Re-Send Password?
Oct 28, '21







I had now leisure and opportunity to look around me, and visit all that appeared to be worthy of notice in or around Saree ; but as the little information I obtained was acquired piecemeal, I shall endeavour to reduce it all into moderate compass in this place.

The city of Saree is doubtless of great antiquity ; it is mentioned by Ferdoosee as a place of importance in the time of his semifabulous heroes ; it is constantly spoken of by later and more authentic historians as the capital of Mazunderan ; and it for some time was the seat of an absolute and independent monarchy. Tradition attributes its foundation to Tahmuras Deevebund, the third monarch of the Paishdadian, or second race of ancient Persian kings, who frequently exercised his power over demons in this province ; but I have not heard any interesting particulars, either relating to this event or its subsequent history, of a nature sufficiently distinct, to relate.

It was for a long time the residence of Aga Mahomed Khan, who, when he fled from Shiraz upon the death of Kurreem Khan the Vukeel, retreated to this province, and established himself at Saree, long before he gained the supreme power. The town may have been more populous and prosperous in former times than it now is ; but there are no traces of its ever having covered more ground. Its circuit does not, I think, exceed two miles ; and it is surrounded by a wall and ditch, which till lately have been suffered to fall so much into disrepair, that a man might, in many places, run down the ditch and up the face of the wall without difficulty.


Some repairs were, however, at this time in progress ; workmen were employed in deepening the ditch and heightening the wall, the interior face of which, to the height of a few feet at top, had been revetted with bricks and clay, pointed and coped with mortar; thus forming a parapet, with a pathway along its top. Square towers, with walls of only two bricks thick, had been built at intervals, and one or two projecting bastions were thrown out to protect the gateways.

This they conceived to be fortifying the town according to the principles of European science ; and the work was to be carried round the whole of it.

There is no attempt at order or regularity within the town. The streets are left altogether unpaved, and are often quite impassable in bad weather, owing to the depth of the mud. In a few places there are small raised footpaths at the sides ; in others, a little

gravel has been thrown down, to render practicable a particularly bad spot : but in most places the passengers are ankle-deep in clay.

Large open spaces are to be met with in many quarters, which are perfect swamps, and which in rainy weather become ponds of water, into which all sorts of filth are thrown. These cannot fail to have a

very prejudicial effect upon the health of the inhabitants ; and the trees, which are numerous in all quarters, possibly add to the evil, by retaining much of this excessive moisture about the houses.

The bazars, which all communicate together, are extremely miserable, consisting of two double rows or lanes of shops, few of them better than huts, which cross each other at right angles, and are covered from the sun and rain by sheds constructed of wood, tiles, and thatch. There are a few rows of booths of a still worse description at the end of these ; and a dirty open space in the vicinity of the bazars serves as a market-place, where every Thursday the produce of the country round, as sugar, cotton, grain, fruit, meat, fish, and vegetables, is brought to be exposed for sale. Articles of consumption were plentiful and cheap ; I did not put down the exact prices.


Cotton of fair quality was sold at one real and a quarter, or one shilling and tenpence sterling, for a maun of seven pounds and a quarter. The sugar was dark, moist, and without grain, and sold at about eightpence the same maun weight.

There is a Jumah Musjid in the town. This term is applied to the principal mosque of any place, and either is derived from Jumah, the Mahometan Sabbath, or from Jumah, which signifies a

crowd, an assembly. That in question is in nowise remarkable, except for a noble old sycamore that overshadows an open space before it. There was another of equal size and antiquity, in the inner court of this mosque, but it was unfortunately destroyed some time ago by fire.

The people here have an idea that whenever this species of tree attains the age of one thousand years, it takes fire and burns spontaneously ; and they believe this to have been the case with the

tree that was destroyed, as both that and the one which still exists were old beyond all tradition. I know not if this idea respecting the self-combustion of the chinar-tree be common throughout the country or not, but it bears a curious resemblance to the fable of the


The palace, which was built by Aga Mahomed Khan, makes no great appearance externally ; but I have been told that it formerly contained much comfortable accommodation ; certainly those parts of it which I saw were far from magnificent. The chief dewankhaneh, or hall of audience, was once fitted up with paintings and mirrors, after the usual Persian taste ; but the former are defaced or faded, and the latter are partly broken or in disrepair. One painting,

representing Shah Ishmael cleaving in twain the Aga of the Janissaries before the Turkish emperor Sultan Solyman, a favourite subject of the Persian pencil, certainly possesses considerable merit.

