Imágenes de páginas

eleven, the party breaks up, and the occupations of the day are ended. There remains, indeed, a prayer to be said in the middle of the night, but there is reason to believe that it is usually forgotten, for only three of the five daily prayers are deemed indispensable.

The Persians are too much taken up with etiquette and ceremony not to be fond of visiting. The dependent would not on any account allow a day to pass without paying his respects to his patron, the courtier without presenting himself before the prince, and friends without mutually visiting one another. The ceremonies and compliments differ with the rank of the visitor. Every one who visits is sensitively alive to the degree of attention to which he thinks himself entitled ; and every one who is visited is careful to render neither less nor more consideration than the position of his visitor claims. If the visitor is a person greatly superior, the master meets him at the entrance to the court of the house; if considerably superior, at the entrance of the room; if an equal, he rises as he enters; but if an inferior, he merely makes the motion of rising.

If an inferior is honoured with a visit from a superior, he does not sit down till the latter is

seated, nor rise till he has risen. This, it will be seen, does not materially differ from our own customs—the natural dictates of politeness being much the same in all but the most barbarous nations. The master of the house usually occupies the upper end of the side carpet, near or at the right hand corner of the room-the corner being the seat of honour among all western Asiatic nations, as it was among the ancient Israelites, 1 Sam. xx. 25; Amos iii. 12; but if he wishes to do especial honour to his guest, he gives up his place to him, or desires him to take his place by his side. Ordinarily, when a Persian comes into an assembly, and has saluted the master and received his recognition, he marks with his eye the place in the line of guests to which he holds himself entitled, and proceeding straight to it, sits down and wedges his way in there, without offering the slightest apology for the general disturbance of the whole line which he produces.

It does not generally, but does sometimes, happen that a person takes a higher place than that to which he has any just claim. The Persian scribes are remarkable for their arrogance in this respect, in which, as in many other respects, they bear no small resemblance

to the Jews of the same profession in the time of our Lord. The master of the house has, however, the right of placing any one as high in the rank of the assembly as he may choose, and Mr. Morier mentions a remarkable instance of this at a public entertainment to which he was invited. When the assembly was nearly full, the governor of Kashan, a man of humble mien, although of considerable rank, came in and seated himself at the lowest place; when the master of the house, after numerous expressions of welcome, pointed with his hand to an upper seat in the assembly, to which he desired him to move, and which he accordingly did. These circumstances strikingly illustrate the parable which our Lord uttered, when, at a public entertainment, he noticed how carefully those that were bidden chose out the highest places for themselves, Luke xiv. 8-11.

The style of the complimentary phrases used on such occasions, and which are seldom varied, may be seen from the account which the Rev. Judkin Perkins gives of his interview with the governor of Oroomiah. "We found the governor occupying a splendid mansion, and surrounded by numerous attendants. He received us with much civility and apparent kindness. As we

entered the great hall, he beckoned us to the upper end, to sit by his side, and ran through a long string of inquiries after our health, in the usual Persian manner-Kaef-üz yŏkhshée dur? (Is your health good?) Dámág hún chákh dur? (Your palate-appetite-lusty ?) Kaef-üz koek dur? (Are you in hale-fat-keeping ?) etc.; and withal so rapidly that we found no room for some time to interpose a reply, and could merely nod our assent till he had finished. We then inquired after his health, to which, with a solemn stroke of the beard, he answered, Alhémdooleelah, (Thanks be to God.) Sizín devletavüzdan, (By your auspices.) Sizín Ahválüz yokhshée ólsún, v' menimke yõkhshée dŭr, (Only let your condition be prosperous, and I am of course very well.) He then reiterated his expressions of welcome: Hosh geldüz, (Your coming is delectable.) Sefa geldüz, (Your arrival is gladsome.) Güzum ústá geldüz, (Upon my eyes, you have come,) etc. To divert the luscious tide, it was remarked that I came from the new world; but to this he replied, 'Everything must be superlative that comes from the new world,' and proceeded to lavish upon me and my country a copious shower of fine sayings of the like description."

The manner in which the Persians take their meals is very different from ours. They are strangers to the use of tables, knives, and forks; and such is the power of habit, that articles which we cannot dispense with are to them the most troublesome and inconvenient. Dinner in Persia, (or supper as some call it,) though the chief meal of the day, and of course, as in all countries, a matter of some consideration, is an affair of far less importance or duration than with us. Even when a prince gives a feast to his friends, the time of eating scarcely occupies half an hour. The guests sit on the felt carpet along one side, or at the top of the room, with their backs leaning against the wall; a long narrow strip of chintz, or coloured cotton, called sofra, (or, as we should say, table-cloth,) is spread before the whole party by two servants. The basins and ewers containing cold water are then produced to wash the hands, in the manner already described. Trays of tinned copper, termed mujmuahs, are brought in, each containing in general a dish of beautiful plain boiled rice, with another of some sort of pillaw—that is, with butter and meat, or vegetables, or both; one or two smaller dishes containing exquisite stews, to season the rice; some pickles, sweet

« AnteriorContinuar »