A Year Amongst the Persians: From Isfahan to Shiraz



ONCE again the vicissitudes and charms of the road are before me, but in this case a new and potent factor, hitherto absent, comes in to counteract the regret which one must always feel in quitting a place where one has been kindly received and hospitably entertained, and where one has made friends, most of whom one will in all probability never meet again. This potent incentive to delay my departure no longer is the thought that when I quit Isfahan, less than a week will see me in the classical province of Fars, less than a fortnight will bring me to the glories of Persepolis, and that after that two short days will unfold before my longing eyes the shrines and gardens of


"the pure earth of Shiraz," which has been throughout the goal of my pilgrimage.

      Of course the first day's march was no exception to the general rule I have already laid down. I was aroused before 8 a.m., and informed that the muleteers were ready to start, and desired to do so at once, as they proposed to "break a stage," as the expression goes--that is, to push on a distance of eight or nine parasangs to Mayar, the second halting-place out of Isfahan to the south. I accordingly dressed hurriedly, and finished packing, full of anxiety to secure so desirable a consummation as the shortening of the less interesting part of the journey by a whole day. When I descended, I found that the muleteer had gone off again to fetch the inevitable sacking and ropes which are always wanted, and apparently always forgotten. I was compelled, therefore, to abandon all hopes of getting further than Marg, some three parasangs distant from Julfa, and to resign myself to an idle morning. It was not till after lunch that all was ready for the start, and, bidding farewell to my kind host, Dr Hoernle, I mounted the sorry steed assigned to me, and, with my mind filled with delightful anticipations, turned my face in the direction of Shiraz. Karapit, the head servant of the Mission, accompanied me on my way as far as the "Farewell Fountain" (rendered conspicuous by the solitary tree which stands beside it), and even for some distance beyond it, till the post-house of Marg appeared in the distance. Then he turned back, wishing us a good journey; and a monotonous ride of an hour or so brought us to our halting-place (which the muleteers, for some reason, had changed from Marg to a village somewhat farther on, called Kal'a-i-Shur) while it was still early in the afternoon. We put up at a dilapidated caravansaray, where nothing occurred to vary the monotony, except the arrival, some time after sunset, of a party of Jewish minstrels and dancing-boys, who were, like ourselves, bound for Shiraz.

      Next day we left the plain, and entered the rugged defile


known as the Urchini Pass, the somewhat monotonous grandeur of which was enlivened by numbers of pilgrims bound for Kerbela, by way of Isfahan and Kirmanshah, whom Haji Safar did not fail to greet with a salutation of "Ziyarata kabul!" ("May your pilgrimage be accepted!"). Here I may remark that the greetings used on the road differ from those employed elsewhere, and each one has its appropriate answer. The commonest of them are, "Fursat bashad!" ("May it be an opportunity!"), to which the answer is, "Khuda' bi-shuma fursat dihad!" ("May God give you opportunity!"); and "Oghur bashad!" ("May it be luck!"), the reply to which is, "Oghur-i-shuma bi-khayr bad!" ("May your luck be good!"). It was not yet 3 p.m. when we reached Mayar, and halted at an old caravansaray, the construction of which was, as usual, attributed to Shah 'Abbas. There was nothing to do but to while away the time as well as might be by lounging about, looking at the few travellers who had taken up their quarters at this disconsolate spot, and superintending the culinary operations of Haji Safar.

      The next day's march was almost precisely similar to that of the previous day--a gray, stony, glaring plain (thinly covered with camel-thorn and swarming with lizards), on either side of which were bare black hills of rugged outline. Soon after 2 p.m. we came in sight of the blue dome of an Imamzade, situated in the precincts of the considerable town of Kumishah. As it was a Thursday (Shab-i-Jum'a, Friday Eve), which is the great day for performing minor pilgrimages and visiting the graves of deceased friends, we met streams of the inhabitants corning forth from the town bent on such pious errands. Taking them all round, I think they were the most ill-favoured, dour-looking people I ever saw in Persia. Generally, however forbidding the appearance of the men may be (of the women one cannot judge, since they keep their faces veiled), the children at least are pretty and attractive. But in all these files of people whom we met I


hardly saw a single face which was otherwise than sour and forbidding.

      Before 3 p.m. I reached the telegraph station, and was welcomed by Mr Gifford, the resident telegraphist, and his wife. The son of the Governor of Kumishah, Mirza Aka by name, was there, and later he was joined by his father, Mirza Mahdi Khan, who had come to try and extract some information about the political outlook in Isfahan. It appeared that an unfortunate man from Izidkhwast had arrived in Kumishah on that or the preceding day, bringing the news of the Zillu's-Sultan's dismissal. This news was naturally very unwelcome to the Governor--so unwelcome that he not only declined to believe it, but ordered the man who brought it to be bastinadoed. Although this had the effect of checking further speculation and gossip, the Governor was unable to overcome a certain feeling of uneasiness as to his future tenure of office, and hence these visits to the telegraph-office.

      Next morning the muleteer came to see me early, and offered to push on to Amin-abad that day and to Shulghistan in Fars on the morrow. I found, however, that this procedure would involve passing some distance to the east of the curious village of lzidkhwast or Yezdikhwast, which I was anxious to see. I therefore decided to go no farther than Maksud Beg, and as this was only four parasangs distant, I gladly accepted the invitation of my kind host to stay to lunch and start after mid-day. The march was absolutely without interest, and the village of Maksud Beg, where we arrived about 4.30 p.m., was a most desolate- looking spot. Here we found the Jewish minstrels who had overtaken us at Marg entertaining the muleteers and villagers with a concert in the caravansaray. The music appeared to me very pleasing. This, and the exhilarating thought-that on the morrow I should bid farewell to 'Irak, and enter the classical province of Fars, the cradle of Persian greatness, enabled me to bear with equanimity the dullness of the dilapidated caravansaray. I was


further regaled with a dissertation by Haji Safar on the virtues of the wood-louse. This animal, he informed me, only appears for a short period before the Nawruz. At that great festival people take it in their hands along with gold coins, "for luck." It bears different names in the north and south: in Teheran it is called khar-i-khaki ("Earth-ass"), while in Shiraz it enjoys the more pretentious title of kharak-i-khuda'i ("Divine little donkey") .

      On the following morning (10th March) we got off about 7.45 a.m. The scenery was similar to that of the preceding two days--a stony valley, bounded by parallel chains of hills. As we advanced, the hills to the east became lower and lower, finally being reduced to broken fin-like ridges, situated one behind another, while beyond these, bordering the western edge of the plain, high snow mountains began to come into view, which the muleteer informed me belonged to the province of Luristan. About 11.15 a.m. we halted for lunch at Amin-abad, the last village in 'Irak. From this point we could clearly see before us a small conical hill, beyond which lay the hamlet of Yezdikhwast, which I was so anxious to see. I had read many accounts of this natural fastness, perched on a precipitous rock, and accordingly, as we drew near the conical hill (which is called Tele-pilaw, I suppose from its resemblance in shape to the pile of rice which constitutes this dish), I strained my eyes eagerly to catch a glimpse of its eyry-like abodes.

      My first impressions were a mixture of disappointment and surprise. On passing the hill I could plainly discern the green dome of a little Imamzade surrounded by a straggling cemetery: beyond this, apparently on the same level, and situated on the flat plain which we were traversing, appeared the village of Yezdikhwast. Where was its boasted inaccessibility, and the sheer precipices which, as all travellers asserted, rendered it one of the most marvellous natural fastnesses to be found in the world? No amount of exaggeration, I thought, could account for such a description of the place I saw before me, which


apparently did not enjoy even the most trifling elevation above the surrounding plain. While I was reflecting thus, and wondering if the muleteers had, for some object of their own, deceived me, we passed through the cemetery, and all at once came upon one of the most remarkable sights I ever saw.

      Right across our path lay a mighty chasm, looking like the dry bed of some giant river of the past. In the middle of this stood what I can only describe as a long narrow island, with precipitous sides, the summit of which was crowned with tier upon tier of gray, flat-roofed dwellings, which even hung over the edge of the cliff, supported by beams and rafters. These, projecting outwards in all directions, gave to the place the appearance of some strange collection of birds' nests rather than of human habitations. At the upper (i.e. the western) end this island was almost joined to the northern edge of the chasm, the comparatively shallow depression which separated them being spanned by a drawbridge, by raising which all access to the town can be cut off. At all other points a sheer precipice, increasing in height towards the east, protects it from all possibility of invasion.

      At Yezdikhwast the road to Shiraz bifurcates. What is called the sar-hadd, or summer road, bears to the south-west into the mountains; while the garmsir, or winter road, crosses the chasm or valley below Yezdikhwast, and trends towards the south-east. As it was still early in the year, and the snow was not yet gone from the uplands traversed by the former, we had determined on following the latter, which course had this additional advantage, that it would lead us past Persepolis.

