Page images

hospitable and benevolent, and some of their chiefs are said to keep their doors nailed open for the admission of all strangers. Their dress falls only to the calf of the leg ; both sexes wear a sort of trowsers, and the upper garment is fastened with a girdle. Both sexes wear also light boots, with a head dress like the Turkish turban, and the females wear long ear-rings, and their hair in tresses, decorated with ribands. 786. Manners of the Kirguses. The Kirguses, north east of the Caspian, have Tartaric features, a flat nose, and small eyes, but not oblike, as the Chinese. They live in tents of skins, and lead a wandering life. They have vast herds of cattle, horses, camels, sheep and goats, of which some individuals are said to possess from ten to twenty thousand. They are divided into three hords, each under its own khan. Their chief food is mutton, of the long tailed kind of sheep, which is said to be so excellent as to be sent to Petersburg. Their drinkis kumis, or mare's milk acidulated. Their heads are shaved, and covered with a conical bonnet, and the ladies embellish their heads with the necks of herons, disposed like horns. 787. Samarcand. The celebrated city of Samarcand, called anciently Maracanda, is situated in Great Bucharia, on the river Sogd, a branch of the Oxus. It is in a delightful country, in the 40th degree of north latitude, with houses of stone or clay, and a university. It was the capital of Sogdia, or Sogdiana, in the time of Alexander the Great. In more modern times, it was the residence of Timur, or Tamerlane. It has declined in modern times, but is remarkable for its manufacture of silk paper, and still carries on a considerable trade, especially in fruits of excellent quality. On the same river stands Bokhara, a large city, rivalling Samarcand. 788. Little Bucharia. On the east of Belur Tag is Little Bucharia, the country of the Kalmuks, belonging to China. In this country is the large river Yarkand, which runs from west to east about 500 miles, and enters the lake called Lok Nor. On different head streams of * river stand the chief towns, Cashgar and Yarkand, On the south is the vast desert of Cobi. This country was subjected to China in the year 1759. --PERSIA.

789. Situation and Extent. Persia, which is called in the language of the country Iran, is situated between the 25th and 43d degrees of north latitude, and between the 45th and 68th degrees of east longitude. Its length from east to west is about 1200 miles, and its bredth about 1000 miles. It is bounded by the Ocean and Persian Gulf on the south ; by Turkey west; by the Caspian and Tartary on the north, and by Hindoostan on the east. It takes its name from Fars, or Pars, a single province of the kingdom.

790. History. Persia has been celebrated from early ages as a powerful kingdom. Its inhabitants were of the same race as the Scythians, or Goths and Teutones, who peopled a great part of Europe, and from whom we are descended. Cyrus founded the Persian monarchy about 557 years before the christian era. This empire was dissolved by Alexander the Great, and Persia fell under the dominion of the Greek monarchs of Syria. Artaxarxes restored the Persian line of kings in the 3d century of the christian era. In the year 636, the Mahometans conquered the country ; which was, in subsequent periods, subjected to the power of Zingis Khan and Timur. Persia was subdued by Nadir Shah, a ferocious warrior, in 1736, enjoyed a few years of tranquility under Kerim, but has been since disturbed by usurpation, anarchy and civil dissensions.

791. Mountains and Climate. Persia is a very mountainous country. In the north, the chain of Caucasus extends into Persia, winding to the south of the Caspian. To the south east runs the great chain of Elwend, the highest ridge in Persia. Another chain runs nearly parrellel with the Persian Gulf. A western chain divides Persia from the Turkish dominions. On the north east is the chain of Gaur, and on the east the ridges of Wull and Soliman, with some others. These mountains render Persia a comparatively cool country, but the soil is generally barren. In addition to this, Persia contain" three great deserts, two of which, the Great Saline and Kerman, extend over a space of 700 miles in length and 200 in bredth. 792. Rivers. The Euphrates and Tigris have at times been within the Persian monarchy, but are not properly Persian rivers. The Ahwaz, a branch of which flows into the Tigris, enters the estuary of these three rivers, after a course of 400 miles. On the north is the Kur, latinized Cyrus, which flows from the Caucasian chain into the Caspian. A branch of this is the Aras, anciently Araxes. The Tedjan, on the north east, the ancient Ochus, flows into the Caspian, and the Margab, a branch of the Amu, has its sources in Persia. In the center is Zenderud, which rises on the Elwend mountains, and passing Ispahan, is lost in the sands. Bundemir, on the south east, on which are the ruins of Persepolis, flows into a salt lake called Baktegan. The Hinmend, on the east, flows into the sea of Zereh, or is alsorbed by the sandy earth. 793. Lakes and Productions. The Zereh, or Durra, is about 90 miles in length ; the Baktegan about 40 miles ; the Urmia about 50 miles ; and the Erivan about 75 miles in circumference. Persia, tho in general a barren country, contains many fertile spots, in a most genial climate, and is supposed to be the native soil of many of our best fruits, as the fig, pomegranate, mulberry, almond, peach and apricot. The orange, citron and vine grow there in luxuriance, and in the southern parts cotton and the sugar cane. The Persian horses have been celebrated from antiquity, and the partridges are of peculiar size and excellence. The animals in general are such as are found in all similar latitude 5. 794. Curiosities. A singular curiosity is the fountains of naphtha, or pure rock oil, on the western shore of the Caspian, near Baku. The earth, for two miles round this place, when two or three inches of the surface is removed, will take fire by the application of a coal, and burn with a pure, gentle, blue flame, like that of ardent • *P***, A cane or tube set into the earth conveys the *** the top, where it will burn; and such tubes, with

