Sir John Chardin
Travels in Persia 1673-1677
Persia is the greatest Empire in the World, if you consider it according to the Geographical
Description given by the Persians; because they represent it to the full Extent of its ancient
Boundaries, which are four great Seas: the Black Sea, the Red Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the
Gulph of Persica; with Six Rivers almost as famous as those Seas, viz. The Euphrates, the Araxes,
the Tigris, the Phase, the Oxis, and the Indus.
The Kingdom of my Father is so great, that there is no enduring
the Cold on one side of it, nor the Heat on the other.
III. Of the Soil
. . . the most Mountainous Country in the Universe.
The King turn'd, and looking on them all with Indignation, Cursed be the Drug, said he, that cannot be discerned from the Dung of Horses.
I have been at some Entertainments in Ispahan, where they have
had above fifty sorts of Fruit at Table, some of which grow three or four hundred Leagues off.
. . . whole Forests, of Orange-Trees, single and double Jessamins,
all the flowers that we have in Europe, and several that we have not.
They call this imaginary Stone Icheb Chirac, the Flambeau of the Night, because of the Property
and Quality it has of enlightning all things round it; Cha Mohore, Royal Stone, and Cha Devacran,
King of the Jewels. They attribute to it Supernatural Virtues . . .
VIII. Of Animals Tame and Wild
Among the creeping Insects, there is a long square Worm, which they call Hazar-pag, or a
thousand Feet, because its whole Body is full of Feet, therefore it crawls very fast: It is longer and
smaller than a Caterpillar, and its Bite is dangerous, and even Mortal, when they get into one's
. . . Lions, Leopards, Tigers and Panthers . . .
X. Of the Fish
But there is not, I believe, in all the World, a Place so full of Fish as the Persian Gulph . . .
As to the Natural Parts, the Persians have them as beautiful as their Bodies; their Fancy is lively,
quick and fruitful; their Memory easy and copious; they have a ready disposition to Sciences, and
to the Liberal and Mechanick Arts, and to War also; they love Glory, or rather Vanity, which is
only the Shadow of it; they are of a tractable and complying Temper, of an easy and plodding Wit;
they are courtly, civil, complisant, and well-bred; they have naturally an eager bent to
Voluptuousness, Luxury, Extravagancy, and Profuseness; for which Reason, they are ignorant
both of Frugality and Trade. In a Word, they are born with as good natural Parts as any other
People, but few abuse them so much as they do.
I admire at the Credulity of many Travellers . . .
The Cloaths of the Eastern People are no wise subject to Mode . . .
I have seen some Cloaths that Tamerlain wore, which they keep in the Treasury at Ispahan; they
are cut just in the same Manner as those that are made at this time of Day, without the least
. . . and in this manner the People of Quality in Persia go.
We are Wolves and Voracious Beasts, when compar'd with them.
. . . for Wine is forbidden . . .
The Master, with his little Apprentice, brings his whole Shop with him, consisting in a Sack of
Coal, a pair of Bellows, a little Solder, some Sal Armoniack, and some bits of Pewter in his
Pocket. When he is come, he sets up his Shop wherever you please, in the corner of the Yard, or
of the Garden, or Kitchin . . .
XVIII. Of Manufactures
. . . especially in Silk, it being a plentiful and common Commodity . . .
'Tis very curious to see them make Bargains: After they have Argued and Discoursed a while
before the Seller, and commonly at his own House, they agree with their Fingers about the Price:
They take hold of one another's right Hand under a Cloak or Handkerchief, and entertain one
another in that manner; the strait Finger stands for Ten, the bent Finger for Five; the Finger end
for One; the whole Hand for a Hundred; and the Fist for a Thousand.