OF THE LUXURY OF THE PERSIANS
THE Luxury or Profuseness of the Persians is particularly Remarkable in the Number of their Servants. It is true they have a great many more in the Indies than in Persia; but ten Servants in the Indies don't stand their Master in as much as three Servants do theirs in Persia. The great Lords have Domesticks in every Degree that the King has, and with the same Titles. This Crowd of Servants has been the Ruin of the Houses, for having most of them Wives, and their Wages, how great soever, not being sufficient to maintain their Families, they are forc'd to Cheat and Rob their Master.
The Luxury of the Persians consists likewise in their Cloaths, jewels, and Furniture of their Houses. I have spoken of the sumptuousness of their Dress: As to their jewels, the Men wear abundance upon their Fingers, and almost as many as their Wives; you will see them sometimes with fifteen or sixteen Rings upon their Fingers, five or six upon one Finger only; yet they wear 'em but upon the three Fingers from the middle one, The Rings of the Men are set in Silver, with a very thin Hoop: This is to the end they may say their Prayers without pulling them off; for they find it is not decent to pray to God with so many Ornaments of Gold on, because they ought to present themselves before God in an humble and poor Condition, the better to move his Compassion, and draw down his Blessings: In this manner they explain themselves; and they look upon themselves to be in that State when they have no Gold about them, tho' they have jewels, which is however a most ridiculous Superstition. The sensible People likewise, who can't chime in with this Distinction, lav aside their Rings, and all their other Ornaments, when they would say their Prayers. The Women are not so Superstitious, for all the Rings which they wear are made of Gold. Besides the Rings which the Men wear upon their Fingers, the People who are Rich, wear a parcel of seven or eight Rings, and more, in their Bosoms, tied to a String which is round their Neck, to which their Seals are fasten'd, and a little Purse. All this goes together into their Bosom between their Vest and their Robe, and they pull it out when they would Sign any Writing, or divert themselves with the Sight, in looking upon their jewels, or in shewing 'em to People: For they make a great shew with their jewels, as the Women in our Country do with their Seals and little jewels, which they hang at their Side with their Watches. The Persians wear, besides all that, jewels at their Weapons, as at their Dagger and their Sword, which are Cover'd with them, if they have wherewithal, or else they are of Gold Enameled, as is likewise the Belt and Clasps. The Dagger goes into their Sash, and they tie it there with a String, putting a round of Jewels at the Place where the Knot is, which they call the Rose of the Dagger. Next, they wear Jewels upon their Head at their Caps of the Sophy, which they put on upon the Days of solemn Festivals. There are of these Caps which have five or six Plumes of jewels in them, as you have seen in the fore-going Figures. No Body can put 'em upon a Turban but the King, excepting new-married People, who have the Liberty to wear them as long as their Wedding holds. After having talk'd so much of Jewels, I shall observe that the Persians have a particular Value for the colour'd Stones, and much more than they have in the West; which may proceed perhaps, from hence, that the thickness of our Air hinders them from having that Lustre, which they have in hot and dry Countries, as in Persia.
The Trappings of the People of Condition, are either of Silver, Gold, or precious Stones; some of them fasten upon the Leather of their Trappings, instead of Goldsmiths Work, Gold Ducats all along, to avoid paying the Fashion. Their Saddles are enrich'd with Massif Gold before and behind: The Pad of the Saddle, which is not fasten'd to the Saddle, as it is with us, and borders five or six Inches upon the Horses Buttocks, like a little Housing, is Embroider'd; and some have them Embroider'd with Pearls. -They put, besides all this, either for Show, or to preserve the Beast from Cold, a rich Housing, which hangs much lower down than ours.
The great Profuseness of the Persians is in their Seraglio's, which costs them a vast deal of Money, as well from the Number of Women which they entertain there, as from the Profuseness occasioned by their love. Rich Cloaths. are continually renewing there, Perfumes consum'd in abundance; and the Women being thus rais'd and entertained after the softest and most voluptuous manner, contrive all they can to procure those things which they delight in without considering the Expence.
When a Man of Quality makes a Visit, he causes one or two led Horses to go before, each
led by a Servant on Horse-back; two, three, or four Footmen, more or less, according to his
Condition, run before his Horse, and by his Side. There is moreover a Man behind him on
Horse-back, who carries his bottle of Tobacco, another who carries an embroidered Toilet,
wherein there is generally a close-body'd Coat and a Cap: And another Man who goes as a
Companion: If he goes to walk abroad, he carries another Servant on Horse-back, with a
Tactan, which are two little square Chests, wherein are put what will serve to make a light
Collation, with a Carpet over it: When he stops in any Place, whether in a Garden, or by
the Water-side, or any other Place, they spread a Carpet, upon which he sits and falls to
smoaking. If this Man of Quality goes a Hunting, a Falconer or two on Horse-back
likewise, with the Hawk upon the Fist, join themselves to this Retinue; and in this manner
the People of Quality in Persia go.