—Kasvin grapes —Persian wine —Vineyards in Persia —Wine manufacture —Mount Demavend —Afshar volcanic region —Quicksilver and gold —Tehran water-supply —Village quarrels —Vendetta —Tehran tramways —Bread riots —Mint and copper coin.
The grape harvest was being gathered at Kasvin as we passed through. The place is well known for its extensive vineyards and fine fruit-gardens. Its golden grapes have a wide reputation, and these, with the white species, also grown there, are in steady demand for wine manufacture, which is carried on in the town, notwithstanding the greatly disproportionate number of Moullas among the inhabitants. Large quantities of the grapes are also sent to Tehran for wine purposes there. Persia keeps up the character for strong wine which it had 600 B.C., when the Scythian invaders took to it so eagerly as to establish the saying, ‘As drunk as a Scythian.’ It was said that these hard-headed, deep-drinking, wild warriors were always thirsting for ‘another skinful,’ and were ever ready to declare that the last was always the best. Eighteen hundred years later, Hafiz, the merry poet, sang aloud the praises of Shiraz wine, which to this day bears a high reputation in Persia, a reputation which was royally good in the traditional bygone time long before Cyrus, when it appears to have been highly appreciated in the festivities of Glorious Jamshed, the founder of Persepolis. The poet Omar Khayyam, in moralizing over the ruins of the fallen splendour of that famous place, speaks in Fitzgerald’s ‘Rubaiyat’:
’They say the lion and the lizard
The Court where Jamshed gloried and drank deep.’