The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Azerbijan


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On Thursday, the last day of August, they came to a great city called Buelo, in the land of Khorassan (Iran/Afganistan) . This city is in a very healthy situation, and was better peopled than any place between it and Sultanieh. They remained here a short time, to obtain barley and provisions, because they were about to cross a desert, fifty leagues in breadth. When they had eaten, they mounted fresh horses to cross the desert, and, departing in the evening, travelled all night. On Friday they travelled all day and night, but could not reach any inhabited place. On Saturday, the 10th of August, at night, they reached a valley, covered with corn fields. A river ran through it, on the banks of which many Chatagai tents were pitched, belonging to the host of Timur Beg, with many sheep, horses, and camels, as in this valley there was much grass. When the ambassadors arrived, they found a knight, who had been sent by the great lord, to do them honour, and provide them with provisions, and to hurry them on their journey, as much as possible. The name of this knight was Mirabozar. He came to the ambassadors, and said that he was sent to guide and assist them; and at this place the ambassadors exchanged the attendance of the first knight whom the lord had sent, for that of this Mirabozar; but the former still continued in their company, with his men, for the sake of food, and fodder for his beasts. The custom was that at any place where they arrived, whether it was a city or a village, they were supplied with much food, fruits, and fodder for horses, being three times as much as they wanted; and men were made to watch the property and horses of the ambassadors day and night, and if any were missing, the people of the place had to make up the loss. If the people, when they arrived, did not bring what was required, they immediately received such a number of blows, with sticks and whips, that it was wonderful. The chiefs of the place were then sent for, and brought before these knights, the first thing they heard of being about blows and whippings. They received a wonderful number, and were told that they knew it to be the command of the great lord that, when ambassadors were on their way to him, they were to receive honour, and everything they required: that the said knights had arrived with these Frank ambassadors, and that they had not found anything ready for them: that the people should pay dearly for such neglect of the orders of the great lord; and that they would know, in future, what to expect when ambassadors arrived, if everything was not ready. When they arrived at any city or village, the first thing which the followers of the knights, who accompanied the ambassadors, did, was to ask for the reis or chief of the place; and they took the first man they met in the street, and, with many blows, forced him to show them the house of the reis. The people who saw them coming, and knew they were troops of Timur Beg, ran away as if the devil was after them, and those who were behind their shops, selling merchandize, shut them up, and fled into their houses; and they said one to another, 'Elchee,' which means ambassador, and that, with the ambassadors, there would come a black day for them. When they arrived at a village, the people brought out all the things that the ambassadors required. You must know that, from the time that they took leave of the son-in-law of the lord, the ambassadors and the ambassador of the Sultan of Babylon travelled in company; and these things were not only done for the ambassadors, but for every one who travelled with orders from the lord. They were to kill anyone who impeded the execution of his orders, and thus it was that the people were in marvellous terror of the lord, and of his servants. In these tents, the knights caused much cooked meat to be placed before the ambassadors, together with rice, milk, cream, and melons, which are good and plentiful in this country. The people of these tents have no other dwelling place, and they wander over the plains, during both winter and summer. In summer they go to the banks of the rivers, and sow their corn, cotton, and melons, which I believe to be the best that can be found in the world. They also sow much millet, which they boil with their milk. In the winter they go to the warm districts. The lord, with all his host, wanders in the same way over the plains, winter and summer. His people do not march all together, but the lord, with his knights and friends, servants and women, go by one road, and the rest of the army by another, and so they pass their lives. These people have many sheep, camels, and horses, and but few cows; and when the lord orders them to march with his army, they go with all that belongs to them, flocks and herds, women and children; and so they supply the host with flocks, especially with sheep, camels, and horses. With these people the lord has performed many deeds, and conquered in many battles; for they are a people of great valour, excellent horsemen, expert with the bow, and enured to hardships. If they have food, they eat; and if not, they suffer cold and heat, hunger and thirst, better than any people in the world. When they have no meat, they feed on milk and water boiled together, and they make their food in this manner:-they fill a great cauldron with water, and, when it is hot, they pour in sour milk, and make a sort of cheese, which is as sour as vinegar. They then take thin cakes of flour, cut them very small, and put them in the cauldron. When this mess is cooked, they take it out, and they go without other food very well, and this is the food upon which they live. They have no wood to cook their food, but they use the dung of the horses and camels; and this food, which has been described to you, is called hax.