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Kurdistan; but it does not give the beholder an idea of a
"King of the forest;
It does not even grow to the size of a common timber tree. The most cominon trees of Persia are the plantane, willow, fir, and coruil, called by the Arabs, seder, and by the Persians, couar. The tree which bears gall nuts, grows abundantly in Kurdistan; and those which produce gums, mastich, and incense, are common in most parts of Persia; the latter more especially in Carmania Deserta. The tree bearing manna, is also frequent, and so is the tamarisk, a species of which likewise produces manna.
Grain. The most usual crops in Persia are rice, wheat, and barley; but there are also millet, (Holcus sorghum,) maize, tel, or sesamum, a species of vetch, and several kinds of pease and beans. Rice is the general aliment of the Persians, for which reason they are very careful in its cultivation. It is, indeed, in that country, softer, sooner boiled, and more delicious to the taste, than that grown in any other part of the world.
Cucumber Plants.-Under this head only two plants occur, namely, the cucumber and the melon. The melons of Persia are distinguished for their size and flavour. There appears to be about twenty kinds of them, and, like all other orientals, the Persians seem to have a passion for this fruit. They take great pains to preserve them in repositories when they are out of season; and when the season is in, they live almost entirely upon them.
Vegetable Productions.-The chief culinary vegetables of Persia are turnips, carrots, cabbages, lettuces, cauliflowers, celery, radishes, garlic, parsley, and onions.
Flowers.-Conspicuous among this class of plants in Persia, stands the rose. The size of the Persian rose trees, and the number of flowers on each, far exceeds any thing we are accustomed to witness. Sir Robert Ker Porter, describing the rose of Persia, says: "On first entering this bower of fairy-land, I was struck with the appearance of two rose trees, full fourteen feet high, laden with thousands of flowers, in every degree of expansion, and of a bloom and delicacy of scent that imbued the whole atmosphere with the most exquisite perfume: indeed, I believe, that in no country of the world does the rose grow in such perfection as in Persia; country is it so cultivated and prized by the natives. Their gardens and courts are crowded with its plants; their rooms ornamented with vases, filled with its gathered branches; and every bath strewed with the full-blown flowers, plucked from the ever replenished stems. Even the humblest individual, who pays a piece of copper money for a few whiffs of a kalioun, feels a double enjoyment when he finds it stuck with a bud from his dear native tree. But in this delicious garden of Negauvistan, the eye and the smell were not the only senses regaled by the presence of the rose; the ear was enchanted by the wild and beautiful notes of the multitude of nightingales, whose warblings seemed to increase
in melody and softness with the unfolding of their favourite flowers; verifying the song of their poet, who says: When the charms of the bower are passed away, the fond tale of the nightingale no longer animates the scene.'
The roses of Persia are of various kinds. There is the usual rose-coloured flower, white, red, or deeper red and yellow are mixed, that is, red on one side, and yellow or white on the other. Sometimes one tree produces flowers of three colours, red, red and yellow, red and white.
Besides the rose, most of the varieties of flowers in Europe are also known in Persia. Many, also, unknown to Europeans, are abundantly scattered abroad. From September to the end of April, the province of Mazanderan is covered with flowers as with a rich embroidered carpet. Towards Media, also, and on the southern frontiers of Arabia, the fields are adorned with tulips, anemonies, ranunculuses, etc., all growing spontaneously. In other places, as in the neighbourhood of Spauhawn, jonquils grow wild all the winter. The province of Hyrcania, however, for the beauty, variety, and quantity of its flowers, excels the rest of Persia, in this respect, as much as Persia does the rest of the world; an idea of which has been given in the notice of that province.
