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Title: Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan, Volume II (of 2) - Including a Summer in the Upper Karun Region and a Visit - to the Nestorian Rayahs
Author: Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan, Volume II (of 2) - Including a Summer in the Upper Karun Region and a Visit - to the Nestorian Rayahs" ***

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Transcriber's Note:

  Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
  been preserved.  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  Macrons (straight lines above the characters) are represented as
  [=a], [=e], [=i], and [=u].



  [Illustration: CHURCH OF MAR SHALITA, KOCHANES. _Frontispiece,
   vol. II._]



     JOURNEYS
     IN
     PERSIA AND KURDISTAN

     INCLUDING A SUMMER IN THE UPPER KARUN
     REGION AND A VISIT TO THE
     NESTORIAN RAYAHS

     BY MRS. BISHOP
     (ISABELLA L. BIRD)

     HONORARY FELLOW OF THE ROYAL SCOTTISH GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY
     AUTHOR OF 'SIX MONTHS IN THE SANDWICH ISLANDS'
     'UNBEATEN TRACKS IN JAPAN,' ETC.

     IN TWO VOLUMES--VOL. II.

     WITH PORTRAIT, MAPS, AND ILLUSTRATIONS

     LONDON
     JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET
     1891



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

IN VOLUME II.


     Church of Mar Shalita, Kochanes          _Frontispiece_

     Stone Lion and Guide                           _Page_ 8

     Karun at Pul-i-Ali-Kuh                _To face page_ 10

     Killa Bazuft                                  "      19

     Fording the Karun                             "      23

     Sar-i-Cheshmeh-i-Kurang                       "      29

     Zard Kuh Range                                "      30

     Aziz Khan                                            37

     Yahya Khan                                          110

     A Twig Bridge                                       114

     Tomb of Esther and Mordecai                         153

     Kurd of Sujbul[=a]k                                 208

     Hesso Khan                                          264

     A Syrian Family                                     273

     Designs on Tombs at Kochanes         _To face page_ 297

     Syrian Cross                                        297

     Syrian Priest and Wife                              310

     A Syrian Girl                                       315

     Rock and Citadel of Van              _To face page_ 338

     Kurds of Van                                        339

     A Hakkiari Kurd                                     372



LETTER XVI


     ALI-KUH, _June 12_.

Two days before we left Chigakhor fierce heat set in, with a blue heat
haze. Since then the mercury has reached 98° in the shade. The call to
"Boot and Saddle" is at 3.45. Black flies, sand-flies, mosquitos,
scorpions, and venomous spiders abound. There is no hope of change or
clouds or showers until the autumn. Greenery is fast scorching up.
"The heaven above is as brass, and the earth beneath is as iron." The
sky is a merciless steely blue. The earth radiates heat far on into
the night. "Man goeth forth to his work," not "till the evening," but
in the evening. The Ilyats, with their great brown flocks, march all
night. The pools are dry, and the lesser streams have disappeared. The
wheat on the rain-lands is scorched before the ears are full, and when
the stalks are only six inches long. This is a normal Persian summer
in Lat. 32° N. The only way of fighting this heat is never to yield to
it, to plod on persistently, and never have an idle moment, but I do
often long for an Edinburgh east wind, for drifting clouds and rain,
and even for a chilly London fog! This same country is said to be
buried under seven or eight feet of snow in winter.

On leaving Chigakhor we crossed a low hill into the Seligun valley, so
fair and solitary a month ago, now brown and dusty, and swarming with
Ilyats and their flocks, and Lake Albolaki has shrunk into something
little better than a swamp. A path at a great elevation above a stream
and a short rocky ascent brought us to the top of the pass above
Naghun, a wall of rock, with an altitude of 7320 feet, and a very
stiff zigzag descent upon Isfandyar Khan's garden, where the heat made
a long halt necessary. The view from the Naghun Pass of the great
Ardal valley is a striking one, though not so striking as one would
suppose from the altitude of the mountains, which, however, do not
nearly reach the limit of perpetual snow, though the Kuh-i-Kaller, the
Kuh-i-Sabz, the great mass of the Kuh-i-Gerra, the range of the
Kuh-i-Dinar, and the Kuh-i-Zirreh are all from 11,000 to 13,000 feet
in height. Even on the north side the range which we crossed by the
Gardan-i-Zirreh exceeds 9000 feet. The Karun, especially where it
escapes from the Ardal valley by the great Tang-i-Ardal, is a grand
feature of the landscape from the Naghun Pass.

On leaving Naghun we were joined by Aziz Khan, a petty chief, a
retainer of Isfandyar Khan, who has been deputed to attend on the
Agha, and who may be useful in various ways.

Between Naghun and Ardal, in an elevated ravine, a species of
_aristolochia_, which might well be mistaken for a pitcher-plant, was
growing abundantly, and on the Ardal plain the "sweet sultan" and the
_Ferula glauca_ have taken the place of the _Centaurea alata_, which
is all cut and stacked.

A hot and tedious march over the Ardal plateau, no longer green, and
eaten up by the passage of Ilyat flocks, brought us to the village of
Ardal, now deserted and melancholy, the great ibex horns which
decorate the roof of the Ilkhani's barrack giving it a spectral look
in its loneliness. The night was hot, and the perpetual passing of
Ilyats, with much braying and bleating, and a stampede of mules
breaking my tent ropes, forbade sleep. It was hot when we started the
next morning, still following up the Ardal valley and the Karun to
Kaj, a village on bare hummocks of gravel alongside of the Karun, a
most unpromising-looking place, but higher up in a lateral valley
there was a spring and a walled orchard, full of luxuriant greenery,
where we camped under difficulties, for the only entrance was by a
little stream, leading to a low hole with a door of stone, such as the
Afghans use for security, and through which the baggage could not be
carried. The tents had to be thrown over the wall. There was little
peace, for numbers of the Kaj men sat in rows steadily staring, and
there were crowds of people for medicine, ushered in by the
_ketchuda_.

Four miles above Ardal is a most picturesque scene, which, though I
had ridden to it before, I appreciated far more on a second visit.
This is the magnificent gorge of the Tang-i-Darkash Warkash, a
gigantic gash or rift in the great range which bounds the Ardal and
Kaj valleys on the north, and through which the river, on whose
lawn-like margin the camps were pitched at Shamsabad, find its way to
the Karun. A stone bridge of a single arch of wide span is thrown
across the stream at its exit from the mountains. Above the bridge are
great masses of naked rock, rising into tremendous precipices above
the compressed water, with roses and vines hanging out of their
clefts.

Below, the river suddenly expands, and there is a small village, now
deserted, with orchards and wheatfields in the depression in which the
Darkash Warkash finds its way across the Kaj valley, a region so
sheltered from the fierce sweep of the east wind, and so desirable in
other respects, that it bears the name of Bihishtabad, the _Mansion of
Heaven_.

Geographically this _tang_ has a great interest, for the water passing
under the bridge is the united volume of the water system to which
three out of the four districts known as the Chahar Mahals owe their
fertility, and represents the drainage of 2500 square miles. It will
be remembered that we entered the Chahar Mahals by the Kahva Rukh
Pass, and crossed that portion of them lying between Kahva Rukh and
the Zirreh Pass, which is politically, not geographically, a portion
of the Bakhtiari country, and is partially Christian.

I started at five the next morning to follow the left bank of the
Karun for nearly a whole march, sometimes riding close beside it among
barley-fields, then rising to a considerable height above it. It is
occasionally much compressed between walls of conglomerate, and boils
along furiously, but even where it is stillest and broadest, it is
always deep, full, and unfordable, bridged over, however, at a place
where there are several mills. An ascent from it leads to the village
of Rustam-i, where the people were very courteous and put me on the
road to Ali-kuh, a village not far from the river, at the foot of a
high range very much gashed by its affluents, one of which is very
salt.

Ali-kuh is quite deserted, and every hovel door is open. There is
nothing to tempt cupidity. The people, when they migrate to the high
pastures, take all their goods with them. There was not a creature
left behind who could tell me of a spring, and it was a tiresome
search before I came, high upon the hillside, on a stream tumbling
down under willows over red rock, in a maze of campanulas and roses.
The first essential of a camping-ground is that there should be space
to camp, and this is lacking; my servants sleep in the open, and my
bed and chair are propped up by stones on the steep slope. Scorpions,
"processional" caterpillars, earwigs, and flies abound. It is very
pretty, but very uncomfortable. The stream is noisy, and a rude flour
mill above has the power, which it has exercised, of turning it into
another channel for irrigation purposes. There are some large Ilyat
camps above, and from these and from Rustam-i the people have been
crowding in.

The wild flowers about Ali-kuh are in great profusion just now, the
most showy being hollyhocks--white, pink, and mauve, which affect the
cultivated lands. Three parasitic plants are also abundant, one of
them being the familiar dodder. Showy varieties of blue and white
campanulas, a pink mallow, a large blue geranium, chicory, the blue
cornflower, and the scarlet poppy all grow among the crops.

In the course of a day's expedition to the summit of the Ali-kuh Pass
large Ilyat camps abounded, and the men were engaged in stacking the
leaves and the blossoming stalks of the wild celery for fodder later
in the season. These flower-stalks attain a height of over six feet.
These, and the dried leaves of the _Centaurea alata_, which are laid
in heaps weighted down with stones, are relied upon by the nomads for
the food of their flocks on the way down from the summer to the winter
pastures, and much of their industry, such as it is, is spent in
securing these "crops."

This Ali-kuh Pass, 9500 feet in altitude, is on the most direct route
from Isfahan to the Bazuft river, but is scarcely used except by the
Ilyats. It is in fact horribly steep on the Ali-kuh side. The great
Bakhtiari ranges on its south-west side, and a deep valley below,
closed by the great mass of Amin-i-lewa, are a contrast to the utterly
shadeless and mostly waterless regions of Persia proper which lie
eastwards, blazing and glaring in the summer sunshine. There is a
little snow and some ice, and the snow patches are bordered by a small
rosy primula, delicate white tulips, and the violet _penguicula_ so
common on our moorlands. Mares with mule foals were grazing at a
height of over 9000 feet.

The Khan of Rustam-i, married to a daughter of the Ilkhani, "called."
He is very intelligent, has some idea of conversation, and was very
pleasant and communicative. He says the "Bakhtiaris love fighting, and
if there's a fight can't help taking sides, and if they have not guns
fight with stones," and that "one Bakhtiari can beat ten Persians"! I
asked him if he thought there would be fighting at Chigakhor, and he
said it was very likely, and he and his retainers would take the
Ilkani's side. He showed me with great pleasure a bullet wound in his
ankle, and another in his head, where a piece of the skull had been
removed. He wishes that "the English" would send them a doctor. "We
would gladly receive even a _Kafir_," he said. Mirza politely
translated this word Christian. He says they "suffer so much in dying
from want of knowledge." I explained to him the virtues of some of
their own medicinal herbs, and he at once sent his servant to gather
them, and having identified them he wrote down their uses and the
modes of preparing them.

With the Khan was his prim little son, already, at ten years old, a
bold rider and a good shot, the pale auburn-haired boy whom his
grandmother, the Ilkhani's principal wife, offered me as a present if
I would cure him of deafness, debility, and want of appetite! I gave
him a large bottle of a clandestinely-made decoction of a very bitter
wormwood, into which I put with much ceremony, after the most approved
fashion of a charlatan, some tabloids of _nux vomica_ and of
permanganate of potash. When I saw him at the fort of Chigakhor he was
not any better, but since, probably from leading a healthier life than
in Ardal, he has greatly improved, and being strong is far less deaf,
and consequently the virtues of wormwood have forced themselves on the
Khan's attention.

The boy had suffered various things. He had been sewn up in raw
sheepskins, his ears had been filled with fresh clotted blood, and he
had been compelled to drink blood while warm, taken from behind the
ear of a mare, and also water which had washed off a verse of the
Koran from the inside of a bowl. It transpired that the Khan, who is a
devout Moslem and a _mollah_, could not allow his son to take my
medicine unless a piece of paper with a verse of the Koran upon it
were soaked in the decoction.

I asked him why the Bakhtiaris like the English, and he replied,
"Because they are brave and like fighting, and like going shooting on
the hills with us, and don't cover their faces." He added after a
pause, "and because they conquer all nations, and do them good after
they have conquered them." I asked how they did them good, and he
said, "They give them one law for rich and poor, and they make just
laws about land, and their governors take the taxes, and no more, and
if a man gets money he can keep it. Ah," he exclaimed earnestly, "why
don't the English come and take this country? If you don't, Russia
will, and we would rather have the English. We're tired of our lives.
There's no rest or security."

It may well be believed that there are no schools, though some
deference is paid to a _mollah_, which among the Bahktiaris means only
a man who can write, and who can read the Koran. These rare
accomplishments are usually hereditary. The chiefs' sons are taught to
read and write by _munshis_. A few of the highest Khans send their
sous to Tihran or Isfahan for education, or they attend school while
their fathers are detained as hostages in the capital for the good
behaviour of their clans. There they learn a few words of French and
English, along with pure Persian and Arabic, and the few other
branches of the education of a Persian noble. They are fine manly
boys, and ride and shoot well from an early age. But the worst of them
is that they never are "boys." They are little men, with the stiffness
and elaboration of manner which the more important Khans have copied
from the Persians, and one can never fancy their abandoning themselves
to "miscellaneous impulses."

  [Illustration: STONE LION AND GUIDE.]

_Killa Bazuft, Bazuft Valley, June 18._--A few days ago we left the
last village of the region behind, to enter upon a country not laid
down in any maps. It is a wild land of precipitous mountain ranges,
rising into summits from 11,000 to 13,000 feet high, enclosing valleys
and gorges or cañons of immense depth, some of them only a few feet
wide, a goodly land in part, watered by springs and streams, and green
with herbage and young wheat, and in part naked, glaring, and
horrible. It is very solitary, although at times we come upon
Bakhtiaris in camp, or moving with their flocks, much darker in
complexion and more uncivilised in appearance than those of Ardal and
its neighbourhood. From these camps Aziz Khan procures guides, milk,
and bread. The heat increases daily, and the hour of getting up is now
2.45. There are many forlorn burial-grounds, and their uncouth stone
lions, more or less rudely carved, are the only permanent inhabitants
of the region. Wheat and barley grow in nearly all the valleys, and
clothe the hill-slopes, but where are the sowers and the reapers, and
where are the barns? Cultivation without visible cultivators is
singularly weird.

Although the Bakhtiaris expend great labour on irrigation, their
methods of cultivation are most simple. They plough with a small
plough with the share slightly shod with iron; make long straight
furrows, and then cross them diagonally. They do not manure the soil,
but prevent exhaustion by long fallows. After they come up to the
mountains they weed their crops carefully, and they look remarkably
clean. In reaping they leave a stubble five or six inches long. There
is a good deal of spade husbandry in places where they have no oxen,
or where the arable patches are steep. The spades are much longer than
ours, and the upper corners of the sides are turned over for three
inches.

A spade is worked by two men, one using his hands and one foot, and
the other a rope placed where the handle enters the iron, with which
he gives the implement a sharp jerk towards him.

In the higher valleys they grow wheat and barley only, but in the
lower rice, cotton, melons, and cucumbers are produced, and opium for
exportation. They plough and sow in the autumn, and reap on their
return to their "yailaks" the following summer. Their rude water
mills, and the hand mills worked by women, grind the wheat into the
coarse flour used by them.

It appears from the statements of the _Mollah-i-Murtaza_, Aziz Khan,
an intelligent son of Chiragh Ali Khan, and others, that the tenure of
arable lands is very simple and well understood. "From long ago"
certain of such lands have been occupied by certain tribes, and have
been divided among families. Some of the tribes possess documents,
supposed to secure these rights, granted by Ali Mardan Khan, the
Bakhtiari King of Persia, in the anarchical period which followed the
death of Nad[=i]r Shah. Those of them who are without documents
possess the lands by right of use. Nearly all the tribes have
individual rights of tillage, and have expended much labour on their
lands in irrigation and removing stones. A fee for the use of these
lands is paid to the Ilkhani every year in money or cattle.

For pasturage there is only the right of "use and wont," and the
grazing is free. For camping-grounds each tribe has its special "use
and wont," subject to change by the order of the Ilkhani, but it was
out of quarrels concerning these and the pasture lands that many of
the feuds at present existing arose.

We left Ali-kuh in a westerly direction, followed and crossed the
Karun, left it at its junction with the Duab, ascended this short
affluent to its source, crossed the Gardan-i-Cherri at an elevation of
9200 feet, and descended 4000 feet into the Bazuft or Rudbar valley,
where the camps now are. The road after leaving Ali-kuh, where the
slopes were covered with pink and white hollyhocks, keeps along a
height above the Karun, and then descends abruptly into a chasm formed
of shelves of conglomerate, on the lowest of which there is just room
for a loaded mule between the cliffs and the water at the narrowest
part. Shadowed by shelf upon shelf of rock, the river shoots
through a narrow passage, as though impatient for its liberation from
an unnatural restraint, and there is what I hesitate to call--a
bridge. At all events there is a something by which men and beasts can
cross the chasm--a rude narrow cradle of heavy branches, filled with
stones, quite solid and safe, resting on projections of rock on either
side. The Karun, where this Pul-i-Ali-kuh crosses it, is only nine
feet six inches in width. I found the zigzag ascent on the right bank
a very difficult one, and had sundry falls.

  [Illustration: KARUN AT PUL-I-ALI-KUH. _To face p. 10, vol. II._]

Two hours more brought us to the junction of the Karun and Duab ("two
rivers") above which the former is lost to view in a tremendous
ravine, the latter coming down a green valley among high and mostly
bare mountains, on a gravelly slope of one of which we camped, for the
purpose of ascending a spur of a lofty mountain which overhangs the
Karun. On such occasions I take my mule, Suleiman, the most surefooted
of his surefooted race, who brings me down precipitous declivities
which I could not look at on my own feet. After crossing the Duab, a
green, rapid willow-fringed river, by a ford so deep as to be half-way
up the bodies of the mules, and zigzagging up a steep mountain side to
a ridge of a spur of Kaisruh, so narrow that a giant might sit astride
upon it, a view opened of singular grandeur.

On the southern side of the ridge, between mountains of barren rock,
snow-slashed, and cleft by tremendous rifts, lying in shadows of cool
gray, the deep, bright, winding Duab flows down the green valley which
it blesses, among stretches of wheat and mounds where only the
forgotten dead have their habitation,--a silver thread in the mellow
light. On the northern side lies the huge Tang-i-Karun, formed by the
magnificent mountain Kaisruh on its right bank, and on the left by
mountains equally bold, huge rock-masses rising 3000 feet
perpendicularly, and topped by battlements of terra-cotta rock, which
took on vermilion colouring in the sunset glow. Through this mighty
gorge the Karun finds its way, a green, rapid willow-fringed stream
below the ridge, and visible higher up for miles here and there in
bottle-green pools, everywhere making sharp turns in its stupendous
bed, and disappearing from sight among huge piles of naked rock. Even
on this splintered ridge, at a height of 8000 feet, there were tulips,
celery in blossom, mullein, roses, legions of the _Fritillaria
imperialis_, anemones, blue linum, and a wealth of alpine plants.

There also are found in abundance the great umbelliferous
plants--_Ferula glauca_, _Ferula candelabra_, and the _Ferula
asafoetida_. The latter I have never seen elsewhere, and was very
much rejoiced to procure some of its "tears," though the odour will
cling to my gloves till they are worn out. Hadji had heard that it is
found in one or two places in the Bakhtiari country, but up to this
time I had searched for it in vain. There also for the first time I
found the _Astragalus verus_, the gum tragacanth of commerce. The
ordinary tragacanth bush, the "goat's thorn," the _Astragalus
tragacantha_, which is found everywhere on the arid hillsides,
produces a gummy juice but no true gum, and its chief value is for
kindling fires.

Following up the Duab, through brush of tamarisk, _Hippophae
rhamnoides_, and Indian myrtle, above the cultivated lands, and
passing burial mounds with their rude stone lions with their
sculptured sides, we camped in a valley at the foot of the
Gardan-i-Cherri and Kuh-i-Milli, close to the powerful spring in the
hillside which is the source of the stream, where there was abundant
level ground for three camps. The next evening Karim, the man who so
nearly lost his arm some time ago, was carried past my tent fainting,
having been severely kicked in the chest by the same horse that
lacerated his arm. "I _am_ unlucky," he murmured feebly, when he came
to himself in severe pain.

I have crossed the Gardan-i-Cherri twice, and shall cross it a third
time. It marks a great change in the scenery, and the first intimation
of possible peril from the tribesmen. The ascent from the east, which
is extremely rugged and steep, is one of 2000 feet in three and a half
miles. Near the top were many Ilyats camping without their tents, a
rough-looking set, with immense flocks, and on the summit the Agha,
who was without his attendants, met some men who were threatening both
in speech and gesture.

From the top there is a wonderful view into an unknown land. The
ranges are heavily wooded, and much broken up into spurs and rounded
peaks. Between the great range, crossed at a height of 9550 feet by
the Cherri Pass, and a wall-like range of mighty mountains of white
limestone with snow on them hardly whiter than themselves, lies the
Bazuft valley, 4000 feet below, and down upon it come sharp
forest-covered spurs, often connected by sharp ridges of
forest-covered rocks cleft by dark forest-filled ravines, with
glimpses now and then of a winding peacock-green river, flowing at
times through green lawns and slopes of grain, at others disappearing
into gigantic cañons--great forest-skirted and snow-slashed mountains
apparently blocking up the valley at its higher end. At the first
crossing all lay glorified in a golden veil, with indigo shadows in
the rifts and white lights on the heights.

The first part of the descent is fearfully rough, a succession of
ledges of broken rock encumbered here and there with recently dead
horses or mules, and the whole downward course of 4000 feet is without
a break, the climate getting hotter and hotter as one descends. At
8000 feet the oak forests begin. This oak bears acorns nearly three
inches long, which are ground and made into bread. All other
vegetation is dried and scorched, and the trees rise out of dust. In
this forest we came upon a number of Ilyats, some of whom were lying
under a tree, ill of fever, and Aziz Khan insisted that then and there
I should give them quinine.

At the bottom of this unalleviated descent there is a shady torrent,
working a rude flour mill; a good deal of wheat speckled with
hollyhocks, white campanulas, and large snapdragons; some very old
tufa cones, and below them level lawns, eaten bare, fringed with oaks,
with dry wood for the breaking; and below again the translucent,
rapid, peacock-green, beautiful Bazuft. But not even the sound of the
rush of its cool waters could make one forget the overpowering heat,
100°, even in the shade of a spreading tree.

I know not which is the more trying, the ascent or the descent of the
4000 feet of ledges and zigzags on the southern face of the
Gardan-i-Cherri. The road is completely encumbered with stones, and is
being allowed to fall into total disrepair, although it is the
shortest route between Isfahan and Shuster. Things are undoubtedly
deteriorating. The present Ilkhani is evidently not the man to get and
keep a grip on these turbulent tribesmen. I notice a gradual weakening
of his authority as the distance from Ardal increases.

When Hussein Kuli Khan, the murdered father of Isfandyar Khan, was
Ilkhani, he not only built substantial bridges such as those over the
Karun in the Tang-i-Ardal and at Dupulan, but by severe measures
compelled every tribe using this road in its spring and autumn
migrations to clear off the stones and repair it. As it is, nearly all
our animals lost one or more of their shoes on the descent. The ascent
and descent took eight hours.

Some of the cliffs on the right bank of the Bazuft are of gypsiferous
rock, topped with pure white gypsum, resting on high, steep elevations
of red and fawn coloured earths, with outcrops of gravel conglomerate.

Yesterday was spent in a very severe expedition of twenty-four miles
from Mowaz to the lofty plateau of Gorab, mostly through oak forest,
crossing great cañons 800 feet deep and more, with almost precipitous
sides, descending upon the awful gorge through which the Bazuft passes
before it turns round the base of the Kuh-i-Gerra, the monarch of this
mass of mountains. The ascents and descents were endless and severe as
we crossed the mountain spurs. It was a simple scramble up and down
rock ledges, among great boulders, or up or down smooth slippery
surfaces. Even my trusty mule slipped and fell several times. Often
the animals had to jump up or down ledges nearly as high as their
chests, and through rifts so narrow as only just to admit the riders.
In some places it was absolutely necessary to walk, and in attempting
to get down one bad place on my own feet I fell and hurt my knee
badly--a serious misfortune just at present.

After twelve miles of a toilsome march the guide led us up among the
boulders of a deep ravine to the treeless plateau of Gorab, an
altitude of 8000 feet, where the air was fresh and cool. The scenery
is on a gigantic scale, and the highly picturesque Bazuft is seen
passing through magnificent cañons of nearly perpendicular rock, and
making sharp turns round the bases of lofty spurs, till after a course
of singular beauty it joins the Karun at Shalil. It is glorious
scenery, full of magnificence and mystery. This beautiful Ab-i-Bazuft,
which for a long distance runs parallel with the Karun within fifteen
or eighteen miles of it, is utterly unlike it, for the Karun is the
most tortuous of streams and the Bazuft keeps a geographically
straight course for a hundred miles. Springs bursting from the
mountain sides keep it always full; it passes nearly ice-cold among
lawns and woods, and its colour is everywhere a pure peacock-green of
the most exquisite tint, contrasting with the deep blue-green of the
Karun. Shuster is only seven marches off, and in the direction in
which it lies scorched barren hills fill up the distance, sinking down
upon yellow barren plains, softened by a yellow haze, in which the
imagination sees those vast alluvial stretches which descend in an
unbroken level to the Shat-el-Arab and the Persian Gulf. Many a lofty
range is seen, but the eye can rest only on the huge Gerra mass, with
the magnificent snowy peak of Dalonak towering above all, bathed in a
heavenly blue.

The shelter-tent was pitched till the noonday heat moderated. Abbas
Ali and Mehemet Ali were inside it, and I was reading _Ben Hur_ aloud.
Aziz Khan was lying half in and half out, with a quizzical look on his
face, wondering at a woman knowing how to read. Not a creature had
been seen, when as if by magic nine or ten Lurs appeared, established
themselves just outside, and conversed with Aziz. I went on reading,
and they went on talking, the talk growing disagreeably loud, and Aziz
very much in earnest. Half an hour passed thus, the Agha, who
understood their speech, apparently giving all his attention to _Ben
Hur_.

I did not hear till the evening that the topic of the talk was our
robbery, with possible murder, and that Aziz was spending all his
energies on dissuading them, telling them that we are guests of the
Ilkhani and under the protection of the Shah, and that they and their
tribe would be destroyed if they carried out their intention. They
discovered that his revolvers were not loaded--he had in fact
forgotten his cartridges, and one said to the others, "Don't give him
time to load."

While the tent was being packed, I sat on a stone watching the Lurs,
dark, handsome savages, armed with loaded clubbed sticks, and the Agha
was asking them about the country, when suddenly there was a _mêlée_,
and the semblance of an attack on him with the clubs. He seemed to
shake his assailants off, lounged towards his mule, took his revolver
from the holster, fired it in the air, and with an unconcerned,
smiling face, advanced towards the savages, and saying something like
calling attention to the excellences of that sort of firearm, fired
two bullets close over their heads. They dread our arms greatly, and
fell back, and molested us no further. Till later I did not know that
the whole thing was not a joke on both sides. Aziz says that if it had
not been for the Agha's coolness, all our lives would have been
sacrificed.

In returning, the Agha, walking along a lower track than we were
riding upon, met some Lurs, who, thinking that he was alone, began to
be insolent, and he heard them say to each other, "Strip him, kill
him," when their intention was frustrated by our appearance just
above. After crossing the Serba torrent with its delicious shade of
fine plane trees, the heat of the atmosphere, with the radiation from
rock and gravel, was overpowering. I found the mercury at 103° in my
shady tent.

Aziz Khan now pays me a visit each evening, to give me such
information as is attainable regarding the people and locality, and,
though he despised me at first, after Moslem fashion, we are now very
good friends. He is a brave man, and made no attempt to magnify the
danger at Gorab, merely saying that he was devoutly thankful that we
had escaped with our lives. He remonstrated with me for pitching my
tent in such a lonely place, quite out of sight of the other camps,
but it was then too dark to move it. He said that there was some risk,
for the Lurs had declared they would "rob us yet," but he should
watch all night. I knew he would, for the sake of his Arab mare!

This morning, soon after leaving Mowaz, the Sahib's guide galloped up,
saying that his master had been robbed of "everything" the night
before, and was without the means of boiling water. Orders were given
for the camps to close up, for no servants to ride in advance of or
behind the caravan, and that no Ilyats should hang about the tents.

Although the Bakhtiari Lurs are unified under one chief, who is
responsible to the Shah for the security of the country, and though
there has been a great improvement since Sir A. H. Layard's time, the
advance, I think, is chiefly external. The instincts and traditions of
the tribes remain predatory. Possibly they may no longer attack large
caravans, but undoubtedly they rob, when and where they can, and they
have a horrid habit of stripping their victims, leaving them with but
one under garment, if they do not kill them. They have a gesture,
often used by Aziz Khan in his descriptions of raids, which means
stripping a man to his shirt. The word used is skin, but they are not
such savages as this implies. The gesture consists in putting a finger
into the mouth, slowly withdrawing it, and holding it up with a look
of infinite complacency. Aziz admits with some pride that with twenty
men he fell upon a rich caravan near Shiraz, and robbed it of £600.

