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Further observations concerning the state of Persia, taken in the foresayd fift voyage into those partes, and written by M. Geffrey Ducket, one of the Agents emploied in the same.

SHAMAKY is the fairest towne in all Media, and the chiefest commoditie of that countrey is rawe silke, & the greatest plentie thereof is at a towne three dayes journey from Shamaky called Arash: and within 3. dayes journey of Arash is a countrey named Grosin, whose inhabitants are Christians, & are thought to be they which are otherwise called Georgians: there is also much silke to be sold. The chiefe towne of that countrey is called Zegham, from whence is caried yeerely into Persia, an incredible quantitie of Hasell nuts, all of one sort and goodnesse, and as good and thin shaled as are our Filberds. Of these are caried yeerely the quantitie of 4000. Camels laden.

Of the name of the Sophy of Persia, & why he is called the Shaugh, and of other customes.

THE king of Persia (whom here we call the great Sophy´╝ë is not there so called, but is called the Shaugh. It were there dangerous to cal him by the name of Sophy, because that Sophy in the Persian tongue, is a begger, & it were as much as to call him, The great begger. He lieth at a towne called Casbin, which is situate in a goodly fertile valley of 3. or 4. daies journy in length. The towne is but evil builded, and for the most part all of bricke, not hardened with fire, but only dried at the sunne, as is the most part of the building of all Persia. The king hath not come out of the compasse of his owne house in 33. or 34. yeeres, whereof the cause is not knowen, but as they say, it is upon a superstition of certaine prophesies to which they are greatly addicted: he is now about 80. yeeres of age, and very lusty. And to keepe him the more lusty, he hath 4. wives alwayes, and about 300. concubines, and once in the yeere he hath all the faire maidens and wives that may be found a great way about brought unto him, whom he diligently peruseth, feeling them in all parts, taking such as he liketh, and putting away some of them which he hath kept before, & with them that he putteth away, he gratifieth some such as hath done him the best service. And if hee chance to take any mans wife, her husband is very glad thereof, and in recompense of her, oftentimes he giveth the husband one of his old store, whom he thankfully receiveth.

If any stranger being a Christian shall come before him, he must put on a new paire of shooes made in that countrey, and from the place where he entreth, there is digged as it were a causey all the way, until he come to the place where he shal talke with the king, who standeth alwayes above in a gallerie, when he talketh with any strangers: and when the stranger is departed, then is the causey cast downe, and the ground made even againe.

Of the religion of the Persians.

THEIR religion is all one with the Turkes, saving that they differ who was the right successor of Mahumet. The Turkes say that it was one Homer and his sonne Usman. But the Persians say that it was one Mortus Ali, which they would proove in this maner. They say there was a counsell called to decide the matter who should be the successor: and after they had called upon Mahumet to reveale unto them his will and pleasure therein, there came among them a litle Lizard, who declared that it was Mahumets pleasure that Mortus All should be his successor. This Mortus Ali was a valiant man and slew Homer the Turkes prophet. He had a sword that hee fought withall, with the which hee conquered all his enemies, and killed as many as he stroke. When Mortus Ali died, there came a holy prophet, who gave them warning that shortly there would come a white Camell, upon the which he charged them to lay the body and sword of Mortus Ali, and to suffer the Camel to cary it whither he would. The which being performed, the said white camell caried the sword & body of Mortus Ali unto the sea side, and the camell going a good way into the sea, was with the body & sword of Mortus Ali taken up into heaven, for whose return they have long looked in Persia. And for this cause the king alwayes keepeth a horse ready sadled for him, and also of late kept for him one of his owne daughters to be his wife, but she died in the yere of our Lord, 1573. And they say furthermore, yt if he come not shortly, they shalbe of our beliefe: much like the Jewes, looking for their Messias to come & reigne among them like a worldly king for ever, and deliver them from the captivitie which they are now in among the Christians, Turkes, and Gentiles.

The Shaugh or king of Persia is nothing in strength & power comparable unto the Turke: for although he hath a great Dominion, yet is it nothing to be compared with the Turks: neither hath he any great Ordinance or gunnes, or harquebusses. Notwithstanding his eldest sonne Ismael about 25. yeeres past, fought a great battell with the Turke, and slew of his armie about an hundreth thousand men: who after his returne, was by his father cast into prison, and there continueth until this day: for his father the Shaugh had him in suspicion that he would have put him downe, and have taken the regiment unto himselfe.

Their opinion of Christ is, that he was an holy man and a great Prophet, but not like unto Mahumet: saying, that Mahumet was the last prophet by whom all things were finished, & was therefore the greatest. To proove that Christ was not Gods sonne, they say that God had never wife, and therefore could have no sonne or children. They go on pilgrimage from the furthest part of Persia unto Mecha in Arabia , and by the way they visite also the sepulchre of Christ at Jerusalem, which they now call Couch Kaly.

