The several sorts of People.
IN Persia are divers sorts of Inhabitants, viz. First Strangers of several Nations, which come thither to Traffick, amongst which the Indians are the most; as also Banians, who come thither out of the Province of Guzaratte. There are like∣wise several sorts of Christians, Assyrians, Nestorians, and Maronites; but the greatest number are Geor∣gians and Armenians, who drive a very great Trade, and by reason of their Wealth, monopolize as it were most of the Commodities into their own hands, especially the Silk in the Countreys near the Turks, and dwell in great numbers in the Sub∣urb Zulfa in Ispahan, where several People out of Europe have their Residences, as English, Hollan∣ders, Portuguese, and others, to Trade.
The Natives of Persia are of two sorts, viz. Per∣sian Mahumetans, and Gauren, that is, Unbelievers, notwithstanding they name themselves Behdun,* that is, People of a true Faith; Olearius calls them Kebbers, and others the true Offspring of those an∣cient Persians that liv'd in the time of Alexander the Great; they are by their Wars with several Princes reduc'd to a small handful of People, which live onely in three or four Towns in Persia, and among others in Ispahan, where they reside (as Olearius saith) in one of the four Suburbs call'd Kebrahath, or (as Della Valle hath it) in Gauroston, for Gauroston signifies The Countrey or Residence of the Gaures; which Place (according to Della Valle) is very well built, the Streets straight and broad, and much bet∣ter than those in the Suburb Ciolfa; but the Houses are not above one Story high, without Ornaments, according to the State of the Persians that dwell in them: for the Gaures are a poor People i• outward appearance, driving no Trade, and Till onely so much Land as will maintain their Families: They are strong Limb'd like the modern Persians, but shave not their Cheeks and Chins after their man∣ner, but suffer their Beards to grow like the Turks: moreover, they wear long Hair on their Heads like the ancient Persians (as Herodotus describes them) in former times. The Men go all after one fashion in their Habits; their Caps are round, like those of the present Persians, commonly quite white, without any other colours. The Women are also Cloth'd after one manner, but their Apparel hath greater resemblance with the Arabian or Chaldean, than the Persian: On their Heads they wear a handsom long Veyl of a green colour, which hangs down to their Wastes before, and touches the Ground behind; they always walk unvey'ld in the Streets, for a distinction from the Mahumetan Per∣sian Women. They are very simple, and speak a peculiar Language, differing from the modern Per∣sian, and use different Characters, which they Carve on the Doors of their Houses. They wor∣ship, and keep to this day, the Orimasda, or ever-burning Fire, after the same manner as the ancient Priests did, in the time of Cyrus and Darius. They never go to Wars without the consecrated Wa∣gons, adorn'd with Gold, wherein the Fire was kept burning on Silver Altars. They also Pray three times a day, viz. Morning, Noon, and Evening, and Believe in one onely God, Creator of all things, who is invisible and omnipotent; where∣fore the Mahumetans have unjustly given them the Name of Gauren, or Idolaters. It hath been written by several, that they worship the Sun, Moon, and Stars, for lesser Angels, or rather, as they say them-themselves, by the Names of Angels. They curse Mahomet, and take him and all his Followers for Unbelievers. They abhor, and are afraid of Frogs, Tortoises, Lobsters, Crabs, and the like. They neither bury, nor burn their Dead, but keep them above Ground in a certain Wall'd place, where setting them upright with their Eyes open as if living, they prop them up with Forks, and so leave them till dropping down they dissolve by putrefa∣ction.
*Della Valle makes the Mahumetans in Persia of two sorts; the one are those properly cay'd Agemi, or Agiami, Extracted from Agem or Agiam, which hath the same signification with the word Pars or Fars, though the Learned use the Name Agiami, to express in general, and without distinction, all In∣habitants of this Kingdom, of what Province soe∣ver: for the Name Persi belongs properly to those in the Province of Persia.* The second sort of Ma∣humetans are the Quizilbasci, or Nobility and Gen∣try, in high esteem in Persia, who being Extracted from the Turks, made themselves Masters of the Countrey, and assum'd the absolute Government thereof till Ismael Sefi's time, the first Raiser of the present Royal Family. They are call'd Kisilbasch, that is, Red-Heads; which Name was first given them by the Turks in derision; but of late they de∣light therein, and are proud to be so call'd, preten∣ding that a great Mystery of their Religion is ex∣press'd thereby. The word Kisilbasch is by Euro∣rean Writers spell'd several ways, but the right Name (according to Olearius) is Kisilbasch, being a Turkish word, compounded from Kisil, that is, Red, and also signifies Gold, and Basch, that is, A Head, and apply'd to them by reason of the several sorts of red Caps they wear.
