.  It began to recover itself under Shah Ismael II [r. 1576-77] but indeed it was Shah Abbas by translating the seat of his empire from Caswin [=Kazvin] to this city, brought it to the height it is now in, not only by adorning it with many fair, both public and private structures, but also by peopling it with a great number of families which he brought along with him out of several other provinces of the kingdom.


    But what contributes most to the greatness of this city is the metschids, or mosques, the market places, the bazaars, the public baths and the palaces of great lords that have some relation to the court; but especially the fair gardens, whereof there is so great a number that there are many houses have two of three and hardly an but hath at least one.


    The expenses the Persians are at in their gardens is that wherein they make greatest ostentation of their wealth.  Not that they much mind the furnishing of them with delightful flowers as we do in Europe; but these they slight as an excessive liberality of nature, by whom their common fields are strewed with an infinite number of tulips and other flowers; but they are rather desirous to have their gardens full of all sorts of fruit trees and especially to dispose them into pleasant walks, of a kind of place or poplar, a tree not known in Europe, which the Persians call tzinnar. These trees grow up to the height of the pine and have very broad leaves, not much unlike those of the vine.  Their fruit hath some resemblance to the chestnut while the outer coat is about it; but there is no kernel within it so that it is not to be eaten.  The wood thereof is very brown and full of veins, and the Persians use it in doors and shutters for windows, which being rubbed with oil look incomparably better that anything made of wall-nut tree, nay indeed than the root of it which is now so much esteemed.


    All things in their gardens are very delightful but above all their fountains.  The basins, or receptacles, of them are very large and most of marble or free-stone.  There are belonging to them many channels of the same stone which convey the water from one basin to the another and serve to water the garden.  Persons of quality, nay indeed many rich merchants, build in their gardens summer houses or a kind of gallery or hall which is enclosed with a row of pillars whereto they add at the four corners of the main structure so many withdrawing rooms, or pavilions where they take the air, according to the wind then reigning.  And this they take so much delight in, that many time these summer houses are handsomer built and better furnished than those wherein they ordinarily live.  ‘Tis true, their great-men’s houses and palaces are very magnificent within; but there is not anything so ugly without in regard most of their houses are built only of earth or brick baked in the sun.


    Their houses are in a manner square and most have four stories, accounting the ground-room for one.  They call the cellar, and such places belonging to a house as are under ground, sirsemin; the ground-rooms of the house, chane; the first story, kuschk; the second, tzauffe; and the third, kesser; and they call the open halls, eiwan.  Their windows are commonly as big as their doors, and in regard their buildings are not very high; the frames ordinarily reach up to the roof.  They have not yet the use of glass, but in winter they cover the frames of their windows, which are made like lattices, with oiled paper.


    There is also little wood in Persia, I mean in most of its provinces that not being able to keep any great fire they make use of stoves, but they are otherwise made than those of Germany.  In the midst of their low-rooms they make a hole in the ground of about the compass of an ordinary kettle which they fill with burning coals or charcoal, and put over it a plank or little low table covered with a large carpet.  Sitting according to their custom, upon the ground, they thrust their feet under the table and draw the carpet over their body up to the breast so as that the heat is thereby kept in.  Some may pass away the night also thus accommodated and so they procure a very natural heat with little fire, and they imagine it to be the more wholesome in that it troubles not the head, which in the mean time hath the benefit of a fresh and healthy air.  They call [these] kind of stoves, tenuer, and that the brain might not be offended by vapors, which charcoal commonly sends up into the head, they have certain passages and conduits under ground through which the air draws them away.  Persons of mean quality, and such as are saving, dress their meat with these tenuers and make use of them instead of an oven, and bake bread and cakes over them.  There is not a house in Isfahan but hath its court which a man must cross ere he comes into the house.


    They say that heretofore, the streets of Isfahan were so broad that twenty horse might have rid a-breast in any of them.  But now, especially since the city began to be repeopled in the time of Shah Abbas, they husbanded their ground better, especially in the heart of the city near the Maidan [=Maydan] and the bazaar, insomuch that the streets are become so narrow that if a man meets a mule-driver, whom they call charbende, that is, a servant to look to the asses, who many times drives twenty or more before him, he must step into some shop and stay there till they be all passed by.  All the streets abutting upon the Maydan are very narrow, but the Maydan, or marketplace, though it hath shops all about it, is so large that I cannot imagine there is any in Europe comes near it.


    This marketplace is seven hundred foot long, and two-hundred and fifty broad[6].  All the houses about the Maydan are of equal height and all built of brick having their shops vaulted: where you have on the side towards the king’s palace: goldsmiths, lapidaries, and druggists; and opposite to them, those merchants who see all sorts of stuffs of silk, wool, and cotton, and the taverns where they tipple and sell all sorts of provisions.  All these houses are two stories high and have all their eiwans, or open halls.  The market-place is planted all about with a kind of trees, called scimscad, which is somewhat like box, but they are much higher and the branches being perpetually green they are so cut that the shops are to be seen between the trees and make a very delightful prospect.  But it is not one of the least ornaments of their Maydan that [of] the rivulet, which runs at the foot of these trees in a channel of free stone, raised two foot from the ground all about the market-place.


    Tradesmen do not work at all themselves, but have their slaves and apprentices who do all the main work at their houses, while the master’s business is only to sell his commodities in shops appointed for that purpose at the Maydan in a great vaulted gallery built with arches, or in the streets abutting upon it where every trade hath its particular quarter assigned it, or haply in a street appointed for that particular commodity and where they permit not the selling of any other.  The observance of which order, in regard the Persians are very neat in all they do, makes so delightful a show that I have not seen anything like it.  At the end of this gallery there are two balconies covered over head opposite one to the other where their music, which consists in timbrels, hawboys [?], and other kind of instruments which they call kerenei, is to be heard every night at sunset, as also when the king, either going out of the city or coming into it, passes through the Maydan.  They have this kind of music in all the cities of Persia which are governed by a khan and they say Tamerlane first introduced that custom which hath been observed ever since.


    The king’s palace is upon the Maydan.  The Persians call it Dowlet-Chane or Der Chane Schach and there lie before the gate several great pieces [i.e., canons] of all sizes, but most such as require 36 or 48 pound bullet, very rough cast, without carriages and lying upon beams so as that no use can be made of them.  Nicholas Hem, a Hollander who traveled into Persia in the years 1623 and 1624, says that these pieces were brought thither from Ormus, and that they secure the avenues of the place; but as I said before it is impossible they should be discharged.  Nay, the palace itself hath no fortifications and is compassed only by a high wall.  In the day time there are but three or four upon the guard and in the night there are fifteen at the gate, and about thirty within the king’s apartment.  These last are all persons of quality and sons of khans of whom some stand sentry, and the rest walk the round, and they all lie upon the ground in the open air.  This guard hath its kischiktzi, or particular captain, who every night delivers the king a list of their names who are upon the guard, that he may know whom he may confide in and by what persons he is served.


    Over the first gate there is a great square structure which hath large windows on all sides, and we were told that within it was carved all over and gilt.  The other principal apartments of this great palace are the tab chane, which is a spacious hall where the king treats all the great lords of his court and entertains them at dinner upon the day of their Naurus, which is the first day of their year; the divan chane[7] which is the ordinary place where all appeals are tried and where the king commonly gives audience to the ambassadors of foreign princes, as we said elsewhere, which is done, partly upon this accompt, that this edifice having a great court adjoining to it, into which it looks, the king may have the convenience of showing the ambassadors some of his best horses and his other pieces of magnificence as he did at our first audience.  The haram chane which is a hall wherein the cassaha [=khassa], that is the king’s concubines, who are always shut up in several apartments, have their meetings to dance before him and to divert him with their musicians who are all eunuchs;[8]  the deka, or the place of the king’s ordinary residence where he lodges and eats with his lawful wives.  All these halls have belonging to them several chambers, closets, galleries, and other necessary apartments for the lodging and divertissement of so powerful a prince and so great a number of ladies who are all with him within the same palace, wherein there is not any considerable apartment but hath its particular garden.


    The Palace Gate
    Source: Sanson

    At the entrance of the King’s palace, and about forty paces from the outer gate, on the right hand side there is another gate which gives a privilege to the whole place and makes the sanctuary we spoke of before, called by the Persians Alla-Capi [=Ali Qapu, or Sublime Porte], that is, God’s gate.  All those who stand in fear of imprisonment, whether upon a civil or criminal accompt, find here an assured sanctuary and refuge, even against the king’s displeasure, and may live there till they are reconciled to their adversaries, if they have to do with private men, or obtained their pardon of the king, provided they have wherewithal to submit.  Murderers and assassins participate of the same privilege; but the Persians have so great an aversion for theft, as accounting it a base and infamous crime, as it really is, that they permit not thieves, if they do come in, to stay there many days.  At the time of our travels, we found in this sanctuary a sultan who having either through misfortune or his own ill conduct lost the king’s favor, and being in fear of losing his life, was got in thither with all his family and lived in tents which he had set up in the garden.


    Behind the king’s palace lies the castle, which they call Taberik Kale.  It serves for a citadel, which is the signification of the word kale, and it is fortified with a rampier and several bastions of earth, which being very sharp above, Nicholas Hem (whom I have found in all things else the most exact of any that have written of the city of Isfahan) took them for towers.  The king does not live in it, but there is a governor who hath the command of it, and a strong garrison within it which is kept there for the security of the treasure, the arms, and ammunition of war, that are within it, though all the artillery consists only in some field-pieces.


    On the other side of the Maydan, in a by-street, there is another sanctuary which is called Tschehil Sutun [=Chihil Sutun], upon occasion of the forty beams which prop the roof of the structure, and which all rest upon one pillar, which stands in the middle of the metschid, or mosque.  Into this sanctuary there got a great number of the inhabitants of Isfahan when Tamerlane punished the rebellion of this city.  For though he had no great sentiments of piety, yet did he discover a certain respect for the places he accounted sacred; and accordingly he spared all those who took refuge in the mosque, but ordered all the rest to be cut up in pieces and commanded the walls of the court belonging to it to be pulled down.  But Shah Ishmael had them built up again, and made the place a sanctuary.[9]


    Towards the south part of the Maydan stands that rich and magnificent mosque which Shah Abbas began and was almost finished when he died: but Shah Safi had the work carried on at the time of our being there, causing the walls to be done over with marble.  It is dedicated to Mededi, who is the twelfth Imam, or saint, of the posterity of Ali, for whom Shah Abbas had so particular a devotion that he was pleased to build several other mosques after the same model (though much less) at Tauris and other places, in honor of the same saint, wherein he made use of the marble which he had brought from Eruan, which is as white as chalk, and smoother than any looking glass.  But the marble which was spent in the building of the great meschid at Isfahan, is brought from the mountain of Elwend.  The Persians would have it believed that Mehedi is not dead but lies hid in a grot, near Kufa, and that he shall come out thence, some time before the day of judgement, and ride Duldul, Ali’s horse, upon whom he is to go all over the world to convert people to the religion of Muhammad.  Whence this mosque is called Metzid Mehedi Sahebeseman.


    To go from the Maydan to this mosque, a man must pass through a great court paved with free-stone at the end where there is, under a tree, a fair cistern wherein those who go to do their devotions in the mosque wash and purify themselves.  Behind this tree there is a pair of stairs by which you go up to the square place, which is much less than the fore-said court, and thence there is it is but a little further to the mosque.  John de Laet[10], taking it from Nicholas Hem, affirms that there is a pair of stairs of thirteen steps to get up to the mosque and that those stairs are cut out of one pierce of marble; but there is no such thing.  The portal is of white marble, and at least as high as that of the Meschaick Chodabende in Sulthania.  The door is covered all over with plates of silver which are gilt in several places.


    As you pass through the door you enter into a great court round about which there is a vaulted gallery and in the middle of it a great cistern of free-store built eight square and full of water. Above this gallery there is another, not so high as this, which upper gallery hath, towards the hejat, or court, a row of marble pillars, which in some places are gilt.  A man must cross this court to go into the mosque wherein are the mederab and the cathib, that is, the altar and the pulpit, according to their way.  As you come in you pass under a vault of extraordinary height, done over with glittering stones some blue, some gilt.  It is a vast structure having many niches and chapels which are all upheld by marble pillars.[11]  But the most remarkable thing in all this emerat, is that all the walls, as well those of the gallery, which is in the court, as of the mosque itself, are of marble, (which is most of in white and extremely well polished) but is five or six foot in length and breadth, and they are so neatly put one into the other, that, the junctures being in a manner imperceptible, a man cannot but admire the art of the workman and acknowledge that the workmanship is not to be imitated.  The meherab, or the alter, is all of one piece of marble having on each side a pillar of the same stone, which is also all of one piece.  Besides this mosque, which is the chiefest in all the city and the most sumptuous of any in the whole kingdom, there are in Isfahan many others, but they are much less and there is a too great a number of them for us to undertake to give here a more particular description thereof.


    In the midst of the Maydan there stands a high pole, much after the manner of those that are set up in several cities of Europe, to shoot at the parrot, but, instead of a bird, they set on top of it a little melon, an arpus, or an apple, or haply a trencher with money upon it; and they always shoot at it on horseback and that riding in full speed.


    The king himself is sometimes pleased to make one, among the inhabitants, when they are at that sport, or sends some of his chiefest lords to do it; and commonly there are very considerable sums laid.  The money which falls down with the trencher belongs to the king’s foot-men and he who carries away the prize is obliged to make a feast for all the company; nay for the king himself if so be he hath shot among them.  They play there also at a certain game, which the Persians call Kuitskaukan, which is a kind of mall or cricket; but they play at this also on horse-back and strike the bowl to the end riding in full speed.  They also often exercise themselves at the tzirid, or javelin; there we have described elsewhere.  And in regard the Persians hath the best horses in the world, and that the Persians are very curious about them, they many times lay wagers on their swiftness, and ride them between the two pillars which are at both ends of the Maydan.  When the king is only a spectator of the sport, he sits in a little wooden lodge, called scanescin, which is at one of the Maydan, set on four wheels, for the more convenient removal of it from one place to the other.


    On the other side of the Maydan, over against the great mosque, are the wine taverns and other drinking-houses whereof we spoke before.  There are several kinds of them.  In the scire  chanes, they sell wine; but those who have the least tenderness for their reputation will not come into those places which are infamous and the common receptacles of a sort of people who divert themselves there with music and the dancing of some of their common drabs, who having, by their obscene gestures, excited the brutalities of the spectators, get them into some corner of the house or draw them along into some public places, where they permit the commission of these abominations as freely as they do that of ordinary sins.


    In the Tsia Chattai Chane, they drink thè, or tea, which the Persians call tzai, though the tzai, or the cha are probably but a kind of thè, and the chattai, in as much as it is brought them from chattai: we shall have occasion to speak more of it hereafter.  They are only persons of good repute who drink of this, and frequent these houses, where in the intervals of their drinking they spend the time at a certain game somewhat like our Tick-Tack, but they commonly play at chess, at which they are excellent and go beyond the Muscovites, whom I dare affirm to be the best gamesters at chess of any in Europe.  The Persians call this game Sedrentz, that is, Hundred-cares, in regard those who play at it are to apply all their thoughts thereto; and they are great lovers of it, inasmuch as from the word Shah, whence it hath its name, they would have it believed it is of their invention.  Some years since, there was published in Germany, a great volume, upon the game of chess, wherein the author, too easily crediting Olaus Magnus[12], would have it believed that the ancient Goths and Swedes put those to play at chess who were suitors to their daughters, that by their management of that game, which hath no dependence on fortune, they might discover the judgement and disposition of their pretend sons in law.  But these are only fables as is also what is related of one Elamaradab, King of Babylon.  The governor of this prince was so tyrannical, as the story at least would have it, that no body thinking it false, to represent to him the dangers whereto his cruelties exposed the state and his own person, one of the lords of his council, named Philomester, invented the game of chess, which instead of openly opposing the sentiments of the tyrant, discovered to him the duty of a prince towards his family and subjects, by showing him the removals of the several pieces, by the representation of two kings, encamped one against the other, with their queens, their officers and soldiers; and that this wrought a greater impression on the king than all the other remonstrance that could have been made to him.


    The Cahwa Chane are those places where they take tobacco, and drink of a certain black water, which they call cahwa [=coffee]: but we shall treat of both hereafter in this very book when we shall have occasion to speak of the Persians manner of life.  Their poets and historians are great frequenters of these places and contribute much to the divertisement of the company.  These are seated in a high chair in the midst of the hall, whence they entertain their auditors with speeches and tell them satirical stories, playing in the mean time with a little stick with the same gestures and after the same manner as those on who show tricks of legerdemain among us.


    Near these taverns of drinking-houses are the shops of surgeons and barbers, between which trades there is a great difference in Persia, as there is within these few years in France.  The former, whom they call tzerrach, only dress wounds and hurts; and the others, named dellak, only trim unless they sometimes are employed about circumcision.  These barbers are much taken up, for there is not a man but is shaved, as soon as any hair begins to appear; but there is not, on the other side, any who carries not this razor about him, for fear of getting the pox, which they are extremely afraid of, because it is very common among them and very contagious.


    As you go to the Maydan, on the same side and turning on the right hand, you come to the bazaar, or true market-place, and in the midst of the market-place [there is] the kaiserie, or kind of open cloister where are sold all the richest stuffs and commodities that the kingdom affords.  Over the gate of the structure, there is a striking clock made by an Englishman named Fesly, in the time of Shah Abbas: and in regard, that then there were few lords that had watches the Persians looked on the motions of that work as a thing miraculous and supernatural.  This English clock-maker had met with the same fate as Rodolf Stadler, and had been cut into pieces by the friends of a Persian, whom he had killed and the clock had been out of order ever since his death.[13]


    The Bazaar
    Source: Chardin

    This market-place consists of several streets, covered over head, and is so full of shops, and those shops so full of all sorts of merchandises, that there is nothing, though ever so rare in the world, which is not to be had here and at a very reasonable rate.  For indeed there is nothing dear at Isfahan but wood and provisions inasmuch as there is no forest near it nor meadows for the feeding of cattle.


    Of all the shops I saw at Isfahan, I was not pleased so much with any as that of a druggist who lived in the Maydan on the left hand as you go to the Metzid, by reason of the abundance of the rarest herbs, seeds, roots and minerals it was furnished with.  The root tzinae (not chinæ) which the Persians call bich tzini, and rhubarb, which they call rawentzini, and is brought thither from Chinæ, and great Tartary, were not worth here above three Abbas’s, or a crown the pound.


    There is not any nation in all Asia, not indeed almost of Europe, who sends not its merchants of Isfahan, whereof some sell by wholesale and other by retail by the pound and the ell[14].  There are ordinarily about twelve thousand Indians in the city, who have (most of them) their shops near those of the Persians in the Maydan, and their merchandises in the caravansaries, where they have their habitations and their store-houses.  Their stuffs are incomparably fairer and their commodities of greater value than those of Persia; inasmuch as, besides the musk and amber grease, they bring thither great quantities of pearls and diamonds.  I observed that most of these Indosthans [=Indians], had, upon the nose, a mark of saffron, about the breadth of a man’s finger; but I could never learn what that mystery signified.  They are all Mahumetans [=Muslims] of pagans: they burn the bodies of their deceased friends and kindred, and in that ceremony the use only the wood of the Mesch-Mesch, or apricot-tree.  But of these, a particular account will be given in the travels of Mandelslo into the Indies.  Besides these Indians, there is at Isfahan a great number of Tartars from the provinces of Khurasan, Chattai, and Bukhar; Turks, Jews, Armenians, Georgians, English, Dutch, French, Italians and Spaniards.


    The city is supplied with provisions out of the other provinces of the kingdom.  Out of that of Kirman, there are brought, in the winter time, fat sheep, and, in summer, lambs, which are sold, at Isfahan, at nine or ten Abbas’s a piece: for the very skin is worth five or six, upon the account of the fur, which is very precious there.  The province of Kilan [=Gilan] furnished it with rice; and those of Kendeman, Tasum, Ebarku, and Jeschi, though they lie at a great distance, with wheat and barley.  Wood and charcoal are sold here by the pound, the wood near half a penny, and the charcoal a penny a pound, in regard they are forced to bring it from Mazandaran and Jeilak-Perjan.

    [I have transposed a section on money to further down.]


    The great trade of the city of Isfahan hath obliged the king to build there a great number of caravansaries.  These are spacious store-houses, built four-square and enclosed of all sides with a high wall for the security of foreign merchants who have their lodgings in them, as also for that of the commodities they bring thither.  They are two or three stories high and have within, many conveniences, courts, chambers, halls, and galleries.