The most part of spices which commeth into Persia is brought from the Island of Ormus, situate in the gulfe of Persia called Sinus Persicus, betweene the maine land of Persia and Arabia , &c. The Portingals touch at Ormus both in their voyage to East India and homeward againe, and from thence bring all such spices as are occupied in Persia and the regions thereabout: for of pepper they bring very small quantitie, and that at a very deare price.

The Turkes oftentimes bring pepper from Mecha in Arabia , which they sell as good cheape as that which is brought from Ormus. Silkes are brought from no place, but are wrought all in their owne countrey. Ormus is within two miles of the maine land of Persia, and the Portingals fetch their fresh water there, for the which they pay tribute to the Shaugh or king of Persia.

Within Persia they have neither gold nor silver mines, yet have they coined money both of gold and silver, and also other small moneys of copper. There is brought into Persia an incredible summe of Dutch dollars, which for the most part are there imploied in raw silke.

They have few bookes and lesse learning, and are for the most part very brutish in all kind of good sciences, saving in some kind of silke works, and in such things as pertaine to the furniture of horses, in the which they are passing good.

Their lawes are as in their religion, wicked and detestable. And if any man offend the prince, he punisheth it extremely, not onely in the person that offendeth, but also in his children, and in as many as are of his kin. Theft and murther are often punished, yet none otherwise then pleaseth him that is ruler in the place where the offence is committed, and as the partie offending is able to make friends, or with money to redeeme his offence.

There is oftentimes great mutinie among the people in great Townes which of Mortus Ali his sonnes was greatest: insomuch that sometimes in the towne two or three thousand people are together by the eares for the same, as I have seene in the towne of Shamaky and Ardouil, and also in the great City of Teveris, where I have seene a man comming from fighting, in a braverie bringing in his hand foure or five mens heads, carying them by the haire of the head: for although they shave their heads most commonly twise a weeke, yet leave they a tuft of haire upon their heads about 2. foote long. I have enquired why they leave the tuft of haire upon their heads. They answer, that thereby they may easiler be caried up into heaven when they are dead.

For their religion they have certaine priests who are apparelled like unto other men. They use every morning and afternoone to go up to the tops of their churches, and tell there a great tale of Mahumet and Mortus Ali: and other preaching have they none. Their Lent is after Christmas, not in abstinence from flesh onely, but from all meats and drinks, untill the day be off the skie, but then they eate somtimes the whole night. And although it be against their religion to drinke wine, yet at night they will take great excesse thereof and be drunken. Their Lent beginneth at the new Moone, and they do not enter into it untill they have seene the same: neither yet doeth their Lent end, untill they have seen the next new Moone, although the same (through close weather) should not be seen in long time.

They have among them certaine holy men whom they call Setes, counted holy for that they or any of their ancestors have bene on pilgrimage at Mecha in Arabia , for whosoever goeth thither on pilgrimage to visite the sepulchre of Mahumet, both he and all his posteritie are ever after called Setes, and counted for holy men, and have no lesse opinion of themselves. And if a man contrary one of these, he will say that he is a Saint, and therefore ought to be beleeved, and that hee cannot lie, although he lie never so shamefully. Thus a man may be too holy, and no pride is greater then spirituall pride of a mind puffed up with his owne opinion of holinesse. These Setes do use to shave their heads all over, saving on the sides a litle above the temples, the which they leave unshaven, and use to braid the same as women do their haire, and to weare it as long as it will grow.

Every morning they use to worship God, Mahumet, and Mortus Ali, & in praying turne themselves toward the South, because Mecha lieth that way from them. When they be in travell on the way, many of them will (as soone as the Sunne riseth) light from their horses, turning themselves to the South, and will lay their gownes before them, with their swords and beads, and so standing upright worship to the South: and many times in their prayers kneele downe and kisse their beads, or somwhat els that lieth before them.

The men or women doe never goe to make water, but they use to take with them a pot with a spout, and after they have made water, they flash some water upon their privy parts, and thus doe the women as well as the men: and this is a matter of great religion among them, and in making of water the men do cowre downe as well as the women.

When they earnestly affirme a matter, they will sweare by God, Mahumet, or Mortus Ali, and sometimes by all at ones: as thus in their owne language, saying, Olla, Mahumet, Ali. But if he will sweare by the Shaughs head, in saying Shaugham basshe, you may then beleeve him if you will.

