Their Policy in Government, Oeconomy, and Splendor of the Court.
*THe Government of this Countrey is by absolute Monarchy, for the King being the Chief, hath all things in his own power, to do whatsoe're he pleases, being able to make or break Laws without any contradiction, nay, to take away any ones Estate or Life, though he be the greatest Lord in the Countrey; in short, his Will is a Law in all things to his Peo∣ple.
*The general Title of the King is Sophy, deriv'd from the Arabick word Suff, which signifies Woolly, because the last Kings have instituted an Order to wear Woollen, and not Cotton or Linnen Tur∣bants, as the Turks do; or else because Sophy signi∣fies Wise, or Experienc'd, according to the Greeks.
Olearius tells us, that Writers call the last Per∣sian Kings Sophy, because the Promoter of their Sect was call'd Schach Sefi, from whom it is become a Title of Honor, as Defender of the Faith to his Majesty of Great Britain, Most Christian to the French, and Catholick to the King of Spain.
King Ismael also caus'd himself to be nam'd Schach Sade, that is, The Son of Schach, as a token of his Extract from Schach Sefi, who was so highly esteem'd amongst them.
Some say that this Name Sophy signifies a Man, which renouncing the World, endeavors onely to serve God; so that Xeque Ismael bore the Title of Sophy, because he appear'd to be the greatest Pro∣moter of his Sect. And sometime before him, Halilah being advanc'd to great Dignity, was for the same reason call'd Sophy. But since Schach Is∣mael none of his Successors have us'd that Title; and though there are a great number of Sophies through all Persia, yet we must know they are all Ecclesiasticks.
The right Name which the Persians give to their King, is Schach or Sa, after the Italian pronuncia∣tion, which signifies King; or Patxa, which others write Padischa, that is, The supream Schach, or King of Kings: They also call him Sahib, that is, Lord, or Governor. Some also affirm, that the Kings are likewise nam'd Choda or Chodohon, which in the Persian Tongue signifies God; but that is onely a mistake, for Choda or Chodabende as the Sir-name of Schach-Abbas's Father; the natural signification of the word is one that is oblig'd to God.
At the Persian Court are many which bear the Title of King, as Chan and Sultan have the signifi∣cations of King, the one in the Turkish, and the other in the Persian Tongue, which proceeds from hence, because the chief Princes of Persia, to make themselves the more eminent, will have Subjects that are styl'd Kings, though in truth they are but Vice-Roys.
*Mizza or Mirza, is in the Arabick properly a Title of Honor, and signifies Prince, or more pecu∣liarly, A Prince of the Blood, according to which signification the eldest Son, who is Heir apparent to the Crown, bears no other Name, being gene∣rally call'd Sultan Mirza, i.e. Prince of the Realm.
Persons of Quality generally bear two Names, besides a third, which is a Title of Honor, which last is commonly put behind, as Assa Chan Beid, that is, Isa, or Jesus Chan Lord, which is quite con∣trary to the Christians, who always place their Title before their Name.
*The Turkish Emperor in his Letters to the King of Persia doth not style him Schach, but Schach Ogli, that is, A holy Mans, or Prophets Son.
The King to be distinguish'd from other Per∣sons wears a red Turbant, differing in fashion from others, with twelve Ribbons, instituted by Schach Ismael, in commemoration of the twelve Sons of Aaly, from whom he boasted his Extract. This Turbant, which some call Tage or Tache, is as much with them as a Crown with us. Minadoi tells us, that the first Calif or Mustaed Dini, puts the said Turbant on the King's Head at his Coronation, or taking upon him the Government. The King also wears his Turbant after another manner than other People, for that which they wear before, he wears behind, which none in all Persia dares do but him∣self, upon pain of Death.
*This Kingdom is Hereditary, and the King's eldest Son always succeeds him in the Throne. So long as there be any Heirs of the lawful Wife, they Inherit, but for want of such, those that are begotten on the Chassees or Concubines, and for defect of such, it devolves upon the deceased King's nearest Relations. These, as also those that boast themselves to be deriv'd from the old Sefi, are call'd Schach Elwend, or Schachavends, that is, Successor of Schach, and have great Priviledges in the Coun∣trey, yet for the most part live very sparingly.
The Houses in which the King's Children are Page 75born, they make priviledg'd places, and if it be from the Court, and in any remote place, the House is immediately inclos'd with a Wall.