  [Illustration: KILLA BAZUFT. _To face p. 19, vol. II._]

To-day's march has been mainly through very attractive scenery. We
crossed the Ab-i-Mowaz, proceeded over slopes covered with wheat and
flowers, and along a rocky path overhanging the exquisitely tinted
Bazuft, forded the Ab-i-Nozi, at a place abounding in tamarisks
bearing delicate, feathery pink blossoms, and ascended to upland lawns
of great beauty, on which the oaks come down both in clumps and
singly, as if planted. The views from this natural park are
glorious. Besides the great ranges with which I have become familiar,
the Safid-Kuh, or "white mount," on the right bank of the river, at
present deserves its name, its snows descending nearly to the forests
which clothe its lower heights. A deep chasm conceals the Tabarak
stream up to the point of its foamy junction with the Bazuft, which
emerges on the valley by an abrupt turn through a very fine cañon.

We crossed the pure green waters by a broad ford, and camped on the
right bank on a gravel plateau above it, on which is Killa Bazuft, a
large quadrangular stone fort with round towers at the corners, an
arcaded front, a vaulted entrance, and rooms all round the quadrangle.
It is now ruinous. Some irrigated land near it produces rice and
mosquitos. The Sahib's camp is pitched here. He has been badly robbed,
both of clothing and cooking-pots, and was left without the means of
cooking any food.

_Dima, June 26._--We retraced our steps as far as the source of the
Duab, crossed into the Shamisiri valley, and by a low pass into the
Karun valley, forded the Karun by a strong deep ford, crossed a low
range into the Zarin valley, where are some of the sources of the
Zainderud, from thence marched to the Tang-i-Ghezi, through which the
Zainderud, there a vigorous river, passes into the Chahar Mahals, went
up the Kherson valley, crossed Gargunak, and by a very steep and
rugged descent reached this camp, a place of springs, forming the
upper waters of the Zainderud. These days have been severe, the heat
great, and the incidents few.

The ascent of the Gardan-i-Cherri was difficult. The guide misled us,
and took us through a narrow rift in the crest of a ridge on broken
ledges of rock. We camped at a height of 9000 feet in the vicinity of
snow. The new arrangement, which is necessary for safety, does not
increase comfort, for the Arab horses, noisy, quarrelsome fellows, are
in camp, and the mules shake their bells and sneeze and bray at
intervals all night.

The descent of 2000 feet into the Shamisiri valley, over bare gravel
chiefly, was a very hot one. It is a wide, open valley with stony
hills of no great height enclosing it, with much green sward along the
river banks, above which, running to a great height on the hillsides,
are stretches of irrigated wheat. So far as I have yet seen, the wheat
is all "bearded." It is a most smiling valley; so cultivated, indeed,
and so trim and free from weeds are the crops, that one naturally
looks for neat farm-houses and barns. But one looks in vain, for
except the ruins of some Armenian villages there are no traces of
inhabitants, till night comes, when the glimmer of camp fires here and
there high up on the hillsides shows the whereabouts of some migratory
families.

I start so early as to get in to the camping-ground about nine now,
and the caravan, two hours later, comes in with mules braying, bells
ringing, horses squealing for a fight, servants shouting. Then the
mules roll, the tent-pegs are hammered down, and in the blazing,
furnace-like afternoons the men, who have been up since 2 A.M., take a
prolonged siesta, and a solemn hush falls on the camp. After the Gorab
affair I loaded my revolver, and now sleep with it under my pillow,
carry it in my holster, and never have it out of my reach. I _think_ I
should only fire it in the air if I were attacked, but the fact of
being known to be armed with such a weapon is more likely than
anything else to prevent attack. No halt is now made on the march.

The sick people who appeared at Shamisiri, from no one knows where,
were difficult and suspicious, and so they have been since. The
dialect of Persian has somewhat changed, and Aziz Khan now interprets
the strange accounts of maladies to Mirza, and he interprets to me.
When they crowd almost into the tent, Aziz, when appealed to, pelts
them with stones and beats them with a stick, and they take it very
merrily. He thinks that I have appliances in the "leather box" for the
cure of all ills, and when he brings blind people, and I say that I
cannot do anything for them, he loses his temper. No matter where we
camp, dark, handsome men spring up as if by magic, and hang about the
fires for the rest of the day. From among these the guides are usually
selected.

Numbers of "patients" appear everywhere, and the well assemble with
the sick round my tent. At Berigun the people were very ignorant and
obstinate. After spending a whole hour on two men, and making
medicines up for them, they said they would have the "Feringhi's
ointment," but "nothing that goes down the throat." Another said (and
he had several disciples) that he would not take the medicine "for
fear it should make him a Christian." One man, who has fever, took
away four quinine powders yesterday for four days, and came back
to-day deaf and giddy, saying that I have killed him. He had taken
them all at once!

It is very pleasant to see how very fond the men are of their
children, and how tender and loving they are to their little girls.
The small children are almost always pretty, but by three years old
the grace and innocence of childhood are completely lost, and as in
Persia there are no child faces; indeed, the charm of childhood
scarcely survives the weaning-day. If they are sick the fathers carry
them for miles on their backs for medicine, and handle them very
gently, and take infinite pains to understand about the medicine and
diet. Even if both father and mother come with a child, the man always
carries it, holds it, is the spokesman, and takes the directions.
Several men have offered me mares and cows if I will cure their
children. All the "patients" ask finally, "What must I eat, and not
eat?"

The Bakhtiaris have often asked me whether it is unwholesome to live
so much as they do on cheese and sour milk. They attribute much of
their dyspepsia to their diet. They live principally on _mast_ or
curdled milk, buttermilk, cheese, _roghan_ or clarified butter,
_n[=a]n_, a thin leavened cake, made of wheat or acorn flour, bannocks
of barley meal, celery pickled in sour milk, _kabobs_ occasionally,
and broth flavoured with celery stalks and garlic frequently. They
never use fresh milk. They eat all fruits, whether wild or cultivated,
while they are quite unripe. Almonds are eaten green.

They hunt the ibex and shoot the francolin and the bustard, and make
soup of them. They are always on the hills after game, and spare
nothing that they see. I have seen them several times firing at
red-legged partridges sitting on their nests. They use eggs
considerably, boiling them hard. Alcohol in any form is unknown among
them, and few, except the Khans, have learned the delights of tea and
coffee. Buttermilk, pure water, and _sharbat_, when they can get
lime-juice, are their innocent beverages. The few who drink tea use it
chiefly to colour and flavour syrup. They eat twice in the day. Though
their out-of-doors life is healthy and their diet simple, they rarely
attain old age. A man of sixty is accounted very old indeed. The men
are certainly not polite to their wives, and if they get in their way
or mine they kick them aside, just as rough men kick dogs.

  [Illustration: FORDING THE KARUN. _To face p. 23, vol. II._]

We have been marching through comparatively lowland scenery, like the
Chahar Mahals, from which we are not far. At Shamisiri, except for the
fine peak of Dilleh, there are no heights to arrest the eye. The
hills on the north side are low, gravelly, and stony, with
perpendicular outbreaks of rock near their summits. To the south they
are of a different formation, with stratification much contorted. The
next march was over low stony hills, with scanty herbage and much gum
tragacanth, camel thorn, and the _Prosopis stephaniana_, down a steep
descent into the Karun valley, where low green foot-hills, cultivated
levels, and cultivation carried to a great altitude on the hillsides
refresh the tired eyes. The Karun, liberated for a space from its
imprisonment in the mountains, divides into several streams, each one
a forcible river, winds sinuously among the grass, gleams like a
mirror, and by its joyous, rapid career gives animation to what even
without it would be at this season a very smiling landscape. Crossing
the first ford in advance of the guide, we got into very deep water,
and _Screw_ was carried off his feet, but scrambled bravely to a
shingle bank, where we waited for a native, who took us by long and
devious courses to the left bank. The current is strong and deep, and
the crossing of the caravan was a very pretty sight.

We halted for Sunday at Berigun, an eminence on which are a ruinous
fort, a graveyard with several lions rampant, and a grove of very fine
white poplars, one of them eighteen feet in circumference six feet
from the ground. A sea of wheat in ear, the Karun in a deep channel in
the green plateau, some herbage-covered foot-hills, and opposite, in
the south-west, the great rocky, precipitous mass of the Zard Kuh
range, with its wild crests and great snow-fields, made up a pleasant
landscape. The heat at this altitude of 8280 feet, and in the shade,
was not excessive.

The next day's march was short and uninteresting, partly up the Karun
valley, and partly over gravelly hills with very scanty herbage and no
camps, from which we came down abruptly into the elevated plain of
Cheshmeh Zarin (the Golden Fountain) at a height of 8500 feet, the
plain being about five miles by two and a half. Receding hills with
some herbage upon them border the plateau, and the Zard Kuh, though at
some distance, apparently blocks up the western end. A powerful spring
bursts from under a ridge of rock half-way down the plain, and becomes
at once a clear gentle stream, fifty feet broad, which passes through
the level green sward in a series of turns which are quite marvellous.
Smooth sward, green barley, many yoke of big oxen ploughing up rich
black soil, dark flocks of thousands of sheep and goats, asses, mares,
mules, cows, all feeding, large villages of black tents, one of them
surrounding the white pavilion of a Khan, saddle-horses tethered,
flocks being led to and fro, others being watered, laden asses
arriving and departing, butter being churned, and carpets being woven,
form a scene of quiet but busy industry which makes one feel quite "in
the world." This stream is one of the chief sources of the Zainderud.

From this cheerful camping-ground we marched over low hills, forded
the Zainderud several times, and came upon several Ilyat camps on low,
rich pasture lands. These nomads had no tents, but dwelt in booths
without fronts, the roofs and backs being made of the tough yellow
flowering stalks of the celery. The path follows the left bank of the
river, there a full, broad stream, flowing through the Tang-i-Ghezi,
through rounded hills, and scenery much like that of the Cheviots. At
the Tang-i-Ghezi we camped, and this morning crossed a low hill into a
heavily-grassed valley watered by the Kherson, ascended a shoulder of
Gargunak, and halted at Aziz Khan's tents, where the women were very
hospitable, bringing out cows' milk, and allowing themselves to be
photographed.

An unpleasant _contretemps_ occurred to me while we were marching
through some very lonely hills. If Mirza rides as he should, behind
me, his mule always falls out of sight, and he is useless, so lately I
have put him in front. To-day I dropped a glove, and after calling and
whistling to him vainly, got off and picked it up, for I am reduced to
one pair, but attempt after attempt to get on again failed, for each
time, as I put my hand on the saddle, _Screw_ nimbly ran backwards,
and in spite of my bad knee I had to lead him for an hour before I was
missed, running a great risk of being robbed by passing Lurs. When
Mirza did come back he left his mule in a ravine, exposed to robbers,
and Aziz Khan was so infuriated that he threatened to "cut his
throat." Aziz despises him as a "desk-bred" man for his want of
"out-doorishness," and mimics the dreamy, helpless fashion in which he
sits on his mule, but Mirza can never be provoked into any display of
temper or discourtesy.

From Aziz's camp we had a very steep and rugged descent to this place,
Cheshmeh Dima, where we have halted for two days. Three streams, the
head-waters of the Zainderud, have their sources in this
neighbourhood, and one of them, the Dima, rises as a powerful spring
under a rock here, collects in a basin, and then flows away as a
full-fledged river. The basin or pool has on one side a rocky hill,
with the ruins of a fort upon it, and on the three others low stone
walls of very rude construction. The Lurs, who soon came about us, say
that the ruined fort was the pleasure palace of a great king who
coined money here. The sides of the valley are dotted with camps.
Opposite are the large camp and white tent of Chiragh Ali Khan, a
chief who has the reputation of being specially friendly in his views
of England.

The heat yesterday was overpowering, and the crowds of Bakhtiari
visitors and of sick people could hardly be received with benevolent
equanimity. This great heat at an altitude of 7600 feet is most
disappointing. These head-waters of the Zainderud, rising in and
beautifying the Zarin, Kharba, and Dima valleys, unite before reaching
the Tang-i-Ghezi, from which they pass to Isfahan, and are, as has
been stated before, eventually lost in a swamp. This is the most
watery region I have seen in Persia. Besides the gushing, powerful
springs which form vigorous streams at the moment of their exit from
the mountain sides, there are many moist, spongy places in the three
valleys, regularly boggy, giving out a pleasant _squish_ under a
horse's tread, and abounding in plants associated in my ideas with
Highland bogs, such as the _Drosera rotundifolia_, which seems to
thrive on a small red fly unknown to me. These waters and swampy
places occupy a small area, just within the Outer range, below the
southern slopes of the Kuh-i-Rang.

From this place I made an expedition of thirty miles up a very fine
valley, much of which is irrigated and cultivated, by an ascent of
2500 feet to the Gal-i-Bard-i-Jamal, a pass 10,500 feet in altitude,
with a tremendous descent into an apparent abyss, from whose blue
depths rise the imposing mass of the Kuh-i-Shahan, and among other
heights Faidun, a striking peak of naked rock, superimposed on a rocky
ridge. At this height the air was really cool, and it was an escape
from the heat of Dima.

This region seems much disturbed. We heard of bloodshed two days ago,
and to-day in the Kharba valley of fighting among the Kuh-i-Shahan
mountains with the loss of twelve lives, and horsemen passed us armed
with long guns and swords on their way to tribal war. I fear I shall
have to return to Isfahan. Things are regarded as looking very
precarious farther on, and every movement, retrograde or forward, is
beset with difficulties.

I. L. B.



LETTER XVII


     CAMP GAL-I-GAV, KUH-I-RANG, _July 2_.

From Dima we ascended to high tablelands, having the snowy Zard Kuh
ever in sight, one nameless peak being at present pure white, and
descended into and crossed the Shorab, a fertile valley, on one side
of which is the famous cleft called Kar Kanun, an artificial gash
across a spur of the Kuh-i-Rang of the same name. After winding among
mountains we descended on the Karun, whose waters, clear, rapid, and
peacock-green, fertilise a plain of fine flowery turf lying at the
base of hills, with another branch of the Karun between them and the
Zard Kuh.

It is a lovely plain, bright and smiling, contrasting with the savage
magnificence of the Zard Kuh, which comes down upon it with its peaks,
chasms, and precipices, and glittering fields of unbroken snow. It was
given up to mares and foals, but green platforms high above, and
little hollows in the foot-hills were spotted with Ilyat tents, and in
the four days which we spent there the camps were never free from
Ilyat visitors. The Sahib came in the first evening with one man badly
hurt, and another apparently in the first stage of rheumatic fever. A
small tent was rigged for this poor fellow, who was in intense pain
and quite helpless, with a temperature of 104°, and every joint
swollen. The usual remedies had no effect on him. I had had a present
of a small quantity of _salol_, a newish drug, with directions for
its use, and his master Hadji undertook to make him take it regularly,
and hot tea when he fancied it, and at the end of twenty-two hours he
was not only free from fever but from pain, and was able to mount a
mule.[1]

There are two definite objects of interest close to the plain of
Chaman Kushan, the reputed source of the Karun and the great
artificial cleft of Kar Kanun. I visited the first on a misty day,
which exaggerated the height of the mountains, and by filling their
chasms with translucent blue atmosphere gave a rare loveliness to the
whole, for it must be said that the beauties of Persian scenery are
usually staring, hard, and unveiled. The fords of two or three rivers,
including the Karun, some steep ascents and descents, a rough ride
along a stony slope of the Zard Kuh, and the crossing of a very solid
snow-bridge took us to the top of a cliff exactly opposite the
powerful springs in which the Karun has its reputed origin.

Over this source towers the mighty range of the Zard Kuh,--a colossal
mountain barrier, a mass of yellow and gray limestone, with stupendous
snow-filled chasms, huge precipices, and vast snow-fields, treeless
and destitute of herbage except where the tulip-studded grass runs up
to meet the moisture from the snow-fields. It is the birthplace of
innumerable torrents, but one alone finds its way to the sea.

These springs are in a lateral slit in a lofty limestone precipice
below a snow-field, at one end of which, as if from a shaft, the
most powerful of them wells up, and uniting with the others in a sort
of grotto of ferns and mosses pours over a ledge in a sheet of foam, a
powerful waterfall, and slides away, a vigorous river of a wonderful
blue-green colour, under a snow-bridge, starting full fledged on its
course. The surroundings of this spring are wild and magnificent. A
few Bakhtiaris crept across the lower part of the face of rock, and
perched themselves above it. The roar of the water, now loud, now
subdued, made wild music, and the snow-bridges added to the
impressiveness of the scene.

  [Illustration: SAR-I-CHESMEH-I-KURANG _To face p. 29, vol. II._]

Of course the geographical interest of this region is engrossing.[2]
This remarkable spring, called by the Bakhtiaris
Sar-i-Cheshmeh-i-Kurang ("the head source of the Kurang"), and until
this journey held to be the real source, is not, however, the actual
birthplace of the Karun or Kurang, which was afterwards traced up to
its headwaters in the magnificent Kuh-i-Rang.[3]

A few words on this, the one real river of which Persia can boast, and
which seems destined to play an important part in her commercial
future, will not be out of place. From its source it is a powerful and
important stream, full, deep, and flowing with great velocity for much
of its upper course between precipices varying in height from 1000 to
3000 feet. It is a perennial stream, fordable in very few places, and
then only in its upper waters. Varying in width usually from fifty to
a hundred yards, it is compressed at the Pul-i-Ali-kuh into a breadth
of about nine feet.

The steepness and height of its banks make it in general useless for
irrigation purposes, but some day it may be turned to account as a
great "water power." Its windings, dictated by the singular formation
of the mountain ranges (for I reject the idea of it having "carved"
its channel), are almost phenomenal. After flowing south-east for a
hundred miles from its source, it makes an acute bend, flows for fifty
miles to the south-west, and then making another fantastic turn it
flows in an exactly opposite direction to that of its earlier course,
proceeding north-west to Shuster for a hundred miles.

It is calculated that the distance from the Kuh-i-Rang to Shuster as
the crow flies is seventy-five miles, but the distance travelled by
the waters of the Karun is 250 miles, with an aggregate fall of 9000
feet.

Besides being fed on its journey through the Bakhtiari country by many
mountain-side fountain springs of pure fresh water, as well as by salt
streams and springs, it receives various tributaries, among the most
important of which are the Ab-i-Bazuft and a stream which, though
known locally under various names, may be called from the Chigakhor
basin in which it rises the Ab-i-Chigakhor, which makes a course of
ninety miles to get over a distance of twenty; the Darkash Warkash
flowing in from the Chahar Mahals near Ardal, the Dinarud rising in
the fair valley of Gorab, and the Ab-i-Cherri or Duab.

This mountain range, the Zard Kuh, in whose steep side at a height of
over 8000 feet the Sar-i-Cheshmeh-i-Kurang wells up so grandly, is
rather a series of rock summits and precipices than a range of
mountains. In late June its naked shelves and battlements upbore great
snow-fields, and its huge rifts or passes--the Gil-i-Shah, nearly
11,700 feet in altitude, and the Pambakal, 11,400--were full of snow.
But even in four days it melted rapidly, and probably by August little
remains except a few patches, in the highest and most sunless of the
rifts. It is only on the north side that the snow lasts even into
July.

  [Illustration: ZARD KUH RANGE. _To face p. 30, vol. II._]

The marked features of this range are its narrow wall-like character,
its ruggedness on both sides, its absence of any peaks rising very
remarkably above the ordinary jagged level of the barrier, its lack of
prominent spurs, and its almost complete nakedness. It is grand, but
only under rare atmospheric conditions can it be termed beautiful. Its
length may be about thirty miles. It runs from north-west to
south-east. Some of its highest summits attain an elevation of 13,000
feet. Its name is a corruption of Sard Kuh, "cold mountain."

After fording various snow streams and taking a break-neck goat track,
we reached the great snow pass of Gil-i-Shah, by which the Bakhtiaris
come up from the Shuster plains on the firm snow in spring, returning
when the snow is soft in autumn by a very difficult track on the rocky
ledges above. In the mist it looked the most magnificent and
stupendous pass I had ever seen, always excepting the entrance to the
Lachalang Pass in Lesser Tibet, and an atmospheric illusion raised the
mountains which guard it up to the blue sky. I much wished to reach
the summit, but in a very narrow chasm was fairly baffled by a wide
rift in a sort of elevated snow-bridge which the mule could not cross,
and camped there for some hours; but even there nomads crowded round
my tent with more audacity in their curiosity than they usually show,
and Mirza heard two of them planning an ingenious robbery.

The heat was very great when I returned, 100° in the shade, but rest
was impossible, for numbers of mares and horses were tethered near my
tent, and their riders, men and women, to the number of forty, seized
on me, clamouring for medicines and eye lotions. I often wonder at the
quiet gravity of Mirza's face as he interprets their grotesque
accounts of their ailments. A son of Chiragh Ali Khan came to tell me
that the "Feringhi ointment" had cured a beautiful young woman of his
tribe of an "abscess in her nose"! An instance of real benefit hardly
consoles for many failures, and any cure increases the exhausting
number of "patients." On one day on that plain there was no rest
between eleven and five.

Small events occurred tending to show that the good order which the
Ilkhani's government secures is chiefly round the centre of rule.
Stories of tribal disputes with violence, and of fights arising out of
blood feuds came in daily, and recent sword cuts and bullet wounds
were brought to the _Hak[=i]m_. One day there was a disturbance in
camp owing to a man attacking Hassan for preventing a woman from
entering my tent in my absence. I learned very soon after coming into
this country that the Bakhtiaris are dangerously sensitive about their
women, although the latter are unveiled and have an amount of latitude
unusual in the East. I have more than once cautioned my servants on
this point, for any supposed insult to a female relative of a
Bakhtiari would have by custom to be wiped out in blood. This extreme
sensitiveness has its good side, for even in the midst of the tribal
wars and broils which are constantly occurring female honour is always
secure, and a woman can travel safely alone through the wildest
regions; a woman betraying her husband would, however, almost
certainly be put to death. One night the camps were threatened by
robbers, upon whom Aziz Khan fired.

Solitary as is now the general aspect of the surrounding country, it
must have been crowded with workmen and their food providers within
the last two centuries, for in the beginning of the seventeenth
century Shah Abbas the Great, the greatest and most patriotic of
modern Persian kings, in his anxiety to deliver Isfahan once for all
from the risk of famine, formed and partly executed the design of
turning to account the difference in level (about 300 feet) between
the Karun and Zainderud, and by cleaving an intervening mountain spur
to let the waters of the one pass into the other. The work of cleaving
was carried on by his successors, but either the workmen failed to get
through the flint which underlies the free-stone, or the downfall of
the Sufari dynasty made an end of it, and nothing remains of what
should have been a famous engineering enterprise but a huge cleft with
tool marks upon it in the crest of the hill, "in length 300 yards, in
breadth fifteen, and fifty feet deep."[4] Above it are great heaps of
quarried stones and the remains of houses, possibly of overseers, and
below are the remnants of the dam which was to have diverted the Karun
water into the cleft.

On a cool, beautiful evening I came down from this somewhat mournful
height to a very striking scene, where the peacock-blue branch from
the Sar-i-Cheshmeh unites with the peacock-green stream from
Kuh-i-Rang, the dark, high sides of their channels shutting out the
mountains. Both rivers rush tumultuously above their union, but
afterwards glide downwards in a smooth, silent volume of most
exquisite colour, so deep as to be unfordable, and fringed with green
strips of grass and innumerable flowers. On emerging from the ravine
the noble mass of the Zard Kuh was seen rose-coloured in the sunset,
its crests and spires of snow cleaving the blue sky, and the bright
waters and flower-starred grass of the plain gave a smiling welcome
home.

The next march was a very beautiful one, most of the way over the
spurs and deeply-cleft ravines of the grand Kuh-i-Rang by sheep and
goat tracks, and no tracks at all, a lonely and magnificent ride, shut
in among mountains of great height, their spurs green with tamarisk,
salvias, and euphorbias, their ravines noisy with torrents, bright
springs bursting from their sides with lawn-like grass below, and
their slopes patched with acres of deep snow, on whose margin purple
crocuses, yellow ranunculuses, and white tulips were springing. But
the grand feature of the march is not the mighty Kuh-i-Rang on the
right, but the magnificent Zard Kuh on the left, uplifting its
snow-fields and snow-crests into the blue of heaven, on the other side
of an ever-narrowing valley. At the pass of Gal-i-Gav, 11,150 (?) feet
in altitude, where we have halted for two days, the Zard Kuh
approaches the Kuh-i-Rang so closely as to leave only a very deeply
cleft ravine between them. From this pass there is a very grand view,
not only of these ranges, but of a tremendous depression into which
the pass leads, beyond which is the fine definite mountain
Kuh-i-Shahan. This pass is the watershed between the Karun and
Ab-i-Diz, though, be it remembered, the latter eventually unites with
the former at Band-i-Kir. All is treeless.

The Kuh-i-Rang is the only "real mountain" seen on the journey
hitherto. It is unlike all others, not only in its huge bulk and
gigantic and far-reaching spurs, but in being _clothed_. Its name
means the "variegated mountain." It has much Devonshire red about it,
but clad as it is now with greenery, its soil and rock ribs cannot be
investigated.

It is a mountain rich in waters, both streams and springs. It is
physically and geographically a centre, a sort of knot nearly uniting
what have been happily termed the "Outer" and "Inner" ranges of the
Bakhtiari mountains, and it manifestly divides the country into two
regions, which, for convenience' sake, have been felicitously termed
the Bakhtiari country and Upper Elam, the former lying to the
south-east and the latter to the north-west of this most important
group of peaks, only just under 13,000 feet, which passes under the
general name Kuh-i-Rang.

A prominent geographical feature of this region is that from this
point south-eastwards the valleys rim parallel with the great ranges,
and are tolerably wide and level, carrying the drainage easily and
smoothly, with plenty of room for the fairly easy tracks which usually
run on both banks of the rivers.

The reader who has followed the geographical part of my narrative
will, I hope, have perceived that the openings through the Outer and
Inner ranges in the region previously traversed are few and
remarkable, the Tang-i-Ghezi and the Tang-i-Darkash Warkash piercing
the Outer, and the Tang-i-Dupulan the Inner range.

The Kuh-i-Rang is the definite water-parting and the originating cause
of two drainage systems, and it may be seen from the map, as was
beautifully obvious from the summit of one of the peaks over 11,000
feet in height, that it marks a singular change in the "lie of the
land," inasmuch as the main drainage no longer runs parallel to the
main ranges, but cuts them across, breaking up Upper Elam into a wild
and confused sea of mountains, riven and gashed, without any attempt
at uniformity.

This cutting through the ranges at right angles by rivers which
somehow must reach the sea, probably through channels formed by some
tremendous operations of nature, presents serious obstacles to the
traveller, and must effectually prevent commerce flowing in that
direction. The aspect of Upper Elam as seen from the Kuh-i-Rang is of
huge walls of naked rock, occasionally opening out so as to give space
for such a noble mountain as the Kuh-i-Shahan, with tremendous gorges
or cañons among them, with sheer precipices 4000 and 5000 feet high,
below which blue-green torrents, crystalline in their purity, rage and
boom, thundering on their way to join the Ab-i-Diz. The valleys are
short, and elevated from 6000 to 7000 feet, and the tracks dignified
by the name of roads pass along them and at great altitudes on the
sides of the main ranges, but are compelled continually to make dips
and ascents of many thousand feet to reach and emerge from the fords
of the rivers which dash through the magnificent rifts and cañons.

To the south-east of the Kuh-i-Rang the formation is orderly and
intelligible; to the north-west all is confusion and disorder, but a
sublime confusion. Two great passes to the north and south of this
magnificent mountain are the only ways of communication between the
region of Upper Elam and the Bakhtiari country. The northern pass was
ascended from Dima. The Kharba, one of the head-streams of the
Zainderud, rises on it and fertilises a beautiful valley about
fourteen miles in length. That pass, the Gal-i-Bard-i-Jamal (the pass
of Jamal's stone), the stone being a great detached rock near the
summit, and the Gal-i-Gav (the Cattle Pass) on the southern side, are
both over 10,000 feet in altitude. They are seldom traversed by the
natives, and only in well-armed parties, as both are very dangerous.

The Kuh-i-Rang must now be regarded as the true birthplace of the
Zainderud and the Karun, though their sources have hitherto been
placed in the Zard Kuh. A tributary of the Ab-i-Diz, and locally
considered as its head-water, rises also in the Kuh-i-Rang.

  [Illustration: AZIZ KHAN.]

Aziz Khan, who had gone to his tents, has returned with a very nice
young servant and another mare, and with him noise and "go." He has
such a definite personality, and is so energetic in his movements,
that the camps are dull without him. He is a fearful beggar. He asks
me for something every day, and for things he can make no possible use
of, simply out of acquisitiveness. He has got from me among many other
things a new embroidered saddle-cloth, a double-bladed knife, an
Indian _kamarband_, many yards of silk, a large pair of scissors,
bracelets for his wife and daughter, and working materials, and now he
has set his heart on a large combination knife, which is invaluable to
me. "What use is that knife to a woman?" he asks daily. Now he says
that I have given him many things but I have never given him money,
and he must have a purse of money.

"Why can you do so much more than our women?" he often asks. His
astonishment that I can read, and yet more that I can write, is most
amusing. "Can many women in your country write?" he asked. "Can your
Queen read and write? Can she embroider as you do?" At first he
thought that I only pretended to write, but was convinced when I sent
a letter to the Ilkhani.

He usually appears when a number of sick people come, interprets their
dialect into good Persian for Mirza, and beats and pelts them with
stones when they crowd too closely, but they do not care. Sometimes
when I say that nothing that I have can do a sick person any good he
begs "for my sake" that I will try, and when I still decline he goes
away in a tantrum, cursing, and shaking his wide _shulwars_ with an
angry strut, but is soon back again with fresh demands.