    Among other public structures, we may well take notice of the two monasteries of Italian and Spanish monks which are in the most northernly quarters of the city and about a thousand paces distant one from the other.  One is the convent of the Augustine monks whereof we have spoken before; but the other is inhabited by certain Carmelites, who are Italians, and though they were but ten in all, yet one may boldly affirm that those of this order have not another convent in any part of Europe.  Their prior’s name was F. Tinas, and he was, at our being there, very ancient, a good man, and of free disposition, as were also the other monks, who live among the infidels much more orderly than they do elsewhere.  We are obliged to acknowledge their civilities, especially those among us who having the advantage of the Latin tongue could converse with them.  We never visited them but they treated us with a collation and dismissed us extremely obliged to them for their kindness, as in other things, so particularly, in the instructions they gave us how we ought to behave ourselves during our abode in Persia.  They presented M. Hierome Imhof (a senator of Nuremberg, and one of the chief gentlemen belonging to the embassy, who is now in Germany, in a court much different from that of Shah Safi) with a very fair Italian and Persian lexicon which he promises to publish with the Latin, since by him added to the other two languages.  They did me, in particular, the favor, to afford me refuge in their convent, to protect me against the persecutions of the Ambassador Brugman, and to get my letters conveyed into Germany, with much safety and speed.[15]


    At the time of our being there they were also beginning to build a convent for certain French Caupcins, who had bought a place for that end within a quarter of a league of the monastery of the Augustines.  They were but three in all, who seemed to be very good people and had attained some learning.  They had finished the chapel and were then upon the dormitory, which had adjoining to it a kitchen-garden and a vineyard, with much likelihood they would not give over building with that.


    The Skull Tower
    Source: Sanson

    Between this last monastery and that of the Carmelites, are the king’s stables, near which there is a pretty high tower, which is all built of earth and the horns of stags and ahus.  They say that Shah Tamasp I [r. 1524-1576], having killed two thousand of those beasts at one hunting, employed their horns in that building in memory of so remarkable a defeat, and that he therewith made that tower which they call keleminar.


    The parts adjacent to the city, are not unsuitable to the sumptuousness of its structures, and the greatest of so famous a metropolis.  The king’s gardens, which they call Charar Bagh, is no doubt one of the noblest in all the world.  It is above half a league in a perfect square and the river Zayanda-rud, which hath spacious walks on both sides of it, divides it into a cross, so as that it seems to make four gardens of it.  At one of its extremities towards the south there is a little mountain divided into several alleys which have on both sides steep precipices, in regard that the river, which they have brought up to the top of the mountain, does thence continually fall down by channels into basins which are cut within the rock.  The channels were about three foot broad and were cut upon every side so as that the water falling directly down, and with a great noise into the basin, extremely delighted both the ear and the eyes.  No basin but the water fell into it and upon every alley there was a basin of white marble which forced the water into diverse figures.  All the water about the garden fell at last into a pond which in the midst of it cast up water forty foot high.  This pond had at the four corners of it so many larger pavilions whereof the apartments were gilt within and done with foliage, there being a passage from one to another by walks, planted with tzinnar trees, whereof there being millions, they made the place the most pleasant and delightful of any in the world.


    The fruit trees are not to be numbered, and there are of all sorts which Shah Abbas, who began this garden, had sent for not only out of all the provinces of the kingdom, but also out of Turkey and the Indies.  Here you have all sorts of apples, pears, almonds, apricots, peaches, pomegranates, citrons, oranges, chestnuts, walnuts, filberts, gooseberries, etc., besides a great many not known in Europe.  We saw there a kind of grape which they call hallague, of the bigness of a mans thumb, which had no stone [=seed], but the skin and meat firm and of admirable taste.  This garden is kept by ten master-gardeners who have each of them ten men to work under them; and there is this further convenience in it, that when the fruits are fit to eat, they permit any that have a mind to go into it and to eat what they please of the fruits, paying four kasbeki, or two pence a piece; but they are forbidden to carry any away.


    The city hath, on all sides, very large suburbs, which they call abath, whereof the fairest and most considerable is that which is called Julfa, wherein there are twelve churches and above three-thousand houses, equal in point of building to the best in the city.  The inhabitants of this quarter are Armenians, Christians, and most of them merchants and rich men, whom Shah Abbas brought out of great Armenia, and planted in this place.  They pay the king but two hundred tumans, by way of tribute, which amount to about thousand livers, which sum their daroga, who in our time, was called Chosrou Sulthan, and the Calanter, Seferas-beg, are obliged to bring into the king’s coffers.


    On the other side of the river Zayanda-rud, lies the suburbs of Tabrisabath, where live those who were translated thither out of the province of Tauristhan by Shah Abbas; upon which accompt, it is sometimes called Abbasabath.


    The suburbs of Hasenabath is the ordinary habitation of the Tzurtzi, that is to say the Georgians, who are also Christians, and most of them merchants and wealthy men, as the Armenians, as well by reason of the trade they drive within the kingdom, as in all other places abroad.  They delight much in making voyages, especially to the Indies and into Europe, insomuch that most of the merchants who come to Venice, Holland, and other places, and who are there called Armenians, are of this nation.  Not that the Christians, whether Armenians, Georgians, or others, are not permitted to live within the city; but their living in there remote quarters proceeds from the desire they have to settle themselves in a place where they might live quietly and enjoy the freedom of their conscience.  For the Persians do not only suffer them to inhabit any where, since they have a particular quarter assigned them within the city of Isfahan behind the Metzit Mehedi, in a place which they call Nessera; but they have also an affection for them, as well upon accompt of the advantage they make by trading with them and consequently the cultivation of vineyards.  But the Persians, who are so given to wine, that it were impossible they should forbear it, imagine they commit no great sin in the drinking of wine, though it be done even to excess, provided their vineyards are dressed by Christian.  The Armenians are expert enough at all things requisite to the ordering of the vines, but they understand nothing of the making or preserving of wine.  They are no lovers of white wine, insomuch that when it hath not stood long enough in the vat, or is not high colored enough to their fancy, they pour into it a little brazil-wood or saffron to heighten its color.  They do not keep it in buts or tuns, but either in great earthen pots or fill therewith the whole cellar without using any vessel at all.


    An Old Inhabitant of Persia
    Source: Herbert

    There is yet a noble part of the suburbs towards the west-side of the city, named Kebrabath, deriving its name from a certain people called Kebber, that is to say, infidels, from the Turkish work kiaphir, which signifies a renegat [renegade?].  I know not whether I may affirm they are originally Persians since they have nothing common with them but the language.  They are distinguished from the other Persians by their beards which they wear very big as also by their habit which is absolutely different from that of the others.  They wear over their waste-coats a cassock, or coat, which falls down to half the leg and is open at the neck and shoulders, where they tie it together with ribbons.  Their women cover not their faces, as those of the other Persians do, and they are seen in the streets and elsewhere, contrary to the custom of those who pretend to live civilly; yet have they a great reputation of being very chaste.


    I made it my business to inquire what religion these Kebbers are of, but all the accompt I could have of them was that they are a sort of pagan who have neither circumcision, nor baptism, nor priests, nor churches, nor any books of devotion or morality among them.  Some authors affirm that they have a certain veneration for the fire, as the ancient Persians had; but there is no such thing.  They believe indeed the immorality of the soul, and somewhat consonant to what the ancient Pagans writ of Hell and the Elysian fields.  For when any one of them dies they let a cock out of the house of the party deceased and follow him into the fields without the city, and if a fox take him by the way, they make no doubt but that his soul is saved; but if this experiment take not, they use another which in their opinion is more certain and infallible, which is this.  They put about the deceased person his best clothes, hang several gold chains and jewels about his neck, and rings, and whatsoever else he had of most value of that kind upon his fingers and in his hands, and so dressed he is brought to the churchyard, where they set him standing against the wall and keep him up in that posture by putting a fork under his chin.  If it happens that the crows or any other ravenous birds pick-out his right eye, he is looked upon as a saint, there’s no doubt of his salvation, the corps is buried with ceremonies and is very gently and orderly let down into the grave.  But if the said birds unfortunately make at the left eye, ‘tis an infallible argument of his damnation, they conceive a horror at him as a reprobate, and they cast him headlong into the grave.


    There are near and about Isfahan fourteen-hundred and sixty villages, the inhabitants where are all in a manner employed in the making of stuffs and tapestry, of wool, cotton, silk, and brocado.


    The fields about the city lie very low, and it seems nature was willing in that to show an effect of her providence, inasmuch as were it not for that convenience the country would not be habitable by reason of the excessive heats which reign there.  For the convenience they derive from this situation is this, that they can make the river Zayanda-rud overflow, when the summer heats have melted the snow on the neighboring mountains and draw it all over the fields.  Johannes de Persia says indeed that the river, falling again into its channel, leaves a slime behind which corrupts the air; but he is mistaken.  For it is certain that some provinces only excepted, which lie upon the Caspian sea, there is not any place in all Persia where the air is more healthy that at Isfahan.


    PERSIAN MONEY [transposed from pp. 299-300]

    Persian Coins
    Source: Tavernier

    The ordinary money of Persia is of silver and brass, very little of gold.  The Abbas, the garem-Abbas, or half-Abbas (which they commonly call Chodabende), the scahi, and bistri, are of silver.  The former were so called from Shah Abbas, by whose command they were first made, being in value about the third part of a rixdollar; so that they are about 18d. sterling [‘d.’ denoted British pence] though they do not amount by weight to above 15d.  Shah Chodabende gave his name to the half-Abbas.  The scahi are worth about the fourth part of an Abbas, and two bistri and a half make a scahi.  Shah Ismail had coined in his time a kind of money which was called Lari, and it was made after the manner of a thick Latin wire, flatted in the middle, to receive the impression of the characters, which showed the value of the piece.  The Persians call all sorts of copper or brass money, pul, but there is one particular kind thereof, which they call kasbeki, where of forty make an Abbas.  When they are to name great sums, they accompt by tumains [=tumans], each thereof is worth fifty Abbas.  Not that there is any piece of money amounting to that sum, but the term is only used for the convenience of accounting, as in Muscovy they account by rubles and in Flanders by thousands of livers.  They will receive from foreigners no other money than rixdollars, or Spanish ryals, which they immediately convert to Abbas, and gain a fourth part by the money.  The king of Persia farms out the mint to private persons, who gain most by it, and share stakes with the money-changers, whom the call xeraffi, who have their shops, or offices, in the Maydan, and are obliged to bring all foreign money to the public mint, which they call Serab-Chane.


    There is this remarkable as to the brass money, that every city hath its particular money and mark, which is changed every year, and that such money goes only in the place where it was made.  So that upon their first day of the year, which begins on the vernal equinox, all the brass money is cry’d down and the mark of it is changed.  The ordinary mark of it is a stag, a deer, a goat, a satyr, a fish, a serpent, or some such thing.  At the time of our travels, the kasbeki were marked at Isfahan with a lion, at Scamachie with a devil, at Kaschan with a cock, and in Gilan with a fish.  The king of Persia, on the one side, makes a great advantage by this brass money, inasmuch as he pays for a pound of this metal, but an Abbas, which amounts to about eighteen pence, and he hath made of it sixty four kasbeki; and on the other he, by this means, keeps the kingdom from being too full of uncurrent and cry’d down money.


    CLIMATE [pp. 303-304]

    True indeed it is, that the heats there are very great, especially in June and July, but the inhabitants are not much incommodated hereby.  For as in winter they have their tenuers [=stoves] against the cold, so in summer they have their vaulted apartments and their halls and galleries, with windows of all sides, that the wind and air may find their passage in to moderate their great heats.  And though it freezes there so little, that in a night’s time it does not make an ice as thick as a man’s finger, which thaws as soon as the sun appears over the horizon, yet have they a way to make the ice above two foot thick and to keep it to be used to cool their drinks in summer.  To do this, they make choice of a commodious place, that is cool, and towards the north, paved with free-stone or marble, but between, and with little descent, upon which they pour the water and as soon as that is congealed, they pour on more, and by this means in one night they make an ice a foot thick, which in the daytime they cover, that the sun may not shine upon it: and so continuing the exercise for two or three nights together, they provide ice enough to serve them all summer.  Having made as much as they desire, they break it in pieces and put it up into snow-houses, whereof there are so many at Isfahan that for two of three kasbekis, a man may have as much as will suffice him all summer.


    Persia, [which extends] from the 25 degree of the equator to the 37 northward from the equinoctial line, […] is seated in the temperate zone.  Mount Taurus divides it in the middle, almost as the Apennine does Italy, thrusting forth its branches here and there into several provinces, where they are called by other particular names.  The provinces, which have this mountain between them and the north, are very hot; but the others, which have it between them and the south, have a milder and more temperate air.  The kings of Persia heretofore took this convenience, to change the places of the habitations according to the seasons, passing away the summer at Ecbatane, which is not called Tabriz, having the mountain between it and the south-west, and by that means not so much exposed to the great heats; and the winter at Sufe, in the province which from that name is now called Sufistan, where the mountain not only keeps off the north wind from annoying the inhabitants, it also sends them heat by the reflection of the sun beams at noon and makes the place so delightful that is hath thence the name Sufe, that is, lily.  In spring and autumn they lived at Persepolis, or at Babylon.  The modern kings do still use the same convenience.  Shah Abbas lived in the winter at Ferabath in the province of Mazandaran, and Shah Safi sometimes at Tabriz, and sometimes at Ardebil, or Kazvin,  The city of Isfahan is the most commodious of any, as well for winter as summer, inasmuch as being seated in a great plain, at, in a manner, an equal distance of three leagues from the mountain, there is always some little wind stirring which cools the air and comes into all rooms.


    We had but too much experience of this change and the inconveniences ensuing thereupon, and found that the heats of the day and the cold of the nights of which Jacob made his complaints to Laban his father-in-law, are there equally insupportable.  For being forced to travel in the night and that during the hottest season of the year, we felt there a cold which deprived us of the use of our limbs and made us many times unable to get off our horses, especially when there was an east or north wind: whereas, on the contrary, the south wind sent us sometimes such hot blasts as were ready to choke us.


    From what we have now said, it may be deduced that all the provinces of Persia are not equally healthy, and that there are some where diseases are much more common than in others.  Those of Schirwan [=Shirvan] and Gilan are very much subject to fevers; but the air of the city of Tuaris is so good that a man hears no talk of that disease there.  Nay, on the contrary they say that those who are troubled therewith may find their remedy in that place, even without taking any physic.  Epidemical diseases, such as the bloody-flux [=dysentery] and the plague, are not so ordinary here as in Europe.  The pox, which is called Sehemet Kaschi, that is, the Disease of Kaschan, in regard it is more common there than elsewhere, or that there notice was first taken of it, (as it is called in France, the Neapolitan Disease, and in England and other places, the French, inasmuch as instead of going to Naples for it, where the French were infected in the time of Charles VIII [r.1483-1498], they may now have it as conveniently at Paris) is very common at that place.  ‘Tis true Kaschan is a place excellently well seated, but the air must be somewhat unwholesome, when they want fresh water thereabouts, and that it is here the tarantulas and the most dangerous scorpions of all Persia are most rife.  The dropsy is not very rare in the province of Gilan; but there are very few troubled with the stone in any part of the kingdom; and for the gout, it is a disease not yet known among them.  The inhabitants are long lived, it being an ordinary thing to see persons of a hundred years of age.  I knew a judge in the province of Serab, between Mokan and Ardebil, who was a hundred and thirty years of age; and the father of Hacwerdy, who went along with us into Holstein, was above six score.  Their temperance and sobriety contributes much to the good condition of the body, the continuance of their health, and length of their lives.


    SOIL & FARMING [pp.304-305]

    As to the soil of Persia, the province of Gilan excepted, which is very fertile, it is sandy and barren in the plains, every where in a manner of checkered with little red stones and not bringing forth ought but thistles and reeds, which they use for firing in their kitchen instead of wood, where there is not any.  The province of Gilan only hath nothing of this drought.  But in the uneven parts of the country, where the mountains make several valleys, the ground is very good.  Accordingly in these places it is that most of their villages are seated, inasmuch as they are very ingenious in conveying the water, which rises out of the mountains, by channels of about four foot in breadth which they use in their gardens and many times in tilled lands, to those places where it seldom rains.  To give the earth that moisture which Heaven hath denied it, they raise up the ends of their lands, which are about fifteen or twenty fathom square, a foot higher than any other part, into which they let in the water out of their channels over night and the next morning let it out again: so that the earth, which hath been thus moistened, receiving the sun beams almost perpendicularly, brings forth all sorts of fruits in great abundance.


    In the cultivation of their ground, they make use of ploughs, which are so big in those places, where the soil is strong and fat, as it is in Iruan and Armenia, that many times twenty or four and twenty buffaloes, or wild oxen, are hardly able to draw them and they require six men to drive them.  The furrows are a foot deep and two foot broad.  They ordinarily sow only rice, wheat, and barley.  They care not for rye, and when there chances to be any grains of it among the wheats, as this often degenerates into the other, they weed it out and cast it away.  Oats is a kind of grain not known among them.  They sow also millet, lentils, peas and beans.  [They] call the quiches, nagud, and the common peas, kulul.


    They sow also whole fields of ricinus [=castor-oil plant?], or palma christi, which they call kuntzut.  They beat the grain thereof. To get an oil out of it, which they call schirbach, and it is sweet and pleasant, and very good to eat.  The peasants also eat the grain; and mixing it with quiche and currens, they make their deserts of it.


    There is in a manner no province of Persia but brings forth cotton, which they call pambeb, and there are whole fields covered therewith, especially in Armenia, Iruan, Nachtzuan, Kerabath, near Arasbar, in Adirbeitzan, and in Khurasan.  It grows upon a bush, two or three foot high, having leaves like those of the vine, but much less, and shoots forth at the extremity of its branches a bud of about the bigness of a nut, which, when fully ripe, opens in several places and thrusts out the cotton through the clefts that are in the shell.  Though there be abundance of it spent in all sorts of stuffs made in the country; yet do they drive a vast trade with that which is unwrought. The province of Gilan brings forth also a kind of flax, the thread whereof is very good and fit for cloth.


    DOMESTIC ANIMALS [pp. 305-307]

    The domestic creatures, as well such as are used in carriage, as others, are sheep, goats, buffaloes, oxen and cows, camels, horses, mules, and asses.  The ordinary forage for horses is barley mixed with chaff, or rice mixed with shredded straw.  The Persians water not their horses till an hour and a half after they have eaten, contrary to the ordinary custom of the Turks, who water theirs immediately after they have given them their allowance.  There is in Persia a certain kind of herb, which they call Genscheht, which is sown much after the same manner as we sow Saint-John, once in seven years.  It grows up three foot high and brings forth blue flowers.  It is cut twice a year, and they are only persons of quality who give it to their horses.  There is very little common hay, unless it be in the province of Iruan, and Armenia.  In some provinces they do not make any at all, because there is grass enough all year long.


    Of all cattle, they have most sheep.  Of these they have very great flocks and it is their most ordinary food, though it be not of so pleasant a taste to those who are not accustomed thereto.  They are much of the same bulk with those of Europe, and sometimes a little bigger, but short and flat-nosed with the ears hanging down, as our spaniels.  They are but lean, in regard the tails, which weight ten, twenty, nay sometimes thirty pounds, draw all the fat out of them.  The tails have the bones and joints, as our sheep have, but the fat hangs to them in great gobbets like locks of wool, which much hinders them from running or leaping.  In Kurdesthan, near Diarbeker, and in Sirie, they have the invention of putting the tails of these creatures upon a kind of little cart with two wheels, which is fastened by a little stick to the necks of them.  The sheep we saw among the Tartars, upon the Caspian sea, are in all things like those of Paris; but those of the Tartars of Usbeque and Bukhar have a grayish long wool, curling at the end into little white and close knots like pearls, which makes a pretty show, whence it comes that their fleece is more esteemed than their flesh, inasmuch as this kind of fur is the most precious of any used in Persia, next to sables.  They are very tenderly kept, and for the most part in the shade, and when they are obliged to bring them abroad, they cover them as they do horses.  These sheep have as little tails as our.


    The Persians have also great flocks of goats, and they eat the flesh of them.  Of the suet they make candles; and it is of their skins that they make the leather which we call marroquin or Spanish leather, and is brought through Muscovy and Poland into the other provinces of Europe.


    They have an abundance of buffaloes, especially towards the Caspian Sea, in Forab, near Ardebil, in Eruan, and Surul where some peasants have five or six hundred of them.  They are kept in moist places, and they say their milk is very cooling, as is also the butter made thereof.  They have also oxen like those in Europe; but, in the province of Gilan, they have a bunch of fat upon the neck, as those of the Indies have.  I have been told, that the cows will not suffer themselves to be milked, if their calves be not brought before them so that is a calf chance to die, (for they never kill any to eat) they fill the skin with straw, cast a little salt upon it, and they let the cow lick it, by which means she stands quiet to be milked.