*In ancient times the Kings of Persia bore a Cre∣scent proper for their Coat of Arms, as the Greeks the Sun; but now it is quite contrary, for the Per∣sians bear a Sun, and the Turks which possess Greece, a Half-Moon. But Schach Sefi bore in his Great Seal, which was about the bigness of a Half-Crown, nothing but this Inscription, I Schach Sefi am a zealous Servant of the onely God, and about the edges was Engraven, Aaly, they may say of you what they please, I am always your Friend; who before this Seal doth not account himself Dust and Earth, though he be an Angel, may he be turn'd to Dust and Ashes.
*The Coronation is celebrated in Ispahan, though formerly at Cafa or Cufa, near Bagdad, but remov'd from thence by reason of the too near neighbor∣hood of the Turks; the manner of it is as follow∣eth: On a Table an Ell high they lay as many rich Carpets as there have been Kings of that Dignity since the beginning of Schach Ismael Sefi; upon these they set their new King, to whom the chief Chans carry the Crown, which he kisses three times in the Name of GOD, Mahomet, and Aaly, and then rubbing his Forehead with the same, his Chamberlain, whom they call Lele, sets it upon his Head, at which they all cry, God save the King, God grant him to Reign from one to a thousand years; then kissing his Feet they bring him great Presents, and spend the day in Mirth and Jollity. Minadoy tells us, that the chief Calif sets the Tur∣bant or Tage on the King's Head at his entring into the Throne; but they take no Oaths, nor have any Restrictions laid upon them.
*The Kings, and those of the Royal Family are generally bury'd at Ardebil, and lie interr'd round about Schach Sefi's Tomb.
When the King appears at any publick Meet∣ing, he is generally accompany'd, besides twelve Courtiers, with the Seder, Minatzim, and Hakim. The Hakim is his Physician, and tells him what Meat is wholsom, and what unwholsom. The Mi∣natzim is his Astrologer, who acquaints him with all the good and bad Hours wherein he is to un∣dertake any great Design, and is herein credited like an Oracle, the King undertaking nothing without his Advice.
The Seder is the chief of the Clergy, and is as the Muffi amongst the Turks, elected by the King and Casi, being generally a Learned Man, well skill'd in the Alcoran, and must be ready to give his Opinion on all such things as are demanded of him, because according to his Judgment they pass Sentence. Some Decrees are also Pass'd by the Seder himself, who Sealing them with his own Signet, sends the same to die King, who writes un∣der him, This is the Opinion of the Seder, which We confirm; under which he puts his Great Seal.
The Causes of Citizens are Judg'd by other Lawyers, who are call'd Orf, and are under the chief Judge Diwanbeki, who is no less experienc'd in the Mahumetan Tenents than the Seder.
*The Days on which they keep their Courts of Judicature are Mondays and Thursdays, on which they meet at Ispahan near the King's Palace, in a publick arch'd place, where they hear and deter∣mine Causes, and if any thing chance to come be∣fore them, which they judge to be of too great consequence for them to decide, then they order it to be heard before the King.
*All Offenders or Criminals are punish'd with extream severity, the manner whereof is several, and many times invented by the Judges, accord∣ing to the nature of the Crimes; but the most asual are to cut off their Noses, Hands, and Feet, ripping up of the Belly, flaying alive, and hang∣ing up by the Heels; which last is perform'd after this manner: They make two Holes in the Ma∣lefactors Legs behind the Ancle, between the Bone and the great Tendon, through which they put a Rope, whereby they hang them on a Tree so high, that their Heads do just touch the Ground; in which manner, if the Malefactor be condemn'd to die, they let him hang two or three days, till after an intolerable number of Pains he gives up the Ghost; or if he die not in that man∣ner, then they shorten his time by ripping open his Belly. Others for smaller Offences are hang'd up an hour or two with their Head downwards. He that Ravisheth a Woman, and is convicted by her Swearing three times, or commits Sodomy, hath his Genitals cut off.
*Their Laws forbid the putting of Money out to Use, which nevertheless they do privately; but if any one be accus'd and found guilty thereof, he is accounted worse than a Jew, and not permitted to come in company with any Persons of note. In Ardebil dwelt one, who lending Money by the Moneth at a Dollar and a half per Cent. had his Teeth knock'd out with a Hammer. Such Per∣sons as practise this, are call'd Suchur, which sig∣nifies Usurer. But at they permit the Mortgaging of Lands for a Sum of Money, which the Lender re∣pays himself by the Rent, without receiving any other Interest.