Some of the groups fighting and struggling in the foreground are drawn with a degree of spirit and execution not often to be seen in Eastern pictures. The walls of the principal public rooms, for three or four feet above the floor, are lined with Tabreez marble, painted with flowers ; and certain rooms of the more private apartments in the interior, into which I was afterwards admitted, were finished in the same taste. All was clean and tolerably spacious, but without any splendour whatever. The whole of this palace, though not regularly fortified, is surrounded by a wall, and capable, to a certain extent, of defence.


There are five medressas or colleges in Saree, none of which are in any way conspicuous ; and there are likewise five public baths of note, besides several smaller, and a few belonging to private individuals. I know of no other public buildings in the place.

The object undoubtedly most worthy of attention in Saree, is a lofty tower, popularly known by the name of Goombuz-e-Selm-e-Toor. It is of cylindrical shape, with a conical top, and rises to the height of about a hundred feet, its internal diameter being some-

what less than thirty. It is hollow throughout the whole of its height, and there does not appear to have been any means of ascending it. A vault or dome, open in the centre, has been thrown across the interior, near the top. The conical roof does not end in a point, but in a broken irregular frustum, which seems to have been surmounted by some further work. This, we were informed, together with some portion of the interior roof, consisted of wood, and was accidentally burnt some time ago; so that it cannot now be judged

whether the timber formed a part of the original structure or not.

The extreme top having thus been destroyed, the whole interior of the tower is open to the day-light ; but there is no other opening for light or entrance, except an arched door-way, over which may yet be seen the ruins of a lofty porch, that extended to a considerable distance from the tower.

This remarkable fabric is built of burnt brick and mortar put together with the most excellent workmanship. The bricks which are flat squares of a dark red, are extremely hard and well made, and

the mortar is now equally indurated with the bricks, so that they cannot be separated without breaking, but are brought away together in great masses. To this circumstance, indeed, the tower owes its safety ; for otherwise it would long since have been pulled to

pieces for the sake of its materials. From the same circumstance, too, a notion has arisen;' which is firmly credited by the town's people, that the mortar was prepared with camel's milk instead of water and that to this it owes its preternatural hardness.


It has several large rents, however, which were attributed to the effects of earthquakes ; and it is said, that Aga Mahomed Khan attempted to destroy it with

cannon; but having fired several shot, the holes of which bear witness to his evil intention, with but little effect, he abandoned the attempt altogether.

The style and architecture of this tower entirely resembles that of various fabrics, which I have described in my travels through Khorasan ; such as the tombs at Damghan, and particularly the Goombuz-e-caoos at Jorjaun. Two belts of inscription in the Cufic character, formed originally of green lacquered bricks, encompass it round; one just under the top, the other, a little below the middle.

These served for ornament, as well as to record the object and date of the building ; the enamel has decayed in many parts, which renders it difficult now to decipher the inscriptions ; but I am told they have

been deciphered, and I learned that from them it is inferred, that this is the tomb of Hussam-u-doulah, a descendant of the Dilemee family of sovereigns, who died in the fifth century of the Hejira. I did not see this translation, nor could the Meerza or any person

then at Saree make out the characters ; but I had no reason to doubt.

This dynasty of sovereigns, also called the Bouides, were the descendants of a poor fisherman, named Aboo Shujah Bouyah, who lived in a small village of Dilem, one of the divisions of ancient Hyrcania, on the banks of the Caspian sea. An account of the extraordinary rise and fortunes of this person's three sons may be seen in Price's History of Mahomed, vol. ii. p. 252. et seq.

Ezz-ul-MooIk, Abu Kalinjer Meerzebaun, also

entitled " Husssim-u-doulah," (Sword of the state,) died in the four hundred and fortieth year of the Heg. ; but it does not appear where. It is probable, however, that as the Bouides reigned over Mazunderiin, their native province, his tomb or mausoleum may have been erected here.