    The Persians have an aversion for swine; whence it comes that the Armenians themselves who live among them seldom breed any, unless it be in those places where they live apart, as in the suburbs of Julfa, where they have some few.  They conceive they have a very good reason to have an aversion for this creature, following the example of the Jews …


    [I have omitted a short tale concerning the aversion.]


    CAMELS, HORSES, MULES, ASSES [pp. 307-309]

    They have several sorts of camels.  Those which have two bunches they call bughur and those which have but one, schuttur.  Of these last there are four kinds, that is, those which by way of excellence they call ner, that is to say, the male, which is engendered of a dromedary, or camel, with two bunches and a female that hath but one, which is called maje, and these are not to be covered by any of another kind.  These are the best and most esteemed of all the camels, insomuch that some of them are sold at a hundred crowns apiece.  They carry nine-hundred or a thousand weight [=pounds?] and are in manner indefatigable.  When they are hot they eat little, foam at the mouth, are angry and bite, so that to prevent their doing any injury to those who govern them they have a kind of muzzle put over their mouths which the Persians call agrab.  The camels, which come of these, degenerate very much and are heavy and slow, whence the Turks call them jurda kaidem, and they are not worth above thirty or forty crowns.


    The third kind is that which they call lohk, but these are not so good as the bughurs, nor do they foam at the mouth as the ners when they are hot: but when they go to rut they put out under the throat a red bladder which they draw in with their breath, lift up their heads and snort often.  These are worth about sixty crowns apiece.  They are not near so strong as the others, whence it is that when Persians would speak of a stout and daring man, they say he is a ner and when they would express a poor-spirited and cowardly person they call him a lohk.


    The fourth kind is, by the Persians, called schutturi baad, and by the Turks,  jeldovesi, that is, wind-camels.  They are much less in bulk but more active and sprightly than the others: for whereas the ordinary camels go but a foot-pace, these trot and gallop as well as horses.


    The king and the khans have many teams of them, and every team consists in seven camels couples together.  They use them at magnificent ceremonies, either to meet ambassadors, covered with covering clothes of red velvet or pack-saddles made of the same stuff, embroidered with gold and silver, with silver bells about their necks, or to ride post, nay sometimes in the wars, in which they are thus much the more serviceable that, in a defeat, they contribute much to the saving of the baggage.  They trot so hard that the boy who guides them (and to that ends gets up first) is glad to be tied to the panel of saddle by the waist.  When they run, they put out their heads and open their nostrils and run with such violence that it is impossible to stay them.  At our entrance into Scamachie and Ardebil, we saw a great number of them galloping, sometimes before, sometimes behind us.


    This is one of the greatest conveniences that travelers meet with in Persia, as well for the carrying of their own persons, as the conveyance of their baggage and commodities which they may, by this means, transport from one place to another at a very easy rate and with little trouble.  One man guides a team, or as many as are fastened together, and if a  man thinks it not safe to travel alone, he may join with the caravans, which go perpetually up and down the country, and with these is the safest way of travelling.


    The travelling of the camels is at a certain rate, and therefor their stages being set, they find it no great trouble to make them reach their ordinary lodgings – which are either in villages upon the highway or at caravanseras, expressly built for the entertainment of the caravans.  Some of these caravanseras have persons in them, who are as it were hosts and sell provender, but in others you have only the bare walls.  It is not great charge to keep the camels.  Their sustenance is thistles and nettles, and sometimes they thrust down their throats a hard paste made of the chaff of barley, about three pound in weight, much after the fashion of the loaves which the French soldiers who serve in the low-countries corruptly call brindestocq.  Sometimes they put into this paste cotton seed, which is very sweet, and as big as a great pease.  They can endure thirst for two or three days together; wherein nature seems to have made some provision against the extremity men are put to, for want of water, when they travel over the deserts and heaths of those hot and dry countries.  They only touch the knees of their fore-legs to make them bow to receive their burdens, and being so laid with their bellies on the ground, they suffer a man to order them as he pleases.  The harmonious sound of a man’s voice or an instrument enlivens them; whence it comes that the Persians tie little bells about their knees and a pretty big one about their necks, not only by reason of the long trains of them that go together (it being necessary they should be heard at a great distance to give those notice who might unadvisedly come between them,) but also to divert these creatures in their travel through the deserts of their country, inasmuch as whipping or beating does not make them advance; but music, especially a man’s voice, animates and inspires them with a certain courage.  What most troubles the camel is a king of snail, called mohere, which sometimes lies within the thistles; if these sting them in the nostrils it proves mortal.


    The camels are very revengeful and remember a long time any injury they have received: insomuch that in Persia a camels anger is come into a proverb, when they would speak of an irreconcilable enmity.  As to this particular there is a very memorable example of a camel which being hot and having not the muzzle on, bit a servant who went along by him in the arm.  The servant gave him a many blows about the neck with a cudgel, which part is the tenderest about these creatures.   But the camel had a cruel revenge of him, ere they came to their journey’s end.  For some time after, being got loose in the night, he went among the servants who by reason of the cold lay near the camels that they might thrust their feet under their bellies, and having pitched upon the person that had beaten him, he trod on him so as that all his bones were crushed and broken.  The servant’s father demanded satisfaction and had the camel adjudged him to be disposed of as he pleased.  If anger proceed from choler as its principle, a man may justly wonder whence it comes that Pliny says that camels, horses, and asses have no gall.  Nor could I ever find any reason why the same Pliny should affirm, after Xenophone[16], that camels have an aversion for horses.  When I told the Persians of it, they laughed at me and said it that it was not without reason camels have an aversion for horses; when many times horses may get into the stables and have a house over their heads, whereas the camels, which cannot get in by reason of the lowness of the doors, are forced to lie abroad and to suffer the horses to take up their quarters.  And indeed there hardly goes any caravan but a man may see camels, horses, and asses put up together in the same stable, yet express not any aversion or animosity one against another.


    True indeed it is that the females go twelve months, but those are extremely misinformed who believe that the male, when he covers her, turns his hinder part to her.  This mistake took its rise hence, that the camels, when they make water [i.e, urinate], put their yards backwards between their hinder legs, but in the work of generation they use them otherwise.  The female lies down upon her belly and the male covers her after same manner as horses do.  And though this creature be of a great bulk, yet is not its generative member, which is as at least three foot in length and thicker than a man’s little finger.  This animal is seldom eaten, as being more serviceable in point of work; but when they fall under their burdens, or in case they be stung by one of the moheres, they kill them with two thrusts into the throat: one at the place where it joins to the head, the other towards the breast, and then they them.


    There are [an] abundance of horses in Persia, most of them well made.  They are very handsome about the head, neck, ears, crupper, and legs.  Media bred heretofore such excellent horses that they were all kept for the king.  The horses of those parts are at this time very good ones, and there are of an excellent breed in the province of Erscheck, near Ardebil; but it is with-all certain that the Arabian horses are incomparably better, and accordingly more esteemed by the king, who makes them the chiefest ornament of his stables.  Next [to] those, they most value those of Turkey, though the king hath good breeding places in several provinces of his kingdom, especially in Erscheck, Shirvan, Karabug, and Mokan, where is the best meadow-grounds in Persia.  They make use of them for the most part for men’s riding, very seldom for the carriage of commodities, and never almost in the cart, which, all over Persia, hath but two wheels.  And whereas the main forces of the kingdom consist in their cavalry, it thence comes that they are great lovers of horses and very tender in the keeping of them.  Yet with all this care, do they not make use of straw for litter, but of horse-dung, which they dry in the sun and make beds of it a foot deep for the horses, which could not lie more at their ease upon quilts.  This litter serves them a long time, and when it is moistened with stale they put it into the sun, dry it again, and so continue to make use of it.  With their soft beds they also cover them with a hair-cloth, lines with a king of soft coarse cloth.  They also fasten them by the hinder feet, to a stake, that, in case they should break of slip their halters, they may not get away, or hurt the other horses.  All the manage they bestow on them consists only in accustoming them to start away, as lightning, at the beginning of a race, and they call those horses which exceed in swiftness, bad-pay, that is, windy-heeled.  If their horses be white or gray, they color the main and the tail, and sometimes also the legs, with red or orange; wherein the Polanders and Tartars are wont to imitate them.  They do not in any thing make so great ostentation of their expense, as in what is employed about the harness of their horses, which they sometimes cover with plates of gold or silver and adorn the reigns, saddles and covering clothes with goldsmiths work and embroidery.  Yet is not this custom of so late a beginning, but that there may somewhat of this kind be observed out of the most ancient authors of the Greek history.


    They have also a great number of mules, which for the most part are used only for riding.  The king himself and the khans ordinarily ride upon these, and they stood us in good steed when all other kind of riding had been very troublesome to us in our sickness.  They yield as good rate as horses, so that a mule (though none of the best nor very handsome) is sold at least for a hundred crowns.  I was told there were some white ones, but they are very rare and highly valued; and I must confess, I never saw any.


    Asses are very common all over the East, but in Persia more than anywhere, and especially at Isfahan, where there is an infinite number of them, in regard they allow not carting within the city.  Those who drive them have at the end of their whip a great bodkin fastened with a chain, wherewith they make a noise and are perpetually pricking of this creature, which seems to be more cold and heavy in this country than anywhere else.


    FRUIT [pp. 309-313]

    The heats are so great in Persia, and the weather so constantly fair, and clear in the summer, that it is not to be much wondered they should have such good and excellent fruits.  As for those which are spent in the kitchen, they are there in great abundance, but incomparably better and more savory than in Europe.  Among others, the onions are so big in the province of Tarum, near Chalcal, that one of them will weigh three pound.  The cabbages are there curled, very tender, and of an excellent taste.


    Their most precious fruits are the melons, and as their care in the ordering of them is extraordinary, so they have every year great quantities of them.  They should sow them all only in good mold, yet are there not any but what are very excellent.  There are two sorts of them, to wit, those which they call kermek, from the word kerm, which signifies hot, in regard they are eaten in the summer, and they come betimes, and are fully ripe in June.  These are yellow as gold and the sweetest of any.  The other sort they call charbusei pasi, and they come not to perfect maturity till Autumn.  These are very big and weigh thirty, forty or fifty pound weight.  They are kept not only all the winter but even till there are new ones to be had, and this is done with such industry that to distinguish them from the new ones a man must put his finger to them and see whether the rind gives way; and by this means they are never without melons.  They have a way also to keep grapes by wrapping them up in green reeds and hanging them up to the roof of their chambers.  There is yet a  third sort of water-melons, which they call hinduane, in regard the first of them were brought out of the Indies, as we said elsewhere in the description of the city of Astrakhan, where we had some occasion to speak of this kind of fruit.  It is very big and yet the stalks of it are so small that the Persian poets use them in their inventions to make a comparison between them and the wall-nut tree, which being a great and lofty tree yet brings forth but a small fruit, to show that many times a person of mean birth may do very noble actions and that on the contrary a great prince may do things that are poor and unfruitable to his extraction.


    They have also several sorts of citrulls, or citrul-cucumbers, and among the rest one which they call kabach, and may be found among the herbalists under the name of cucurbita lagenaria.  They are about the bigness of a man’s head and sometimes bigger, and have a long neck.  They are eaten green and before they are come to their full maturity: for when they are ripe the rind dries and grows as hard as the bark of a tree or boiled leather, and the meat within is so consumed that there being nothing left but the seed, the Persians use them instead of flagons and make drinking cups of them.


    They have yet another kind of fruit not know in Europe which they call padintzan.  They are like little melons, or rather, cucumbers.  The fruit is green, save that at the end towards the stalk it is sometimes of a violet color.  The seed is round and long and of a pretty bigness.  This is not eaten raw because it is a little bitter; but being boiled or fried in butter it is a delicate dish.


    The climate of Persia is excellently good for the vine.  There is no province in the whole kingdom which doth not bring forth excellent grapes, but in regard the Mahumetan law forbids them the use of wine, they accordingly neglect the cultivation of the vine.


    [I have omitted a short fable concerning the reason why the Persians allegedly drink no wine.]


    The Persians in obedience to Muhammad’s command make no wine, but in regard they are great lovers of it, they do not only permit the Christians to make thereof, but indeed the chief reason why they permit the Armenians to live among them is that they may buy thereof of them.  They do not make it so well as it is done in Europe, and have not the ingenuity to put it into buys, but keep it in great earthen pitchers, each of which contains near half a barrel, as we said elsewhere.  The sedr, that is, the chief of the religion of the Persians, to express his zeal did sometimes order the pitchers of the Armenians to be broken.  The Persians are permitted to make a syrup of sweet wine which they boil till it be reduced to a sixth part and be grown as thick as oil.  They call this drug duschab, and when they would take of it they dissolve it with water and add thereto a little vinegar, all which together make a very pleasant drink.  The minatzim (or astrologer) of Schamachie gave me of it at a treatment he made for me at his own house.  In the more northerly provinces of Persia, where the wine is not very good, the in habitants disolve the duschab in the country wine whereto they by that means give both the color and taste of sack [?].


    Sometimes they boil the duschab so long that they reduce it into a paste for the convenience of travelers who cut it with a knife and disolve it in water.  At Tabriz they make a certain conserve of it which they call helwa, mixing therewith beaten almonds, flower, and peeled filberts or small nuts.  They put this mixture into a long and narrow bag, and having set it under the press, they make of it a paste which grows so hard that a man must have a hatchet to cut it.  They  make also a king of conserve of it, much like a pudding, which they call zutzuch, thrusting through the middle of it a small cotton thread to keep the paste together.


    There are some chemists who maintain that by the same reason, to prevent the charges arising upon the transportation of wine, it were possible to reduce five tons to one by causing sweet wine to be boiled away to the fifth part.  For as they say there is no likelihood the wine should lose out of its spirits before its hath wrought and is disposed into vessels, and that afterwards adding thereto as much fair water, out of which the superfluous humor hath evaporated, it might be restored to the same quantity and reduced to the same degree of goodness it had been of before.  But I am of opinion that if this were feasible the experiment had been long since tried, especially in France, instead of turning wine into aquavitae.


    There are two sorts of grapes in Persia, but the best and sweetest are at Shiraz and Tabriz; whence they bestow on the most delicate if them the name of taberschi.  This grape is long and hath no stone, and it may be kept all winter.  Those which they call keseki are yellowish and sweet, and grow in Tarum, at Tabriz, and at Ordebath: but of these a man must eat sparingly, for fear of a bloody-flux.


    The small grapes which we call currents are there yellowish and bigger than those with grow in the Isle of Zanthe.  They call them kischmisch, and the best of them grow at Bawanat near Herat.  Besides these, there are yet several other sorts of grapes not known in Europe, among the rest, those which they call hallague.  The grape itself is above an inch and a half thick, but the meat of it is hard, juice-less, and without stones, and they are kept all the year long: as also the enkuri alideresi, the bunch whereof is above a foot long and the grapes are about the bigness of a damson, of a dark red color, full of juice and very sweet; but they will not keep.  There does not grow any of these save one place, in the province of Iran, between Ordabath and Choddaserin.  They derive their name from the prophet Ali, who being one day in winter at that place, desired a vine-dresser whom he met to give him some grapes; whereto the other making answer that it were impossible to satisfy his desire in that season, Ali bid him go into the next vineyard and he should find some.  He went and according as he had said, found the fairest grapes he had ever seen; upon which occasion they are called enkuri Ali deresi, that is, the grapes of the little valley of Ali.


    There is not fruit-tree in Europe but is to be found in Persia; but besides those they have many not known to us; as a sort of pears which they call melletze, which grow near the city of Ordebath, about the bigness and much color of citrons.  The scent of them is very sweet and pleasant and they are very juicy, but not delightful to the taste.


    Pomegranate-trees, almond-trees, and fig-trees gown there without any ordering or cultivation, especially in the province of Gilan, where you have whole forests of them.  The wild Pomegranates, which you find almost everywhere, especially at Karabag, are sharp or sour.  They take out of them the seed, which the call nardan, wherewith they drive a great trade, and the Persians make use of it in their sauces whereto it gives a color and a piquant taste, having been steeped in water and strained through a cloth.  Sometimes they boil the juice of these pomegranates and keep it to give a color to the rice, which they serve up at their entertainments, and it gives it withal a taste which is not unpleasant.  The Persians use sharp sauces with most of their meat and thence it comes that among them you very seldom find any person troubled with the scurvy, which is a disease too well known and mortal in several provinces of Europe.


    I shall say nothing of those other fruits which we have also in Europe as of their narintz, or oranges; limec, citrons; meschemeschi, apricots; scafrals, peaches; etc., only thus much—that they are not equally good everywhere.  The best pomegranates grow in Jescht and at Kazvin, but the biggest in Karabag.  Isfahan is famous for its good melons; Kazvin for its peaches; Tabriz for its apricots; and the provinces of Gilan and Lahetzan for silks.


    The trees out of which they get this rich commodity may no doubt be very well numbered among the fruit-trees, not only in regard that it is true they bear fruit, but also upon this score: that the Persians everywhere fill their gardens with these plants.  They are white and black mulberry-trees which they plant so close one by another that a man can hardly pass between the trees, but they order them as bushes and suffer them not to grow about five foot and a half high, that they may easily reach to all the branches.

    [I have transposed a section on silk production to further down.]  

    We may put into the number of the fruits of this country, the neste, which is gotten out of several sources near Baku; as also the salt, which is drawn out of the salt-pits of Nachtsuan; but this is fairer and as clear as crystal in Kulb, Vrum, Kemre, Hemedan, Bisethun, Suldus, and Kilissim.  There are no other pits or mines where they work.  There are indeed certain forges at Masula, and Kientze, but the best iron comes from Masula, where it is so soft and tractable that it is malleable and yields to the hammer without hating.  There are gold and silver mines between Serab and Miane, but they cannot be wrought for want of wood, which is so scarce thereabouts that the advantage might be made of them would not defray the charges.  Between Pirmaras and Schamachie we saw a mountain of lapis specularis, which when the sun shone upon it looked like a heap of diamonds.

    SILK PRODUCTION [transposed from pp.312-313]

    In the spring, as soon as these trees begin to shoot forth their leaves, the Persians begin to hatch their silk-worms.  To do this they carry the see in a little bag under the arm pit where the heat of seven or eight days hatches them.  Then they put them into a wooden dish upon the mulberry- leaves, which they change at least once a day, having a great care that they be not wet.  At the end of five days they sleep three, and then they dispose them into rooms, or barns, kept very clean and prepared for that purpose, and in the province of Gilan they have particular buildings for that end.  Along the beams of these buildings they nail laths, or cleft pieces, such as hoops are made of, upon which they lay the mulberry branches with the leaves on, and put the worms upon them, every day changing these branches, and at least when they are grown pretty big, twice or thrice a day; and they so shut all overtures of the barns, which are covered with nets, that the very birds cannot get in to eat them.  In the mean time (and before they begin to spin) they sleep eight days more; but there must be a great care taken that women troubled with their monthly infirmity come not near them, inasmuch as it would kill them and as it were smother them in their own moisture.  After seven weeks life they begin to spin, which is known as well by their satiety, in regard they then give over eating as by the silk which comes out at their mouths.  They suffer them to work twelve days at their cod, and in the mean time they very carefully watch the place where they spin.  That time expired, they find as many cods as there had been worms, and they make choice of the biggest for the seed.  All the rest is cast into a kettle of boiling water, into which they ever and anon put a besom made for that purpose, whereto the silk sticks and they immediately wind it up, and what remains they cast away.  [It is] that which is kept in a temperate place till the year following.  In this commodity of silk consists the greatest trade of all Persia, nay in a manner of all the East, as it is in effect the most richest and most noble of any that is driven in Europe.


    THE PERSIANS' APPEARANCE [pp. 313-319]

    The Persians are of mean stature, Xenophone says, that they were most of them bulky and fat; and Marcellinus, on the contrary, affirms that in his time they were spare bodied and dry.  They are so now, but strong and have great limbs, their faces inclining to an olive color, black haired, and hawk-nosed.  The men are shaved once in eight days, contrary to the custom of the ancient Persians who suffered their hair to grow as do at present the Seid [=Sayyid], that is, the kindred of Muhammad, who, as they say, went so.  They also shave their beards, leaving only mustaches.  They are only a sort of Religious men, called Pyhr, who suffer their beards to grow upon their chins and about their cheeks.  These people are in great veneration among them, upon the accompt of their apparent sanctity, which principally consists in abstinence.  There are also those who never cut their mustaches, which by that means cover their mouths, and this they do in remembrance of their prophet Ali who wore them in that manner.  These last are called Sufi, and they say Ali wore his mustache so, for the following reason: that when Muhammad took that voyage to paradise, which the Quran speaks of (Azoara 27,) Ali followed him.  At first they made some difficulty at the gate to let him in, till such time as he told the porter that he was Schir Chodda, that is, God’s Lion.  Being got in he saw that the angels made Muhammad drink of a certain excellent wine, whereof he was so happy as to have one goblet presented to him, which he took off; but some drops of the divine draught sticking on his mustaches, he would never afterwards suffer them to be cut.