The Shaugh keepeth a great magnificence in his court: and although sometimes in a moneth or six weekes none of his nobilitie or counsaile can see him, yet goe they daily to the court, and tary there a certaine time untill they have knowen his pleasure whether hee will commaund them any thing or not. Hee is watched every night with a thousand of his men, which are called his Curshes, who are they that hee useth to send into the Countreis about his greatest affaires. When he sendeth any of them (if it be to the greatest of any of his nobilitie) he will obey them, although the messenger should beat any of them to death.

The Shaugh occupieth himselfe alwayes two dayes in the weeke in his Bathstove, and when he is disposed to goe thither, he taketh with him five or sixe of his concubines, more or lesse, and one day they consume in washing, rubbing, and bathing him, and the other day in paring his nailes, and other matters. The greatest part of his life hee spendeth amongst his wives and concubines. Hee hath now reigned about fiftie and foure yeeres, and is therefore counted a very holy man, as they ever esteeme their kings, if they have reigned fiftie yeeres or more: for they measure the favour of God by a mans prosperitie, or his displeasure by a mans misfortune or adversitie. The great Turke hath this Shaugh in great reverence, because he hath reigned king so long time.

I have sayd before that hee hath foure wives, and as many concubines as him listeth: and if he chance to have any children by any of his concubines, and be minded that any of those children shall inherite after him, then when one of his wives dieth, the concubine whom hee so favoureth, he maketh one of his wives, and the childe whom he so loveth best, he ordaineth to bee king after him.

What I heard of the maner of their mariages, for offending of honest consciences and chaste eares, I may not commit to writing: their fasting I have declared before. They use circumcision unto children of seven yeeres of age, as do the Turkes.

Their houses (as I have said) are for the most part made of bricke, not burned but only dried in the Sunne: In their houses they have but litle furniture of houshold stuffe, except it be their carpets and some copper worke: for all their kettles & dishes wherein they eate, are of copper. They eate on the ground, sitting on carpets crosse legged as do Tailors. There is no man so simple but he sitteth on a carpet better or worse, and the whole house or roume wherein he sitteth is wholy covered with carpets. Their houses are all with flat roofes covered with earth: and in the Sommer time they lie upon them all night.

They have many bond servaunts both men and women. Bondmen and bondwomen, is one of the best kind of merchandise that any man may bring. When they buy any maydes or yong women, they use to feele them in all partes, as with us men doe horses: when one hath bought a yong woman, if he like her, he will keepe her for his owne use as long as him listeth, and then selleth her to an other, who doeth the like with her. So that one woman is sometimes sold in the space of foure or five yeeres, twelve, or twentie times. If a man keepe a bondwoman for his owne use, and if hee find her to be false to him, and give her body to any other, he may kill her if he will.

When a merchant or traveller commeth to any towne where he entendeth to tary any time, he hireth a woman, or somtimes 2. or 3. during his abode there. And when he commeth to an other towne, he doeth the like in the same also: for there they use to put out their women to hire, as wee do here hackney horses.

There is a very great river which runneth through the plaine of Javat, which falleth into the Caspian sea, by a towne called Bachu, neere unto which towne is a strange thing to behold. For there issueth out of the ground a marvellous quantitie of oile, which oile they fetch from the uttermost bounds of all Persia: it serveth all the countrey to burne in their houses.

This oyle is blacke, and is called Nefte: they use to cary it throughout all the Countrey upon kine & asses, of which you shall oftentimes meet with foure or five hundred in a company. There is also by the said towne of Bachu another kind of oyle which is white and very precious: and is supposed to be the same that here is called Petroleum. There is also not far from Shamaky, a thing like unto tarre, and issueth out of the ground, whereof we have made the proofe, that in our ships it serveth well in the stead of tarre.

In Persia are kine of two sorts: the one like unto ours in these partes: the other are marvellous evill favoured, with great bones and very leane, and but litle haire upon them: their milke is walowish sweete : they are like unto them which are spoken of in the Scripture, which in the dreame of Pharao signified the seven deare yeeres: for a leaner or more evill favoured beast can no man see.

In the countrey of Shirvan (sometime called Media) if you chance to lie in the fields neere unto any village, as the twilight beginneth, you shall have about you two or three hundred foxes, which make a marveilous wawling or howling: and if you looke not well to your victuals, it shal scape them hardly but they will have part with you.

The Caspian sea doeth neither ebbe nor flowe, except sometimes by rages of wind it swelleth up very high: the water is very salt. Howbeit, the quantitie of water that falleth out of the great river of Volga maketh the water fresh at the least twentie leagues into the sea. The Caspian sea is marveilous full of fish, but no kind of monstrous fish, as farre as I could understand, yet hath it sundry sortes of fishes which are not in these parts of the world.

The mutton there is good, and the sheepe great, haying very great rumpes with much fat upon them.

Rice and mutton is their chiefe victuall.

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