The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Azerbijan

Garden tents Samarkand

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On Tuesday, the 7th of October, the lord ordered another great feast to be prepared, and the ambassadors were present. This feast was given in one of the enclosures, of which you have heard. He ordered the ambassadors to be brought to the great tent, where he gave them a feast, according to custom. After the eating was over, two of the most confidential friends of the lord, who regulated his household, named Xamelique Meerza, and Nooreddin Meerza, gave the lord a present, which consisted of many silver stands, with long legs, on which were sweetmeats, and sugar, and raisins, and almonds; and on some of the stands there was a piece of silk. These presents were brought in nines, and such is the custom when presents are brought to the lord, that they should be in nines, or consist of nine things. The lord divided this present amongst the knights who stood before him; and he ordered the ambassadors to be given two of those which contained the silk. When they rose, they scattered pieces of money, and small chaplets of thin gold, amongst the people; and when the eating was over, the company returned to their lodgings. On Wednesday the lord ordered another great feast to be prepared, and invited the ambassadors; and on this day there was a great wind, so the lord did not come out to eat in the open air, but ordered that those who desired it, should be fed. The ambassadors did not want to eat, and returned to their lodgings. On Thursday, the 9th of October, Hausada, the wife of Miran Meerza, the eldest son of the lord, gave a great feast, to which she invited the ambassadors, and it was given in the enclosure of tents which was set apart for her use, and which was very beautiful. When the ambassadors came near the tents, they found a very long row of jars of wine placed on the ground. The ambassadors were admitted into a tent, and ordered to sit down at the door, under an awning. The said Hausada, and many other ladies, were seated at the door of a large tent, under an awning. On this day there was a marriage of one of her relations. Hausada herself was about forty years of age, fair and fat, and before her there were many jars of wine, and of a beverage of which they drink much, called bosat, made of cream and sugar. There were also many knights and relations of Timur Beg, and jugglers, who were performing before her. When the ambassadors arrived, the ladies were drinking, and the way they drink is this:-an old knight, a relation of the lord, and two small boys, his relations, serve the cup, before Hausada, and before the other ladies, in this manner,-they hold white napkins in their hands, and those who pour out the wine, pour it into small golden cups, which they place on flat plates of gold. Those who serve the wine, then come forward, with the pourers-out behind, and when they have got half way, they touch the ground three times with their right knees. When they come near to the ladies, they take the cups, with their hands wrapped in the white napkins, so that they may not touch the cups, and present them kneeling, to the ladies who are going to drink. When the ladies have taken the cups, those who bring the wine, remain with the flat plates in their hands, and walk backwards, so as not to turn their backs to the ladies. As soon as they are at a little distance, they bend their right knees again, and remain there. When the ladies have finished drinking, the attendants go, before them, and the ladies place the cups on the plates which they hold. You must not think that this drinking is of short duration, for it lasts a long time, without eating. Sometimes, when these attendants are before the ladies, with their cups, the ladies order them to drink, and they kneel down, and drink all that is in the cups, turning them upside down, to shew that nothing is left; and on these occasions they describe their prowess in this respect, at which all the ladies laugh. Cano, the wife of Timur Beg, came to this feast, and sometimes the company drank wine, and at others they drank cream and sugar. After the drinking had lasted a long time, Cano called the ambassadors before her, and gave them to drink with her own hand, and she importuned Ruy Gonzalez for a long time, to make him drink, for she would not believe that he never touched wine. The drinking was such that some of the men fell down drunk before her; and this was considered very jovial, for they think that there can be no pleasure without drunken men. They also brought great quantities of roasted sheep and horses, and other dressed meats; and they eat all this with much noise, tearing the pieces away from each other, and making game over their food. They also brought rice, cooked in various ways, and tarts made with flour, sugar, and herbs; and besides the meat brought in basins, there were other pieces on skins, for those who wanted them. This Hausada is the wife of Miran Meerza. She was of the lineage of the old emperors, and for this reason Timur Beg treats her with great respect. She has borne one son to Miran Meerza, named Khuleel Sultan, now about twenty years of age. On Thursday, the 9th of October, the lord ordered a great feast to be prepared, to celebrate the marriage of one of his grandsons; to which the ambassadors were invited. It was given in a very beautifully ornamented enclosure, containing many tents, and Cano, the chief wife of the lord, Hausada, and many other ladies and knights, were present. There was an enormous supply of cooked horses and sheep, according to their custom. Much wine was drunk, and they made very merry. The ladies drank their wine in the same way as they had done the day before. For the sake of more merriment, the lord sent orders to Samarkand, that all the traders in the city, the cooks and butchers, bakers and shoemakers, and all other people in the city, should come to the plain where the lord was encamped with his horde, pitch their tents, and sell their goods there, instead of in the city. He then ordered that each trade should play a game, and go through the camp, that his people might be amused. All the tradesmen, therefore, came out of the city, with all their goods, and peopled the plain, each trade in a different street of tents; and each trade played a game, and went through the horde, for the amusement of the people {On this occasion Timur caused all sorts of amusements to be enjoyed. An amphitheatre was covered with carpets, where there were masquerades. The women were dressed like goats, others like sheep and fairies, and they ran after each other. The skinners and butchers appeared like lions and foxes, and all other tradesmen contributed specimens of their skill. At this time Ulugh Beg and Ibrahim, grandsons of Timur, were married; and a great feast was given to all the people, with abundance of wine and fruit.-Ali of Yezd}. In the place where these traders had pitched their tents, the lord ordered a great number of gallows to be set up; and declared that, in this festival, he knew how to be merciful and kind to some, and how to be severe to others. The first piece of justice was inflicted upon a chief magistrate, whom they call Dina, who was the greatest officer in all the land of Samarkand. Timur had left him in the city as his magistrate, when he departed, for six years and eleven months; during which time this man had neglected his duties; so the lord ordered him to be hanged, and confiscated all his goods {Ali of Yezd mentions that two Wuzeers were hanged for committing injustice, on the return of Timur to Samarkand}. The justice inflicted upon this great man, caused terror amongst the people; and the same punishment was ordered to be inflicted upon another man, who had interceded for this magistrate. A councillor of the lord, named Burado Meerza, asked for his pardon, if he paid a sum of four hundred thousand bezants of silver, each bezant being equal to a silver rial. The lord approved of this, and when the man had given all he had, he was tormented to give more, and as he had no more, he was hung up by the feet until he was dead. Another piece of justice was inflicted upon a great man, who had been left in charge of three thousand horses, when the lord departed; because he could not produce them all. He was hanged, although he pleaded that he would produce, not only three thousand, but six thousand horses, if the lord would give him time. In this, and other ways, the lord administered justice. He also ordered justice to be executed upon certain traders, who had sold meat for more than it was worth, and upon shoemakers; and other traders were fined for selling their goods at a high price. The custom is, that, when a great man is put to death, he is hanged; but the meaner sort are beheaded.