According to Jovius and Bizarro, the first In∣venter of these Caps amongst the Persians, was one Techellis, a Disciple of Harduellis, otherwise call'd Eider; but Minadoi and Olearius think otherwise: for they say, when the Persians upon the advice of Sofi or Sefi, the Promoter of their Sect, fell from the Turkish Religion, and began to honor Aaly be∣yond Mahomet and his Followers, Omar, Osman, and Abubeker, they would have the twelve Succes∣sors of Aaly (as shall be declar'd at large in their Religion) to be accounted and worshipp'd as Imams or Saints: As a testimony whereof, the religious Orders were, according to a Law made at that time, Page 47to wear Caps with twelve Plaits or Folds, sharp on the top, and broad at bottom: But because the Turks after this fell up on the Persians several times, and kill'd the Priests, who were accounted the chief Incendiaries, they began upon this Divisi∣on to leave off their Caps, that so they might not be known:* But when Schach Ismael Sefi prepar'd to set out an Army against the Turks, who had alrea∣dy penetrated far into Persia, he sent from Kilan, whither he retir'd, to the eminentest Provinces and Towns, to acquaint them with the intolerable Op∣pression the Countrey and their Religion would lie under, in case the Turks should become their Ma∣sters; therefore he desir'd the Natives to joyn with him to beat out the Enemy, with a Promise, that if he should re-gain the Kingdom, he would make all those Persons that so assisted him, a general In∣franchisement, without paying any manner of Tribute, which so pleas'd the Persians, that in a short time they rais'd an Army of three hundred thousand Men, and made their first Attempt upon the City Ardebil, from whence they drove the Turks Garrison without any resistance; after which the several Provinces entred into a Con∣tract with the King, that they would venture their Lives and Fortunes in defence of him and their Religion:* In testimony whereof the King order'd the foremention'd plaited Caps, which were to signifie the twelve Imams, or Aaly's Successors, to be made and distributed amongst the Soldiers; but there being not so much red Cloth in Ardebil, a Shoemaker made the first twelve of red Leather, and presented them to the King, who save them to his prime Commanders: After which time, every Soldier in King Ismael's Army wore a red Cap, which the Turks seeing, call'd them Kisilbasch, or Red-Heads. These Caps are by them call'd Tash or Tagh, that is, A Crown, and therefore the Persi∣ans are well pleas'd with the Name Kisilbasch, be∣cause it signifies Red, or rather Gold-Heads. The yet remaining Successors of Aaly also wear these Caps, which being commonly ty'd about with Rib∣bons are call'd Taky. Della Valle affirms, that these red Bonnets of Ismael Sefi, are worn under the Tur∣bants, and have a pretty long Tassel on the top, which sticks half way out of the Turbant, and al∣so twelve narrow Plaits or Folds, in commemo∣ration of the twelve Successors of Aaly. But at this day, not all the Persians, but onely those that are Successors of the foremention'd Order, and of the Family of Aaly and Sefi, wear such Caps; neither do the Persians without distinction, suffer them∣selves to be call'd Kisilbasch, but onely the Succes∣sors of Aaly as, and also the Kings Guards, there∣fore when they say,*Let us go to Quizilbasci, 'tis as much as to say, Let us go to Persia for when those that are experienc'd in the Persian Tongue speak of a Quizilbasci, they do not mean thereby a common Persian, but a Soldier. There are also two sorts of Quizilbasci, some of them are Heirs or Successors of the first, whose State and Quality lasts as long as their Families; others are from time to time by them promoted to that Dignity: for all Slaves, from what Nation soever, that come into Persia, and List themselves in the Army, as the Janisaries among the Turks, are made Quizilba∣scies, and consequently Free-holders and Gentle∣men of the Countrey, as also all their Successors. Moreover, when the King will shew any particular Favor to a Stranger, he makes him a Quizilbasci, by putting the red Cap on his Head.
*The Quizilbascies consist of thirty two Tribes, perhaps because in the beginning they deriv'd from thirty two sorts of People, by whose assistance Ismael Sefi made himself Master of the Realm. Six∣teen of these Families are call'd Right-handed, and the other sixteen Left-handed Men, because the first sixteen are always seen on the Kings right, and the other sixteen on his left Side, as well in Mar∣ches and other Cavalcades, as in the Divan or Council-house, or the Kings Court.
*John the Persian saith the Tribes of the Quizil∣bascies are as so many Noble Houses or Families, as Dukes, Marquesses, and Earls. But this Della Valle contradicts, affirming, that they are not Fa∣milies, but Tribes, distinguish'd by peculiar Names or Titles, which they either made choise of them∣selves, or were given to them by King Ismael in the beginning, for their heroick Exploits. Moreover, the great number of the Quizilbascies is a sufficient testimony of the Tribes: Likewise those of one Tribe have no Relation to those of another, but onely bear the same Name. Add hereunto the great difference in the Qualities of the People in one Tribe, for some of them are Chans, Sultans, and Beigs, which may stand in competition with our Lords; others, nay the greatest number, are poor People, in so mean Condition, that they are for∣ced to serve for Grooms and Servants; yet never∣theless they bear the same Title with the Sultan or Chan of the same Tribe.
There are also a People call'd Reajet or Tat, that is, Subjects, which are, as among us,* accounted the vulgar or meanest of the Commonalty; for the Name Tat is given to Mechanicks: Yet never∣theless, if we make a farther enquiry into the Name Tat, we shall find it to be more Noble than that of Quizilbasci, because Tat is the Name of those Ex∣tracted from the real and ancient Loyns of the Persians, and therefore the King gives it not onely to People of mean Condition, but also to the richest and most powerful, nay, to the Myrsa and Princes of the Blood; and lastly, to all those, who out of fear, or for other Reasons have laid down Arms, or resigning publick Offices have deserted the Court.