Observations on the Mussulmauns of India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 594 pages of information about Observations on the Mussulmauns of India.

The Zeenahnah.—­Its interior described.—­Furniture, decorations, &c.—­The Purdah (curtains).—­Bedstead.—­The Musnud (seat of honour).—­Mirrors and ornamental furniture disused.—­Display on occasions of festivity.—­Observations on the Mussulmaun Ladies.—­Happiness in their state of seclusion.—­Origin of secluding females by Mahumud.—­Anecdote.—­Tamerlane’s command prohibiting females being seen in public.—­The Palankeen.—­Bearers.—­Their general utility and contentedness of disposition.—­Habits peculiar to Mussulmaun Ladies.—­Domestic arrangements of a Zeenahnah.—­Dinner and its accompanying observances.—­The Lota and Lugguns.—­The Hookha.—­Further investigation of the customs adopted in Zeenahnahs.

Before I introduce the ladies of a Mussulmaun zeenahnah to your notice, I propose giving you a description of their apartments.

Imagine to yourself a tolerably sized quadrangle, three sides of which is occupied by habitable buildings, and the fourth by kitchens, offices, lumber rooms, &c.; leaving in the centre an open court-yard.  The habitable buildings are raised a few steps from the court; a line of pillars forms the front of the building, which has no upper rooms; the roof is flat, and the sides and back without windows, or any aperture through which air can be received.  The sides and back are merely high walls forming an enclosure, and the only air is admitted from the fronts of the dwelling-place facing the court-yard.  The apartments are divided into long halls, the extreme corners having small rooms or dark closets purposely built for the repository of valuables or stores; doors are fixed to these closets, which are the only places I have seen with them in a zeenahnah or mahul[1] (house or palace occupied by females); the floor is either of beaten earth, bricks, or stones; boarded floors are not yet introduced.

As they have neither doors nor windows to the halls, warmth or privacy is secured by means of thick wadded curtains, made to fit each opening between the pillars.  Some zeenahnahs have two rows of pillars in the halls with wadded curtains to each, thus forming two distinct halls, as occasion may serve, or greater warmth be required:  this is a convenient arrangement where the establishment of servants, slaves, &c., is extensive.

The wadded curtains are called purdahs[2]; these are sometimes made of woollen cloth, but more generally of coarse calico, of two colours, in patchwork style, striped, vandyked, or in some other ingeniously contrived and ornamented way, according to their individual taste.

Besides the purdahs, the openings between the pillars have blinds neatly made of bamboo strips, wove together with coloured cords:  these are called jhillmuns or cheeks.[3] Many of them are painted green; others are more gaudy both in colour and variety of patterns.  These blinds constitute a real comfort to every one in India, as they admit air when let down, and at the same time shut out flies and other annoying insects; besides which the extreme glare is shaded by them,—­a desirable object to foreigners in particular.

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Observations on the Mussulmauns of India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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