Herbs and Drugs.-As in flowers, so in its herbs, does Persia excel all other countries; especially such as are aromatic. For drugs, also, it is celebrated, producing as many as any country in Asia. Besides manna, cassia, senna, the nur vomica, gum ammoniac, by the Persians called ouscic, is found in abundance on the confines of Parthia, towards the south. Rhubarb grows commonly in Khorassan, the ancient Sogdiana; and the poppy of Persia, which produces opium, is esteemed the finest in the world, as well for its beauty, as the strength of its production. In many places saffron is cultivated. One of the most remarkable vegetable productions of Persia, is the plant from which assafoetida is obtained. This plant is called by the Persians hiltet, and it is supposed to be the silphium of Dioscorides. There are two kinds of it, the white and the black, which latter is the most esteemed, as possessing greater strength than the white. This drug has a stronger odour than any other known. It is said, that places where it has been preserved, will retain this odour for many years. There are two kinds of gum called mummy in Persia, which is in great request. This article is found in Carmania the Desert, and in Khorassan, where it distils from the rocks. It possesses great healing virtues. Its name is derived from the Persian word, moum, which signifies literally, an unguent. Galbanum is likewise common in Persia, together with the vegetable alkali, and many other drugs of minor importance. Cotton is common all over Persia, and there is a tree resembling it, but which is more rare, producing a fine and soft substance like silk, of which many uses are made.
Metals and Minerals.-In ancient times there were silver mines in Persia, but at present there are none open. The expenses attending the working of them seems to have equalled their produce, which is represented as the cause of
their abandonment. Iron is abundant in many places, especially in Hyrcania, but it is not much worked. Chardin represents it as not worth above sixpence a hundred weight, and he says, that it is so full of sulphur, that if filings of it be cast into the fire, they make a report like powder. Too fierce a fire will also destroy the substance altogether. Copper has been discovered in Azerbigan, and other places; but, like the iron, it is of little use unless it is mingled with copper from the mines of other countries, as Sweden and Japan. Rock salt is very abundant in Persia, and large tracts of the plain are covered with salt incrustations. In some places it is said to be as firm and hard as fire stone, and to be used as such in Carmania Deserta, in the erection of houses. In Hyrcania, and Mazanderan, naphtha of two kinds is met with, black and white. The richest mine in Persia, however, is the torquoise. There are also two kinds of this precious stone; one in Khorassan, the other between Hyrcania and Parthia in Mount Phirous, which mountain derived its name from an ancient king of Persia. Other mines of this precious stone have, at a later date, been discovered, but they are by no means so valuable, the stone being less beautiful in colour, and waning by degrees, till at length it is colourless. Marble, free stone, and slate are found in great quantities about Hamadan. This marble is of four colours, white, or statuary, black, red and black, and white and black. The best is discovered about Taurus. This is almost as transparent as crystal; its colour is white, mingled with a pale green, but it is so soft that some have doubted whether it is a stone. In the neighbourhood of Hamadan, azure is found, but it is not equal to that of Tartary, and therefore is not held in repute.
Such was and is Persia. Anciently it possessed the blessings of this life in rich abundance, and even now its inhabitants can rejoice in the gifts of nature. But Persia has ever lacked the richest blessing that can be bestowed on a country, that of the Christian religion. For many an age they were led astray by the Magian faith, and now they bend under the yoke of the arch impostor Mohammed. But
"The groans of nature in this nether world,
Which Heaven has heard for ages, have an end. Foretold by prophets, and by poets sung, Whose fire was kindled at the prophet's lamp, The time of rest, the promised sabbath comes." Then shall
"The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks
Into all lands. From every clime they come
To see thy beauty, and to share thy joy,
TOPOGRAPHICAL HISTORY OF PERSIA.
In the various provinces of the vast empire of Persia, there were a great number of important cities and towns; but concerning many of them, no detailed information has been handed down to us by ancient writers. All, therefore, that can be done in these pages, is to notice those of which any account, and any remains, have survived the wreck of ages, and which were of the greatest note. Among these stands pre-eminently forward, the city of
which stood within the province of Persis.
The city of Persepolis is mentioned by Greek writers, after the era of Alexander, as the capital of Persia. The name, however, does not occur in the writings of Herodotus, Ctesias, Xenophon, or Nehemiah, who were well acquainted with the other principal cities of the Persian empire, and who make frequent mention of Susa, Babylon, and Ecbatana. But this may be accounted for by the fact, that Persepolis never appears to have been a place of residence for the Persian kings, though it was regarded as the capital of their empire in the remotest ages.
