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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

This room is used when the Shah visits the ladies


But there was one more thing that I was dragged to see before departing--a modern printing-press complete. His Majesty, when the fancy takes him, has books translated and specially printed for his own use. With a sigh of relief I was glad to learn that I had now seen everything, quite everything, in the Shah's Palace!

The Shah has several country seats with beautiful gardens on the hills to the north of Teheran, where he spends most of the summer months, and in these residences, too, we find the rooms mostly decorated with mirrors, and differing very little in character from those in the Teheran Palace, only not quite so elaborate. European influence has frequently crept in in architectural details and interior decorations, but not always advantageously.

The Andarun or harem, the women's quarter, is generally less gaudy than the other buildings, the separate little apartments belonging to each lady being, in fact, quite modest and not always particularly clean. There is very little furniture in the bedrooms, Persian women having comparatively few requirements. There is in addition a large reception room, furnished in European style, with elaborate coloured glass windows. This room is used when the Shah visits the ladies, or when they entertain friends, but there is nothing, it may be noted, to impress one with the idea that these are regal residences or with that truly oriental, gorgeous pomp, popularly associated in Europe with the Shah's court. There is probably no court of any importance where the style of life is simpler and more modest than at the Shah's. All the houses are, nevertheless, most comfortable, and the gardens--the principal feature of all these country places--extremely handsome, with many fountains, tanks, and water channels intersecting them in every direction for the purpose of stimulating the artificially reared vegetation, and also of rendering the places cooler in summer.

Unlike most natives of the Asiatic continent, the Persian shows no reluctance in accepting foreign ways and inventions. He may lack the means to indulge in foreign luxuries, but that is a different matter altogether; the inclination to reform and adopt European ways is there all the same.

More forward in this line than most other Persians is the Shah's son, a very intelligent, bright young fellow, extremely plucky and charmingly simple-minded. He takes the keenest interest in the latest inventions and fads, and, like his father the Shah, fell a victim to the motor car mania. Only, the Shah entrusts his life to the hands of an expert French driver, whereas the young Prince finds it more amusing to drive the machine himself. This, of course, he can only do within the Palace grounds, since to do so in the streets of the town would be considered below his dignity and would shock the people.

At the country residences he is said to have a good deal of amusement out of his motor, but not so the Shah's Ministers and friends who are now terrified at the name "motor." The young Prince, it appears, on the machine being delivered from Europe insisted--without previous knowledge of how to steer it--on driving it round a large water tank. He invited several stout Ministers in all their finery to accompany him, which they did with beaming faces, overcome by the honour. The machine started full speed ahead in a somewhat snake-like fashion, and with great destruction of the minor plants on the way; then came a moment of fearful apprehension on the part of spectators and performers alike. The car collided violently with an old tree; some of the high dignitaries were flung into the water, others though still on dry land lay flat on their backs.


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