There was another personage, of no small celebrity in his day, who also was entitled Hussam-u-doulah. This was Abul Abbas Tash, who for some time enjoyed the government of Khorasan, under the reign of Ameer Nouh, the seventh monarch of the race of Saman. He was displaced in consequence of a faction, headed by the prime minister of his master, and retired to the protection of Fukher-u-doulah, another of the Dilemee

sovereigns (being the grandson of Aboo Shujah), whose capital appears to have been Rey or Rhages. He made several unsuccessful eiforts to assist his friend Hussam-u-dou-lah; after which the latter retired, and led a private life until A. Heg. 379, when he was cut off by a pestilential disorder. It is difficult to determine which of these two persons this tomb or monument was intended to commemorate. The fact of their having been deciphered.


The conical top was once covered with square tiles laid flat, but they have in many places fallen off; and though it bears a strong resemblance in its general character to the tower at Jorjaun, it is by no means so perfect as that structure.

The interior has been converted into a glass-house, where such coarse bottles, and other articles of that substance, are blown, as the natives can manufacture. The fire which consumed the wood work of the top, is said to have been occasioned by the furnace used for this purpose.

Among the popular traditions held with regard to this tower, it is supposed to be the repository of a mighty treasure secured by a powerful talisman, the secret for obtaining which was discovered by an Indian magician of great skill ; but the conditions of the talis-

man not permitting him to act in person, he employed an agent, like Aladdin, ignorant of the business on which he was sent. To this person the magician entrusted the counterparts of the talisman, which he was carefully to compare with that which he should see in the tower, but he was cautioned particularly against casting his eyes upwards, whatever he might hear going on. The messenger acted according to his instructions, and the moment he had compared the

talismans the spell operated ; a mighty rushing noise took place, and a prodigious number of pigeons flew out of the open archway. This flight however continued so long, that the messenger, wearied with

conjecture, forgot the caution, and looked upwards ; upon which the flight of birds suddenly ceased, and a quantity of golden coin came tumbling about his ears.

The spell had turned the gold into pigeons, which winged their way to the magician's coffers ; but it was

broken by the curiosity of his agent, and the gold was so suddenly restored to its original shape, that even the portion passing in the air fell to the ground ; and no one, since that hour, has been able to discover the remainder of the treasure.


Besides this tower, there is another of similar construction, but more ruinous, and far less lofty, said to be the tomb of a holy seyed. There are also two imaumzadehs, in much the same taste, but more

closelv resembling the tombs at Bostam and Damghan, with conical tops, one of which has been highly adorned with lacquered tile, bearing inscriptions from the Koran. Both seem now to have been transformed into stables for cattle ; three old wooden chests, covering the tombs of the departed saints, were to be seen amongst the dung of these animals, which covered the floor to the depth of several feet.

There can be little doubt, that these tombs, with the Goombuz-e-Selm-e-Toor, are the very buildings which were taken by Hanway for temples of tlie ancient fire worshippers : they are conspicuous above the wall and houses of the town from a distance, and there

never were, as far as I could learn, any other buildings in the place that could answer his description, although I made particular enquiry on the subject ; and there certainly are no ruins in or near the town, that could have belonged to any thing of the kind.

Near these tombs there is a very fine old abumbara, or covered water cistern, of immense size, which is always used in the hot weather, and from its great depth and capacity, and the thickness of its vaulted roof, which protects the water from the heat of the sun, it is always cool and refreshing. Several of these ancient cisterns are to be found in different quarters of the town ; and there is one of modern date, built, as I was informed, by the mother of Mahomed Koolee

Meerza. They use another method in this place for cooling their water, which I had not before seen ; a tall and straight tree being selected, they cut off most of the branches, and fasten a tall pole to its top, so as to form a sort of high mast ; to the top of this, pulleys are fixed, by which, with cords, they hoist up earthen jars filled with water ; the current of air at that height from the earth is said to cool these rapidly.

There are several ancient Imaumzadehs and tombs of saints in the vicinity of Saree, particularly one in a village close to the bridge over the Thedjen, and one called Imaumzadeh Caussim, at the foot of the hills, a few miles distant from town. I frequently employed

a portion of the forenoon in visiting these places, but they had little of novelty to make them worth describing. They closely resembled the tombs at Saree and Bostam, being round, square, or octagonal

towers, with high conical tops, and probably might date from about the same period.


