The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Azerbijan

Bagh-e Chenar - Samarkand

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This emperor of China is called Chuyscan, which means nine empires; but the Chatagais called him Tangus, which means 'pig emperor.' He is the lord of a great country, and Timur Beg used to pay him tribute, but he refuses to do so now. As soon as these ambassadors, and many others, who had come from distant countries, were seated in order, they brought much meat, boiled, roasted, and dressed in other ways, and roasted horses; and they placed these sheep and horses on very large round pieces of stamped leather. When the lord called for meat, the people dragged it to him on these pieces of leather, so great was its weight; and as soon as it was within twenty paces of him, the carvers came, who cut it up, kneeling on the leather. They cut it in pieces, and put the pieces in basins of gold and silver, earthenware and glass, and porcelain, which is very scarce and precious. The most honorable piece was a haunch of the horse, with the loin, but without the leg, and they placed parts of it in ten cups of gold and silver. They also cut up the haunches of the sheep. They then put pieces of the tripes of the horses, about the size of a man's fist, into the cups, and entire sheep's heads, and in this way they made many dishes. When they had made sufficient, they placed them in rows. Then some men came with soup, and they sprinkled salt over it, and put a little into each dish, as sauce; and they took some very thin cakes of corn, doubled them four times, and placed one over each cup or basin of meat. As soon as this was done, the Meerzas and courtiers of the lord took these basins, one holding each side, and one helping behind (for a single man could not lift them), and placed them before the lord, and the ambassadors, and the knights who were there; and the lord sent the ambassadors two basins, from those which were placed before him, as a mark of favour. When this food was taken away, more was brought; and it is the custom to take this food, which is given to them, to their lodgings, and if they do not do so, it is taken as an affront; and so much of this food was brought, that it was quite wonderful. Another custom is, that when they take any food from before any of the ambassadors, they give it to their retinue; and so much food was placed before them, that, if they had taken it away, it would have lasted them for half a year. When the roast and boiled meats were done with, they brought meats dressed in various other ways, and balls of forced meat; and after that, there came fruit, melons, grapes, and nectarines; and they gave them drink out of silver and golden jugs, particularly sugar and cream, a pleasant beverage, which they make in the summer time. When dinner was finished, the men who bore the presents on their arms passed before the lord, and the same was done with the presents sent by the Sultan of Babylon; and three hundred horses were also brought before the lord, which had been presented that day. After this was done the ambassadors rose, and a knight was appointed to attend upon them, and to see that they were provided with all that they required. This knight, who was the chief porter of the lord, conducted the ambassadors, and the ambassador from the Sultan of Babylon, to a lodging near the place where the lord abode, in which there was a garden, and plenty of water. When the ambassadors took leave of the lord, he caused the presents which the king had sent, to be brought, and received them with much complacency {Amongst the presents there was a 'suit of tapestry, which eclipsed the pencil of the oriental artists.'-Gibbon, chap. lxv}. He divided the scarlet cloth amongst his women, giving the largest share to his chief wife, named Cano {Mulk Khanum}, who was in this garden with him. The other presents, brought by the ambassador from the Sultan, were not received, but returned to the men who had charge of them, who received them, and kept them for three days, when the lord ordered them to be brought again: because it is the custom not to receive a present until the third day. This house and garden, where the lord received the ambassadors, was called Dilkoosha {Dil-khushi-'Heart's delight.'}, and in it there were many silken tents, and the lord remained there until the following Friday, when he went to another garden, where there was a very rich palace, which he had lately ordered to be built, called Bayginar {Bagh-e-chenar?-'Plane-tree garden,' mentioned by Babur}.