    The Persians have a great fancy to black hair and they bear with the flaxen-haired but not without some trouble; but before red-haired people they have a strong aversion.  They have so great an esteem for black hair that when it is not fully black they color it so.  To do that they make use of the herb and seed of wesme, which is brought from Baghdad and is somewhat like that which the herbarists call securidaca, which they beat very small with the rinds of pomegranates and mix therewith soap and arsenic.  They boil this composition in spring-water and rub their hair therewith, which they afterwards wash with a strong lye made with unflaked lime.  They make use of the water which issues out of the vines in the spring-time: the men rub their mustaches therewith, and maids their hair, which fall down over their shoulders tied up in several tresses—out of an opinion they all are of, that this makes them grow.


    They have also a custom of painting their hands and above all their nails with a red color, inclining to a yellowish or orange, much near the color that our tanners nails are of.  There are those who also paint their feet.  This is so necessary to ornament in their married women, that this kind of paint is brought up and distributed among those that are invited to their wedding dinners.  They therewith paint also the bodies of such as dye maids, that when they appear before the angels examinants, they may be found more neat and handsome.  This color is made of the herb which they call chinne, or sometimes only fair water; and therewith they color their hands.  And if they would have them to be of a darker color they rub them afterwards with wall-nut leaves.  This color will not be got off in fifteen days, though they wash their hands several times a day.


    Their cloths have no proportion to their limbs.  Their coats and upper garments are large and hang loose, not unlike the garments of women.  They express a certain effeminacy in their gate.  They go as it were jetting and waddling and with very little gravity.  I am of opinion that this scurvy habit is derived from their manner of sitting, which is, as our tailors do, whereto being accustomed from their infancy, they are not so strong in the hams as they would otherwise be.  Diodorus Siculus[17] ascribes the invention of this kind of garments to Semiramis, and tells the occasion of it as do also most of the other ancient authors.  The coiffure of the men, which they call mendils, and the Turks tulbans [turbans], is made of cotton cloth or some silk stuff that is very fine and of several colors, and being about eight or nine ells in length comes many times about their heads, having the folds slightly sowed or drawn with a gold thread.  Those of their priests and particularly of the Hafis is white as are also all their garments.  There are some [who] put to their mendils a tassel of silk, which hangs down their backs or over their shoulders, a quarter of an ell or better in length.  The Seid, that is, those who pretend to be of the posterity of Muhammad and assume the title of his successors, have their mendils of green silk.  Some Persians, even of the greatest of the kingdom, wear furred caps, the inside and outside being of Bukhar sheep skin, so as that the wool hands down from the edges the length of a man’s finger and is as soft as silk.  These caps are esteemed in Persia as the castors are in Europe, and are sold at ten or twelve crowns a piece.  They wear these about their heads in summer as well as winter, though a man might think that by reason of the extreme sultriness of the weather they should be very troublesome and incommodious.


    This custom of keeping their heads always very hot brings them to that tenderness that they dare not expose them to the cold, [nor] in calm weather.  To this purpose I conceive I may allege what Herodotus[18] says, to wit, that after a fight between the Persians and the Egyptians where there fell a great number of men on both sides, care was taken that the bodies of both parties were disposed into several places, and it was found sometime after that the skulls of the Persians were so thin and delicate that a man might thrusts his finger into them, and that on the contrary those of the Egyptians were so hard that they could not be broken with stones.  The reason he gives for it, is that he says the Egyptians who were accustomed from their infancy to go bare headed in the sun were by that means grown hard whereas the Persians having their heads always wrapped about were very tender in their skulls.  And indeed they never uncovered them, neither at their devotions nor when they salute other men, no not when they speak to their king: but when they salute any, they do it by a low inclination of the head and putting of their hand to their breast.


    Many of the Persians where red caps, whence the Turks take occasion to call them by way of derision Kisilbaschs [=Qizilbash], that is to say, red-heads.  Most authors who treat of the affairs of Persia write this word Cuselbas, Queselbach, or Querselbach; but the right name is Kisilbasch, as being compounded of the word kisil, which hath two different significations, to wit, that of red, and of gold, and basch, which signifies a head.  Pualus Jovius[19] in the thirteenth book of his Histories, and after him F. Bizarro in the tenth book of his History of Persia, affirm that Tesellis, disciple of Harduellis (otherwise named Eider) who as they say lived about the beginning of the sixteenth age, was the first who brought the Persians to wear red caps, to distinguish them from the Turks, at their separation from them in the business of religion.  But they are both mistaken: for the truth is that the Persians, when they broke communion with the Turks and made a particular sect of the Muhammad religion, by the advice of Schich-Safi, the author of their new opinions, immediately held that the first successors of Muhammad—Omar, Osman, and Abubekr—had usurped the succession to the prejudice of Ali’s right, and would have this last be accounted the prophet, and that his twelve successors (whom we shall name hereafter when we come to speak of the religion of the Persians) were canonized and put into the number of their Imams, or saints; that they were looked upon as having that quality, and that their ecclesiastics or religious men wore red caps made with twelve folds, in form much like the bottles used in Lanquedoc and Provence, which have great and flat bellies and very long and narrow necks.


    This difference in matter of religion occasioned a great war between the two nations wherein the Turks making advantage of their arms were very cruel towards the Persians, but especially the ecclesiastics by reason of the aversion which they had for that new religion.  And in regard their coiffure, or what they wore about their heads, distinguished them from the others, they left off their caps in several places of the kingdom and obliged the rest to follow their example. 

    this persecution lasted till Shah Ismael I, finding himself forced by the Turks to retreat into the province of Gilan and having some reason to fear that within a short time he might see the whole kingdom in the hands of the professed enemies of his religion, resolved to meet them and to put all to the hazard of a battle.  To this end he sent persons to represent to the provinces and the chief cities of the kingdom, the danger whereto the state, their liberties, and religion were exposed if they resolved not to make what opposition the could in that extremity against the Turk, sending them word that he would grant those who should serve him in person, in that conjuncture of affairs, a general and perpetual exemption, for them and their posterity.  By this means he got together an army of three-hundred thousand fighting men, wherewith he marched directly to Ardebil, as desirous to begin his exploits by a pious enterprise, in recovering the sepulchre of Schich-Safi out of the hands of the Turks, who were forced out of that city.  He was no sooner become master of it, but he confirmed all he had promised touching the exemption, and to the end those might be known who were to enjoy the benefit of it, he ordered the making of these red caps, which were done with twelve folds in remembrance of their twelve Imams.  But in regard the city was not able to find scarlet enough for so great a number of caps, a shoe-maker of Ardebil would needs make twelve of them of maroquin, or goat’s leather, of the same color, which Shah Ismael presented to the chief commanders of his army.  He ordered them to be red, to make a certain representation of the crown of Ali, whom the Persians give the quality of king, as well as of prophet, as they do these caps the name of tatsch, that is to say, a crown.  Whence it comes that the Persians are so far from taking it ill that they are called Kisilbaschs, that they think it an honor done them, though in effect only those of the posterity of Ali and these exempted persons wear red caps: the former having them covered with linen cloth, or some other king of stuff, and the other without anything at all about them.  The posterity of these exempted persons do still enjoy the privileges, and out of them is chosen the guard for the king’s person, as being looked upon as the Swizzers [=Swiss mercenaries?] are in the courts of diverse princes of Europe.


    Their ordinary habit are a kind of sleeveless coats of cotton or silk of several colors, which come down to the calves of their legs.  Those of cotton have flowers printed upon the cloth and are quilted as mattresses.  They draw the sides of them together under the left arm and gird themselves with a scarf about two ells in length called tzarkefi, which comes several times about the body.  The richer sort have upon this another rich scarf which they call schal, made of a very fine stuff brought by the Indians into Persia: for their silk being much fairer and their colors more lively and finer than those of Persia, their stuffs are accordingly more highly esteemed.


    When the mollas, or priests, come before the medere, they take off that rich scarf to express their humility.  The other Persians wear in it a poniard, their knives, their handkerchiefs, and their money; and those whose profession it is to write for others carry in them their ink-horns, a pen- knife, and a little whetstone, letters, and all that the Muscovites are wont to thrust into their boots or buskins which serve them instead of pockets.  Persons of quality and the king himself wear over this coat a kind of rochet without sleeves, which reaches but to the waste, bordered with sables.  When they go abroad (whether afoot or on horse-back) they cast over these a silk garment of diverse colors, or wrought with gold flowers, which they call jakub cahni, from a king of that name who was the first that ever wore them in Persia.  Their breeches are of cotton, made after the fashion of drawers; accordingly they wear them under their shirts and they reach down to their feet.  Their shirts are of cotton cloth, and for the most part streaked with red.  Their stockings are of woolen cloth, unhandsomely cut out, without any shape or any proportion to the leg.  They wear them very wide and commonly they are made of green cloth; a color which is abhorred by the Turks.  This is indeed one of the chiefest differences of their religion, upon this accompt: that Muhammad having worn a green cap, the Persians—the more to dishonor that color—put their feet into that which their great Prophet wore about his head.  Their shoes, which they call kefs, are very picked at the toe and very low quartered, so as that they put them off and on with as much ease as we do our slippers.  Which convenience they the more stand in need of, in regard they put them off in the antechamber, at their own houses as well as when they visit their friends, either upon business or otherwise.  To this purpose I remember that one day going to the khan of Scamachie, about the time he gives audience for the administration of justice, we found in the antechamber more shoes than the richest shoe-maker thereabouts had in his shop, and standing by them, one I may call the shoe-keeper, who with a forked stick gave those their shoes who went out.


    The women wear much finer stuffs than the men do and have not anything to tie about the waist but their drawers and shirts of men.  Their stockings are ordinarily of red or green velvet and they have little or no ornament about their head but suffer their hair to hang down negligently in several tresses, down the back and about the shoulders.  All the ornament they have about their heads consists in two or three rows of pearls which they do not wear about their necks (as women do elsewhere) but about the head, being set over the fore-head and falling down along the cheeks to be fastened under the chin so as that their faces seemed to be set in pearls.  Which may give a little light to that expression in the Canticles, “Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels.”  Young maids sometimes wear rings with precious stones in them, in their right nostril as the Tartarian women do.  They also wear of them on their fingers and about their arms, and they have bracelets of silver plates.  But the Muhammadan law allows not the men to wear gold rings.  Whence it came that when our ambassadors presented Saru Taggi, Chancellor of Persia, with a very fair diamond ring, he had the stone taken off the collar and put into silver, and so presented it to the king.  The women do not uncover their faces as they go about the city, but have over them a white veil which reaches down below their knees, which they open a little to see their way.  The Persians make an emblem of it to signify that many times in a handsome body a wicked soul may be lodged, and that under a fair appearance of good life a great number of enormous vices may find shelter; as that veil does often times, under very rich clothes, hide very ugly women.

    Source: Sanson
    Persian Women
    Source: Herbert


    The Persians are very neat, as well in their rooms and furniture of them, as in their habit; wherein they would not have so much as a spot to be seen: insomuch that those who are of ability to do it, change them as soon as they are ever so little stained, and others, who are not much before hand with the world, have them washed once a week.  Which is very much contrary to the humor of the Muscovites, among whom a man seldom see any clothes but what are full of nastiness and shine with grease.  Nay it is certain that the stables and other such houses of the Persians are kept much neater than the stoves and lodging chambers of the Muscovites.


    The Persians are of a ready wit and sound judgement.  They apply themselves to studies and are very excellent in poesy.  Their inventions are rich and their fancies subtle and strong.  They are so far from being any way vain-glorious that they slight no man, but on the contrary they are complaisant, and of taking conversation very civil and obliging among themselves, but especially to strangers.  The submissions wherewith they express themselves in their complements, exceed any thing they do in that kind in France.  A Persian, to invite his friend to come into his house, and proffer him his service, delivers himself in these terms: “Let me entreat you to make my house noble by your presence; I sacrifice myself to your commands; I lie prostrate at your feet; to serve you, I wish the apple of my eye might help to pave your way,” etc., but for the most part these are indeed but complements.  This puts me in mind of a Persian who coming to our physician to acquaint him with a pain he had in his side, told him that if he cold cure him he would give him his head; whereupon it being represented to him that he should not be so much troubled at the want of health, who was so prodigal of his life, he made answer that he meant otherwise, but that it was their manner of speaking.


    The Persians have ever the reputation of not being over-careful to speak the truth, and even to this day those who would speak it at all times must pass, in their accompt, for people a little troubled with simplicity.  Whence it comes that no man thinks himself injured when they say to him, drugh mikui, or in the Turkish language, galan diersen, that is, “thou hast told an untruth”, and the word galantsi, which signifies a liar, is accounted a drollish expression, though Herodotus says it was a vice the ancient Persians hates most of any, and that they made it their main business to bring up their young men to ride and shoot well and to speak the truth.


    They are very faithful in observing the particular friendships they contract together, and they enter into fraternities among themselves which last as long as they live, nay they are so exact in the improving of these that they present them before all obligations of either blood or birth.  In Germany there is no reckoning paid, but those drunken persons who club to it make some fraternity; yet is not the friendship contracted thereby ever the greater in regard there cannot really be any between such as are incapable of it: but in Persia it is far otherwise.  It is their custom to make every year a great feast whereat all the men between whom there is any thing of kindred and some other friends, meet together, and if at that assembly there be any persons who out of a reciprocal and particular affection are desirous to enter into a more close and constant friendship, they address themselves to some one of the company whom they take by the border of his garment, and having told that they make choice of him for their babba, father or godfather, which the other cannot deny, they go all three together to their caliph, (there being no family but hath its own,) kiss his hand and crave his benediction.  To receive which they lie down upon their bellies, first the godfather and afterwards the brethren, at the caliph’s feet, who gives each of them three strokes with a wand upon the back, pronouncing at the first stroke the word Allah, at the second that of Muhammad, and at the third that of Ali.  That done, they kiss the wand and with this ceremony the fraternity is established.  And this kind of alliance is so sacred, according to their opinion of it, that they affirm there is no other sin but may be pardoned; that sacrilege and idolatry are not irremissible and that a man may hope for a pardon, if he hath drunk wine, nay in case he hath abused an abdalla; but that the privileges of this kind of fraternity cannot be violated, and the offence not be punished.  And if it happen that two of these brethren fall out, they are to be reconciled at the next assembly, where the reconciliation is perfected.  The Persians are of a good nature and very sensible of any kindness done them; but where they hate, they are irreconcilable.  They are courageous and good soldiers, going cheerfully upon any design or engagement though never so dangerous.


    They are also modest and very reserved; whence it comes they never make water [i.e., urinate] standing, but squat down as women do, and when they [are] done [they] wash themselves.  It is upon this accompt that at weddings and other great assemblies, they have in some by-places, several earthen pots full of water.  If they be near a brook or river, they will be sure to make water in it, whence the Turks by derision call them cher scalxi, that is, the king’s of Ali’s asses, in regard asses never go through water but they piss like dogs, against a wall.  Certain it is that persons of quality in Turkey observe, in this particular, the custom of the Persians, and both nations take a great care when they either make water or ease nature otherwise, not to turn their faces or their backs towards the south, in regard than when they say their prayers they look that way.


    THE PERSIANS' VICES [pp. 319-320]

    But it is also true that this modesty is only as to the external part and that otherwise they are more luxurious than any other nation in the world.  For not thinking it enough to marry several wives and besides them to have a great number of concubines, they have a kindness left for common whores.  Accordingly there is no city, Ardebil only excepted, where there are not public places appointed for that sport under the protection of the magistrate.  During our abode at Scamachie, one of our soldiers having had his pleasure of a woman, got away without paying her.  She made her complaints to the khan, who sent to the ambassadors to entreat them to take some course that she might be satisfied, sending them word that it was but reasonable that the kahbe, who pay the king a great tribute, should be also paid the salary due to them at their great feasts; and this custom is so ancient that Herodotus speaks of it when he says that the ambassadors of the Persians told Amintas, King of Macedon, that it was their custom when they entertained their friends to give them also the divertissements of women.  He brought into the place where there were men in women’s clothes, who killed the ambassadors.


    The king himself maintains a great number of these women at this own charge, and makes it his divertisement at meals to see them dancing and showing all manner of postures before him: so that those who are desirous to take up that profession must not only be handsome, but also pleasant and active.  The king takes them along with him into the country, nay into the army, after the example of the ancient kings of Persia and particularly that of Darius, who as Q. Curtius[20] affirms, had in his retinue three-hundred and sixty concubines, all very sumptuously clothed.


    Sodomy is no extraordinary sin among them, nor is it punished as a crime.  Saru Taggi (who was chancellor of Persia at the time of our travels) was not punished for his sodomy, but for the violence he had done in the commission of it.  The king himself was given to this vice, and so far from punishing it in another, as we were told, in the year 1634 Shah Safi being at the siege of Eruan, one of the colonels, who was got drunk at the king’s quarters, would at his return to his own, in the heat of his wine, have forced a young lad that served him and had often before refused to hearken to his lewd addresses.  The boy, to prevent the violence which he now saw was unavoidable, laid hold on the poniard which his master whore at this girdle, and therewith ran him into the heart.  The next day, the king missing the colonel, asked what was become of him.  Somebody told him he had been killed by one of his domestics and gave him an account how it had been done.  The boy was brought before him, who very ingenuously confessed what had passed between his master and him, and avowed that the horror he conceived at that sin had made him take that resolution.  The king was so incensed that the commanded him to be cast to the dogs, to be torn to pieces by them.  The two first that were brought would not meddle with him, but afterwards they got two English Mastiffs, which upon the first setting on tore him to pieces.


    The Muhammadan Law allows them to be luxurious, not only by permitting polygamy, but also those other carnal enjoyments, wherein the chiefest part of the beatitude consists, even that which the Muslims of that religion expect after this life; it being their persuasion that in their celestial paradise they shall not only have the same lawful wives they had in this world, but that they shall also have as many concubines and servants as they please, and enjoy all other women as often as they have a mind to it.


    They use all imaginable inventions to stir themselves up to lust, and to this end have they at all meetings, whether at common tippling houses or elsewhere, men and women dancers who provoke them to brutality by their obscene postures.  They use also the seed and leaves of hemp to revive languishing nature, though our naturalists assign it a cold quality, which weakens and corrupts nature.  I cannot imagine how this can add any fuel to their lustful inclinations, unless it be that the ventous humor of it be also expulsive, or that in these hot countries it hath other qualities than it hath in Europe.  To prepare this drug, they gather the leaves before they come to seed, dry them in the shade, beat them to powder, which they mix with honey, and make pills thereof about the bigness of a pigeons egg.  They take two or three of them at a time to fortify nature.  As to the seed, they fry it, put a little salt thereto and eat it by way of desert.  Imanculi, who was sent ambassador from the king of Persia to the duke of Holstein, took of it at every meal, after he had married a young woman at Astrakhan, he himself being seventy years of age.  Persons of good repute in Persia will not eat of it, for they say that he who makes use of this remedy commits a greater sin than he that had ravished his own mother upon Muhammad’s sepulchre.  They call those who use it, Bengi kendi bengi.  But when all is done, the Persians think they have sufficiently expiated the sin of fornication, when immediately after they have had their pleasure of a woman, they either wash themselves or wash their bodies all over with cold water.


    FOOD AND DRINK [pp. 320-321]

    The charges the Persians are at in house-keeping, as to the kitchen and the cellar, amounts to very little, unless it be in those families where there are many women, who inflame the bill very much.  The cotton-cloth which makes most of their clothing is very cheap there.  Their houses are but poorly furnished and they think they have to spare when the floor of their lodging room is covered with tapestry, and all the provision they make for the whole year is only rice.  Flesh is not dear, save only at those places where the great numbers of inhabitants makes all provisions scarce, in regard they are for the most part brought out of remote provinces.  The garden supplies them with a desert, and the next brook serves them for a cellar.  They are very neat about their rooms and they suffer not dogs (which out of some other respects they hold to be unclean creatures) or any other animals to come into them.  And whereas they have this inconvenience at meals that they use not trenches, they use a sort of pots, which they call tustahn, about the bigness of our chamber-pots, setting one of them between every two persons; and into these they spit and cast the bones and parings of fruits.  We have said elsewhere that they have their tenuers, or stoves, to keep them warm and to spare wood as much as may be, nay some make a shift to roast and boil their meat with them.


