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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And who sells his goods spread on a brass tray


Considering the few and primitive tools employed, it is really wonderful that the work is as good as it is. The polishing of trays is generally done with their feet by boys, who stand on them and with a circular motion of the body revolve the tray to the right and left upon a layer of wet sand until, after some hours of labour, a sufficiently shiny surface is obtained by friction.

I became much interested in watching a man joining together two pieces of metal to be turned into an amphora, but the noise made the horse I rode very restless. It was impossible to hear any one speak, the din of the hammered metal being so acute and being echoed in each dome of the arcade. The horse became so alarmed when the bellows began to blow upon the fire that he tried to throw me, first by standing on his fore-legs and scattering the crowd of yelling natives with his hindlegs, then by standing up erect the other way about. In a moment the place was clear of people; some had leapt on to the side platform: others had rushed inside the shops. The horse delighted in pirouetting about, kicking the nearest metal vases and trays all over the place, and causing quite a commotion. It was rather amusing to watch the rapidity with which the merchants a little way off withdrew their goods to safety inside the premises to prevent further damage. The horse, being then satisfied that he could not shake me off, continued the journey more or less peacefully through the bazaar.

Here is a mirror shop--imports from Austria. There the flourishing grain merchants, whose premises are the neatest and cleanest of the whole bazaar. Each merchant tastily displays his various cereals in heaps on speckless enormous brass trays, and by the side of them dried fruit, in which he also deals extensively. His shop is decorated with silvered or red or blue glass balls.

Further on is another very neat place, the curdled-milk retailer's, with large flat metal tanks filled with milk, and a great many trays, large and little, in front of his premises. He, too, keeps his place and belongings--but not himself--most beautifully clean. He does a flourishing business.

Every now and then we come upon a very spacious and well-lighted room, with gaudy candelabras of Bohemian glass, and a large steaming samovar. This is a tea-shop. There are plenty of men in it, in green or brown or blue long coats, and all squatting lazily, cross-legged, sipping tea from tiny glasses and being helped to sugar from a large tray containing a mountain of it.

The fruit and vegetable bazaar is always a feature of Persian city markets, water-melons, cucumbers, grapes, apples, pomegranates, almonds and walnuts playing a prominent part in the various displays. Then there is the retailer of peeled walnuts, a man who wears a red cap and green coat, and who sells his goods spread on a brass tray. The walnuts as soon as peeled from their skin are thrown into a large basin full of water, and when properly washed are spread on the tray to dry, ready for consumption.

The walnut man is generally a character. He keeps his stall open even at night, when other shops are closed, and has plenty to say to all the passers-by on the merits of his walnuts.


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