The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Azerbijan

Tabriz to Sultanieh

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On Tuesday they slept at a place called Chauscad, in a plain covered with many orchards, vineyards, and fruit trees; and many streams descended from a mountain, which rose up above the plain, and irrigated the gardens. They take quantities of fruit from this town to the city of Tabriz {Tabreez}, and other places. They passed that night in a plain, and most of the road they traversed that day, passed through gardens and vineyards; and the road was level, and it seemed very pleasant to pass through these gardens. On Wednesday, the 11th of June, at the hour of vespers, they arrived at the great city of Tabreez. This city is in a plain, between two high ranges of hills. It is not walled, and the hills on the left hand are very near the city, and are very hot, and the water which descends from them is not wholesome; but those on the right hand are more distant, and they are very cold and capped with snow, and the water which descends from them is very good. These streams come down to the city, and flow through it in various directions. In the range of hills, opposite the city, there are two high rocks, which used to be united, but every year they move further from each other. In the range on the left hand side there is a high hill, which, they say, was once bought by the Genoese, from a ruler whose name was Sultan Veis, for the purpose of building a castle upon it {Sultan Weis was the son of Hosein Boozoorg, a grandson of Arghoun, a ruler of Persia, of the house of Genghis. Hosein founded a dynasty called the 'Eelkhanees of Iraq,' with his capital at Bagdad. Sultan Weis succeeded him in 1356, and invaded Azerbijan; and then it was that the hard bargain was struck with the Genoese, which Clavijo describes. Sultan Weis died in 1374, and was succeeded by his son Ahmed, who passed his life in a fruitless attempt to check the progress of Timur, and was at last obliged to take refuge in Egypt. He was eventually killed by a Turkish chief in 1419}. They add, that after it was sold, he changed his mind, and, when the Genoese wished to build the castle, he sent for them, and told them that it was not the custom for merchants to build castles in his country. He said that they might take their merchandize away, and that if they wanted to build a castle, they might move the hill out of his territory. When they answered him, he ordered their heads to be cut off. From the range pf hills on the right hand, a great river descends towards the city, and is divided into many channels, which flow through the streets. In this city there are many well ordered streets and lanes, where they sell many things. In some of the streets there are very large buildings, with many doors, within which are shops, and there are officers who keep order. From these buildings there are gateways leading to certain streets, where they sell many things, such as cloth, silk, cotton, tafeta, and other stuffs; and this city has a great trade. In one place, in these buildings, there are certain men who sell many kinds of scents and pigments for women; and the women come themselves to buy them, and they paint and anoint themselves. These women go about, covered all over with a white sheet, with a net, made of black horse hair, before their eyes, and thus they are concealed, so that no one can recognize them. In this city there are many grand edifices, especially mosques, which are ornamented very skilfully with mosaics, and blue and gold work, made in Greece. They say that these great works were made by very rich men, who were jealous of each other, and each strove to erect the most wonderful work, and in this way they spent their wealth. Amongst these edifices there was a great house, which was surrounded by a wall, very beautiful and rich, in which there are twenty thousand chambers and apartments; and they say that this house was built by a ruler of Persia, named Sultan Veis; with the treasure that was paid him, as tribute, by the Sultan of Babylon. He called this house Tolbatgana {Dowlat-khanah ?}, which means 'the house of fortune.' This house is well built. The city of Tabreez is very large and rich, owing to the quantity of merchandize that passes through it, every day. They say that in former days it was more populous; but even now there are more than two hundred thousand inhabited houses. There are also many market places, in which they sell very clean and well dressed meat, cooked in a variety of ways, and plenty of fruit. In this city, near an open space, there is a tree quite dry; and they say that, at one time, a Christian bishop came to this city, with a great many Christians, with a cross in his hand, to convert the people to the faith of Jesus Christ, and this was what a Moor, who was a hermit, related. The people of the city saw this with great indignation, and went to cut down this tree; and they gave it three blows with an axe, and those who struck the blows, broke their arms. It is not long since the Moor died, who told this story, and they say that he told many other stories; they even add that when Timur Beg was in the city, he sent for this Moor, who told him this, and many other things. This tree is now in the street, where it stood before, so that no one can remove it. In the streets and squares of this city there are many fountains, and in summer they fill them with pieces of ice, and put many brass and copper jugs near them, so that the people can come and drink. The magistrate of this city, called the Darogah, received the ambassadors very honorably. In this city there are many very rich and beautiful mosques, and the finest baths that, I believe, can be seen in the whole world. The ambassadors remained in the city for nine days, and when they wished to depart, horses were provided for themselves and their retinue. From this place the ruler of the country had horses in readiness, that those who were coming to him, might ride them, and travel day and night, in relays; and thus the post is arranged, all along the road as far as the city of Samarkand. From Tabreez to Babylon is ten days journey, and Baldac is on the right hand side of the road.