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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And was banished to Kashan to the Fin Palace


The

Indo-European Telegraphs have a large two-storied building outside the north gate of the city, in charge of an Armenian clerk, where, through the courtesy of the Director of Telegraphs, travellers are allowed to put up, and where the guests' room is nice and clean, with a useful bedstead, washstand, and a chair or two.

A capital view of Kashan is obtained from the roof of the Telegraph building. A wide road, the one by which I had arrived, continues to the north-east entrance of the bazaar. The town itself is divided into two sections--the city proper, surrounded by a high wall, and the suburbs outside. To the south-west, in the town proper, rises the slender tower of Zein-ed-din, slightly over 100 feet high, and not unlike a factory chimney. Further away in the distance--outside the city--the mosque of Taj-ed-din with its blue pointed roof, adjoins the famous Meh-rab shrine, from which all the most ancient and beautiful tiles have been stolen or sold by avid Mullahs for export to Europe.

Then we see the two domes of the mosque and theological college, the Madrassah Shah, where young future Mullahs are educated. To the west of the observer from our high point of vantage, and north-west of the town, lies another mosque, the Panja Shah, in which the hand of one of the prophets, Nazareth Abbas, is buried. A life-size hand and portion of the forearm, most beautifully carved in marble, is shown to devotees in a receptacle

in the east wall of the mosque. The actual grave in which the real hand lies is covered with magnificent ancient tiles.

It is with a certain amount of sadness that one gazes on the old Fin Palace, up on the hills some six miles to the west, and listens to the pathetic and repellent tragedy which took place within its garden walls.

The square garden is surrounded by a high wall, and has buildings on three sides. Marble canals, fed by large marble tanks, in which run streams of limpid water, intersect the garden in the middle of a wide avenue of dark cypresses. The garden was commenced by Shah Abbas. The Palace, however, was built by Fath-Ali-Shah, who also much improved the gardens and made this a favourite residence during the hot summer months.

There is here a very hot natural spring of sulphur water, and copper, which is said to possess remarkable curative qualities, especially for rheumatism and diseases of the blood. One bath is provided for men and another for women.

The Palace, with its quaint pictures and decorations is now in a state of abandonment and semi-collapse. The tragic end (in 1863 or 1864, I could not clearly ascertain which) at this place of Mirza-Taki Khan, then Prime Minister of Persia--as honest and straightforward a politician as Persia has ever possessed--adds a peculiar gloom to the place.

A man of humble birth, but of great genius, Mirza-Taki Khan, rose to occupy, next to the Shah, the highest political position in his country, and attempted to place the Government of Persia on a firm basis, and to eradicate intrigue and corruption. To this day his popularity is proverbial among the lower classes, by whom he is still revered and respected for his uprightness. The Shah gave him his only sister in marriage, but unhappily one fine day his enemies gained the upper hand at Court. He fell into disgrace, and was banished to Kashan to the Fin Palace. Executioners were immediately sent to murder him by order of the Shah. Mirza-Taki Khan, when their arrival was announced, understood that his end had come. He asked leave to commit suicide instead, which he did by having the arteries of his arms cut open. He bled to death while in his bath.


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