He spreads his prayer-carpet and goes through his devotions thrice a
day, but somehow "Aziz Khan praying" seems to suggest some ludicrous
idea, even to his co-religionists. "Feringhis don't fear God," he said
to me; "they never worship." I told him he was wrong, that many are
very devout. He said, "Does ---- pray?" mentioning a European. I said
"Most certainly," and he walked away with the sneering laugh of a
fiend. He is a complete child of nature. He says what he thinks, and
acts chiefly as he pleases, but withal there is a gentlemanliness and
a considerable dignity about him. I think that his ruling religion is
loyalty to Isfandyar Khan, and consequent hatred of the Ilkhani and
all his other enemies. Going through a pantomimic firing of an English
rifle he said, "I hope I may shoot the Shah with this one day!" "For
what reason?" I asked. "Because he murdered Isfandyar Khan's father,
and I hate him." I asked him if he liked shooting, and he replied, "I
like shooting men!"

He has done a good deal of fighting, and has been shot through the
lung, arm, and leg, besides getting sword cuts, and he takes some
pride in showing his wounds. I think he is faithful. Mirza says that
he has smoothed many difficulties, and has put many crooked things
straight, without taking any credit to himself. His most apparent
faults are greed and a sort of selfish cunning.

There are many camps about the Gal-i-Gav, and crowds, needing very
careful watching, are always about the tents, wanting to see Feringhi
things, most of the people never having seen a Feringhi. It is a novel
sight in the evenings when long lines of brown sheep in single file
cross the snow-fields, following the shepherds into camp.

This Gal-i-Gav on the Kuh-i-Rang marks a new departure on the journey,
as well as the establishment of certain geographical facts. It will be
impossible for the future to place the source of the Karun in the Zard
Kuh range, for we followed the stream up to the Kuh-i-Rang, or to
indulge in the supposition that the mountains which lie to the
north-west are "covered with eternal snow," which in this latitude
would imply heights from 17,000 to 20,000 feet.

It is indeed a disappointment that, look where one may over the great
area filled up by huge rock barriers and vast mountains, from the
softer ridges bounding the fiery Persian plains to the last hills in
which the Inner range descends upon the great alluvial levels of
Khuzistan, not a peak presents itself in the glittering snowy mantle
which I have longed to see. Snow in forlorn patches or nearly hidden
in sunless rifts, and the snow-fields of the Zard Kuh will remain for
a time, but eternal snow is--nowhere, and it does not appear that the
highest of the peaks much exceeds 13,000 feet, either in Upper Elam or
the Bakhtiari country.

Great difficulties are ahead, not only from tracks which are said to
be impassable for laden animals, but from the disturbed state of the
country. From what I hear from Aziz Khan and from the guides who have
come up here, I gather that the power of the Ilkhani, shaky enough
even nearer Ardal, all but dwindles away here, and is limited to the
collection of the tribute, the petty Khans fighting among themselves,
and doing mainly what is right in their own eyes.

It is somewhat of a satisfaction to me that it is impossible now to go
back, and that a region absolutely unexplored lies ahead, doubtless
full, as the previously untraversed regions have been, of surprises
and interests.

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] For the benefit of other travellers I add that the dose of _salol_
was ten grains every three hours. I found it equally efficacious
afterwards in several cases of acute rheumatism with fever. I hope
that the general reader will excuse the medical and surgical notes
given in these letters. I am anxious to show the great desire for
European medical aid, and the wide sphere that is open to a medical
missionary, at least for physical healing.

[2] A few geographical paragraphs which follow here and on p. 35 are
later additions to the letter.

[3] Although the correct name of this river is undoubtedly Kurang, I
have throughout adopted the ordinary spelling _Karun_, under which it
is commercially and politically known.

[4] _Six Months in Persia._--Stack.



LETTER XVIII


     CAMP GOKUN, _July 6_.

A descent of 5000 feet brought us into the grand and narrow gorge of
the Sahid stream, with willow, walnut, oak, maple, pear, and crab
along its banks, knotted together by sprays of pink roses, with oaks
higher up, and above them again overhanging mountains of naked rock,
scorched, and radiating heat.

Quite suddenly, after a steep ascent, there is a view of a steep slope
below, where a lateral ravine comes down on the Sahid, green with
crops of wheat and barley, poplars, willows, and a grove of fine
walnuts, and more wonderful still, with an _imamzada_ in good repair,
and a village, also named Sahid, in which people live all the year.
The glen is magnificent, and is the one spot that I have seen in
Persia which suggests Switzerland.

It is a steep and difficult descent through a walnut grove to the
village, and before I knew it I was on the roof of a house. The
village is built in ten steps up the steep hillside, the posts which
support one projecting roof resting on the back of the roof below.

The people were timid and suspicious, gave untrue replies to questions
at first, said we were "doing talisman to take their country," and
consulted in Aziz's and Mirza's hearing how they might rob us. It was
even difficult to get them to bring fodder for the horses. They were
fanatical and called us _Kafirs_. Some of the women have never been
out of their romantic mountain-walled hole, in which they are shut up
by snow for four months every winter. Ten families live there, each
one possessing a step. They said they owned sixty-five goats and
sheep, five cows, and seven asses; that they sell their wheat, and
salt from a salt spring at the back of the hill, and that their food
is chiefly acorn flour made into bread, curds, and wild celery.

This bread is made from the fruit of the _Quercus ballota_, which is
often nearly three inches long. The acorns are not gathered, but
picked up when they fall. The women bruise them between stones to
expel the bitter juices. They are afterwards reduced to flour, which
is well washed to remove the remaining bitterness, and dried in the
sun. It is either made into thin cakes and baked, or is mixed into a
paste with buttermilk and water and eaten raw. The baked cakes are not
very unpalatable, but the paste is nauseous. Acorn flour is never used
from choice.

The grain is exchanged for blue cottons and tobacco. It is not
possible to imagine a more isolated life. Tihran and Isfahan are names
barely known to these people, and the Shah is little more to them than
the Czar.

Near the _imamzada_ of Sahid is a burial-ground, rendered holy by the
dust of a _pir_ or saint who lies there. It has many headstones, and
one very large gray stone lion, on whose sides are rude carvings of a
gun, a sword, a dagger, a powder-flask, and a spear. On a few low
headstones a peculiar comb is carved, denoting that the grave is that
of a woman.

To several stones long locks of hair are attached, some black and
shining, others dead-looking and discoloured. It is customary for the
Bakhtiari women to sacrifice their locks to the memory of their
husbands and other near male relatives.

I think that they have a great deal of conjugal and family affection,
though their ways are rough, and that they mourn for their dead for a
considerable time. On one grave a young woman was rocking herself to
and fro, wailing with a sound like the Highland coronach, but longer
and more despairing. She was also beating her uncovered bosom
rhythmically, and had cut her face till the blood came. So apparently
absorbed was she in her grief that she took no notice of a Feringhi
and an Indian. She had been bereaved of her husband for a year, his
life having been sacrificed in a tribal fight.

The next two days were occupied in what might well be called
"mountaineering" on goat tracks; skirting great mountain spurs on
shelving paths not always wide enough for a horse's two feet alongside
of each other, with precipitous declivities of 1000 or 2000 feet;
ascending on ledges of rock to over 9000 feet, then by frightful
tracks descending 2000 or 3000 but to climb again; and at every
descent always seeing in front dizzy zigzags surmounting the crest of
some ragged ridge, only, as one knows, to descend again. _Screw_
nearly fell over backwards with me once and again, and came down a
smooth face of rock as mules sometimes come down a snow slide in
Switzerland. I was told that I should "break my neck" many times, that
no Bakhtiari had ever ridden over these tracks, or ever would, but my
hurt knee left me no choice. These tracks are simply worn by the
annual passage of the nomads and their flocks. They are frightful
beyond all description. The worst paths in Ladak and Nubra are nothing
to them.

Occasionally we traversed deep ravines with noisy torrents where the
shade was dense, and willows, ash, walnut, cherry, elm, plum, and oak
were crowded together, with the _Juniperus excelsa_ in rifts above.
With a moist climate it would be a glorious land, but even where the
scenery is finest there is always something lacking. There is no
atmosphere. All is sharp, colourless, naked. Even many of the flowers
are queer, and some are positively ugly. Many have thorns, some are
leather-like, others woolly, a few sticky. Inconspicuous flowers and
large leathery leaves are very common. The seed-vessels of some are
far prettier than the flowers, and brighter in colour. In several the
calyx grows after the corolla has withered, and becomes bright pink or
orange, like a very gay but only partially-opened blossom.
_Umbelliferæ_ predominate this month. _Compositæ_ too are numerous.
All, even bulbs, send down their roots very deep.

After leaving camp yesterday and crossing a high pass we descended
into the earth's interior, only to ascend a second pass by a steep
zigzag. Suddenly a wall of rock appeared as if to bar progress, but on
nearing it a narrow V-shaped slit was seen to afford a risky passage,
offering no other foothold than smooth shelving rock on the inside for
a number of yards, with a precipice above on the right and below on
the left. Ledges of slippery rock led up to it, and _Screw_ was
jumping and scrambling up these when the guides howled to me to stop,
and I was lifted off somehow. The white Arab was rolling and
struggling in the V, _Screw_ following lost his footing, and the two
presented a confusion of hoofs and legs in the air and bodies
struggling and rolling through the slit till they picked themselves up
with cut legs. The guides tried vainly to find some way by which the
caravans which followed much later might avoid this risk, and the Agha
went down the pass which had been so laboriously ascended to give
directions for its passage.

The _charvadars_ on reaching the difficulty made attempts to turn it
but failed; some loads were taken off and carried by men, and each
mule struggled safely through with one man at his head, and one or
two supporting him by his tail. The passage of the V took the caravan
an hour, but meantime there was the enjoyment of the sight of a
confused mass of mountains, whitish precipitous ranges, sun-lit, with
tremendous ravines between them, lying in the cool blue shadows of
early morning; mountains with long straight summits, mountains
snow-covered and snow-slashed, great spires of naked rock, huge ranges
buttressed by huge spurs herbage-covered, with outcrops of barren
rock,--a mighty, solitary, impressive scene, an uplifted wilderness
without a camp.

The descent of 4000 feet from this summit consists of any number of
zigzag tracks on the narrow top of the narrow ridge of one of the huge
rocky buttresses of Gartak, both sides being precipitous. Even on the
horse I was dizzy, and he went down most unwillingly, not taking any
responsibility as to finding the safest way, and depending solely on
my eye and hand. Mirza, being hampered with the care of his own mule,
was useless, and otherwise I was alone. These thready zigzags ended on
what appeared to be a precipice, from the foot of which human voices
came up, shouting to me to dismount. I did so, and got down, hanging
on to _Screw's_ bridle, and letting myself down over the ledges by my
hands for another hour, having to be careful all the time to avoid
being knocked down by his slips and jumps. I could hardly get him to
face some of the smooth broken faces of rock. A slide of gravel, a
snow-bridge, worn thin, over a torrent, and some slippery rock ledges
to scramble over by its side led to a pathless ascent through grass
and bushes. The guides and Aziz roared to me from a valley below, by
which roars I found my way down a steep hillside to the Gokun, a
mountain river of a unique and most beautiful blue-green colour,
abounding in deep pools from which it emerges in billows of cool
foam.

I forded it by a broad ford where crystal-green water glides calmly
over brown and red pebbles, with a willow-shaded margin, and as I
crossed a flock of long-bearded goats swam and jumped from rock to
rock from the other side, the whole scene an artist's dream. This
valley has magnificent pasturage, hay not yet "sun cured," long grass,
and abundant clover and vetches brightened by a profuse growth of a
small _helianthus_.

The march over the Gokun Pass and down to the Gokun river is the worst
I ever made. Had the track been in Ladak or Lahoul it would have been
marked on the Government maps "impassable for laden animals." Yet
Hadji's splendid mules, held at times by both head and tail,
accomplished it, and only minor disasters occurred. One mule had his
head gashed, Mirza had a bad fall, and broke my milk bottle, Hassan,
leading his own horse, fell twenty feet with the animal and cut his
arm, the ridge pole of my tent was broken, and is with difficulty
bandaged so as to hold, and some of the other baggage was damaged.
Hadji grumbles politely, and says that "in all time loaded mules were
never taken over such tracks," and I believe him. Aziz says that I
must be "tired of life," or I should never ride over them, and
certainly _Screw_ carried me at the peril of his life and mine.

The camps are pitched for Sunday at an altitude of 8000 feet, high
above the river--mine under the befriending shade of a colossal
natural sphinx, so remarkable that two photographs and a sketch by
Mirza were taken of it. It confronted us in a startling way, a grand
man's head with a flowing wig and a legal face, much resembling the
photographs of Lord Chancellor Hatherley.

The mules have been poorly fed for the last few days, and it is
pleasant to see them revelling in the abundant pasturage. After this
tremendous nine hours' march they came in quite cheerily, Cock o' the
Walk leading the caravan, with his fighting face on, shaking his grand
mane, and stamping as if he had not walked a mile.

The Sunday has been a very quiet one, except for the fighting of the
horses, which seem intent on murdering each other, the fussiness of
Aziz about a cut which his mare got yesterday, and for which he
expects my frequent attention, and the torment of the sand-flies,
which revel in the heat which kills the mosquitos.

_Kalahoma, July 11._--On Monday it was a pretty march from the shadow
of the sphinx through a well-irrigated and cultivated valley with many
camps, and by a high pass, to the neighbourhood of the Kuh-i-Shahan,
on which I rested for some hours at a height of 12,010 feet, the
actual summit being somewhat higher. On its north-east side the view
was hideous, of scorched, rolling gravel hills and wide scorched
valleys, with two winding streams, and some patches of wheat
surrounding two scorched mud villages.

The descent to Camp Kamarun, a deep ravine with a rapid mountain
stream, was blessed by a shower, which cooled the air, and resulted in
the only grand, stormy, wild sunset that I have seen for months. This
valley is blocked at the east end by Gargunaki, on the west by the
Kala Kuh, and the rocky ranges of Faidun and the Kuh-i-Shahan close in
its sides.

Long, long ago tradition says a certain great chief had eleven sons.
They quarrelled and divided into hostile factions of four and seven,
forming the still hostile groups of the Chahar Lang and the Haft Lang
of to-day. For some time past the ruling dynasty has been of the Haft
Lang division; Aziz also belongs to it, and we have been almost
entirely among its tribes hitherto. This ancient feud, though modified
in intensity, still exists. At this camp we were among tribes of the
Chahar Lang, and there was reason to apprehend robbery and a night
attack; so careful arrangements were made, and the men kept guard by
turns.

The following day's march, which was also pretty, included a long
descent through a cultivated valley, with willows, plums, and walnuts
growing along a stream, and a steep ascent and descent to the two
villages of Masir on well-cultivated slopes, belonging to Taimur Khan,
the chief of the powerful Magawe tribe, to whom the villagers pay what
they call a moderate "rent" in sheep, goats, and grain. They are of
the Chahar Lang, and deny that they are under the Ilkhani's rule. They
had a fight with a tribe of the Haft Lang ten days ago, killed twelve
men, had seven killed and wounded, and took some guns and horses.
These, however, they have restored at the command of the Ilkhani,
which contradicts their assertion.

They have a burial-ground with several very white lions rampant upon
it, of most noble aspect, boldly carved, and with the usual
bas-reliefs on their sides.

The camps were on a gravelly slope with a yellow glare, and the
mercury reached 105°. The presence of villages in this country always
indicates a comparatively warm climate, in which people can live
throughout the winter. The Scripture phrase, "maketh the outgoings of
the morning and evening to rejoice," has come to bear a clear and
vivid meaning. In this country, in this fiery latitude, life is merely
a struggle from the time the sun has been up for two hours until he
sinks very low. "There is nothing hid from the heat thereof." One
watches with dismay his flaming disc wheel into the cloudless sky, to
blaze and scintillate mercilessly there for many terrible hours,
scorching, withering, destroying, "turning a fruitful land into a
desert," bringing eye diseases in his train. With sunset, but not much
before, comes a respite, embittered by sand-flies, and life begins to
be possible; then darkness comes with a stride and the day is done.

Among the many people who came to the _Hak[=i]m_ was a man who had
received a severe sword cut in the recent fight. I disliked his
expression, and remarked on it to Mirza. On the next day's march,
though there were twelve men with the caravan, this man seized and
made off with the handsome chestnut horse Karun, which was being led.
The horse had a sore back and soon kicked off his rider and was
recovered. On the same march Mujid was attacked, and under the threat
of being stripped was obliged to give up all the money he had on his
person. On the same day some women clamorously demanded bracelets, and
when I did not give them two took hold of my bridle and one of my
foot, and were dragging me off, when on Mirza coming up they let me
go.

Marching among lower hills and broader valleys, irrigated and
cultivated, with much wood along the streams and scattered on the
lower slopes, we passed the inhabited villages of Tarsa and Sah Kala,
surrounded by patches of buckwheat, vetches, and melons, and with much
provision of _kiziks_ for fuel on their roofs, and camped by the
richly-wooded river Guwa, in a grove of fine trees, crossing its
vigorous torrent the next morning by a wicker bridge, the Pul-i-Guwa.
A long ascent among oaks, where the views of mountains and ravines
were grand, an upland meadow where I found a white bee orchis, and a
steep ascent among stones, brought us to the top of a pass 9650 feet
in altitude. On its south-west side there is a very striking view of
gorges of immense depth and steepness, through which the Guwa finds
its way. To the north-east the prospect is of a very feeble country,
which we entered by a tiresome gravelly descent, very open, composed
of low hills with outcrops of rock at their summits, irrigated
rolling valleys and plains, with deep rifts indicative of streams, and
some Magawe villages.

Our route lay across the most scorched and gravelly part of the upper
slopes of a wide valley, scantily sprinkled with blue _eryngiums_ and
a woolly species of _artemisia_, a very repulsive region, where herds
of camels, kept for breeding purposes, were grazing. On the other side
of this valley a spur of the fine mountain Jalanda projects, and on it
are the two villages and fort of Kalahoma, the residence of Taimur
Khan.

We halted below the hill while a spring was being searched for, and I
was sitting on horseback eating my lunch, a biscuit in one hand and a
cup in the other. I have mentioned the savagery of the horses, and
especially of _Hak[=i]m_, who has become like a wild beast. He was
standing fully four horse-lengths away from me, with his tail towards
me, and the guide had let go his bridle, when there was a roar or
squeal, and a momentary vision of glaring wild-beast eyes, streaming
mane, and open mouth rushing down upon me and towering above _Screw's_
head, and the next thing I remember is finding myself on the ground
with my foot in the stirrup and three men lifting me up.

I was a good deal shaken, and cut my arm badly, but mounted again, and
though falling on my head has given me a sickish headache for two
days, I have not absolutely required rest, and in camp there is no use
in "making a fuss"--if indeed there ever is.

I shall not have pleasant memories of this camp. The tents were
scarcely pitched before crowds assembled for medicine. I could get no
rest, for if I shut the tent the heat was unbearable, and if I opened
it there was the crowd, row behind row, the hindmost pushing the
foremost in, so that it was 8 P.M. before I got any food. Yesterday
morning at six I was awakened by people all round the tent, some
shaking the curtains and calling "_Hak[=i]m! Hak[=i]m!_" and though I
kept it shut till eleven, and raised the mercury to 115° by doing so,
there was no rest.

From eleven o'clock till 9 P.M., except for one hour, when I was away
at the Khan's, I was "seeing patients," wishing I were a real instead
of a spurious _Hak[=i]m_, for there was so much suffering, and some of
it I knew not how to relieve. However, I was able (thanks to St.
Mary's Hospital, London) to open three whitlows and two abscesses, and
it was delightful to see the immediate relief of the sufferers. "God
is great," they all exclaimed, and the bystanders echoed, "God is
great." I dressed five neglected bullet wounds, and sewed up a gash of
doubtful origin, and with a little help from Mirza prepared
eye-lotions and medicines for seventy-three people. I asked one
badly-wounded man in what quarrel he had been shot, and he replied
that he didn't know, his Khan had told him to go and fight.

In the afternoon several very distressed people were brought from an
Armenian village ten miles off, and were laid by those who brought
them at the tent door. At five the crowd was very great and the hubbub
inconceivable, and Mirza failed to keep order in the absence of Aziz
Khan, who had gone on a pilgrimage to a neighbouring _imamzada_. The
mercury had never fallen below 100°. I had been standing or kneeling
for six hours, and had a racking headache, so I reluctantly shut up my
medicine chest and went by invitation to call on the Khan's wives, but
the whole crowd surrounded and followed me, swelling as it moved
along, a man with a mare with bad eyes, which had been brought ten
miles for eye-lotion, increasing the clamour by his urgency. "Khanum!
Khanum!" (lady) "Chashma!" (eyes) "Shikam!" (stomach) were shouted on
all sides, with "_Hak[=i]m! Hak[=i]m!_" The people even clutched my
clothing, and hands were raised to heaven to implore blessings on me
if I would attend to them.

The whole village of Kalahoma was out, thronging, pressing, and almost
suffocating me, and the Khan's servants who came to meet me did not or
could not disperse the people, though every man holds his life at the
Khan's disposal. These villages, which are surrounded by opium fields,
are composed of the rudest of human habitations, built of rough
stones, the walls being only five feet high. There is much
subterranean room for cattle. The stacks of such winter fodder as
celery and _Centaurea alata_, and those of _kiziks_ for fuel, are
larger than the dwellings. The latter are of conical form, and many of
them are built on the house roofs.

Taimur Khan's fort and _serai_ are in the midst of all this, and are
very poor and ruinous, but the walls are high, and they have a
_balakhana_. As I approached the ladies came out to meet me, veiled in
white cotton _chadars_. The principal wife took my hand and led me
through a hole in the wall, not to be called a doorway, into a
courtyard littered with offal and piled with stacked animal fuel, and
up some high dilapidated steps, into a small dark room, outside of
which are a very small "lobby" and a blackened ladder against the
wall, leading to the roof, on which the ladies sleep in the hot
weather. Some poor rugs covered the floor, and there were besides some
poor cotton-covered bolsters. Everything, even the dress of the
ladies, indicated poverty. The dark hot room was immediately packed
with a crowd of women, children, and babies, all appallingly dirty. It
was a relief when the Khan was announced in the distance, and they
cleared out like frightened sheep, leaving only the four wives, who
stood up at his approach, and remained standing till he was seated.

No "well-bred" Khan would pay me a visit in his _andarun_ without
sending first with his "homage" to know if I would receive him, nor
did Taimur Khan violate this rule or the other of remaining standing
until I asked him to be seated. He is a tall, very melancholy-looking
man, with a Turkish cast of face, and is dressed in the usual Persian
style. After a few ordinary commonplaces he talked politics and tribal
affairs, _apparently_ frankly, but who can say if truthfully? He knows
that I have letters from the Prime Minister, and he hoped that I might
do him some good at Tihran. As soon as important subjects superseded
trifles, the wives relapsed into complete indifference, and stared
into vacancy.

His tribe, the Magawe, is estimated at 500 families, and has been
powerful. Taimur Khan is a staunch adherent of the Ilkhani, but at
this point there is a change as to the tribute, half of which is paid
to the Ilkhani and half to the Governor of Burujird. He has many
grievances, and complains most bitterly that he and his tribe are
being ground into poverty by exactions which, he asserts, have this
year raised the tribute from 700 to 4000 _tumans_.

He asks me to do something to help him, adding that his house is in
ruins, and that he is so oppressed that he cannot build a new one, or
have any surroundings suitable to his rank. I said that I could only
send his statements to the British "Vakil" in Tihran, and he at once
asked how many horses he should present him with. I replied that the
"Vakil" would not accept anything, and that he had lately declined a
superb diamond setting in which the Shah desired to send him his
picture. The Khan raised his hands, with the exclamation "God is
great!"

Isfandyar Khan and Taimur Khan were at war some years ago, and fought
from mountain to mountain, and Taimur Khan was eventually captured,
taken to Burujird, and sent to Isfahan, where he was kept in irons
for some years, the redoubtable Aziz Khan being one of his captors.
This accounts for the disappearance of Aziz on "pilgrimage" to a
neighbouring _imamzada_, and the consequent dulness of the camp.

Among a people at once simple and revengeful, it is not unlikely that
such severities may bear their legitimate fruit if an occasion
presents itself, such as the embroilment of Persia with any other
power. Another Khan who was thrown into prison and irons by the
Zil-es-Sultan expressed himself strongly on the subject. "Five years,"
he said, holding out his muscular wrists, on which the marks of
fetters are still visible, "I wore the chains. Can I forget?" The
Bakhtiaris do not love the Persians, and are held, I think, by a
brittle thread.

I have written of the extreme poverty of the surroundings of the Khaja
Taimur or Taimur Khan. It is not a solitary instance. Throughout this
journey I am painfully impressed with the poverty of the tribesmen. As
compared with the wealth of those farther south when visited by Sir A.
H. Layard and the Baron de Bode, their condition is one of
destitution. The Ilkhani and Ilbegi have fine studs, but few of the
Khans have any horses worth looking at, and for some time past none at
all have been seen except a few belonging to the chiefs, and the men
either walk or ride very small asses.

Their cattle are few and small and their flocks insignificant when
compared with those of the Arab tribes west of the Tigris. Their tents
and furnishings are likewise extremely poor, and they live poorly,
many of them only able to procure acorn flour for bread, and this
though they grow a great deal of grain, and every yard of land is
cultivated if water is procurable.

The hospitality which those two travellers mention as a feature of the
character of the more southerly Bakhtiaris does not exist among these
people. They have, in fact, little to be hospitable with. They all
speak of better days in the times of their fathers, when they had
brood mares and horses to ride, much pastoral wealth and plenty of
_roghan_, and when their women could wear jewels and strings of coins.

On this point I believe them, though there may possibly be
exaggeration in Taimur Khan's statements. Persia has undoubtedly
tightened her grip upon them, and she is sucking their life-blood out
of them. This becomes very evident now that we have reached a point
where the government of Burujird comes in, with the infinite
unrighteousness of Persian provincial governors. It is not the tribute
fixed by the Amin-es-Sultan which these Khans complain of, but the
rapacious exactions of the local governors.

There is a "blood feud" between Taimur Khan and Aslam Khan, the chief
of the Zalaki tribe, on whose territory we shall enter to-day. A
nephew of Taimur killed a relation of Aslam, and afterwards Taimur
sheltered him from legitimate vengeance. Just now the feud is very
active, and cattle-lifting and other reprisals are going on. "Blood
feuds" are of three degrees, according to the nature of the offence.
In the first a man of the one tribe can kill a man of the other
wherever he finds him. In the second he harries his cattle and goods.
In the third he simply "boycotts" him and refuses him a passage
through his territory. The Bakhtiaris have often been called
"bloodthirsty." I doubt whether they are so, though life is of little
account, and they are reckless about spilling blood.

They have a great deal of family devotion, which in lesser degree
extends to the members of their tribe, and a Bakhtiari often spares
the life of a man who has aggrieved him owing to his fear of creating
a blood feud, which must be transmitted from father to son, and which
must affect the whole tribe. As a deterrent from acts of violence it
acts powerfully, and may account for the singular bloodlessness of
some of the tribal fights. Few men, unless carried away by a whirlwind
of fury, care to involve a tribe in the far-reaching consequences
alluded to, and bad as the custom of blood feuds is, I think there can
be no doubt that it acts as a curb upon the passions of these wild
tribesmen. "There is blood between us and them," is a phrase often
heard.

Punishments are simple and deterrent, well suited to a simple people.
When a homicide is captured he is handed over to the relatives of the
slain man, who may kill him, banish him, fine him, or pardon him. In
point of fact, "blood-money" is paid to the family of the deceased
person, and to save his life from their vengeance a homicide
frequently becomes a mendicant on the other side of the mountains till
he can gain the required sum. Moslem charity responds freely to a
claim for alms to wipe out a blood stain. The Ilkhani has a right to
fine a homicide. "Blood for blood" is a maxim very early inculcated.

The present feud between the Magawe and the Zalaki tribes is of the
first degree. It is undoubtedly a part of the truly Oriental policy of
Persia to foment tribal quarrels, and keep them going, with the object
of weakening the power of the clans, which, though less so than
formerly, is a standing menace to the central government.

On reaching camp after this visit I found a greater crowd than ever,
and as "divers of them came from far," I tried to help them till nine
o'clock, and as Aziz had returned the crowding was not so severe. He
said, "You're very tired, send these people away, you've done enough."
I answered that one had never done enough so long as one could do
more, and he made a remark which led me to ask him if he thought a
_Kafir_ could reach Paradise? He answered "Oh no!" very hastily, but
after a moment's thought said, "I don't know, God knows, _He doesn't
think as we do_, He may be more merciful than we think. If Kafirs fear
God they may have some Paradise to themselves, we don't know."

     I. L. B.



LETTER XVIII (_Continued_)[5]


     CAMP KALA KUH, _July 16_.

The call to "Boot and Saddle" was at three, and I was nearly too tired
to pack in the sultry morning air. The heat is overpowering. Khaja
Taimur no doubt had reasons for a difficulty in providing guides,
which caused delay. The track lay through pretty country, with
abounding herbage, to the village and _imamzada_ of Makhedi. There the
guide said he dared not go any farther for fear of being killed, and
after some time another was procured. During this delay a crowd of
handsome but hardship-aged women gathered round me, many of them
touching the handkerchiefs on their heads and then tapping the palms
of their hands, a significant sign, which throughout Persia, being
interpreted, means, "Give me some money."

The Agha is in the habit of gathering the little girls about him and
giving them _krans_ as from his own children, a most popular
proceeding usually; but here the people were not friendly, and very
suspicious. Even the men asked me clamorously, "Why does he give them
money? It's poisoned, it's cursed, it's to make them blind." However,
avarice prevailed over fear. The people rarely see money, and it is
not used as a medium of exchange, but they value it highly for paying
the tribute and as ornaments for the women. Barter is the custom, and
with regard to "tradesmen," whether in camps or villages, it is usual
for each family to pay so much grain annually to the blacksmith, the
carpenter, the shoemaker--_i.e._ the man who makes compressed rag or
leather soles for _ghevas_ and unites the cotton webbing ("upper") to
the sole--and the _hammam_ keeper, in the rare cases where there is
one. They were cutting wheat on July 12 there at an altitude of 7000
feet. Where there are only camps the oxen tread it out at once on the
hard soil of the fields, but where there is a village the sheaves are
brought in on donkeys' backs to a house roof of sun-dried clay, and
are there trodden out, the roofs being usually accessible from the
slope above.