    In the kitchen they have kettles and pots of brass or of copper tinned over which are commonly fastened to the hearth, as also earthen pots.  In many provinces they are pretty well stored with wood; but there are others where they have only loppings and many times they are forced to warm themselves with cow or camel’s dung dried in the sun.  Their dishes are of copper but so handsomely made and so well tinned over that silver plate cannot look better.  Some have porcelain and the country people are glad of earthen ware.  As to their meat, they do not care for much, as being satisfied with very little.  Which is contrary to what Bizarrus relates of them, to wit, that butchers meat is dear in Persia by reason of the gluttony of the inhabitants, which as he affirms is so great that aged persons there make four meals a day and consequently, with much more reason, the younger sort of people.  Nor does this agree with the accounts the ancients give of them, who generally affirm that the Persians were very temperate and contended themselves with little meat, but they loved fruits.  Accordingly, during the abode we made in Persia, I observed that one of their chief virtues was temperance, and that the Persians seldom eat flesh above once a day and that if they make another meal besides, it consists for the most part of butter, cheese and fruits, though I must confess there are some who make two set meals.


    There is not anything more ordinary in Persia than rice soaked in water.  They call it plau and eat of it at all their meals and serve it up in all their dishes, especially under boiled mutton.  They sometimes put thereto a little of the juice of pomegranates or cherries and saffron, insomuch that commonly you have rice or several colors in the same dish.  They serve it up also white and green, but they do not much care for the red.  They do not want small birds and they have all sorts of fowl in abundance, turkeys only excepted, which are so scarce in this country that a Georgian merchant having brought thither some of them from Venice, in the time of Shah Abbas, he sold them at a tuman, that is, near five pound sterl. a piece.  Partridges and pheasants are common and at those places where they are to be had, they may be bought cheap enough.


    Though rice serves them instead of bread, yet do they make some, or several sorts, of wheat also.  The komatsch are three fingers thick and a foot and a half in length.  The lawasch are round and about the thickness of a man’s finger.  The peasekessche are half an ell and they are baked in their houses over the tenuers, on which they are set, and with the five fingers of the hand they make them as many horns, whence they have their name.  The sengek are made upon the pebbles, wherewith some of their ovens are covered so that this  kind of bread or cakes is uneven and full or pits.  The jaucha is like wafers and as thin as parchment, but in length and breadth they are half an ell or better.  The Persians use them instead of napkins to wipe their fingers wherewith they take up the rice and pull their meat to pieces; for you shall seldom see them use any knives.  When they have put the jauchas to this use, they tear them into bits, put a little rice or a morsel of flesh into one of them, and so swallow it down or haply eat them without anything with them.  All their spoons, even the king’s, are of wood, made oval-wise at the end of a very small handle, but a foot and a half in length.


    Their ordinary drink (especially that of the meanest sort of people) is water, into which they sometimes put a little duschab and some vinegar.  For though wine be cheap enough there, especially in the provinces of Iraq, Aderbeit-zan, and Shiruan, where the measure (which they call lullein and which contains near an English pottle [=two quarts],) costs but six pence.  Yet are there many who make a difficulty to drink thereof because the use of it is forbidden by their law, especially the Hatzi [=hajji], who are such as have gone on pilgrimage to Mecca, to Muhammad’s sepulchre[21], and are to forbear it all their lives after, out of a persuasion they are of, that all their merits would be effaced by so enormous a sin.  But such as are lovers of wine, and the common prostitutes who have for the most part contracted a necessary habit of sinning, drink of it without any scruple, out of a presumption that that sin will be pardoned them with the rest, provided they do not make the wine themselves.  Whence it comes they make no great entertainment but they drink very freely of it.  After meal, there is warm water brought in for the washing of their hands.


    OPIUM, TOBACCO, COFFEE AND TEA [pp. 321-324]

    Opium, which they call offioun and teriak, is commonly used among the Persians. They make pills of it of the bigness of a pea and take two or three of them at a time.  Those who are accustomed thereto will take about an ounce at a time.  There are some who take of it only in two or three days, which makes them sleepy and a little disturbs their brains, so as that they are as if they were a little entered in drink.  There is abundance of it make in Persia, especially at Isfahan, and it is thus ordered.  The poppy being yet green they cleave the head of it out of which there comes a white liquor, which being exposed to the air grows black and their apothecaries and druggists trade very much in it.  All over the east they use this drug, the Turks and Indians as well as the Persians, insomuch that Belon[22] says in his Observations that if a Turk hath but a penny he will spend a farthing of it in opium; that he saw above fifty camels loaden with it going from Natolia [=Anatolia?] to Turkey, Persia and the Indies, and that a janissary [=Ottoman soldier], who had taken a whole ounce of it one day, took the next day two and was never the worse for it save that it wrought the same effect in him as wine does in such as take too much of it, and that he staggered a little.  It hath also this quality common with wine: that it does infuse courage into those who have not much; whence it comes that the Turks take of it before they go upon any design.  The women do not ordinarily take any; but those who are not able to bear with their untoward and imperious husbands and prefer death before the slavery they live in, do sometimes make use of opium, whereof they take a good quantity and drinking cold water upon it, they, by a gentle and insensible death, depart this world.


    Source: Chardin

    There is hardly any Persian what condition or quality so ever he be of but takes tobacco.  This they do in any place whatsoever, even in their mosques.  There grows abundance of it near Baghdad and in Kurdesthan, but they have not the art to cure it as it ought to be, thinking it enough to let it dry as they do other leaves and medicinal herbs.  There are whole shops full of it at Isfahan being put up in bags where it is reduced in a manner to powder and is at least as small as senna.  They highly esteem that which is brought them out of Europe, and call it Inglis tambaku, because the English are they who bring the most of it thither.  They are so great lovers of it that when I gave a piece thereof to a master who taught me the Arabian language at Scamachie, he took it for an extraordinary kindness.  To take it with any delight they make use of a glass flagon, and earthen pitcher, a cocos, or Indian nut-shell, or a kaback, which is the rind of a certain sort of citrall, or cucumber, which they full half fill of water or little more and sometimes put a little perfumed waters into it.  Into this water they put a little hollow reed, having at the end of it a bole wherein they put the tobacco with a little coal, and with another pipe about an ell long which they have in their mouths, they draw through the water the smoke of the tobacco, which leaving in the water all its soot and blackness is incomparably more pleasant in this way than as we take it.  Those who have not all these convenience are glad to take it our way; but their pipes, which have boles or heads of earth or stone, are of wood and much longer than ours.


    They drink with their tobacco a certain black water which they call cahwa [coffee] made of a fruit brought out of Egypt and which is in color like ordinary wheat, and in taste like Turkish wheat, and is of the bigness of a little bean.  They fry (or rather burn) it in an iron pan without any liquor, beat it to powder, and boiling with fair water, they make this drink thereof which hath as it were the taste of a burnt crust and is not pleasant to the palate.  It hath a cooling quality and the Persians think it allays the natural heat.  Whence it comes that they often drink of it inasmuch as they would avoid the charge of having many children, nay they are so far from dissembling the fear they have thereof that some of them have come to our physician for remedies of that kind.  But he being a merry disposed person made answer that he would rather help them to get children than give them ought to prevent the getting of them.  I say the Persians are persuaded this water is able absolutely to smother all natural heat and to take away the power of engendering; and to this purpose they tell a story …


    [I have omitted the story.]


    We said before that the Persians are great frequenters of the taverns or tippling-houses which they call tzai chattai chane, in regard there they may have thè, or cha, which the Usbeque Tartars bring thither from Chattai.  It is an herb which hath long an narrow leaves about an inch in length and half an inch in breadth.  In order to the keeping and transportation of it, they dry it so as that it turns to a dark gray color, inclining to black and so shriveled up that it seems not to be what it really is; but as soon as it is put into warm water it spreads and reassumes its former green color.  The Persians boil it till the water hath got a bitterish taste and a blackish color and add thereto fennel, aniseed, or cloves, and sugar.  But the Indians only put it into seething water and have for that purpose either brass or earthen pots very handsomely made which are put to no other use.  They drink it so hot that they are not able to hold their dishes (which are of porcelain or silver) in their hands: whence it comes that they have found out a way of making them of wood or canes done over with a plate of copper or silver gilt and sometimes of gold, so as that the heat not being able to penetrate them, they may hold them in their hands even though the water were boiling.  The Persians, Indians, Chinese, and Japanese assign thereto such extraordinary qualities, that imagining it alone able to keep a man in constant health, they are sure to treat such  as come to visit them with this drink at all hours.  The quality it is, by experience, found to have, is that it is astringent and that it consumes superfluous humors which incommode the brain and provoke drowsiness.  They who have written of the affairs of the Indies, as Maffaus, Linschooten, Trigault[23] and others, tell miracles of it; but this herb is now so well known in most parts of Europe, where many persons of quality use it with good success, Dr. Tulp, a physician of Amsterdam, hath very strictly examined in the last chapter of the fourth book of his Medical Observations.[24]



    The Persians live either on the fruits which their gardens bring forth or by the advantage they make by tilling the ground.  Some live by traffic, other by their trades; some to the wars, and there are those who get their livelihood by writing.  For since printing is not yet used among the them and that they stand in need of many copies of the Quran, they have them done by a form of people who do not only get a livelihood thereby, but grow very rich inasmuch as a copy of it well written will yield eighteen or twenty crowns.  Whence it comes that there is no man that hath children but he teaches them to write, and yet there are an infinite number of men in Persia who live only by writing.


    It is pleasant sight, as a man passes over the Maydan or through the bazaar to see the tradesmen of all professions in their shops where they sell what they had made at their houses; for it is very seldom distance from the place where he lives, and confined to certain parts of the market-place where every trade hath its distinct quarter only for the selling of commodities.  The most common professions are weavers, dyers, and painters who paint flowers upon the stuffs of silk and cotton and sometimes even upon brocade.  The ordinary length of their pieces of stuffs is not above five or six ells, it being as much as needs for a garment according to their fashion.  The fairest stuffs, as well for painting, as workmanship, are made at Jescht and Kaschan, where they represent upon silk and cotton the figures of persons, and particularly writing and the characters of their language so exactly done that no painter can do things with such life and art.  Using only what they spend themselves in clothes, they trade with the rest into other parts with great profit as they do also with unwrought cotton and raw silk, whereof there are great quantities  brought into Europe through the Indies.  As for the silk, it is worth in Persia not above 2s. 6d. or 2s. 8d. the pound.  Their ordinary weight is the badman, which is not the same in all places; inasmuch as at Tabriz it weights but six pound; in Gilan, where they make use of the Shah badman, it is twelve; and at Scamachie and Karabath it is sixteen pounds.  It is conceived that Persia produces every year, one with another, ten thousand somms, or twenty thousand bales of silk, every bale weighing two hundred and sixteen pounds.  The province of Gilan itself, in good years, yields eight thousand; Schiruan [=Shirvan] three thousand; Khurasan as many; Mesanderan two thousand; Karabath two thousand.  In which accompt we do not comprehend what Georgia, which is richer in silk than any other province, produces within itself.  They say that all Persia does not spend above a thousand bales of silk and that the rest is sold into Turkey, the Indies, Italy, and to the English and Dutch, who trade at Ormus, and who bring thither tin, copper, English and Dutch cloth, nay some clothes made at Berry (in France) and Saux, which the Persians who are not good a the ordering of woolen stuffs, do so highly esteem that ordinary cloth is sold there at 20 or 24 crowns the yard.


    The Armenian merchants, who are Christians, are the richest of any, by reason of the pains they take in making voyages themselves which is more than the other Persians do; though both have an absolute freedom to traffic where they please themselves, as foreigners have the liberty to come into Persia and put off their commodities there, paying custom; contrary to what is observed in Muscovy—where the subjects cannot go out of the kingdom without the Tzar’s express permission.  There is also this particular advantage in Persia, as well as Turkey, that the wars do not obstruct their commerce, the caravans and other merchants having the same freedom to go to and fro, in the time of war, as they have in peace, inasmuch as both those princes are equally concerned to improve the advantages they make thereby.  The commerce of the Persians would be incomparably greater than it is, if they could make their benefit of that which the sea affords them and if navigation were as well settled there as it is in Europe.


    The wars which the king of Persia is obliged to carry on sometimes against the Turk, sometimes against the Mogul and the Usbeque Tartars, make him stand in need of a great number of soldiers.  Those who are entertained into his service have a settled pay at all times, as we shall have occasion to speak more fully to anon.


    MARRIAGE AND POLYGAMY [pp. 325-330]

    Having spoken of the shops, the cellars and the kitchens of the Persians, I must not forget their chambers and what belongs to them, nor yet their marriages.  A Persian who thinks himself able to maintain several wives will seldom be content with one.  Polygamy is an old evil, deeply rooted in them.  Strabo[25] is of the opinion that they took several wives because they would have many children and to get the reward which their kings gave those who had many children.  What they do now is purely upon the accompt of pleasure, that their enjoyments may be heightened by the variety.  To this purpose they have a proverb which says that to have a perpetual spring, a man must often change wives and use them as almanacs, which serve but for a year.  The Quran permits the Muslims to marry as many wives as they are able to maintain.[26]  Whence it comes that rich merchants, who are obliged to travel up and down the country, marry wives and keep houses in several places that where ever they come they may be at home.  Yet I do not advise any man to believe those who say there is a law in Media whereby men are enjoined to marry at least seven wives; nor yet what Niger says in his geography—that the children kill their fathers and mother when they are come to seventy years age.  These are idle stories which have no ground in the ancient history, and whereto we found nothing consonant in our time.


    It is not our design to dilate much upon the inconveniences of polygamy, but certain it is that in Persia there is but little friendship among the women.  Some love there may be between them, but it is no doubt of that kind which comes near brutality.  It is impossible also that a family, where there are so many women, can be free from jealousy, which is inevitable among those who would all be loved and absolutely depend on him who should but cannot love them all equally.  The Persians themselves, to express the inconvenience of polygamy, say in their proverbs that as two asses are more troublesome to be driven than a whole caravan; so a judge finds not so much difficulty in deciding the differences of a province, as a man distracted by two women who cannot live together without some jarring.


    We were told several examples of the great mischief happening in families through polygamy …


    [I have omitted two short stories concerning polygamy.]


    The Persians are not so scrupulous in their contracts of marriage, but the many times it happens a man marries his brothers window; yet could I not learn that incest were so common there as some authors would have it believed, nor that the son meddles with his mother, or the brother with his sister.  Nay it cannot be found that before the reign of Cambyses, who fell in love with his own sister, there was any talk of these incest in Persia, no more then there was in Egypt before Ptolomey’s time.  Their marriages are celebrated as followeth.


    When a young man hath a mind to marry and hath heard of some person he can fancy, he employs others to make inquiry into the qualities and dispositions of the young maid, inasmuch as neither he nor any of his relations are permitted to see her and if upon the accompt he receives of her by them he finds his affections inclined to her, he makes a demand of her by two of his friends, who had been his god-fathers at his circumcision, or, for want of those, by two others of his kindred.  This first embassy ordinarily finds no very kind reception, lest they should imagine the father to be over-forward to be rid of his daughter.  But if on the other side, the young man’s friends find that his addresses are not taken amiss, they continue them and proceed to articles and agree upon the dower, which in these countries the friends of the bridegroom, and not those of the bride are to give.  The dower is to be either in marriage, as a recompense to the father and mother for their care in the education of their daughter; or he promises her by the contract of marriage a certain sum of money, or such quality of silk or stuffs, to be paid in case of divorce.  These contracts are passed in the presence of the kasi or the molla who signs them.  That done, they name on both sides certain persons to be as it were agents who in the name of the betrothed parties go to the kasi, or ecclesiastical judge, if it be in the city, or if in a village to the molla, who is empowered by the kasi to that purpose, and who being satisfied that all is done with the consents of the kindred on both sides as also of the parties contracted, marries them by the said agents, in the name of God, of Muhammad, and of Ali, delivering them a certificate of the marriage.  This ceremony is for the most part performed in private, the kasi or molla taking along with him the two agents into a private room or haply into the fields to some place where no people come, out of fear that some trick might be upon the new married couple or some witch-craft used upon the bridegroom.  Whence it comes that when the marriage is celebrated in public before the kasi as it often happens (the Persians, it seems, having the superstition to do action of this consequence according to their observance of certain constellations, which they think fortunate or unfortunate to them) that the judge may not be frustrated in the execution of his duty, they oblige all that are present to stretch out their hands that they may not be able to do anything of witchcraft under their garments.  The Persian [Ambassador Imanculi-khan], whom we brought along with us to Holstein, told us that when he was married, one of his wives kindred cut a little piece of blue galoom-lace off his garment, wherewith he made his enchantments which made him impotent for above two years and a half, till such time as having heard of a sorcerer that lived at Serab, who had the secret to dissolve those charms, he went to him about it.  This pretended sorcerer or magician who was lame in both hands and feet, seeing him coming towards him told hum he knew what was the occasion of his discontent and that he should be eased of it as soon as he had taken a nail out of a hole of a certain wall which he told him of; which when he had done he could perform the duty of a married man as well as any other.


    Strabo affirms that heretofore the Persians observed the vernal equinox as the fittest time for their marriages; but now they are absolutely indifferent as to the season, and a man may be married on any day save only in the month of Ramadan which is their lent, and during the ten days of the Aschur, when the ceremonies performed in remembrance of the interment of Husayn[27] employ their devotions; inasmuch as during that time they allow not of any divertissement at all.


    The wedding day being appointed, the young man sends the day before to his intended wife, pendants, bracelets and other ornaments suitable to their qualities, as also some dishes of meat to entertain the relations and friends who are to bring the young woman to him: but neither of them both are present at the dinner.  In the evening towards night the bride is conducted on horse-back, or upon a mule or camel, covered with a veil of crimson taffeta which falls down below her knees, accompanied by her kindred and music, to the bridegroom’s house.  As soon as they are come to the house they carry the bride with her maids into one chamber and the bridegroom with his friends into another, and supper is brought up.  Which ended, she is led to the chamber where she is to lie, where the bridegroom comes to her and then is it that he hath the first sight of her.  The bridegroom, who finds his bride broken up to his hands [i.e., not a virgin], may lawfully cut off her nose and ears and turn her away; but persons of quality for the most part think it affront enough to the bride who is no maid to send her and her friends immediately packing away.  But if he really finds her a maid, he sends the tokens of it by an ancient woman to her friends and then they continue their entertainments for three days together.  After the first engagement, the bridegroom gets up from his wife and goes to his friends, among whom he spends some hours in merriment.  Persons of any learning who come to these entertainments, instead of drinking, divert themselves with their books, which to that end they bring along with them and spend the time in discourses of morality or speculative philosophy which they do also at those other assemblies which they many times appoint for that purpose.  Their poets are never wanting at these feasts and contribute very much to the divertissements thereof, especially the next day after the wedding and the day after.  Among other things, there is brought in a great wooden dish full of fruit, in the midst whereof there is a tree having on every branch fruit and dried conserves, and if anyone of the company can take ought thence, so as that the bridegroom perceives him not, his slight it recompensed with a present which the bridegroom is obliged to make him; but if he be surprised therein, he must make good what he should have taken a hundred fold.  They have also this custom, that if any one of the company is not there the next day precisely at the hour appointed for dinner, he is laid upon a ladder set against a wall with his head downwards and whipped on the soles of his feet with a handkerchief rolled about, till he redeems himself.  The have also dancing; but the men dance by themselves in one room and the women by themselves in another room into which the music comes not, but stands at the door.


    The next day after the wedding the bridegroom washed himself, in the winter time in baths which are very ordinary in those parts, and in the summer in the river or next brook; but the bride baths herself in the house.  In the evening they set before everyone of the persons invited, upon a handkerchief of flowered cotton-cloth, two spoonfuls of chinnè, which is the drug wherewith they color their nails and hands.  That done, the guests make their presents.  If they have taken a little more wine than they can well bear (as it often happens) they take up their lodging at the house where they supped; in regard the watch which is kept very strictly there in the night suffer not any to go in the streets without a lantern.  Those who find themselves well enough to go, give the guard somewhat to drink and are brought home to their houses.


    I shall here take occasion to say something of the excellent order observed in all cities of Persia, for the guard.  At Ardebil there are forty men, who incessantly walk about the streets to prevent mischief and robberies, with such vigilance and exactness that they are obliged to indemnify those that are robbed.  Whence it came that at Isfahan we came many times after midnight from the monastery of the Augustines which was above half a league from our quarters, yet never met with any mischief by the way: nay if at any time as it might well happen in that great city we chanced to lose our way, the guard would bring us with torches home to our very doors.  It is reported of Shah Abbas, that desirous one day to make trial of the vigilance of those people, suffered himself to be surprised by them and had been carried to prison had he not been known by one of the company, who discovering him to the rest they all cast themselves at his feet to beg his pardon.  But he expressed himself well satisfied with their care and told them they had done but their duty; that he was king in the day time, but that the keeping of the public peace in the night depended on them.


