Bahá'í Library Online
. . . .
.
>>   Books
Notes:
This book is also available as a nicely-formatted PDF (3.5MB; formatted by Bobbi Lyons).

This edition London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1966.


Persia and the Persian Question, volume I

by George N. Curzon

London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1892
single page chapter 1 next chapter

TO THE OFFICIALS, CIVIL AND MILITARY, IN INDIA
WHOSE HANDS UPHOLD
THE NOBLEST FABRIC YET REARED
BY THE GENIUS Of A CONQUERING NATION
I DEDICATE THIS WORK
THE UNWORTHY TRIBUTE OF THE PEN TO A CAUSE
WHICH BY JUSTICE OR WITH THE SWORD
IT IS THEIR HIGH MISSION TO DEFEND
BUT WHOSE ULTIMATE SAFEGUARD IS THE SPIRIT
OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE


CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME
click on chapter title to jump to that chapter

CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTORY

 

PAGE

Threefold object of this work — Meaning of the Persian question — Its relation to the Indian Empire — History and geography — Travel — Interest of Persian nationality — Drama of Persian history — Anglo-Persian connection — Fourfold division of journey — (1) Khorasan — Contiguous provinces — (2) Central provinces — Monuments of antiquity — (3) South-western Provinces — (4) The Persian Gulf — Changelessness of the East — Its abiding charm — Contrast between the East and West — Extreme in Persia — Intrinsic contradiction — The lies of life — Literature of travel — Division into periods — Eighteenth century — Nineteenth century — Order of merit

1

CHAPTER II: WAYS AND MEANS

Necessity of information — Situation of Persia — Scheme of chapter — I. Enzeli-Teheran route — Means of reaching Enzeli — Caspian steamers — Landing at Enzeli — The Murdab — Pir-i-Bazaar — Resht — Choice of means of progression — Chapar-riding — Caravanning — Cost of chapar-riding — Character of route — Resht to Kazvin — Kazvin — Carriage road to Teheran — Postal road — Caravan routes — Length of journey — II. Trebizond-Tabriz route — III. Tiflis-Tabriz route — Tabriz to Teheran — Places of note — The Mianeh bug — Zinjan and Sultanieh — IV. Meshed-i-Ser-Teheran route — V. Gez-Teheran route — VI. Ashkabad-Meshed route — VII. Afghan approaches — VIII. Persian Gulf — Bunder Abbas route — IX. Bushire-Teheran route — X. Mohammerah-Teheran route — XI. Baghdad-Teheran route — Means of reaching Baghdad — (1) Trebizond and Samsun routes — (2) Alexandretta-Aleppo route — (3) Damascus route — (4) Persian Gulf route — Baghdad to Teheran — Mountains, cities, and monuments — Summary — Caravan equipment — Chapar-riding — Baggage — Saddlery — Kit — Bedding — Food and cooking — Medicine — Arms and ammunition — Minor suggestions — Seasons for travelling

26

CHAPTER III: FROM LONDON TO ASHKABAD

Journey from Paris to Constantinople — Professor Vambéry — Tank-steamers on the Black Sea — Town and population of Batum — Daily life — Petroleum industry — Russian Custom-house — Trade and harbour — Russian military dispositions — Railway from Batum to Tiflis — Suram Tunnel works — Tiflis — Hôtel de Londres — Departure from Tiflis — Baku — Across the Caspian — General Annenkoff — Native passengers — The Desert

58

CHAPTER IV: TRANSCASPIA

Latest information — Steam communication on the Caspian — Change of terminus to Krasnovodsk — Further improvements — Workshop at Kizil Arvat — Stations, culverts, and bridges — Oxus flotilla — Merv irrigation and the Sultan Bund — Rolling stock — The telegraph — Speed and service — Balance-sheet — Goods traffic — Organisation of Customs — Great commercial future — Facilities for English travellers — Extensions of the Transcaspian Railway — Parallel European extensions — Russian morale in Transcaspia — Administrative changes — Independence of Transcaspia — General Kuropatkin — Russian consolidation in Central Asia — The future