There has been much dispute respecting the Persian name of Persepolis. According to oriental historians, it was Istakher, or Estekhar; and many modern authors suppose that Persepolis and Pasagardæ, the common burial-places of the kings of Persia, are only different names for the same place, and that the latter word is the Greek translation of the former. Their views do not seem to be correct: there are strong reasons, indeed, for believing that they are different places.
The city of Persepolis was situated in an extensive plain, near the union of the Araxes (Bendemir) and Cyrus (Kur.) In the time of Alexander, there was at Persepolis a magnificent palace, full of immense treasures, which had been accumulating from the time of Cyrus. Little is known of its history. When Alexander, however, subverted the Persian empire, Persepolis fell a prey to the maddened rage of the conqueror. Instigated by a courtezan, he issued from a banquet, and accompanied by a band of other bacchanals, as cruel and as mad as himself, with flaming torches in their hands, like so many furies, they fired the palace of the Persian monarch, after which his army plundered and devastated the city.
But it was not Alexander alone that reduced Persepolis to its present mournful state. It existed, but not in its pristine glory, in the days of Ammianus Marcellinus; and in the Greek chronicle of Tabri, who flourished in the ninth century, it is said, that Pars, or Persia, composed a number of districts, each governed by a petty king, one of whom ruled in Istakher. The
chronicle further states, that Artaxerxes Babegan commenced his ambitious career by putting to death the king of Istakher, after which he rendered himself master not only of Pars, but of Kirman, and finally became ruler of all Iran, or Persia, by the defeat and death of Adavan. The same authority states, that Shapoor II., having recovered Nisibin, in Diyarbekr, he sent 12,000 families from Istakher to reinhabit the deserted city. About A.D. 639, the Arabs made an unsuccessful attempt on Istakher, and two years after the decisive battle of Nehavend was fought, the result of which was, the future capture of Persepolis, or Istakher. This battle, also, decided the fate of Persia, and the religion of Zoroaster. The blaze of the eternal fire was extinguished by the superior radiance of the crescent; and the sceptre of empire, wielded by the successors of Artaxerxes for more than four centuries, dropped from the hands of the unfortunate Yasdijerd, while the sun of the house of Sassan went down to rise no more. Persepolis underwent another vicissitude in 644, when the Arabs, under the command of Abu Musa al Ashari, defeated Shahreg, who lost his life and the city of Istakher, which paid a contribution of 200,000 silver dirhems to obtain a respite. In 648, the inhabitants of Istakher revolted, and slew the Arabian governor, in consequence of which the khalif Othman sent Abdallah Ebm Amer with troops from Basrah to Istakher, where they encountered the Persians, commanded by Mahek, son of Shahreg, who had been slain by Abu Musa al Ashari "from the dawn of day till the time of the meridian prayer." Mahek fled, and the city of Istakher was taken by storm; after which the city declined daily, so that in 950 it was not above a mile in length, and was finally destroyed in 982 by the Dilemite prince Samsa'm Ad'doulah. It exists only, says Hamdallah Cazvini, who wrote in 1339, under the reduced form of a village.
It has been well said, in deprecation of the destruction of cities, which history lauds as the work of heroes, "How many monuments of literature and science, of taste and genius, of utility, splendour, and elegance, have been destroyed by the ruthless hands of sanguinary heroes, who have left nothing but ruins as the monuments of their prowess." The ruins of Persepolis respond to these sentiments, while at the same time, in the ear of reason, they discourse of the mutability of all things below the skies.
The ruins of Persepolis, which are usually called by the inhabitants, "Tchil-Minar," (the forty pillars,) and sometimes "Hesa Suture," (the thousand columns,) are very grand.
The piles of fallen Persepolis
In deep arrangement hide the darksome plain.