Their greatest interest arose from situation : they

were built in recesses of the hills by rivulets, or in groves of noble trees, and were always picturesque : but as that which is interesting to the view will often fatigue in repeated descriptions, I have been silent on many scenes that gave me much pleasure, because I found it impossible to transfer to paper that charm which they received from natural beauty.

For a like reason I omit the description of several gardens near Saree, the delight of its former sovereigns. Persian gardens have little of variety at best, and these are chiefly hastening to decay, because the prince, who inherits to an excessive degree, the family failing of stinginess, will not consent to any outlay, even with a profitable result in prospect. lie has himself established a garden,

which is well stocked with fruit-trees, but which, in other respects, is paltry.

I have found that my attempts to ascertain the population of Saree were attended with the imperfect result too common to such enquiries. According to the best accounts, the town contains between three and four thousand houses; but as it is the seat of a court, and the residence of several noblemen attached to it, many of these houses contain from twenty to one hundred persons, so that a higher average than usual must be allowed to each house ; probably there may be thirty to forty thousand souls within the walls. The revenues received from the town are but small, as indeed they are from the whole province of Mazunderan, including Astrabad ; for, as the king places more confidence in the natives of these

provinces, than in those of any other part of his dominions, he commutes the monied revenues for the service of twelve thousand of Funchees, and four thousand horsemen, who should be in readiness for service at all times. The pay of the foot soldiers,

I think, is fixed at five, and of the horsemen at eight tomauns a-year; a sum insufficient to maintain the men, were it even regularly paid ; but this is by no means the case, and they remain in their own

villages employed in agriculture, or trades, like the rest of the inhabitants, seldom or never called upon for duty.


The prince retained only about five hundred horse within call, and even they are but seldom summoned ; for he, like every member of the royal family entrusted with a government, entertains a body of gholaums, or

confidential guards, in constant pay, who perform the routine of duty, and execute all services of importance : the others are only called out occasionally, when the prince requires an unusual display, or upon any sudden emergency.

The truth is, that Mazunderan, in common with the greater part of Persia, having for many years been unassailed by foreign enemies, its rulers, as well as its inhabitants, have naturally forgot their warlike habits, and have become so unaccustomed to all military arrangements, that they seem to have lost sight of the wisdom, if not the necessity of providing against future contingencies. And if danger were imminent, it is more than possible, that the improvident aversion to all sorts of outlay which characterises the royal family, and is one great bane of Persia, would in this place, as elsewhere, prevent any expenditure for the purpose of entertaining an

effective body of troops.

I observed about twenty topechees, or artillery men, exercising on a plain before one of the gates ; it was understood that the prince intended to augment these to fifty, and to place them in charge of about twenty pieces of cannon that are attached to Mazunderan and Astrabad. These are at best very inefficient; and Mazunderan, happily for itself, does not require such defences ; its best bulwarks are, its bewildering and impenetrable forests, its swamps, its thickly intersected country, its deep roads ; its climate, which, when rainy and foggy, increases its natural difficulties ; when dry and fair above, is unwholesome or fatal to strangers. Finally, its men always brave, formerly expert in the use of arms, and who would still, if

treated with humanity and kindness, become attached and steady soldiers.

The weather, during the time I remained at Saree, was by no means such as to impress me with a favourable opinion of its climate.

(From tope, a gun.)


Out of thirteen days which I spent in the town and neighbourhood, not more than three were really fine, the rest were cloudy and rainy. The thermometer was pretty stationary at 56° ; one morning, during a cold wind from the mountains, it sunk to 54°, while in the

fine and sunny weather it rose to 64° and 65". I tried Leslie's hygrometer during one of the finest of these days, when it sunk only to 40°. Rain is observed generally to come from the Caspian ; — when

it is dark in that quarter, the inhabitants are sure of wet weather, and when clear to the seaward, whatever clouds may hang over the mountains in the south-west, they are nearly sure of fine weather; and the mountains soon become clear in their turn.