Schach Abbas and Schach Sefi us'd strange and horrid ways to punish Criminals; some they caus'd to be made fast betwixt two Boards, and then Saw'd in two in the middle.
A Persian Ambassador being on a time sent to the King of Spain, and treating his Servants ill in his Journey thither, and they complaining of it, the King, at his Return into Persia, with his own Hands cut off his Nose and Ears, and a piece of Flesh out of his Arms, which he forc'd him in his Presence to eat.
It is also a very common Punishment at Ispahan, to throw down Malefactors from the Steeple built on the Mosque Haron Viliaier, and afterwards to burn them. To this Death Women which have committed any hainous Crimes are condemn'd.
When any Person of Quality that is in the King's Service hath committed a Crime which he supposes may hazard the loss of his Life, he goes with a naked Sword hung about his Neck before his Majesty's Privy-Chamber, to beg pardon for his Offence.
Robbers and Highway-men are set in the Ground up to the Middle, and the upper part of their Bodies inclos'd with great Posts six Foot high, and so starv'd to death.
*But because Persia is inhabited in most places, it is very secure travelling, insomuch that the whole Countrey is free from Thieves. If any be robb'd in his Journey, though it be by his own Servants, the Villages near which the Fact is committed, or the Magistrates thereof, upon the Complaint of the Person robb'd, either pay the value, or restore to him the like Goods taken from him. There is also Guards for the security of the Roads, which are call'd Rabdari, to whom Tra∣vellers give small Sums of Money.Page 76
*As all the strange people in Persia enjoy the Liberty of Conscience, so they also judge and de∣termine Causes amongst themselves according to the Laws of their native Countreys; as well in Matters of Life and Death, as Debts, and the like, insomuch that the King's Courts of Judica∣ture have nothing to do with them, which Custom is at this day so common, that not onely the Peo∣ple, but also every person of Quality that is a Stranger in Persia; as Agents, and Ambassadors from Forreign Princes, &c. enjoy the same Pri∣viledge unquestion'd, as if they were at Home.
*At the Court are divers Officers which have each a Title according to their employments, and follow one another in their several Degrees.
Eahtemad-Dowlet is the Chancellor, whose bu∣siness it is to look after the Revenue of the Realm, and to increase the same; from whence he bears his Title, and is like a Vice-Roy, and not onely publick, but also all manner of private Business doth pass through his Hands.
A Curtzibaschi is a Commander over ten or twelve thousand Bowe-men, which being first rais'd by Schach Ismael, dwell in several Parts of the Countrey as a Free-people, and upon any occasion march to a known Rendezvouz, where the said General meets and commands them.
Meheter is a Gentleman-usher, who is constant∣ly with the King in his Chamber or at any publick Meeting, and in the Seraglio; and therefore is often permitted to speak with more freedom than the Chancellor.
Wakeunis, is a Privy Councellor and Secretary, who writes the King's Letters and Edicts, and also keeps an Account of the Revenues of the Crown; to which purpose he hath eleven Clarks or Under-Secretaries allow'd him.
Every Precinct or Ward of a City hath a pe∣culiar Governor or Magistrate, whom they call Aksacal, that is, Grey-beard, though never so young, which amongst other Affairs take care of the King's Guests that are lodg'd in any Caravan∣sera standing within their Liberty, that they want nothing they are desirous to have.
Assas is a Constable of the Watch, but hath greater Power, for he is not onely authoriz'd to take or apprehend any suspitious Persons, but al∣so to punish them; nay, take away their Lives according to Martial Law; provided, the Offen∣der be taken in the Fact.
The Diwanbeki though a Supream Judge, and often sitting on the Bench with the Seder and Casi, is forc'd, when the King punishes any person of Quality with Death, to perform the Office of Executioner himself.
The Culargasi bears Command over the Culams, that is, Slaves or Servants who have sold them∣selves to be the King's Servants, who performing the Office of Soldiers, are eight thousand in Num∣ber, and like the Curtzi are Quarter'd in the Countrey at the King's charge.
Eischicagasi-Baschi is the chief Marshal or Com∣mander of forty Eischicagasi, who though they dwell in several Parts of the Countrey, wait by turns, five at a time, and generally stand at those Doors through which you must go into the pre∣sence of the King, from whence they are call'd Door-keepers. When any strange Ambassadors have Audience before the King, then the Eischi∣caga-Baschi having a Dekemek or Staff, leads them up by the Arm.