70

CHAPTER V: FROM ASHKABAD TO KUCHAN

Arrival at Ashkabad — Start for the frontier — History of the Ashkabad-Kuchan road — Russian section — The Border Mountains — Projected railroad — Persian section of the road — Durbadam and Imam Kuli — Zobaran to Kuchan — Reception on arrival — Hospitality of the Khan — General description — Plantation and power of the Kurds — Their character — Authority of the Ilkhani — Ruling family — The present Ilkhani — His son — His reputation — Two interviews — Appearance of Amir Husein Khan — Conversation — Question and answer — Gift to the Khan — Dinner from the Khan's kitchen — Town of Kuchan — Buildings — Native bazaars — The Kuchan principality

86

CHAPTER VI: FROM KUCHAN TO KELAT-I-NADIRI

Intention of visiting Kelat-i-Nadiri — The victoria of the Ilkhani — Kuchan to Chamgir — Primitive threshing — Camp life — My retinue — Tower of Radkan — March to Pushtah — March to Bolghor — The guide beaten — Bolghor to Vardeh — Bagkhan — Mountain defiles — Ab-i-garm — Possibility of entering Kelat — Approach thereto — The gate of Argawan Shah — Entrance detected — Colloquy with the guard — Attitude of the serbaz — Answer of the Khan — Persian tactics — Abiit, excessit, evasit, erupit! — Report at Meshed — Attempt to climb the wall — Bird's-eye view of the circumference — History of Kelat — Fortification by Nadir Shah — Basil Batatzes — Later history — Persian sovereignty — Military value of Kelat — Its five gates — Population — Remains of antiquity — Cultivation and water-supply — Return march to Vardeh — On to Kardeh — Road to Meshed — Scenery of North-eastern Khorasan — Animal and human life — Physical peculiarities — Approach to Meshed — Accident to the cavalcade — Tomb of Khojah Rabi — Entrance to Meshed

113

CHAPTER VII: MESHED

Previous chroniclers of Meshed — History — Size and plan of the city — The Khiaban — Remainder of the city — Cemeteries — Health of Meshed — Wind-towers and guard-houses — The sacred buildings — (1) The Bast — (2) The Sahn — (3) Mosque of Imam Reza — The Prophet's Tomb — Other tombs — Europeans who have seen the shrine — (4) Mosque of Gowher Shad — Other buildings in the Bast — Library of the Imam — Revenues of the shrine — Population of Meshed — Government of the shrine — Extent of the quadrilateral — Prostitution — Tomb of Nadir Shah — Jews in Meshed — Public buildings — Manufactures — Wages and prices — Banks and Money-lending — Visit to the Governor-General — The Ark — Conversation with the Rukn-ed-Dowleh — Garrison — Foreign Consuls in Meshed — Appointment of M. Vlassof — Russian Consulate — British Consulate — Staff and appointments — Consular business — Tus — Telegraphs — Attitude towards foreigners

148

CHAPTER VIII: POLITICS AND COMMERCE OF KHORASAN

Design of chapter — Province of Khorasan — Natural features — Rivers and cultivation — Population — History — Revenue — Division of the spoil — Government — Origin of the Khorasan Question — Astrabad province — The Russians at Ashurada — Nature of the island — New island — Change of quarters desirable — History repeats itself — Peter the Great — Agha Mohammed Khan — Reasons of Russian activity — The Astrabad-Shahrud position — Persian and Russian Turkomans — Rebellion of the Persian Yomuts — Weakness of the Central Government — Bujnurd — Kuchan — Deregez — Attitude towards Russia — Kelat-i-Nadiri — Russian aspirations — Russo-Persian frontier — The Tejend — The two Sarakhs — Capture by Abbas Mirza — New Sarakhs — Reoccupation of old Sarakhs by the Russians — Strategical value — Eastern frontier — Meshed district — Districts of Jam, Bakharz and Khaf — Kain — Population and capital — Seistan — Russian propaganda — Influence of the Transcaspian Railway — Interior districts — Tabbas — Turshiz — Turbat-i-Haideri — Nishapur and Sebzewar — Shahrud-Bostam — Total military strength of Khorasan — Commerce in Khorasan — Former British trade with Meshed — Later conditions — Apparent Russian ascendency — Persian figures — My information in Meshed — Report of the British Consulate — Values of British and Russian imports — Anglo-Indian trade routes — Import duties — Russian trade routes — Custom duties — Largest items — (1) Anglo-Indian — (2) British — (3) Russian — Exports (1) to Russia — Growth of Russo-Persian trade — (2) To India — Perso-Afghan trade — Grand total — Steps to be taken by Great Britain — Russian covetousness of Khorasan — Contrast to Transcaspia — A pied â terre against India — British interests in Khorasan — Persian loyalty — Russian prestige — Feeling towards England

