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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And nearly all the Europeans resident in Teheran


The

procession with banners and music went on for a very long time, but at last the garden was cleared of all people. His Majesty wished to descend for a little walk.

Absolutely alone, the Shah sauntered about, apparently quite relieved that the ordeal was over. The Atabeg Azam was signalled to approach, and Prime Minister and Sovereign had a friendly conversation.

Although personally not fond of jewellery, I must confess that I was much impressed by the resplendent beauty of the Shah's diamonds when a ray of sun shone upon them. His chest and the aigrette on the cap were a blaze of dazzling light, with a myriad of most beautiful flashing colours.

The great social excitement of the year in Teheran was the Prime Minister's evening party on the Shah's birthday, when all the higher Persian officials were invited, and nearly all the Europeans resident in Teheran, regardless of their grade or social position.

This evening party was preceded by an official dinner to the members of the Legations. Elaborate fireworks were let off in the beautiful gardens and reflected in the ponds in front of the house, and the gardens were tastefully illuminated with vari-coloured lanterns and decorated with flags.

The house itself was full of interesting objects of art, and had spacious rooms in the best European style. Persian officials,

resplendent in gold-braided uniforms, their chests a mass of decorations, were politeness itself to all guests. Excellent Persian bands, playing European airs, enlivened the evening, and it was quite interesting to meet the rank and file and beauty of Teheran official and commercial life all here assembled. Persian ladies, naturally, did not appear, but a few Armenian ladies of the better classes were to be observed.

[Illustration: The Shah in his Automobile.]

[Illustration: The Sadrazam's (Prime Minister's) Residence, Teheran.]

The gentle hint given to the guests to depart, when the Prime Minister got tired and wanted to retire, was quaintly clever. A soft music was heard to come from his bedroom. It was the signal. All hastened to make their best bows and departed.

CHAPTER XXII

The Shah's Palace--The finest court--Alabaster throne hall--A building in European style--The Museum--A chair of solid gold and silver--The _Atch_--Paintings--The banqueting room--The audience room--Beautiful carpets--An elaborate clock--Portraits of sovereigns and their places--Pianos and good music--The Jewelled-Globe room--Queen Victoria's photograph--Moving pictures--Conservatory--Roman mosaics--Toys--Adam and Eve--Royal and imperial oil paintings--A decided slight--The picture gallery--Valuable collection of arms--Strange paintings--Coins--Pearls--Printing press--Shah's country places.

One is told that one must not leave Teheran without carefully inspecting the Shah's Palace, its treasures and its museum. A special permit must be obtained for this through the Legation or the Foreign Office.

The first large court which I entered on this second visit has pretty tiled buildings at the sides, with its rectangular reservoir full of swans, and bordered by trees, is probably the most impressive part of the Palace. Fountains play in the centre, the spouts being cast-iron women's heads of the cheapest European kind.

The lofty throne hall stands at the end, its decorative curtains screening its otherwise unwalled frontage. For my special benefit the curtains were raised, leaving exposed the two high spiral stone columns that support the roof in front. The bases of these columns bore conventionalized vases with sunflowers and leaf ornamentations, while the capitols were in three superposed fluted tiers, the uppermost being the largest in diameter. The frieze of the ceiling was concave, made of bits of looking-glass and gold, and the ceiling itself was also entirely composed of mirrors. The back was of shiny green and blue, with eight stars and two large looking-glasses, while at the sides there was a blue frieze.


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