We descended to a deep ford, crossed the river Ab-i-Baznoi (locally
known as Kakulistan, or "the curl," from its singular windings), there
about sixty feet wide, with clear rapid water of a sky-blue tint, very
strong, and up to the guide's waist, and entered a steep-sided stony
valley, where the heat was simply sickening. There the second guide
left us, saying he should be killed if he went any farther, but
another was willing to succeed him. After a steep ascent we emerged on
a broad rolling upland valley, deeply gashed by a stream, with the
grand range of the Kala Kuh on the south side, and low bare hills on
the north. It is now populous, the valley and hillsides are spotted
with large camps, and the question at once arose, "Hostile or
Friendly?"

I was riding as usual with Mirza behind me, when a man with a gun
rushed frantically towards me from an adjacent camp, waving his gun
and shouting, "Who are you? Why are you in our country? You're friends
of Khaja Taimur, you've given him presents, we'll rob you"! With
these and many similar words he pursued us, and men started up as by
magic, with long guns, running alongside, the low spurs became covered
with people in no time, and there was much signalling from hill to
hill, "A-hoy-hoy-hoy-hoy," and sending of messengers. Mirza pacified
them by saying that we are friends of Isfandyar Khan, and that I have
presents for Aslam Khan, their chief; but soon the shout of
"Feringhis" was raised, and from group to group along the knolls
swelled the cry of "Feringhis! Feringhis!" mixed with a few shouts of
_Kafir_; but without actual molestation we reached a steep and
uncomfortable camping-ground, Padshah-i-Zalaki, at an altitude of 7800
feet, with an extensive view of the broad green valley.

Before we halted Aslam Khan, a very fine-looking man, and others met
us, and performed feats of horsemanship, wheeling their horses in
small circles at a gallop, and firing pantomimically over their left
shoulders and right flanks. The Sahib came in later, so that our party
was a tolerably strong one.

The first thing the people did was to crowd into the shelter-tent and
lie down, staring fixedly, a thing which never happened before, and
groups steadily occupied the tops of the adjacent spurs. After my tent
was pitched the people assembled round it in such numbers, ostensibly
desiring medicine, that the Khan sent two _tufangchis_ to keep order
among them, and Karim, whose arm is now well, was added as a
protection. The Agha ordered that the people should sit in rows at the
sides and take their turn, one at a time, to come into the verandah,
but no sooner were he and Aziz Khan out of sight than they began to
crowd, to shout, and to become unmanageable, scuffling and pushing,
the _tufangchis_ pretending to beat them with the barrels of their
guns, but really encouraging them, and at length going away, saying
they could not manage them. Karim begged me to stop giving medicine,
for he was overpowered, and if he opposed them any more there would be
a fight. They had said that if he "spoke another word they would kill
him." They were perfectly good-humoured all the time, but acted like
complete savages, getting under the _flys_, tugging at the tent ropes,
and trying to pull my blankets off the bed, etc. At last the hindmost
gave a sudden push, sending the foremost tumbling into the tent and
over me, upsetting a large open packet of sulphate of zinc, just
arrived from Julfa, which was on my lap.

I left the tent to avoid further mischief, but was nearly suffocated
by their crowding and tugging my dress, shouting "_Hak[=i]m!
Hak[=i]m!_" The Sahib, who came to the rescue, and urged them in
Persian to depart, was quite powerless. In the midst of the confusion
the Khan's wives and daughter came to visit me, but I could only show
them the crowd and walk, followed by it, in the opposite direction
from the tent, till I met the Agha, whose presence restored order.
That night nearly all Hadji's _juls_ or mule blankets and a donkey
were stolen.

The Zalakis are a large and powerful tribe, predatory by habit and
tradition. Aslam Khan himself directed certain thefts from which we
suffered, and quoted a passage from the Koran not only to extenuate
but to warrant depredations on the goods of "infidels."

Sunday was spent in the hubbub of a crowd. I was suffering somewhat
from a fall, and yet more from the fatigues of Kalahoma, and longed
for rest, but the temperature of the tent when closed was 106°, and
when open the people crowded at the entrance, ostensibly for medicine,
but many from a pardonable and scarcely disguised curiosity to see the
"Feringhi _Hak[=i]m_," and hear her speak.

In the afternoon, with Mirza and Karim as a guard, I went somewhat
reluctantly to the Khan's camp to return the abortive visit of the
ladies. This camp consists of a number of black tents arranged in a
circle, the Khan's tents only distinguishable from the rest by their
larger size. Mares, dogs, sheep, goats, and fireholes were in the
centre, and some good-looking horses were tethered outside.

The Khan's mother, a fine, buxom, but coarse-looking woman, met me,
and took me to an open tent, fully forty feet long, the back of which
was banked up by handsome saddle-bags. Bolsters and rugs were laid in
the middle, on which the four legitimate wives and several inferior
ones, with a quantity of babies and children crawling about them, were
seated. Among them was a very handsome Jewish-looking girl of
eighteen, the Khan's daughter, pleasing in expression and graceful in
manner. She is married to a son of Taimur Khan, but he does not care
for her, and has practically discarded her, which adds insult to the
"blood feud" previously existing.

After I entered the tent the whole camp population, male and female,
crowded in, pressing upon us with clamour indescribable. The Khan's
mother slapped the wives if they attempted to speak and conducted
herself like a ruling virago, occasionally shrieking at the crowd,
while a _tufangchi_ with a heavy stick belaboured all within his
reach, and those not belaboured yelled with laughter.

The senior lady beckoned Mirza to lean towards her, and told him in a
whisper that her handsome granddaughter is hated and despised by her
husband, and has been sent back with a baby a year old, he having
taken another wife, and that she wanted me to give her a "love
philtre" that would answer the double purpose of giving her back his
love and making her rival hateful in his eyes. During this whispered
conference as many as could reach leant close to the speakers, like
the "savages" that they are. I replied that I knew of no such
philtres, that if the girl's beauty and sweetness could not retain her
husband's love there was no remedy. She said she knew I had them, and
that I kept them, as well as potions for making favourite wives ugly
and odious to their husbands, in a leather box with a gold key! Then
many headaches and sore eyes were brought, and a _samovar_ and tea,
and I distributed presents in a Babel in which anything but the most
staccato style of conversation was impossible. When I left the crowd
surged after me, and a sharp stone was thrown, which cut through my
cloak.

Later, Aslam Khan, his brothers, and the usual train of retainers
called. He is a very fine-looking man, six feet high, with a most
sinister expression, and a look at times which inspired me with the
deepest distrust of him. His robber tribe numbers 3500 souls, and he
says that he can bring 540 armed horsemen into the field. He too asked
for medicine for headache. Not only is there a blood feud between him
and Khaja Taimur, but between him and Mirab Khan, through whose valley
we must pass. In the evening the Khan's mother returned with several
women, bent on getting the "love philtre." At night Hadji, who was
watching, said that men were prowling round the tents at all hours,
and a few things were taken.

On Monday morning early all was ready, for the three caravans from
that day were to march together, and I was sitting on my horse talking
with the Sahib, waiting for the Agha to return from the Khan's camp,
when he rushed down the slope exclaiming, "There's mischief!" and I
crossed the stream and watched it. About twenty men with loaded sticks
had surrounded Mujid, and were beating him and finally got him down.
I leapt back to my own camp, where Hassan and Karim were taking a
parting smoke, and ordered them to the rescue. The soldier rushed into
the _mêlée_, armed with only a cane, which was broken at once, and the
Bakhtiaris got him by his thick hair, and all but forced him down; but
he fought like a bulldog, and so did Hassan, who was unarmed and got
two bad cuts. Dashed too into the fray Hadji Hussein, who fought like
a bull, followed by his muleteers and by Abbas Ali, who, being early
knocked down, hung on to a man's arm with his teeth. The Sahib, who
was endeavouring to make peace, was untouched, possibly because of his
lineage and faith, and he yelled to Mirza (who in a fight is of no
account) to run for the Agha, whose presence is worth fifty men.

Meanwhile a number of Zalakis, armed, two with guns and the rest with
loaded sticks, crowded round me, using menacing gestures and calling
me a _Kafir_, on which I took my revolver out of the holster, and very
slowly examined the chambers, though I knew well that all were loaded.
This had an excellent effect. They fell back, and were just dispersing
when over the crest of the hill cantered Aziz Khan, followed by the
Agha, who, galloping down the slope, fired a revolver twice over the
head of a man who was running away, who, having stolen a sheep, and
being caught in the act by Mujid, had begun the fray. Aslam Khan
followed, and, the men say, gave the order to fire, but recalled it on
finding that one of his tribesmen had been the aggressor. I thought he
took the matter very coolly, and he almost immediately told Mirza to
ask me for a penknife!

After this we started, the orders being for the caravans to keep well
together, and if we were absolutely attacked to "fire." After
ascending a spur of the Kala Kuh we left the track for an Ilyat camp
on a steep hill among oaks and pears, where I had promised to see a
young creature very ill of fever.

Among the trees was a small booth of four poles, roofed with celery
stalks, but without sides or ends, and in this, on a sheepskin, was a
heap out of which protruded two white wasted arms. I uncovered the
back of a head which turned slowly, and revealed, in a setting of
masses of heavy shining hair, the white face of a young girl, with
large brilliant eyes and very beautiful teeth. Her pulse was
fluttering feebly, and I told the crowd that death was very near, for
fear they should think I had poisoned her with the few drops of
stimulant that she was able to swallow. Even here the death penalty
sometimes follows the joy of maternity. She died in the evening, and
now nothing remains of the camp but a heap of ashes, for these people
always at once leave the camping-ground where a death has occurred.

Meanwhile the Agha was making friends with the people, and giving
_krans_ to the children, as is his habit. Scarcely had we left when he
found that he had been robbed of a fine pair of binocular glasses,
almost a necessity under the circumstances. English rifles,
binoculars, and watches are all coveted by the Bakhtiaris. Aziz Khan
became very grave, and full of dismal prophecies regarding the
remainder of the journey.

After this divergence the scenery was magnificent. The Kala Kuh range
is certainly finer than the Zard Kuh. It is more broken up into peaks
of definite outline, and is more deeply cut by gorges, many of them
the beds of torrents, densely wooded. In fact it is less of a _range_
and more of a _group_. The route lay among huge steep mountains of
naked rock, cut up by narrow, deep, and gigantic clefts, from whose
depths rise spires of rock and stupendous, almost perpendicular
cliffs. Green torrents flecked with foam boom through the shadows, or
flash in the sunlight, margined wherever it is possible by walnuts,
oaks, lilacs, roses, the _Lastrea dilatata_, and an entanglement of
greenery revelling in spray.

A steep zigzag descent through oak and pear trees brought us to the
vigorous torrent Ab-i-Sefid (white water), one of many of the same
name, crossed by a natural bridge of shelving rock, slippery from much
use. One of the Arabs so nearly fell on this that I dismounted, and
just as I did so Abbas Ali's mule fell on his side, and _Screw_
following did the same, breaking several things in the holster.

After crossing a deep ravine Abbas Ali sprang back down the steep to
it, and the Sahib, who was behind, also ran down with three men to
what was evidently a disaster. Mirza's mule had fallen over twenty
feet, rolling over him three times with its load, hurting his knee
badly. The Sahib said he never saw so narrow an escape from a broken
neck. The loss of a bottle containing a quart of milk was the chief
damage. A little farther up three men were tugging _Hak[=i]m_ up to
the track by the tail. It was a very steep ascent by stony broken
zigzags and ledges to the fairly level top of a spur of the Kala Kuh
range, with a high battlemented hill behind, at the back of which
dwell robber hordes, and many Seyyids, who pay no tribute, and are
generally feared.

At this open, breezy height of 9200 feet the camps have been pitched
for three days, and of the many camping-grounds which we have hitherto
occupied I like it the best, so lofty is it, so lonely, so mysterious
and unexplored. It has a glorious view of tremendous wooded ravines,
down which green waters glide or tumble, of small lawn-like plateaux
among woods, and of green peaks in the foreground, and on the other
side of the narrow, sinuous valley, several thousand feet below,
there is a confused mass of mountains, among which the snow-slashed
southern faces of the peaks of the Zard Kuh and the grand bulk of a
mountain of the Faidun range, are the most prominent.

Five thousand feet below, reached by a remarkable track, is Basnoi, a
lonely depth, with successive terraces of figs, pomegranates, and
walnuts, dense woods, and a luxuriant undergrowth of long grass and
ferns. Among them are the remains of an ancient road of good width and
construction, and of a very fine bridge of small blocks of
carefully-dressed stone, with three arches, now ruined, with fine
piers and stone abutments, the centre arch having a span of sixty
feet. The roadway of the bridge is gone, and a crazy wicker framework
is suspended in its place. The Bakhtiaris attribute these relics of an
extinct civilisation to Shapur, one of the three kings of that name
who reigned in the third and fourth centuries. All these green waters
fall into the Ab-i-Diz.

Before sunset heads of men and barrels of guns were seen over the
rocky cliff behind us. We had been warned against the outlaw tribes of
that region, and had been told that they were preparing to rob the
camp that night with thirty men, and had declared that if they failed
they would dog us till they succeeded. This news was brought by Aslam
Khan's brother in the afternoon. I asked Aziz with how much I should
reach Burujird, and he answered, "It's well if you take your life
there."

This and a whole crop of other rumours, magnified as they passed from
man to man, produced a novel excitement in the lonely camps. Hadji
buried his money, of which he had a large sum, and lay down upon it.
Rifles and revolvers were cleaned and loaded, swords and knives
sharpened, voices were loud and ceaseless, and those who were slightly
hurt in the morning's fray recounted their adventures over and over
again. All dispositions for safety were carefully made before night.
Hassan, who has a horse, and large property in good clothes, wanted a
revolver, but was wisely refused, on the ground that to arm
undisciplined men indiscriminately would be to run a great risk of
being ourselves shot in any confusion. There were then four men with
rifles, five with revolvers, and Aslam Khan's brother and two
_tufangchis_ with guns.

About eight the Bakhtiari signal-call was several times repeated, and
I wondered if it were foe or friend, till Aziz's answering signal rang
out loud and clear, announcing that it was "friends of Isfandyar
Khan." Shortly I heard, "the plot thickens," and the "friends" turned
out to be another brother of Aslam Khan, with four _tufangchis_ and a
promise of eight more, who never arrived. According to these men
reliable information had been received that Khaja Taimur, our friend
of Kalahoma, was sending forty men to rob us on Aslam Khan's territory
in order to get him into trouble.

This arrival increased the excitement among the men, who piled
tamarisk and the gum tragacanth bush on the fires most recklessly, the
wild, hooded _tufangchis_ and their long guns being picturesque in the
firelight. I am all but positively sure that the rumour was invented
by Aslam Khan, in order to show his vigilant care of guests, and
secure from their gratitude the much-coveted possession of an English
rifle. Hadji came to my tent, telling me "not to be the least afraid,
for they would not harm a lady." The Agha has a resource for every
emergency, the Sahib is cool and brave, and besides that, I strongly
suspected the whole thing to be a ruse of Aslam Khan, whom I distrust
thoroughly. At all events I was asleep very early, and was only
disturbed twice by Aziz calling to know if my servants were watching,
and was only awakened at five by the Sahib and the Agha going past my
tent, giving orders that any stranger approaching the camp was to be
warned off, and was to be fired upon if he disregarded the warning.

A blissfully quiet day followed the excitement of the night before.
The men slept after their long watch, and the fighting horses were at
a distance. The Agha did not return, and for a day and night I was the
only European in camp. Aziz Khan, with an English rifle, a hundred
cartridges, and two revolvers in his belt, kept faithful watch, and to
"make assurance doubly sure" I walked through the camp twice during
the night to see that the men on guard were awake.

Before midnight there was a frightful "row" for two hours, which
sounded as if fifty men were taking part in it. I have often wondered
at the idiotic things that Hassan does, and at the hopelessly dazed
way in which he sometimes stands. Now it has come out that he is
smoking more and more opium, and has been supplying Karim with it.

Mujid, who was formerly the Agha's cook, has been promoted to be
_major-domo_, rules the caravan on the march, heads it on a fine
horse, keeps accounts, and is generally "confidential." Karim resents
all this. He lately bought a horse because he could not bear to ride a
baggage mule when the other man was well mounted, and being that night
mad with opium, and being armed both with rifle and revolver, with
which he threatened to kill Mujid, it was only by the united and
long-continued efforts of all the men that bloodshed was prevented.
The next day Hassan destroyed his opium pipe, and is trying to cure
himself of the habit with the aid of morphia, but he complains of
"agony in the waist," which is just the fearful craving which the
disuse of the drug causes.

The Agha encountered very predatory Lurs in the lower regions. A mule
was stolen by two Lurs, then robbed from them by three, who in their
turn were obliged to surrender it to some passing Ilyats, from whom he
recovered it. While he was resting at night he was awakened by hearing
some Lurs who had joined them discussing the practicability of robbing
him, but when one told the others that he had found out that "the
Feringhi has six shots," they gave it up. At this camp we are only a
few days' march from classic ground, the ancient Elam with its capital
of Susa, and the remains of so fine a bridge, with the unusual
feature, still to be distinctly traced, of level approaches, the
adjacent ruins, and the tradition of an old-world route, a broad road
having followed the river-bed to the plains of Lower Elam, all point
to an earlier and higher civilisation. Overlooking the bridge on the
left bank of the Ab-i-Basnoi a large square enclosure, with large
stone slabs inside, was found, which had probably been used for a
cistern, and outside there were distinct traces of an aqueduct.

The "Sang Niwishta" (inscribed stone), which has been talked about for
a hundred miles, and promised to be a great discovery, was
investigated by a most laborious march, and turned out a great
disappointment. It was to be hoped, indeed it might have been
expected, that a journey through these, till now unexplored, regions
would have resulted in the discovery of additional records of the past
carved in stone, but such is not the case.

Still, it is something to have learned that even here there was once a
higher civilisation, and that in its day there was great traffic along
the Basnoi road, and that every route through this Upper Elam, whether
from north, west, or east, from the Persian highlands to the plains of
Arabistan, and the then populous banks of the Kerkhah, must have
passed through the great gap below Pul-i-Kul.

The Gokun, Sahid, Guwa, and any number of other streams fall into
this Ab-i-Basnoi, which is the channel for the drainage of far-off
Faraidan, and after a full-watered course joins the Ab-i-Burujird,
which drains the plain of Silakhor, the two forming the Ab-i-Diz, on
which the now famous town of Dizful (lit. Pul-i-Diz or Bridge of Diz)
is situated.

_Gardan-i-Gunak, July 20._--On July 17 we retraced our steps to
Padshah-i-Zalaki, and camped on a height above Aslam Khan's tents on
ground so steep that the tent floor had to be cut into steps with a
spade. Aslam Khan and others came to meet us, again performing feats
of horsemanship. No sooner were the tents pitched than the crowd
assembled, and it was another noisy and fagging day. Among the things
taken from my tent were an umbrella, knife, scissors, and most of my
slender stock of underclothing. The scissors and cotton were taken by
a young sister-in-law of the Khan, while I was attending to a terrible
hurt outside. It turns out that Aslam Khan has got the Agha's
binocular, and that he told his men to acquire a small but very
powerful telescope which he coveted. My milk bottle in a leather
sling-case has a likeness to it, and this morning as I was giving a
woman some eye-lotion her son withdrew this, almost under my eyes!

The Khan's face is a most faithful reproduction of that of Judas in
Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper." He is so fine-looking that one is
surprised that he should condescend to do small mean things. I sent
him the knife he asked for, and soon he called and asked for a bigger
one. He passed off his handsome daughter, the wife of Taimur Khan's
son, as his wife, in order to get, through her, a travelling-clock
which he coveted.

They brought a woman to me who might have been produced from a London
slum, ophthalmia in one eye, the other closed up and black, and behind
it and through her nose a deep wound, gaping fully an inch, blood
caked thick and black all over her face and matting her hair, her
upper lip cut through, and two teeth knocked out--a regular hospital
case. Her brother, they said, had quarrelled with her and had thrown
stones at her only the day before, but they had already filled up the
wounds with some horrible paste. I asked Sardah Khan why the Khan did
not have the man thrashed for such a brutality, and he replied that no
one would touch him, as he had killed three men last winter.

I spent two hours upon the poor creature, and the relief was so great
that her gratitude was profuse, and the blessings invoked manifold. It
was a great pleasure to me. But many things were taken out of the tent
while I sat outside attending to her. The Khan's brothers,
_tufangchis_ with their long guns, Seyyids with their green turbans
and contemptuous scowl, women, and children were all pressing upon me,
hindering and suffocating me in a temperature of nearly 100°. They
seem to have no feeling for pain or shrinking from painful spectacles,
and rather to enjoy the groans of the sufferer. Each time a piece of
stone was taken out of the wounds they exclaimed "God is great!"
Occasionally, when the crush interfered with what I was doing, a man
beat them with his gun, or Aziz Khan threw stones at them, but it was
useless.

The people tell our men that _Kafirs_ have never before entered their
valley, and that if we were not under the Shah's protection they would
take all that we have. I imagine that the difficulties are far greater
than I know, for the Agha, who minimises all danger, remarked last
night that this is a most anxious time, and that he should be most
thankful to get every one out of the country, for it was impossible to
say what a day might bring forth. All idea of my returning to Julfa is
now abandoned. Bad as it is it is safer to go on.

As the welcome darkness fell the hillsides near and far blazed with
fires, and Aslam Khan's camp immediately below was a very picturesque
sight, its thirty-one tents forming a circle, with the Khan's two
tents in the middle, each having a fire in front. Supper was prepared
in large pots; the men ate first, then the women, children, and dogs.
The noise suggested pandemonium. The sheep and goats bleated, the big
dogs barked, the men and women shouted and shrieked all together, at
the top of their voices, rude musical instruments brayed and
clanged,--it sounded diabolical. Doubtless the inroad of the Feringhis
was the topic of talk. Savage life does not bear a near view. Its
total lack of privacy, its rough brutality, its dirt, its undisguised
greed, its unconcealed jealousies and hatreds, its falseness, its pure
selfishness, and its treachery are all painful on a close inspection.

The following morning early we came up to the Gunak, the narrow top of
a pass in the Kala Kuh range with an altitude of 10,200 feet, crossing
on the way a steep and difficult snow-slide, and have halted here for
two days. Marching with the caravan is a necessary precaution, but a
most tedious and fatiguing arrangement. No more galloping, only a
crawl at "caravan pace," about two and a half miles an hour for five,
six, or seven hours, and though one is up at 2.45 it is fully five
before the mules are under way, and meantime one is the centre of that
everlasting crowd which, on some pretext or other, asks for medicine.
If no ailment can be produced at present, then the request is, "Give
me something from the leather box, I've a cough in the winter," or an
uncovered copper bowl is brought, the contents of which would
evaporate in a fortnight in this climate, with the plaint, "I've a
brother," or some other relative, "who has sore eyes in spring, please
give me some eye-lotion." Nothing is appreciated made from their own
valuable medicinal herbs. "Feringhi medicine" is all they care for,
and in their eyes every Feringhi is a _Hak[=i]m_.

I have often wondered that the Moslem contempt for women does not
prevent even the highest chiefs from seeking a woman's medical help,
but their own _Hak[=i]ms_, of whom there are a few, though I have
never seen any, are mostly women, and the profession is hereditary.
The men, they say, are too unsettled to be _Hak[=i]ms_. Some of these
women are renowned for their skill as bullet extractors. If a father
happens to have any medical knowledge he communicates it to his
daughter rather than to his son. Aziz's grandmother learned medicine
from a native Indian doctor in Fars, and his mother had a repute as a
bullet extractor. A woman extracted the three bullets by which he has
been wounded. The "fees" are very high, but depend entirely on the
cure. A poor man pays for the extraction of a bullet and the cure of
the wound from fifteen to twenty _tumans_ (from £5 to £6:10s.), a rich
man from forty to sixty. In all cases they only give medicine so long
as they think there is hope of recovery, and have no knowledge of any
treatment which can alleviate the sufferings of the dying. When death
seems inevitable they stuff the nose with a paste made of aromatic
herbs.

They dress wounds with an astringent paste made from a very small
gall-nut found on one species of oak. For dyspeptic pains and "bad
blood" they eat bitumen. For snake-bite, which is common, they keep
the bitten person moving about and apply the back part of live hens to
the wound till the hens cease to be affected, or else the intestines
of a goat newly killed. For rheumatism, headache, and debility they
have no remedies, but for fever they use an infusion of willow bark,
which is not efficacious. They have great faith in amulets and charms,
and in chewing and swallowing verses of the Koran in case of illness.
They are rigid "abstainers," and _arak_ is not to be procured in the
Bakhtiari country. This partly accounts for the extreme and almost
startling rapidity of the healing of surgical wounds.

Ophthalmia, glaucoma, bulging eyeballs, inflamed eyes and eyelids,
eczema, rheumatism, dyspepsia, and coughs are the prevailing maladies,
and among men, bad headaches, which they describe as periodical and
incapacitating, are common. The skin maladies and some of the eye
maladies come from dirt, and the parasites which are its offspring.
Among the common people the clothes are only washed once a year, and
then in cold water, with the root of a very sticky soap wort. They
attribute all ailments but those of the skin and eyes to "wind."
Rheumatism doubtless comes from sleeping in cotton clothing, and
little enough of it, on the damp ground.

There are no _sages femmes_. Every woman is supposed to be able to
help her neighbour in her hour of need. Maternity is easy. The mother
is often at work the day after the birth of her child, and in less
than a week regains her usual strength.

Possession by bad spirits is believed in, and cowardice is attributed
to possession. In the latter case medicine is not resorted to, but a
_mollah_ writes a text from the Koran and binds the paper on the
coward's arm. If this does not cure him he must visit a graveyard on
the night of the full moon, and pass seven times under the body of one
of the sculptured lions on the graves, repeating an Arabic prayer.

This pass gives a little rest. It is solitary, cold (the mercury 48°
at 10 P.M.), and very windy. I appreciate the comparatively low
temperature all the more because the scenery beyond the Zalaki valley,
in which scorched valleys and reddish rocky ranges are repeated _ad
nauseam_, lies under a blazing sun and in a hot dust haze like that of
the Indian plains. The ridge is only just wide enough for the camps,
and falls down in abrupt descents to the source of the Ab-i-Sefid.
Tremendous precipices and the naked peaks of the Kala Kuh surround us,
and to the east the Zard Kuh and the long straight-topped range of the
Kuh-i-Gokun (or Kainu?), deeply cleft, to allow of the exit of the
Ab-i-Gokun, wall in the magnificent prospect, woods and streams and
blue and violet depths suggesting moisture and coolness. The ridge has
a remarkably rich alpine flora.

Life is now only a "struggle for existence" on the lower altitudes,
with their heat and hubbub; there is no comfort or pleasure in
occupation under 9000 feet. Here there are only the sick people of the
camps to attend to. The guides and guards all need eye-lotion, one bad
wound needs dressing, and the Khan's brother has had fever severely,
which is cured, and he offers me as a present a boy of five years old.
Aslam Khan's face of Judas is not for nothing, but his brother is
beautiful, and has the face of St. John. I. L. B.


FOOTNOTE:

[5] From Kalahoma for the rest of the route the predatory character of
the tribes, the growing weakness of the Ilkhani's authority, the
"blood feuds" and other inter-tribal quarrels, and the unsettled state
of the Feili Lurs, produced a general insecurity and continual peril
for travellers, which rendered constant vigilance and precautions
necessary, as well as an alteration of arrangements.



LETTER XIX


     CAMP SHUTURUN, _July 25_.

After that uplifted halt, which refreshed the Europeans but did not
suit the health of the attendants, we descended, crossed the Zalaki
valley and a low ridge, with populous camps, into the valley of the
Mauri Zarin, where the nomads were busy harvesting, forded the river,
and proceeded up its left bank to a dusty level on which a deep ravine
opens, _apparently_ blocked up by a castellated and nearly
inaccessible rock of great height. At this place, where the Badush
joins the Mauri Zarin, we were obliged to camp close to some Ilyat
tents, which involved crowds, many demands, much noise, and much
vigilance.

We were then in the territory of Mirab Khan, the chief of the Isawand
tribe, between whom and Aslam Khan there is a blood feud, with most
deadly enmity. He sent word that he was not well, and asked the Agha
to go to see him, which he did, telling him that the _Hak[=i]m_ would
also visit him. Later, taking Mirza and two guides, I forded and
followed up the Ab-i-Arjanak for two miles by a most remarkable cañon.
The lower part of its sides is steep and rocky, though not too steep
for the growth of tamarisk scrub and much herbage, but above are
prodigious conglomerate cliffs, and below, the river, which narrows to
a stream, is concealed by enormous masses of conglomerate rock. This
cleft must be fully 800 feet below the heights which surround it. A
ridge runs across it at Arjanak, and the river passes underground.

The village and "Diz"[6] of Mirab Khan are reached by a frightfully
steep ascent. Arjanak has been built for security on some narrow
ledges below these colossal walls. It is a mere eyrie, a collection of
rude stone hovels, one above the other, among which the Khan's house
is distinguishable only by its _balakhana_ and larger size. The paths
on the dusty hillside are so narrow and shelving that I needed a
helping hand as well as a stick to enable me to reach a small, oblong,
rug-covered platform under some willow trees, where Mirab Khan
received me, with a very repulsive-looking Seyyid scribe seated by him
in front of a _samovar_ and tea equipage, from which he produced
delicious tea, flavoured with lime-juice. The Khan was courteous,
_i.e._ he rose, and did not sit down till I did.

