08/04/1866 – Tinco arrives in Tabriz

“Dès le début, je rencontrais en Perse cet accueil affable et bienveillant que (j’aime à le dire en commençant cette relation) j’ai retrouvé partout.”

(Source: “Voyage…”, Vol. II, page 31)


Right after entering Persia at the border post of Jolfa, two days ago, Tinco and his caravan (two servants, his Armenian cook and six horses) set off towards their next stop at Ayerandibi (Errandibil).

The mountains and the countryside were inhospitable, and the winter (which had taken some toll of Tinco’s health) wasn’t over yet. Still, as the opening sentence above from his journal states, Tinco affirms right away that he found the Persians friendly and kind wherever he went.

But, he certainly was not too happy with the disposition of the chapar khaneh (courier house) at Ayerandibi, where he arrived the same evening. He had to share his room with his companions! Fortunately, he found more agreeable lodgings at the next stops on his journey towards Tehran.

Remnants of the caravanserai near Marand

In the morning of April 7, he left for Soufian (Sofian). Thirteen kilometers north of Marand, he contemplated the ruins of a caravanserai that was constructed under king Abbas the Great (1571-1629). Marand itself is an interesting town, where the Armenian influences are still strongly felt. It is also one of the places reputed to hold the tomb of the wife of Noah (of the “arc”) – but Tinco didn’t see any evidence of that (nor did anyone before or after him). After a short halt, he traveled further and came across another one of king Abbas’ caravanserai. Two centuries before, the French traveler-merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier had reported this place to be in a perfect state, but Tinco found it was now derelict. Tinco spent the night at Soufian, in far better conditions.

The next morning, Tinco sent one of his servants ahead to assure proper lodgings in Tabriz – the first major stop on his discovery of Persia, where Tinco planned to stay two weeks. Historically, Tabriz played an immense role in the political and cultural shaping of Iran. Together with Tehran, it was the commercial heart of Persia, with numerous foreign agents and companies trading in the broadest variety of goods. It is strategically located on on ancient trading routes. And, starting with Abbas Mirza (1789-1833), Tabriz was also the traditional residence of the heir to the throne in Qajar Persia.

At Tabriz, Tinco Lycklama recounts the rich events and the people that mark the history of the city. He visited many places in and out of town, met various people, observed local customs and experienced the heartbeat of this bustling city. We will cover some of these aspects in our next blogs.

As a final note, let’s quote Tinco himself to understand the state of mind of this young traveling Dutchman and his intentions in exploring (and recounting) Persia (our translation):

“The cities and monuments in Persia look very alike, more so than anywhere else, but their history differs : it seems to me (and I have experienced this when reading travel stories that were short on historical context) that one must seek to bring alive the events and the people that have made famous the places that one visits.”

Les villes et monuments en Perse se ressemblent plus encore que partout ailleurs, mais leur histoire diffère : il me semble (je l’ai éprouvé à la lecture de relations de voyage trop sobre sur le passé le passé) qu’on doit aimer à voir revivre les événements et les hommes qui ont fait la célébrité des lieux que l’on parcourt. (Source: “Voyage…”, Vol. II, page 75)

Sketch of Tabriz (Tauris) by Jean Chardin in his “Journal du Voyage du Chevalier Chardin”, published in 1686

This article appears as an episode in a series that recounts the chronology of the travels through Persia of Tinco Lycklama à Nijeholt (1837-1900) , the first Dutch orientalist. Articles appear exactly hundred fifty years after Tinco’s travel. 

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