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very well satisfied, however, as these particulars concerning manners and habits, help to enliven what would else be, perhaps, merely matter of rather dull description. Now, however, we had better not go in until the next evening, particularly as there is still enough in and about the houses, to give us another chapter of good talk.
Uncle Oliver. Now, then, we are come to the great room of the house, — the divan-khoneh, as they call it. Shall we go in ?
as they Yes, Sir... your shoes, But what
U. O. Off with your shoes, then ! — That's right. — There: in we are! - But what are you about, Frank? - Keep on your cap, we are in Persia, now. Now, lady and gentlemen, I must be the showman, — Is not this fine ?
All. Very fine, Sir.
U. O. Yes, look around. You see this room has an appearance as different as possible from any thing you have been used to in England. The people who have such rooms, and the artists who make them, must have some taste, some refinement, some skill, - must they not?
Jane. Yes, Uncle: it is such a beautiful room!
U. O. Yet you see, also, that the people who have such rooms, show their taste and refine
ment in a very different way from ourselves. Henry, what is the chief difference that strikes you?
Henry. I hardly know, Sir, what to fix on as the principal difference. I will say that our walls are smooth, but these have such a number of — of — cupboards.
U. O. Recesses, — niches. That makes a great difference, indeed. You see there is not any where a large unbroken space, except from the floor three or four feet to the beginning of the niches. In some of the royal palaces, all this large space below the niches is covered with great plates of mirror, and has rather a splendid effect, reflecting and multiplying the richly-dressed princes and lords who assemble there.
Frank. There is nothing of this here.
U. O. No: but what is here deserves your attention. You always see niches of some kind or other. Sometimes you may see them low, square, and deep; not shallow, arched, and high, like these, with rich mouldings above and around them.
H. But what use are they for?
wall into parts, for it would seem very bare without them. Yet, however, you observe that they serve as stands for vases of flowers ; and in more private rooms, — for they are in all rooms, — various articles may be deposited on them, such as cabinet boxes, pots of perfume, and weapons. — But what strikes you, Frank?
F. There is no furniture, Sir.
U. O. Only carpets and cushions. Look at them. They are very rich. But though the room has no furniture, does it look bare ?
All. Not at all, Sir.
U. O. No! — And how is that?— Do you not think that a room of this large size would look intolerably naked, if with no other furniture than it now has, its walls were quite plain, and the ceiling also ?
H. I dare say it would, Sir.
U. O. Then we have the very reason why the Persians make their grand rooms after this fashion. They do not know the use of any other furniture than you see ; yet, feeling that something was wanting to fill and satisfy the eye, they have wisely furnished their walls. Probably, if the same object were sought in England, it would have been by somewhat dif
ferent means; different, I mean, in mode, rather than in principle: for the object of thus filling the eye, could not be better obtained than in some such way as this. Observe what furniture the walls have received. All around are the numerous recesses with paintings within them, and with other paintings, and with mouldings, carvings, arabesques, and cornices, between and above them.
F. Where are the arabesques ?
U. O. Those curious lines, straight and curved, running along, repeated and continued, in various patterns, above and between the niches. Among them, and above or below them, you observe running lines which here and there throw up a straight line, and down a curved one. These are passages from the Koran, or moral sentences, or lines of verse. The Persian and Arabic way of writing is well suited to be thus used for ornament. It is much used for this purpose. Common domestic vessels, of metal, have often a border of this kind of writing. Now see how, above all, rise the arches, or rather domes, which cover this large hall, in numerous coves, forming, as it were, so many other recesses, in agreement with those below. Now,