Yezd, in pre-Mahomedan times, was a great sanctuary of the Gueber worship, though now it is a seat of fanatical Mahomedanism. It is, however, one of the few places where the old religion lingers. In 1859 there were reckoned 850 families of Guebers in Yezd and fifteen adjoining villages, but they diminish rapidly.
[Heyd (Com. du Levant, II. p. 109) says the inhabitants of Yezd wove the finest silk of Taberistan.—H. C.] The silk manufactures still continue, and, with other weaving, employ a large part of the population. The Yazdi, which Polo mentions, finds a place in the Persian dictionaries, and is spoken of by D’Herbelot as Kumash-i-Yezdi, “Yezd stuff.” ["He [Nadir Shah] bestowed upon the ambassador [Hakeem Ataleek, the prime minister of Abulfiez Khan, King of Bokhara] a donation of a thousand mohurs of Hindostan, twenty-five pieces of Yezdy brocade, a rich dress, and a horse with silver harness....” (Memoirs of Khojah Abdulkurreem, a Cashmerian of distinction ... transl. from the original Persian, by Francis Gladwin ... Calcutta, 1788, 8vo, p. 36.)—H. C.]
Yezd is still a place of important trade, and carries on a thriving commerce with India by Bandar Abbasi. A visitor in the end of 1865 says: “The external trade appears to be very considerable, and the merchants of Yezd are reputed to be amongst the most enterprising and respectable of their class in Persia. Some of their agents have lately gone, not only to Bombay, but to the Mauritius, Java, and China.”
(Ilch. I. 67-68; Khanikoff, Mem. p. 202; Report by Major R. M. Smith, R.E.)
Friar Odoric, who visited Yezd, calls it the third best city of the Persian Emperor, and says (Cathay, I. p. 52): “There is very great store of victuals and all other good things that you can mention; but especially is found there great plenty of figs; and raisins also, green as grass and very small, are found there in richer profusion than in any other part of the world.” [He also gives from the smaller version of Ramusio’s an awful description of the Sea of Sand, one day distant from Yezd. (Cf. Tavernier, 1679, I. p. 116.)—H. C.]
NOTE 2.—I believe Della Valle correctly generalises when he says of Persian travelling that “you always travel in a plain, but you always have mountains on either hand” (I. 462). [Compare Macgregor, I. 254: “I really cannot describe the road. Every road in Persia as yet seems to me to be exactly alike, so ... my readers will take it for granted that the road went over a waste, with barren rugged hills in the distance, or near; no water, no houses, no people passed.”—H. C.] The distance from Yezd to Kerman is, according to Khanikoff’s survey, 314 kilometres, or about 195 miles. Ramusio makes the time eight days, which is probably the better reading, giving a little over 24 miles a day. Westergaard in 1844, and Khanikoff in 1859, took ten days; Colonel Goldsmid and Major Smith in 1865 twelve. ["The distance from Yezd to Kerman by the present high road, 229 miles, is by caravans, generally made in nine stages; persons travelling with all comforts do it in twelve stages; travellers whose time is of some value do it easily in seven days.” (Houtum-Schindler, l.c. pp. 490-491.)—H. C.]