their edges covered with clay to prevent them from burning, are used in houses in lieu of candles. Three or four of them will boil a kettle of water, and thus serve to dress meat and vegetables. 795. Religion and Government. The ancient Persians were Sabians, or worshippers of the sun, moon, stars and fire, but mahomelanism is now the religious faith of the country. The Persians, however, have rejected many of its absurdities, and adopted a milder system. They are called Chias, and are deemed heretics, while the pretended true believers are called Sunnis. Their priests are styled mullas, or akonds, that is readers, who are also employed as the instructors of children. There are also in Persia wandering monks, called fakirs and calendars, a sort of sturdy beggars, who live upon alms. The government is and always has been despotic, and the people are oppressed by the exactions of khans or beglerbegs, 796. Population and Manners. The population of Persia is computed to be ten or twelve millions. The Persians in the north are of a fair complexion, in the south of a dark brown. They possess a sanguine temperament, are corpulent, with black hair, high forehead, aquiline nose, full cheeks, and a large chin. They are gay, polite, hospitable, but passionate. They shave the head, and wear a bonnet, but the beard is sacred. They often wear three or four light, loose garments, over each other, fastened with a sash. Their outer garment is a large cloke of thick cloth. The women wrap round the head pieces of silk of different colors. They are cleanly in their persons and habitations. Marriages are managed by females, with many ceremonies. Polygamy is allowed, but the first married wife is the chief. Suicide is uncommon, and duels unknown. - . 797. Language and Learning. The ancient Persian language had a common origin with the Hebrew and Arabic, the Sanscrit of Hindoostan, and the Teutonic of Europe. The affinity is still discoverable in the radical words. The present Persian is remarkable for its strength and melody. Literature was anciently cultivated with success in Persia, but the ancient books were mostly destroyed by the Mahometan conquerors in the the 7th century. It is not, however, wholly neglected, and the learning of Persia bears some resemblance to that of Europe. 798. Chief Cities. Isfahan. The capital of Persia is Ispahan, which stands on the small river Zenderud. It is said to have been in the last century 24 miles in circumference, and to contain 600,000 inhabitants. The streets are narrow and ill paved ; the walls of earth in ill repair ; but the royal square and its market, the palaces, mosks, baths, and other public edifices, are magnificent. It is surrounded by a beautiful country, diversified by mountains. In 1722, it was taken and plundered by the Afgans, its population reduced, and its splendor impaired. 799. Shiraz. The second city is Shiraz, in the south eastern part of the kingdom, situated in a fertile valley, and surrounded by a wall 25 feet high and 10 feet thick. In the neighborhood are many summer houses and gardens, with avenues of cypress and sycamore, leading to parterrs of flowers, refreshed with fountains. The citadel is of brick, defended with artillery; and the mosk of the late prince, Kerim, is splendid. The climate is delightful, especially in spring, when the fields are covered with verdure, and the groves resound with the melody of the nightingale, the goldfinch, and the linnet. 800. Other Towns. Teffliz, the capital of Georgia, on the Kur, is a town, with 20,000 inhabitants. It is meanly built, but has springs of hot water, and a trade in furs sent to Turkey. Derbent, on the Caspian, is a place of some trade. Erivan, on the west, is a large town, but not well built. About 30 miles south is the noted mount Ararat. Tebriz, or Tauriz, is a large town, with spacious and magnificent bazars, and a square capable of containing 30,000 troops in order of battle. In the eastern provinces are Candahar and Herat, citics which carry on a communication between Persia and Hindoostan. ... • 891. Agriculture. The soil of Persia is chiefly bar* and much labor is bestowed upon watering theiands.

« PreviousContinue »