Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/157

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PERSIA.

his domestic affairs; adjusts the quarrels or listens to the reports of his dependants. At nine o'clock he visits the prince or the governor. At noon, he returns to the divan-kaneh, where he takes his tchacht or dinner, usually consisting of bread, cheese, butter, and different sorts of fruit. After dinner, he says his noontide prayers, and retires to the inner apartments to enjoy the society of his women. At three o'clock, he goes abroad to pay visits, or receives visitors at home. At four, he recites the afternoon prayer. When night comes on, his carpet is spread in the open air, and he prepares to spend the evening in the company of his friends or dependants. They converse upon the events of the day, or the news of the court; they relate extraordinary adventures, for the Orientals are admirable story-tellers, or repeat passages of the most eminent poets. The hour for the fourth prayer arrives, but without causing the slightest interruption in the conversation. Each rises in turn, goes to a corner of the room, places himself on a small carpet with his face turned towards Mecca, and performs this religious duty with much greater despatch than devotion. Such indeed is their precipitation, that the duty of prayer seems to be quite as irksome as it is indispensable. At ten o'clock, a servant announces that supper, shamee, is ready: at the same time, he brings with him a ewer of water; each of the party washes his hands; and they then seat themselves round the tray on which the dishes are placed. Eleven o'clock usually breaks up the company, and puts an end to the occupations of the day.

The time which a person of distinction passes at court, or in his divan-kaneh, the tradesman devotes to business. He has commonly a shop at the bazar, where he exhibits his commodities, makes bargains, and carries on all his traffic.

Besides the four prayers enjoined by religion, there is a fifth or night-prayer, which, however, is more frequently omitted than observed.


CHAPTER XI.

VISITS AND ENTERTAINMENTS OF THE PERSIANS.

The Persians are too much addicted to etiquette and ceremony, not to be fond of visiting. The dependant would not on any account allow a day to pass without paying his respects to his patron, the courtier without presenting himself before the sovereign, and friends without mutually visiting one another. The ceremonies and compliments differ with the rank of the