    If it happen that after the marriage the bride be obliged to live at her husband’s father’s house it is not lawful for her to appear before him with her face uncovered, much more to speak to him, till such time as the father-in-law hath hired her to do it, and given her a new garment or a piece of stuff to make one to oblige her thereto.  But after all this she must not uncover her face in his presence, not yet her mouth when she eats: for she hath a piece of cloth which they call jaschmahn tied to her ears so as that it hangs over her mouth to hinder her from being seen eating.


    The Persians keep their wives more in restraint than the Italians do and suffer them not to go to church or to any great feast unless their husbands go along with them.  If a woman permit her face to be seen, all the apologies she can make for herself shall not clear her from the suspicion conceived of her dishonesty, even though she granted that favor to one of her husband’s nearest relations.  This reservedness they also observe in their houses where they are kept up as close prisoners.  When any business obliges them to go abroad, if it be afoot, they cover themselves with a white veil like a winding-sheet, which reaches down to half the leg, and if it be on horseback they are disposed into a kind of chest, or at least muffle up their faces so as that it is impossible to see them.


    The ceremonies we mentioned before are only for ordinary marriages; but besides there  are two other kings of matrimony among the Persians which are celebrated quite after another manner.  For those who are obliged to sojourn at other places besides those where their ordinary habitations are, yet are unwilling to take up their quarters in public places, take wives for a certain time, allowing them a certain salary, either for a month or such term as they agree upon.  They call his kind of marriage mittehè and to dissolve it there is no need of bulls of divorce, but the time of the contract being expired it is dissolved of itself unless both parties are mutually content to prolong it.  The third kind of marrying is when a man makes use of a slave that he hath bought, and these slaves are for the most part Christian maids of Georgia whom the Tartars of Dagesthan steal to be afterwards sold in Persia.  The children which they bear as also those born in the marriage called mittehè share in the fathers estate as well as the others who have no other advantage of them therein, than what was granted the mother by her contract of marriage: but they are all accounted lawfully begotten inasmuch as after the example of the ancient Egyptians they look upon the father as the principle of generation and say the mother does only foment and feed the child when it is once conceived; and upon the same accompt it is that they affirm that the trees which bear fruit are the males and that those which do not are the females.


    When the women are in labor and that they find some difficulty in the delivery, the kindred and neighbors run to the schools and make a present to the molla to oblige him to give his scholars leave to play, or at least to pardon some one of them that hath deserved to be severely punished; imaging that by the liberty they procure for those scholars, the woman in labor is eased and will be the sooner delivered of her burden.  It is also out of the same persuasion that in such emergencies they let go their birds and many times purposely buy some that they may give them their liberty upon such an occasion.  They do the like for person in the agony of death, who seem unwilling to die.  The Muscovites let go birds when they go to confession, believing that as they permit the birds to fly away, so will God remove their sins far from them.


    The men take an absolute liberty to see the women when they please, but they allow not their wives the freedom of seeing so much as one man, so far are they from permitting them to see any in private, so excessive is their jealousy.  The offenses women commit contrary to their faith plighted to their husbands are unpardonable, not indeed can they be guilty of any which they will punish with greater severity, nay indeed cruelty.  We were told an example of it that had happened in the province of Lenkeran in the time of Shah Abbas, who coming to understand that one of his menial servants, who was called Jacupzanbeg, Kurtzi Tirkmen, that is to say, he whose office it was to carry the king’s bows and arrows, had somewhat a light wife, sent him notice of it, with this message that if he expected to continue at court and to keep in his employment, it was expected he should cleans his house.  This message and the affliction he conceived at the baseness of his wife and his reflection that it was known all about the court, as also that of the hazard he was in to lose his place, put him into such a fury that going immediately to his house he cut in pieces not only his wife but also her two sons, four daughters and five chamber-maids, and so cleansed his house by the blood of twelve persons, most of them innocent, that he might not be turned out of his employment.  The law of the country allows them to kill the adulterer with the woman, if they be taken in the fact.  These accidents are not very extraordinary among them and the judge recompense with a new garment the person who does an execution of this nature: which I conceive is instead of the salary which he is obliged to pay the common executioner.


    DIVORCE [pp. 330-332]

    Divorce is lawful among them and the dissolution of the marriage is made before the judge upon hearing of what both parties have to allege for themselves: for it is lawful not only for the men but also for the women to give bills of divorce, showing good causes, not only for adultery but also in several other cases.  Impotence, or frigidity rather declares the marriage null than dissolves it, and adultery is punished among them as we mentioned before.  We were told a story of a woman who desirous to part from her husband charged him with impotence.  The husband desired the judge to command the woman to scratch his back; whereto she replied, “I have scratched thee so often, I am weary of it and thou wouldst never scratch me where it most itched.”  Another complained of her husband that he would have done his work in the wrong place; whereupon the judge ordered her to be separated from him and the husband to be geld.  They marry again after divorce, as well men as women, with this difference nevertheless, that the women are obliged to continue in widow-hood three month and ten days, not only that it may be known whether they are with child, but also that they may have time to work their accommodation with their husbands if they have any such desire.


    The Turks, following the Doctrine of Hanif[28], have in this particular a very brutish custom in regard that in Turkey there may be a reconciliation made after the divorce, but when a man hath put away his wife three several times, or at her putting away says only the word vtzkatala, that is to say, I renounce thee thrice, he cannot take her again unless he permits the molla to name some person who is to lie with her before hand in her husband’s presence, so as that he may be assured he hath done his work with her.  I should not set down a thing so extravagant had I not informed myself of the truth thereof from persons of quality, either Turks born or such as have lived several years at Constantinople, who have all assured me that of sixty-two sects, whereof the Turkish religion [=Sunni?] consists, many have this custom, nay what is more that they give money to those who do them that good office.  There are some indeed who think it sufficient to put a-bed with their wives a young lad that is not able to perform the work of matrimony, which they do only for form sake, thereby to reconfirm the marriage.


    [I have omitted a story concerning divorce.]


    They relate another pleasant story to the same purpose; to wit, that Suleiman, Emperor of the Turks, being one day angry with his wife, did in the heat of his passion pronounced the vtzkatala against her.  He soon repented him of it (in regard his wife being one of the handsomest women in the world,) it went to his very soul to part with her; and it being not in his power to take her again till such time as she had passed through another man’s hands, he bethought him the only way were to have her bedded by a Dervish of the sect of those, whom they call Derish Rastkeli, who were in so great repute for their sanctity and austerity of life that he had not the least fear he would meddle with her.  It is to be observed by the way that he who thus lies with the wife is before solemnly married to her and when he hath done his work is divorced from her, otherwise it were adultery.  Suleiman then, having concluded the marriage between his wife and the Dervish, ordered them to go to bed together: but they gave one another such mutual satisfaction and ere they came out of the bed were so well agreed that the next day they declared that they had an affection one for the other and that they would not be separated; so that it being not in the power of the law to force them to a divorce, Suleiman was forced to let him enjoy his wife, who went along with her husband into Persia where he settled himself very well, by the means of his wife who had great wealth.



    It must need be that of so many so many women there are born a great number of children.  Accordingly there are some fathers [who] have 25 or 30.  But the modern education of them differs much from that of the ancients: inasmuch as now they are not brought up by women, and the fathers put them not out till they come to such an age as they did anciently, when they admitted them not to their presence till they were four years of age, according to Strabo, or five according to Herodotus, or seven according to Valerius Maximus.[29]  Nor do they now, as heretofore, exercise them in shooting and riding; but they are put very young either to work or to school, to learn to write and read, there being very few Persians who cannot do both.


    A School-house
    Source: Olearius

    Their metzids, or mosques, where they say their prayers, serve them also for schools.  No city but hath as many metzids as streets, every street being obliged to maintain a metzid, with the molla belonging to it, who is as it were the principal of the college, and the caliph who is the regent.  The molla sits in the middle of the form or class and the scholars all about him, all along the walls.  As soon as they begin to know the characters, they put them to read certain chapters taken out of the Quran and afterwards the whole Quran.  Then they put them into the Kulusthan [=Gulistan], or the Rose Garden, of Schich Sadi, and his Bustan, or Orchard, and at last into Hafis, who set out the Bustan in rhyme[30].  There last authors, who were both of Shiraz, which is the ancient Persepolis, where the language is more pure than in any other place of Persia, are highly esteemed as well for the excellency of their style as the pregnancy of their inventions.  The children read very loud, and all at the same time, the same text, moving themselves all with the same agitation from one side to the other, much after the manner that the wind shakes reeds.  They all write upon their knees, where ever they are, or what age soever they be of, in regard they have not the use of either stools or tables.  They make their paper of old rags, as we do, which for the most part are of cotton and silk, and that it may not be hairy or uneven, they make it smooth with a polishing-stone, or sometimes with an oyster or muscle shell.  They make their ink of the rinds of pomegranates, or of galls and vitriol, and to make it thick and more fit for writing, their characters requiring a full body, they burn rice or barley, beat it to powder, and make a hard paste of it, which they dissolve with gum-water when they go to write.  The best comes from the Indies which though it be not goose quills, as ours in Europe are, in regard they would be too hard for their paper, which being of silk or cotton is very tender, but they make them of canes, or reeds, and a little bigger than our pens.  They are of a dark color without and they are brought for the most part from Shiraz, or from the Gulf of Arabia, where there grows abundance of them.


    LANGUAGE [pp. 332-333]

    The Persians have their particular language, which hath much of the Arabian, but nothing at all of the Turkish.  There are in it also many foreign words as German and Latin, insomuch that it might be thought these languages have the same original, if it were not found that it happens also in almost all the rest, yet not so as that it may be thence inferred that all these nations comes from the same source.  To signify father, mother, a tooth, a pen, a rat, a yoke, they have the same words; and du, no, de signify two, nine, and ten: yet is it not to be concluded thence that the Persians are originally Romans.  True it is that the Persians come from the Scythians as do also the Germans; yet would I not affirm that the ancient Goths and modern Tartars are the same people.  It must therefor be granted, that the modern language of the Persians differs much from the ancient, if what Herodotus says be true, that all the their words ended in ‘s’, though it may be withall confessed that they have all a full termination in as much as they have in a manner all the accent upon the last syllable.  It is easy enough to be learnt, as having but few irregular verbs, and if it be true that it is the same language which was spoken anciently, the examples of Themistocles and Alcibiades make it appear that it may be attained in a short time.  All that is hard in it is the guttural pronunciation thereof.


    Most of the Persians, with their own language, learn also the Turkish especially in those provinces which have been long under the jurisdiction of the Grand Seignor, as Shirvan, Adirbeitzan, Iraq, Baghdad, and Eruan, where children are taught the Turkish language and by this means it is so common at court that a man seldom hears anyone speak the Persian; as in the Grand Seignior’s country, they ordinarily speak the Sclavonian, and in the Mogul’s the Persian.  But in the province of Fars (which is the ancient Persia) and at Shiraz, they speak only the Persian language.  They understand nothing of the Hebrew, Greek or Latin; but instead of these languages, wherein the Europeans study the sciences, they have the Arabian, which is to them as the Latin is to us; in regard the Quran, and all its interpreters make use of it, as do also all those who write any books of philosophy and physic [=medicine].  So that it is not to be much admired, that it is so common, that indeed they cannot express their own language but in Arabian characters.



    ‘Tis true, the sciences are not improved to that perfection by them as they are by the Europeans, yet can it not be said but that the Persians are much addicted to study, and they call their learned men filosufs.  To this end they have their colleges, or universities, which they call medressa and the professors who teach in them, mederis.  Their most eminent colleges are those of Isfahan, Shiraz, Ardebil, Mesched, Tabriz, Kazvin, Kom, Jescht, and Scamachie, which are all under the superintendency of the sedr, or chief of their religion, who is obliged to take care for their allowances and maintenance.  This is done out of the revenue of those provinces which pay no taxes to the king, as Kochtzeh, near Eruan, Vtuathzuk, near Karabath, Tabakmelek, between Georgia and Karabath, Agdasch, and Kermeru.


    They have a particular inclination for arithmetic, geometry, eloquence, poetry, natural and moral philosophy, astronomy, astrology, law, and medicine, in regard they make some advantage of the profession of these sciences.  They have all Aristotle’s Philosophy in the Arabian language, and call it Dunga piala, that is to say, the Goblet of the World; with this remark upon it, that as a man drinking our of a great bowl moderately, finds himself the better for it, and taking so much of it that he is drunk therewith, he both injures his body and disturbs the mind; so is a man to make a temperate use of the philosophy of Aristotle, and, not deboysting himself, observe a mediocrity in the study thereof.  Children are taught arithmetic in the schools with their writing and reading.  In their accompts, they commonly make use of the Indian figures; but the more learned use the Arabian characters.


    They join eloquence and poesy together, and comprehend these two sciences under a very few precepts, which bring a man in a short time to the practick part thereof.  And indeed most of their eloquent pieces which they embellish with abundance of histories, and moral sentences, are in verse.  For the excellency of the language, pregnancy of conceit, and elegance of expressions, they read the Gulistan of Schich Sadi, whom they prefer before all their other authors.  It is a very eloquent piece, though in verse, full of figures and enriched with history and maxims of policy and morality.  Accordingly there is not any one almost but hath this book; nay some have perused and studies it so much that they have it by heart and apply the passages, sentences, and comparisons thereof, in their ordinary discourse, so pertinently that it is no small pleasure to hear them talk.  They are also great lovers of history, and delight much in reading the lives and deaths of their prophet Ali and his son Husayn, who was killed in the war against Yazid[31]; which pieces are written in a style truly historical and of a noble height.  They have also several other histories and chronicles, ecclesiastical and profane, of the lives and wars of their kings and some of the affairs of other foreign nations: the best whereof are those of Mirchond, Enwery [=Anveri][32], Zami [=Jami][33], Walchi[34], Nassegri, and others.  The best of all their histories is Mirchond, who hath written the history of Persia in excellent good language, in several great volumes, and it is a piece so highly esteemed that it is worth in the country above two hundred crowns; and therefore I cannot think it can be had perfect in Europe, though I know that Golius, professor of the Oriental Languages and Mathematics at the University of Leyden, hath most of it, with several other excellent books of that nature.  But there is not any man I know of that hath so much of it, and makes so great advantages thereof, as the incomparable Monsieur Gaulmin, Counselor of State, and the senior of the masters of requests, must it be acknowledged that he is so perfect a master of all the oriental languages that he needs not be obliged for ought he can learn out of any of these authors.


    I do not give this accompt of their histories that a man should give any great credit thereto, especially when they speak of their religion and saints.  For in Persia, as well as elsewhere, they have their pious frauds, and think it a kind of piety to establish and improve the errors of their religion, by fables and impostures: since that even in their profane histories, they take that freedom which is only allowed poets and painters, as may be seen particularly in the history of Alexander the Great, which they have so disguised that it hath no consonancy to what is written of him by Q. Curtius, Plutarch, and Arrian.  But though it be not true, yet it is divertive enough at least to excuse, if not deserve, this little digression.


    [I have omitted the fabulous history of Alexander, pp.334-337.]


    POETRY [pp. 337-338]

    There is no nation in the world more addicted to poetry than the Persians.  There you have poets in all the market-places and in all houses of good fellowship where they entertain and make sport for such as frequent them, as the mountebanks and such as show tricks of legerdemain do in Europe.  All bear with them, and the great lords think they cannot give their friends a better entertainment than by diverting them while they are at dinner, with the recital of some poem.  The king himself and the khans have, among their other menial servants, their poets, whose only business it is to find out somewhat for their diversion by whom they are maintained, and which they are not to communicate to any other, without the consent of their patrons.  The poets are known from others by their habit, which is the same with that of the philosophers; to wit, a long white coat, but open before, with great broad sleeves, and they have at their girdle a king of hawking-bag in which are their books, paper, and an ink-horn, that they may give copies of their verses to such as desire them.  Their under garment hath no sleeves and would be a perfect cloak if it had but a cape.  They wear no stockings; their breeches come down to their feet like pantaloons, and in winter they wear such as reach but to the ankles.  Instead of mendils or turbans, they wear a king of caps.  Those who put off their productions in the market places and taverns, wear scarves of several colors, which come about their bodies just above the waist, and passing over the right shoulder fall down under the left arm.  Most of these take for the subject of their poetry the religion of the Turks and their saints, which they are pleased to rail at and make sport with all.


    It may well be imagined that among so many poets there must also be some poetasters, and that there as well as in other places, a man must expect to find but few Homers and Virgils.  Nay there are some so modest as to vent only the works of other men, and finding in themselves such a barrenness of wit as will not produce any thing, make it their business to disperse their productions who are in repute.  Persia hath this common with France, as indeed it hath many other things, that it hath hardly any author excellent at an epic poem, and that some few poets laid aside, who are in great reputation, the rest are rather to be pitied.  The best, and such as many justly be accompted good poets, are Sadi, Hafis[35], Firdausi[36], Fussuli, Chagani, Eheli, Schems[37], Naway, Scahidi, Ferahsed, Deheki[38], Nessimi, etc.  Their poetry is suitable to the modern way, and they will keep up the rhyme, though they are not very exact in observing the number of the syllables.  Nor do they think it much to use the same words to keep the rhyme, as imagining it no breach of the rules of their prosodia; as for example in the following verses:


    Tziri, tziri, Tziragh Jani tze?

    Adamira demagh Jani tza?

    Tziri, tziri tziragh es teri bud,

    Adamira demagh cher bud.


    Where the poet makes a pretty allusion between the words teri and cheri whereof one signifies moist, and the other of or belonging to an ass.  The sense of the verses is to this effect: Why does the candle go out? Why does man boast and is vain-glorious? Because the one wants moist suet, and the other is troubled with asses fat.  They also delight much in equivocations, and many times very handsomely begin the subsequent verse with the words that ended the precedent, as in the following example:


    Kalem be dest, debiran behes hasar derem

    Derem be dest nea Jed meker nauk Kalem.

    [A sentence on law has been transposed to the section on that topic below.]


    MEDICINE [p. 338]

    In physic, or medicine, they follow the maxims of Avicenna[39] and their physicians are all Galenists[40].  Phlebotomy is not very ordinary among them, but they administer continual medicines made of herbs and roots and many times apply fomentations and other outward remedies.  They have nothing of anatomy and their practice is so gross that when I was at Scamachie (where our physician was entreated to visit a man who, having drank too much aquavitae, lay dying) I saw a Moor-physician who had the sick party in hand order a great piece of ice to be laid on his stomach, maintaining his procedure by this general maxim: that a disease is to be cured by what is contrary thereto.  When women or children are troubled with any disease or indisposition, they do not send for a physician but for the midwife, whence it comes that midwives have some skill in medicine.  The books which treat thereof have this extraordinary, that the remedies they prescribe are as fit for horses as men.


    Our physician, who had joined to Galen’s method certain maxims of Paracelsus[41] and used chemical remedies with very good success, grew so famous in Persia that the king himself proffered him very considerable allowance to engage him to continue in that court.  Nay, he grew into such repute after he had recovered some persons who had been given over by others that the people began to look upon him as an extraordinary man, insomuch that they brought to him some that were lame and blind from the birth to recover their limbs and sight who never had them.


    ASTRONOMY [pp. 338-340]

    It is not of late that the Persians have applied themselves to the study of astronomy.  Heretofore they who made profession thereof were called magi and now they call them minatzim, and they do not busy themselves so much in observing the motions of the heavens and stars, and the pure contemplation of that science, as in prognosticating the effects which their influences may produce and to fore-tell those things, the contingency whereof they imagine to themselves may be read in the course of the heavens.  So that it is rather judiciary astrology than astronomy that they now study, in regard the one would bring them no advantage at all, whereas the other is the more beneficial to them in this respect, that most of the Persians have this superstition: that they never undertake anything of consequence but they first consult the minatzim.  To the end, the king and great lords have always one of these about them, who perpetually observes the heavens and fore-tells whether the time be fortunate or unfortunate for the business they would undertake.  And out of the reflection it is that they say themselves that astrology, who is dependant on astronomy, is a rich daughter but comes from so poor a mother that she is forced to preserve her life from whom she received her own.  These astrologers are never without their astrolabe, which they carry in their bosoms, that they may erect a scheme at any time: but their skill is not great about nativities, especially those of persons of mean condition; which proceeds hence that having no clocks, they cannot get the precise hour, much less the minute of the birth, which great persons have exactly observed by means of the astrolabe.


