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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Illustration Rock Sculpture near Shah Abdul Azim


Sadek,

much to his disgust, was made to occupy the ladies' compartment with all the luggage, and I had the men's. We were off, and left the city just in time before the South Gate was closed. There were high hills to the south-east, much broken and rugged, and to the north beyond the town the higher ones above Golahek, on which snow caps could be perceived. Damovend (18,600 ft.), the highest and most graceful mountain in Persia, stood with its white summit against the sky to the north-east.

Even two hundred yards away from the city gate there was nothing to tell us that we had come out of the capital of Persia--the place looks so insignificant from every side. A green-tiled dome of no impressive proportions, a minaret or two, and a few mud walls--that is all one sees of the mass of houses one leaves behind.

Barren country and dusty road, a graveyard with its prism-shaped graves half-buried in sand, are the attractions of the road. One comes to an avenue of trees. Poor trees! How baked and dried and smothered in dust! A couple of miles off, we reached a patch of verdure and some really green trees and even signs of agriculture. To our left (east) lay the narrow-gauge railway line--the only one in Persia--leading to the Shah-Abdul Azim mosque. The whole length of the railway is not more than six miles.

To the right of the road, some little distance before reaching the mosque, a very

quaint, large high-relief has been sculptured on the face of a huge rock and is reflected upside down in a pond of water at its foot. Men were bathing here in long red or blue drawers, and hundreds of donkeys were conveying veiled women to this spot. An enormous tree casts its shadow over the pool of water in the forenoon.

[Illustration: Rock Sculpture near Shah-Abdul-Azim.]

[Illustration: Author's Diligence between Teheran and Kum.]

It is interesting to climb up to the high-relief to examine the figures more closely. The whole sculpture is divided into three sections separated by columns, the central section being as large as the two side ones taken together. In the centre is Fath-ali-shah--legless apparently--but supposed to be seated on a throne. He wears a high cap with three aigrettes, and his moustache and beard are of abnormal length. In his belt at the pinched waist he disports a sword and dagger, while he holds a baton in his hand. There are nine figures to his right in two rows: the Naib Sultaneh, Hussein Ali, Taghi Mirza, above; below, Mahommed, Ali Mirza, Fatali Mirza, Abdullah Mirza, Bachme Mirza, one figure unidentified. To the Shah's left the figures of Ali-naghi Mirza and Veri Mirza are in the lower row; Malek Mirza, the last figure to the left, Hedar Mirza and Moh-Allah-Mirza next to Fath-Ali-Shah. All the figures are long-bearded and garbed in long gowns, with swords and daggers. On Fath-Ali-Shah's right hand is perched a hawk, and behind his throne stands an attendant with a sunshade, while under the seat are little figures of Muchul Mirza and Kameran Mirza. There are inscriptions on the three sides of the frame, but not on the base. A seat is carved in the rock by the side of the sculpture.


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