Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/160

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133
PERSIA.

remnants of dinner. We had no towel to dry one or the other, save our own pocket-handkerchiefs; the bread-napkin or plate having no capability but to be eaten off, and wipe the ends of the fingers between every new plunge into the opposite dish. A kallioun with tea followed, and continued with few interruptions during the conversation which had broken the dead silence, on the departure of the rolled-up web and its appendages. A fresh kallioun finished the entertainment, and we then rose to take our leave. With extreme difficulty I obeyed the general movement; but when I did get upon my legs, they were too cramped to stand, and had it not been for the support of one of my countrymen, more accustomed to such curvature of limbs, I must have fallen. A few minutes, however, restored me to locomotion; and having made my bow, we passed through the curtain entrance, to resume the slippers we had left at the door.

At a dinner given by the Ameen-ed-Dowlah to Sir Gore Ouseley, that gentleman and his suite enjoyed better fortune, but at the expense of the naive guests. An attempt was made to lay out the entertainment in the European manner. On a number of rude unpainted tables, some high, some low, arranged in the horse-shoe fashion, were heaped all the various dishes which compose a Persian feast, not in symmetrical order, for their number made that impossible, but positively piled one upon another; so that stewed fowl lay under roasted lamb, omelet under stewed fowl, eggs under omelet, rice under all, and so on. Every European was provided with knife, fork, napkin and plate: but the poor Persians made rueful work of it. Some were seated upon chairs so high, that they towered far above the alpine scenery of meats and stews: others again were seated so low, that they were lost in the valleys, their mouths being brought to about the level of the table. When a Persian eats his dinner in his ordinary way, the dishes are placed on the ground before him, and crouching himself down, he brings his mouth so close to them as commodiously to transfer the victuals from the dish to his mouth: but here, his mouth being placed at a great distance from the good things, and his fingers being the only medium of communication between both, their commerce was but slow and uncertain. There was much amusement in observing how awkwardly they went to work, and the indignation expressed in the faces of the most ravenous, who, out of compliment to the British guests, were deprived of their full range over such a scene of good cheer.

Kotzebue has given a humorous account of the manner in which the gentlemen of the Ruzsian embassy were entertained by the serdar of Erivan. After describing the preliminary arrangements, he thus proceeds:—