    For the teaching of astronomy they have neither sphere nor globe, insomuch that they were not little astonished to see in my hands a thing which is so common in Europe.  I asked them whether they had ever seen any such before.  They told me they had not, but said that there was heretofore in Persia a very fair globe which they call felek, but that it was lost during the wars between them and the Turks.  They haply meant that which Sapor, King of Persia, had caused to be made of glass, so large, that he could sit in the center of it, and observe the motions of the stars and must no doubt be like that of Archimedes, whereof Claudian speaks in the Epigram which begins thus:


                Jupiter in par vo cum cerneret aehera vitro


    Antiquity might haply admire these works, but what miracle would it be thought if they saw the globe which his highness the Duke of Holstein hath ordered to be make in his city of Gottorp.  It is a double globe made of copper, ten foot and a half diameter, so that within it ten persons may sit at a table, which with the seats about it hangs at one of its poles.  There a man may see (by means of an horizontal circle within the globe) how the stars and the sun itself coming out of its center, moves of itself through its ecliptic degrees, and rises and sets regularly.  The motion of this globe exactly follows that of the heavens and derives that motion from certain wheels driven by the water which is brought out of a mountain hard by and let in as it requires more or less according to the swiftness of the spheres.


    The Persians regulate their year according to the moon as well as the sun, so as that they have both solar and lunar years; to wit, the latter for their festivals and religious ceremonies, which are appointed on certain days of the month, and these months beginning and ending with the moon, make their year shorter than ours by twelve days.  Their solar year is of 365 days, and was so accounted even in the time of Alexander the Great, as Q. Curtius expressly observes in the 7th chapter of the 3rd book of his history, where he says, speaking of Darius’ retinue, that after the magi followed three hundred sixty five young men, completing the number of the days of their year, which consisted of so many days, that is to say, twelve months of thirty days a piece, and five days over and above.  It begins at that very minute that the sun, entering into Aries, makes the equinox, and brings in the first day of the spring.  That day they call Naurus, or Neurus, that is, the new day.  They count the years of their age according to the course of the sun, so that to express how old they are they say they have lived so many Naurus, that is, so many years.  It is one of the principal functions of the minatzim to observe by the astrolabe the happy minute, in which the sun comes to the equator and as soon as he declares it is they all begin to rejoice.  Their epoch is the Hegira, or flight of Muhammad, which falls on the 10th of July, 622, year of our savior.


    [I have omitted a paragraph on the history of the Persian calendars]



    They are extremely addicted to astrology and in imitation of the Chaldeans, of whom doubtless they learnt that science, they are so superstitious that they do not only credit all the astrologers tell them, but also persons of quality do no business of any consequence, undertake no journey, nay would be loath to put on a new garment, get on horse back to ride abroad, or bath themselves, but they first consult the minatzim, who is so much the more credited by them, in that many times they heighten the vanity of their art by a profession, no less deceitful, than the other, which is medicine.  This persuasion of theirs is grounded on the opinion they have, as well as the Arabians, that the stars are governed by intelligences, who have an absolute power over sublunary things, so that it is not a hard matter to make them acquiesce in the predictions of the astrologers.  These are either mountebanks or magicians who, by their equivocal expressions circumvent those who consult them, purposely to disturb their brains and to put tricks upon them; as Stephen Alexander did upon Heraclius[42], when he fore-told him that he should perish in the water, obliging him thereby to fill up all the lakes and ponds all over the Empire.  After the same manner was also deceived John Menard, a physician of Ferrara who was told he should parish in a ditch.  He avoided them all but that of a young woman whom he married in his old age, and who visibly shortened his days.  They attribute to every hour in the day one of the signs of the zodiac to wit, to the first Aries, to the second Taurus, and so forward; and they believe there are in every month some unfortunate days, especially the 3rd, the 5th, and the 23rd and 25th of every moon.


    [I have omitted two short anecdotes concerning divination.]


    Yet for all this prejudice they have for the influences of the stars, they attribute much to chance, and endeavor to discover the secrets of things by those means, especially such as are not yet come to pass, the knowledge whereof is not so easy.  ‘Tis true, they are for the most part women who address themselves to these people, who have their shops or stalls in the Maydan, near the Dowlet Chane, and fore-tell things by lot two manner of ways.  Some of them whom they call remal, have seven or eight dice strung together upon two little pieces of wire, and they predict according to the falling of the dice.  The others, whom the call falkir, do their work with much more ceremony.  For they have before them upon a table thirty or forty little pieces of board, about an inch square, very thin and very smooth, which are marked with certain characters on that side which lies downwards.  Upon one of these little pieces of board he who desires to know what is to befall him is to lay down his money which the falkir immediately puts up and no doubt this is that which is most certain in the whole mystery.  That done, he turns over a book that lies before him about three finger thick, the leaves whereof are painted with all sorts of figures, as angels, devils, satins, dragons and other monsters, and he opened the book several times till he finds one that hath some rapport to the characters upon the little board.  Neither is that done without muttering between his teeth certain inarticulate and not intelligible words; and this is the most infallible prediction they have among them.


    THE MONARCH [pp. 341-343]

    The political government of Persia differs not much from that of the Muscovites.  Both are monarchical and so despotic that the prince governs with an absolute power, making his will a law and without any accompt to be given of his so doing, disposing of the lives and estates of his subjects, who are so far his slaves that they do not so much as murmur at the violence wherewith the greatest lords of the kingdom are put to death, without any kind of proceedings against them.


    They call their kings Shah, Padshah, and Padishah, words which have in a manner all the same signification, to wit, that of king or lord.  Yet does not the emperor of the Turks, when he writes to the king of Persia, give him the quality of Shah, but that of Shih Ogli, that is to say, ecclesiastic, or son, or kinsman, of the prophet.  Those who say the kings of Persia assume the quality of Choda, that is God, are mistaken.  For Chodabende is the proper name of a man as Theodosius, Theodore, etc. and signifies obliged to god, or a servant of god.; though it must be confessed that these princes are vain-glorious enough to assume extravagant titles which make them equal to the sun and moon, and companions of the stars; as Ammianus Marcellinus[43] says of Sapor, King of Persia.  ‘Tis true on the other side, that they are as free to give the same titles to those princes of Europe with whom they live in good correspondence: for in the letters which Shah Safi wrote to the Duke of Holstein, he gave him the same qualities he assumed himself.[44] They would not have inscriptions of letters filled with the titles of the kingdoms and provinces under their jurisdiction: nay Shah Abbas would have no other title at the head of a petition than that of Shah, and one day said to a man that had several titles at the head of his petition, “Go thy ways, friend, thy titles will make me neither more powerful nor more poor; give me that of Shah, since I am so, and think that enough.”


    Most authors give the kings of Persia of the last race the quality of Sophi, and the kings themselves, especially those who have any zeal for their religion, are much pleased with the addition of that quality to their titles, out of the affection they bear Shih Sofi, or Safi, the first institutor of their sect, as the kings of France take the quality of most Christian; those in Spain that of most Catholic, and those of England that of Defenders of the Faith.  Whence they say, Ismael-Safi, Eider-Sofi and of this a man must take notice in the reading of their history, inasmuch as if he do not, he may confound the names of the kings, and attribute that to one which is to be understood of another.


    The kingdom of Persia is hereditary and may be enjoyed not only by the children lawfully begotten but also for want of such by natural children and the sons of concubines who inherit the crown as well as the others, nay they are preferred before the nearest of the collateral kindred and the nephews, since the sons of concubines and slaves are not accounted illegitimate in Persia, as we have said elsewhere.  For want of sons the crown falls to the next of kin by the father’s side, descended from Safi, who are as it were princes of the blood-royal, and are called Schich Eluend.  They enjoy many great privileges and immunities, but many times they are very poor and have much ado to live.  The children of the kings of Persia make the houses where they are born, free, and they are converted into sanctuaries; insomuch that if the queen be delivered in any other place besides the metropolis, the house is compassed with a noble wall to be distinguished from others.


    The Shah's Seal
    Source: Tavernier

    If we credit Q. Cutrius, the ancient arms of Persia were the crescent, as the sun was that of the Greeks.  Now the Turks take the crescent and the Persians the sun, which they commonly put upon the back of a lion.  But upon the great seal of the kingdom there are only characters.  It is about the bigness of a half crown piece, having within the ring: “To God alone, I Shah Safi am a slave with all my heart”, and in the circumference: “Ali, let the world say what it please of thee, yet I will be thy friend.  He who before thy gate does not account himself dust and ashes, though he were an angel, dust and ashes be upon his head.”  In the letters he sends to Christian princes he observes this respect: that he does not set the seal on the same side with the writing but on the other side, at the very bottom.


    Shah Safi I
    Source: Olearius

    The ceremonies performed at the coronation of the kings of Persia are not done at Babylon, as some authors would have it believed, nor yet at Kufa, as Minadous affirms, but in the city of Isfahan.  They are not so great as those done at the inauguration of kings in Europe.  They set upon a table about half an ell high, as many pieces of tapestry of gold and silver or embroidered as there have been kings of the same family before him who is then to be crowned; so that at the coronation of Shah Safi, there were eight, inasmuch as he was the eighth king of Persia of that house, accompting from Ismael the first.  That done, the chiefest of the khans present him with a crown which he kisses thrice in the name of God, of Muhammad, and of Ali, and having put into his fore-head, he delivers it to the grand master of the kingdom, whom they call Lele, who puts it on his head; and they all present make acclamations of “long live the king; God grant that during his reign one year may be multiplied to a thousand”; they kiss his feet, make him great presents, and spend the remainder of the day in feasting and merriment.  There is no such thing among them as the taking of any oath of allegiance, or obliging the king to swear to the conservation of the privileges or fundamental laws of the kingdom, in regard their subjection is pure slavery; whereas among Christians, the condition of kings is quite otherwise, for the obligation is reciprocal, and the kings are not absolute lords, but are, or ought to be, fathers of their people.


    GOVERNMENT [pp. 343 ... 364-366]

    The kingdom is of great extent.  Those provinces which lie most remote from the chief city and the ordinary residence of the kings cannot be governed otherwise than by governors or lieutenants, who in Persia are called khans; the word not signifying the employment they have in the said governments, but a quality which all great lords assume to themselves.  Of this we shall speak more at large elsewhere …


    [I have omitted a large section on the history of Safavid Shahs from Ismail I to Abbas I. The pages correspond to pp. 343-364.]


    The kings of Persia have the provinces and cities of their kingdom governed by khans, sultans, calenters, darugas, vizirs, and kauchas: dignities and employments which are conferred there according to valor and virtue, and not in consideration of birth and extraction.  Thence is comes that there are so many persons of such resolute courage that they cheerfully hazard their lives, as knowing it is the only way to get into the greatest charges of the kingdom, which are neither hereditary nor venal in Persia.  ‘Tis true, the children of these lords are looked upon with some respect to their fathers and that they enjoy their estates, but they are never advanced to their dignities, but purely upon the account of worth and services from which they are inseparable.  The king never makes any khan, but with the title he gives him wherewithal to maintain it, and that during his life which many of them lose merely that they might be deprived of their quality.


    Every province hath its khan and its calenter, who have their several habitations in the chief city.  The khan is as it were the governor of the province, and is entrusted with the administration of justice, with the power of putting his judgements in execution notwithstanding any appeal.  The calenter hath the over-sight of the king’s demesne and the revenues of the province which he receives and gives an account thereof to the council or by order from the king to the khan.  The daruga is in a city and the kauche in a village what the khan is in respect of the province.  The daruga does also execute the function of the calenter in his jurisdiction, but they are not so chargeable to him as some conceive, in regard he finds but one half of the presents which the ambassador carries along with him, the province whereof he is governor being obliged to defray all the rest of the charge.


    Most of the khans are obliged to maintain a certain number of soldiers who are to be ready to serve in the armies when any occasion requires, and in this all the revenue of the province spent not including what is raised by way of imposition, which is carried into the exchequer.  Besides that, they also send the king certain New Year’s gifts, which are very considerable.  The provinces and cities which have no khans and are governed by a daruga, as part of Georgia, the cities of Kazvin, Isfahan, Kascham, Theheram, Hemedan, Mesched, Kirman, Ormus, etc. maintain no soldiers but pay taxes to the king.  The order they observe—especially in the frontier provinces—for the subsistence of so great a number of soldiers is such, that it is no hard matter to raise a powerful army in a short time.  And indeed this the shah makes very much his advantage of against the potent enemies he hath about him, and by whom he is in a manner encompassed of all sides, as the Usbeque Tartars, the Turks and Indians.  He is never at quiet with the former, concerning the frontier of Khurasan; with the Mogul, about those of Candahar, and with the Turk, about the provinces of Baghdad and Eruan, for which they are in perpetual war, whence it comes that they often change masters.


    Their armies consist only of horse; for the infantry (which is upon occasion to serve on foot) is in its march, mounted as our dragoons.  The ordinary arms of the foot are muskets; but the horse are armed only with darts and javelins.  They have used muskets and great guns but since the reign of Shah Abbas, nor do they use the latter so much in the assault, as defense of places; inasmuch as their armies making ordinary great days marches and with little or no carriages, it would be troublesome to them to take great guns along with them, as such as would much retard their expeditions.  No flight or stratagem in war but they are apt enough to make their advantage of.  At the siege of Iruan, in the year 1633, they had the invention of casting into the place with their arrows, small glasses full of poison, which so infected the air that the garrison was extremely incommodated thereby and made incapable of handling their arms for the defense of the place.  They call the general of the army, serdar, a colonel of ten or twelve thousand horse, kurtzibaschi, him who commands a thousand men, minbaschi, a captain of a hundred men, jusbaschi, and a leader up of ten men, ohnbaschi.  At the time of our being there all the military commanders were persons of very mean extraction.


    Areb, Khan of Shirvan, was the son of a poor countryman of Serab and his first employment had been in the train of artillery, wherein he made such discoveries of his conduct and courage that Shah Abbas bestowed on him that government, which is one of the most considerable in the kingdom.  Aga-Khan was the son of a shepherd near Merrage.  This man ordered his business so well at the siege of Wan that his services were recompensed with the government of his country.  Kartzschucai-khan was the son of a Christian of Armenia and had been sold to Shah Abbas who made him a khan and afterwards general of his army.  He acquired so great [a] reputation in that employment that the Shah himself would needs be his lackey, as we said elsewhere.  Salma-khan, a Kurde by birth, had some time been an ordinary groom [=servant].  Emir-kune-khan was the son of one of that kind of shepherds who live in tents or huts upon the mountains, and grew so famous at the siege of Eruan that the king entrusted him with the government of the whole province.  What a particular kindness Shah-Abbas had for this person may be guessed by the ensuing story.


    The Turks who lay before the city of Eruan, having raised the siege, Shah Abbas got into the place where he spent the best part of the night in drinking with Emir-Kune, who grew so familiar with him that, taking the king by the mustache, he kissed his very mouth yet did not the king take it any way unkindly.  Emir-Kune, who remembered not what he had done in his wine, was much astonished when some gave him an accompt of what had passed the next day, and so frightened thereat, that hanging his scimitar about his neck, he went in that posture to the king’s chamber door, according to the custom observed by such as know they have deserved death, and by that submission beg their pardon.  The king sent him word he might come in, whereto the other having made answer that the was not worthy to set his foot within the king’s chamber, having abused his goodness as he had, Shah Abbas comes out of the room and took off the scimitar from about his neck and delivered it to him as an assurance of his favor.  But he strictly forbade him the drinking of any wine ever after, inasmuch as being got drunk he knew not what he did.  Sometime after Emir-Kune-khan having in a fight, being wounded in the arm, and the physician having given it as their opinion that that abstinence would be prejudicial to his health, the king did not only take off the prohibition he had made him, but send him a certain number of mules loaded with the best wine in the country.


    The Persians hate and condemn cowards and the officers who neglect their duty in the wars are most severely punished.  An instate hereof was seen in Aliculi-khan, governor of Shorosan, who having let slip the opportunity of engaging Tameras, Prince of Georgia, though he might have fought him with advantage, Shah Abbas caused him to be dressed in woman’s clothes and so sent him to the army, where he was walked up and down all day among the soldiers.  The allowance of a horseman is three hundred crowns per annum towards the keeping of himself and his horse; and that of a musketeer two hundred.  They have the reputation not to be over-scrupulous in the keeping of their word, as was seen in the capitulation they granted the garrison of Iruan, which was very ill observed.


    STATE REVENUE [p. 366]

    Those who speak of the wealth of the king of Persia think they speak of a vast and incredible sum when they assign him a yearly revenue of eight-millions of gold, and imagine they raise the reader into admiration when they affirm that the province of Candahar alone brings in yearly near a million of gold; that the cities of Bagdat and Iruan, with the country thereabout, nay in a manner as much, and that it hath been found by the register’s office of the chancery that the king gets out of the suburbs of Isfahan and the villages within bailiwick thereof, near forty thousand crowns.  But those who know that the province of Normandy itself pays yearly such a sum as amounts to almost as much as all the king of Persia’s revenue, will grant there is no hyperbole in what we have affirmed.  This revenue was very much diminished in the time of King Tamasp, when the Turks and other neighboring princes overran Persia, so as that they were possessed of several provinces belonging to that crown.  Besides, there is hardly any bridge of passage, not only upon the frontiers, but also all over the kingdom, nay, in all cities almost, but there is somewhat to be paid, without any distinction of persons, foreign or natives.  All merchandises pay, and the king takes, upon every bail of silk ten crowns.  There is no horse sold but pays XV.D to the king; an ox as much, and an ass one half, and a sheep (which are as thick as ants all over the country) III.D.  The king lets out the caravanseras, which are in cities, and are appointed for lodgings for foreigners and warehouses for merchants, especially at Isfahan where there are twenty five of them, of which not any pays less then five thousand crowns per annum.


    He farms out also the fishing of the rivers , the baths, and stoves, the places of public prostitution and the springs of Neste.  He sells also the water which comes into the fountains, and raises only from the river of Zayanda-rud at Isfahan, the yearly sum of sixteen thousand crowns.  All the Armenian Christians (whereof there is a very great number in Persia) pay yearly a poll-money of two crowns for every head.  Nay, what is more, there is not a person, those only excepted who are maintained by or have some relation to the king, but pays a tax proportionally to what he gets, even to the very midwife.  I say nothing here of the presents brought [to] the king from all parts, and which fall by several channels into the prince’s treasury.  The great lords, though they make good the king’s revenue, yet abate not of their own advantages, and find ways to fleece the country so as that it is not to be admired so true as what a certain emperor sometime said: that it is impossible the spleen should be swollen in any body, and that the other members of the same body should not be wasted and become hectic.


    ‘Twas also Shah Abbas who ordered the letting down of seven thousand and tow hundred marks of gold for the making of the plate we have mentioned elsewhere, which his successors still produce at the entertainments they make foreigners, and consists for the most part in dishes, pots, flagons, and other drinking cups.


    ROYAL OFFICERS [pp. 366-370]

    What we said before of the military officers, to wit, that they were most of them but meanly descended, is as true in those officers who belong to the court.  For there was hardly anyone who could make ostentation of but ordinary parentage.


    The eatemad dowlet, or chancellor, who was the president of the king’s council, the soul of affairs, the principal minister of the state and as it were viceroy of Persia, was the son of one who got his livelihood by writing at Mazandaran, as we have said elsewhere.  These scriveners, as I may call them, are employed only in the copying and transcribing of books, in regard they have not as yet in this country the use of printing as we have in Europe.  He is called eatemad dowlet, in regard he hath the oversight of the king’s revenues and treasury.  This was the most self concerned person of all that ever had the management of public affairs, as a minister of state.  For there was no business done at court, whereof he made not some advantage, and there was no charge or employment to be gotten but the person petitioning for it must have made his agreement with the chancellor, whose exactions were in this particular excessive, not only upon the accompt of the presents, which being made by him twice every year to the court, rendered the king himself in a manner [an] accomplice of his concussions, but also upon this consideration, that being an eunuch, all the wealth he got was at this death to fall to the king.


    The kurtzi-baschi (who had the command of ten thousand horse, whom Shah Ismael appointed as a standing army to be constantly maintained) named Tzani-khan, was a peasant’s son of Schamlu, who in the time of Shah Abbas had been a menial servant to the lord of the court.  These horse, in time of peace, retire to their own habitations, yet are paid as duly as if they were in actual service and meet not again till there be an army on foot, enjoying in the mean time diverse privileges and exemptions, which the other later kings of Persia have granted them.


    The meheter, that is lord chamberlain, or chief gentleman of the chamber, named Shaneser, was a Georgian born, of father and mother Christians.  He had been carried away in his infancy and sold to the country of Persia, where they had made him an eunuch so that he needed not be circumcised to receive the character of the Persian religion.  He had been a page attending in his chamber to Shah Abbas and was much in favor with Shah Safi, upon this account that being always near the king’s person in all both public and private assemblies, nay, even within the seraglio, he had the king’s ear and knew how to comply with his humor and make his advantage of the opportunities he had to speak to him by which means he obtained those favors of him which another could not have asked.