      The inhabitants of Yezdikhwast do not apparently care to have strangers dwelling in their cliff-girt abode; at any rate, the caravansaray and post-house are both situated at the bottom of the chasm, across the little river (Ab-i-Marvan) which flows through it, and to the south-east of the crag on which the village stands. On coming in sight of the brink of the chasm we therefore


made a detour to the right (west) which brought us to the point where the drawbridge is placed, whence a path leads down the side of the gully to the Caravansaray, where we arrived in about a quarter of an hour. It is a very fine edifice, built, as an inscription over the gateway testifies, by "the most potent king and most generous prince, the diffuser of the faith of the pure Imams,...the dog of the threshold of 'Ali the son of Abu-Talib, ...'Abbas the Safavi, may God perpetuate his kingdom and rule!" The inscription is very beautifully executed, but unfortunately it has been greatly injured, many of the tiles having been removed, and others broken. I asked the villagers why they did not take better care of a building of which they ought to feel proud. They replied that it was not their fault: thirteen or fourteen years ago a "Firangi" came by, and, wishing to possess some of the tiles, offered one of the men at the post-house two or three tumans if he would remove some of them. The temptation was too strong for the latter, and accordingly he went the same night with a hammer and chisel to carry out the traveller's wishes. Of course he broke at least as many tiles as he removed, and a noble monument of the past was irreparably injured to gratify a traveller's passing whim.

      I was anxious to see the interior of the village, and accordingly asked some of the inhabitants who came to stare at me whether they could take me over it. They readily agreed to do so, and after tea I sallied forth with my guides, crossed the fields, already green with sprouting wheat, and, skirting the southern face of this natural citadel, reached the drawbridge at the western end. Passing over this, we entered a dark passage, which, with occasional outlets into comparatively open spaces, traverses, or rather tunnels through, the whole village from west to east. This is the only street, for the rock is narrow, though long, and there is not room in most places for more than two houses side by side. My guides informed me that their town, of which they seemed proud in no small degree, was very old--300 years older


than Isfahan--and, in proof of their assertion, they pointed to a stone in the gateway on which they said I should find the date. As a matter of fact, the only date I could see was (A.H.) 1218 (about A.D. 1803), but there appeared to be other more or less obliterated characters which the gloom pervading even the entrance of this dim passage would not suffer me to decipher.

      As we advanced, the street, at first open above, became entirely covered over by houses, and the darkness was such that we could not see a yard ahead, and were only saved from continual collisions with other passengers by the cries of "Ya Allah" uttered by my companions to give warning of our approach.

      The houses are for the most part three or four stories high, and are entered by stairs communicating directly with the street. On the outer side they are furnished with platforms or balconies, one above the other, which overhang the cliff in a most perilous manner. On to some of these my guides took me that I might admire the view, but my enjoyment of this was somewhat marred by the sense of insecurity with which the very frail appearance of the platforms inspired me. "I should have thought," said I to my guides, "that these platforms would have been very dangerous to your children, for I observe that they are provided with no rail to prevent anyone from falling over." "They are dangerous," was the quite unconcerned reply; "hardly a year passes without two or three falling over and being killed." "I wonder the houses themselves don't fall," I remarked after a brief interval, during which the palpable weakness of the flimsy structure had become more than ever manifest to me. "They do," replied the unmoved villagers; "look there." I turned my eyes in the direction indicated, and saw a dismal wreck hanging over the edge of the cliff. Feeling my curiosity quite satisfied, I suggested that we should continue our tour of inspection, whereupon they took me into one of the houses, which appeared


to be the chief shop of the place, and set before me an array of nuts and fruits, a few of which I felt compelled to eat as a matter of courtesy, while the villagers watched me with grave and polite attention.

      We next visited the mosque, which seemed ancient, though I could find no date graven on its walls--nothing but the usual summary of Shi'ite faith: "There is no God but God: Muhammad is the Apostle of God: 'Ali is the Friend of God." Though more solid in structure than the other buildings, it is very simply adorned, for it contains nothing but a minbar, or pulpit, looking more like a step-ladder than anything else. This, and the arch of the mihrab by which it stood, were the sole features whereby one could divine that the place was not intended for a barn or a granary.

      On leaving the mosque we visited the one other shop which this primitive place contains, where I was politely compelled to accept of a quantity of that gruesome sweetmeat known as shakkar-panir ("sugar-cheese"). Then we quitted the village by the same way whereby we had entered it (for indeed there is no other), and returned to the caravansaray. Though I retired to bed early, I lay awake for some time watching the lights which twinkled from the airy dwellings of Yezdikhwast and gave to the shadowy outline of the great rock somewhat the appearance of a gigantic vessel lying at anchor in a river.

      Next day we ascended the southern side of the gully by a road running eastwards, until we again reached the summit of the plateau. Here I halted for a few moments to gaze once more on the picturesque scene, and then we struck off towards the south, still bearing somewhat to the east. On the road we met many peasants and some few travellers; they nearly all carried arms, and were as a rule darker in complexion and fiercer in aspect than the inhabitants of 'Irak. About 2.30 p.m. we arrived at Shulghistan, a small picturesque village, rendered conspicuous by a green-domed Imamzade, close to which is


situated the dilapidated caravansaray. Since the latter appeared incapable of furnishing comfortable quarters, we betook ourselves to the chapar-khane (post-house) opposite, where I was provided with a very comfortable room. The postmaster (na'ib- chapar) was extremely courteous and attentive, and sat conversing with me for some time. From him I learned that the news of the Zillu's-Sultan's fall, and the consequent dismissal of all his deputy-governors, had created great excitement through- out Fars, and especially at Shiraz, where the Sahib-Divan, in whom the administration of the province had hitherto been virtually vested, was greatly disliked. His dismissal was the signal for universal rejoicing, and it was said that Riza Khan, the chief of one of the Arab tribes settled in the neighbourhood of Shiraz, was encamped near the Tomb of Cyrus at Murghab, waiting for the arrival of the ex-governor, against whom he was breathing threats of vengeance. The postmaster thought, however, that the tidings of the advance of the new governor, Prince Ihtishamu'd- Dawla, who had already reached, or nearly reached, Isfahan, would prevent him from proceeding to extremities.

      Later on another man came in, whose one sole topic of conversation was dervishes, for whom he professed the most unbounded regard. His enthusiasm had apparently been aroused by the recent visit of some celebrated saint from Kirman. I ventured to ask him if there were any Babis in Shulghistan, at the very idea of which he expressed the utmost horror, adding with pride, "We would at once slay anyone whom we suspected of belonging to that sect, for here, thank God, we are all followers of Murtaza 'Ali."

      His attitude towards the Babis did not encourage me to make further enquiries in this direction, and I therefore allowed him to ramble on about his dervishes, Imams, and miracles. He informed me, amongst numerous other stories of equal probability, that there was a mountain two parasangs to the east of Yezdikhwast called Shah Kannab. There, he said, the two sons of


"Hazrat-i-'Abbas" took refuge in bygone days from the "army of the infidels." The mountain opened to receive them, and they passed within it; the infidels followed after them, but no sooner had they entered than the rocks closed up behind them, and shut them in.

      "That was very wonderful," I said, "but tell me what became of them, for I should have thought that it would have been better if the mountain had closed before the 'army of the infidels' could follow the two saints. As it was, it seems to me that they were all shut up together."

      "Yes," replied the narrator, "but, you see, the infidels were all turned into stone at once. You might see them still if you knew the way which leads to that wondrous cavern--men, horses, camels, camel-drivers, children at their lessons, still holding in their hands the books they were readingall turned to stone! It is a wonderful thing!"

      "So I should think," I answered, wondering inwardly whether armies of infidels usually carried a host of school-children about with them when they went in pursuit of fugitive saints; "but you haven't told me what happened to the Imams who were so miraculously preserved. Did they make their escape after this signal mark of Divine Displeasure had been accomplished?"

      "No, they did not," rejoined my informant; "they dwell there still, and by their holy influence many wonderful miracles are wrought, some of which I will tell you. There is a shrine with two minarets on the mountain, and these minarets every year recede farther and farther apart, a fact well known to all in this neighbourhood. Furthermore, whoever goes there, and prays, and then fixes his thoughts on anything which he desires to possess--gold, silver, or precious stones--can take it from the rock to his heart's content."

      "And pray," I asked, "can one find one's way to this marvellous mountain?"

      "No, you cannot," retorted the other; "I could take you


there if I chose, but I will not do so. ---Sahib, who was formerly telegrafchi at Abade, offered me money if I would show him the way, but I refused, for it is not lawful to reveal to unbelievers these holy spots."

      "That is a pity," I said; "and I venture to suggest that you act unwisely in thus hindering them from witnessing miracles whereby they might perhaps be brought to embrace Islam. It is precisely for unbelievers that miracles are intended."

      "Well," replied my informant, "there is perhaps reason in what you say. But it is not necessary to go there to witness proofs of the power possessed by the blessed Imams. Of this we had a signal proof during last Muharram. A pazan (ibex or mountain-goat) came at that time to the Imamzade across the road, and took up its abode there for six months. Finally it died, and is buried under a tree in the courtyard. We had no doubt but that it was sent thither by the command of the blessed Imams to strengthen the faith of all of us who witnessed it."

      Altogether, I spent a very amusing evening with my talkative friend, who, delighted to find an appreciative listener, remained while I ate my supper, and did not finally leave till it was time to retire for the night.

