Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/134

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113
PERSIA.

cloth trowsers, called shalwar, into which he introduces the skirts of the erkalig and the zeer-djamek. A Persian of distinction, thus equipped and mounted, is represented in the engraving opposite to this page.

The dress of the Persians of the superior classes is very expensive, frequently amounting to sixty or one hundred guineas. It is admirably calculated for either a hot or cold climate: it imposes no restraint on the limbs, and may be put on or thrown off in five minutes. The poor people wear no cap, and but little clothes in summer; but when the cold weather comes they make dresses of sheep-skins.

The merchants never wear scarlet or crimson cloths, or use silver or gold buttons to their robes: this may not possibly amount to a prohibition, but the effect is the same. Shah Abbas, who wished to make this class of his subjects very frugal, issued an order that they were always to wear shawl turbans, and robes of broad cloth. This would be, in his opinion, the cheapest dress they could wear, as the shawl would serve them for their lives, and descend to their children, and the cloths would last several years.

It should be observed, that the wearing of silk is interdicted by the Musulman law, on account of its being an excrement. The Persians, however, evade this prohibition, by mixing with the silk a very small portion of cotton. A large quantity of this kind of cloth is imported into Persia from Guzerat.

Although the Persians bathe so often, they are a very dirty people. They very rarely change their garments, and seldom before it is dangerous to come near them: indeed, they think nothing of wearing a shirt a month, and a pair of trowsers half a year.

The Persians have a high esteem for the beard, which is an object of their incessant care and attention. In Egypt, it indicates a state of liberty; in Persia, it is worn alike by the slave and the master: there, the condition of the eunuch is too much despised for any one to wish to resemble him in any particular.

Black bushy beards are held in the greatest estimation: accordingly, all are of this colour; for men of a fair complexion dye their beards, as well to please the women as to give themselves a look of youth and rigour. It is more difficult to make them bushy: ointments, pomatums, and drugs of all sorts, are early employed to impart to them this species of beauty; but nature is seldom to be overcome by such applications.

Nothing can exceed the attention paid by a Persian to his beard. In the morning, as soon as he rises, at night before he retires to rest, after his meals, and several times in the course of the day, he carefully washes it, dries it with a cloth, combs