He is a most deplorable-looking man, very tall and thin, with faded,
lustreless gray eyes, hollow, sallow cheeks, and a very lank, ugly,
straight-haired beard, light brown in the middle. He and Khaja Taimur
look more like decayed merchants than chiefs of "tribes of armed
horsemen." I was very sorry for him, for he evidently suffers much,
but then and afterwards he impressed me unfavourably, and I much doubt
his good faith. He said he heard I should spend two or three days at
Arjanak, and all he had was mine. He was not "like some people," he
said, "who professed great friendship for people and then forgot all
about them. When I make a friendship," he said, "it is for ever." I
asked him if his tribe was at peace. "Peace," he replied
sententiously, "is a word unknown to the Bakhtiaris." In fact he has
more than one blood feud on hand. He complained bitterly of the
exactions of Persia, and added the conjecture, expressed by many
others, that England would shortly occupy Luristan, and give them
equity and security. Another Khan of some power said to me that if
England were to occupy south-west Persia, he would help her with 400
horsemen, and added, "An English fleet at Basrah, with an English army
on board, would be the best sight which Bakhtiari eyes could see."[7]

I had to hear the long story of the Khan's complicated maladies, to
look at many bad eyes, and at the wounds of a poor fellow suffering
from snake-bite, who was carried on another man's back, and to promise
to bring up my medicine chest the following day, the fame of the
"leather box" having reached Arjanak.

On my way I had called at the _haram_, and the ladies accompanied me
to the _durbar_, conduct which I think was not approved of, as they
told me the next morning that they must not go there. After the Agha
returned, the three wives and many other women clustered timidly round
me. Two of them are very bright and pretty, and one, a Persian, very
affectionate in her manner. She held my hand all the time. There was
also a handsome daughter, with a baby, the discarded wife of a son of
the next Khan. In winter, they said, they amuse themselves by singing,
and playing with their children, and by making a few clothes, and the
Persian embroiders boys' caps.

Aziz Khan has been irrepressible lately. His Arab mare is his idol,
not because she is a lovable animal and carries him well, but because
she is valuable property. He fusses about her ceaselessly, and if he
were allowed would arrange the marches and the camping-grounds with
reference solely to her well-being. She is washed from her nose to the
tip of her tail every evening, clothed, and kept by the camp-fire. She
is a dainty, heartless, frivolous creature, very graceful and pretty,
and in character much like a selfish, spoilt woman.

Unfortunately, in one of the many attempted fights among the horses,
_Screw_ kicked her on the chest and fore-leg a few days ago, which has
made a quarrel between Hadji, _Screw's_ owner, and Aziz. Now Aziz is
making me a slave to his animal. That night, after a tiring day, I was
sleeping soundly when I was awakened by Aziz saying I must come to his
mare or he would stay behind with her the next day. This is his daily
threat. So I had to bring her inside my tent, and sleepily make a
poultice and bandage the hurt. I have very little vaseline, and after
putting it twice on the slight graze on her chest, which it cured, I
said, when he asked for it a third time, that I must keep the rest for
men. "Oh," he said, "she's of more value than ten men." Lately he
said, "I don't like you at all, you give me many things, but you don't
give me money; and I don't like the Agha, he doesn't give me half
enough. I'm going back to-morrow, and then you'll be robbed of all
your things, and you'll wish you had given them to me."

When I do anything, such as opening a whitlow, which he thinks clever,
he exclaims, "May God forgive your sins!" This, and "May God forgive
the sins of your father and mother!" are ejaculations of gratitude or
surprise. One day when I had been attending to sick people for four
hours, I asked him which was the more "meritorious" act, attending to
the sick or going on pilgrimage? He replied, "For a _Kafir_ no act is
good," but soon added, "_Of a truth God doesn't think as we do_, I
don't know."

Yesterday he came for plaster, and while I cut it he saw a padlock
pincushion with a mirror front on my bed, and said, "You've given me
nothing to-day, you must give me that because my mare kicked me." But
I like him. He is a brave fellow, and with a large amount of the
mingled simplicity and cunning of a savage has a great deal of
thought, information, and ability, and a talk with him is worth
having.

Mirab Khan had promised that not only guides but his son would
accompany the Agha, but when I arrived at his eyrie the next morning
it was evident that something was wrong, for the Agha looked gloomy,
and Mirab Khan uncomfortable, and as I was dressing the wound of the
snake-bitten man, the former said, "So far as I can see, we are in a
perfect hornets' nest." Neither son nor guides were forthcoming. It
was necessary to use very decided language, after which the Khan
professed that he had withheld them in order to compel us to be his
guests, and eventually they were produced.

I called again on the ladies, who received me in a sort of open
stable, horses on one side and women on the other, in a crowd and
noise so overpowering that I was obliged to leave them, but not before
I had been asked for needles, scissors, love philtres, etc. Polygamy,
besides being an atrocious system, is very hard on a traveller's
resources. I had brought presents for four legitimate wives, but not
for the crowd of women who asked for them. Each wife wanted to get her
present unknown to the others. Later they returned my visit, and were
most importunate in their requests.

When I went to say farewell to the Khan I found him on his knees,
bowing his forehead to the earth upon a Mecca prayer-stone, and he
concluded his prayers before he spoke--not like many of us, who would
jump up ashamed and try to seem as if we never demeaned ourselves by
an act of devotion. His village, Diz Arjanak, has a Diz, or
stronghold, with a limited supply of water. It is the _raison d'être_
of his residence there. This Diz consists of a few shelves or
cavities, chiefly artificial, scooped out in the face of the
perpendicular cliff above the village. They are only attainable by a
very difficult climb, have no internal communication, and would not
hold more than 150 people. In one cavity there is a small perennial
spring. The largest recess is said to be twelve feet deep by about
twenty long, and has a loop-holed breastwork across the entrance. In
case of attack the Khan and the people provision this hiding-place,
and retire to it, believing it impregnable.

Mirab Khan on this and a later occasion complained, and apparently
with good reason, of grinding exactions on the part of Persia. The
Isawands, like the Magawes and Zalakis, pay their tribute partly to
Burujird and partly to the Ilkhani. The sum formerly fixed and paid
was 150 _tumans_. It was raised to 300, which was paid for two years.
Now, he says, this year's demand (1890) is for 500.

We left Diz Arjanak rather late in the afternoon, ascended a valley
which opens out beyond it, forded the green bright waters of the Mauri
Zarin, and crossed beautiful open hillsides and elevated plateaux on
its right bank till we lost it in a highly picturesque gorge. Some
miles of very pleasant riding brought us to a rocky and dangerous path
along the side of a precipice above the river Badush, so narrow as to
involve the unloading of several mules, and a bad slip and narrow
escape on the part of mine. The scenery is singularly wild and severe.
Crossing the Badush, and ascending a narrow ravine through which it
flows, we camped at its source at the junction of two wild gullies,
where the Sahib, after sundry serious risks, had already arrived. We
did not see a single camp after leaving Arjanak, and were quite
unmolested during a halt of two nights; but it is an atmosphere of
danger and possible treachery.

Camp Badush, at a height of 9100 feet, though shut in by high
mountains, was cool--a barren, rocky, treeless spot. A great deal of
bituminous shale was lying about, which burned in the camp-fires
fairly well, but with a black heavy smoke and a strong smell.

The limestone fragments which lay about, on being split, emitted a
powerful odour of bitumen. Farther up the gully there is a chalybeate
spring, and the broken fragments of the adjacent rocks are much
stained with iron. After a restful halt we retraced our route by a low
path which avoided the difficult precipices above the Badush, forded
it several times, crossed a low pass, descended to the valley of the
Mauri Zarin, forded the river, and marched for some miles along its
left bank, till the valley opened on great grassy slopes, the skirts
of the rocky spurs which buttress the grand mountain Shuturun, the
"Camel Mountain," so called from its shape. It was a very
uninteresting march, through formless gravelly hills, with their
herbage all eaten down, nothing remaining but tamarisk scrub and a
coarse yellow salvia. There were neither camps nor travellers; indeed,
one need never look for camps where there is no herbage.

This is a charming camping-ground covered with fine turf, damp, I
fear, and some of the men are "down" with fever and rheumatism. There
is space to see who comes and who goes, and though the altitude is
only 8400 feet, last night was quite cool. Ischaryar, Aziz Khan's
devoted young servant, the gentlest and kindest Bakhtiari I have seen,
became quite ill of acute rheumatism with fever, and felt so very ill
and weak that he thought he was going to die. I sent some medicine to
him, but he would not take it, saying that his master had spoken
unkindly to him, and he had no wish to live. However, this morbid
frame of mind was overcome by firm dealing, and Aziz attended to him
all night, and salol, etc., are curing him.

He is the one grateful creature that I have seen among these
Orientals, and his gratitude is in return for a mere trifle. We were
fording a stream one hot day, and seeing him scooping up water with
difficulty in his hands, I took out my mug for him. Ever since he has
done anything that he can for me. He brings tasteful little bouquets
of flowers, gathers wild cherries, and shows the little courtesies
which spring from a kindly nature. He said several times to Mirza, "It
isn't only that the _Khanum_ gave me the cup, but she took trouble for
me." It may be imagined what a desert as to grateful and kindly
feeling I am living in when this trifle appears like an oasis. Hard,
cunning, unblushing greed is as painful a characteristic of the
Bakhtiaris as it is of the Persians.

Hassan is now "down with fever" and the opium craving, and one of the
_charvadars_ with fever. The cold winds of Gunak were too much for
them. All day shots have been heard among the near mountains. The
Hajwands, a powerful tribe, and the Abdulwands are fighting about a
recent cutting off of a cow's tail, but the actual cause of the feud
is deeper, and dates farther back. Aziz Khan wants us to return to Diz
Arjanak, fearing that we may become implicated, and the Agha is
calling him a coward, and telling him to ride back alone. Bang! Bang!
The firing is now close and frequent, and the dropping shots are
varied by straggling volleys. With the glasses I can see the tribesmen
loading and firing on the crests of the near hills. A great number are
engaged. One tribe has put up a stone breastwork at our end of the
valley, but the enemy is attacking the other.

3 P.M.--An hour ago Mirab Khan arrived with a number of armed horse
and footmen. Before he left he spent, I may say wasted, nearly an hour
of my time again on his maladies, and again wrote down the directions
for his medicines. Volleys fired very near startled him into
departing, and he rode hastily back to Arjanak, fearing, as he said,
an attack. Nominally, he armed the guides and the men he left behind,
but one of the guns has neither caps nor powder, and another has only
three caps. All the animals have been driven in.

4 P.M.--A man with grimy arms bare to the elbow has just run down to
the Agha's camp from the conflict. He says that his people, who are
greatly inferior to the Hajwands in numbers, thought it was the camp
of the Shah's revenue collector, and sent him to ask him to mediate.
The Agha expressed his willingness to become a mediator on certain
conditions. There is much excitement in camp, all the men who are well
crowding round this envoy, who is guilty of saying that fifty men are
to attack our camps to-night.

7.30 P.M.--The Agha, with the Sahib and Aziz Khan, three brave men
mounted and armed with rifles and revolvers, went to mediate. I went
to a knoll in the valley with some of our men, above which on either
side were hills occupied by the combatants, and a large number of
tribesmen crowned the crest of a hill lying across the ravine higher
up. The firing was frequent, but at long range, and I was near enough
to see that only one man fell.

Our party rode on till they reached the top of a low ridge, where they
dismounted, reconnoitred, and then passed out of sight, being fired on
by both parties. The tribesmen kept on firing irregularly from the
hill crests, occasionally running down the slopes, firing and running
into cover. The Sahib's _tufangchi_, who is of Cheragh Ali's tribe,
asked me, "Is this the way they fight in your country," I asked him if
he would not like to be fighting? and he replied, "Yes, if it were my
quarrel." The sun was very bright, the sky very blue, and the smoke
very white as it drifted over the lonely ravine and burst in clouds
from the hill-tops. I saw the combatants distinctly without a glass,
and heard their wild war-shouts. What a matter for regret is this
useless tribal fighting, with its dreary consequences of wailing women
and fatherless children! "Why don't the English come and take us? Why
don't the English come and give us peace?" are surely the utterances
of a tired race.

After sunset the Agha returned, having so far succeeded in his mission
that the headmen have promised to suspend hostilities for to-morrow,
but still shots are fired now and then. I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[6] A "Diz" is a natural fort believed to be impregnable.

[7] To English people the Bakhtiaris profess great friendliness for
England, and the opinion has been expressed by some well-informed
writers that, in the event of an English occupation of the country,
their light horse, drilled by English officers, would prove valuable
auxiliaries. I am inclined, however, to believe that if a collision
were to occur in south-west Persia between two powers which shall be
nameless, the Bakhtiari horsemen would be sold to the highest bidder.



LETTER XX


     LAKE IRENE, _July 27_.

Yesterday we marched through narrow defiles and along hillsides to
this lake, without seeing a tent, a man, or even a sheep or goat,
following a stream which bears several names and receives several
torrents which burst, full grown, from powerful springs in the
mountain sides--a frequent phenomenon in this country--from its source
till its entrance into this lake. Its two sides differ remarkably. On
the right bank rise the magnificent ranges which form Shuturun, broken
up into precipices, deep ravines, and peaks, all rocky and shapely,
and absolutely denuded of soil. The mountains on the left bank are
great shapeless masses of bare gravel rising into the high but blunt
summit of the Sefid Kuh, with only occasional outcrops of rock; here
and there among the crevices of the rocky spurs of Shuturun the
_Juniperus excelsa_ plants itself; otherwise, on the sun-scorched
gravel only low tamarisk bushes, yellow salvias, a few belated
campanulas, and a very lovely blue _Trichodesma mollis_ remain.

On reaching the top of a very long ascent there was a unique surprise,
for below, walled in by precipitous mountain sides, lies a lake of
wonderful beauty, owing to its indescribable colour. Wild, fierce, and
rocky are the high mountains in which this gem is set, and now
verdureless, except that in some places where their steep sides enter
the water willows and hawthorns find scanty roothold. Where the river
enters the lake there is a thicket of small willows, and where it
leaves it its bright waters ripple through a wood of cherry, pear,
plum, and hawthorn. A broad high bank of gravel lies across a part of
its lower end, and all seemed so safe and solitary that I pitched my
camp here for Sunday at an unusual distance from the other camps.

"Things are not what they seem." Two armed Hajwands visited the camps,
shots were heard at intervals this morning, and in the night some of
the watch said they saw a number of men advancing towards us from
under the bushes. I heard the sharp crack of our own rifles twice, and
the Agha and Sahib calling on every one to be on the alert; the mules
were driven in, and a great fire was made, but nothing came of it.
To-night Mirab Khan's guides, who have been with us for some days,
have gone back, journeying at night and hiding in caves by day for
fear of being attacked.

This lovely lake, having no native name, will be known henceforward
geographically as Lake Irene. Its waters lie in depths of sapphire
blue, with streaks and shallows of green, but what a green! Surely
without a rival on earth! Were a pea transparent, vivid, full of
points and flashes of interior light, that would be the nearest
approach to the colour, which changes never, while through the blazing
hours the blue of the great depths in the centre has altered from
sapphire to turquoise, and from turquoise to lapis-lazuli, one end and
one side being permanently bordered round the margin with liquid
emerald. The mountains have changed from rose to blue, from blue to
gray, from gray to yellow, and are now flushing into pink. It is a
carnival of colour, before the dusty browns and dusty grays which are
to come.

_Camp Sarawand, July 29._--To-day's march has been a change from the
grand scenery of the Bakhtiari mountains to low passes and gravelly
spurs, which sink down upon a plain. A blazing hillside; a mountain of
gravel among others of similar ugliness, sprinkled with camel thorn
and thistles; a steep and long descent to a stream; ripe wheat on some
irrigated slopes; above these the hundred hovels of the village of
Sarawand clinging one above another to the hillside, their white clay
roofs intolerable in the fierce light; more scorched gravel hills
breaking off abruptly, and then a blazing plain, in a mist of dust and
heat, and low hills on the farther side seen through a brown haze,
make up the view from my tent. The plain is Silakhor in Persia proper,
and, _nolens volens_, that heat and dust must shortly be encountered
in the hottest month of the year. Meanwhile the mercury is at 105° in
the tent.

Outside is a noisy crowd of a mixed race, more Persian than Lur, row
behind row. The _ketchuda_ said if I would stand outside and show
myself the people would be pacified, but the desired result was not
attained, and the crushing and pushing were fearful--not that the
people here or elsewhere are ever rude, it is simply that their
curiosity is not restrained by those rules which govern ours. The Agha
tried to create a diversion by putting a large musical box at a little
distance, but they did not care for it. I attempted to give each woman
a card of china buttons, which they like for sewing on the caps of
their children, but the crush was so overpowering that I was obliged
to leave it to Aziz. Then came the sick people with their many woes
and wants, and though now at sunset they have all gone, Aziz comes in
every few minutes with the laugh of a lost spirit, bringing a fresh
copper bowl for eye lotion, quite pleased to think of my annoyance at
being constantly dragged up from my writing.

_Camp Parwez, July 31._--We left early in the morning, _en route_ for
the fort of Yahya Khan, the powerful chief of the Pulawand tribe, with
a tall, well-dressed, and very respectable-looking man, Bagha Khan,
one of his many fathers-in-law, the father of the present "reigning
favourite," as guide. It was a very pretty track, pursuing sheep-paths
over steep spurs of Parwez, and along the narrow crests of ridges,
always with fine views. On reaching an alpine valley, rich in flowers,
we halted till the caravan approached, and then rode on, the "we" that
day being the guide on foot, and the Agha, the Sahib, Aziz Khan,
Mirza, and myself on horseback in single file. Three men looked over
the crest of a ridge to the left and disappeared abruptly, and I
remarked to Mirza that this was the most suspicious circumstance we
had yet seen. There was one man on the hill to the right, with whom
the guide exchanged some sentences in patois.

The valley opened out on the stony side of a hill, which had to be
crossed. As we climbed it was crested with a number of men with long
guns. Presently a number of shots were fired at us, and the reloading
of the guns was distinctly seen. The order was given to "scatter" and
proceed slowly. When the first shot was fired Bagha Khan, who must
have been well known to all his tribesmen, dodged under a rock. Then
came an irregular volley from a number of guns, and the whistle and
thud of bullets over and among us showed that the tribesmen, whatever
were their intentions, were in earnest. To this volley the Agha
replied by a rifle shot which passed close over their heads, but again
they reloaded rapidly. We halted, and Aziz Khan was sent up to parley
with them. No one could doubt his courage after that solitary ascent
in the very face of the guns.

Karim cantered up, anxious to fight, Mujid and Hassan, much excited,
dashed up, and we rode on slowly, Hadji and his _charvadars_ bringing
up the caravan as steadily as if there were no danger ahead. Not a man
showed the "white feather," though most, like myself, were "under
fire" for the first time. When we reached the crest of the pass such a
wild lot crowded about us, their guns yet hot from firing upon us.
Such queer arms they had--one gun with a flint lock a century old,
with the "Tower mark" upon it, loaded sticks, and long knives. With
much talking and excitement they accompanied us to this
camping-ground.[8]

The men varied considerably in their stories. They were frightened,
they said, and fired because they thought we were come to harm them.
At first I was sorry for them, and regarded them as merely defending
their "hearths and homes," for in the alpine valley behind the hill
are their black tents, their families, their flocks and herds--their
world, in fact. But they told another story, and said they took us for
a party of Hajwands. This was untenable, and the Agha told them that
they knew that Hajwands do not ride on English saddles, and carry
white umbrellas, and march with big caravans of mules. To me, when
they desired my services, they said that had they known that one of
the party was a _Hak[=i]m_ they never would have fired.

Later, from Hadji and others I have heard what I think may be the true
version of the affair. They knew that the party was a small one--only
three rifles; that on the fifteen baggage-animals there were things
which they specially covet, the value of which rumour had doubtless
magnified a hundredfold; and that we had no escort. Behind were a
number of the Sarawand men, and the Pulawands purposed, if we turned
back or showed the "white feather" in any way, to double us up between
the two parties and rob the caravan at discretion. The Agha was
obliged to speak very severely to them, telling them that firing on
travellers is a grave offence, and deserves as such to be represented
to the Governor of Burujird. I cannot acquit the demure-looking guide
of complicity in this transaction.

At this height of 9400 feet there is a pleasant plain, on which our
assailants are camped, and our camps are on platforms in a gully near
the top of Parwez. It is all very destitute of springs or streams, and
we have only snow-water, and that only during the hot hours of the
day, for ourselves and the animals.

The tribes among which we are now are powerful and very predatory in
their habits. Their loyalty to the Ilkhani is shadowy, and their
allegiance to the Shah consists in the payment of tribute, which
cannot in all cases be exacted. Indeed, I think that both in Tihran
and Isfahan there is only imperfect information as to the attitude of
the Bakhtiari Lurs. Their unification under the rule of the Ilkhani
grows more and more incomplete as the distance from Isfahan increases,
and these tribes, which are under the government of Burujird
nominally, are practically not under the Ilkhani at all. Blood feuds,
predatory raids, Khans at war with each other, tribal disputes and
hostilities, are nearly universal. It is not for the interest of
Persia to produce by her misrule and intrigues such a chronic state
of insecurity as makes the tribes desire any foreign interference
which will give them security and rest, and relieve them from the
oppressive exactions of the Persian governors.

On a recent march I was riding alone in advance of the caravan when I
met two men, one mounted, the other on foot. The pedestrian could not
have been passed anywhere unnoticed. He looked like a Sicilian
brigand, very handsome and well dressed, walked with a long elastic
stride, and was armed with a double-barrelled gun and two revolvers.
He looked hard at me, with a jolly but not unfriendly look, and then
seeing the caravan, passed on. This was Jiji, a great robber Khan of
the Hajwand tribe, whose name inspires much fear. Afterwards he met
Aziz Khan, and sent this picturesque message: "Sorry to have missed
you in my own country, as I should have liked to have left you
standing in your skins."

I went up the Kuh-i-Parwez with Bagha Khan, the guide of whom I have
such grave suspicions, in the early morning, when the cool blue
shadows were still lying in the ravines. Parwez, which on this side is
an uninteresting mountain of herbage-covered gravelly slopes, falls
down 4300 feet to the Holiwar valley on the other in a series of
tremendous battlemented precipices of dark conglomerate rock.

The level summit of Parwez, though about 11,000 feet in altitude, is
as uninteresting as the shapeless slopes by which we ascended it, but
this dip on the southern side is wonderful, and is carried on to the
gap of Bahrain, where it has a perpendicular scarp from its summit to
the river of 5000 feet, and as it grandly terminates the Outer range,
it looks like a glorious headland abutting on the Silakhor plain.

As a panoramic view it is the finest I have had from any mountain,
taking in the great Shuturun range--the wide cultivated plain of
Silakhor, with its many villages; the winding Ab-i-Diz, its yellow
crops, hardly distinguishable from the yellow soil and hazy yellow
hills whose many spurs descend upon the plain--all merged in a haze of
dust and heat. The eye is not tempted to linger long upon that
specimen of a Persian summer landscape, but turns with relief to the
other side of the ridge, to a confused mass of mountains of great
height, built up of precipices of solid rock, dark gray, weathered
into black and denuded of soil, a mystery of chasms, rifts, and
river-beds, sheltering and feeding predatory tribes, but unknown to
the rest of the world.

The chaos of mountain summits, chasms, and precipices is very
remarkable, merging into lower and less definite ranges, with alpine
meadows at great heights, and ravines much wooded, where charcoal is
burned and carried to Burujird and Hamadan. Among the salient points
of this singular landscape are the mighty Shuturun range, the peak of
Kuh-i-Kargun on the other side of the Silakhor plain, the river which
comes down from Lake Irene, the Holiwar, with the fantastic range of
the Kuh-i-Haft-Kuh (seven peaks) on its left bank, descending abruptly
to the Ab-i-Zaz, beyond which again rises the equally precipitous
range of the Kuh-i-Ruhbar. Near the Holiwar valley is a mountain
formed by a singular arrangement of rocky buttresses, surmounted by a
tooth-like rock, the Tuk-i-Karu, of which the guide told the legend
that in "ancient times" a merchant did a large trade in a tent at the
top of it, and before he died buried his treasure underneath it.

A very striking object from the top is the gorge or cañon, the
Tang-i-Bahrain, by which the Ab-i-Burujird leaves the plain of
Silakhor and enters upon its rough and fretted passage through
ravines, for the most part inaccessible except to practised Ilyat
mountaineers.

"Had I come up to dig for the hidden treasure of Tuk-i-Karu?" the
guide asked. "Was I seeking gold? Or was I searching for medicine
plants to sell in Feringhistan?"

The three days here have been rather lively. The information
concerning routes has been singularly contradictory. There is a path
which descends over 4000 feet to the Holiwar valley, through which,
for certain reasons, it is desirable to pass. Some say it is
absolutely impassable for laden mules, others that it can be traversed
with precautions, others again that they would not take even their
asses down; that there are shelving rocks, and that if a mule slipped
it would go down to ----. Hadji with much force urges that we should
descend to the plain, and go by a comparatively safe route to
Khuramabad, leave the heavy baggage there, and get a strong escort of
_sowars_ from the Governor for the country of the Pulawands. There is
much that is plausible in this plan, the Sahib approves of it, and the
Agha, with whom the decision rests, has taken it into very careful
consideration, but I am thoroughly averse to it, though I say nothing.

Hadji says he cannot risk his mules on the path down to the Holiwar
valley. I could have filled pages with the difficulties which have
been grappled with during the last few weeks of the journey as to
guides, routes, perils, etc., two or three hours of every day being
occupied in the attempt to elicit truth from men who, from either
inherent vagueness and inaccuracy or from a deliberate intention to
deceive, contradict both themselves and each other, but on this
occasion the difficulties have been greater than ever; the order of
march has been changed five times, and we have been obliged to remain
here because the Agha has not considered that the information he has
obtained has warranted him in coming to a decision.

Yesterday evening the balance of opinion was definitely against the
Holiwar route, and Hadji was so vehemently against it that he shook a
man who said it was passable. This morning the Sahib with a guide and
Abbas Ali examined the road. The Sahib thought it was passable. Abbas
Ali said that the mules would slip off the shelving rocks. All day
long there have been Lur visitors, some saying one thing, and some
another, but a dream last night reconciled Hadji to take the route,
and the Agha after carefully weighing the risks all round has decided
upon it.

All these pros and cons have been very interesting, and there have
been various little incidents. I have had many visitors and "patients"
from the neighbouring camp, and among them three of the men who fired
upon us.

The trifle of greatest magnitude was the illness of Aziz's mare, the
result of a kick from _Screw_. She had an enormous swelling from knee
to shoulder, could not sleep, and could hardly eat, and as she belongs
partly to Isfandyar Khan, Aziz Khan has been distracted about her, and
has distracted me by constant appeals to me to open what seemed an
abscess. I had not the courage for this, but it was done, and the cut
bled so profusely that a pad, a stone, and a bandage had to be
applied. Unfortunately there was no relief from this venture, and Aziz
"worrited" me out of my tent three times in the night to look at the
creature. Besides that, he had about twenty ailing people outside the
tent at 6 A.M., always sending to me to "come at once."

He was told to wash the wound, but he would do nothing till I went out
with my appliances, very grudgingly, I admit. The sweet animal was
indeed suffering, and the swelling was much increased. A number of men
were standing round her, and when I told Aziz to remove the clot from
the wound, they insisted that she would bleed to death, and so the
pros and cons went on till Aziz said, "The _Khanum_ shall do it, these
Feringhi _Hak[=i]ms_ know everything." To be regarded as a _Hak[=i]m_
on the slenderest possible foundation is distressing, but to be
regarded as a "vet" without any foundation at all is far worse.

However, the clot was removed, and though the wound was three inches
long there was still no relief, and Aziz said solemnly, "Now do what
you think best." Very gradual pressure at the back of the leg brought
out a black solid mass weighing fully a pound. "God is great!"
exclaimed the bystanders. "May God forgive your sins!" cried Aziz, and
fell at my feet with a genuine impulse of gratitude. He insists that
"a pound of flesh" came out of the swelling. The wound is now syringed
every few hours, and Aziz is learning how to do this, and to dress it.
The mare can both eat and sleep, and will soon be well.

This evening Aziz said that fifteen _tumans_ would be the charge for
curing his mare, and that, he says, is my present to him. He told me
he wanted me to consider something very thoroughly, and not to answer
hastily. He said, "We're a poor people, we have no money, but we have
plenty of food. We have women who take out bullets, but in all our
nation there is no _Hak[=i]m_ who knows the wisdom of the Feringhis.
Your medicines are good, and have healed many of our people, and
though a _Kafir_ we like you well and will do your bidding. The Agha
speaks of sending a _Hak[=i]m_ among us next year, but you are here,
and though you are old you can ride, and eat our food, and you love
our people. You have your tent, Isfandyar Khan will give you a horse
of pure pedigree, dwell among us till you are very old, and be our
_Hak[=i]m_, and teach us the wisdom of the Feringhis." Then, as if a
sudden thought had struck him, he added, "And you can cure mules and
mares, and get much money, and when you go back to Feringhistan you'll
be very rich."

In nearly every camp I have an evening "gossip" with the guides and
others of the tribesmen, and, in the absence of news from the larger
world, have become intensely interested in Bakhtiari life as it is
pictured for me in their simple narratives of recent forays, of
growing tribal feuds and their causes, of blood feuds, and of bloody
fights, arising out of trivial disputes regarding camping-grounds,
right of pasture, right to a wounded bird, and things more trivial
still. They are savages at heart. They take a pride in bloodshed,
though they say they are tired of it and would like to live at peace,
and there would be more killing than there is were it not for the
aversion which some of them feel to the creation of a blood feud. When
they do fight, "the life of a man is as the life of a sheep," as the
Persian proverb runs. Mirza says that among themselves their talk is
chiefly of guns and fighting. The affairs of the mountains are very
interesting, and so is the keen antagonism between the adherents of
the Ilkani and those of Isfandyar Khan.

