Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/176

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

( 149 )

CHAPTER XV.

MANNER OF TRAVELLING—CARAVANSERAIS.

As the manner of travelling in the East differs widely from ours, it may not be amiss to devote a few pages to that subject.

Owing to the insecurity and difficulty of the roads in Persia, it is dangerous to travel ever so small a distance without attendants or escort. In longer journeys, it is common to join a company of travellers who are going to the same place. Such a company is called kaufileh, or caravan. The beasts of burden are camels, horses, and mules.

The kaufileh is commanded by a tchaharvadar, or chief, who undertakes to furnish servants, horses, and other beasts of burden, and provisions, during the journey, at such a rate as may be agreed on.

The caravan marches in the closest order possible. When there are no caravanserais in the country through which it is travelling, as soon as it reaches its menzil-gah, or resting-place, the tchaharvadar points out to each individual the spot where he is to deposit his baggage and merchandise, that there may be no confusion. The baggage forms a semicircle, the centre of which is occupied by the provisions and beds. This place, as well as the encampment of each traveller, is encompassed with a hair-rope. The beasts of burden are all stationed facing their respective loads, and are merely tied by hair-ropes.

The tchaharvadar is stirring with his people-before light, to superintend the loading of the goods, so that the caravan may start with the dawn, that is, between three and four in the morning. A bell or drum gives the signal for departure.

Women of superior rank, and sick persons, travel in takhti-evans, or litters carried by two camels or mules, one before and the other behind, as described in a preceding part of the work.The women and children of the poor are carried in panniers suspended from the backs of mules or camels.

The Orientals, though they account the founding of caravanserais, or inns in which travellers are lodged gratuitously, a work well pleasing to God, nevertheless, take no pains to keep their roads in order. Turn which way you please in Turkey and in Persia, and you will find none of those beautiful roads which in Europe facilitate the communication between the most remote provinces. Kinneir attributes to the barbarous monarchs of Asia the notion, that the bad state of the roads tends to strengthen their authority. Accustomed to see their power defied, and their thrones threatened by rebellious officers, they would be