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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Near Kasvin these kanats are innumerable


Near

ancient towns and villages one finds a great many of these _kanats_ dry and disused at present, and nearly everywhere one sees people at work making fresh ones, for how to get water is one of the great and serious questions in the land of Iran. Near Kasvin these _kanats_ are innumerable, and the water carried by them goes through the streets of the city, with holes here and there in the middle of the road to draw it up. These holes are a serious danger to any one given to walking about without looking where he is placing his feet. It is mainly due to these artificial water-tunnels that the plain of Kasvin, otherwise arid and oppressively hot, has been rendered extremely fertile.

There are a great many gardens with plenty of fruit-trees. Vineyards abound, producing excellent stoneless grapes, which, when dried, are mostly exported to Russia. Pomegranates, water-melons, cucumbers, and cotton are also grown. Excellent horses and camels are bred here.

Kasvin being the half-way house, as it were, between Resht and Teheran, and an important city in itself, is bound--even if only in a reflected manner--to feel the good effects of having through communication to the Caspian and the capital made so easy by the completion of the Russian road.

The silk and rice export trade for Bagdad has gone up during the last two years, and in the fertile plain in which Kasvin lies agriculture is beginning

to look up again, although not quite so much as in the Resht district, which is naturally the first to reap benefit from the development of Northern Persia.

The chief manufactures of Kasvin are carpets, a kind of coarse cotton-cloth called _kerbas_, velvet, brocades, iron-ware and sword-blades, which are much appreciated by Persians.

There is a large bazaar in which many cheap European goods are sold besides the more picturesque articles of local manufacture.

From a strategical point of view, Kasvin occupies a position not to be overlooked, guarding as it does the principal entrance from the south into the Ghilan province.

CHAPTER VIII

Four thousand feet above sea-level--Castellated walls--An obnoxious individual--Luggage weighing--The strange figure of an African black--How he saved an Englishman's life--Teheran hotels--Interesting guests--Life of bachelors in Teheran--The Britisher in Persia--Home early--Social sets--Etiquette--Missionaries--Foreign communities--The servant question.

A few hours' rest to give one's aching bones a chance of returning into their normal condition and position, and amidst the profound salaams of the rest-house servants, we speed away towards Teheran, 130 versts more according to the Russian road measurement (about 108 miles). We gallop on the old, wide and flat road, on which the traffic alone diverts one,--long strings of donkeys, of camels, every now and then a splendid horse with a swaggering rider. We are travelling on the top of the plateau, and are keeping at an altitude slightly above 4,000 feet. Distant mountains lie to the north, otherwise there is absolutely nothing to see, no vegetation worth mentioning, everything dry and barren.


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