Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/178

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151
PERSIA.

cupboards, which are deemed indispensable in every Persian room. This interior chamber is seldom resorted to before winter; the outer one, open to the court, being considered the summer apartment from the advantage it affords of fresh air. The traveller spreads his nummud upon the paved floor, fitting it up with bedding according to his own idea of comfort; but nothing is really necessary beyond a pillow, with a sheet for the warmest nights and a quilt for the cool. Immediately behind this double range of chambers runs an open space or lane, in like manner following the quadrangular sweep of the building; the hinder side of the lane, that is the one nearest the wall of the caravanserais, being an arcade also, and divided into cell-like apartments, for the use of servants, muleteers, and other persons wishing to keep Station near their cattle, which are generally stabled in the lane between the front of this last arcade, and the back of the one first described. Sometimes, when the caravanseraisis very full, the animals are picketed in the great court, while their attendant sleep on a large elevated square platform, which occupies the centre, and round it the packages of the travellers are piled up in heaps. Reposing in the open air is not merely a luxury to all orders of people in this climate, in summer, but it is indispensable to their health and comfort in many other respects, close apartments being often not only intolerable from heat, but sorely infested with vermin. One ample entrance leads into the caravanserais, the gates of which are closed soon after sun-set, and only occasionally re-opened during the night for the egress of departing guests. Beneath the extensive vaulted roof of the porch, are the quarters of the keeper, o: warden, and his people; with the shop and other repositories of the accommodations, he prepares for travellers. Among his numerous stores, we see exposed to sale, tobacco, rice, grapes, water-melons, eggs, grease, bread, wood, corn, moss, &c. This last article is a beverage of acidulated milk, which, diluted with water, is a favourite drink with the natives. The antiquity of this beverage is so great, that Plutarch mentions it as part of the ceremony at the consecration of the Persian kings, to quaff a large goblet of this acidulated mixture. Every commodity being sold at double the ordinary price, the renter of the caravanseraisis enabled to. pay liberally to the agent of the crown for his privilege, and to realize a handsome profit besides.

In most of the caravanserais which remain from earlier times,. there are three or four vaulted chambers over the grand portico, which have always been held in more dignity than any others of the building. These are perforated on all sides with apertures and doors, being a sort of temples of the winds, imbibing a breeze