177

CHAPTER IX: THE SEISTAN QUESTION

Eastern frontier f Persia — (1) Zulfikar to Seistan — (2) Seistan — (3) Perso-Beluch boundary — (4) Mekran boundary — District of Seistan — Derivation of the name — Its application — Present condition — Protean transformations — Legendary history — Early history — Later history — Sir F. Goldsmid's Commission in 1872 — Partition of Seistan — Independent opinion — Present administration — European travellers — Political value of Seistan — Value to Russia — Value to Great Britain — Strategical importance — Engineering facilities — Nushki-Seistan line — Future of Afghanistan — Military criticism — Hostile opinion — Sir H. Rawlinson — Favourable opinions of natural fertility — A link in a larger chain

223

CHAPTER X: FROM MESHED TO TEHERAN

Postal route between Meshed and Teheran — Speed of locomotion — Cost of journey — Minister of Posts — Pros and cons of the chapar — The chapar-khaneh — The bala-khaneh — The Persian post-horse — Its humours — General character of road — Its lessons — Table of stations and distances — Alternative line — Departure from Meshed — The piety of pilgrims — Sherifabad — Corpse-caravans — Kadamgah — Plain of Nishapur — City of Nishapur — Its history and fame — Its destructions — Tomb of Omar el Khayam — Roads — Turquoise mines — History of working — Financial return — Purchase of stones — Deception — Zafarani — Sebzewar — Minaret of Khosrugird — Its history — Mihr and Mazinan — Pilgrim kafilahs — Others — Caravanserais — Camels by night — The poetry of contrast — Turkoman forays — Military escort — Perils and panic of the pilgrims — Tales of capture — Service of the Russians — Pul-i-Abrishum — Abbasabad — Miandasht — Dahaneh-i-Zaidar — Armian — Shahrud — bazaars — Bostam — Deputation from the Governor — Second section of journey — Deserted cities — Damghan — History — Dowletabad — Tumuli — Ahuan — Semnan — Lasgird — Road to Kishlak — The Caspian Gates — The Sirdara Pass — Hostile considerations — The real gates — Demavend — Aiwan-i-Kaif — Teheran

245

CHAPTER XI: TEHERAN

An old and a new city — Ancient testimony — Teheran under Shah Abbas — Later vicissitudes — Made his capital by Agha Mohammed Shah — Its then extent — Its appearance — Old British Mission — New Teheran — The interior — The Tup Meidan — Other medians — Nakkara-Khaneh — British Legation — The Ark — The Palace — Takht-i-Marmor — The Museum — Crown jewels — The alleged Peacock Throne — Testimony of Bernier — What history says — Deposition of the usurper — Oriental taste — The Gulistan — Royal Levée — The Shah — Shems-el-Imaret — Takieh — The remainder — Mosques — Bazaars — Street life — Population — European element — Foreign Legations — Advantages and disadvantages as capital — Political merits — Racecourse — Negaristan — Bath-room — Kasr-i-Kajar — Other palaces — Doshan-Tepe — British Legation at Gulahek — Demavend — Southern environs — Ruins of Rhey — Ancient Rhages — Its ruins — Tower of Yezid — Rock sculptures — Veramin

300

CHAPTER XII: THE NORTHERN PROVINCES

Mazanderan and Gilan — Astrabad province — History of the city — Present appearance — Shah Abbas' causeway — Population of Astrabad — Local industries — Peasant life — Maritime provinces — (1) Sea-coast — (2) Jungle and arable — (3) Forest belt — Towns and cultivation — (4) Bare mountains — Population — Dress — Influence of the Caspian of climate — Produce — History of silk trade — Table of produce and value — History of decline — Present area of production — Mode of cultivation — Other resources — Revenue — History — Russian invasion — Later history — Palaces of Abbas the Great — Ashraf — Ferahabad — Cities of Mazanderan — Sari — Barfurush — Meshed-i-Ser — Amol — Railway to the sea — New road to Teheran — Towns of Gilan — Resht — Possible improvements — Russian designs upon Gilan and Mazanderan — Perils of the climate — Perils of the country

