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chairs, small mattresses, about a yard wide, are placed on the floor around the room, and covered with chintz, silk, or cloth of gold. Cushions set on end against the wall serve for leaning against. When the time of rest arrives, a mattress is spread upon the carpet, with a kind of counterpane, and two pillows of down. This is all the bed used by the Persians, among whom the employment of sheets and blankets is not known, and who rest without undressing. The mattress is of velvet, and the counterpane of silk brocade, or cloth of gold or silver. Articles of this kind are valuable, and are not changed perhaps for a century ; for the velvets and brocades are of the most lasting texture, and seem indeed scarcely ever to wear out, owing, perhaps, in part to the extreme dryness of the atmosphere.
In Persia, a native never enters a room in boots or slippers ; and a transgression of this usage by foreigners is looked upon as the height of ill-breeding, if not a premeditated insult. As the people use their carpets not only for domestic purposes, but to kneel down on when they say their prayers, they are considered in some measure sacred, and hence arises the custom of a visitor leaving his slippers at a room door. The term “ door" here means whatever denotes the way of ingress to the apartment; for although in general there is a double door of carved or painted wood, which may be closed at pleasure, yet it is so seldom shut in the day that, in summer, we usually find a silk or chintz curtain filling the vacant space of the entrance, its light drapery being not only a cooler, but a more elegant appendage; besides that a person can slip in and out without that distraction and noise caused by the frequent opening and shutting of a wooden door ; for which reason, probably, the practice has been adopted in our courts of law at Westminster Hall. An attending servant raises the curtain at the approach of a visitor, and drops it when he has entered.
HABITS OF LIFE.
The daily routine of Persian existence will help to furnish a good notion of the condition and habits of the people. Persians of all ranks rise as soon as it is light, and perform their morning devotions. Then comes the nachtah or breakfast, which consists of grapes and other kinds of fruits that are in season, cheese and goats' milk, and finishes--as everything is finished in Persia—with a cup of strong coffee. The artisan then proceeds to his work, the tradesman to the bazaar, and the gentleman repairs to the divan khaneh, or the public room in which he receives company, and where he expects his visitors and dependants. He is probably engaged with them till nine o'clock, listening to the reports of the morning, settling disputes, and arranging domestic concerns. It is the time for him to visit the court of the
prince or governor, where he pays his obeisance, and takes care to remain sufficiently long in the presence of the person he visits to attract his observation. His kaleon always accompanies him, in charge of the servant, whose sole duty it is to attend to this important instrument of Persian existence; and when he thinks he can retire unnoticed, he regales himself with smoking. About the probably retires, which is a signal for all those who are in attendance to take their departure. On his return home, his dinner, or more properly lunch, tchacht,) is brought, consisting generally of bread, cheese, butter, and different sorts of fruits. After this meal, as before, according to the time, he says his noontide prayers, and then withdraws into the harem to his family, and to enjoy his customary repose. About three o'clock, he may then again have to attend the public audience, especially if he has any official employment. If not, he rides out, or pays visits ; or, if his rank should be too exalted, he stays at home to receive them. At four, he repeats the afternoon prayers.
When night comes on, the carpets are spread in the open air, and with either friends or dependents he prepares to pass the evening. They converse on the events of the day, or the news of the court; they relate extraordinary adventures, and recite passages of their favourite poets. The kaleon supplies the intervals of silence. The hour for the fourth daily prayer arrives, but without causing any interruption to the flow of conversation or amusement. Each rises in turn, goes to a corner of the room, places himself on a small carpet with his face turned towards Mecca, and performs his religious service with so much greater dispatch than devotion, as significantly proclaims, "What a weariness it is,” in his estimation, and as mere formal worship always must become.
About ten o'clock, a servant announces that supper (shamee) is ready. At the same time, he brings with him an ewer and basin, and in the fashion so often indicated in Scripture, he 'pours water upon the hands" of each of the guests. The person holds out his hands, one under the other, and the servant pours water upon them from the long spout of his ewer, while the basin held underneath receives the water that falls from them. They then draw themselves around the tray on which the dishes are placed, and apply themselves to the food before them with much earnestuess. About