      Next day was bright and windy. The scenery through which we passed was of the usual type--a stony plain full of camelthorn (now putting forth beautiful crimson blossoms from its apparently sapless branches) between parallel ranges of barren hills. The ground swarmed with lizards of two distinct types, the ordinary brown lizard and the Buz-majje. This latter is an animal which, as I subsequently learned, sometimes attains a length of three or four feet, but the length-of most of those which I saw did not exceed as many inches. They have big clumsy heads furnished with spines, and long tails constricted at the point where they join the body, which they have a habit of jerking up into an erect position. They are very nimble in their movements, and when frightened dart away like a dusky shadow


for a few feet, and again come to a standstill. Haji Safar began to tell me a long rambling story about the creation of the Buz- majje, whereby he sought to account for its harmlessness. He related this story in the dreamy, visionary manner which occasionally came over him, and in the soft lisping accents of the South. I was not paying much attention to his narrative, the upshot of which appeared to be that the animals after their creation all came into the presence of their Creator and sought permission to be allowed-to injure man, their master and tyrant, at some appointed time. All received this permission, except the Buz-majje, which came late, and so was forced to be content with a harmlessness far removed from its malicious desires.

      My attention revived, however, when he began to talk about Shiraz. "In eleven days more, Sahib, you will see Shiraz: perhaps in ten, if you do not stop al Takht-i-Jamshid (Persepolis). You will then enter it on the Nawruz: all the people--men, women, and children--will be out in the gardens and fields; many of them in the Tang-i-Allahu-Akbar, through which you will catch your first glimpse of the city. All will be dressed in new clothes, as smart as they can make themselves, enjoying the beautiful green fields, singing, smoking kalyans, and drinking tea. There is no other city like Shiraz: all about it the earth is green with grass; even the roofs of the bazaars are covered with herbage. It is the Green City of Solomon (shahr-i-sabz-i-Suleyman). And the people are so quick and clever and generous. Not like those miserable, miserly Isfahanis, nor yet like those stupid, thick- headed Khurasanis. Have I ever told you the verses made by the Isfahani, the Shirazi, and the Khurasani, Sahib?"

      "No," I answered; "I should like to hear them very much."

      "Once upon a time," he resumed, "an Isfahani, a Shirazi, and Khurasani were travelling together. Now, one night they succeeded in getting a dish of pilaw, and the Isfahani, being a witty fellow, as well as stingy (like all his rascally countrymen), suggested that no one should be allowed to have a share of the


pilaw unless he could make a verse about his native country. To this they agreed, and the Isfahani began--

The Shirazi, without a moment's hesitation--for all Shirazis have a natural gift for versifying--went on--

It was now the Khurasani's turn, but he, poor fellow, being very stupid and slow, after the manner of his countrymen, could not think of a rhyme for a long time, and was in great fear that he would lose his pilaw after all, when suddenly an inspiration came to him, and he concluded the stanza thus:--

Aldang, you know, is the Khurasani word for a luti, a rough, or street vagabond."

      About 2 p.m. we arrived at the little town of Abade, another stronghold of the Babis. It will be remembered that the Babi missionary at Isfahan, on bidding me farewell, had promised to write to one of his co-religionists here, as well as at Shiraz, to be on the look-out for me. I therefore hoped that I might have an opportunity of holding further conversation with the members of the proscribed sect, but in this hope I was disappointed, for the shortness of my stay in the town, and the hospitality of Sergeant Glover of the telegraph station, did not give me leisure to seek out the person indicated to me. I was very favourably impressed with Abade in every way, and the approach to it, through lanes surrounded by orchards and gardens, the trees of which were already bursting into blossom and filling the air with their fragrance, was very beautiful.

      At the telegraph station I was cordially received by Sergeant Glover and his eldest son, a bright, clever boy of about fifteen,


who had an excellent knowledge of Persian. I was most hospitably entertained, and after dinner we sat up late discussing Persian folk-lore, concerning which my host was a perfect mine of information. He told me of a place called the Pari-hol, or fairy hole, near Soh; of marvellous wells and caves in the mountains; and of a hill where an old fire-worshipper was said to have taken refuge from his persecutors, who marked the spot with a pile of stones, meaning to return next day and renew their search. During the night, however, by the Divine Power, the whole hill was covered with similar heaps of stones, which utterly baffled the search of the persecutors. These heaps arc said still to be visible.

      Next day a short march of about three hours brought us to the post-house of Surme. On arriving there, I was surprised to see a European traveller standing at the door, who greeted me in English. He proved to be one of the telegraph staff at Shiraz travelling up to Isfahan and Teheran, and kindly offered me a share of the bala-khane (upper-room), which was the only respectable apartment in the post-house. Even that was horribly cold and draughty, for a violent wind was still blowing. Notwithstanding this, we spent a very pleasant evening together, and, by combining our resources, managed to produce a very respectable supper.

      Next day, after a leisurely breakfast, we parted on our respective roads. The wind had dropped, the sky was cloudless, and the sun very powerful. We could see the road stretching away straight before us for three parasangs or so, when it took a sudden turn to the left round an angle of the mountains. As we advanced--very slowly, owing to the sorry condition of our beasts--the plain gradually narrowed, and became broken by great crests of rock rising abruptly out of the ground. The mountains on the right (west) grew gradually higher and higher, and their summits were now crowned with snow. On reaching the angle of the road above-mentioned we halted by some rocks for lunch. The spot was not devoid of beauty, which was


enhanced by the numerous pink and crimson blossoms of the camel-thorn (shah-pasana), which grew in profusion round about.

      On leaving this place we began to ascend, and continued to do so till, about 4 p.m., we reached the disconsolate stone caravansaray of Khan-i-Khurre, which stands quite alone and apart from other habitations. It was crowded with people of all sorts: Bakhtiyaris, and other tribesmen on their migrations towards their summer quarters; people who had come out from Shiraz and elsewhere to meet the new Governor and do him honour; and a certain small contingent of ordinary travellers. I might have had some difficulty in obtaining quarters if my acquaintance of the previous day had not informed me that there was a special room in the caravansaray, set apart for members of the telegraph staff, which I might have by applying to the caravansaray- keeper for the key. I did so, and thus obtained a warm, snug room, where I might otherwise have been compelled to put up with the most miserable quarters. Though the caravansaray was in the most ruined and filthy condition, the ground being strewn with dead camels and horses in various stages of decay, the scene was not lacking in interest owing to the strange costumes and stranger appearance of the tribesmen. The women do not cover their faces, and many of them are endowed with a certain wild beauty.

      After tea I had a visit from the postmaster (na'ib-chapar), who came to consult me about some disorder of the chest from which he was suffering. He soon, however, forgot the object which had brought him, and wandered off into a variety of topics, which he illustrated with a surprising number of quotations from the poets; and it was only when he rose to depart that he again recurred to his ailments. His dreamy abstracted manner had already led me to suspect that he was a votary of opium and other narcotics, and in reply to a question to this effect he answered that he did occasionally indulge in a pipe of tiryak when depressed in spirits.


      "Perhaps you take hashish now and then for a change?" I asked.

      "Well," he replied, "I don't deny that I do now and then." "Of course you smoke the kalyan too?"

      "Yes," he said, "what else is there to do in this desolate spot where there is no society except these tribesmen?"

      "Well," I said, "I wish very much that I could do anything for you, but the state of the case is this: the essential principle of treating diseases is to remove their cause, and unless this can be done it is very little use to give medicines. Now, smoking kalyans in excess disorders the chest, and I understand that you do smoke them very often. Whether the opium and hashish which you also take are answerable for the evil in any degree I can't say, but at any rate it is scarcely likely that they do you any good. Just now you quoted this couplet from . Hafiz--

Now people who 'sow' kalyans (opium) and hashish necessarily 'reap' bad chests; and I am afraid that, unless you can manage to give them up, or at any rate confine your indulgence in them to moderate limits, your chest will not get any better. Do vou think you can do this?"

      "You are right," he replied (convinced, I feel sure, more by the quotation from Hafiz than by anything else), "and I will try to follow your advice." So saying, he departed and left me alone.

      Next day we started early, as the muleteers were anxious to "break" a stage--that is, to go three stages in two days; so that our halting-place for the night was not to be Dihbid, where there is a telegraph station, but Khan-i-Kirgan, situated some two hours' march beyond it. Our road continued to ascend almost till we reached Dihbld, and once or twice we enjoyed a fine view to the east across the Plain of Abarkuh to the great range of


mountains beyond which lies the city of Yezd. We were joined for some distance by a dark, stalwart man, who turned out to be a kasid (courier) carrying letters from Abade to Bawanat. He was conversationally inclined, and told me tales of encounters with wolves and other wild animals which abound in these mountains, but the dialect which he spoke was difficult to comprehend, and prevented me from profiting by his anecdotes as fully as I might otherwise have done. Suddenly we came to a road crossing ours at right angles, and thereupon our companion took a long draught from our water-bottle, and, without a word of farewell, disappeared in a valley leading down into the Plain of Abarkuh.

      After his departure Haji Safar entertained me with a long disquisition on kasids and their marvellous powers of endurance. He assured me that one had walked from Teheran to Shlraz in five days, while another had gone from Bushire to Shiraz in two days. He added that the latter had come near forfeiting his life for his prowess, because Prince Ferhad Mirza, then Governor of Fars, hearing of his exploit, had said, "Such a man had best be put to death forthwith, for one who can go on foot from here to Bushire in two days might commit murder or highway robbery, and be in another province before his crime was even discovered." I am fain to believe that this was only a grim jest on the part of Ferhad Mirza; at any rate the sentence, as I was informed, was not carried out.

      The wind, which had been gradually increasing in strength since the morning, began now to cause us much annoyance, and indeed Dihbid, as I subsequently learnt by experience, is one of the windiest places in Persia. Haji Safar, however, declared that in this respect it was far behind Damghan, on the Mashhad road. "This is but a place which the wind visits at times," he remarked, "but it lives there: its abode is in a well, and anyone can arouse it at any time by throwing dirt or stones into the well, when it rushes out in anger."


