The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Azerbijan

Sultanieh to Tehran

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This city of Sultanieh is very populous, but it is not so large as Tabreez, though it possesses more trade. Every year, especially in the months of June, July, and August, very large caravans of camels arrive, with great quantities of merchandize. They mean the same as we do by the word caravan, namely, a drove of beasts. This city has a great traffic, and yields a large revenue to the lord. Every year many merchants come here from India, with spices, such as cloves, nutmegs, cinnamon, manna, mace, and other precious articles, which do not go to Alexandria. Also all the silk which is made in Gheelan comes here, and Gheelan is a province near the sea of Baku, where much silk is made every year {The raw silk of Gheelan is still the most important Persian article of export. In 1844 the quantity of silk produced in Gheelan weighed more than one million pounds, and was worth £450,000.-Sir J. Sheil}. This silk of Gheelan is sent to Damascas, and Syria, and Turkey, and many other countries. Also there arrives all the silk which is made in the province of Xamahi, and merchants come here for silk, even Venetians and Genoese. This land is so hot that when any foreign merchant is struck by the sun, he is killed; and they say that when the sun strikes anyone, it presently penetrates to his heart and kills him, burning his back very much; and those who escape, almost always remain quite yellow, and never return to their proper colour. There also arrive in this city many silken cloths, cottons, tafetas, and other stuffs from a land called Shiraz, which is near India, and from Yesen, and Serpi; and from Khorassan (Iran/Afganistan) there come cotton threads, and cotton cloths, woven in many colours. This land of Khorassan (Iran/Afganistan) is a great territory, which extends from Tartary to India. Many precious stones also arrive in this city of Sultanieh. From China vessels come within sixty days journey of this city, having navigated the western sea, which is the sea which bounds this land; and they come to a river, which is ten days journey from the city of Ormuz {The river Minav, opposite the island of Ormuz (Hormoz or Hormuz), is navigable for small vessels, for a few miles; but Clavijo obtained all this interesting information respecting the great mart of the Persian gulf, from hearsay}. The ships and boats which navigate this sea have no iron; but their timbers are joined with cords and wooden pegs; for if they were united with iron, they would soon be torn to pieces by the loadstones, of which there are many in that sea {This corroborates the story of Sindbad the Sailor. See the introduction to 'India in the Fifteenth Century,' published by the Hakluyt Society}. These ships bring many pearls, and some of them bring rubies, (which are very fine in China), and much spice; and from Ormuz these things are sent to all parts of the world. Most of the pearls are found in that sea of China, and they bring them to the city of Ormuz, to be pierced and cut; and the Moorish and Christian merchants say that they know of no place where the pearls can be pierced, except this city of Ormuz (Hormoz or Hormuz). The city of Sultanieh is sixty days journey from the city of Ormuz. They also say that these pearls are formed in large shells, which they call jacares; and those who come from China, and from Ormuz, say that the pearl is formed in the shells, which are large, and as white as paper. They bring them to this city of Sultanieh, and to Tabreez, where they make girdles and rings of them. All the merchants who come from the land of the Christians, from Caffa, and Trebizond, and the merchants of Turkey and Syria, come every year, at this time, to the city of Sultanieh, to make their purchases. This city is situated in a plain, and many channels of water pass through it, and in it there are many well ordered streets, where the people sell their merchandize. In this city there are several large inns, where the merchants lodge. The city is surrounded by very extensive and populous plains; and on the right hand there are some mountains, and beyond them is a land called Kurdistan. These mountains are very wild, and there is snow upon them all the year round. On the left hand there is another range of hills, which are very hot, and behind them is the province of Gheelan, and the sea of Baku {The Caspian}, which is surrounded by land, and is not connected with any other sea whatever; and it is six days journey from Sultanieh to the sea of Baku. Diamonds are found, on some islands in the sea of Baku. Snow never falls in the land of Gheelan, because it is so hot; and it produces many citrons, lemons, and oranges. The city of Sultanieh has a great traffic, and yields a large yearly revenue to the lord; and this city, with Tabreez, and the empire of Persia, was formerly governed by Miran Meerza, the eldest son of Timur Beg, but he has been deprived, for the following reasons:-Miran Meerza, being the ruler of this land, had many knights with him, and a large army, which his father had given him. Being in the city of Tabreez, he ordered a great number of houses, mosques, and fine buildings to be destroyed, and many were pulled down. He then went to Sultanieh, ordered the same to be done there, took his father's treasure out of the castle, and divided it amongst his followers. Outside the city, a little apart, there was a very fine edifice, built by a great knight, who lies interred within it {Probably the tomb of Khodah Bundah}. Miran Meerza ordered this also to be destroyed, and the body of the great knight to be cast out. He is said to have done these things in a fit of madness, and to have said,-'I am the son of the greatest man in the world. What deed shall I perform in these cities, that I may be remembered after I am dead ?' and when he saw that he could perform no deed, equal to those which had been done before, he said, 'How shall I be had in remembrance, when I am gone ?' and he ordered all these edifices to be destroyed; that men might say 'Miran Meerza did nothing himself, but he caused the grandest works in the world to be destroyed.' When his father, who was then in Samarkand, heard this, he set out for the country which his son governed; and when his son heard that he was coming, he put a rope round his neck, and came to his father, and asked for pardon. His father would have killed him, but his relations asked him to shew mercy, and prayed so hard, that he pardoned him; but he deprived him of his government, and of his army. He then sent for one of his grandsons, a son of this Miran Meerza, named Abubeker Meerza, and said to him,-'Thy father hath erred, take thou his land, and his government.' The grandson answered, 'Sire, it is not the will of God that I should take the possession of my father, for you will repent of your anger, and restore him.' Timur Beg then called for another son of Miran Meerza, who took the government from his father. This prince is now in opposition to his father and brother, and they wish to kill him, as you will presently hear {Ali of Yezd says that Miran Meerza, the ruler of Azerbijan, having lost his senses from a fall from his horse, committed all kinds of enormities, and passed his time in drinking and revels; and that this conduct obliged Timur to take the field in A.D. 1399}. After this transaction, Timur Beg took the cities of Babylon, Aleppo, and Baldac from the sultan of Babylon, and gave them to his grandson, who refused to take the government from his father. This son, and his father live in these cities, and have done so since the father was deprived of his government, for Abubeker Meerza is very obedient to his father. When Miran Meerza did these things, he had a woman with him, named Gansada. She left him in disguise, and travelled day and night until she came to Timur Beg, whom she informed of what his son had done; for which he deprived his son of the government, as you have heard. This Gansada remained with Timur, and he treated her honourably, not allowing her to return to her husband; but Miran Meerza has a son by her, named Khulleel Sultan {The successor of Timur, at Samarkand}. This Miran Meerza is forty years of age, a large, corpulent, and gouty man. The ambassadors were in this city of Sultanieh for three days.