1: To My Darling Julia
2: Safavid Empire: June 14, 1656 My Dear Julia, Greetings from the Safavid Empire! I hope everything goes well at home. I arrived yesterday in Iran. I crossed over from the tip of Greece, spent a day in Cyprus, then arrived in Syria. The road from there was tumultuous-- I had to ride a camel to scale the desert landscape. Fortunately, Iran has received considerable attention and power, so I was able to arrive there by tonga, similar to a horse drawn carriage. It’s an architectural capital no doubt of the Eastern world. I’ve already made my first purchase. I was walking through the marketplace where artisans sell their crafts and saw many gifts that could be given to you. I saw tall vases with geometric patterns, and from the kitchens came a hypnotising smell, saffron. Still it would not suffice for you Julia. Then in the corner of my eye, I saw a beautiful ivory rug with floral motiffs and a circular center that looks like a peacock extending its feathers. The rug was sent yesterday to the house, as it was too large to occupy during my travels.
3: Unfortunately, I might be in Iran for a bit longer than I expected . . . My absence of facial hair has no doubt offended people, as they decided yesterday morning to do a peculiar insult. Though they knew I could not understand them, they ran up to me and stroked my chin while yelling obscenities. Apparently, this is against a religious custom of the Shi’a Islam. To placate the situation, I decided to attend services at the Mosque for the next week with my angry assaulter. This angry assaulter was also part of the noble upper class who swear by the Shi’a law so I figured it would be unwise to offend him further. Just like the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th century, judicial law is based on religion. That is why my elite class assaulter was so angry. He had a high position so justifiably would not tolerate the situation. Tomorrow, I will head south east into the Mughal Empire. I will write to you as soon as I can, between travels. With love, Nathaniel
4: My darling, I got a wonderful painter to paint a portrait of me in front of many wonderful places. Here I am in front of a building in Safavid. | This was a beautiful run I considered buying for us.
5: This was a delightful horse cart. It could be quite romantic if you come back with me. | Safavid
6: Mughal Empire June 25, 1656 Dear Julia, Assalam-o Alekum. That is hello in Urdu, the language spoken in the Mughal Empire. And so I say once again, hello my Julia. It has been already three weeks since my departure and I already getting homesick. I arrived in the Mughal Empire yesterday and since I got more settled in today, I was able to make time to write to you. Since my last visit, I started growing a beard to protect myself, and this has saved me. I found yesterday that the new Ruler, Aurangzeb instituted complete Islamic law. There is zero tolerance for us Christians. Its a shame really. From what I’ve pieced together by the common class, before Aurangzeb, there was a man named Abu Abkar completely tolerated Christianity. He held a strong central government, just like at home.
7: Just this morning, I visited the Taj Mahal, a splendid palace that the previous ruler, Abu Abkar built for his wife. When I come home, I will build you an even more beautiful palace. I also bought a shirt made from cotton, which fits perfectly and is helps cool me down a bit in this summer heat. Though Delhi is more lush than Iran, I admit I want to return. Everywhere I go, I see men accompanied by three, four, five women. The first several times, I thought it was a coincidence, but I soon realized it to be the satanic acts of polygamy. Know Julia, that I will never, ever betray you for some wretched temptress. I will only spend a few days here in Mughal. For some time I have been looking forward to going to China. There are so many wonders I’ve heard about that I am looking forward to seeing. Until next time my saucy songbird. Love, Nathaniel
8: A cotton plant. My shirt was made out of this. | A Mosque in Mughal
9: Another portrait of me in Mughal | Mughal
10: China July 4, 1656 Dear Julia, I hope that everything is well. I can only tell you that this day would have been better if you were with me. You would now believe what I have seen in this incredible country! Yesterday evening, I visited the Forbidden City. It is so lively, so immense. I have sipped most enchanting tea. I have seen the loveliest silks that I hope to bring back to you. It is the same silk that many other European women love. Yet, Li Tzu-Ch'eng, a rebel, has arrived in the mainland and havoc is traveling. I depart soon as to not get in the middle of the battle. It reminds me of the war that pillaged our home for thirty years. I do not want to go down that road again, especially without my loving wife to keep me company when times are difficult.
11: But dearest, you would not believe what I have seen. As I walked out of the city, I saw commoners, artisans reading. It worries me. How would society get out of hand if suddenly the lower classes had power and intelligence? This is probably why the Empire is out of hand and that tyrant Ch’eng has taken over with such violent force. The commoners have no understanding of politics, yet they are given power in that bureaucracy. They have a patriarchal society, which is wise (Women could never rule!), but that is the only way they match the grand form of government at home. Enough of politics. I had such high expectations about China’s political system. I admit, the beauties and wonders are unmatched anywhere else in the world, but politically, its turmoil. I’ll be home in a couple of weeks my sweet nightingale. With love, Nathaniel
12: I'm in China. | China
13: Confucius | Chinese tea.
14: Korea July 15, 1656 Dear Julia, I send all my love in my greetings. I have arrived in Seoul. It is rather nice here and the people are hospitable, but I still long to see you. These people are followers of Confucianism, and they take that peacefulness to heart in their invitations to lodging. However, despite their outwardly kind appearance, I have been told by some people I was conversing with that there are some tense moments between political movements. I feel that these people are tired of being a footnote on the pages of Chinese and Japanese dynasties. In these people I see passion, loyalty, and bravery. Their leader,
15: Hyojong, though I have yet to meet him, seems to embody these emotions to as great an amount as anyone else. I feel that this will spark some lively debating when I bring it up in conversation, lo the cunning, devious fellow that I am! I wish all the best for this emerging state. They are the first ones that I find to have a rational way of governing. They have a patriarchal monarchy. It reminds me of the days we used to spend, meeting with His Royal Highness. I shall return to those days in a few weeks when I come home. After my brief stay here, I’m off to Japan, the land of the samurai. With love, Nathaniel
16: A beautiful building in Japan | A decorative Japanese box
17: Me in Korea. | Korea
18: Japan August 1, 1656 Dear Julia, Greetings from Japan, though I must confess that I am rather displeased by it. Their government runs by the feudal system, with the almighty shogun at the top doling out land as he sees fit. Does this not seem to you very similar to the feudal system from which we are emerging? In this time of enlightenment, it is off-putting to see these men regressing back to previous thinking (or perhaps they simply are not as enlightened as we). As well as mistreating their lower class, these Japanese also persecute Christians, therefore
19: I am writing this in secret for fear of being beheaded. These Shinto monsters send their noble samurai warriors to kill any Christian that set foot on their land. Samurai, once they are done with their service, must either retire to a peasant’s life or become a henchman of the Shogun. I don’t see that fair. Do you? I must surely be returning back to you, my love, before I am discovered. Pray for me, please, and I shall pray to God for anonymity. I am soon returning home, your wait must persist only days more. When I arrive home, I shall ask for reprieve from a week’s work to spend time with you alone and to become accustomed to having your shining face with me again. Much Too Much Love to Bear, Nathaniel
20: Sorry my love, I wasn't ready when he took my portrait in Japan. | Japan
21: Samurai | Himeji castle