      Our road was redeemed from dreariness by the variety of beautiful flowers with which the advancing spring had bedecked the upland meadows. I noticed particularly the wild hyacinth (sunbul-i-biyabani), and the sight of its long narrow dark green leaves enabled me better to understand the appositeness of the comparison between it and the "tresses of the beloved" so often made by the Persian poets.

      It was nearly 1.30 p.m. when we reached Dihbid, a small village consisting of about fifteen or twenty cabins, a very dilapidated caravansaray, a post-house, and the telegraph-office. To the latter I at once made my way, and was welcomed very cordially by Mr and Mrs Blake. They expressed great regret on learning that I could not stop with them for the night, and repeatedly pressed me to do so with a hospitality so evidently genuine that I would gladly have altered my plans and relinquished the idea of "breaking a stage" had that been possible; but the muleteer had gone on with the baggage, and I was therefore compelled to adhere to my original intention, contenting myself with a halt of three or four hours for rest and refreshment.

      It was beginning to grow dusk when I again set out, and the gathering shades of evening warned me that I must bestir myself, especially as the muleteer was no longer with us to direct our course. Mr Blake kindly volunteered to ride some distance with me to put me in the right way, and this offer I was glad to accept. Crossing the little river just beyond the village we saw a flight of about a dozen storks, and farther on four gazelles. Half a mile or more to the west of the road stood an old withered tree close to a mined caravansaray, and this spot, as Mr Blake informed me, was reputed to be haunted by a "white lady," but with the details of this superstition he was unable to acquaint me.

      When we had ridden a farsakh, my host bade me farewell and turned back, whereupon we quickened our pace so as to


make the best use of what daylight still remained. Long before we reached our halting-place, however, it was quite dark, and we were left to pick our dubious way by the light of the stars and a crescent moon; so that it was more by good luck than good management (for the road had here dwindled to the merest track) that we were finally apprised by the barking of dogs of the proximity of human habitations. In five minutes more we crossed a bridge and found ourselves at the solitary caravansaray of Khan-i-Kirgan.

      As it was quite dark, and I was, moreover, very cold and tired, I had no opportunity of making any observations on the nature of the place or its inhabitants that night, but on the following morning I discovered that here also were domiciled multitudes of tribesmen on their way to their surnmer quarters. On the road, which wound through-beautiful grassy valleys bedecked with sweet spring flowers, we met many more, all bound for the highland pastures which we were leaving behind us, and a pretty sight it was to see them pass; stalwart, hardy- looking men, with dark, weather-beaten faces; lithe, graceful boys clothed in skins; and tall, active women with resolute faces, not devoid of a comeliness which no veil concealed. They were accompanied by droves of donkeys bearing their effects, and flocks of sheep and goats, which paused here and there to nibble the fresh grass.

      Early in the afternoon we descended into the valley of Murghab, and, passing the hamlet of that name (a well-built and thriving-looking village, pleasantly situated by a beautiful clear streamlet) halted at Dih-i-Naw, some three miles farther on. The feeling of regret at not having sought for a lodging at the former, which the first sight of the somewhat squalid appearance of the latter caused me, was at once removed when I learned that the group of ancient ruins generally identified with the site of the city of Pasargadae on European maps, and known to the Persians as Takht-i-Suleyman ("the Throne of Solomon") and Masjid-i-


Madar-i-Suleyman ("the Mosque of the Mother of Solomon"), was situated within a few minutes' walk of the village. As it was not much past four o'clock in the afternoon, I determined at once to visit them, and thus to obtain a general idea of their appearance and arrangement, reserving a closer inspection of them for the morning. They have been so often and so well described that I shall confine myself to a brief account of their more salient features.

      Leaving Dih-i-Naw on the south, or Shiraz, side, the first object of interest reached is the Takht-i-Suleyman. This, consisting of a large platform faced with masonry, projects from the face of a hill situated a little to the left (east) of the high road, not five minutes' walk from the village. Its frontage must be about 150 feet, and here the conscientious thoroughness and solidity of the masonry is most easily appreciated. I noticed the holes for the iron clamps (which have themselves been removed) noticed by Sir R. Ker Porter, and also the peculiar marks on most of the stones which he, if I remember rightly, was inclined to regard as characters of some ancient language. The villager who accompanied me declared that they were marks placed by each mason on the stone at which he had worked, in order that the amount of his work and the wages due to him might be proved; and I have no doubt that such is their nature. At any rate, they in no wise resemble the characters of any known alphabet.

      From the platform of the Takht-i-Suleyman the whole plain of Pasargadae is clearly visible. The Shiraz road takes a bold sweep towards the west ere it quits the plain and enters the grand defile through which flows the river Pulvar, and all the ruins except the Tomb of Cyrus (or Masjid-i-Madar-i-Suleyman, as the Persians call it) are situated within a short distance of it and of one another, on the left hand of the southward-bound traveller. The Tomb of Cyrus lies about half a mile beyond them, on the opposite side of the road: it is encircled by a little village, and is regarded by the Persians as a place of considerable sanctity.


      The first building to which I came on descending from the Takht-i-Suleyman is that called by Ker Porter Atash-kede ("the Fire-Temple"). My guide, however, gave it the name of Zindan- khane ("the Prison-house"). It is situated close to the road, which it faces, and is very solid and massive in structure, but bears no inscriptions or carvings. The western end of the building only is standing; it is about thirty feet high, and contains sixteen courses of stones, and a window, below which is a buttress.

      The next object which presents itself is a solitary square pillar of white stone in twelve courses, bearing a cuneiform inscription of four lines, of which the second is separated from the third, and the third from the fourth, by a blank space. I could not learn that it had any popular name.

      A short distance beyond this lies the main group of ruins, called Nakkara-khane-i-Suleyman ("the Music-hall of Solomon"). Amongst these the most conspicuous object is a very tall slender column about sixty feet high, white in colour, and circular in shape, composed of four stones placed one on the other, the length of each one diminishing from below upwards. This column is quite plain, and bears no inscription. There are two or three other pillarlike structures, which appear to have formed the corners of the ruined edifice. At the back of each I noticed the hollowing-out of the stone noticed by Ker Porter. One of them bears on its north face a cuneiform inscription similar to that already noticed on the first column, but containing four or five different characters. On the western side of this group of ruins (i.e. on the side facing the road) are the remains of two doorways, each about five feet in width. The stones forming the sides of these are blackish in colour and susceptible of a high degree of polish. They are broken off within two feet of the ground, and on their inner surfaces are carved two pairs of feet, both turned towards the entrance. Of these, the outer pair are human feet, the inner pair feet like those of a bird: both are beautifully executed. A fragment of a similar doorway also


exists on the south side, and this is adorned with two pairs of human feet. A little beyond this is a portion of wall standing, some of the stones of which bear marks similar to those observable on the Takht-i-Suleyman.

      A little distance to the east of this group of ruins, i.e. farther from the road, stands a solitary column, on the west side of which is carved in bas-relief the beautiful winged figure described and depicted by Ker Porter and others. I was still absorbed in delighted contemplation of this, when my guide, impatient at the long delay, called attention to the approach of evening, and urged me to return, declaring that it was unsafe to be out in the plain after dusk, and reminding me that I could complete my examination of the ruins next day. With regret I acceded to his request, and reluctantly retraced my steps. On the way back my companion talked freely of the state of the country and the dismissal of the old Sahib-Divan from the government of Fars, at which he expressed unbounded delight. I asked if the Sahib- Divan had been a cruel governor that he had so aroused the hatred of the people. To this question my guide replied in the negative, alleging his incapacity and lack of integrity as the reason why he was so much disliked. "He has made everything dear," he concluded, "and we enjoy no sort of protection from the rapacity of the wandering tribes, who carry off our cattle and flocks without the least fear of reprisals. Riza Khan, his old enemy, is now encamped between Seydun and Sivand with all his tribe, and has sworn to slay him if he can waylay him on his journey north; in which attempt I, for my part, wish him all success. He has already begun stripping and plundering all the followers and retainers of the ex-governor on whom he can lay his hands, including forty of Zeynu'l-'Abidin's men who were sent out to catch him or drive him away, and who came back to Shiraz crestfallen and discomfited, with nothing but their shirts. As for the new governor, the Ihtishamu'd-Dawla, if he is like his father, Prince Ferhad Mirza, he will keep things in better


order. Indeed, already the marauders have desisted from their raids, and our flocks and cattle are once more safe." So my companion ran on; and I was surprised to see that his fear was not so much that the new governor might be too harsh, as that he might not govern the province with a sufficiently firm hand.

      Next day on quitting Dih-i-Naw I again visited the ruins above described, and, after reluctantly tearing myself away from them, proceeded to explore the Tomb of Cyrus. This, as I have already mentioned, is called by the Persians "the Mosque of the Mother of Solomon," and is regarded as a holy place, so that I had some fear lest they should prevent me from entering it. This fear fortunately proved to be groundless; indeed, one of the inhabitants of the adjacent village volunteered to accompany me as a guide, though such assistance was quite unnecessary.

