Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/78

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61
PERSIA.

vantages are greater than in any other country, we ought not to be astonished at its being infested with hordes of licensed robbers, or that a chief should plunder his way to the throne.

SECTION II.

OF THE ARMS OF THE PERSIAN TROOPS.

The arms of the Persians are the scimitar, the carbine, the lance, the bow, and the noose. A horseman, when fully equipped, usually carries a pair of pistols either in his girdle, or at the saddle-bow, a carbine or a bow slung at his back by a transverse shoulder-belt, and a lance. The latter, which is very light, being made of bamboo, he carries in his right hand, and uses the bow with great dexterity and promptitude.

The use of the kemend, which is a long rope with a noose at one end, is of great antiquity in Persia. There exist paintings in illustration of the Shah Nameh, in which Roustam is represented catching his enemies with this noose, and dragging them after him. It is well known that the ancient Sclavonians and Bulgarians employed this species of offensive weapon in war, At present, the kemend is but little used; it is said, however, that Ismael Bey, one of the king'a generals, excels in the management of it.

The whole artillery of the Persians consisted till lately of a few field-pieces, and a number of swivels mounted on the backs of camels. A representation of a soldier belonging to the camel corps is given in the annexed engraving. The uniform of this corps is red, and something like the fashion of the British regimentals about twenty years ago. They wear a bright brass cap of a conical shape, with a bunch of cock's feathers stuck in the pointed top. The gunner is seated behind the swivel, which turns on a pivot at the point of the saddle in front; and on the back of the camel is fixed a small triangular red and green flag. There is nothing martial in their appearance, says Sir Robert Porter, and so little of dignity from the incongruity of their oddly-mixed half-European costume, with the Asiatic animals they ride, that the troop rather recalled to my risible faculties certain impressions connected with cavalcades I had seen in England, accompanying our splendid shows of wild beasts, than suggested the respectful ideas which belong to a regal escort.

Captain Kotzebue, who on several occasions saw some hundreds of this corps manoeuvred, says, the guns are so light, that an artilleryman can take his piece on his back and run about with it. They do not attempt to take aim in firing: the gun lies on the ground and is fired at random. They are never dis-