354

CHAPTER XIII: THE SHAH — ROYAL FAMILY — MINISTERS

The personal element in Persian government — The Kajar Dynasty — Nasr-ed-Din Shah — His appearance — Health and habits — Intellectual attainments — Tastes and caprices — Sense of humour — Fancy for animals — The Shah as ruler — Atmosphere of flattery — Cruelty or humanity — His European journeys — Comparison with previous reigns — Comparison between 1848 and 1891 — Audience with the Shah — Harem of the Shah — The Kajars as progenitors — Family of the Shah — His sons — Succession to the throne — Muzaffer-ed-Din, the Vali-Ahd — His character — The Zil-es-Sultan — Fallacious predictions — Interview with the Prince — His appearance and conversation — The Naib-es-Sultaneh — Rest of the Royal Family — Brothers of the Shah — Council of State — Scheme of its functions — Present condition — Ministers of State — The Amin-es-Sultan — The Amin-ed-Dowleh — The Kawam-ed-Dowleh — Yahia Khan, Mushir-ed-Dowleh — Other ministers — The Amir-i-Nizam — The Sahib Diwan — Council of Five

391

CHAPTER XIV: THE GOVERNMENT

An absolute monarchy — Modern pretensions — Real curtailment of prerogative — Effective restraints — Administrative hierarchy — Modifications of royal power — Administrative divisions — System of purchase and of presents — Mudakhil — Practical illustrations — Effect on the peasantry — Reasons of popular acquiescence — Meagreness of official salaries — Duration in office — Pishkesh or gifts — The Royal khelat — Extraordinary pishkesh — Corrupt administration — Neglect of public works — Hosts of retainers — Bureaucracy — Salaries and titles — Twofold division of Law — Shar or Ecclesiastical Law — Abridgment of authority — Urf or Common Law — Civil cases and arbitration — Pains and penalties — Prisons — Defects and abuses of the system — Attempts at reform — Royal Proclamation of Freedom of Life and Property — Proposed codification of the law — Effect on national character

433

CHAPTER XV: INSTITUTIONS AND REFORMS

Ambiguous panorama — Petition-boxes — Scheme of chapter — Letter-post — Electric Telegraph — Newspapers — Their history, past and present — French papers — The coinage — Government Mint — Modern currency — Circulation of gold — Need of European banks — New Oriental Bank — Imperial Bank of Persia — Terms of concession — Opening of premises — Monopoly of bank-notes — Ancient experiment of the Mongol — Modern opinion — Notes of the Imperial Bank — First year of existence — The Reuter Concession of 1872 — Its rescission — Reasons of failure — Concession-mongers — Recent schemes — Roads in the East — Need in Persia — Existing carriage-roads — Minor roads — Chapar routes — Pack-roads — New Teheran-Shuster road — Projected roads — Road-making policy — Messrs. Andreas and Stolze — Persian education — Primary schools — Secondary education — Royal College at Teheran — Management and discipline — Provincial colleges — Limited scope — Religious questions — The Babi movement — Later developments — Modern proselytism — Persecution — Heroism — Not a political movement — Religious tenets — Observances — Future of Babism — Persia as a field for Christian Missions — History of Christianity — Religious liberty in Persia — Source of hostility — Practical results — The strength of Islám — The Jews in Persia — Backward condition — Disabilities and persecution — Summary

464

CHAPTER XVI: THE NORTH-WEST AND WESTERN PROVINCES

Peculiar political interest of Azerbaijan — Mountain system — Climate — Population — Revenue and expenditure — Tabriz — Earthquakes — Early history — Commercial importance — Capture by the Russians — Recent figures — The Blue Mosque and Citadel — European quarter — Government — Loyalty to the Crown — Russian views — Trade of Azerbaijan — Russian protection — Latest statistics — Export trade — Present and future — Azerbaijan troops — Drill and armament — Garrisons of Azerbaijan — Telegraphs — Ardebil — Daria-i-Shahi, or Lake of Urumiah — Navigation — Marble pits — Maragha — Urumiah — Origin of the Nestorians — Ecclesiastical organisation — The Mar Shimun — His authority — Creed and ritual — Missionary enterprise — (1) American Presbyterians — (2) French Catholics — (3) Swiss Protestants — (4) Anglican Mission — Results of Missions — Numbers and appearance of Persian Nestorians — Disabilities and hardships — Taxation — Armenians — Kurdistan — Origin and history of the Kurds — Religion and language — Occupation and character — Rebellion of Sheikh Obeidullah — Number of Persian Kurds — (1) Frontier tribes — (2) Kurdistan proper — (3) Kurds of Kermanshah — Products — Kermanshah — Vekil-ed-Dowleh — Tak-i-Bostan — Sculptures of the Sassanian kings — Panels of the chase — Behistun — Sculptures of Darius — Nature of the engravings — Ganjnameh tablets — Hamadan — Ancient Ecbatana — Turco-Persian frontier

