Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/203

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174
PERSIA.

whose entertainments generally conclude with this kind of exhibition. Kotzebue, who, by the bye, seems to have carried with him to Persia some very obstinate Russian prejudices, which shrewdly suspect to have led him to overcharge many of his descriptions relative to that country, gives a ludicrous picture the performances of a company of dancers employed on an occasion by the serdar of Erivan.

Their music, says he, consisted of a guitar, a sort of violin with three strings, two tambourines, and a singer. The latter I with frightful grimaces strained his throat, apparently in strong convulsions; fortunately for us, however, he frequently covered his face, according to the custom of the country, with a piece of paper, and spared us the sight of his hideous grimaces. The musicians did not play out of tune, but still the effect of the whole sounded not unlike a concert of cats. Three handsome boys, clothed in long garments and decorated with silk ribbons of different colours, were so inspired by this discordant music and the screams of the singer, that they began dancing and throwing themselves into various attitudes. They had small metal castanets, which they struck in time with the dance. I believe that two of these youths were meant to represent females, because their motions were slower and more modest; but the third boy tumbled about most furiously, turning alternately to each of the others. The most ludicrous part of the entertainment, however, was to follow. The music suddenly rose to a loud pitch, the singer screamed unmercifully, and the three boys tumbled in somersets to the extremity of the hall; where' two of them remained in a graceful attitude, while the third stood upon his head showing his pantaloons and naked feet. There was one particular feat, which the dancers performed with great address: they turned several times in the air, without touching the ground with their hands or feet.


CHAPTER VI.

ARCHITECTURE, PAINTING, AND SCULPTURE.

The Persians never attained a high degree of perfection in painting and sculpture. The figures at Persepolis, and in other monuments of antiquity in Fars, are extremely defective, both in regard to taste and proportions. In the structures at Kermanshah, the arts display superior excellence; but those appear to have been the work of Greek or Roman artists. At the present day, sculpture is so utterly neglected by the Persians, that it is