National Geographic : 1953 Nov
713 National Geographic Photographer J. Baylor Roberts Scribes Double as Vendors on the Steps of Tehran's Post Office These open-air businessmen read and write letters for a price. In addition they sell stationery, envelopes, and other small supplies, and brass seals engraved with the purchaser's name. The young woman wears a brightly patterned chadar (page 708); older women prefer darker colors. babbling voices, whistles, and shouts, it takes an agile foot to dodge the flow of heavily laden donkeys and porters. And it requires a case hardened heart to resist boys selling notions persistent lads who assume a most dejected air if the answer is "Nakhair" (no). Silver merchants sell their wares at every turn. How any of them make a living is be yond my understanding. In most shops silver sells by weight, regardless of the man-hours that have gone into workmanship. The napkin rings Yaksabet gave to Osborne and me for Christmas were beautifully en graved by a Russian Armenian. Wetherill wrote our names for Yaksabet so they could be engraved on the rings: "Osborne C. Cresson" and "Rebecca S. Cresson." When we re ceived the gifts, we found that they were in scribed "C. Cresson" and "S. Cresson." The craftsman had started from the right and written toward the left, as in Persian callig raphy, and there wasn't enough room to in clude our first names! I scouted the shops constantly for specimens of older Persian craftsmanship from the days when designs were simpler and more attrac tive, less doctored to meet the presumed tastes of travelers from other lands. Batfil could never understand this. She chuckled over many of my selections, saying, "My mother threw that away 20 years ago." "Alaska Man" Sells Popsicles Since time immemorial Persian clothes have been hand-tailored. Within the last several years ready-made suits and dresses have come on the market in Tehran. The ready-mades cost more and do not fit so well; yet men and women eagerly seek them because they have the Western touch. Western influence is noticeable in other, smaller matters. The Popsicle man who came by our street was called the "Alaska man." And a popular brand of mast (a food similar to yoghurt) is "Mickey mast," complete with a mouse on the label.