    The wakenhuis, that is, secretary of state and of the king’s revenue, who having forty clerks under him, perpetually employed, issues out all the orders and dispatches which are sent into the provinces and takes an account of all that is received towards the charge of the king’s house, was called Myrsa Masum.  He was a peasant’s son of the village of Dermen in the mountain of Elwend neat Kazvin, where there are among others two villages, to wit, Dermen and Saru, whence come the best pen-men of any in the kingdom, in regard there is not an inhabitant but puts his children to writing as soon as they are able to hold a pen, and keep them so constantly employed therein, that even in the fields and as they keep their flocks, they pass away their time in that exercise.


    Aiculi-khan, who had the charge of divan-beki, that is, President of the council for the administration of justice, was the son of a Christian of Georgia.  He had been taken during the war which Shah Abbas had in those parts, and sold at Isfahan, where he had served as a lackey which had also been the condition of his two brothers, Rustan-khan, Governor of Tauris, and Isa-khan, Jubaschi, who were made eunuchs as he was himself.  The functions of his charge consisted principally in presiding at the judgement of criminal cases, jointly with the sedr and the kasi, and the other ecclesiastical secular judges, whom they call schehra, and oef, under the portal of the king’s palace, and place named divan-chane; and to be personally present a the executions of malefactors.


    The kularagasi, that is, captain of the kulam, or slaves who are sold to the king to serve in the wars upon any order they receive to that purpose, was called Siausbeki and had been one of Shah Abbas’ footmen.  Of these kulams there are about eight thousand and they are permitted to live at their own habitations, as the kurtzi are, and have the same pay: but they enjoy not the same privileges or exemptions, having nothing of that kind which is not common to them with the king’s other subjects.


    The eischikagasi-baschi, or lord high steward, who hath the over-sight of forty stewards that serve under him, called Mortusaculi-khan, was the son of a herdsman, or one of those people whom the Persians call turk, who have no settled habitation, but remove their tents and huts to those places where they think to find the best grass for their cattle.  I said these eischikagasi were a kind of stewards of whom there are at all times four of five at the court who stant at the door of the king’s apartment and serve by half-years under their baschi, or chief, who carries the staff they call dekenek, and stands before the king when he eats in public on days of ceremonies.  He is also one of the two who takes ambassadors under the arms when they are brought to audience.  We have already related who Mortasuculi-khan succeeded in this charge— Ugurlu-khan, whose head Shah Safi had caused to be cut off.  Imanculi Sultan, whom the king of Persia sent upon an embassy to the Duke of Holstein, our master, had the quality of eischikagasi.


    Schahe Wardi, who was jesaul scebet, or master of the ceremonies, was the governor of Derbent’s son, but his grandfather was a peasant of the province of Serab.  The jesaul scebet carries also a staff and his principal function consists in placing strangers at the king’s table and at public assemblies.  The nasir, or controller of the king’s house, whom they also give the quality of kerekjIraq, because he executes the function of a purveyor, whose name was Samambek, was the son of one of the ordinary inhabitants of Kaschan.  The tuschmal, who hath, the over-sight of all the officers belonging to the king’s kitchen, was called Seinel-bek, and was the son of Seinel-khan, whom the king killed with his own hands in the presence of his mother.  The dawatter, that is, secretary of the closet, whose name was Ugurlu-bek, was the son of Emirkune-khan.  He had in that charge succeeded Hassan-beg, who was killed by the king’s order because he had been at supper with Talub-khan, as we related before.  The word dawatter is derived from dawat, which signifies an ink-horn and presenting that part thereof where the ink is to the king when he is to sign anything.  For the king himself carries the seal about his neck, and seals or signs himself by presenting the seal upon the paper after he had put it into the ink.  Ali-bali-bek, who was myra-chur-baschi, that is chief of the gentlemen of the horse, or master of the horse of Persia, was a Senkene by birth and his father was a drover who traded altogether in oxen.


    The mirischikar, or grand falconer, whose name was Chosrow Sultan, was a Christian, an Armenian born, one, notwithstanding his religion, very much in the king’s favor.  Karachan-bek, who had the charge of sekbahn-baschi, that is, overseer of those who kept the dogs for hunting, or chief huntsman, as I may call him, was also a Sen-kene, and the son of a shepherd.  The jesaulkor hath two functions, to wit, that of grand marshal of the lodgings and that of judge of the king’s household.  He marches before the king as well in the city as the country, with a staff in his hand to make way.  He hath under him several other jesauls who are as it were harbingers and sometimes is employed in the securing of persons guilty of treason and such as are imprisoned by the king’s express order.


    [I have omitted a list of twenty-five lesser officers which, for example, include the cup-bearer, the keeper of the king’s shoes, the water bearer and the king’s bread baker.]


    All these officers have their salaries and other allowances which are very duly paid them, not out of the treasury or exchequer but they are charged upon the demesne of certain villages whereof they themselves have the disposal or they are assigned them out of some part of the taxes, or haply on the tribute paid by common prostitutes.


    The Persians seldom meet about affairs but the cloth is laid [i.e., for a meal].  At the two audiences the king gave us, as well at our coming thither, as our departure thence, we dined with him and at all the conferences we had at the chancellor’s, we always found a collation of preserves and after that the cloth was laid and the meat served up.


    When the king eats in public, or comes into any assemblies, besides ten or twelve lords of the court, he is ordinarily attended by the hakim, or physician, the sedr and the minatzim.  The physician appoints what meats he should eat of.  The minatzim, or astrologer, acquaints him with the fortunate and unfortunate hours, and whatever he says is believed as oracleous: and the sedr, who is the chief of their ecclesiastics, explicates to him those passages of the Quran and such points of their divinity where there seems to be any difficulty.  The king and the kasi join together in the naming of the sedr, and they make choice of him among those whom they think best skilled in the explication of the Quran and the laws which depend on it.  They take his advice not only in ecclesiastical but also in civil affairs, but especially in criminal.  He is showed the charge and proceeding against the criminal and he returns his advice sealed with his seal.  The king for the most part follows it, adding these words: “This is the advice of the sedr, which we confirm”, then he orders his own seal to be set thereto.



    [The following sentence has been transposed from an earlier section.]

    Their study of the law can be of no great extent, in regard they have but few laws and those they have are all taken out of the Quran and the commentaries upon it: which the Kasis and the Divanbegs observe, in the decision of differences.  They have besides these, certain local customs, but very few.


    Civil cases are commonly tried before the secular judges whom they call oef.  They are a kind of lawyers according to their way, and they have for their chief the divan-beki, who ought to be well versed in the law of Muhammad.  Their pleading days are Monday and Thursday, and the place where they meet for the administration of justice a is spacious arched hall under the palace-gate where they hear both sides, and if the cases be of importance they report the same to the king and acquaint him with the opinions of the judges, whereupon the king decided them.


    It is forbidden by their law to put out money to use [i.e., usury].  Yet they stick not to do it; but if the usurers be discovered, they are looked on as infamous persons and not admitted into the company of such as are of any quality, nay, they are also very severely punished.  Of this we saw an example as we passed through Ardebil, where they had an odd way to take out a man’s teeth who, by way of interest, had taken one and a half in the hundred for a months time.  They laid him all along on the ground and knocked out his teeth one after another with a little mallet.  They call this kind of usurers sudebur, that is, eaters of interest or usury.  The Persians are permitted to lay out money upon lands, gardens and houses, which they enjoy while they are out of their money, and if they be not redeemed within the time agreed upon between the parties, they are forfeited to the mortgagee.


    Their punishments are cruel and proportionate to the irreclaimable obstinacy of that people, who are violently bent to vice and laugh at gentle chastisements and modern pains.  The least crimes are punished with mutilation of members.  They cut off the nose, ears and sometimes the feet and hands of malefactors, nay, they are put to death by cutting off their heads.  That defiling, which the Latins call violatio [=rape?], is not punished with death, but they think it enough to cut off the part which hath offended, to prove which, there needs only the woman’s oath if she hath the confidence to reiterate it thrice.  The two last kings, Shah Abbas and Shah Safi, have been rather cruel than severe in their punishments as may be inferred from the examples we have already produced thereof, nay, they have so far been such towards some criminals that they have caused them to be tied between two boards and sawn asunder.  Shah Abbas had sent into Spain one named Teinksbeg, who returning from his embassy and having not brought home all his retinue, and the king understanding the interpreter that his ill usage of them had caused many of his people to run away, he took the pains himself to cut off his nose, his ears and a good piece of flesh out of his arm, and forced him immediately to eat them bloody and raw as they were.  Imanculi-khan, who was sent ambassador to the Duke of Holstein, our master, treated his domestics no better.  For a very trivial fault, he caused a spit red hot to be applied to the back of one of his retinue, and he ordered another’s fingers to be knocked with the back of a hatchet till all the bones were bruised: which obliged five or six of his train to leave his service and return into Persia by the way of Italy; for which cruelties he had no doubt been punished at his return, had not the chancellor made his peace with the king.


    [The remainder of the book discusses the Persians' religion and the embassy’s return voyage to Holstein via north Persia, Tartary and Muscovy, pp.370-423.]

    *     *     *


    [1] ‘Eraq-e ‘Ajam (Central Persia), not to be confused with Mesopotamian Iraq.  Eskandar Beg Monshi, trans. Roger Savory, History of Shah Abbas (Boulder, Colorado, 1978), p. 29n.

    [2] A league, or German mile, is equal to 4.6 English miles. Baron, Samuel H., Olearius' Travels in Seventeenth-Century Russia (Stanford, 1967), "Weights and Measures".

    [3] Olearius is mistaken here. Mt Demawend is not located near Isfahan. Foster, William, ed., Thomas Herbert: Travels in Persia (New York, 1929), p. 316.

    [4] Sir Thomas Herbert, who visited Persia between 1627-1629, estimated about 200,000 inhabitants. (Herbert, p. 126). In the 1670s, Chardin estimated between 600,000 – 1,100,000 inhabitants. Savory, Roger, Iran Under the Safavids (Cambridge, New York, 1980), p. 176.

    [5] Allahverdi Khan became governor of Fars in 1595 and commander-in-chief of the armed forces in 1598.  For a short account of his career as a Safavid official see Savory, pp. 81-82.

    [6] The usage of “feet” here may be a translation error.  Similar dimensions given by other travelers are in yards. For the reports of other travelers see Curzon, George, Persia and the Persian Question, 2 vols. (London, 1892), v.2, p. 26n.

    [7] The divan chane, or chancery, was one of two branches of the Safavid government and was overseen by the office of the grand vizier. The other branch was the khassa. McCabe, Ina Baghdiantz, The Shah’s Silk for Europe’s Silver: The Eurasian Trade of the Julfa Armenians in Safavid Iran and India (1530-1750) (Atlanta, 1999), p. 124.

    [8] The khassa was the branch of government responsible for administration of the royal household, overseen by the office of the nazir.  The harem was administered as part of the royal household, thus was under the khassa. McCabe, p. 124.

    [9] The Chihil Sutun was not a mosque, but an audience and banquet hall.  Savory, p. 167.

    [10] John de Laet (1593-1649) was a Flemish scholar, occupied as the Director of the Company of the West Indies, and later one of the directors of the Dutch East India Company.  He was most well known for the many books he authored concerning observations of a wide variety, of which twenty-three are recorded in the British Museum Catalogue of Printed Books. Joannes de Laet, trans J.S. Hoyland, The Empire of the Great Mogol (Bombay, 1928), Introduction.

    [11] A Mosque’s prayer niche signifies the direction of Mecca.

    [12] Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) was the Archbishop of Uppsula and author of A compendious history of Goths, Swedes, & Vandals and other northern nations, translated into English by J. Streater, 1658.

    [13] Rodolf Stadler was a European in Isfahan who killed a Persian thief breaking into his house.  He was convicted and sentenced to death.  Davies, John, trans., The Voyages and Travels of the Ambassadors sent by Frederick Duke of Holstein to the Great Duke of Muscovy, and the King of Persia (London, 1662) p. 280. (Hereafter as "Olearius".)

    [14] An English ell is equal to 45 inches; a Flemish ell to 27.  According to Samuel Baron it is not certain that Olearius used the term consistently.

    [15] This reference is to an earlier event in the book in which Olearius was aided by the monks when he had a fallout with Ambassador Brugman.  After reconciling, Olearius rejoined the embassy.  The story is on p. 289.

    [16] Xenophone (born ca. 430 BC) was a Greek soldier and historian who went to Persia in the very late fifth-century.  He wrote, among other works, an account of the expedition. "Xenophone", Encyclopedia Britannica (14th Edition, 1937), 24 vols. Hereafter as EB.

    [17] Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who lives around the late first-century BC.  He wrote Bibliotheca Historia concerning the history of the ancient Near East and Alexander the Great. "Diodorus Siculus", EB, vol. 7.

    [18] Herodotus (ca. 485-425 BC), the “Father of History”, was a Greek historian who wrote on the Persian-Greek wars of the fifth-century BC. "Hedodotus", EB, vol. 11.

    [19] Paulus Jovius (1483-1552) was an Italian historian and biographer.  He first studied humanities, and then medicine and philosophy at Padua. "Jovius, Paulus", EB, vol. 13.

    [20] Quintus Curtius was a first-century (AD) biographer of Alexander the Great and author of De Rubis Gestis Alexandri Magni. "Curtius Rufus, Quintus", EB, vol. 6.

    [21] The pilgrimage to Mecca (or hajj) is to the holy site of the Kaba.  The tomb of Muhammad is in Medina and is commonly frequented by those on a pilgrimage, although it is not part of the pilgrimage itself.  The title of hajji is given to Muslims who have gone on the pilgrimage. J. Corrigan, F. Denny, C. Eire, M. Jaffee, Jews, Christians and Muslims: A Comparative Introduction to Monotheistic Religions (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 1998), pp. 263-267. Hereafter as Jews, Christians and Muslims.

    [22] Pierre Belon (1517-1564) was a Frenchman who studies medicine at Paris and endeavored on a scientific voyage to Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Arabia and Palastine between 1546-1549. His Les Observations… was first published in 1553, and a second (enlarged) edition appeared two years later. "Belon, Pierre", EB, vol. 3.

    [23] Father Nicola Trigault translated Mathew Ricci’s diary from Italian to Latin in 1615. The diary is an account of the first Jesuit settlement at Macao, China, in 1565. Matthew Ricci, trans. Louis J. Gallagher, China in the Sixteenth-century (New York, 1953), Introduction.

    [24] Dr. Nicholas Tulp (1593-1674). Major, Ralph H., A History of Medicine (Springfield, 1954), 2 vols., pp. 538-539.

    [25] Strabo (born circa 63 BC) was a Greek geographer who wrote on much of the Roman world, ancient Middle East, Persia and India in his Geography. "Strabo", EB, vol. 21.

    [26] Here Olearius is mistaken.  Islamic law permits men to marry only up to four wives at one time on the basis that each is equally treated. Jews, Christians and Muslims, p. 270.

    [27] Husayn was the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.  Shi’ite Muslims uphold that Husayn was the rightful heir to the Caliphate after his father Ali had been assassinated in 661.  Opposition came from the Sunni Muslims who believe that leadership should not be strictly reserved for those in the family of Muhammad.  A Sunni force of the Umayyad Caliphate defeated Husayn in 680; an event which made Husayn a martyr for the Shi’ite Muslims. Jews, Christians and Muslims, pp. 204-205; Lapidus, Ira M., A History of Islamic Societies (Cambridge, 1988), p. 59.

    [28] The term Hanif was occasionally used in Islamic literature as the equivalent of ‘Muslim’.  Generally, it signifies one who adheres to the true religion. "Hanif" Encyclopedia of Islam (Leyden, 1927).

    [29] A first-century AD Roman author of which little bibliographic material is known.

    [30] Sadi (c.1184-1291). One of the most highly renowned Persian poets. The Bustan was published in 1257; the Gulistan in 1258. "Sadi", EB, vol. 19.

    [31] Yazid (r. 680-3) was the ruling Umayyad Caliph when Husayn was defeated at Karbala in 680.

    [32] Anveri (d. 1191) was a renowned Persian poet from Khurasan.  Aside from his literary achievements, he was well known for his skill in astronomy, mathematics, logic, music, and judiciary astrology. "Anveri", EB, vol. 2.

    [33] Jami (1414-1492) was a poet from Khurasan who is generally regarded as the last great classical Persian poet. "Jami", EB, vol. 12.

    [34] Possibly the poet Ruhi-i-Walwalaji (Ruhi of Walwalaj). Browne, Edward G., A Literary History of Persia, 2 vols. (New York, 1902-1906), vol. 2, Index.

    [35] Probably Hafidh of Shiraz (late thirteenth-century). Browne, vol. 2, Index.

    [36] Firdousi (b. ca. 941) was one of the greatest Persian poets.  His most famous work is the Shahnama (“Book of Kings”)—a history of Persia in verse. "Firdousi", EB, vol. 9.

    [37] Probably either Shams-i-Tabris, or Shams-i-Simkash: both Persian poets. Browne, vol. 2, Index.

    [38] Possibly the poet Daqiqi (d. 976) who’s work was completed by Firdausi. "Daqiqi", EB (15th Edition, 1994), vol. 3.

    [39] Avicenna (979-1037).  An eminent Muslim scholar from Bukhara who studies medicine, philosophy, astronomy and mathematics.  Among the nearly 100 treatises that he authored, Avicenna’s most famous is that of the Canon of Medicine. "Avicenna", EB, vol. 2.

    [40] Galen (ca. 130-200 AD) was a Greek physician from Asia Minor and is recognized, next to Hippocrates, as the most prominent physician of the ancient world.  He published hundreds of treatises concerning both medical and non-medical topics. "Galen", EB, vol. 9.

    [41] Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim ‘Paracelsus’ (c.1490-1541).  A German physician who studies and lectured at the University of Basel.  Allegedly he preceded his lectures with a burning of Avicenna’s and Galen’s books in order to further his own medical theories. "Paracelsus, ...", EB, vol. 17.

    [42] The Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (ca. 575-642), who carried out a series of military campaigns against the Pesians in the 620s. "Heraclius", EB, vol. 11.

    [43] Ammianus Marcellinus (born ca. 325 AD).  A Roman born in Antioch who wrote a history of the Roman Empire from Emperor Nerva to Valens (96-378). "Ammianus Macellinus", EB, vol. 1.

    [44] One of these letters is published in English translation. See Eslami, Farhad, ed., Iran and Iranian Studies (Princeton, New Jersey, 1998), p. 181.

    Picture Sources:

  • Chardin: Jean-Baptiste Chardin, Sir John Chardin's Travels in Persia (London, 1720); Les Voyages (Paris, 1811)

  • Herbert: Thomas Herbert, Some years travels into divers parts of Africa, and Asia the great ... (London, 1677)

  • Olearius: Adam Olearius, Vermehrte Newe Beschreibung Der Muscowitischen und Persischen Reyse (Schleswig, 1656)

  • Sanson: Nicholas Sanson, The Present State of Persia ... (London, 1695)

  • Tavernier: Jean-Baptiste Tavernier: The six voyages of John Baptista Tavernier, Baron of Aubonne through Turky, into Persia and the East-Indies ... (London, 1677)

    Works Cited:

    Baron, Samuel H., Olearius' Travels in Seventeenth-Century Russia (Stanford, 1967)

    Browne, Edward G., A Literary History of Persia, 2 vols. (New York, 1902-1906)

    J. Corrigan, F. Denny, C. Eire, M. Jaffee, Jews, Christians and Muslims: A Comparative Introduction to Monotheistic Religions (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 1998)

    Curzon, George, Persia and the Persian Question, 2 vols. (London, 1892)

    Encyclopedia Britannica, 24 vols. (14th Edition, 1937)

    Encyclopedia of Islam (Leyden, 1927)

    Eskandar Beg Monshi, History of Shah Abbas, trans. Roger Savory (Boulder, Colorado, 1978)

    Eslami, Farhad, ed., Iran and Iranian Studies (Princeton, New Jersey, 1998)

    Foster, William, ed., Thomas Herbert: Travels in Persia (New York, 1929)

    Laet, Joannes de, The Empire of the Great Mogol, trans. J.S. Hoyland (Bombay, 1928)

    Lapidus, Ira M., A History of Islamic Societies (Cambridge, 1988)

    Major, Ralph H., A History of Medicine, 2 vols. (Springfield, 1954)

    McCabe, Ina Baghdiantz, The Shah’s Silk for Europe’s Silver: The Eurasian Trade of the Julfa Armenians in Safavid Iran and India, 1530-1750 (Atlanta, 1999)

    Ricci, Matthew, China in the Sixteenth-century, trans. Louis J. Gallagher (New York, 1953)

    Savory, Roger, Iran Under the Safavids (Cambridge, 1980)

    © 2000 Lance Jenott