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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

But with very handsome carpets


Yet

with some good fortune one occasionally gets glimpses of women's faces, for face-screens and _chudders_ and the rest of them have their ways of dropping occasionally, or being blown away by convenient winds, or falling off unexpectedly. But this is only the case with the prettier women, the ugly old ones being most particular not to disillusion and disappoint the male passers-by.

This is possibly another reason why hasty travellers have concluded that Persian women must all be beautiful.

CHAPTER XXI

The Shah's birthday--Illuminations--The Shah in his automobile--Ministers in audience--Etiquette at the Shah's Court--The Shah--A graceful speaker--The Shah's directness of speech--The Kajars and the Mullahs--The _defile_ of troops--A blaze of diamonds.

There are great rejoicings in Teheran and all over Persia on the Shah's birthday and the night previous to it, when grand illuminations of all the principal buildings, official residences and business concerns take place. Large sums of money are spent in decorating the buildings suitably on such an auspicious occasion, not as in our country with cheap, vari-coloured cotton rags and paper floral ornaments, but with very handsome carpets, numberless looking-glasses of all sizes and shapes, pictures in gold frames, plants and fountains.

Nor are the lights used of a tawdry kind. No, they are the best candles that money can purchase, fitted in nickel-plated candlesticks with tulip globes--thousands of them--and crystal candelabras of Austrian make, or rows of paraffin lamps hired for the occasion.

It is customary in Teheran even for foreign business houses to illuminate their premises lavishly, and the Atabeg Azam or Prime Minister and other high officials go during the evening to pay calls in order to show their appreciation of the compliment to their sovereign, and admire the decorations of the leading banks and merchants' buildings.

In front of each illuminated house carpets are spread and a number of chairs are prepared for friends and guests who wish to come and admire the show. Sherbet, tea, coffee, whisky, brandy, champagne, cigarettes and all sorts of other refreshments are provided, and by the time you have gone round to inspect all the places where you have been invited, you have been refreshed to such an extent by the people, who are very jolly and hospitable, that you begin to see the illuminations go round you of their own accord.

The show that I witnessed was very interesting and really well done, the effect in the bazaar, with all the lights reflected in the mirrors, and the gold and carpets against the ancient wood-work of the caravanserais, being quite picturesque. The crowds of open-mouthed natives were, as a whole, well behaved, and quite amusing to watch. They seemed quite absorbed in studying the details of each bit of decoration. The Bank of Persia was decorated with much artistic taste. Side by side, in the wind, two enormous flags--the British and the Persian--flew on its facade.


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