The Jesaul Sohebet or Master of the Ceremo∣nies, places all Strangers that are invited to eat at the King's Table, in their proper Places, where∣fore he always attends with a Staff in his Hand be∣fore the Pallace Gate to receive and comple∣ment such strange Guests.
The Nasir is the Steward whom they also call Kereckjerack, who provides all manner of Neces∣saries for the Court. The Tuschmal or Purveyor takes care for all sorts of Provisions, and com∣mands the Kitchin.
Mohurdar is the Lord-Keeper of the Great Seal.
The Dawattar is the Secretary, who always carries a little Ball like our Printing Balls, with which, when occasion requires he wets the Seal with Ink, which the King constantly wears about his Neck to make an Impression with, from whence he also receives his Denomination Dawat or Ink-carrier, for the Persians Print all their seals wetted with Ink on Paper, in stead of making Im∣pressions in Wax.
Mohur signifies a Signet or Seal-Ring, and the word Dar, which hath a general signification of Officer, is us'd in a commanding sense, in stead of having; as if you would say, Haver or Keeper of the Seal. Besides the Great Seal, the King hath a less Signet to seal his Letters withal, which he sends to his Vice-Roys and Governors, and o∣ther publick Writings wherewith no Person is intrusted, for the King wears the same in his Ring, and makes an Impression with his own Hand therewith.
The Myrachurbasschi, is the Master of the Horse; Myrischicar, the chief Falconer; Sechhahnbaschi, the Huntsman; Jesaulcor, like our Knight Mar∣shal which rides before the King, and with a Cane clears the way, is under the Lord Marshal, and hath a Deputy under him call'd Jesaul, which are as our Marshals Men whom he imploies on all oc∣casions, and sometimes to apprehend Malefactors; Suflretzi, the King's Carver; Abdar, the King's Cup-bearer, who has deliver'd to him the Wine or Water for the King's drinking in a seal'd Ves∣sel, which he publickly opens, and so presents it to the King; Chasinedar, the Treasurer; Ambadar, the Purveyor of Corn; Jesaul Nesar, the Person that keeps the Kings Shoes when he goes into the Hall; Mehmandar or Mehimander, he that provides Lodgings and all other Necessaries for Forraign Ambassadors, and not onely waits upon them, but also acquaints the King with their business, he be∣ing the first that hath any knowledge thereof gi∣ven him, nay, all Affairs of what consequence soever must pass through his Hands, though the Agents were sent from other Princes to treat of nothing else but Matters of State, which makes the Mehimander to be in great Esteem and Re∣putation.
The King also ordains another peculiar Mehi∣mander, to take care and provide for such Ambas∣sadors as he esteems more than ordinary; the other Officers are of meaner degree, viz. the Isauly, are a People who as Messengers, wait at Court, and are sent abroad on all occasions.
The Kischiktzibaschi, is Captain of the Guard, as the Tzabedar is Master of the Ordnance, and the Tzartzi chief Herald at Arms, who proclai∣meth all the King's Edicts.
The Tzelaudarbaschi, is Captain of the King's Horse-Guard, and Master of the Stirrop. The Mostofi, is the principal Secretary of State, who is permitted to keep several Clarks. The Serai∣dar or Surveyor of the Works, who keeps in re∣pair Page 77pair the King's Pallaces. The Clitar serves as Porter; the Muschrift is the Clark of the Kitchin; the Cannati, is the Confectioner; the Sbherbedar, buies all the King's Sweet-meats; the Omatzdar, being an Archer, teaches His Majesties Pages and other Courtiers to shoot at Marks; the Bil∣dars are Pyoneers, which keep constantly at the Court, and attend when the King travels, clean∣ing the ways or cutting steps in rocky Ascents, which otherwise, the Camels having round feet, are not able to climb; they also help to pitch the Tents, and dig deep Pits in the ground for water; The Schatir are the Footmen; the Rica carry Battel-axes, and oftentimes perform the office of Execution, and always attend the King as his Life-guard.
All Officers or Servants belonging to the Court, have each according to their Qualities, great Pension or Salary, which is not paid them out of the King's Revenue or Treasury, but from several Villages which are allotted for that purpose.
*The Chans have certain Lands and Villages thereto belonging allowed them, yet they receive the Revenue and are as Magistrates, judging and determining all things but Matters of Life and Death; some have certain Customs given them, others receive for their Salary, the Taxes laid on Houses of Entertainment.