Sometimes the conversation takes a religious turn. I think I wronged
Aziz Khan in an earlier letter. He is in his way much more religious
than I thought him. A day or two ago I was asking him his beliefs
regarding a future state, which he explained at much length, and which
involve progressive beatitudes of the spirit through a course of one
hundred years. He laid down times and seasons very definitely, and was
obviously in earnest, when two Magawe men who were standing by broke
in indignantly, saying, "Aziz Khan, how dare you speak thus? These
things belong to God, the Judge, He knows, we don't--we see the spirit
fly away to judgment and we know no more. God is great, He alone
knows."

Apparently they have no idea generally of a future except that the
spirit goes either to heaven or hell, according to its works in the
flesh. Some say that they are told that there is an intermediate place
called _Barjakh_, known as the place of evil spirits, in which those
who have died in sin undergo a probation with the possibility of
beneficent results.

On asking what is meant by sin the replies all have the same
tendency,--cowardice, breaches of the seventh commandment (which,
however, seem to be so rare as scarcely to be taken into account,
possibly because of the death penalty attaching to them), disobedience
to a chief when he calls on them to go to war, fraternising with
Sunnis, who are "accursed," betraying to an enemy a man of their own
tribe, and compassing the death of another by poison or evil
machinations.

On being asked what deeds are good, bravery is put first, readiness to
take up a tribal quarrel, charity, i.e. kindness to the poor, undying
hatred to the Caliph Omar, shown by ostracising the Sunnis, hatred of
_Kafirs_, and pilgrimages, especially to Mecca.

Death in battle ensures an immediate entrance into heaven, and this is
regarded as such a cause of rejoicing that not only is the _chapi_ or
national dance performed at a fighting man's grave, but if his death
at a distance has been lawful, _i.e._ if he has been killed in
fighting, they put up a rude temporary cenotaph with his gun, cap,
knife, pipe, and other things about it, and dance, sing, and rejoice.

Otherwise their burial rites are simple. The corpse is washed seven
times in water, certain Arabic formulas for the repose of the soul are
recited, and the body, clothed and wrapped in a winding-sheet, is
carried by four men to the burying-place on a bier extemporised out of
tent-poles, and is buried in a shallow grave. It is not customary now
to rejoice at the graves of women or old men, unless the latter have
been distinguished warriors.

So far as I can learn, even in the case of the deaths of fighting men,
when the _chapi_ is danced at the grave, the women keep up the
ordinary ceremonial of mourning, which is very striking. They howl and
wail, beating their breasts rhythmically, keeping time with their
feet, tearing their hair and gashing their faces with sharp flints,
cutting off also their long locks and trampling upon them with piteous
cries. This last bitter token of mourning is confined to the deaths of
a husband and a first-born son, and the locks so ruthlessly treated
are afterwards attached to the tombstone.

Mourning for a husband, child, or parent lasts a year, and the
anniversary of the death is kept with the same ceremonies which marked
the beginning of the period of mourning. In the case of a great man
who has died fighting, the women of his tribe wail and beat their
breasts on this anniversary for many subsequent years.

Nothing is buried with the corpse, and nothing is placed on the grave,
but it is the universal custom to put a stone at the head of the body,
which is always buried facing Mecca-wards. To this position they
attach great importance, and they covet my compass because it would
enable them at any point to find the position of the Kiblah. A comb or
distaff rudely carved on a woman's headstone, and the implements of
war or hunting on that of a man, are common, and few burial-places are
without one or more of the uncouth stone lions to which frequent
reference has been made.

The graveyards are very numerous, and are usually on small elevations
by the roadside, so that passers-by, if they be Hadjis, may pray for
the repose of the soul. It must be understood that prayer consists in
the repetition of certain formulas in Arabic, which very few if any
of these people understand.[9]

As to the great matter of their religion, on which I have taken
infinite trouble to gain information, I can come to no satisfactory
conclusion. I think that they have very little, and that what they
have consists in a fusion of some of the tenets of Islam with a few
relics of a nature worship, not less rude than that of the Ainos of
Yezo and other aboriginal tribes.

They are Shiahs, that is, they hate the Sunnis, and though the belief
in Persia that they compel any one entering their country to swear
eternal hatred to Omar is not absolutely correct, this hate is an
essential part of their religion. They hold the unity of God, and that
Mohammed was His prophet; but practically, though they are not Ali
Ilahis, they place Ali on as high a pedestal as Mohammed. They are
utterly lax in observing the precepts of the Koran, even prayer at the
canonical hours is very rarely practised, and then chiefly by Seyyids
and Hadjis. It has been said that the women are devout, but I think
that this is a mistake. Many of them have said to me, "Women have no
religion, for women won't live again."

Those of the Khans who can read, and who have made pilgrimages to
Mecca, such as the Hadji Ilkhani, Khaja Taimur, and Mirab Khan,
observe the times of prayer and read the Koran, and when they are so
engaged they allow of no interruption, but these are remarkable
exceptions.

Pilgrimages and visits to _imamzadas_ are lightly undertaken, either
for the accumulation of merit, or to wash away the few misdeeds which
they regard as sin, or in the hope of gaining an advantage over an
enemy.

They regard certain stones, trees, hill-tops, and springs as "sacred,"
but it is difficult to define the very vague ideas which they attach
to them. I am inclined to think that they look on them as the abodes
of genii, always malignant, and requiring to be propitiated. In
passing such places they use a formula equivalent to "May God avert
evil," and it is common, as in Nubra and Ladak, to hang pieces of rag
on such trees and stones as offerings to the _genius loci_.

They regard certain places as possibly haunted by spirits, always
evil, and never those of the departed; but this can scarcely be termed
a belief, as it is lightly held, and quite uninfluential, except in
preventing them from passing such places alone in the darkness.

The opinions concerning God represent Him chiefly as a personification
of a fate, to which they must bow, and as a Judge, to whom, in some
mysterious way, they must account after death. Earthly justice appears
to them as a commodity to be bought and sold, as among the Persians,
or as it is among themselves, as severity solely, without a sentiment
of mercy; and I have asked them often if they think that anything will
be able to affect the judgment of the Judge of all, in case it should
go against them. Usually they reply in the negative, but a few say
that Ali, the Lieutenant of God, will ask for mercy for them, and that
he will not be refused.

Of God as a moral being I think they have little conception, and less
of the Creator as an object of love. Of holiness as an attribute of
God they have no idea. Their ejaculation, "God is good," has really no
meaning. Charity, under the term "goodness," they attribute to God.
But they have no notion of moral requirements on the part of the
Creator, or of sin as the breaking of any laws which He has laid down.
They concern themselves about the requirements of religion in this
life and about the future of the soul as little as is possible, and
they narrow salvation within the limits of the Shiah sect.

After Mohammed and Ali they speak of Moses, Abraham, and Jesus as
"Prophets," but of Moses as a lawgiver, and of Jesus as aught else but
a healer, they seem quite ignorant.

And so they pass away, generation after generation, ignorant of the
Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, of the love to God and
man which is alone the fulfilling of the law, and of the light which
He, who is the resurrection and the life, has shed upon the destiny of
the human spirit.

Generally I find them quite willing to talk on these subjects; but one
man said contemptuously, "What has a _Kafir_ to do with God?" The
women know nothing, and, except among the sons of the leading Khans,
there is no instruction in the Koran given to the children. If I have
interpreted their views correctly they must be among the most ignorant
of the races bound by the faith of Islam.

_Khuramabad, August 6._--Leaving the camp on Parwez, and skirting the
gravelly slopes on the north side of its ridge, a sudden dip over the
crest took us among great cliffs of conglomerate, with steep gravelly
slopes below, much covered with oaks growing out of scorched soil.
Grooves, slides, broken ledges, and shelving faces of rock have to be
descended. One part is awfully bad, and every available man and some
passing Bakhtiaris (who wanted to be paid in advance for their
services) went back to help the animals. The _charvadars_ shouted and
yelled, and the horses and some of the mules were taken by their heads
and tails, but though nearly every man had a fall, horses, asses,
mules, and a sheep which follows _Hak[=i]m_ got over that part safely.
It was a fine sight, thirty animals coming down, what looked from
below, a precipice, led by Hadji leading Cock o' the Walk, shaking his
tasselled head, and as full of pride and fire as usual, and the mules
looking wisely, choosing their way, and leaping dexterously upon and
among the rocks. It is not a route for laden animals, but personally,
as I had two men to help me, I did not find it so risky or severe as
the descent of the Gokun Pass.

Below these conglomerate precipices are steep and dangerous zigzags,
which I was obliged to ride down, and there we were not so fortunate,
for Hadji's big saddle-mule slipped, and being unable to recover
herself fell over the edge some hundred feet and was killed
instantaneously.

The descent of the southern face of Parwez, abrupt and dangerous most
of the way, is over 4300 feet. The track proceeds down the Holiwar
valley, brightened by a river of clear green water, descending from
Lake Irene. Having forded this, we camped on its left bank on a
gravelly platform at the edge of the oak woods which clothe the lower
spurs of the grand Kuh-i-Haft-Kuh, with a magnificent view of the gray
battlemented precipices of Parwez. The valley is beautiful, and acres
of withered flowers suggested what its brief spring loveliness must
be, but its altitude is only 5150 feet, and the mercury in the shade
was 104°, the radiation from the rock and gravel terrible, and the
sand-flies made rest impossible. At midnight the mercury stood at 90°.
There were no Bakhtiaris, but two or three patches of scorched-up
wheat, not worth cutting, evidenced their occasional presence. Among
these perished crops, revelling in blazing soil and air like the
breath of a furnace, grew the blue _centaurea_ and the scarlet poppy,
the world-wide attendants upon grain; and where other things were
burned, the familiar rose-coloured "sweet william," a white-fringed
_dianthus_, and a gigantic yellow mullein audaciously braved the heat.

No one slept that night because of the sand-flies and the need for
keeping a vigilant watch. Indeed, the tents were packed shortly after
sunset, and in a hot dawn we ascended to a considerable height above
the valley, and then for many miles followed a stream in a wooded
glen, where willows, planes, vines, rank grass, and a handsome yellow
pea grew luxuriantly, looped together continually by the fragile
_Clematis orientalis_. All that country would be pretty had it
moisture and "atmosphere." The hillsides are covered with oaks and the
_Paliurus aculeatus_ on their lower slopes, rising out of withered
flowers. All else is uncut sun-cured hay, and its pale uniform buff
colour is soft, and an improvement on the glare of bare gravel.

Delays, occasioned by the caravan being misled by the guide, took us
into the heat of the day, and before the narrow valley opened out into
the basin surrounded by wooded spurs of hills in which Khanabad
stands, it was noon. Men and animals suffered from the heat and length
of that march. In the middle of this basin there is a good deal of
cultivation, and opium, wheat, cotton, melons, grapes, and cucumbers
grow well. Rice has already succeeded wheat, and will be reaped in
November. Kalla Khanabad, the fort dwelling of Yahya Khan, with
terraces of poplars, mulberries, pomegranates, and apricots below it,
makes a good centre of a rather pretty view. Leaving it on the right
we turned up a narrow valley with a small stream and irrigation
channels, and close to a spring and some magnificent plane trees
camped for Sunday on a level piece of blazing ground where the mercury
stood at 106° on both days. This spot was remarkable for some very
fine _eryngiums_ growing by the stream, with blossoms of a beautiful
"French blue," the size of a Seville orange.

The Khan's son, a most unprepossessing young man, called on me, and I
received him under the trees, a number of retainers armed with long
guns standing round the edge of the carpet. He was well dressed, but a
savage in speech and deportment. As to the dress of the Bakhtiaris,
the ordinary tribesmen wear coarse cotton shirts fastening at the
side, but generally unfastened, blue cotton trousers, each leg two
yards wide, loose at the bottom and drawn on a string at the top,
webbing shoes, worsted socks if any, woollen girdles with a Kashmir
pattern, and huge loose brown felt coats or cloaks with long sleeves,
costing from fifteen to twenty-five _krans_ each, and wearing for
three or four years. The Khans frequently have their _shulwars_ of
black silk, and wear the ordinary Persian full-skirted coat, usually
black, but "for best" one of fine blue or fawn cloth. All wear brown
or white felt skull-caps, and shave their heads for a width of five
inches from the brow to the nape of the neck, leaving long side-locks.
The girdle supplies the place of pockets, and in it are deposited
knives, the pipe, the tobacco-pouch, the flint and steel, and various
etceteras.

Every man carries a long smooth-bore gun slung from his left shoulder,
or a stout shillelagh, or a stick split and loaded at one end (the
split being secured with strong leather), or all these weapons of
offence and defence at once.

These very wide _shulwars_, much like the "divided garment," are not
convenient in rough walking, and on the march a piece of the hem on
the outer side is tucked into the girdle, producing at once the neat
effect of knickerbockers.

The men are very well made. I have never seen deformity or lameness
except from bullet wounds. They are not usually above the middle
height, though that is exceeded by the men of the Zalaki tribe. They
are darker than the Persians. As a general rule they have straight
noses, with very fully expanded nostrils, good mouths, thin lips,
straight or slightly curved eyebrows, dark gray or black eyes, hazel
in a few instances, deeply set, and usually rather close together,
well-developed foreheads, small ears, very small feet, and small hands
with tapering fingers. The limbs below the knee are remarkably
straight and well-developed, and the walk is always good.

It is not easy to say how the women are made, as their clothing gives
no indications of form. They are long-limbed, and walk with a firm,
even, elastic stride. They are frequently tall, and except when
secluded are rarely stout. Their hands and feet are small. Their
figures are spoilt (if they ever had any) by early maternity and hard
work. At twenty a woman looks past forty. Many, perhaps it is not an
exaggeration to say most, of them have narrowly escaped being
handsome. Fine eyes, straight noses, and well-formed mouths with thin
lips are the rule. The hair is always glossy and abundant, and the
teeth of both sexes are white, regular, and healthy-looking, though
toothache is a painfully common ailment.

The women's dress in the "higher classes" is much like that worn by
the ordinary Persian women, with the exception of what I have
elsewhere called "balloon trousers," but the hard-working tribesmen's
wives are clothed in loose blue cotton trousers drawn in at the
ankles, short open chemises, and short open jackets. A black or
coloured kerchief covers the head, the ends hanging down behind or in
front. They wear loose woollen shoes with leather soles. The dress is
not pretty or picturesque, and is apt to be dirty and ragged, but it
suits their lives and their hard work.

Both sexes stain the finger-nails and the palms of the hands with
henna, and all wear amulets or charms suspended round the neck, or
bound on the upper part of the arm. These consist of passages from the
Koran, which are written on parchment in very small characters, and
are enclosed in cases of silver or leather.

At night they merely take off the outer garment where they have two.
The scanty ablutions are very curious. Each family possesses a metal
jug of rather graceful form, with a long spout curiously curved, and
the mode of washing, which points to an accustomed scarcity of water,
is to pour a little into the palm of the right hand, and bathe the
face, arms, and hands with it, soap not being used. They conclude by
rinsing the mouth and rubbing the teeth either with the forefinger or
with the aromatic leaf of a small pink salvia.

I called by appointment on the Khan's wives, sixteen in number. An
ordinary tribesman marries as many wives as he can afford to house and
keep. Poverty and monogamy are not allied here. Women do nearly all
the work, large flocks create much female employment, and as it is
"contrary to Bakhtiari custom" to employ female servants who are not
wives, polygamy is very largely practised. On questioning the guides,
who are usually very poor men, I find that they have two, three, and
even four wives, the reverse of what is customary among the peasants
of Turkey and Persia proper. The influence of a chief increases with
the number of his wives, as it enlarges his own family connections,
and those made by the marriages of his many sons and daughters. Large
families are the rule. Six children is the average in a monogamous
household, and the rate of infant mortality is very low.

The "fort" is really picturesque, though forlorn and dirty. It is
built on the steep slope of a hill, and on one side is three stories
in height. It has a long gallery in front, with fretwork above the
posts which support the roof, round towers at two of the corners, and
many irregular roofs, and steep zigzags cut in the rock lead up to
it. The centre is a quadrangle. When I reached the gateway under the
tower many women welcomed me, and led me down a darkish passage to the
gallery aforesaid, which has a pretty view of low hills, with
mulberries and pomegranates in the foreground. This gallery runs the
whole length of the fort, and good rooms open upon it. It was
furnished with rugs upon the floor, and two long wooden settees,
covered with checked native blankets in squares of Indian yellow and
madder red.

I had presents for the favourite wife, but as one man said this was
the favourite, and another that, and the hungry eyes of sixteen women
were fixed on the parcels, I took the safer course of presenting them
to the Khan for the "ladies of the _andarun_." Yahya Khan sent to know
if it would be agreeable to me for him to make his salaam to me, a
proposal which I gladly accepted as a relief from the curiosity and
disagreeable familiarity of the women. There was a complete rabble of
women in the gallery, with crawling children and screaming babies--a
forlorn, disorderly household, in which the component parts made no
secret of their hatred and jealousy of each other.

I pitied the Khan as he came in to this Babel of intriguing women and
untutored children--of women without womanliness and children without
innocence--the lord and master of the women, but not in any noble
sense their husband, nor is the house, or any polygamous house, in any
sense a home.

The wife who, I was afterwards told, is the "reigning favourite" sat
on the same settee as her lord, and he ignored the whole of them. Her
father, Bagha Khan, asked me to give into his care the present for
her, lest it should make the other wives jealous.

Yahya Khan rules a large part of the Pulawand tribe, 1000 families,
and aspires to the chieftainship of its subdivisions, among which are
the Bosakis, Hajwands, Isawands, and Hebidis, numbering 2800
families.[10]

  [Illustration: YAHYA KHAN.]

He is a tall, big, middle-aged man with a very wide mouth, and a beard
dyed auburn with henna--very intelligent, especially as regards his
own interests, and very well off, having built his castle himself.

He asked me if I thought England would occupy south-west Persia in the
present Shah's lifetime? Which has the stronger army, England or
Russia? Why England does not take Afghanistan? Did I think the
Zil-es-Sultan had any chance of succeeding his father? but several
times reverted to what seemed uppermost in his mind, the chances of a
British occupation of Southern Persia, a subject on which I was
unwilling to enter. He complained bitterly of Persian exactions, and
said that the demand made on him this year is exactly double the sum
fixed by the Amin-es-Sultan.

It is not easy to estimate the legitimate taxation. Probably it
averages two _tumans_, or nearly fifteen shillings a family. The
assessment of the tribes is fixed, but twenty, forty, and even sixty
per cent extra is often taken from them by the authorities, who in
their turn are squeezed at Tihran or Isfahan. Every cow, mule, ass,
sheep, and goat is taxed. Horses pay nothing.

In order to get away from perilous topics, which had absolutely no
interest for the women. I told him how interested I was in seeing all
his people clothed in blue Manchester cottons, though England does not
grow a tuft of cotton or a plant of indigo. I mentioned that the
number of people dependent on the cotton industry in Britain equals
the whole population of Persia, and this made such an impression on
him that he asked me to repeat it three times. He described his tribe
as prosperous, raising more wheat than it requires, and exporting 1000
_tumans'_ worth of carpets annually.

It is curious that nomadic semi-savages should not only sow and
harvest crops, and make carpets of dyed wool, as well as goats-hair
rugs and cloth, horse-furniture, _kh[=u]rjins_, and socks of intricate
patterns, but that they should understand the advantages of trade, and
export not only mules, colts, and sheep, but large quantities of
charcoal, which is carried as far as Hamadan; as well as _gaz_,
gall-nuts, tobacco, opium, rice, gum mastic, clarified butter, the
skins of the fox and a kind of marten, and cherry sticks for pipes.

Certainly the women are very industrious, rising at daylight to churn,
working all day, weaving in the intervals, and late at night boiling
the butter in their big caldrons. They make their own clothes and
those of their husbands and children, except the felt coats, sewing
with needles like skewers and very coarse loosely-twisted cotton
thread. They sew backwards, _i.e._ from left to right, and seem to use
none but a running stitch. Everywhere they have been delighted with
gifts of English needles and thread, steel thimbles, and scissors.

When it is remembered that, in addition to all the "household"
avocations which I have enumerated, they pitch and strike tents, do
much of the loading and unloading of the baggage, and attend
faithfully to their own offspring and to that of their flocks and
herds, it will be realised that the life of a Bakhtiari wife is
sufficiently laborious.

We were to have left that burning valley at 11 P.M., and when I
returned at dusk from the fort the tents were folded and the loads
ready for a moonlight march, but Yahya Khan sent to say that for the
ostensible reason of the path being greatly obstructed by trees we
could not start till daylight! Later he came with a number of
tribesmen and haggled noisily for two hours about the payment of an
escort, and the sheep a day which it would require. It was not a
comfortable night, for the sand-flies were legion, and we did not get
off till 4.30, when we were joined by Yahya Khan and his son, who
accompanied us to the Pul-i-Hawa.

The path from Kalla Khanabad runs at a considerable elevation on
wooded hillsides and slopes of shelving rock, only descending to cross
some curious ribs of conglomerate and the streams which flow into the
Ab-i-Diz. There are frequent glimpses of the river, which has the
exquisite green colour noticeable in nearly all the streams of this
part of Luristan. At a distance of a few miles from Khanabad the
valley, which has been pretty wide, and allows the river to expand
into smooth green reaches, narrows suddenly, and the Ab-i-Diz, a full,
strong stream, falls in a very fine waterfall over a natural dam or
ledge of rock, which crosses it at its broadest part, and is then
suddenly compressed into a narrow passage between cliffs and ledges of
bituminous limestone, the lowest of which is a continuation of the
path which descends upon it by some steep zigzags.

Below this gorge the river opens out into a smooth green stretch,
where it reposes briefly before starting on a wild and fretted course
through deep chasms among precipitous mountains, till it emerges on
the plains above Dizful. These limestone cliffs exude much bitumen,
and there is a so-called bituminous spring. Our men took the
opportunity of collecting the bitumen and rolling it into balls for
future use, as it is esteemed a good remedy for dyspepsia and "bad
blood."

At the narrowest part of its channel the river is crossed by a twig
bridge wide enough for laden animals, supported on the left bank by
some tree-stems kept steady by a mass of stones. In the middle it
takes a steepish upward turn, and hangs on to the opposite cliff at a
considerable elevation. The path up from it to the top of the cliff is
very narrow, and zigzags by broken ledges between walls of rock. For
loaded animals it is a very bad place, and the caravan took an hour
and a half to cross, though only four mules were unloaded, the rest
being helped across by men at their heads and tails. Several of them
fell on the difficult climb from the bridge. It would be bad enough if
the roadway of osiers were level, but it shelves slightly to the
south. That gorge is a very interesting break in an uninteresting and
monotonous region, and the broad fall above the bridge is not without
elements of grandeur. The altitude of the river over which the
Pul-i-Hawa hangs is only 3800 feet, the lowest attained on this
journey.

  [Illustration: A TWIG BRIDGE.]

The popular nomenclature is adopted here, but it would be more
accurate to call this stream the Ab-i-Burujird, and to defer
conferring the name of Ab-i-Diz upon it till the two great branches
have united far below this point. These are the Ab-i-Burujird, rising
to the west of Burujird, which with the tributaries which enter it
before it reaches the Tang-i-Bahrain, drains the great plain of
Silakhor, and the Ab-i-Basnoi, a part of which has been referred to
under its local name of Kakulistan, or "the Curl," which drains the
upper part of the Persian district of Faraidan, and receives the
important tributaries of the Guwa and the Gokun before its junction
with the Ab-i-Burujird. A tributary rising in the Kuh-i-Rang has been
locally considered the head-water of the Ab-i-Diz.

Leaving the Ab-i-Diz, the path pursues valleys with streams and dry
torrent-beds, much wooded with oak and hawthorn, with hills above,
buff with uncut sun-cured hay, magnificent pasturage, but scantily
supplied with water.

The _belut_, or oak, grows abundantly in these valleys, and on it is
chiefly collected the deposit called _gaz_, a sweetish glaze upon the
leaf, which is not produced every year, and which is rather obscure in
its origin. When boiled with the leaves it forms a shiny bottle-green
mass, but when the water is drained from them and carefully skimmed,
it cools into a very white paste which, when made up with rose-water
and chopped almonds, is cut into blocks, and is esteemed everywhere.
It is mentioned by Diodorus Siculus.[11] The unwatered valleys are
wooded with the _Paliurus aculeata_ chiefly, and the jujube tree
(_Zizyphus vulgaris_), which abounds among the Bakhtiari mountains.

The heat was frightful, and progress was very slow, owing to the low
projecting branches of trees, which delayed the baggage and tore some
of the tents. In places the path was farther obstructed by a species
of liana known in New Zealand as "a lawyer," with hooked thorns.

We passed by the steep ledgy village of Shahbadar, on the roofs of
which I rode inadvertently, till the shouts of the people showed me my
error, and encamped on the only available spot which could be found, a
steep, bare prominence above a hollow, in which is a spring surrounded
by some fine plane trees. The Shahbadar people live in their village
for three winter months only, and were encamped above us, and there
were two large camps below. Men from each of them warned us to beware
of the others, for they were robbers, and there was a great deal of
dexterous pilfering, which reduced my table equipments to a copper
mug, one plate, and a knife and fork. My _shuldari_ was torn to
pieces, and pulled down over me, by a lively mule which cantered among
the tent ropes.

The afternoon, with the mercury at 103°, was spent in entertaining
successive crowds, not exactly rude, but full of untamed curiosity. I
amused them to their complete satisfaction by letting them blow my
whistle, fill my air-cushion, and put the whalebones into my
collapsible basins. One of Milward's self-threading needles, which had
luckily been found in my carpet, surprised them beyond measure. Every
man and woman insisted on threading it with the eyes shut, and the
_ketchuda_ of one camp offered to barter a sheep for it. They said
that my shabby tent, with its few and shabby equipments, was "fit for
God!"

The camps passed on that day were constructed of booths made of stems
of trees with the bark on, the roofs being made of closely-woven
branches with the leaves on. These booths are erected round a square
with mat walls, and face outwards, a sort of privacy being obtained by
backs of coarse reed mats four feet high, and mat divisions between
the dwellings. The sheep, goats, and cattle are driven into the square
at night through a narrow entrance walled with mats.

Since leaving the Karun very few horses have been seen, and the few
have been of a very inferior class. Even Yahya Khan, who has the
reputation of being rich, rode a horse not superior to a common pack
animal. The people we have been among lately have no horses or mares,
the men walk, and the loads are carried on cows and asses.

In the greater part of this country I have not seen a mule, with the
exception of some mule foals on a high pass near Ali-kuh. The
Bakhtiaris breed mules, however, and sell them in Isfahan in the
spring, but rarely use them for burden. They breed horses in some
places, exporting the colts and keeping the fillies. Their horses are
small and not good-looking, but are wiry and enduring, and as
surefooted as mules. In fact they will go anywhere. One check on the
breeding of good horses is that, when a man has a good foal, he is
often compelled to make a present of it to any superior who fancies
it.

The horses are shod, as in Persia proper, with thin iron plates
covering nearly the whole hoof, secured by six big-headed nails.
Reared in camps and among children, they are perfectly gentle and
scarcely require breaking. A good Bakhtiari horse can be bought for £6
or £8. A good mule is worth from £7 to £11. Asses are innumerable, and
are used for transporting baggage, equally with oxen and small cows. A
good donkey can be bought for 30s.

The goats are very big and long-haired. The sheep, which nearly always
are like the goats brown or black, and very tall, are invariably of
the breed with the great pendulous tails, which sometimes weigh nearly
eight pounds. They give a great deal of milk, and it is on this, not
on cows' milk, that the people rely for the greater part of their
food, their cheese, curds, _mast_, and _roghan_.

The goat-skins are invaluable to them. They use them for holding water
and milk, and as churns for their butter. They make all their tents,
their tent carpets, and their sacks for holding wool of goat's-hair,
woven on rude portable looms.

The female costume changed at Shahbadar. The women now wear loose
garments like nightgowns, open to the waist, and reaching from the
neck to the feet, and red trousers, tight below the knee, but rarely
visible below the outer dress. Their notion of ornament consists in
having a branch or frond tattooed up the throat.

These tribes breed cattle extensively. One camp possessed over 300
young beasts. The calves are nourished by their mothers up to two
years old. They have a few white angora goats of great beauty, but the
majority are black and are valued chiefly for their milk and for their
long coarse hair.

A march through fierce heat at a low level brought us at noon to the
village of Imamzada-i-Mamil. The road, after continuing along the same
wooded valley, which in a happier climate would be called a glen,
emerges on scenery truly "park-like," softly-outlined hills covered
with buff grass, and wooded on their gently-curved slopes with oak and
hawthorn, fringing off into clumps and single trees. Smooth broad
valleys, first of buff pasture, and then of golden wheat or green
maize, lie among the hills. All is soft and lowland, and was bathed
that day in a dreamy blue heat haze. Not a mountain rose above the
gently-curved hills which were painted in soft blue on the sky of the
distant horizon. The natural wood ceased. The surroundings underwent
an abrupt change. Is it a change for the better, I wonder? Three
months and a week have been spent in zigzagging among some of the
loftiest mountains and deepest valleys of Persia, and they now lie
behind, among the things that were. In fact, Khuramabad, from which I
write, is not only out of the Bakhtiari country, but the Bakhtiari
Lurs are left behind, and we are among the fierce and undisciplined
tribes of the Feili Lurs.