      The Tomb of Cyrus, being built of white stone, forms a most conspicuous landmark in the plain of Pasargadae. It consists of a rectangular roofed chamber of extraordinary solidity, situated on a square platform approached on all sides by steep and lofty steps, up which one must climb, rather than walk, to reach the low entrance. The building bears no inscriptions in cuneiform or Pahlavi characters, but numerous Musulman visitors have engraved their names on its walls and steps. I had hitherto imagined that the passion for leaving such memorials of one's visit was peculiar to the West, and reached its highest development with the English and Americans; but not only the ruins of Pasargada and Persepolis, but every post-house and caravansaray in Persia, bear witness to the fact that this habit is hardly less rife amongst the Persians. De Sacy was, I think, the first to direct attention to these interesting relics of former travellers. In the presence of the ancient cuneiform characters, which carry us back to the time of the Achemenian kings, one is tempted to overlook them, though not a few of them date back to the earlier Muhammadan period. The longest of these inscriptions is situated on the wall to the right of one entering the mausoleum. This wall


is adorned with a rude mihrab (probably made by those who first conceived the idea of sanctifying the burial-place of the ancient fire-worshipping monarch by connecting it with the name of Solomon), on the lower portion of which is cut the word Allah. This is surrounded by a long rectangular border raised into a subsidiary rectangle on the upper side to embrace the mihrab, the whole length of which is occupied by a much-worn Arabic inscription, only legible in parts, beginning: "In tbe Name of God tbe Merciful, tbe Clement. Verily we have opened unto tbee a perspicuous victory...." At the left-hand lower corner of this border, close to the ground, is a Neo-Persian inscription in Arabic characters of an archaic type. Across the end of the chamber opposite to the door was hung a string, on which were suspended ribbons, pieces of cloth, beads, pipe-bowls, and other votive offerings brought by pious visitors to the shrine; and in the corner lay a copy of the Kur'an.

      Leaving the mausoleum, I turned to descend, examining the steps and the inscriptions cut on them on my way. Some of the stones bore mason's marks similar to those referred to in speaking of the Takht-i-Suleyman. Besides these there were a great many Neo-Persian inscriptions, mostly undated, or of comparatively recent date, some almost illegible, others as clear as though cut yesterday.

      Around the base of the steps is a small burial-ground strewn with fragments of other buildings which have perished. At its entrance are two long stones, propped one against the other in the shape of an inverted V, which form a sort of gate to the enclosure. Each of these is engraved on its inner surface with a line of Arabic in a fine bold character. The space left between the two stones is very narrow, and their surfaces are worn as smooth as glass by the passage of generations of pilgrims and visitors. These stones are supposed to be endowed with healing virtues, and my guide informed me that anyone bitten by a mad dog can be cured by crawling through the narrow interstice


which separates them. To the faith of the people in this theory, if not to its truth, the high degree of polish on the inner surfaces of the stones in question bore witness.

      Turning at length with much reluctance from this interesting spot, I again mounted and rode forward, and, in a few minutes, quitted the plain and entered the splendid rocky defile through which the river Pulvar flows down towards Shiraz. This defile, with occasional widenings into fertile grassy valleys, continues to within two stages of Shiraz. There, a little beyond the post- house of Puze, its rocky walls fall sharply away to the east and west as it enters the great plain of Marv-Dasht. At that point its width is three or four miles; in the rocks to the right are the tombs called by the Persians Naksh-i-Rustam; on the left, opposite to these, are the sculptures of Naksh-i-Rajab, the ruins of Istakhr, and just round the angle formed by the Kuh-i-Rahmat ("Mountain of Mercy") the stupendous remains of Persepolis, of which I shall shortly have to speak.

      This defile of the Pulvar offers some of the finest and most picturesque views in Persia: the rugged cliffs which hem it in on either side; the rushing river meandering through fertile meadows under the willows which fringe its banks; the fragrant shrubs and delicate flowers which, at this season, perfume the air and delight the eye; the gaily-plumaged hoopoes--the birds of Solomon--which dart through the clear sunny air; but most of all, perhaps, the memories of the glorious Past which every footstep awakens, all combined to render this one of the most delightful parts of my journey.

      Soon after turning into the defile we ascended the rocks to the right for some distance, and entered the Sang-bur ("Rock- cutting"), a passage two or three hundred yards in length, just wide enough to admit a man and horse, hewn out of the mountain side. While marvelling at this enduring triumph of the engineering skill of ancient Persia, a vision arose in my mind's eye of gorgeously apparelled horsemen spurring in hot haste with


messages to or from the "Great King" through the Rock- cutting. I pictured to myself the white temples and lofty halls of Pasargadae first bursting on their sight, and sighed inwardly as I thought of that departed splendour, and of the fickleness of fortune, which has taken away the very tomb of Cyrus from him to bestow it upon Solomon.

      Soon after leaving the Sang-bur I was startled--almost frightened --by the sudden apparition of four or five armed men, who sprang out from behind a rock and barred my progress. The reports which I had heard of the disturbed state of Fars, the turbulence of its inhabitants, and the deeds of Riza Khan flashed through my mind; and I was in full expectation of a summons to surrender my money or my life, when I was reassured by a humble request on the part of the spokesman of the party that I would be kind enough to "remember the poor tufankchi" who watched over the safety of the roads. I was so relieved that I readily gave him what he desired; and it was not till I had passed on, and these guardians of the peace had once more hidden themselves in their ambush, that I was struck by the ludicrous nature of the proceeding. Imagine policemen or sentinels in England hiding behind rocks and leaping out on the passing traveller to ask him for a "present" in recognition of their vigilance!

      About mid-day I halted in a pleasant meadow by the river for lunch. The infinitely-varied shades of green and red exhibited by the willows, just bursting into foliage, the emerald hue of the grass, and the pleasant murmur of the rushing river flowing past me, rendered the spot charming beyond all description. Haji Safar, whose spirits appeared to rise higher and higher as he drew nearer to Shiraz (for, whatever he may say, in his heart of hearts every Shirazi thinks his own native city incomparable and peerless), was in high good humour--a fact which always disclosed itself by his giving me a better meal than usual--and on this occasion he went so far as to kindle a fire and make some


tea, which he brought me triumphantly when I had finished eating.

      Reluctantly quitting this delightful spot, we again continued on our way through scenery as varied as it was grand, and presently passed through one of the wide cliff-girt valleys into which the Pulvar defile here and there expands. Here the rich pastures were dotted with groups of black tents belonging to the wandering tribes (ilyat) moving northward into the mountains, while their flocks of sheep and goats, tended by dark-eyed graceful shepherd boys, moved hither and thither over the plain. Leaving this happy valley we entered another defile, which brought us, a little before 6 p.m., to the village of Sivand, in which is situated the last telegraph station before Shiraz. Here I was received with the utmost kindness by Mr and Mrs Whittingback, whose little boy had ridden out to meet me some while before, for I was expected earlier.

      Next morning I did not start till about ten o'clock, being unwilling to leave the hospitable roof of my kind entertainers. The post-road to Shiraz continues on the left bank of the river, but as I wished to visit the inscriptions on the rocks above Haji-abad, which lies on the opposite side, we forded the stream, and followed the western bend of the valley, thus shortening our day's march by nearly a parasang. Soon after mid-day the village of Hajl-abad came in sight, and, as I was uncertain as to the exact position of the inscriptions, I began carefully to scrutinise the rocky cliffs to the right, in the hopes of discerning some trace of them. Presently I detected a small squarish hole hewn in the face of the rocks some distance up the side of one of the mountains (which at this point receded considerably from the road), and at once proceeded to scramble up to it. As usual, the clearness of the atmosphere led me to underrate the distance, and it was only after a long and hot climb that I finally reached the spot, where, to my disappointment, no inscription was visible --nothing but the shallow excavation, which in the distance


looked like the mouth of a tunnel. For what purpose and by whom it was made I do not know, but I saw several similar excavations in the neighbourhood. Disappointed in my search, I again descended to the foot of the mountains, and continued my way along their base, eagerly scanning the rugged cliffs above me. I was much afraid that after all I might fail in discovering the object of my search, so numerous were the clefts, valleys, and ravines by which the mountains were indented and intersected at this point. Presently, however, I came to the opening of a wider valley, running straight up into the hills, where it divided into two small glens, which ascended to the right and left, to lose themselves in the mountain above. In the mouth of this valley were pitched two or three tents, near which a tribesman was watching his grazing flock. Accosting him, I enquired whether he knew where the writing on the rocks was to be found.

      "Do you mean the writing or the sculptures?" he demanded.

      "The writing," I answered; "I know that the sculptures are lower down the valley."

      "And what do you want with the writing?" asked the shepherd, suspiciously. "Can you read it?"

      "No," I replied, "unfortunately I cannot; nevertheless I have heard that there are writings from the ancient time somewhere in these rocks, and I am desirous of seeing them."

      "You can read them, I know very well," said he, "and you hope to find treasures there; many Firangis come here seeking for treasures. However, if you must know, they are up there," and he pointed up the valley. I wished to ask him in which bifurcation of the valley they were, but he had returned to his sheep, evidently disinclined to give me any further information.

      There was nothing for it but to explore both of the gullies in question, and I began with the one to the right. It led me up into the heart of the mountain, and, after scrambling up amongst


huge rugged boulders, I finally found myself at the mouth of a most gloomy-looking cavern, which appeared to run straight into the hillside. From the rocks above and around the water dripped with a sullen plash; a few bones scattered on the ground irresistibly suggested the thought that I was in close proximity to the lair of some wild beast, and caused me instinctively to feel in my pocket for my revolver; while the silence and loneliness of the spot, whence I could not even see the road, being hemmed in on all sides by beetling rocks, made me in no wise sorry to retrace my steps as soon as I was well assured that the object of my search was not to be found here.