Here temples rise, amid whose hallowed bounds,
Those who have visited the ruins of Persepolis concur in one unanimous verdict, that the city represented by them, must have been the most magnificent ever seen on earth; and that the Persian empire, in all its glory, could not boast of any thing more grand, nor have left to wondering posterity any thing more astonishing, than these venerable ruins. The present inhabitants of the vale of Merdasht, the plain of Persepolis, ignorant of the glories of their ancestors, deem them the work of demons, or of the Præadamite sultans, now immured in the rocky caverns of the mighty Caucasus, or of the great Solomon, the son of David, who, in eastern romance, is said to have had all the demons and genii under his control. Unconscious that he is treading on classic ground, the wandering Ihat tends his flock amid the tenantless waste; and the music that once called up the spirit of mirth in the breast of monarchs, is exchanged for the howl of wild beasts. In the halls of a Xerxes, in the palace of Chosroes, the fox takes up his abode, and the spider weaves her web; while from the towers of Istakher the screech owl nightly takes up its doleful note. Such is the end of human greatness!
The plain where these awful representatives of Persepolis stand, is one of the most extensive in Persia, and the finest in the east. According to Chardin, it extends eighteen leagues from east to west, by a diversified breadth of from six, to twelve, and eighteen miles. It is watered by the Araxes, and many minor streams. It is bounded on the north by the western branch of the Kur-aub; on the south by the south branch of the Kur-aub; and on the west by the Araxes, thus describing an oval figure. On the northwest is the junction of the Parwaub and the Araxes; and on the north-east is the point where the Kur-aub diverges into the two branches which bound its two sides On every side it is surrounded with mountains, which give as much natural grandeur to the vale, as the city it contained could receive from industry and art; nay, more, for the works of the Creator far surpass those of the creature.
The principal ruins of Persepolis are those of the Takht-i-Jemschid, which is identified with the palace set on fire by Alexander, and which stands at the base of the abruptly rising rock of Istakher. The first object that meets the eye of the traveller is the platform, which is an artificial plain of a very irregular shape, but facing the four cardinal points, like the bases of the Egyptian pyramids. The dimensions of the three faces of the platform are these; to the south 802 feet; to the north 926; and to the west 1425 feet. The level of the building at this date is very uneven, which is occasioned by the increasing accumulation of falling ruins, and the soil, which, from various causes, successively collects over these heaps. On the north-west, large masses of the native rock show themselves without incumbrance, still retaining marks of the original hammers and other instruments by which the higher portions of the rock had been cut down to
the required level. Beyond the face of the platform, the rock protrudes in vast abrupt cliffs; and in deeper cavities the progress of a quarry is visible, part of the rock being half hewn through, and in other places lying in completed slabs, ready for removal. This would indicate that the structure was not considered complete. It was the work of ages, and every succeeding monarch added to its grandeur. What, however, had been done could scarcely be exceeded. Its steep faces are formed of dark grey marble, cut into huge square blocks, and exquisitely polished. These are fitted to each other with such closeness and precision, that when first completed, the platform must have appeared as part of the solid mountain itself, levelled to become the foundation for a palace. The height of the platform is evidently considerably lower than it once was, owing to the masses of ruin and vegetative matter at its base. These have raised hillocks against all the sides, making rough slopes; whereas originally they were perpendicular. Ker Porter says he measured them, and that he found, at a spot near the group of columns, the perpendicular depth to be thirty feet; but he adds, that were all the rubbish to be cleared away, an additional depth of twenty feet would be discovered. The south side does not exceed twenty feet, and to the north it varies from sixteen to twenty-six | feet. The platform embraces three terraces. The first and lowest embraces the southern face, by 183 feet broad; the second is more elevated, and the third more elevated still. Along the edge of the lowest terrace there are masses of stone which apparently are fragments of a parapet wall; and on the edge of the third, or highest terrace, to the south, are decided remains of a strong stone railing, or range of palisades. These cease at the top of the staircase connecting this with the lower terrace. At the top of this flight of steps, are two large holes cut deeply into the stone, which received the pivots of the gates that closed this ingress. There is only one way by which this platform can be ascended, and that is by a staircase situated on its western side. A double flight of stairs rises very gently north and south, the base of which is sixty-seven feet by twenty-two. On ascending these, there is an irregular landing-place of thirty-seven feet by forty-four, whence springs a second flight of steps covering fifty-nine feet by twenty-two. Two corresponding staircases terminate on the grand level of the platform, by a landing-place occupying sixty-four feet. So easy of ascent is this staircase, and so grand is it likewise, that six horsemen may ride abreast to the summit of the platform. On reaching the platform, the lofty sides of a magnificent portal meet the eye of the traveller. The interior faces of the walls of this portal are sculptured out into the forms of two colossal bulls. These animals look westward; their heads, chests, and fore legs, occupying nearly the entire thickness of the wall in that direction; the rest of their bodies being left in relief. They stand on a pedestal elevated five feet above the level of the platform. Considerably above the backs of these animals are three small compartments filled with cunieform inscriptions. Each bull is twenty-two feet long from its fore to its hind leg, and fourteen and a