514

CHAPTER XVII: THE ARMY

History of the Persian army — The brothers Sherley — Decline under the later Sefavi kings — The army of Nadir Shah — Fath Ali Shah — Army of Abbas Mírzá — (1) French officers — (2) British officers — Strength of the Persian army — Effects of the European system — (3) Period of decline — (4) English officers — Army of Mohammed Shah — Failure and withdrawal of the English contingent — (5) French officers — (6) Italians, Hungarians, Austrians, and French — (7) Renewed demands for English officers — (8) Austrian officers — (9) Russian officers — Surviving foreign element — Modern army — Numerical strength — (1) The Army List — (2) Nominal strength — (3) Effective strength — (4) Number embodied — Irregular cavalry — Semi-regular cavalry — (1) Isfahan regiment — (2) Cossack regiments — Regular infantry — Pay and rations — Uniforms — Army reform — Territorial distribution — Artillery — Guns — Arms and ammunition — The Arsenal — The Persian soldier and his arms — Camel artillery — Austrian corps — Cost of the army — Persian officers — Royal College — Naib's College — Military hospital — The rank and file — Parade of the Teheran garrison — Regiments on the march — Military administration — Qualities of the Persian recruit — Chance of reform — Future of the Persian army

571

CHAPTER XVIII: RAILWAYS

Professed interest in railways — Physical obstacles — The Reuter Concession, 1872 — Falckenhagen Concession, 1874-5 — Alléon Concession, 1878 — American and English Concessions — Boital Concessions, 1882 — Shah Abdul Azim Railway — Its success or failure — Teheran tramway — New lines — Mahmudabad-Amol Railway — Further concessions — Summary of impediments — Dearth of native material — Russian antagonism — Railway prohibition — Further extension — Ineptitude of Russian policy — Possible lines of rail in Persia: (1) Tiflis-Tabriz-Teheran — (2) Baku-Lenkoran-Resht-Teheran — (3) Meshed-i-Ser-Teheran — (4) Gurgan Valley — (5) Ashkabad-Kuchan-Meshed — (6) Dushak-Sarakhs-Meshed — (7) Teheran-Meshed — (8) Seistan Railway — (9) Trans-Persian line — (10) Bushire-Teheran — (11) Mohammerah-Burujird-Teheran — (12) Baghdad-Teheran — Indo-Mediteranean Railways — Euphrates Valley — Objections to the scheme — Physical — Political — Military — Economic — Summary — Schemes of Persian railroad continuation — Shushter-Shiraz-Bunder-Abbas — True line of Central Persian communication — Asia Minor Trunk Railway — Egytpo-Arabian line — Conclusion

613


PREFACE

This book, which is the result of three years' almost uninterrupted labour, of a journey of six months' duration to the country concerned, as well as of previous travel in adjacent regions, and of communications maintained ever since with the most qualified resident authorities in Persia, is issued in the not, I hope, vainglorious hope that, until superseded by a better, it may be regarded as the standard work in the English language on the subject to which it refers. When I went out to Persia in the autumn of 1889 as correspondent to the 'Times,' my immediate object was to furnish to that paper, in a series of communications, necessarily limited in number and length, a résumé of the political situation in the Shah's dominions.[1] At the same time I profited by the opportunity to collect a great deal of additional information, which it was not of my power to utilise upon that occasion, and to fill many gaps of which earlier study had revealed the existence in the contemporary knowledge of Iran. It is the information thus amassed, and since supplemented by continuous investigation and correspondence, that forms the material of these volumes.

