The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Vii. The City of Samarkand

Bibi Khanum Mosque

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In this city of Samarkand there is much merchandize, which comes every year from China, India, Tartary, and many other parts; and as there is not a place for the orderly and regular display of the merchandize for sale, the lord ordered that a street should be made in the city, with shops for the sale of merchandize. This street was commenced at one end of the city, and went through to the other. He entrusted this work to two of his Meerzas, and let them know that if they did not use all diligence to complete it, working day and night, their heads should answer for it. These Meerzas began to work, by pulling down such houses as stood in the line by which the lord desired the street to run, and as the houses came down, their masters fled with their clothes and all they had; then, as the houses came down in front, the work went on behind. They made the street very broad, and covered it with a vaulted roof, having windows at intervals to let in the light {One of the peculiarities of Samarkand is that each trade has its own bazaar. Very excellent paper is manufactured here, and another production of art is the kermezi (crimson velvet).-Babur's Memoirs}. As soon as the shops were finished, people were made to occupy them, and sell their goods; and at intervals in this street there were fountains. A great number of workmen came into the city, and those who worked in the daytime, were relieved by others who worked all night. Some pulled down houses, others levelled the ground, and others built the street; and day and night they made such a noise, that they seemed to be like so many devils. This great work was finished in twenty days, which was very wonderful; and the owners of the houses which were pulled down went to certain Cayris {Syuds ? Descendants of the prophet}, who were friends of the lord; and one day, when they were playing at chess with the lord, they said that, as he had caused those houses to be destroyed, he ought to make some amends to the owners. Upon this he got into a rage, and said, 'This city is mine, and I bought it with my money, and possess the letters for it, which I will show you to-morrow; and, if it is right, I will pay the people, as you desire.' When he had spoken, the Cayris were afraid, and they were surprised that he did not order them to be killed, or punished for having thus spoken; and they replied that all that the lord did was right, and that all his commands ought to be obeyed.