half feet high: their heads are gone. their necks are beautifully carved collars of roses; and over the chest, back, and ribs, extends a decoration resembling hair, short and curled, the execution of which is exquisite. Their proportions are admirable; and there is a corresponding grandeur which is in perfect accordance to the prodigious scale on which all around them is executed. The broad ornamented chest and the position of these animals are full of pondrous majesty; and the whole is combined with such spirit in the attitude and action that the sculpture seems ready to walk from the mass to which it is attached. It is supposed that these figured animals were symbolical representations of the attribute of power, and that as such they were placed as symbols at the gate of the kings of Persia. This is very probable; for throughout all Pagan mythology the bull is designated the emblem of power, as the lion is the emblem of royalty. The bull was, indeed, a favourite divinity in Egypt, Syria, and India; and the lion and bull, either singly or in compound forms, are found connected with almost all the ancient Persian structures. The body of the bull is indicative of power, and his horn of force exerted by that instrument. Every symbolical animal of this kind which Sir Robert Ker Porter saw in Persian architecture had but one horn; hence he conjectures that these animals were thus represented originally.
A little distant from the portal to the east, when Sir John Chardin visited Persepolis, (A. D. 1674,) there were four columns; two of these now only remain, and the base of these is nearly buried by an accumulation of ruins. These columns are of white marble, fluted, and exceedingly beautiful as to their capitals and other ornaments. Le Brun says they are fourteen feet round. The shaft gradually narrows towards the top, and it is varied by thirty-nine flutings, each four inches wide. Le Brun makes their height, exclusive of their bases, to be fifty-four feet, in which Ker Porter nearly agrees. The surface of the top is smooth, without the slightest remains of any loose fragment; hence the latter traveller supposes that when the four were united they sustained the plane or pedestal of some sculptured symbolical image.
About twenty-four feet from these columns stands another gateway, in all respects similar to the first in proportion, except that it is eighteen feet in length, instead of twenty-one. The inner sides of this portal are also sculptured, but the animals represented are of extraordinary formation. They have the body and legs of a bull; but an enormous pair of wings project from the shoulders, extending high over the back, and covering the breast, whence they appear to spring, as the entire chest is cased with their plumage. The feathers which compose the wings are exquisitely wrought. The heads of the animals look east to the mountains, and exhibit the faces of men, severe in countenance. A long curled beard adds to the majesty of their appearance. The ears are like those of the bull, and they are ornamented with large pendant earrings of an elegant form. On the head is a cylindrical diadem, on both sides of which horns are clearly represented, winding upwards from
the brows to the front of the crown, the whole being surmounted by a coronet of lotos leaves, and bound by a fillet of exquisitely carved roses. The hair is ranged over the forehead in the style of the ancient Persian kings, and the beard is also disposed after the fashion of royalty; but the hair behind differs essentially from all the bas-reliefs in other parts of the ruins. The animal measures nineteen feet from the top of the crown to the hoof, and three compartments of cuneiform inscriptions are cut in the wall over his body.
This is the only specimen known to exist in Persia of the human and bestial form combined. Hence much learned speculation has been put forth to the world upon this subject. It is an enigma, however, which no one has yet solved satisfactorily; and which, unless the cuneiform characters cut over the body could be deciphered, must ever remain unsolved.
combats are therefore allegorical representations, of which nothing is known. Of the sculpture, Sir Robert Ker Porter says: "The fire, beauty, and truth with which these quadrupeds are drawn, will hardly appear credible but to one who has appeared on the spot; for no artist, whether in Greece or Rome, could have been more faithful to the proportions of nature, or shown more knowledge of the anatomy of their forms. But it must be observed that animal forms are given there with much more nicety in their limbs, muscles, and actions, than when the sculptor attempts the human form. This holds good in the antiquities of Egypt, Syria, and India."
