Saturday, October 8, 2016

Etiquette and Persian Shahs

Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar, was the fifth Qajar king of Persia. It is said he found it difficult to live up to European etiquette. He could not overcome the impulse to take his food in his fingers, for example, and he was almost sure to throw what was left, over his shoulder, when he had eaten all he cared to of its contents. 

The Way of Shahs

Some very amusing anecdotes are related in the current Harper’s Weekly of the Shah of Persia, Mozaffar ad-Din, one of the most eccentric of Monarchs. He seems not to be altogether an up-to-date person. He is able to manipulate a knife and fork and to eat properly from a table; but he much prefers to sit on a stool with his food at an elevation of about the same height and use his fingers. 

Although one of the wealthiest sovereigns in the world, Mozaffar ad-Din is not over-particular about the payment of his debts on his journeys abroad. During his visit to Paris in 1900 he created something of a sensation among European Royalties by conferring the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Lion and the Sun, which had hitherto been confined exclusively to reigning Sovereigns, upon an American dentist who had relieved him of an obstinate toothache. 

Mozaffar's father, Nassr-ed-Din, was apparently no less eccentric than his son. He attended many State banquets during his tours in Europe, but he generally satisfied his appetite alone, before he came to the table, since he found it difficult to live up to European etiquette. He could not overcome the impulse to take his food in his fingers, for example, and he was almost sure to throw what was left over his shoulder, when he had eaten all he cared to of its contents.

The story is told that he was once sitting at the right of Queen Victoria at a formal dinner at Buckingham Palace, when he bit off the top of a piece of asparagus and handed the remainder to his hostess to finish, as a particular mark of esteem. – Sacramento Daily Union, 1907

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