The baggage animals were not dubious, as I am, as to the advantages of
the change. When we reached the open, Cock o' the Walk threw up his
beautiful head, knocked down the man who led him, and with a joyous
neigh set off at a canter, followed by all the mules and horses, some
cantering, some trotting, regardless of their loads, and regardless of
everything, proceeding irresponsibly, almost knocking one out of the
saddle by striking one with the sharp edges of _yekdans_ and tent
poles, till they were headed off by mounted men, after which some of
them rolled, loads and all, on the soft buff grass. This escapade
shows what condition they are in after three months of hard mountain
work.

Reaching the village at noon, we halted till moonrise at midnight on
an eminence with some fine plane and walnut trees upon it above a
stream which issues from below an _imamzada_ on a height, and passes
close to a graveyard. Possibly this contaminates the water, for there
has been a great outbreak of diphtheria, which has been very fatal. It
is quite a small village, but thirteen children suffering from the
most malignant form of the malady, some of them really dying at the
time, were brought to me during the afternoon, as well as some people
ill of what appeared to be typhoid fever. One young creature, very
ill, was carried three miles on her father's back, though I had sent
word that I would call and see her at night. She died a few hours
later of the exhaustion brought on by the journey. The mercury that
afternoon reached 103° in the shade.

Soon after midnight the mules were silently loaded, and we "stole
silently away," to ride through the territory of the powerful
Sagwands, a robber tribe, and reached this place in eight hours,
having done twenty-two and a half miles. It was a march full of risk,
through valleys crowded with camps, and the guide who rode in front
was very much frightened whenever the tremendous barking of the camp
dogs threatened to bring robbers down on us in the uncertain light.
The caravan was kept in steady order, and the rearguard was
frequently hailed by the leader. Nothing happened, and when day broke
we were in open russet country, among low, formless gravelly hills,
with the striking range of rocky mountains which hems in Khuramabad in
front, under a hazy sky.

Later, fording the Kashgan, I got upon the Burujird caravan road,
along which are telegraph poles, and on which there was much caravan
traffic. Recrossing the Kashgan, but this time by a good two-arched
bridge of brick on stone piers, the Yafta Kuh came in sight, and
Khuramabad with its green gardens, its walls of precipitous mountains,
and its ruined fort on an isolated and most picturesque rock in the
centre of the town--a very striking view.

Khuramabad, before the fourteenth century, was called Diz Siyah, or
the black fort, and was the capital of the Atabegs, the powerful kings
who reigned in Luri-Kushuk from A.D. 1155 to about A.D. 1600. Sir H.
Rawlinson does not regard any of its remains as earlier than the
eleventh or twelfth century.

The camps are outside the town, on a stretch of burning gravel, with
some scorched pasture beyond it, on which are Ilyat camps, then there
are divers ranges of blackish and reddish mountains, with pale
splashes of scorched herbage when there is any at all. Behind my tent
are a clump of willows, an irrigating stream, large gardens full of
fruit trees and melons, and legions of mosquitos.

Circumstances have changed, and the surroundings now belong to the
showy civilisation of Persia. As I was lying under the trees, quite
"knocked up" by the long and fatiguing night march and the great heat,
I heard fluent French being spoken with a good accent. The _Hak[=i]m_
of the Governor had called. Cavalcades of Persians on showy horses
gaily caparisoned dashed past frequently. Ten infantrymen arrived as
a guard and stacked their arms under the willows, and four obsequious
servants brought me trays of fruit and sweetmeats put up in vine
leaves from the Governor. Melons are a drug. The servants are amusing
themselves in the bazars. It is a bewildering transition.

The altitude is only 4050 feet, and the heat is awful--the heat of the
Indian plains without Indian appliances. When the men took up stones
with which to hammer the tent pegs they dropped them "like hot
potatoes." The paraffin candles melt. Milk turns sour in one hour.
Even night brings little coolness. It is only heat and darkness
instead of heat and light.

I was too much exhausted by heat and fatigue to march last night, and
rested to-day as far as was possible, merely going to pay my respects
to the Governor of Luristan, the Nizam-ul-Khilwar, and the ladies of
his _haram_. The characteristics of this official's face are anxiety
and unhappiness. There was the usual Persian etiquette--attendants in
the rear, scribes and _mollahs_ bowing and kneeling in front, and tea
and cigarettes in the pretty garden of the palace, of which cypresses,
pomegranates, and roses are the chief features. Mirza was not allowed
to attend me in the _andarun_, but a _munshi_ who spoke a little very
bad French and understood less stood behind a curtain and attempted to
interpret, but failed so signally that after one or two compliments I
was obliged to leave, after ascertaining that a really beautiful girl
of fourteen is the "reigning favourite." The women's rooms were
pretty, and the women themselves were richly but elegantly dressed,
and graceful in manner, though under difficulties. After a visit to
the ruined fort, an interesting and picturesque piece of masonry, I
rode unmolested through the town and bazars.

Khuramabad, the importance of which lies in its situation on what is
regarded as the best commercial route from Shuster to Tihran, etc., is
the capital of the Feili Lurs and the residence of the Governor of
Luristan. Picturesque at a distance beyond any Persian town that I
have seen, with its citadel rising in the midst of a precipitous pass,
its houses grouped round the base, its fine bridge, its wooded
gardens, its greenery, and the rich valley to the south of the gorge
in which it stands, it successfully rivals any Persian town in its
squalor, dirt, evil odours, and ruinous condition. Two-thirds of what
was "the once famous capital of the Atabegs" are now "ruinous heaps."
The bazars are small, badly supplied, dark, and rude; and the roads
are nothing but foul alleys, possibly once paved, but now full of
ridges, holes, ruins, rubbish, lean and mangy dogs, beggarly-looking
men, and broken channels of water, which, dribbling over the soil in
the bazars and everywhere else in green and black slime, gives forth
pestiferous odours in the hot sun.

The people slouch about slowly. They are evidently very poor, and the
merchants have the melancholy apathetic look which tells that "trade
is bad." The Feili Lurs, who render the caravan route to Dizful
incessantly insecure, paralyse the trade of what should and might be a
prosperous "distributing point," and the Persian Government, though it
keeps a regiment of soldiers here, is unsuccessful in checking, far
less in curing the chronic disorder which has produced a nearly
complete stagnation in trade.

I am all the more disappointed with the wretched condition of
Khuramabad because the decayed state of its walls is concealed by
trees, and it is entered by a handsome bridge 18 feet wide and 900
long, with twenty-eight pointed arches of solid masonry, with a fine
caravanserai with a tiled entrance on its left side. The Bala Hissar
is a really striking object, its pile of ancient buildings crowning
the steep mass of naked rock which rises out of the dark greenery and
lofty poplars and cypresses of the irrigated gardens. This fort, which
is in ruins, encloses within its double walls the Wali's palace and
other official buildings, and a fine reservoir, 178 feet by 118, fed
by a vigorous spring. In the gardens by the river, north of the fort,
are some remains of the walls and towers of the ancient Atabeg
capital, and there are also ruins of an aqueduct and of an ancient
bridge, of which ten arches are still standing. The most interesting
relic, however, is a round tower sixty feet high in fairly good
preservation, with a Kufic inscription round the top.

It is said that there are 1200 houses in Khuramabad, which would give
it a population of over 7000. It has been visited by several
Englishmen for purposes of trade or research, and it has doubtless
made the same impression upon them all as it does upon me.

_Burujird, August 9._--A night march of twenty-two miles through
perilous country brought us in blazing heat to an encampment of
Seyyids of the Bairanawand tribe, fine-looking men, showing in their
haughty bearing their pride in their illustrious lineage, but not
above depriving us during the night of many useful articles. Their
camp had three streets of tents, in front of which oxen were treading
out wheat all day long. These Seyyids have much wealth in mares and
oxen. Again we started at moonrise for what was regarded as a
dangerous march, a party of Sagwands having gone on ahead, with
hostile intentions, it was said.

However, nothing happened, and nothing was heard except the shouts of
our own _charvadars_ and the pandemonium made by the simultaneous
barking of huge dogs in the many camps we passed but could not see. We
rode through cultivated valleys full of nomads, forded the placid
Bawali, and at dawn were at the foot of the grand pass of Handawan,
7500 feet in altitude, which is ascended by steep zigzags over worn
rock ledges, and the dry boulder-strewn bed of a torrent. A descent of
2000 feet and a long ride among large formless hills took us to a
narrow gorge or chasm with a fine mountain torrent, and thence to the
magnificent Tang-i-Buzful, from which we emerged with some suddenness
on the slopes of the low foot-hills on the north side of the plain of
Burujird or Silakhor.

This very rich plain, about thirty miles long by from six to eight
broad, has been described as "waterlogged," and the level of the water
is only a foot below the surface. Certainly very numerous springs and
streams rise along the hill slopes which we traversed and flow down
into the plain, which is singularly flat, and most of it only relieved
from complete monotony by the villages which, to the number of 180,
are sprinkled over it, many of them raised on artificial mounds, at
once to avoid the miasma from the rice-fields and as a protection from
the Lurs. Above the south-eastern end rises the grand bulk of Shuturun
Kuh, with a few snow-patches still lingering, and towards the other
lies the town of Burujird, the neighbourhood of which for a few miles
is well planted, but most of the plain is devoid of trees. It is
watered by many streams, which flow into the Burujird river and the
Kamand-Ab, which uniting, leave the plain by the magnificent
Tang-i-Bahrain.

The first view, on emerging from the buff treeless mountains, was very
attractive. The tall grass of the rich marshy pastures rippled in the
breeze in wavelets of a steely sheen. Brown villages on mounds
contrasted with the vivid green of the young rice. Towards Burujird,
of which nothing but the gilding of a dome was visible, a mass of dark
greenery refreshed the eyes. The charm of the whole was the contrast
between the "dry and thirsty land where no water is" and abundant
moisture, between the scanty and scorched herbage of the arid
mountains and the "trees planted by the rivers of water," but I
confess that the length and overpowering fatigue of that thirty-three
miles' march, much of it in blazing heat, following on three nights
without sleep, soon dulled my admiration of the plain. Hour after hour
passed on its gravelly margin, then came melon beds, files of donkeys
loaded with melons in nets, gardens of cucumbers and gourds, each with
its "lodge," irrigation channels, dykes, apricot and mulberry
orchards, lanes bordered with the graceful _elægnus_, a large and busy
village, where after a very uncertain progress we got a local guide,
and then a low isolated hill, crowned by a dwelling arranged for
security, and a liberally planted garden, a platform with terraced
slopes and straight formal walks, a terrace with a fine view, and two
tanks full of turtles (which abound in many places) under large
willows, giving a pleasant shade. Between them I have pitched my
tents, with the lines of an old hymn constantly occurring to me--

     "Interval of grateful shade,
     Welcome to my weary head."

Burujird, one and a half mile off, and scarcely seen above the
intervening woods, gives a suggestion of civilisation to the
landscape. In the sunset, which is somewhat fiery, Shuturun and the
precipices of the Tang-i-Bahrain are reddening.

The last three marches have been more severe than the whole travelling
of the last three months. Happy thought, that no call to "boot and
saddle" will break the stillness of to-morrow morning!

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[8] This untoward affair ended well, but had there been bloodshed on
either side, had any one of us been killed, which easily might have
been, the world would never have believed but that some offence had
been given, and that some high-handed action had been the cause of the
attack. I am in a position to say, not only that no offence was given,
but that here and everywhere the utmost care was taken not to violate
Bakhtiari etiquette, or wound religious or national susceptibilities;
all supplies were paid for above their value; the servants, always
under our own eyes, were friendly but reserved; and in all dealings
with the people kindness and justice were the rule. I make these
remarks in the hope of modifying any harsh judgments which may be
passed upon any travellers who have died unwitnessed deaths at the
hands of natives. There are, as in our case, absolutely unprovoked
attacks.

[9] See Appendix A.

[10] I am inclined to estimate the Bakhtiari population at a higher
figure than some travellers have given. I took forty-three men at
random from the poorest class and from various tribes, and got from
them the number of their families, wives and children only being
included, and the average was eight to a household.

[11] Book xvii. c. viii.



LETTER XXI


     BURUJIRD, _Aug. 16_.

A week has glided away since I sent my last diary letter, with only
two events of direct personal interest, one being that I have bought a
young, powerful little Bakhtiari horse, which has been in camp since
we left the Karun river, a dark bay, with black points, big feet, a
big ugly head, and big flopping ears, but otherwise passably
good-looking, an unsuspicious animal, brought up in tent life, with
children rolling about among his feet, and as yet quite ignorant that
man can be anything but his friend. I intend to look after his
well-being, but not to make a pet of him.

The other event occurred on the morning after our arrival, and took
the place of the "boot and saddle" call, for I was awakened very early
by a hubbub round my tent, the interpretation of which was that a
packing case in three compartments, containing my cooking utensils,
remaining table equipments, and stores, had been carried off before
daylight, deposited in an adjacent plantation, broken open, and
emptied. Thus I was left with nothing, and have been unable to get
anything in the bazars here except two cooking pots and a tin teapot
of unique construction made to order. The few other things which I
still regard as absolute necessaries, a cup, plate, knife, fork, and
spoon, have been lent me by the Agha. All my tea is gone, the worst
loss of all.

Later in the day Hassan came in a quiet rage, saying that he would
leave for Isfahan at once, because Mirza had accused him of not
keeping an efficient watch, and shortly afterwards Mahomet Ali and his
handsome donkey actually did leave.[12] Burujird bears a very bad
reputation. Here, last year, a young English officer was robbed of his
tents and horses, and everything but the clothes he wore.

The Governor, on hearing of the theft, said I should not have "camped
in the wilderness," the "wilderness" being a beautifully kept garden
with a gardener (who was arrested) and a house. For the last week a
guard of six soldiers has watched by day and night.

The news received from the Bakhtiari country is rather startling.
Mirab Khan, who looked too ill and frail for active warfare, sent a
messenger with a letter to Khaja Taimur, urging him to join him in an
attack on Aslam Khan. The letter was intercepted by this "Judas," and
now the country from Kalahoma to Khanabad is in a flame. Serious
troubles have broken out in this plain, all the Khans of the Sagwand
tribe having united to rise against the payment of a tribute which
they regard as heavy enough to "crush the life out of the people." The
_H[=a]kim_ has telegraphed for troops, and the governor of Luristan is
said to be coming with 500 men.

A "tribute insurrection," on a larger or smaller scale, is a common
autumnal event. The Khans complain of being oppressed by "merciless
exactions." They say that the tribute fixed by the Shah is "not too
much," but that it is doubled and more by the rapacity of governors,
and that the people are growing poorer every year. They complain that
when they decline to pay more than the tribute fixed by the
Amin-es-Sultan, soldiers are sent, who drive off their mares, herds of
cattle, and flocks to the extent of three, four, and five times the
sum demanded.

These few words contain the substance of statements almost universally
made. There is probably another side, and they may be true in part
only. The tribesmen of Silakhor state that they had protested and
appealed in vain before they decided on resistance. Every Khan with
whom I have conversed has besought me to lay his case before the
"English Vakil" at Tihran.

This widely-diffused belief in England as the redresser of wrongs is
very touching, and very palatable to one's national pride. All these
people have heard of the way in which the cultivators in India have
been treated, of "land settlements" and English "settlement officers,"
and they say, "England could make everything right for us." So she
could, "and she would"! As the governors pay large sums for offices
from which they are removable at the Shah's pleasure, and as the lower
officials all pay more or less heavily for their positions, we may
reasonably infer that all, from the highest to the lowest, put on the
screw, and squeeze all they can out of the people, over and above the
tribute fixed at Tihran. Near views of Oriental despotisms are as
disenchanting as near views of "the noble savage," for they contain
within themselves the seeds of "all villainies," which rarely, if
ever, fail of fructification.

Mirza Karim Khan, the Governor of Burujird, called a few days ago, a
young harassed-looking man, with very fine features, but a look of
serious bad health. He complained so much that the Agha asked his
attendant, a very juvenile _Hak[=i]m_, speaking a little scarcely
intelligible French, if he would object to the Governor taking
something from the famous "leather box," and the effect was so
magical that the next day he looked a different man.

An arrangement was made for returning the visit, and he received us in
a handsome tent in a garden, with the usual formalities, but only a
scribe and the _Hak[=i]m_ were present. A _sowar_, sent from Burujird
with a letter to the Sahib, was undoubtedly robbed of his horse, gun,
and some of his clothing _en route_. Very quietly the Governor denied
this, but as he did so I saw a wink pass between the scribe and
_Hak[=i]m_. It was a pitiable sight,--a high official sitting there,
with luxuries about him, in a city with its walls, embankments, and
gates ruinous, the brickwork in the palace gardens lying in heaps, his
province partially disturbed, the people rising against what, at the
least, are oppressive exactions, raising an enormous tribute, from
which there is no outlay on province or city, government for the good
of the governed never entering into his (as rarely into any other
Oriental) mind.

This evening he has made a farewell visit on the terrace, attended by
the _Hak[=i]m_. Aziz Khan stood on the edge of the carpet, and
occasionally interjected a remark into the conversation. I have before
said that he has a certain gentlemanliness and even dignity, and his
manner was neither cringing nor familiar. The _Hak[=i]m_, however,
warned him not to speak in presence of the Governor, a restraint
which, though very different from the free intercourse of retainers
with their chiefs among the Bakhtiari, was in strict accordance with
the proprieties of Persian etiquette. Aziz stalked away, shaking his
wide _shulwars_, with an air of contempt. "This governor," he
afterwards said, "what is he? If it were Isfandyar Khan, and he were
lying down, my head would be next to his, and twenty more men would be
lying round him to guard his life with ours."

It seems as if Burujird were destitute of cavalry, at least of men who
can be spared, though it has been stated that a whole cavalry regiment
is in garrison.[13]

The Governor promised three escorts; my modest request was for one
_sowar_, and a very unmilitary-looking horseman has arrived for me,
but now, within an hour of marching, the others are without even one!

Attended by the _Hak[=i]m_ and an escort, we rode yesterday through
Burujird. To write that a third of it is in ruins is simply to write
that it is a Persian town. It has crumbling mud walls, said to be five
miles in circumference, five gates in bad repair, and a ditch, now
partially cultivated.

It is situated in Lat. 33° 55' N, and its Long. is 48° 55' E. Its
elevation is 4375 feet [Bell]. Its population is estimated at from
12,000 to 18,000, and includes a great many Seyyids and _mollahs_. It
has a Persian Telegraph Office and Post Office, neither of them to be
depended upon, six large and very many small mosques, a number of
mosque schools, thirty-three public baths, and six caravanserais. It
manufactures woollen goods, carpets, and the best _arak_ to be found
in Persia. It also produces dried fruits and treacle made from grapes.

The bazars are large, light, and well supplied with European goods,
Russian and English cottons in enormous quantities, Austrian kerosene
lamps of all descriptions and prices, Russian mirrors, framed coloured
engravings of the Russian Imperial family, Russian _samovars_,
tea-glasses and tea-trays, Russian sewing and machine cotton, American
sewing machines, Russian woollen cloth, fine and heavy, Russian
china, and Russian sugar-loaves, to the sale of which several shops
are exclusively devoted.

Persian manufactures are chiefly represented by heavy cottons, dyed
and stamped at Isfahan, carpets, saddles, horse and mule furniture,
copper cooking utensils, shoes of all makes, pipes, _kalians_, rope,
ornamented travelling trunks, _galon_, gimps, tassels of silk and
wool, and "small wares" of all kinds, with rude pottery, oil jars,
each big enough to contain a man, great water-jars, small clay bowls
glazed roughly with a green glaze, guns, swords, pistols, long knives,
and the tools used by the different trades.

Altogether the bazars look very thriving, and they were crowded with
buyers. Possibly the people have rarely if ever seen a Feringhi woman,
and they crowded very much upon me, and the escort drove them off in
the usual fashion, with sticks and stones. Though much of Burujird
lies in ruins it has a fair aspect of prosperity and some very good
houses and new buildings. The roads are cobbled with great stones, and
are certainly not worse than those of the older parts of Tihran. Water
is abundant.

Nature evidently intends Burujird to be a prosperous city. The
pasturage of the plain is magnificent, and the rich soil produces two
crops a year. All cereals flourish. Wheat and barley ripen in July.
Seven sorts of grapes grow, and ripen in August and September, and
some of the clusters are finer than any of our hothouse produce. Water
and musk melons, tobacco, maize, gourds and cucumbers, beans, the
_bringal_ or egg plant, peas, flax and other oil seeds, rice and
cotton, apricots, walnuts, pomegranates, and peaches testify to the
excellence of the soil and climate.

Not only is Burujird in the midst of an exceptionally fine
agricultural district, but it is connected by caravan routes with the
best agricultural and commercial regions of Persia to the north, east,
and west by easy roads, never snow-blocked, or at least they never
need be if there were traffic enough to keep them open. It is only 130
miles from rich Kirmanshah, 90 from the fertile district which
surrounds Hamadan, 60 from Sultanabad, the most important
carpet-producing region of Western Persia, and rich besides in grain
and cotton, 140 from Kûm, on the main road from Isfahan to Tihran,
something about 230 from Tihran, and only 310 from Ahwaz.

These routes are all easy, though, so far as I know them, very badly
supplied with caravanserais, except on the main road between the two
capitals. The southern road, leading through Khuramabad to Dizful and
Shuster, has no great natural difficulties, though part of it lies
through a mountainous region. Some blasting and much boulder-lifting
would, according to Colonel Bell, remedy the evils of the fifty miles
of it which he regards as bad. But, apart from this, the
Shuster-Burujird route, the most _natural_ route for north and
south-western Persian commerce to take to and from the sea, is at
present useless to trade from its insecurity, as the Feili Lurs,
through whose territory it passes, own no authority, live by robbery
when they have any one to rob, and are always fighting each other.

There are no regular _charvadars_ in Burujird, and many and tedious
have been the difficulties in the way of getting off. Up to last night
I had no mules, and Hadji said mournfully, "When you learn what other
_charvadars_ are like, you'll think of me." I have taken leave of Aziz
Khan with regret. He echoes the oft-repeated question, "Why does not
England come and give us peace? In a few years we should all be rich,
and not have to fight each other." "Stay among us for some years," he
said, "and you will get very rich. What have you to go back to in
Feringhistan?" He asked me for a purse, and to put some _krans_ in it
for his children, but not to give him any money. He said that when he
asked for money and other things he was only in fun. I do not know
whether to believe him.

Mirza and my caravan started this morning, and now, 4 P.M., I am
leaving with the _sowar_, with the mercury at 90°, for the first march
of a journey of 800 miles.

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[12] I have since heard that this youth was an accomplice of a
Burujird man in this theft, and of an Armenian in a robbery of money
which occurred in Berigun.

[13] Throughout the part of Persia in which I have travelled I have
observed a most remarkable discrepancy between the numbers of soldiers
_said_ to garrison any given place, and the number which on further
investigation turned out to be actually there. It is safe to deduct
from fifty to ninety per cent from the number in the original
statement!



LETTER XXII


     HAMADAN, _Aug. 28_.

It was as I thought. The _sowar_ sent with me was only a harmless
peasant taken from the plough, mounted on his own horse, and provided
with a Government gun. The poor fellow showed the "white feather" on
the first march, and I was obliged to assert the "ascendency of race"
and ride in front of him. The villagers at once set him down as an
impostor, and refused him supplies, and as his horse could not keep up
with mine, and the road presented no apparent perils, I dismissed him
at the end of three days with a _largesse_ which gladdened his heart.
He did not know the way, and the afternoon I left Burujird he led me
through ploughed fields and along roadless hillsides, till at the end
of an hour I found myself close to the garden from which I started.

The early part of the first march is over great bare gravelly slopes
without water. Then come irrigation and villages. The hills have been
eaten nearly bare. Nothing remains but a yellow salvia and the
beautiful _Eryngium cæruleum_. There, as in the Bakhtiari country, the
people stack the _Centaurea alata_ for winter fodder. The road is
good, and except in two places a four-wheeled carriage could be driven
over it at a trot.

The camping-ground was outside Deswali, an unwalled village of 106
houses, with extensive cultivated lands and a "well-to-do" aspect. The
people raise cereals, melons, cucumbers, grapes, and cotton, but in
bad seasons have to import wheat. There, as at every village since,
the _ketchuda_ has called upon me, and some of these men have been
intelligent and communicative, and have shown such courtesies as have
been in their power. It is an unusual, if not an unheard-of, thing for
a European lady, even if she knows Persian, to travel through this
country without a European escort; but there has been no rudeness or
impertinent curiosity, no crowding even; the headmen all seemed
anxious for my comfort, and supplies at reasonable rates have always
been forthcoming.

The heat at Deswali was overpowering, the mercury in my tent standing
for hours on 17th August at 120°, the temperature in the shade being
104°.

It is vain to form any resolution against making a pet of a horse. My
new acquisition, "_Boy_," insisted on being petted, and his winning
and enticing ways are irresistible. He is always tethered in front of
my tent with a rope so long as to give him a considerable amount of
liberty, and he took advantage of this the very first day to come into
the tent and make it very apparent that he wanted me to divide a melon
with him. Grapes were his next _penchant_, then cucumber, bread, and
biscuits. Then he actually drank milk out of a soup plate. He comes up
to me and puts his head down to have his ears rubbed, and if I do not
attend to him at once, or cease attending to him, he gives me a gentle
but admonitory thump. I dine outside the tent, and he is tied to my
chair, and waits with wonderful patience for the odds and ends, only
occasionally rubbing his soft nose against my face to remind me that
he is there. Up to this time a friendly snuffle is the only sound that
he has made. He does not know how to fight, or that teeth and heels
are of any other use than to eat and walk with. He is really the
gentlest and most docile of his race. The point at which he "draws
the line" is being led. He drags back, and a mulish look comes into
his sweet eyes. But he follows like a dog, and as I walk as much as I
can I always have him with me. He comes when I call him, stops when I
stop, goes off the road with me when I go in search of flowers, and
usually puts his head either on my shoulder or under my arm. To him I
am an embodiment of melons, cucumbers, grapes, pears, peaches,
biscuits, and sugar, with a good deal of petting and ear-rubbing
thrown in. Every day he becomes more of a companion. He walks very
fast, gallops easily, never stumbles, can go anywhere, is never tired,
and is always hungry. I paid £4:15s. for him, but he was bought from
the Bakhtiaris for £3:14s. as a four-year-old. He is "up to" sixteen
stone, jumps very well, and is an excellent travelling horse.

Redundant forelocks and wavy manes, uncut tails carried in fiery
fashion, small noses, quivering nostrils, small restless ears, and
sweet intelligent eyes add wonderfully to the attractiveness of the
various points of excellence which attract a horse-fancier in Persia.
A Persian horse in good condition may be backed against any horse in
the world for weight-carrying powers, endurance, steadiness, and
surefootedness, is seldom unsound, and is to his rider a friend as
well as a servant. Generally speaking, a horse can carry his rider
wherever a mule can carry a load, and will do from thirty to forty
miles a day for almost any length of time.

The clothing of horses is an important matter. Even in this hot
weather they wear a good deal--first a _parhan_ or shirt of fine wool
crossed over the chest; next the _jul_, a similar garment, but in
coarser wool; and at night over all this is put the _namad_, a piece
of felt half an inch thick, so long that it wraps the animal from head
to tail, and so deep as to cover his body down to his knees. A broad
surcingle of woollen webbing keeps the whole in place.

The food does not vary. It consists of from seven to ten pounds of
barley daily, in two feeds, and as much as a horse can eat of _kah_,
which is straw broken in pieces about an inch and a half long. While
travelling, barley and _kah_ are mixed in the nose-bag. No hay is
given, and there are no oats. It is customary among the rich to give
their horses an exclusive diet of barley grass for one month in the
spring, on which they grow very fat and useless. Old horses are fed on
dough-balls made of barley-flour and water. A grape diet is also given
in the grape-producing regions in the autumn instead of _kah_. _Boy_
eats ten pounds of grapes as a mere dessert.

I admire and like the Persian horse. His beauty is a constant
enjoyment, and, ferocious as he is to his fellows, he is gentle and
docile to man. I cannot now recall having seen a vicious horse in
seven months. On the whole they are very well cared for, and are
kindly treated. The sore backs of baggage horses are almost
inevitable, quite so, indeed, so long as the present form of
pack-saddle stuffed with _kah_ is used. Mares are not ridden in Persia
proper.

The march from Deswali to Sahmine is a pretty one, at first over long
buff rolling hills and through large elevated villages, then turning
off from the Kirmanshah road and descending into a broad plain, the
whole of which for several miles is occupied by the trees and gardens
of the eminently prosperous village of Sahmine, whose 500 families,
though they pay a tribute of 2400 _tumans_ a year, have "nothing to
complain of."[14]

I was delighted with the oasis of Sahmine. It has abundant water for
irrigation, which means abundant fertility. Its walnut trees are
magnificent, and its gardens are filled with noble fruit trees. The
wheat harvest was being brought in, and within the walls it was
difficult to find a place to camp on, for all the open spaces were
threshing-floors, piled with sheaves of wheat and mounds of _kah_, in
the midst of which oxen in spans of two were threshing. That is, they
drew machines like heavy wood sleds, with transverse revolving wooden
rollers set with iron fans at different angles, which cut the straw to
pieces. A great heap of unbound sheaves is in the centre, and from
this men throw down the stalked ears till they come up to the bodies
of the oxen, adding more as fast as the straw is trodden down. A boy
sits on the car and keeps the animals going in a circle hour after
hour with a rope and a stick. The foremost oxen are muzzled. The grain
falls out during this process.

On a windy day the great heaps are tossed into the air on a fork, the
straw is carried for a short distance, and the grain falling to the
ground is removed and placed in great clay jars in the living-rooms of
the houses. All the villages are now surrounded with mounds of _kah_
which will be stored before snow comes. The dustiness of this
winnowing process is indescribable. I was nearly smothered with it in
Sahmine, and on windy days each village is enveloped in a yellow dust
storm.