*All the foremention'd Officers keep their pla∣ces during the King's pleasure, who seldom dis∣charges them but for Misdemeanor, or else to pre∣fer them to some greater Dignity. The most e∣minent Officers and Courtiers belonging to the King, which were living Anno 1640. in the time of Schach Sofi, and had serv'd also his Predecessor Schach Abbas, being of a mean condition, Schach Sefi kill'd all but two, viz. the one a Herdsman's Son, the other a Slave to Schach Abbas, who were afterwards by Sefi promoted to greater Dignity. Those that he put to Death were, Eahtemad-Dow∣let a Scriveners Son born in Mazanderan: The Wakenuis or Privy-Counsellor, a Rusticks Son, born in the Village Dermen, near Casbijn; most of them had Christian Parents, viz. Georgians, Circassians, or Armenians, for the Persians repose greater confidence in a Chistian if he be circum∣ciz'd, than in one of their own Religion.
*The King is exceedingly honor'd in his Realm, when any one takes an Oath, they never swear but by the King's Head, which is accounted the most sacred and solemn of all other.
*In their wishing of Joy and Happiness one to another, they say not, God give you Joy, but in the Turkish Language, Schach Mura di sun, that is, I wish that the King may shew his favor to you, and many other things they attribute to their King, which belong to God onely.
*According to an antient Custom in Persia, and the Command of King Abbas, none dare though a person of but an indifferent Estate, neglect to see the King, and shew him Reverence once a year.
On their Neuruz or New-years Day, the King according to an antient Custom receives Presents from all his chief Officers, unless the day be sus∣pected ominous, for then the King never comes out of his Haram or Seraglio,* as we have before mention'd.
The King seldom grants Audience to any Am∣bassadors in private, but always at a publick Din∣ner, and in presence of all the Guests, notwith∣standing their business be never so secret. No Persian whatsoever, whether Subject or Stranger, may appear before the King without great Pre∣sents; nay, not the Ambassadors from strange Princes, which is a very antient Custom, and was (as Philostratus tell us) us'd in the time of the Kings of Media.
*The Kings of Persia demand Presents from those that are their Homagers, who pay no Tri∣bute, and this Custom is kept amongst all Eastern Princes to this very day; they pub∣lickly provide that if any Foreigners bring Presents that are not thought fit for the Emperors Greatness, they make him remain still there, with more of the like Petitioners, so by that means their Presents make the greater shew and appear the more glorious to the Spectators; they report further, that if the Present seems not equi∣valent to the King's Greatness, there is an additi∣on out of the Wardrobe, silently hinting that they or whoever else, cannot come too well provided or their next Addresses. But the reciprocal presenting of these Princes one to another, they look upon as such a Due, that they expect it as a Debt, and the neglect thereof hath bred so much animosity as hath caus'd a War, and par∣ticularly between the Turks and the Persians, Anno 1618. because King Abbas had many years neg∣lected his Presents, which amounted to a very considerable value to the Grand Seignior. Those that bring the Ambassador's Presents to the King, are a poor sort of people kept by the King for that purpose: To every Present are order'd as many people to carry it as there are pieces and several sorts of things, for every man is to carry but one piece though never so small.
*Moreover, the Persians make very great Pre∣sents especially to Strangers, who are oblig'd to make a Return of a greater value, and if the Per∣son that is presented fail therein, he that presented him doth not onely cry and lament as if he had sustain'd a great loss, but also demands his Gift a∣gain, or the value thereof.
*The Kings Wives are three or four besides a great number of Concubines, the Queen is in the Persian Tongue call'd Begum, which is pro∣perly a Turkish Word and signifies a Lady, but this name is by the Persians not onely given to the Queen, but also to the King's Daughters, Si∣sters, and Aunts.
This Queen is the chief of all his Wives, to whom the rest shew obedience: The rest have another Name besides that of Begum, viz. Maria Begum, Zeineh Begum, &c The King's Concu∣bines cannot attain to the Honorable Title of Begum, but are styl'd Chanum.*Chanum signifies properly amongst the Turks and Tartars, my Queen, but amongst the Persians onely an emi∣nent Woman, wherefore the Relations and Con∣sorts of Noblemen bear that Denomination. But if there be more than one Chanum in the house viz. a Consort, a Sister, a Mother, or any else they distinguish them to avoid mistakes accord∣ing to their Age, Quality, or Office, calling the Chief the great Chanum, the others, the little Chanum, the second Chanum, &c. if there be but one, the Husband, the Son, and all else call her my Chanum except the Servants, who say, our Chanum, and hereby they know the Masters of the House, but this is onely customary amongst persons of great Quality.
