Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/158
visitor. If an inferior is honoured with a visit from his superior, he does not sit down till the latter is seated, nor rise till he has risen. The master of the house commonly occupies the upper end of the cushion or carpet; but if he wishes to do honour to the stranger, he gives up his place to him or makes him take a seat by his side.
When the master of the house is of higher rank than his visitor, the latter softly slips into the divan-kaneh, takes the first vacant pla6e, and there stands with his hands crossed over his girdle, his head somewhat inclining forward and his eyes fixed: and in this rave attitude he continues t the host invites him to be seated.
There exists a kind of etiquette in regard to the manner of sitting, which every well-bred person must observe. Thus before his superior he squats on his heels, keeping his knees and his feet close together; in the presence of his equals he sits down cross-legged, with his body erect; and in any company whatever, it is deemed extremely rude to suffer the extremities of the feet to be seen when seated: they ought to be covered with the robe.
A visit between persons of distincton and of equal rank consists of three acts. In the first the visitor is furnished with a kallioun or pipe, the smoke of which is cooled by water, and a cup of very strong Coffee without sugar. In the second another kallioun is given with sweet coffee, so called because it is composed of rose-water and sugar. A fresh kallioun, sweetmeats and sherbet, make up the third act.
These sweetmeats are generally brought on silver, plated or japanned trays, adorned with painted flowers or other ornaments: they usually consist of sugar-almonds and pistachio-nuts, or small orange-flower cakes. The Persians are passionately fond of sweetmeats, and excel in the art of making them. The manner in which the Persians take their meals, is totally different from ours: they are strangers to the use of tables, knives and forks; and such is the power of habit, that articles with which we cannot dispense are to them most troublesome and inconvenient. Thus Abu Taleb, in the narrative of his travels in Europe, complains bitterly more than once of the necessity of eating wit]i a knife and fork.
The method of proceeding at a Persian entertainment, will be best explained by the descriptions of some regent travellers.
At an entertainment given to Sir Robert Porter by Mirza Bezoork, minister to the prince-royal, the routine was as follows:—
The whole company being seated in the eastern. style cross. legged, in an extensive saloon, carpeted all over, and with the