      I now proceeded to explore the other ravine, which, if less gloomy, was hardly less imposing than that which I had just quitted. As I ascended, its sides grew steeper and steeper, until, approaching one another more and more closely, they terminated in sheer precipices. At this point several huge boulders lay at their feet, seeming to bar all further progress, and I was beginning to doubt the advisability of trying to proceed farther, when, raising my eyes to the rocks on the right, I espied, some distance up, a long depression, looking dark in the sunshine, on the wall of which I thought I could discern a prepared tablet of cruciform shape. Hastily ascending to this, I perceived with joy that my conjecture was right. On the rock forming the back of this hollow was a prepared surface, shaped roughly like a cross with very thick limbs, along the transverse length of which were four tablets hewn in the mountain face. Of these tablets the two situated to the left were bare, having apparently never received the inscriptions for which they were destined; but each of the other two bore an inscription of some length in Pahlavi characters. The inscriptions in question have been fully treated of by Haug in his admirable Essay on the Pahlavi Language and it is therefore unnecessary for me to say more of them in this place than that one of them is in Sasanian, and the other in Chaldeo-Pahlavi; that both belong to the reign of Shapur I,


the son of Ardashir Babakan, the founder of the dynasty; and that consequently they date from the third century of the Christian era.

      Having satisfied my curiosity, I returned to Haji Safar, who was awaiting me with the horses in the road, and we proceeded in a straight line towards the village of Zangavar (situated on the same side of the river as Haji-abad, nearer the end of the valley), where I proposed to halt for the following day, as it forms the best starting-point for visiting Persepolis and the rock-sepulchres; of Naksh-i-Rustam. Our progress was, however, soon checked by innumerable streams and ditches, and we were compelled to return to the road skirting the base of the mountains on the western side of the valley. Annoying as this delay at first appeared, it was in truth a most fortunate occurrence, for, while looking about for signs of a path which would lead us more directly to our goal, I suddenly caught sight of a large cruciform excavation on the face of the rock, which I at once recognised, from the descriptions I had read and the sketches I had seen, as one of the tombs of Naksh-i-Rustam, on which I had thus unexpectedly chanced. Haji Safar seemed scarcely so well pleased as I was, for he well knew that this discovery would involve a further delay, and, as the day had now turned cold and windy, he would doubtless fain have reached the halting-place as soon as possible. Since an hour or two of daylight still remained, however, it was obviously out of the question to waste it; and as I knew that the morrow would be all too short fully to explore the wonders of Persepolis, I was anxious to get a clear impression of the monuments which so thickly beset this angle of the valley.

      Accordingly I spent about an hour in examining and taking notes of these--a delightful hour, which passed only too quickly. The monuments in question are well-known to all travellers and antiquarians, and have been fully described in many books, so I shall content myself with merely enumerating them.


      They are as follows:--

      (i) Four rock-sepulchres dating from Achaemenian times. Externally, these present the appearance of crosses cut in the rock, with limbs equal in length and about half as wide as they are long. The aperture affording access to the inner gallery (which corresponds to the horizontal limbs of the cross in length, height, and position) is near the centre. Of the interior I shall have to speak shortly. Two pillars carved out of the rock stand on either side of this aperture, which is forty or fifty feet above the ground. The upper limb of the cross is adorned with sculptured symbols, amongst which a fire-altar surmounted by a crescent moon, a priest engaged in devotional exercises, and, over all, the winged figure girt with the symbol of infinity, which forms so constant a feature in the Achaemenian tombs, are most conspicuous.

      (ii) Six tablets bearing inscriptions and bas-reliefs of Sasanian workmanship. Close to the first of these (proceeding from the north southwards) is a modern Persian inscription*, bearing the date A.H. 1127 (A.D. 1715), which is already almost as much defaced as the Sasanian inscriptions by the side of which it stands, and far more so than the exquisite cuneiform of the Achaemenians. Of the six Sasanian tablets, most of which are commemorative of victories over the Romans, and one or two of which bear long Pahlavi inscriptions, the first is adjacent to the Neo-Persian inscription noticed above, and stands about half-way between the first and second rock-tombs, but close to the ground;


the second is placed under the second rock-tomb; the third between the second and third rock-tombs; the fourth under the fourth rock-tomb; and the fifth and sixth, one above the other, just before the angle formed by the falling away of the cliffs to the west where the valley enters the plain of Marv-Dasht.

      (iii) Opposite the last rock-tomb, on the other side of the road (which runs close to the face of the cliff), is a square building of very solid constmction, bearing some resemblance to the Tomb of Cyrus. This can be entered by climbing without much difficulty. It is called by the villagers Ka'ba-i-Zaratusht ("the Caaba of Zoroaster").

      (iv) On a summit of the rocks which form the angle of the valley is a cylindrical pillar about five feet high, sunk in a socket cut to receive it. This is called Dasta-i-Pire-Zan ("the Old Woman's Pestle").

      (v) Beyond the angle formed by the junction of the Pulvar valley with the Marv-Dasht, and consequently concealed from the sight of one standing in the former, are two altars, each about four and a half feet high, hewn out of the solid rock. These are well described and figured by Ker Porter.

      The above list comprises all the remains included by the Persians under the name "Naksh-i-Rustam," and, with the exception of a brief description of the interior of one of the rock-tombs which I shall shortly attempt, I shall say no more about them, since they have been exhaustively described by many writers far more competent in this matter than myself.

      While engaged in examining the Naksh-i-Rustam, we were joined by a villager who had been collecting a plant called kangar in the mountains. Some of this he gave to Haji Safar, who cooked it for my supper. It is by no means unsavoury, and resembles celery more than anything else I can think of. This villager proved to be a native of Zangavar, the village whither we were bound; and on learning that I proposed to spend the morrow there, so as to explore the antiquities in the neighbourhood,


he offered to obtain the help of one or two other men who, by means of a rope, would haul me up to the platform of the rock-tombs, so as to enable me to examine its interior.

      As the gathering dusk warned me that I must postpone further explorations till the morrow, I regretfully turned my back on the Naksh-i-Rustam, and, after a ride of fifteen or twenty minutes, reached the large straggling village of Zangavar. Here I was informed that the Kedkhuda (chief man of the village), apprised by the muleteer of my arrival, had assigned quarters to me in the takye consecrated to the Muharram passion- plays. Proceeding thither, I found a clean and comfortable room set apart for me, in which I had hardly installed myself when the Kedkhuda in person, accompanied by one or two friends, came to pay his respects. He was a nice old man, very courteous and kindly in his manners, and we had a long conversation, of which the antiquities in the neighbourhood formed the principal topic. He told me that a little while ago two Frenchmen (working for M. Dieulafoy) had been engaged for some time in making plans and taking photographs of Persepolis and the Naksh-i-Rustam, in front of which they had erected a sort of scaffold (manjanik) the better to reach its upper part. They had lodged in this village; but, the Kedkhuda complained, had been very unsociable and reticent, refusing to allow the people to watch their work or see their photographs and sketches.

      This subject exhausted, the Kedkhuda began to question me concerning our religion, and to ask me whether I had heard of the European doctor who had recently embraced the Muhammadan faith at Shiraa. I answered that I had read about his conversion in a Persian newspaper which I had seen at Isfahan, and that I was very desirous of conversing with him, so that I might learn the reasons which had led him to abandon his own creed in favour of Islam.

      "Perhaps you, too," said the Kedkhuda, "will, by the grace of God, be brought to believe in the religion of our Prophet. You


have come to see our country from afar; do not, like the majority of the Firangis, occupy yourself with nothing but dumb stones, vessels of brass, tiles, and fabrics; contemplate the world of ideas rather than the world of form, and seek for Truth rather than for curiosities. Why should you not even pay a Visit to the most holy tombs of our Imams at Kerbela and Nejef? There you might see the miracles whereby they prove to all that they still live and rule."

      "Gladly would I do as you advise," I replied, and I trust that I am not so bigoted as to refuse fairly to consider whatever proofs can be adduced in favour of your religion. Unfortunately, however, your countrymen and co-religionists, so far from offering any facilities to 'unbelievers' for witnessing the miracles whereby, as you say, the Imams continue to manifest their power and presence to the world, would drive me from their shrines like a dog if I attempted to approach them, even as they did at the shrine of Shah 'Abdu'l-'Azim. Surely they act most unwisely in this matter; for if, as you say, miracles are there wrought, they must be intended not so much for those who believe as for those who doubt, and who might be convinced thereby."

      "You are perhaps right," said the Kedkhuda, after a moment's reflection, "yet still I would urge you to make the attempt, even if you must disguise yourself as a Persian to do so. It would be a pity that you should come here at so much trouble and expense and should take back nothing with you but a collection of those curiosities and antiquities with which your people seem for the

      On completing my most part to be so strangely infatuated." So saying, the Kedkhuda took his departure and left me to myself.

      Although I was up in good time next day, all eagerness to make the best use of an opportunity which I should in all probability never again enjoy, I was delayed in starting for some time by a crowd of people who, hearing that I possessed some medical knowledge, desired to consult me about their various disorders; and it was not till nine o'clock that I finally left the village,


accompanied by the villager whom I had met on the previous day, two younger men provided with ropes, and a little boy who enlivened the way with his childish prattle. Arrived opposite the Naksh-i-Rustam, my guides advanced to the second rock- tomb, which is somewhat nearer the ground than the others, and more readily accessible. One of them climbed up the rocks with marvellous agility to the narrow platform which crosses the entrance. He then let down the rope, by the aid of which the others followed him. The rope was again lowered, I bound it firmly round my waist, and, not without sundry bumps and abrasions, was hauled up to where they stood.