As I advanced further into the examination of my subject, I very soon realised how inadequate were our existing sources of knowledge about Persia. Though excellent, and in some cases monumental works upon the country had been published in the first quarter, and even as late as the middle of the present century, there had not since the latter date appeared a single comprehensive work upon the country as a whole. Individual writers had selected and had, in some cases, adorned different branches of the subject with productions of a strictly circumscribed character. But even in their compositions I was habitually confronted by the refusal to describe this or that locality, or to discuss this or that question, on the ground that it had been so exhaustively done by earlier writers — a reluctance which, as I pushed my studies ever further and further back, and either never found the masterpiece in question (because it had never existed), or found it already rendered quite obsolete by the archaeological discoveries or the political events of a later time, I ended by ascribing as frequently to indolence as to an honourable respect for the labours of predecessors. So scattered, indeed, did all correct information about the country prove to be, that a traveller, meditating the proper literary equipment for at all an extensive journey in Persia, would almost require a separate baggage-animal to carry the library of indispensable tomes. In proportion, therefore, as I advanced, so did the horizon of my task expand before me, until I realised that there was genuine and imperative need for a compendious work dealing with every aspect of public life in Persia, with its inhabitants, provinces, cities, lines of communication, antiquities, government, institutions, resources, trade, finance, policy, and present and future development — in a word, with all that has made or continues to make it a nation.

Having accepted this responsibility, I have endeavoured to atone for a lack of personal fitness, which I shall be the first to acknowledge, as well as for the blanks left in my own travels, by such diligence of study or of inquiry as the reading of books, or the reference to competent authorities, has permitted. Of the works, between 200 and 300 in number, which have been written in European languages on Persia during the last five centuries, I have either read or have referred to nearly every one myself; and I can truthfully say that, among the many hundred references in these volumes, there is hardly one that is not an honest reference, i.e. the result of my own independent reading, instead of copied secondhand from any other work. To such of my readers as may smile at this exertion, I would reply in the words of Voltaire, 'Remember what books I have read, in order to save you the trouble of reading them, and be thankful;' and to such as express surprise I would rejoin that without such application neither could I have ascertained what other travellers or writers have said or done, or, still more, have left unsaid or undone; nor should I have had it in my power to fill so many of the considered lacunae of history, which the ordinary historian, bent upon big effects, is apt to pass over; nor would my picture have presented the unity of design with which I aspired to invent it.

For although the primary object of this work may be described as political, there will yet be found a good deal of History in its pages; whether I narrate the earlier records of important provinces, tribes, and cities, or whether I endeavour to trace the steps by which Persia has passed, and is still passing, from barbarism to civilisation, as she exchanges the slow beat of the Oriental pendulum for the whirr of western wheels; or whether I pick up the floating threads which, when woven into a single strand, will exhibit a connection between Europe, and especially between Great Britain, and Persia, extending over three centuries, and equally emphatic in the departments of international intercourse and of trade.

Similarly, in the domain of Archeology I have not forgotten that, while Persia is primarily the battle-ground of diplomatists and the market of tradesmen, it also contains antiquarian remains in great number that have employed the pens, and still engage the intellects, of famous scholars. Their labours have equipped me for a task upon which I have not perfunctorily entered, and in which the enthusiasm of the student may meet with a serviceable ally in the testimony of the eye-witness. To the professor, therefore, as well as to the politician and the student, I make my appeal.

To the question of Topography I have devoted an attention which a better-known country would scarcely have claimed. There are few places of importance in Persia which are not either described or referred to in these volumes, whose index may to some extent answer the purpose of a condensed Gazetteer. Finally, I hope that the Map, which has cost me a year's anxious labour and supervision, may be regarded as a decisive advance upon any previous publication. Its original execution by the skilful hand of Mr. W. J. Turner, and its appearance here, I owe to the liberal-minded generosity of the Royal Geographical Society, who undertook and placed in my hands the responsibility for its production. For notes as to the authorities from which it has been compiled, and the principles which have been observed in its construction, I will refer to the memorandum which I wrote to accompany its first appearance in the Proceedings of the Society for February 1892. Here I will only say that there is barely a name on the surface the identification and the spelling of which I have not personally supervised. It doubtless contains many errors; but these, I would fain hope, are the result, not of carelessness, but of data as yet in many parts imperfect. The smaller maps have been specially drawn for this work, under my instructions, by Mr. Sharbau, Cartographer to the Royal Geographical Society, whose elegant and accurate workmanship none can fail to admire.