The King's Concubines are commonly of se∣veral Foreign Nations, for the King, especially Page 78King Abbas,* delighted not in Women of his own Countrey, nor in those of his Relations, wherefore there are but few Persian women seen at the Court, except it be some or the Chans Daughters, or o∣ther Ladies of Honor. Most of the Kings Wo∣men are either born in Georgia, Circassia, Muscovy, or Armenia, and many of them Christians, but are oblig'd upon their coming thither to turn Ma∣humetans. There are also Tartars extracted from the Family of the Usbeghi; but most of the King's Concubines are Georgians, which are very beau∣tiful, of good deportment, and noble Extract in their own Countrey.
*The King oftentimes gives his Concubines in Marriage to some or other of his Nobles, and with her a Portion, viz. a Camel to carry her to her Husband, if he doth not live in the City; a Chieceve, that is, a coulor'd Seat, which according to the Custom of the Countrey, being set upon the Camel, she may sit therein with great ease, as also a Chest with her Clothes and Bedding, Linnen, Plate, Jewels, and all things which she possess'd in the Haram, also two thousand Duc∣kets, which his an inconsiderable Portion, for they are bound to maintain her at another Rate.
In any Progress the King's Wives always travel before in the Night, to prevent being seen by the vulgar Sort, and in his absence ride in lit∣tle close Seats, which hang on a Camels side, viz. on each side of the Camel one; which when the Camel-drivers have fitted, they retire while the Eunuchs help in the Ladies,* which Custom was first instituted by Schach Abbas upon this occasion: The King on a time marching with his Army in the Night, and overtaking a Camel that belong'd to his Haram, whose Seat hung down on one side, he call'd to the Camel-driver, who not appearing, the King in a rage lighting off from his Horse, endeavor'd with his shoulders to lift up the same, but finding it too heavy, and remounting his Horse to discover what might be the Reason of it's extraordinary weight, he saw the Lady that was therein embracing the Camel-driver, which so enrag'd the King, that calling several of his Officers about him, he immediately caused the two Malefactors to be beheaded; and since that time, the Camel-drivers never meddle with any thing but hanging on the empty Seats and taking them off.
*If the King's Wives travel in Company with him, they always ride on Horse-back unveyl'd but strongly guarded: Moreover, the King on all such occasions always rides in the Middle of his Haram, and spends his time in Discourse, first with one, and then with another. And when the Women of the Haram travel alone, or in company with the King, they always go in the following order:
A League before march a certain number of Eunuchs, who drive all those that they meet with both by Night and Day out of the Way, that they may not meet the Haram; nay, they have Power to clear whole Towns and Villages; and wound and kill all such as contest and will not retire.
*The Eastern Princes account it a great Abo∣mination for any of their Women to be seen by their Subjects; for not onely Ladies of Quality, but also the meanest Slaves that belong to the Court, are never seen by any strange men, but onely the King himself and his Eunuchs: After them follows a Company of Soldiers call'd Jasacksi, which are like the King's Life-guard, who prevent all Persons of what Quality soever, from passing to the Haram.
*Because the Word Haram is often mention'd, we will explain what it means: Haram is an Ara∣bick Word, and signifies properly amongst the Arabians, that which is forbidden and disallow'd by the Law.
The Persian-Mahumetans and those that inhabit the Eastern Countreys of Asia, understand by the Haram, the Seraglio of Concubines, and accord∣ingly, when they intend to say that the King or Prince is in the Womens Lodgings, they say, The King, &c. is in the Haram; the Servants of the Haram, and so with all other things.
*The King never travels abroad, nay, not to the Wars without his Haram. The King's Wives recreate themselves every Wednesday in Ispahan with great freedom, in the Street Tziaharbag, and in the Gardens thereabouts, where they are at∣tended by many Ladies of Honor but during their stay, all the Avenues and Ways are guard∣ed to keep out the men, whil'st the Women some∣times spend whole Nights in several Pastimes by Torch and Candle-light.