      Entering the tomb by the low doorway opening on to this ledge or platform, I found myself in a long gallery corresponding to the transverse limb of the cross carved on the face of the rock. This gallery was twenty-seven paces in length from end to end, three paces in width, and perhaps twenty feet in height. On the side opposite to the entrance, four rectangular recesses are hewn out of the rock, the width of each being about four and a half paces. The floors of these are not level with the ground, but raised some three feet above it. Out of each of these floors are hewn three parallel tombs or sarcophagi, their greatest length being parallel to the gallery, and consequently transvers to the recess in which they lie. These sarcophagi were, of course, empty (except for some debris of stones and rubbish), and their coverings had been destroyed or removed.

      On completing my examination of the tomb and descending to the ground, I found a small knot of people collected. These asked me whether I could read the inscriptions, and would hardly believe my assertion that I was unable to do so, asking me if I were not a "mulla." Indeed, one or two appeared to imagine that they were written in my own language, or in one of the languages of Firangistan.

      We now struck across the valley towards Persepolis--"Takht- i-Jamshid" ("the Throne of Jamshid"), as it is called by the


Persians--fording the river Pulvar, and passing a square stone platform on its further side, called "Takht-i-Ta'us" ("the Peacock Throne"). Following the eastern side of the valley for a short distance, we presently turned the corner formed by its junction with the great plain of Marv-Dasht, and all at once there burst on my wondering gaze the stupendous ruins of Persepolis.

      Of the ruins of Pasargadae, the Tomb of Cyrus, and the rock- sepulchres of Naksh-i-Rustam I have attempted to set down some description, however meagre. In the case of Perseporls it would be vain to make this attempt, since the three or four hours during which I wandered through its deserted halls, trod its silent stairs, and gazed in admiration, such as I have seldom before experienced, on the endless succession of lofty columns, giant statues, and delicate traceries (whose beauty long ages, kinder than the besotted Macedonian who first stretched forth his impious hand against them, have scarcely marred), were hardly sufficient to enable me to do more than wonder and admire. To study Persepolis would require months; to describe it, volumes. It has already been studied and described by others far more competent than myself. All that I shall do, then, is to notice certain minor details which happened to strike me.

      On the stones of Persepolis, as on the monuments which I have already noticed, a host of travellers of many ages and many nations have carved their names, their sentiments, and their reflections, by the side of the ancient cuneiform inscriptions. Only, by as much as Persepolis exceeds all the other ruins in extent and splendour, by so much do these memorials exceed all the rest in number and interest. The two great stone lions which guard the entrance of the eastern hall, and the adjacent walls, seem to have been the favourite spots. Amongst the European names recorded here, those of Malcolm and his suite, carved in large bold Roman characters, are most conspicuous; while, amidst the remainder, cut or written in every possible


fashion, the names of not a few distinguished travellers are to be found. The sense of admiration and awe with which the place inspired me made me feel that to follow their example would be almost a profanation, and I turned to examine the similar memorials left by Musulman visitors.

      Many of these consisted, like their European congeners, of mere names and dates, and to these I paid but little attention. Here and there, however, a few lines of poetry, or a reflection on the transitoriness of earthly glory in Arabic or Persian, showed me that the same feeling of mixed awe and sadness with which the place inspired me had affected others. Some of these inscriptions were not devoid of grace and beauty, and I could not help thinking that, if one must leave a token of one's visit to such a spot, these records of the solemn feelings evoked thereby were more seemly and more congruous than aught else. As a specimen of their tenour I append translations of two, both in Arabic: one in prose, one in verse.

      The first was written in A.H. 1206 (A.D. 1791-2) by a son of Shah-Rukh Mirza, and runs as follows:

"Where are the proud monarchs of yore? They multiplied treasures which endured not, neither did they endure."

The second consists of four lines of poetry, attributed by the carver to 'Ali, the successor of the Prophet:--

"Where are the kings who exercised dominion
Until the cup-bearer of Death gave them to drink of his cup?
How many cities which have been built betwixt the horizons
Lay ruined in the evening, while their dwellers were in the abode of death?"

      This was cut by 'Ali ibn Sultan Khalid ibn Sultan Khusraw.

      In one of the windows a stone was pointed out to me, so highly polished that I could clearly see therein my reflection as in a mirror. Here and there excavations have laid bare long- buried chambers. Some of these excavations were undertaken by the command of Ferhad Mirza, the Shah's uncle less, I fear, from a disinterested love of antiquarian research than from a


hope of finding treasure, which, according to the universal belief of the Persians (based, perhaps, on traditions embodied in Firdawsi's Book of Kings), is concealed in the neighbourhood. My guides assured me that a large "brick" or ingot of solid gold had actually been discovered, and that it had been sent to Teheran, where it was preserved in the treasury of the Shah. They also pointed out to me the spot where Ferhad Mirza had caused some delinquent to be hanged over the parapet of the great terrace. It was sad to note how in many places the faces of such bas- reliefs and figures as could be reached from the ground had been wilfully defaced by fanaticism or ignorance, while many of the animals carved on the walls and staircases had been made the targets of marksmen, as witnessed by the numerous bullet-marks which they bore. But in all cases, so far as I saw, the winged genius girt with the girdle typifying infinity, which, looking forth from almost every column and cornice, seemed to watch still over the cradle of Persia's greatness, had escaped uninjured.

      On reaching the edge of the platform next the mountain from the face of which it is built out, two sepulchres on the hillside above attracted my attention, and I was making towards them when I suddenly espied two figures approaching me. The pith hat worn by one stamped him at once as a European, and I, thinking that it must be my friend and late fellow-traveller, H---, hastened forward to meet him. A nearer approach, however, showed that I was mistaken. The wearer of the pith hat proved to be an English officer who had been staying for some days in Shiraz on his homeward road from India. He was now bound for Teheran, and thence for England by way of Russia. From him I learned that H--- had posted up to Persepolis and back to Shiraz a day or two before, and that he had probably already set out for Bushire. After a short conversation we separated, and I proceeded to examine the tombs above mentioned which, in general plan, closely resemble the sepulchres


of Naksh-i-Rustam, with this important difference, that being situated on a sloping hillside, instead of on the face of a cliff, they are entered without difficulty, the inner floor being level with the ground outside. Besides this, they only contain two sarcophagi apiece, and a single recess, which is vaulted instead of being rectangular.

      Short as the time had seemed to me, symptoms of impatience began to manifest themselves in my guides. Although it was not yet four o'clock, they declared that the lateness of the hour made it advisable to withdraw from this solitary spot, lest robbers, tempted from their hiding-places in the mountains by the approach of night, should waylay us. Without attaching much credence to their representations I was forced to yield to them, and, with many a backward glance of regret, to turn my back on Persepolis. On the way back to the village I lingered for a while to examine the Sasanian bas-reliefs of Naksh-i-Rajab, which are situated in a little hollow on the mountain side just behind the post-house of Puze, and attempted to transcribe the Greek inscription of Shapur I, which afforded the key whereby the mysteries of the anomalous and ambiguous Pahlavi tongue were first unlocked.

      Next morning I quitted Zangavar, and again turned my face southwards. Our departure was greatly delayed by a crowd of sick people seeking medical advice, and, even when we at length escaped from these, an unwise attempt to take a short cut towards the main road resulted in a further loss of time. All the morning our course lay across the flat marshy plain of Marv-Dasht--a vast amphitheatre, surrounded by mountains of which some of those to the west assume the wildest shapes. Amongst these one, on which the ruins of an ancient fortress are said still to exist, is conspicuous for its precipitous and apparently inaccessible summit. The day was cold and cloudy with some rain, a state of things which rendered travelling over the naturally moist and marshy plain rather unpleasant. I was surprised, at this distance from the


sea, to observe a number of gulls. They are called by the Persians Murgh-i-Nawruzi ("New Year's Bird"), so that their appearance (which is, perhaps, limited to this season) was very appropriate; for we were now within a day of that most ancient and most popular festival, the feast of the New Year ('Id-i-Nawruz), whereby the Persians have, from time immemorial, celebrated the advent of spring.

      About mid-day we reached the end of the plain and entered another valley, in which we presently came to a great sheet of water, stretching away to the east towards the Band-i-Amir*. This is traversed by a stone causeway, and swarms with a variety of waterfowl. Leaving this behind, and bending somewhat to the left towards the mountains which form the eastern limit of the valley, we reached Zargan, our last stage before Shiraz, about dusk.

      During the morning we had passed eight or ten horsemen, whose arrogant bearing and unprovoked incivility proclaimed them servants of the ex-governor; and while passing the sheet of water above mentioned we had heard numerous shots in the surrounding hills and on the borders of the lake, which testified to the presence of a party of sportsmen. Rumour had, moreover, apprised us of the fact that Prince Jalalu'd-Dawla (the son of the fallen Prince Zillu's-Sultan, and the nominal governor of Shiraz), as well as the aged Sahib-Divan, the virtual governor, had quitted the city, in which they had no excuse for remaining longer, and were on their way northwards to the capital with a large company of followers and retainers. On reaching Zargan it was, therefore, witn more annoyance than surprise that I found the whole town filled with the soldiers and servants of the young prince and his minister. Enquiries for lodgings were everywhere met with the same reply, that there was not a room to be had for love or money in the place; and it was only after


a protracted search through every part of the town that I was fortunate enough to secure a lodging for the night in a small room which served during the day as a weaver's shop. While the implements of the owner's craft were being removed, I was scrutinised with sullen curiosity by a small knot of villagers, over whose spirits the presence of the soldiers appeared to have cast a gloom which rendered them silent and abstracted.