If, in the handling of these, or, still more, of the political and general branches of my subject, about which I shall have something to say in an introductory chapter, my readers, comparing this book with similar ones on Western countries, find conspicuous defects of treatment or information, may I beg of them to remember that in the East there are no official sources of knowledge accessible to the public, no blue books, no statistics scientifically compiled, no census, no newspapers, no periodicals — none of that magnificent paraphernalia of which it is still doubtful whether it adds to the sum of human happiness or is the parent of intellectual confusion. Figures and facts — which are, in their very essence, an insult to the oriental imagination — are only arrived at in Persia after long and patient inquiry and by careful collation of the results of a great number of independent investigations; and I can truly say that single lines in this book have sometimes cost me hours of work and pages of correspondence.

Among the special features which I have incorporated, the following may be mentioned. At the end of such chapters as relate to a particular province or part of the country, I have compiled a list of the principal routes in the neighbourhood that have been followed and described by previous writers. In a country without railways or a Bradshaw, a new comer, if he diverge from the beaten track, is likely to be quite unconscious whether his route has been traversed before, or whether he is upon virgin ground. If the former, I present him with the means of comparison; if the latter, I acquaint him with the responsibilities of discovery. I had originally hoped to append to my second volume a bibliography of Persian Geography and Travel; but to such dimensions has my list of titles swollen that I must reserve it for a separate publication. Instead I have affixed to the discussion of each locality or subject as complete a catalogue as my reading has furnished, of the works relating thereto in European tongues. Many tables, pedigrees, and catalogues that have never previously been published are also included in the text.

For the political opinions expressed therein I desire to claim the sole responsibility. They have not been derived from, and are very likely not shared in their entirety by, the British Legation at Teheran. Still less have they been borrowed from any of the friends whose services I shall presently acknowledge. If they are ever found to be unpalatable to the admirers of Persia, they have certainly not been arrived at in any spirit of unfriendliness to that nation whose best interests I desire to serve, nor are they uttered without a profound conviction in every instance that they are true. The proportion of the whole truth that ought to be told in the domain of statecraft is a question open to dispute. But at least let me side with those who abhor the diplomatic lie. Finally, let me add that the whole of these two volumes, with the exception of the chapter on Persepolis, was already in print when I became officially connected with the India Office; and that the views expressed are therefore, in every case, those of a private individual only, and have been formed in entire independence of official authority or inspiration.

As regards orthography, I have endeavoured to strike a mean between popular usage and academic precision, preferring to incur the charge of looseness to that of pedantry. The transliteration of Persian or Arabic names into a language which is deficient in the symbols that represent some of their sounds is intrinsically difficult, and is complicated in this case by the Indian pronunciation of Persian names, with which Englishmen are more apt to be familiar, but which is not that encountered in Persia itself. In many cases I have bowed to convention, which after a time constitutes a law, spelling Bushire rather than Abu Shehr, and Meshed rather than Mashhad. Elsewhere I have endeavoured to combine approximate accuracy with as faithful a reproduction as possible of the sound of the native pronunciation. If I have sometimes been betrayed into inconsistencies, they are such as it is almost impossible to escape.

Should these volumes in any degree correspond to the fond ideal of the writer, it will only be because of the lavish assistance of which I have been the fortunate recipient. Neither my journey nor my studies would have availed for this object had they not been reinforced by the ready co-operation of every authority upon the subject to whom I have appealed, and more especially by a flood of information, extending to the very date of issue, which has reached me from correspondents in Persia itself. Neither could I have published these pages with any real confidence in their accuracy had they not, in the order of their composition, been despatched to Teheran for revision by more competent hands than my own, as well as been submitted, in many cases, to the judgment of equally eminent authorities at home.

Of these coadjutors the first, alike in authority, and in the extent of his assistance, has been General A. Houtum-Schindler, a gentleman who, after filling many important posts in the Persian Service, is now acting as adviser to the Imperial Bank of Persia in Teheran. To the advantage of long residence in the country he adds the erudition of a scholar and the zeal of a pioneer. He has personally revised nearly every page of these volumes, besides supplying me with much of my original information; and I tremble to think how many errors they might have contained but for his generous and never-failing co-operation. Few men so excellently qualified to write a first-rate book themselves would have lent such unselfish exertion to improve the quality of another man's work. Among others who have helped me in Persia itself I must mention the names of Mr. J. R. Preece, now British Consul at Isfahan; Mr. J. J. Fahie, Assistant Superintendent of the Indo-European Telegraph at Shiraz; my various hosts of 1889-90, and others to whom my gratitude is not the less profound that they prefer the omission of their names from this acknowledgement. In England, Sir F. Goldsmid has graciously given the benefit of his revision to the chapters relating to Seistan and the South-East provinces, upon which he is our chief authority, besides helping me in other matters. Colonel Sir E. C. Ross, recently British Resident at Bushire, has lent a similarly generous testamur to the chapters dealing with South Persia and the Gulf; and Colonel Stewart, our capable Consul-General at Tabriz, to the majority of the chapters relating to the North of the country. Mr. Cecil Smith, of the British Museum, has kindly read the accounts of Pasargadae and Persepolis, which places he has himself visited. Finally, I have profited, in more respects than I can name, by the scholarly and experienced counsel of Sir Alfred Lyall.

