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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The other important product of Kashan


Royal

regret at the irreparable loss was expressed, but it was too late. The body of the cleverest statesman Persia had produced was conveyed for burial to the Sanctuary of Karbala.

One cannot help being struck, in a stifling hot place like Kashan, to find large ice store-houses. Yet plenty of ice is to be got here during the winter, especially from the mountains close at hand. These ice-houses have a pit dug in the ground to a considerable depth, and are covered over with a high conical roof of mud. To the north-east, outside the city, in the suburbs a great many of these ice store-houses are to be seen, as well as a small, blue-tiled roof of a mosque, the pilgrimage of Habbib-Mussah.

There is some cultivation round about Kashan, principally of cotton, tobacco, melons and water-melons, which one sees in large patches wherever there is water obtainable.

Kashan is protected by mountains to the south and west, and by low hills to the north-west, but to the north and north-east the eye roams uninterrupted over an open, flat, dusty, dreary plain of a light brown colour until it meets the sky line on the horizon, softly dimmed by a thick veil of disturbed sand. Due east lie the Siah Kuh (mountains), then comes another gap in the horizon to the south-east.

In the dark and gloomy bazaar the din of hundreds of wooden hammers on as many pieces of copper

being made into jugs, trays, pots or pans, is simply deafening, echoed as it is under the vaulted roofs, the sound waves clashing in such an unmusical and confused way as to be absolutely diabolical. A few of these copper vessels are gracefully ornamented and inlaid, but the majority are coarse in their manufacture. They are exported all over the country. The manufactured silk, the other important product of Kashan, finds its way principally to Russia.

The inhabitants are most industrious and, like all industrious people, are extremely docile, amenable to reason, and easy to manage. The Mullahs are said to have much power over the population, and, in fact, we find in Kashan no less than 18 mosques with five times that number of shrines, counting large and small.

I experienced some difficulty in obtaining relays of fresh post horses, the mail having been despatched both north and south the previous night, and therefore no horses were in the station. At seven in the evening I was informed that five horses had returned and were at my disposal. Twenty minutes later the loads were on their saddles, and I was on the road again.

After travelling under the pitch-dark vaulted bazaars (where, as it was impossible to see where one was going, the horses had to be led), and threading our way out of the suburbs, we travelled on the flat for some time before coming to the hilly portion of the road where it winds its way up at quite a perceptible gradient. We had no end of small accidents and trouble. The horses were half-dead with fatigue. They had gone 48 miles already with the post, and without rest or food had been sent on with me for 28 more miles! The poor wretches collapsed time after time on the road under their loads, although these were very light, and my servant and I and the chappar boy had to walk the whole way and drag the animals behind us, for they had not sufficient strength to carry us. Even then their knees gave way every now and then, and it was no easy job to get them to stand up again. One of them never did. He died, and, naturally, we had to abandon him.


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