It appears, from all the information I could procure on the subject, that the climate of Mazunderan, in general, is capricious, not naturally divided into wet and dry, cold and hot seasons. I have been told by many of the inhabitants, that it sometimes sets in fair for three months at a time, but these same three months in the ensuing year may be wet. The climate, however, on the whole, may certainly be termed a wet one, for there is not a month of the year, in which

the inhabitants can rely on dry weather. The months of winter and spring, that is to say, from December to April, inclusive, are the wettest. It is the same with regard to cold; in the middle of winter, the inhabitants are sometimes forced to throw off their warm clothing, and at other times, in the hottest period of summer, to have recourse to their poosteens or sheepskin cloaks, and furs. Snow often falls heavily, and though it does not remain so long as in the upper country, to the south, it is a mistake to think that it does not lie at

all. Two years before my visit, nearly all the cypress-trees in and about Saree, were broken down and destroyed by a heavy fall of snow ; and they had by no means recovered at this time. The cold of summer is damp and unwholesome, causing many diseases. Rheumatisms and dropsies are common ; and complaints of the eyes still more so. I saw many cases of cataract, others with white specks,

thicknesses of the external coats and vessels, and frequently a strange loss of sight, without much appearance of external disease.


Many of the inhabitants certainly had a sallow look, but others were remarkably stout and athletic. Were I to judge of the character and disposition of the Mazunderanees from my own experience, I should not have much to say in their favour. The highest of the nobles, who have spent great part of their life in service at court, and out of their own province, partake of the general characteristics of the Persian nobility. Those of a secondary class, in common with all who rank a little above the vulgar, are vain, ignorant, and arrogant ; they consider themselves as

persons of mighty importance, superior to all strangers, with whom, indeed, they dislike to hold any intercourse ; and as to paying the least attention to a "Kaffer Feringhee," or unbelieving Frank, the

idea would never present itself to their minds. I, at least, had no reason to boast of the attention I received from the Mazunderanees ; not one of the nobles visited me, except those whom their station in

the prince's service, or accidental circumstances, compelled to do so ; nor do I believe they would have done even this, however long I might have remained, unless led by curiosity, or the hope of advantage.

Their ignorance of every thing beyond their own province is profound, to a degree hardly credible ; and is often evinced by absurd questions or surmises, which appear the more ludicrous from the grave air of pretention with which they are uttered. Their bigotry

in religious matters is great, but it is chiefly in forms ; for there are few who do not transgress every article of inhibition — all of them drink strong liquors, and eat opium : the prince himself, with all his suite, regale themselves unreservedly with the Maiv-ul-Hyat.

The poorer classes are extremely ignorant, and, according to our ideas, can be considered but very slightly civilized. The eager curiosity with which they surround and question a stranger, reminded me of the Highlanders of Scotland ; but they have not the native politeness and civility of our countrymen.

This is a spirit distilled from vegetable substances, oranges, sugar, &c. which those who love to indulge in such draughts, choose to consider lawful {Hullaid), because it is not wine or distilled from wine ; it is a strong aromatic spirit, as intoxicating as any other of the usual proof.


Wherever they meet a stranger, they interrogate him most closely as to his business, his country, his religion, his name, whence he is come, and whither he is going ; and these questions are put in a tone and manner that claim a right to be answered, and are often very disagreeable ; for it is not always

possible to parry them with good humour, or to answer them with safety. This does not proceed from an insolent disposition, but is the effect of custom ; they have been used to ask these questions unchecked, and can see no impropriety in urging them in all cases.

Those among them who pretend to education, particularly the Moollahs, are very fond of engaging a stranger in religious discussions ; but as they are not over cautious in restraining their temper when they have the worst of the argument, it is a description of conversation which the traveller should avoid. They are by no means so respectful in their demeanour as the peasantry in those parts of Persia more frequented by strangers. They will attempt, for instance, to gratify their curiosity by looking over your shoulder when you are drawing or writing ; sometimes they will seat themselves by your side, when you are busily occupied in any thing they desire to understand ; will laugh loud, without respect for your presence, if what they observe happens to please them ; and, in short, are frequently disagreeably familiar ; but this, I think, proceeds from ignorance, and not from any disposition to insult.

In their appearance, the inhabitants of Mazunderan differ from those of the rest of Persia only in being generally of a darker complexion ; and very swarthy or almost black men are met with oftener here than in other places. The high and hard brown features of the peasantry, grinning from under the cap instead of the bonnet, often reminded me of those of Scotland. The lower and middling classes, when their beard becomes grizzled, generally prefer dyeing it with hinna, which changes it to a fiery red colour, instead of indigo leaves, the dye commonly used in other parts of Persia, which gives it a deep black hue : the majority of elderly people are to be seen with these red beards. Their dress differs little in essentials from the national Persian garb.


