, pub-5063766797865882, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 The Sultan’s Banquet, c. 1050 ~ Ancient Egypt Facts

May 4, 2012

The Sultan’s Banquet, c. 1050

The Sultan’s Banquet, c. 1050
Naser-e Khosraw

It is customary for the Sultan to have a banquet twice a year, on the two great holidays, and to hold court for both the elite and the common people: the elite in his presence and the commoners in other halls and places. Having heard a great deal about these banquets, I was very anxious to see one with my own eyes, so I told one of the Sultan’s clerks, with whom I had struck up a friendship, that I had seen the courts of the Persian sultans, such as Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna and his son Mas’ud, who were great potentates enjoying much prosperity and luxury, and now I wanted to see the court of the Prince of the Faithful. He therefore spoke a word to the chamberlain, who was called the Saheb al-Setr.

The last of Ramadan 440 (8 March 1049) the hall was decorated for the next day, which was the festival, when the Sultan was to come after prayer and preside over the feast. Taken by my friend, as I entered the door of the hall, I saw constructions, galleries and porticos that would take too long to describe accurately. There were twelve square structures, built one next to the other, each more dazzling than the last. Each measured one hundred cubits square, and one was a thing one hundred metres square with a dais placed the entire length of the building at a height of four ells, on three sides all of gold, with hunting and sporting scenes depicted thereon and also an inscription in marvellous calligraphy. All the carpets and pillows were of Byzantine brocade and buqalmuti, each woven exactly to the measurements of its place. There was an indescribable lattice-work balustrade of gold along the sides. Beside the dais and next to the wall were silver steps. The dais itself was such that if this book were nothing from beginning to end but a description of it, words would still not suffice.

They say that fifty thousand maunds of sugar were appropriated for the Sultan’s feast. For decoration on the banquet table I saw a confection like an orange tree, every branch and leaf of which had been executed in sugar, and thousands of images and statuettes in sugar. The Sultan’s kitchen is outside the palace, and there are always fifty slaves attached to it. There is a subterranean passageway between the building and the kitchen, and the provisioning is such that every day fourteen camel-loads of ice are sued in the royal sherbet-kitchen.

Most of the emir’s and Sultan’s entourage received emoluments there, and if the people of the city make requests on behalf of the suffering they are given something. Whatever medication is needed in the city is given out from the harem, and there is also no problem in the distribution of other ointments, such as balsam.


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