Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/143

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120
PERSIA.

her manners; for she cannot regret the want of that which she knows nothing of.

It is to be presumed, however, that the degrees of happiness enjoyed by a Persian female vary according to her condition. She, whom fortune has placed in the middling class of life, and whose husband's circumstances and rank are too low to admit of his keeping several wives, must naturally be happier than the female destined to grace the harem of a grandee, where she will groan under the yoke of a eunuch.

SECTION III.

OCCUPATIONS AND WAY OF LIFE OF THE WOMEN OF PERSIA.

The occupations of the Persian women are more diversified than might be supposed. They spin, embroider, work with the needle, and make their own apparel. They superintend also whatever relates to the interior of the house; they keep an account of the daily expenditure, deliver out the provisions to the servants, pay their wages, adjust their disputes, and even see that proper attention is paid to the horses. In every house of any consequence, there is a eunuch, called nazir, steward, with whom the mistress of the house daily consults, and decides on every thing relating to the servants and domestic concerns.

Sir Robert Porter gives the following lively picture of the employments of women belonging to what may be called the middling class. The originals after whom it was delineated were the four wives of a man in whose house he was entertained.

From the hour of rising, says this traveller, to that of going to rest, the house sounded with one continual clatter of female voices mingling with the cries of children and the bustling clamour of varied occupation. These women do all the laborious part of the household establishment, each having her own especial department, such as baking the bread, cooking the meat, drawing the water, &c.; and though the latest espoused is usually spared in these labours and the best dressed, still the whole party seem to remain in good humour, no appearance of jealousy disturbing the amicable routine of their proceedings. When their lord shows himself among them, it is like a master coming into a herd of favourite animals; they all rush forward, frisking about him, pleased with a caress; or frisking still, if they meet with a pat instead.—The four wives of my worthy host retire at sunset from their domestic toils; and each, taking her infant and cradle to the roof of her division of the house, not forgetting the skin of water she has brought from the spring or well, deposites her babe in safety, and suspends the water-case near her