غول آباد؛ دانشنامهٔ مردمی یزد
مهمان گرامی، خوش آمدید! - قلعه -
Women of the desert city
\ Hen party in Yezd
Some friends of the writer, staying in Yezd, called upon the wife of a high official. Their visit had, of course, been notified beforehand, and they went in their full numbers, (1) the more guests, the greater honor, according to Persian etiquette.
Upon their arrival, their hostess inquired anxiously about their “serene healths,” and introduced them to a bevy of chosen friends.
This little woman presented a truly grotesque spectacle. She wore the ordinary indoor dress of a lady of rank, which consists of a tunic, a pair of narrow silk trousers and three or four skirts one above the other, none of them reaching quite to the knees. These skirts are often from five to six yards wide, and give their wearers the appearance of ballet dancers.
Indeed, it is said that the late Shah (2) was so charmed with the attire of the «London» (3) variety artistes, that on his return home he ordered all his court ladies to adopt these short full skirts (4), which are now considered the most modish attire in every part of the country. (5)
As Persian women have sallow complexions, and are great admirers of English lilies and roses, the cheeks of this eastern dame were thickly rouged giving her a most extraordinary appearance, and on her face was painted a pair of large black moustaches. Several of the guests had assumed a like semblance of masculinity, in strict accordance, it appeared, with the latest «Teheran» fashion.
Chairs had been procured from somewhere to do honor to the Europeans, but after a time the Persians all slipped on the floor, apologising profusely for this breach of manners, but pleading that their legs ached so terribly.
In the corner of the room was a small table, the top full of sockets, (6) in which were sweetmeats, pistachio nuts, etc. These the hostess passed to her guests in her fingers, putting her left hand under her right elbow while doing so, a national form of politeness.
Tea was handed round in little glasses, in glass saucers, and as the liquid was boiling hot, and the glasses had no handles, the task of raising them to the lips was not an easy one.
In Persia, no matter what hour in the day a call may be paid, the guest is always expected to drink tea. It would give grave offence not to do so, and the more cups that one takes, the greater the satisfaction of one’s entertainer.
The tea itself is abominable. Made exceedingly weak, about six lumps of sugar are added to each tiny glass, and, needless to say, the milk is omitted.
The amusements provided on this occasion were a flute player, sitting in the porch out of sight and a boy contortionist. The entrance to the andaruni in the porch is always round a corner.
In conclusion cups of coffee flavored with cocoa were handed round, accompanied by a dish of cold potatoes, the latter delicacy supposed to be what the foreign visitors liked best at home.
But ennui soon blights all harem functions, at which there is nothing new to talk about and nothing new to be seen.
An enterprising Englishwoman once proposed during a call that every one should adjourn to the garden and catch goldfish in the pond, a sport which caused intense delight until a fish was actually landed, when the tender-hearted hostess burst into tears.