*The King's Gardens in all his Royal Cities, as in Ispahan, Casbin, &c. are provided with Con∣cubines, Slaves, and all manner of Necessaries, because the King stays not long in one place, nei∣ther goes with much Company, for he often tra∣vels with onely two or three Horse-men, which many times ride so hard, that they finish a Jour∣ney of thirty days in five or six; to which pur∣pose he keeps exceeding swift Horses at appoint∣ed Stages, where they always stand ready saddl'd and bridl'd, because they are uncertain of his coming; and because his Train cannot follow him with that speed, therefore he hath a House in most of the wall'd Cities of his Realm, furnish∣ed with all manner of Necessaries.
*The King's Douletchane or Pallace in Ispahan, is a priviledg'd Place or Sanctuary for all Male∣factors that fly thither and touch the Ring, Ham∣mer or Knocker of the Gate, which is in such e∣steem or Veneration, that the whole Court re∣ceive it's Name Astane from it, and as a Token thereof, when they name this Royal Knocker, they add the Word Doulet thereto, that is, good Luck, and say Astane Doulet, that is the Knocker of good Luck, and understand the King's Court by the same.
*The Alcapy is also a priviledg'd Place, where no Person, nay, not the King himself hath power to touch any Malefactor or Debtor; wherefore many flying thither stay there till they have compounded with their Creditors.
*The King, as also most of the Nobility in Per∣sia, cause most of their Meat to be drest in their Presence; nay prepare the same with their own Hands; nay, more than this, he for all his great∣ness, sometimes makes himself very familiar a∣mongst his Subjects, eats as he passes along the Streets, and in the midst of the Bazars or Exchan∣ges; often standing still before a Cooks Shop, and sees what Meat they dress, and sometimes goes unexpectedly into a Tradesman's House, where sitting down, he eats with great and un∣imaginable freedom.
*In the Chambers or Tents in which the King sleeps, are always eight or ten Beds made ready, so that no person knows which he intends to lie on, nay, sometimes when he wakes in the night, Page 79he goes from one Bed to another, and so lies on three or four in one Night, which he doth to no other end but to prevent sudden Assassination, and that by that Means he might have time to Arm himself for his Defence.
In many of the High-ways the King hath di∣vers Houses and Gardens; the Houses for the most part are built and furnish'd after one fashion, viz. small, with many little Chambers, which have divers Doors: The Walls and Cielings be∣ing very smooth, are Painted and richly Gilded, yet without Order or Art.
*The King hath many handsom Houses, but his chiefest Court is kept at Ispahan in the Summer, and in the Winter in Ferhabad.
In the beginning of the Moneth Ramadhan,* which is our Lent, the King goes to Abicurrong in the Mountains to take the fresh Air, and to Hunt, in which Sport he spends several days, attended by some thousands of People. At the Ears of those Beasts which the King takes alive he hangs golden Plates, on which are Engraven certain Marks, and then setting them at Liberty again, often re-takes them; nay some have been taken who have had the Marks of King Thamas, Ismael Sefi, and other ancient Princes.
In all the Provinces of Persia,* Bull-baiting is very common, but especially about Caxem, the Inhabitants whereof travel up and down into seve∣ral Countreys to find out the strongest and fairest Bulls, which they bring to Ispahan, where upon the Maidan or Market-place, naked Men En∣counter with them.
*In the Kings Palace at any Entertainment, as also at Entertainments in Noblemens Houses, are commonly young Women, who Dance to the sound of a Diara or little Drum; but their com∣mon Instruments are Cymbals and Citterns; yet besides these they have another call'd Scig, made of Copper, round, and hollow within, which holding in one Hand, they strike upon it with the other; but the chiefest Instrument is a Tabor, hung round about with Bells. This Instrument is very common in all the Eastern Countreys, but especially in Persia, the Inhabitants whereof take such delight in them, that the King never makes any great Entertainment, but he always hath se∣veral who Dance to the sound of it.
*The manner of Dancing us'd by the Persians is not unpleasing, for they Sing and Dance together in a King; he that leads the Dance Sings a Verse or two of some merry Song, the rest bearing the Chorus or Burden.
The Nobles also at the Kings Court every Evening, at the sound of several Instruments, play at a certain Game with a Hammer and Ball, not unlike our Palmall, which every one that pleases may come and see.