On the inclined planes, corresponding to the slope of the stairs, there is a line of dwarf figures, answering in number to the steps, each of which appears to form a pedestal for a figure. A similar range appears on the opposite side. Both of these are thought to represent the Doryphores, or body guards of the great king.
On the south of the portal, there is a capacious cistern, eighteen feet long, by sixteen feet broad. Having ascended the second flight of stairs, This was filled with water by subterraneous the traveller finds a triangular space formed by aqueducts, and it appears to have been hewn out the slope of the steps, which is filled up with the of the solid rock. To the south of this is the combat of the lion and the bull, occupying a magnificent terrace that supports the Hall of length of twenty-three feet. The space is divided Columns. This hall, peculiarly denominated by a tablet, on which are three rows of mutilated Chehilminar, or Palace of forty Columns, is ex- figures, covering an expanse of sixty-eight feet, ceedingly magnificent. They are approached by and ending at the top of the stairs of the outward a double staircase, projecting considerably before approach. The upper row of figures begins the northern face of the terrace. The ascent, with a chariot drawn by two bulls; then a like that of the great entrance from the plain, is second; then a horse, with the feet of a man, on very gradual; each flight containing only thirty the opposite side, as its attendant; then two other steps, each four inches high, fourteen broad, and horses; then five figures habited in short vests; sixteen feet long. The whole front of the and then with a succession of forty-four longadvanced range, as soon as the landing-place is robed spearmen. The second row commences gained, is replete with sculptures. The place with a range of thirty-two figures, clothed alterimmediately under the landing-place is divided nately in long and short robes, the former of into three compartments, on which, except the which represents the Median, and the latter the middle one, are inscriptions. To the left of it genuine Persian habit. After these figures, there are four standing figures, five feet six inches high, are twenty-eight robed Persians, armed with habited in long robes, with brogues like buskins spears, each bearing the same attitude, and on their feet, and holding each a short spear in having a fillet round his head, on which are the an upright position. Their heads are covered traces of leaves. Twelve sculptured cypress with flute flat-topped caps, and a bow and quiver trees complete this bas-relief, and end near the hang from the left shoulder. On the right are stairs. The lowest row of figures is a line of three figures, looking towards these four, in every robed and tiara-capped personages, to the number respect similar, the bow and quiver excepted. of thirty-two. These are alternately arranged Instead of these, they carry a large shield on the with their brethren in tunics, and followed by a left arm, in the form of a Bœtian buckler. The train of twenty-one guards, in the same uniform dress of these corresponds to the description as those described. This last row is more perfect which Herodotus gives of the Persians. He than the upper ones, inasmuch as it has been says: "The Persians wore small helmets on their preserved from the hand of the Gothlike deheads, which they call teàræ; their bodies were stroyers, by the heaps of ruin at its base. covered with tunics of different colours, having sleeves, and adorned with plates of steel, in imitation of the scales of fishes; their thighs were defended, and they carried a kind of shield, called gerra, beneath which was a quiver. They had short spears, large bows, and arrows made of reeds; and on their right side a dagger suspended from the belt." This dress is what they called the Median, and it was introduced by Cyrus into Persia. The angular space on each side of these groups of spearmen are filled with representations of a combat between a lion and a bull. What this represents is unknown; for the Persians were not accustomed, like the Romans, to enjoy the combats-if such be enjoyments-in an arena fitted up for that purpose: these sculptured
The wing on the opposite side of this magnificent approach is like the one described, divided into three lines of bas-relief, each subdivided into compartments by a large cypress tree. These bas-reliefs are adorned with figures of men with offerings, warriors, horses, chariots, colossal bulls, dromedaries, lions, the ibex, serpents, the gurkur, or wild ass, etc.; on all which Ker Porter remarks, "Here, when comparing the colossal proportions of the structure, and its gigantic sculptures, with the delicacy, beauty, and perfection of the execution of the ornaments, I might say with the poet,
Here the loves play on the bosom of Hercules."" Like the former bas-reliefs, this latter is also