Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/174

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147
PERSIA.

proper height, suffocation is the usual effect, and the incautious sleepers are found dead in the morning. This singular kind of chauffoir answers a double purpose; that of preparing the frugal meal of the family, either as an oven, or to admit on its embers the pot which boils the meat or pottage. Barbarous as the usage may seem, the kourcy is not confined to the wild inhabitants of the mountains; it is found in the noblest mansions of the cities, but burning more agreeable fuel; and then the ladies sit from morning till night under the rich draperies spread over the wooden cover; awakening their slumbering senses from the soporific influence of its vapours, by occasional cups of coffee or the delightful fumes of their kalliouns.


CHAPTER XIV.

BATHS

In Persia the baths are numerous and magnificent, and the price of admission to them is moderate. They are open to persons of all classes and of both sexes to the men five days in the week, and to women the other two.

These buildings consist of two very spacious rooms, the one for undressing, and the other containing the bath. Along the walls of the former, are placed seats of marble or stone two feet high, covered with mats and carpets, on which the bathers sit to strip off their clothes. A narrow passage leads to the bathing-room, which is an octagon surmounted by a cupola, at which air and light are admitted, and paved with marble. At the upper end of this room is a large reservoir.of water heated by means of boilers.

The process of the bath, when applied by either sex, is much the same: it is thus described by Sir Robert Porter:

The bather, having undressed in the outer room, and retaining nothing but a piece,of loose cloth round his waist, is conducted by the proper attendant into the hall of the bath: a large white sheet is then spread on the floor, on which the bather extend himself. The attendant brings from the cistern, which is warmed from a boiler below, a succession of pails full of water, which he continues to pour over the bather till he is well drenched and heated. The attendant then takes the employer's head upon his knees, and rubs with all his might a sort of wet paste of henna plant into his mustachios and beard. In a few minutes, this pommade dyes them a bright red. Again he has recourse to the little pail, and showers. upon his quiescent patient another