Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/196

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The Persians do not eat pigeons, keeping them solely for their dung, which is the dearest manure in this country; and as they employ it entirely in the rearing of melons, it is probably on this account that the melons of Ispahan are so much finer than those of other countries. The revenue of a pigeon-house is about one hundred toomauns per annum; and the great value of this dung, which rears a fruit indispensable to the existence of the natives during the great heats of summer, may probably throw some light upon that passage of Scripture which relates, that during the famine in Samaria, "the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung was sold for five pieces of silver." 2 Kings, vi. 25.

Sir Robert Porter describes a method by which the villagers who keep bees take the honey without destroying the industrious insects. The hives are constructed like long thin barrels thrust through the mud walls of the house; one end opens to the air for the entrance of the bees, and the other, which projects more than a foot into the inhabited rooms, is closed with a cake of clay. When the owner wishes to take the honey, he has only to make a continued noise for some little time at the closed end, which causes all the bees to take flight at the other. During their absence he removes the clay, and clears the hive of honey, leaving, however, sufficient for their winter supply. The inner end is re-closed, and the little labourers soon return to their home to commence their operations anew.



Persia never was an essentially commercial country at any period of its history, unless when under the dominion of the Arabs. The caravans from the western provinces of the Saracen empire, then passed through it in their way to Transoxana and some parts of India. The laws of Zoroaster, which encouraged agriculture, naturally checked commerce; and as most of the rivers were unnavigable, there was not much internal traffic. The soil produces few things in sufficient quantity to be exported: some wheat, barley, rice, dates, and almonds, are, however, shipped at Bushire, Muscat, and other parts of the Persian Gulf.

The principal manufactured articles are gold brocade, silks, cotton stuffs of different kinds, leather, shawls of inferior quality, and rich carpets. With respect to shawls, observes Kotzebue, the Europeans are under a great mistake: those which are