Every man who travels, whether mounted or on foot, clothes himself in a pair of shulwars, or immense trunk trousers, into which the skirts of his ulcaluc or vest are stuffed, and the fore-skirts of the kabba or outer robe being tucked up, the back-skirts left hanging look like those of a coat or jacket. They bind

their legs in rolls of cloth instead of stockings, and their feet are cased in a pair of shoes called charuck, made after the fashion of the Koords, like leather bags drawn round the instep and ankle, in puckers, by a thong.

The women here, as elsewhere, use the chudder or veil thrown over their person when they go out ; these are made of silk, or of cotton cloth checked ; the check is sometimes blue, in large squares, sometimes red, and occasionally red and green. They draw upon their legs a sort of stocking called chakchor, which takes in the trousers like a boot ; and over these they wear the usual green and high-heeled slipper. It is surprising to see through what deep mud

they can make their way without soiling their stockings, or without even dirtying their shoes very much.

Sari, Iran

Sari (Persian: About this soundساری‎; also romanized as Sārī), also known as Shahr-e-Tajan and Shari-e-Tajan, is the provincial capital of Mazandaran Province and former capital of Iran (for a short period), located in the north of Iran, between the northern slopes of the Alborz Mountains and southern coast of the Caspian Sea. Sari is the largest and most populous city of Mazandaran.,_Iran

Mazandaran Province

Mazandaran Province (About this soundpronunciation (help·info), Persian: استان مازندران‎ Ostān-e Māzandarān) and (Mazanderani: مازرون‎ Māzerun), is an Iranian province located along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea and in the adjacent Central Alborz mountain range, in central-northern Iran.

The Resket Tower (Persian:برج رسکت), officially dated to the 11th century and described as having been originally built at the site of a meteor impact, is located in the city environs of Sari located in Mazandaran province in northern Iran.

The Resket Tower is a cylindrical tower built of bricks and is topped with an (somewhat elongated) conical dome.The tower is approximately 15 meters at its base and stands at 18 meters in height. The tower’s interior features a cylindrical chamber.

Interestingly this tower has both Sassanian (Middle Persian or Pahlavi) as well as early Kufic inscriptions. This would seem curious as the Sassanian empire had fallen by 651 CE, however northern Iran resisted the caliphates well into the 800s CE. The region (and the historical Azerbaijan in northwest Iran) retained strong cultural links with Iran’s pre-Islamic Sassanian past, even past the 800s CE which may explain the Pahlavi inscriptions on the tower.

The inscriptions on Resket Tower state that this is a tomb belonging to princes – and – of the local north Iranian Bavandid dynasty (651-1349). The Bavandids held sway in much northern Iran, known as Tabaristan at the time. As noted previously, much of Iran’s indigenous pre-Islamic identity was maintained, even as the Bavandids were reduced to vassal status.

“So magnificent these inscriptions! Of course, the late conversion of the Caspian region is evidenced in this grand relic. It was in the following century that the Buyids poured out of neighboring Daylam, Gilan, to take over the caliphate and further Persianize it (given that the Abbasid caliphs themselves were Persian in every way but the language). Then farther west one had the Khurramiyya, who were a continuation of Mazdak’s movement, their very name reflecting both Mazdak’s and later Babak’s emphasis on ‘joy’ as an essential principle, expressed in the name of Mazdak’s wife, Khurram, as well. With her vigorously bold and eloquent defense of her martyred husband’s views, she was a model for Zaynab defending her brother in the time to come.

And of course, this was the era of the 9th-century Pahlavi books, representing an outpouring of work in that tongue far vaster than anything the Sassanians had written. The galvanizing of the non-literate Persians into the most massive writing activity in the world in both Pahlavi and Arabic (New Persian coming only a couple of centuries later) is one of the great wonders of world history in expressing the results of a revolution in Iran compared to which the Bolshevik one in Russia was no more than a tea party.”


Oct 28, '21
No Comments Available
Raven Echo © 2010 - 2022
Founded by Ian Ballie PHD
Designed by Jay Graham