The photographs that adorn the text were either taken by myself or by Persian students of the Royal College at Teheran, or by personal friends, among whom I may mention Major Sawyer and Mr. Herbert Weld-Blundell. A few engravings have been reproduced by the courteous permission of the Librairie Hachette of Paris.

So wide a scheme, I am well aware, cannot have been carried out, even under the favourable conditions above described, without the commission of some blunders or mistakes. The sincerest compliment that a reader who detects any such can pay me, will be to amend a future edition, if ever called for, by an assistance for which I shall be truly thankful. I have already alluded to a supplementary volume. This I hope to bring out in the course of the present year. It will contain a Bibliography of Persian History, Geography, and Travel, Chronological and Topographical Tables, copies of Treaties and Conventions, lists of Dynasties, tables of Weights, Measures, and Coinage, and a good deal of additional or statistical information which I have collected while preparing these pages. It will be a work appealing to the student rather than to the general reader; but I hope that some of the latter class also will do me the favour of adding it to their libraries.

In conclusion I cannot desire a better fortune for this my second and more ambitious work, than a repetition of the indulgent acclaim that was accorded, more than two years ago, to the humbler credentials of my first.

GEORGE N. CURZON

1892


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS

   

PAGE

THE ILKHANI OF KUCHAN To face

104

CARAVANSERAI AND KAJAVEHS

272

PANORAMA OF TEHERAN

304

DOWLET GATE

306

SHEMS-EL-IMARET

326

PAINTING OF FATH ALI SHAH AND SONS

338

MOUNT DEMAVEND

344

H.M. NASR-ED-DIN SHAH

394

THE VALI-AHD

416

PALACE OF THE ZIL-ES-SULTAN AT TEHERAN

420

THE BLUE MOSQUE AT TABRIZ

520

PANEL OF THE CHASE

562

ROCKS OF BISITUN

564

CADETS OF MILITARY ACADEMY AT TEHERAN

606

ILLUSTRATIONS IN TEXT

PERSIAN BAJ GIRHA

 

89

GUEST-HOUSE AT KUCHAN

 

96

NOBAD GELDI

 

118

THE TURKOMAN'S CHARGER

 

119

GATE OF ARGAWAN SHAH

 

128

BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF KELAT-I-NADIRI

 

134

TEMPORARY BRITISH CONSULATE AT MESHED

 

172

A PERSIAN POST-HOUSE

 

250

A PERSIAN POST-MASTER

 

251

MINARET OF KHOSRUGIRD

 

270

ICE-HOUSE AT MAZINAN

 

271

THE BRIDGE OF SILK

 

279

DRUM TOWER AND CANNON OF PEARLS

 

309

THRONE OF FATH ALI SHAH

 

319

PALACE OF ESHRETABAD

 

341

ENTRANCE TO MOSQUE OF SHAH ABDUL AZIM

 

346

RUINED TOWER AT RHEY

 

351

THE ZIL-ES-SULTAN

 

420

THE NAIB-ES-SULTANEH

 

421

THE AMIN-ES-SULTAN

 

427

PRISON AT TEHERAN

 

458

THE MAR SHIMUN

 

539

TAK-I-BOSTAN

 

561

CAVALRY OF THE ZIL-ES-SULTAN

 

592

INFANTRY OF THE ZIL-ES-SULTAN

 

597

MAPS

NORTH-EAST KHORASAN To face

86

WEST KHORASAN

245

THE NORTHERN PROVINCES

354


[page 1]

single page chapter 1 next chapter
Back to:   Books
Home Site Map Forum Links About Contact
 
.
. .