*The King often invites mean Persons that are well experienc'd in this Game, to play at it, which is perform'd after this manner, viz. The Gamesters divide themselves into two Parties on Horseback, one at each end of the place where the Game is to be play'd, and with a woodden Hammer, which they hold in the right Hand, they strike a light woodden Ball (not with the flat Head of the Hammer, but with the side, which is somewhat hollow'd out) at the set Mark, in which the winning of the Game consists; without any wrangling or dispute; but the chiefest part of the Game is to follow the Ball, and strike it beyond the Mark, before those at the other end can pre∣vent them. Great dexterity is requir'd in this Game, and also exceeding swiftness, as well of he Horse as the Rider; and this is the onely way whereby the Persians learn to Ride so well. Those that play are also dress'd after a peculiar manner in Clothes of several colours, with rich Turbants a∣dorn'd with Plumes of Feathers and other Orna∣nents.
They have another Exercise call'd The Baiting of the Wolf,* but it is us'd by none but the inferior sort of People, viz. A Wolf being let loose, the People, having each Man a Cloak on, encompass the Beast in great numbers, shouting and hollow∣ing; and if at any time the enraged Wolf falls in amongst them, and seizes any one, the whole Croud rescue the Person in danger, and assail the Beast. And these two are the chiefest, and most esteemed Exercises amongst the Persians.
*All the Chans and other great Lords residing at the Kings Court, being prime Officers of State, have their Tables spread with a large eight cor∣ner'd Carpet of Cloth-of-Gold, or embroider'd Sattin, with rich Fringe: The Dishes wherein the Meat is brought to the Table are of massie Gold, as also their Drinking-Cups, which hold about a Pint and a half. But Schach Abbas had all his serv'd up in Glass for a distinction from others. They deliver with every Cup a great woodden Spoon or Ladle with a long Handle, which they use more to drink out of, than to eat withal, nei∣ther do they make use of any other Spoons but what are made after that manner, and of sweet-smelling Wood, which having been once us'd, are never brought to the Table again. They never use Forks or Knives, but the Steward (who per∣forms the Office of a Carver) cuts the Meat with a great square Golden Slice, which he always car∣ries in his Hand.* In the setting the Meat on the Table, the Servants bring not the Dishes toge∣ther, but standing in a row from the Kitchin, they hand them from one to another to the Table. They commonly have but one Mess, for they set all their Dishes at once upon the Table. Each Person also receives Wine from a Waiter, in or∣der according to his Quality, out of a golden Tumbler. Every one is permitted to rise from Table without shewing Reverence to any, and if their Occasions chance to call them out of the Room, they go away without taking leave of any, though the King himself be present. The Wa∣ter with which they wash their Hands is brought in gold en Basons. The King and other great Persons seldom drink any Wine without Ice or Snow. The Ice which they use is made of the clearest Water after this manner, viz. Not far from the City in a great Plain, a Bank is rais'd or cast up, directly from East to West, which being about a hundred and fifty Foot long, and very thick, is so high, that it shadows the Plain from the Sun-beams when the Sun is at the heighth: At the end of this Bank are two Arms, which ex∣tending from the South to the North, are full as high as the main Bank, and about twenty four Foot long, and keep off the Morning and Evening Sun; so that this Plain lies shaded all the day long: In this shady place is a Moat of about twen∣ty or thirty Foot deep, extending from the one Arm of the Bank to the other: In the midst of Winter when it Freezes hardest, they Plough this Plain, which lies open to the Northern Winds, full of small Furrows about three or four Fingers deep, and so letting in the Water, overflow it, Page 80which in one Night freezing to the bottom, is the next Morning before the rising of the Sun thrown into the Moat, and Water pour'd upon it to make it condense the harder; and this Practice they continue for a whole Moneth together, or longer, till the Moat is fill'd to the top with Ice; then they cover it with Straw to prevent the melt∣ing thereof by the heat of the Sun, and to keep it from Rain, In the Summer this Ice being bro∣ken with Pick-axes, is carry'd through the City to be sold on Horses or Mules, two or three pieces being a sufficient Burthen. The Ice being broken with a Hammer into greater or lesser pieces, is ei∣ther put into the Vessel with the Wine, or into the Cups when they drink. They also lay pieces of Ice in their Dishes with Fruit and other Cates, which is very pleasing to the Eye, especially if that which lies under the Ice appears through it. The King's Dishes, Urns, and Drinking-Cups, which he uses at his Table, are all of massie Gold. The Chans and other Nobles have their Pilao or Rice, colour'd black and yellow, and made savory with Herbs, or else dulcifi'd with Sugar, brought on their Tables also in Gold and Silver Dishes.