      And here at Zargan I was like to have suffered yet graver trouble, and came near perishing, as Haji Safar poetically observed, "like a moth consumed in the candle of Shiraz," ere ever I set eyes on that beautiful and classical city. For while, according to my wont, I lay smoking and reading in my camp-bed before composing myself to sleep, slumber overtook me unawares, and I lost all consciousness of my surroundings till I suddenly awoke with a sense of suffocation and contact with something hot. A moment's examination showed me that the quilt on which I lay was smouldering and aglow with sparks. I immediately sprang up and dragged it on to the ground, when I found the mischief to be much more extensive than I had imagined, at least a third of its lower fold being in a state of ignition. Having neither water nor light at my disposal, I was compelled to awaken Haji Safar, who was sleeping outside on the ground; and our united efforts soon succeeded in extinguishing the flames, but not till the greater part of the quilt had been consumed. Neither was this the only mischief done, for my coat and waistcoat had both suffered in greater or less degree, while the smoke and steam produced by the conflagration and its extinction filled the room, and rendered the atmosphere well nigh unbearable. I was thankful enough, however, to have escaped so lightly from the effects of my own carelessness, and, leaving the door open, and rolling myself up as best I could in the remnants of my bedding, was soon asleep again. Haji Safar, who, though at times self- willed and refractory, was never wanting in time of need, insisted, in spite of my remonstrances, in covering me with his cloak,


which he could ill spare (the night being chilly), so that I enjoyed a greater measure of comfort than I deserved.

      When I awoke in the morning all recollections of the disaster of the previous night were obliterated by the joyous thought that before the sun was down I should set foot in that city which, for seven years, it had been the chief ambition of my life to behold. Leaving Zargan, we had first to strike out into the plain to join the main road (remarkabie for its excessive stoniness), which, crossing over a low pass, brought us to a building called Baj-gah ("the Toll-House"), where customs' dues were formerly levied. I was surprised at the number of travellers whom we met--more, I think, than on any previous day's march since we quitted Trebizonde. Many of these were servants or messengers of the old or the new administration, but at all times the traffic between Zargan and Shiraz seems to be considerable. Beyond this there was little to attract my interest till, about 1.30, on surmounting another pass, Haji Safar cried out "Ruknabad! Ruknabad!" and, with a thrill of pleasure, I found myself at the source of that stream, so dear to every Shirazi, of which Hafiz declared, in perhaps the best known of his poems, that Paradise itself could not boast the like.

      But for the rich associations which the sight of it evoked in my mind, I might perhaps have experienced that sense of disappointment with which Vambery declares he was affected by the first view of this classic stream. As it was, I saw nothing but the limpid water rushing from its rocky source; heard nothing but its melodious ripple; thought nothing but those thoughts which rise in the mind of one who first stands in the favourite haunt of an immortal bard who immortalises all that he touches. One often hears the expression, "I had heard so much of such-and-such a thing that when I saw it I was quite disappointed." This may happen in the case of objects admired or loved only for themselves, but not of those endeared by their associations. One does not love Hafiz because he wrote of


Ruknabad: one loves Ruknabad because it was written of by Hafiz.

      In this pleasant spot I tarried for about an hour, eating my lunch under the shadow of one of the trees which stand by the edge of the stream. Again setting out, we came in about an hour to a building called Khil'at-pushi, where, as its name implies, governors of Shiraz, honoured by receiving such a distinction from the Shah, come out to meet the bearers of the royal favours, and are invested with the robe of honour. Shortly after passing this spot we perceived a horseman advancing towards us, who proved to be the chief servant of my host, the Nawwab Mirza Haydar 'Ali Khan. After presenting the Nawwab's compliments and regrets that he had been unable himself to come out to welcome me by reason of the multitudinous social duties incidental to the Nawruz, the servant turned his horse's head and led the way towards the city. We were, I gathered, quite close to it now, and I was so full of expectancy that I had but little inclination to talk. Suddenly we turned a corner, and in that moment--a moment of which the recollection will never fade from my mind--there burst upon my delighted gaze a view the like of which (in its way) I never saw.

      We were now at that point, known to all students of Hafiz, called Tangi-Allahu Akbar, because whoever first beholds Shiraz hence is constrained by the exceeding beauty of the sight to cry out in admiration "Allahu Akbar"--"God is most great!" At our very feet, in a grassy, fertile plain girt with purple hills (on the loftier summits of which the snow still lingered), and half concealed amidst gardens of dark stately cypresses, wherein the rose and thel judas-tree in luxuriant abundance struggled with a host of other flowers for the mastery of colour, sweet and beautiful in its garb of spring verdure which clothed the very roofs of the bazaars, studded with many a slender minaret, and many a turquoise-hued dome, lay the home of Persian culture, the mother of Persian genius, the


sanctuary of poetry and philosophy, Shiraz. Riveted on this, and this alone, with an awe such as that wherewith the pilgrim approaches the shrine, with a delight such as that wherewith the exile again beholds his native land, my eyes scarcely marked the remoter beauties of the scene--the glittering azure of Lake Mahalu to the east, the interminable gardens of Masjid-Bardi to the west. Words camlot describe the rapture which overcame me as, after many a weary march, I gazed at length on the reality of that whereof I had so long dreamed, and found the reality not merely equal to, but far surpassing, the ideal which I had conceived. It is seldom enough in one's life that this occurs. When it does, one's innermost being is stirred with an emotion which baffles description, and which the most eloquent words can but dimly shadow forth.

      From the Tang-i-Allahu Akbar the road runs broad and straight to the gate of the city, to reach which a wide and well- built bridge spanning a river-bed (which, even in spring, contains comparatively little water except after heavy showers, and which in summer must be almost dry) is crossed. Descending this road, which at this festal season was enlivened by hundreds of pleasure-seekers, who, dressed in their best, had come out from the city to enjoy the fragrance of the air and the beauty of the fields, we first passed under the arch, in a chamber over which is preserved the great "Kur'an of 17 maunds" (Kur'an-i- hafdah mani), whereof it is fabled that a single leaf, if removed, would weigh as much as the whole volume. Lower down, just to the right of the road, Musalla, another favourite haunt of Hafiz, was pointed out to me. The building which at present stands there is quite modern, and the "rose-walks," on which Hafiz dwells so lovingly, have disappeared. To the left of the road were the gardens of Jan-numa, Dil-gusha, Chahil-tan and Haft-tan; beyond these were visible the cypresses which over- shadow the grave of Hafiz; while farther still the tomb of Sa'di could just be discerned. To the right lay a multitude of other


gardens of less note; everywhere the fresh grass clothed the plain with a robe of verdure such as is seen but rarely in Persia; while the soft spring air was laden with the perfume of a thousand flowers. I ceased to wonder at the rapturous enthusiasm where- with the Shirazi speaks of his native city, or to regard as an exaggeration far removed from the truth that verse of Sa'di's which I have already quoted:--

Nay, in these "meadows set with slender galingale," in this "land where all things always seemed the same," I felt constrained to "fold my wings, and cease from wanderings"; almost as though a voice from the unseen had whispered them, there sounded in my ears the lines--

      A little before reaching the bridge which leads to the Isfahan gate, we turned to the right, and continued outside the city wall till we came to the "Gate of the King's Garden" (Derwaze-i- Bagh-i-Shah), by which we entered. A short ride through the narrow, tortuous streets brought us at length to the house of my host, the Nawwab. Dismounting at the gate, I was ushered into a large and handsome courtyard paved witb stones and traversed by a little stream of clear water which flowed from a large square tank at the upper end. On either side of this stood a row of stately sycamores, interspersed with orange-trees, while a mass of beautiful flowers tastefully grouped lent brightness to the view and fragrance to the air.

      As I stood here the Nawwab himself came out to welcome me with that easy courtesy and unaffected hospitality wherein the Persians excel all other nations. Taking me by the hand, he led me into a room opening into the courtyard, where, as is


customary at the New Year, and for the twelve days which succeed it (during which all work is laid aside, and paying and receiving congratulatory visits is the sole business of all), a multitudinous array of all manner of sweetmeats was laid out. The samavar (urn) hissing in a corner gave promise of the welcome tea, which did not delay to make its appearance. After I had partaken of two or three cups of this, and answered the usual questions concerning the friends I had left at Teheran, the journey, and my health, the Nawwab rose and conducted me to the rooms which, at the special request of his elder brother, the Nawwab Mirza Hasan 'Ali Khan (in whose house at Teheran I had spent so pleasant and profitable a month), had been set apart for me. Pleasant and commodious as they were, and luxurious as they seemed after the hardships of the road, their chief charm in my eyes was that they had given shelter to poets whose names form the brightest ornament of modern Persian literature--poets amongst whom in sweetness, melody, wealth of metaphor, and purity of diction, the brilliant genius of Ka'ani stands unrivalled and unsurpassed.

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