Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/163

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PERSIA.


Abraham, say they, never ate alone; and they relate that his fortunate meeting with the three angels who shared his repast took place one day when, being by himself, the hospitable patriarch had gone forth from his tent in search of guests.


CHAPTER XII.

AMUSEMENTS AND EXERCISES


SECTION I.

AMUSEMENTS

The opinions of the Musulmans in general respecting music and dancing, tend much to contract the circle of their amusements. They are strangers alike to the pleasures of the ball, the concert, theatrical exhibitions, and those sports in which the assembled youth of both sexes indulge the flow of gaiety natural to their time of life. Their disposition, on the contrary, is grave and taciturn; and though the Persian may possess polished manners, extensive information, and a memory well stored with anecdotes, yet his cheerfulness is never brisk and animated like ours.

Conversation is a favourite recreation of the Persians: they season it with stories, in which the fertility of their imagination is strikingly displayed; they enliven it by literary discussions; they diversify it with the recitation of the finest passages of their best poets; and they frequently prolong it, taking no note of time, which meanwhile glides swiftly. away, till the night is very far advanced.

Several grandees keep for their amusement a number of young Georgians who can sing, play on different instruments, and perform feats of tumbling and agility. Persons of inferior rank employ hired musicians and dancers. Besides these, there is a class of people called Looties, who go from house to-house, amusing their auditors with relating numberless stories, either true or fictitious, but always grossly indecent. They also perform a variety of tricks, similar to those of our jugglers and tumblers.

Though they have no theatre, the Persians are not without a species of dramatic exhibition. There are persons who recite and act passages of the Shah Nameh of Ferdousee, such as the battle between Roustam and Sohrab, and between the same hero and Isfendiar.