Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/164

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137
PERSIA.

In summer, when the approach of night terminates the labours of the villagers, they assemble around a fountain or on the margin of a stream, spread their mats, and highly enjoy the supreme delight of breathing a fresh and pure air. To the Persian, there is no enjoyment equal to this: yet there are other amusements which enliven the village circle, and banish from it lassitude and care. Sometimes an itinerant bard charms his auditors with the recital of the loves of Medjnoun and Leilah; at others, a kisseh-kon, or story-teller, declaims the history of the heroes of Persia. Here, a dervise edifies his hearers with a delineation of the virtues, misfortunes, and miracles of Ali and his family; there, the reisi-deh, or village bailiff, relates the history of the great men of the province, and considers the motionless attitude, the fixed gaze, the stupefaction of his auditory, as the most flattering tribute to his rustic eloquence. In another place, a mollah, at once a minister of religion and a priest of the muses, repeats, with due emphasis, pieces from the Gulistan of Saadi, or the Divan of Hafiz; while a few paces distant, a buffoon, by his sallies, or a juggler by his tricks, excites the laughter and admiration of the junior classes.

When night has shrouded the earth, and its refreshing coolness has succeeded the heat of day, the villagers join in the dance, accompanied by instruments: each person frisking about and following the measure more or less closely, according as his or her ear is more or less correct. At other times, the peasants remain spectators, and leave the exercise to troops of dancers of both sexes who stroll about the country.


SECTION II.

EXERCISES.

The exercises of the Persians consist in shooting with the bow, managing the sabre, and playing at jureed-bazee, a game very common among the military men. It is played in the following manner.

A number of men on horseback, each armed with a jureed, or dart, three cubits long, divide into two opposite troops. Two or three gallop away from their,troop, and are pursued by the like number of the other party, who throw the jureed at them while going at full speed. The person at whom the jureed is thrown, either catches it in his hand, or slipping under the horse's belly allows it to fly over him. This feat, which is by no means easy, at the rate the horse is going, they perform very expertly. The jureed comes with sufficient force to break an arm. They also