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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Yezd is a great trading centre


Where

some moisture is obtainable the soil is very fertile and is cultivated by the natives. The chief cultivated products are wheat, barley, and other cereals, cotton, opium, and tobacco. The vine flourishes near Yezd, and the wines used by the Parsees are not unpalatable. Mulberries are cultivated in large quantities. Silk is probably the most important product of the Yezd district. Wild game is said to be plentiful on the mountains. With the exception of salt, the mineral products of the district are insignificant.

Yezd is a great trading centre, partly owing to its geographical position, partly because its inhabitants are very go-ahead and enterprising. Yezd men are great travellers and possess good business heads. They go across the salt desert to Khorassan and Afghanistan, and they trade, with India principally, via Kerman, Bandar Abbas, and Lingah, and also to a small extent via Sistan. Previously the trade went entirely by Shiraz and Bushire, but now that road is very unsafe, owing to robbers. Yezd traders travel even much further afield, as far as China, India, Java. During my short stay I met quite a number of people who had visited Bombay, Calcutta, Russia, Bokhara, and Turkestan.

The settled population of Yezd consists mostly of Shia Mahommedans, the descendants of the ancient Persian race, with an intermixture of foreign blood; the Parsees or Zoroastrians, who still retain their purity of race and religious

faith, and who are principally engaged in agriculture and commerce; a very small community of European Christians, including a few Armenian natives of Julfa (Isfahan). Then there are about one thousand Jews, who live mostly in abject poverty.

The Mahommedan population of the town may be approximately estimated at sixty thousand. Here, even more noticeably than in any other Persian town, there is very little outward show in the buildings, which are of earth and mud and appear contemptible, but the interiors of houses of the rich are pleasant and well-cared for. The miserable look of the town, however, is greatly redeemed by the beauty of the gardens which surround it.

It is to be regretted that the roads in and around Yezd are in a wretched condition, being absolutely neglected, for were there safer and more practicable roads trade would be facilitated and encouraged to no mean degree. As things stand now, indigenous trade is increasing slowly, but foreign trade is making no headway. The silk and opium trades, which were formerly the most profitable, have of late declined. Cottons and woollens, silk, the _Kasb_ and _Aluhi_ of very finest quality, shawls, cotton carpets and noted felts equal if not superior to the best of Kum, are manufactured both for home use and for export.

The exports mainly consist of almonds and nuts, tobacco, opium (to China), colouring matters, walnut-wood, silk, wool, cotton carpets, felts, skins, assafoetida, shoes, copper pots, country loaf-sugar, sweetmeats, for which Yezd is celebrated, etc. Henna is brought to Yezd from Minab and Bandar Abbas to be ground and prepared for the Persian market, being used with _rang_ as a dye for the hair.


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