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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Gold ornaments inlaid with precious stones


Two

large portraits of Nasr-ed-din Shah, two battle scenes and two portraits of Fath-Ali-Shah decorated the walls. The two side doors of the throne-hall were of beautifully inlaid wood, and the two doors directly behind the throne were of old Shiraz work with ivory inscriptions upon them in the centre. The lower part of the wall was of coloured alabaster, with flower ornaments and birds, principally hawks. There were also other less important pictures, two of which I was told represented Nadir and Mahmud Shah, and two unidentified.

High up in the back wall were five windows, of the usual Persian pattern, and also a cheap gold frame enclosing a large canvas that represented a half-naked figure of a woman with a number of fowls, a cat and a dog. Two gold _consoles_ were the only heavy articles of movable furniture to be seen.

The spacious throne of well-marked yellow alabaster was quite gorgeous, and had two platforms, the first, with a small fountain, being reached by three steps, the second a step higher. The platform was supported by demons, "guebre" figures all round, and columns resting on the backs of feline animals. On the upper platform was spread an ancient carpet.

On leaving this hall we entered a second court giving entrance to a building in the European style, with a wide staircase leading to several reception rooms on the first floor. One--the largest--had a billiard

table in the centre, expensive furniture along the walls, and curtains of glaring yellow and red plush, the chairs being of the brightest blue velvet. Taken separately each article of furniture was of the very best kind, but it seemed evident that whoever furnished that room did his utmost to select colours that would not match.

There were two Parisian desks and a fine old oak inlaid desk, a capital inlaid bureau, manufactured by a Russian in Teheran, and some Sultanabad carpets not more than fifty years old. On the shelves and wherever else a place could be found stood glass decorations of questionable artistic taste, and many a vase with stiff bunches of hideous artificial flowers.

Let us enter the adjoining Museum, a huge room in five sections, as it were, each section having a huge chandelier of white and blue Austrian glass, suspended from the ceiling. There are glass cases all round crammed full of things arranged with no regard to their value, merit, shape, size, colour or origin. Beautiful Chinese and Japanese _cloisonne_ stands next to the cheapest Vienna plaster statuette representing an ugly child with huge spectacles on his nose, and the most exquisite Sevres and other priceless ceramic ware is grouped with empty bottles and common glass restaurant decanters. In company with these will be a toy--a monkey automatically playing a fiddle.

Costly jade and cheap prints were together in another case; copies of old paintings of saints and the Virgin, coloured photographs of theatrical and music-hall stars, and of picturesque scenery, a painting of the Shah taken in his apartments, jewels, gold ornaments inlaid with precious stones, a beautiful malachite set consisting of clock, inkstand, vases, and a pair of candlesticks; meteoric stones and fossil shells--all were displayed in the utmost confusion along the shelves.


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