Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/195

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166
PERSIA.

contains the cylinders. He drives this agricultural equipage in a circle round a heap of corn, keeping at a certain distance from its verge, close to which a second peasant stands, holding a long-handled pronged fork, shaped like the spread sticks of a fan; and with which he throws the unbound sheaves forward, to meet the rotatory motion of the machine. He has a shovel also ready, to remove to a distance the corn that has already passed the wheel. Other men are on the spot with the like implement, with which they throw the corn aloft in the air, when the wind blows away the chaff, and the grain falls to the ground. This process is repeated till the corn is completely winnowed; it is then gathered up, and deposited for use in large earthen jars.

Sir R. Porter mentions one district, where he remarked as a singularity a very clumsy sort of cart employed for carrying corn. It moves on two solid wheels, while the body and the pole take the shape of a long triangle; and is drawn by oxen or buffaloes. In no other part of Persia, did he find so useful an assistant to husbandry as even this rude vehicle.

The vale of Khoi, about fifteen miles in length and ten in breadth, is described as equal to any spot of similar extent, either in Persia or in any other country, for richness of cultivation. It produces great quantities of corn, cotton, and rice. The soil is so stiff, that it sometimes requires ten pair of buffaloes to drag the plough-share through it. When the plough is at work, two or three men, according to the length of the team, are seated upon the yokes, exciting their cattle by a loud song, which, in the stillness of the morning, has a very pleasing effect. Their plough is an instrument of more mechanism than that of the south of Persia, and furrows the earth much more effectually. The corn grows thicker and better than in any other parts, owing, doubtless, to the superiority of this implement, and also to the abundance of water with which this plain is blessed.

Pigeon-houses are erected in Persia, at a distance from human habitations, for the sole purpose of collecting pigeon's dung for manure. There are many such in the environs of Ispahan. They are large round towers, rather broader at the bottom than at the top, and crowned by conical spiracles, through which the pigeons descend. Their interior resembles a honeycomb, pierced with a thousand holes, each of which forms a snug retreat for a nest. More care appears to have been bestowed upon their outside, than upon the generality of the dwelling-houses, for they are painted and ornamented. The extraordinary flights of pigeons, and the compactness of their mass, give them the appearance of clouds, and actually obscure the sun in their passage.