Sahmine, though it has many ruinous buildings, has much building going
on. It has large houses with _balakhanas_, a Khan's fort with many
houses inside, a square with fine trees and a stream, and a _place_
with a stream, where madder-red dyers were at work, and there are five
small mosques and _imamzadas_. The gardens are quite beautiful, and it
is indeed a very attractive village.

The people also were attractive and friendly. After the _ketchuda's_
official visit the Khan's wives called, and pressed me very
hospitably to leave my tent and live with them, and when I refused
they sent me a dinner of Persian dishes with sweetmeats made by their
own hands. The _kabobs_ were quite appetising. They are a favourite
Persian dish, made of pieces of seasoned meat roasted on skewers, and
served very hot, between flaps of very hot bread. Each bit of meat is
rubbed with an onion before being put on the skewer, and a thin slice
of tail fat is put between every two pieces. The cooks show great art
in the rapidity with which they rotate a skewer full of _kabobs_ over
a fierce charcoal fire.

In the evening, at the _ketchuda's_ request, I held a "reception"
outside my tent, and it was a very pleasant, merry affair. Several of
the people brought their children, and the little things behaved most
graciously. It is very pleasant to see the devotion of the men to
them. I told them that in England many of our people are so poor that
instead of children being welcome they are regarded ruefully as
additional "mouths to feed." "Ah," said the _ketchuda_, a handsome
Seyyid, "your land is then indeed under the curse of God. We would
like ten children at once, they are the joy of our lives." Other men
followed, expatiating on the delights of having children to pet and
play with on their return from work.

Sahmine not only dyes and prints cottons, but it exports wheat,
barley, opium, cotton, and fruit, and appears a more important and
prosperous place than Daulatabad, the capital of the district.

The fine valley between Sahmine and Daulatabad is irrigated by a
_kanaat_ and canals, and is completely cultivated, bearing heavy crops
of wheat, cotton, tobacco, opium, _bringals_, and castor oil. The
wheat is now being carried to the villages on asses' backs in great
nets, lashed to six-foot poles placed in front and behind, each pole
being kept steady by a man.

The heat on that march was severe. A heavy heat-haze hung over the
distances, vegetation drooped, my mock _sowar_ wrapped up his head in
his _abba_, the horses looked limp, the harvesters slept under the
trees, the buffaloes lay down in mud and water. Even the greenery of
the extensive gardens in and around Daulatabad scarcely looked cool.

Daulatabad is a walled city of 4500 souls, has a fort, and is reputed
to have a large garrison. The bazars, which contain 250 shops, are
indifferent, and the five caravanserais wretched. It and its extensive
gardens occupy the eastern extremity of a plain, and lie very near the
steep rocky mountain Sard Kuh, through which, by the Tang-i-Asnab, the
Tihran road passes. Another road over the shoulder of the mountain
goes to Isfahan. The plain outside the walls has neither tree nor
bush, and was only brought into cultivation two years ago. The harvest
was carried, and as irrigation had been suspended for some weeks,
there was nothing but a yellow expanse of short thin stubble and
blazing gravel.

There was no space for camping in any available garden, and an hour
was spent in finding a camping-ground with wholesome water on the
burning plain before mentioned. I camped below a terraced and planted
eminence, on which a building, half fort and half governor's house,
has so recently been erected that it has not had time to become
ruinous. It is an imposing quadrangle with blank walls, towers with
windows at the corners, and a very large _balakhana_ over the
entrance. A winding carriage-drive, well planted, leads up to it, and
there is a circular band-stand with a concrete floor and a fountain.
The most surprising object was a new pair-horse landau, standing under
a tree. Barracks are being built just below the house.

While my tent was being pitched, the Governor's _aide-de-camp_,
attended by a cavalry escort, called, and with much courtesy offered
me the _balakhana_, arranged, he said, in European fashion. The
Governor was absent, but this officer said that it would be his wish
to offer me hospitality. As I felt quite unable to move he sent a skin
of good water, some fruit, and a guard of four soldiers.

It was only 11 A.M. when the tents were pitched, and the long day
which followed was barely endurable. The mercury reached 124° inside
my tent. The servants lay in a dry ditch under a tree in the
Governor's garden. _Boy_ several times came into the shade of my
verandah. The black flies swarmed over everything, and at sunset
covered the whole roof of the tent so thickly that no part of it could
be seen. The sun, a white scintillating ball, blazed from a steely
sky, over which no cloud ever passed. The heated atmosphere quivered
over the burning earth. I was at last ill of fever, and my recipe for
fighting the heat by ceaseless occupation failed. It was a miserable
day, and at one time a scorching wind, which seemed hot enough to
singe one's hair, added to the discomfort. "As the hireling earnestly
desireth the shadow," so I longed for evening, but truly the hours of
that day were "long drawn out." The silence was singular. Even the
buzzing of a blue-bottle fly would have been cheerful. The sun,
reddening the atmosphere as he sank, disappeared in a fiery haze, and
then the world of Daulatabad awoke. Parties of Persian gentlemen on
fiery horses passed by, dervishes honoured me by asking alms, the
Governor's _major-domo_ called to offer sundry kindnesses, and great
flocks of sheep and goats, indicated by long lines of dust clouds,
moved citywards from the hills. Sand-flies in legions now beset me,
and the earth, which had been imbibing heat all day, radiated it far
into the morning. I moved my bed outside the tent and gave orders for
an early start, but the _charvadar_ who was in the city over-slept
himself, and it was eight the next day before I got away, taking Mirza
with me.

The heat culminated on that day. Since then, having attained a higher
altitude, it has diminished.[15] The road to Jamilabad ascends pretty
steadily through undulating country with small valleys among low
hills, but with hardly any villages, owing to the paucity of water.
The fever still continuing, I found it difficult to bear the movement
of the horse, and dismounted two or three times and lay under an
umbrella by the roadside. On one of these halts I heard Mirza's voice
saying in cheerful tones, "Madam, your horse is gone!" "Gone!" I
exclaimed, "I told you always to hold or tether him." "I trusted him,"
he replied sententiously. "Never trust any one or any horse, and least
of all yourself," I replied unadvisedly. I sent him back with his
horse to look for _Boy_, telling him when he saw him to dismount and
go towards him with the nose-bag, and that though the horse would
approach it and throw up his heels and trot away at first, he would
eventually come near enough to be caught. After half an hour he came
back without him. I asked him what he had done. He said he saw _Boy_,
rode near him twice, did not dismount, held out to him not the
nose-bag with barley but my "_courier bag_," and that _Boy_ cantered
out of sight! For the moment I shared Aziz Khan's contempt for the
"desk-bred" man.

Mirza is so good that one cannot be angry with him, but it was very
annoying to hear him preach about "fate" and "destiny" while he was
allowing his horse to grind my one pair of smoked spectacles into bits
under his hoofs. I only told him that it would be time to fall back on
_fate_ and _destiny_ when, under any given circumstances, such as
these, he had exhausted all the resources of forethought and
intelligence. My plight was a sore one, for by that time I was really
ill, and had lost, as well as my horse and saddle, my food, quinine,
writing materials, and needle-work. I got on the top of the baggage
and rode for five hours, twice falling off from exhaustion. The march
instead of being thirteen miles turned out twenty-two, there was no
water, poor Mirza was so "knocked up" that he stumbled blindly along,
and it was just sunset when, after a series of gentle ascents, we
reached the village of Jamilabad, prettily situated on the crest of a
hill in a narrow valley above a small stream.

To acquaint the _ketchuda_ with my misfortune, and get him to send a
capable man in search of the horse, promising a large reward, and to
despatch Hassan with a guide in another direction, were the first
considerations, and so it fell out that it was 10 P.M. before I was at
rest in my tent, where I was obliged to remain for some days, ill of
fever. The next morning a gentle thump, a low snuffle, and a theft of
some grapes by my bedside announced that _Boy_ was found, and by the
headman's messenger, who said he met a Seyyid riding him to Hamadan.
The saddle-cloth was missing, and all the things from the holsters,
but after the emissary had been arrested for some crime the latter
were found in his large pockets. Hassan returned late in the
afternoon, having been surrounded by four _sowars_, who, under the
threat of giving him a severe beating, deprived him of his watch.

When I was so far better as to be able to move, I went on to Mongawi,
a large walled village at an elevation of 7100 feet, camped for two
days on an adjacent slope, and from thence rode to Yalpand by a road
on a height on the east side of a very wild valley on the west of
which is Elwend, a noble mountain, for long an object of interest on
the march from Kirmanshah to Tihran. A great number of the mountains
of Persia are ridges or peaks of nearly naked rock, with precipices on
which nothing can cling, and with bases small in proportion to their
elevation. Others are "monstrous protuberances" of mud and gravel.
Mount Elwend, however, has many of the characteristics of a
mountain,--a huge base broken up into glens and spurs, among which
innumerable villages with their surroundings of woods and crops are
scattered, with streams dashing through rifts and lingering among
pasture lands, vine-clothed slopes below and tawny grain above, high
summits, snow-slashed even now, clouds caught and falling in vivifying
showers, indigo colouring in the shadows, and rocky heights for which
purple-madder would be the fittest expression.

In one of the loveliest of the valleys on the skirts of Elwend lies
the large walled village of Yalpand on a vigorous stream. For two
miles before reaching it the rugged road passes through a glen which
might be at home, a water-worn ledgy track, over-arched by trees, with
steep small fields among them in the fresh green of grass springing up
after the hay has been carried. Trees, ruddy with premature autumnal
tints and festooned with roses and brambles, bend over the river, of
which little is visible but here and there a flash of foam or a
sea-green pool. The village, on a height above the stream, has banks
of orchards below and miles of grain above, and vineyards, and
material plenty of all sorts. It was revelling in the dust storm which
winnowing produces, and the _ketchuda_ suggested to me to camp at some
distance beyond it, on a small triangular meadow below a large
irrigation stream. Hardly were the tents pitched when, nearly without
warning, Elwend blackened, clouds gathered round his crest and boiled
up out of his corries, and for the first time since the middle of
January there were six hours of heavy rain, with hail and thunder, and
a fall of the mercury within one hour from 78° to 59°. The coolness
was most delicious.

Hadji Hussein's prophecy that after I left him I should "know what
_charvadars_ are" was not fulfilled on this journey. I had one young
man with me who from having performed the pilgrimage to Kerbela bears
the name of "Kerbelai" for the rest of his life. He owns the fine and
frisky animals he drives, and goes along at a good pace, his long gun
over his shoulder, singing as he goes. Blithe, active, jolly,
obliging, honest, kind-hearted, he loads as fast as three ordinary
men, and besides grooming and feeding his animals well, he "ran
messages," got the water and wood, and helped to pitch and strike the
tents, and was as ready to halt as to march. Hassan and Mirza are most
deliberate in their movements; nothing can hurry them, not even the
risk of being flooded out of their tents; and when the storm came on
Kerbelai snatched the spade from them and in no time trenched my tent
and dug a channel to let the water out of the meadow.

The next day was cloudless, and the sky, instead of having a whitish
or steely blue, had the deep pure tint so often seen on a June day in
England. The heat returned, and it was a fatiguing and dusty march
into Hamadan, still mainly on the skirts of Elwend, among villages
surrounded by vineyards. After pursuing a by-road from Jamilabad I
joined the main road, two miles from Hamadan, and the number of men on
good horses, of foot passengers, and of asses laden with fruit and
vegetables, indicated the approach to a capital as plainly as the wide
road, trenched on both sides and planted with young willows.

The wall as is usual is of crumbling, rain-eaten, sun-dried bricks,
and a very poor gateway admits the traveller into a network of narrow
alleys, very ruinous, with infamous roadways, full of lumps, holes,
slimy black channels, stout mangy dogs, some of them earless,
tailless, and one-eyed, sleeping in heaps in the hot sun, the whole
overwhelmingly malodorous.[16]

It was no easy matter to find the way to the American Mission House,
even though the missionary _Hak[=i]m_ is well known and highly
esteemed, and I rode through the filthy alleys of the city and its
crowded bazars for more than an hour before I reached the Armenian
quarter. The people were most polite. There was no shouting or
crushing in the bazars, and in some cases men walked with me for some
distance to show me the way, especially when I asked for the
_Khanum's_ house. Indeed they all seemed anxious to assist a stranger.
Many of the children salaamed, as I thought, but I have since heard
that they are fond of using to a Christian a word which sounds just
like _salaam_, but which instead of meaning _Peace_ is equivalent to
"May you be for ever accursed!"

On reaching the Mission House I found it shut and that the
missionaries were in the country, and after sending word that I had
arrived I spent some hours in an Armenian house, where the people
showed extreme hospitality and kindness.

They put a soft quilt down on the soft rugs, which covered the floor
of a pretty whitewashed room, with many ornaments, chiefly Russian,
and, finding that I was ill, they repeatedly brought tea, milk, and
fruit instead of the heavy dinner which was at once cooked. The sight
of several comely women dressed in shades of red, with clean white
_chadars_, going about household avocations, receiving visitors and
gracefully exercising the rites of hospitality in a bright clean house
festooned with vines, was very pleasant to a dweller in tents. It is
not Armenian custom for a daughter-in-law to speak in the presence of
her mother-in-law, or even to uncover her mouth, or for young women to
speak in presence of their elders. A wife cannot even address her
husband in the presence of his mother, except in a furtive whisper.
Owing to the custom of covering the mouth, which shows no symptom of
falling into disuse, I did not see the face of a girl matron who,
judging from her eyes, nose, and complexion, was the comeliest in the
room.

Towards evening, as I lay trying to sleep, I was delightfully startled
by a cheery European voice, and a lady bent over me, whose face was
sunshine, and the very tone of her voice a welcome. Goodness, purity,
love, capacity to lead as well as help, true strength, and true
womanliness met in the expression of her countenance. Her spotless
cambric dress, her becoming hat with its soft white _pagri_, the
harmonious simplicity of her costume, and her well-fitting gloves and
shoes were a joy after the slovenliness, slipshodness, and generally
tumbling-to-pieces look of Oriental women. The Faith Hubbard School,
one of the good works of the American Presbyterian Mission, was close
by, and in half an hour Miss ---- made me feel "at home." Blessed
phrase!

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[14] On this journey of 400 miles from Burujird to the Turkish
frontier near Urmi, I never heard one complaint of the tribute which
is paid to the Shah. All complaints, and they were many, were of the
exactions and rapacity of the local governors.

[15] North of Daulatabad, the route of last winter from Nanej to Kûm,
the winter route from Kangawar to Tihran, was crossed. Although it is
a "beaten track" for caravans, so far as I know the only information
concerning it consists in two reports, not accessible to the public,
in the possession of the Indian authorities.

[16] Hamadan is the fourth city in the Empire in commercial
importance. She has a Prince Governor, 450 villages in the district,
raises revenue to the amount of 60,000 _tumans_, of which only 11,000
are paid into the Imperial Treasury, and, as the ancient Ecbatana, the
capital of the Median kings, she has a splendid history, but the few
lines in which I recorded my first impressions are not an exaggeration
of the meanness and unsavouriness of her present externals.



LETTER XXIII


     HAMADAN, _Sept. 12_.

I came for four days, and have been here nearly three weeks, which I
would willingly prolong into as many months if the winter were not
impending. Illness, the non-arrival of luggage containing winter
clothing from Tihran, and the exceeding difficulty of finding a
_charvadar_ willing to go to Urmi by the route I wish to take, have
all detained me. For some time I was unable to leave the house, and
indeed have been out very little, and not outside the city at all.

I am disappointed both with Hamadan and its autumn climate. It stands
at an elevation of 6156 feet [Schindler], and on the final slope of
the Kuh-i-Hamadan, an offshoot of Mount Elwend, overlooking a plain
about fifteen miles long by nine broad, populous and cultivated,
bounded on the other side by low gravelly hills. At this altitude, and
with autumn fairly begun, coolness might be expected, but the heat,
which a fortnight ago seemed moderating, has returned in fury, with
that peculiar faintness about it which only autumn gives. Mount Elwend
attracts masses of clouds, and these tend to hang over the town and
increase the stagnation of the air, about which there is a remarkable
closeness, even in this high situation overlooking the plain.
Intermittent fever and diphtheria are prevailing both in the city and
the adjacent villages. Not only is the air close and still, but the
sun is blazing hot, and the mercury only varies from 88° in the day to
84° at night. Brown dust-storms career wildly over the plain, or hang
heavily over it in dust clouds, and the sand-flies are abundant and
merciless. In the winter the cold is intense, and the roads are
usually blocked with snow for several weeks.

Water is abundant, and is led through open channels in the streets.
The plain too is well supplied, and the brown villages, which
otherwise would be invisible on the brown plain, are denoted by dark
green stains of willow, poplar, and fruit trees. The town itself has
fine gardens, belonging to the upper classes, but these are only
indicated by branches straying over the top of very high walls.

My first impressions have received abundant confirmation. Important as
a commercial centre as Hamadan doubtless is, it is as ruinous, filthy,
decayed, and unprosperous-looking a city as any I have seen in Persia.
"Ruinous heaps," jagged weather-worn walls, houses in ruins, or partly
ruined and deserted, roofs broken through, domes from which the glazed
tiles have dropped off, roadways not easy by daylight and dangerous at
night, water-channels leaking into the roads and often black with
slime, and an unusual number of very poor and badly-dressed people
going about, are not evidences of the prosperity which, in spite of
these untoward appearances, really exists.

The high weather-worn mud walls along the alleys have no windows, in
order that the women may not see or be seen by men. A doorway with a
mounting-block outside it, in "well-to-do" houses, admits into a
vaulted recess, from which a passage, dimly lighted, conducts into the
courtyard, round which the house is built, or into the house itself.
These courtyards are planted with trees and flowers, marigolds and
autumnal roses being now in the ascendant. Marble basins with
fountains, and marble walks between the parterres, suggest coolness,
and walnuts, apples, and apricots give shade. The men's and women's
apartments are frequently on opposite sides of the quadrangles, and
the latter usually open on _atriums_, floored with white marble and
furnished with rugs and brocaded curtains. I have only seen the
women's apartments, and these in the houses of rich traders and high
officials are as ornamental as the exteriors are repulsive and
destitute of ornament. Gilding, arabesques in colour, fretwork doors
and panelling, and ceilings and cornices composed of small mirrors
arranged so as to represent facets, are all decorative in the extreme.
These houses, with the deep shade of their courtyards, the cool plash
of their fountains, and their spacious and exquisitely-decorated
rooms, contrast everywhere with the low dark mud hovels, unplastered
and windowless, in which the poor live, and which the women can only
escape from by sitting in the heaped and filthy yards on which they
open, and which the inhabitants share with their animals. The contrast
between wealth and poverty is strongly emphasised in this, as in all
Persian cities, but one must add that the gulf between rich and poor
is bridged by constant benevolence on the part of the rich, profuse
charity being practised as a work of merit by all good Moslems.

The bazars are shabby and partially ruinous, but very well supplied
with native produce and manufactures, English cottons, Russian
merchandise, and "knick-knacks" of various descriptions. The presence
of foreigners in the town, although they import many things by way of
Baghdad, has introduced foreign articles of utility into the bazars,
which are not to be found everywhere, and which are commending
themselves to the people, "Peek and Frean's" biscuits among them. The
display of fruit just now is very fine, especially of grapes and
melons. The best peaches, which are large and of delicious flavour, as
well as the best pears, come from the beautiful orchards of Jairud,
not far from Kûm. The saddlery and caravan equipment bazars are
singularly well supplied, as indeed they should be, for Hamadan is
famous for leather, and caravans loaded with hides for its tanneries
are met with on every road. The bark and leaves of the pomegranate are
used for tanning. Besides highly ornamental leather for book-bindings
and women's shoes, the tanners prepare the strong skins which, after
being dyed red, are used for saddles, coverings of trunks, and
bindings for _kh[=u]rjins_.

Hamadan is also famous for _namads_ or felts, which are used as
carpets and horse-coverings, and as greatcoats by the peasants as well
as by the Lurs. A good carpet felt of Hamadan manufacture is an inch
thick, but some made at Yezd reach two inches. For rich men's houses
they are made to order to fit rooms, and valuable rugs are laid over
them. The largest I have seen is in the palace of the Minister of
Justice at Tihran, which must be fully a hundred and twenty feet by
eighty feet, and formed fourteen mule-loads; but sixty by forty feet
is not an uncommon size, and makes eight mule-loads. These carpet
_namads_, the most delicious of floor-coverings, are usually a natural
brown, with an outline design in coloured threads or in a paler shade
of brown beaten into the fabric. _Namads_, owing to their bulk and
weight, are never exported. The best, made at Hamadan, are about 20s.
the square yard. Chairs spoil them, and as it is becoming fashionable
among the rich men of the cities to wear tight trousers, which bring
chairs in their train, the manufacture of these magnificent
floor-coverings will probably die.

The felt coats, which protect equally from rain and cold, are dark
brown and seamless, and cost from 10s. to 20s. They have sleeves
closed at the end to form a glove, and with a slit below the elbow
through which the hand can be protruded and used. These coats are
cloak-like, the sleeve is as long as the coat, and they are often worn
merely suspended from the neck.

Hamadan is also famous for copper-work, and makes and dyes cottons.
The tanneries and the dye-works between them create a stench which is
perceptible for miles. The neighbourhood produces much wine, white
like hock, and red like claret, both being harsh and the first heady.
The Armenians are the chief makers and sellers of wine. I wish I could
add that they are the only people who get drunk, but this is not the
case, for from the Prince Governor downwards, among the rich Moslems,
intemperance has become common, and even many young men are "going to
wreck with drink," sacrificing the virtue to which Moslems have been
able to point with pride as differentiating them from so-called
Christians. I was unable to return the Prince Governor's visit and
courtesies in accordance with the etiquette for a European lady
traveller, because of the helpless condition in which he and a party
of convivial friends were found by the messenger sent by me to ask him
to appoint an hour for my visit. Raisins, treacle, and _arak_ are also
manufactured. The rich prefer _cognac_ to _arak_. It is
spirit-drinking rather than wine-drinking which is sapping the life of
the Moslems of Hamadan.

It is singular that in this Ecbatana, the capital of Greater Media,
there should be so very few remains of an ancient greatness and
splendour. Just outside the town a low eminence called Musala is
pointed out as the site of the palace of the Median kings, but even
this is doubtful. Coins of an ancient date are both dug up and
fabricated by the Jews. Only two really interesting objects remain,
and the antiquity of one of these is not universally accepted. The
tomb of Queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai is the great show-place of
Hamadan, and is held in much veneration by the Jews of Turkey and
Persia, who resort to it on pilgrimage. The Jews are its custodians.

  [Illustration: TOMB OF ESTHER AND MORDECAI.]

This tomb consists of an outer and inner chamber, surmounted by a mean
dome about fifty feet in height. The blue tiles with which it was
covered have nearly all dropped off. The outer chamber, in which there
are a few tombs of Jews who have been counted worthy of burial near
the shrine, is entered by a very low door, and the shrine itself by
one still lower, through which one is obliged to creep. The inner
chamber is vaulted, and floored with blue tiles, and having been
recently restored is in good order. Under the dome, which is lighted
with the smoky clay lamps used by the very poor, are the two tombs,
each covered with a carved wooden ark, much defaced and evidently of
great antiquity. There is an entrance to the tombs below these arks,
and each is lighted by an ever-burning lamp. There is nothing in the
shrine but a Hebrew Old Testament and a quantity of pieces of paper
inscribed with Hebrew characters, which are affixed by pilgrims to the
woodwork. The tombs and the tradition concerning them are of such
great antiquity that I gladly accept the verdict of those who assign
them to the beautiful and patriotic Queen and her capable uncle.

On the dome is this inscription: "On Thursday the 15th of the month
Adar in the year of the creation of the world 4474 the building of
this temple over the tombs of Mordecai and Esther was finished by the
hands of the two benevolent brothers Elias and Samuel, sons of Ismail
Kachan."

The other object of interest, which has been carefully described by
Sir H. Rawlinson and Sir H. Layard, is specially remarkable as having
afforded the key to the decipherment of the cuneiform character. It is
in the mountains above Hamadan, and consists of two tablets six feet
six inches by eight feet six inches (Layard) cut in a red granite
cliff which closes the end of a corrie. There are other tablets near
them, carefully prepared, but never used. The three inscriptions are
in parallel columns in the three languages spoken in the once vast
Persian Empire--Persian, Median, and Babylonian, and contain
invocations to Ormuzd, and the high-sounding names and titles of
Darius Hystaspes and his son Xerxes.

Amidst the meanness, not to say squalor, of modern Hamadan, no
legerdemain of the imagination can re-create the once magnificent
Ecbatana, said by the early Greek writers to have been scarcely
inferior to Babylon in size and splendour, with walls covered with
"plates of gold," and fortifications of enormous strength; the capital
of Arbaces after the fall of Nineveh, and the summer resort of the
"Great King," according to Xenophon.

The Jews are supposed to number from 1500 to 2000 souls, and are in
the lowest state of degradation, morally and socially. That bad act of
Sarah in casting out "the bondwoman and her son" is certainly avenged
upon her descendants. They are daily kicked, beaten, and spat upon in
the streets, and their children are pelted and beaten in going to and
from the school which the Americans have established for them. Redress
for any wrongs is inaccessible to them. They are regarded as inferior
to dogs. So degraded are they that they have not even spirit to take
advantage of the help which American influence would give them to get
into a better position. The accursed vices of low greed and low
cunning are fully developed in them. They get their living by usury,
by the making and selling of wine and _arak_, by the sale of
adulterated drugs, by peddling in the villages, and by doing generally
the mean and dishonest work from which their oppressors shrink. Many
of them have become Moslems, the law being that a convert to Islam can
take away the whole property of his family. A larger number have, it
is believed, joined the secret sect of the _B[=a]bis_. I never heard
such a sickening account of degradation as is given of the Hamadan
Jews by those who know them best, and have worked the most earnestly
for their welfare.

There are a number of Armenians in Hamadan, and several villages in
the district are inhabited exclusively by them. There are also
villages with a mixed Persian and Armenian population. They all speak
Persian, and the men at least are scarcely to be distinguished from
Persians by their dress. They are not in any way oppressed, and,
except during occasional outbreaks of Moslem fanaticism, are on very
good terms with their neighbours. They live in a separate quarter, and
both Gregorians and Protestants exercise their religion without
molestation. They excel in various trades, specially carpentering and
working in metals. Their position in Hamadan is improving, and this
may be attributed in part to the high-class education given in the
American High School for boys, and to the residence among them of the
American missionaries, who have come to be regarded as their natural
protectors.

The population of Hamadan is "an unknown quantity." It probably does
not exceed 25,000, and has undoubtedly decreased. Seyyids and
_mollahs_ form a considerable proportion of it, and it is one of the
strongholds of the _B[=a]bis_. It is usually an orderly city, and
European ladies wearing gauze veils and properly attended can pass
through it both by day and night. Several parts of it are enclosed by
gates, as at Canton, open only from sunrise to sunset, an arrangement
which is supposed to be conducive to security.

     I. L. B.



LETTER XXIV


     HAMADAN, _Sept. 14_.

I am visiting the three lady teachers of the Faith Hubbard Boarding
School for girls, and the visit is an oasis on my journey. It is a
most cheerful house, a perfect hive of industry, each one being
occupied with things which are worth doing. I cannot say how kind and
how helpful they have all been to me, and with what regret I am
leaving them.

The house is large, plain, airy, and thoroughly sanitary, very well
situated, with an open view over the Hamadan plain. It is closely
surrounded by the houses of the Armenian quarter, and all those
domestic operations which are performed on the roofs in hot weather
are easily studied, such as the drying of clothes and herbs, the
cleaning of heads, the beating of children, the bringing out of beds
at night, and the rolling them up in the morning, the "going to bed"
of families much bundled up, the performance of the very limited
ablutions which constitute the morning toilette, and the making and
mending of clothes, the roof being for many months both living-room
and bedroom.

At sunset, as in all Persian towns, a great hush falls on Hamadan.
Only people who have business are seen in the streets, the bazars are
closed, and from sunset to sunrise there would be complete silence
were it not for the yelping and howling of the scavenger dogs and the
long melancholy call to prayer from the minarets. If it is necessary
to go out at night a person of either sex is preceded by a servant
carrying a lantern near the ground. These lanterns have metal tops and
bottoms, and waxed, wired muslin between, which is ingeniously
arranged to fold up flat. They are usually three feet long, but may be
of any diameter, and as your consideration is evidenced by the size of
your lantern there is a tendency to carry about huge transparencies
which undulate very agreeably in the darkness.

This is the Moharrem or month of mourning, for Hassan and Houssein,
the slain sons of Ali, who are regarded by the Shiahs as the rightful
successors of the Prophet and as the noblest martyrs in the Calendar.
During this period the whole Persian community goes into deep
mourning, and the streets and bazars are filled with black dresses
only. In this month is acted throughout the Empire the _Tazieh_ or
Passion Play, which has for its climax the tragic deaths of these two
men.[17]

I arrived in Hamadan on what should have been the first day of
Moharrem, but there had been a difference of opinion among the
_mollahs_ as to the date, and it was postponed to the next day, for me
a most fortunate circumstance, as no Christian ought to be seen in the
streets at a time when they are filled with excited throngs frenzied
by religious fanaticism. On the following day the quiet of the city
was interrupted by singular cries, and by children's voices, high
pitched, singing a chant so strange and weird that one both longs and
dreads to hear it repeated. The Christians kept within their houses.
Business was suspended. Bands of boys carrying black flags
perambulated the town, singing one of the chants of the Passion Play.
As night came on it was possible to feel the throb of the excitement
of the city, and till the small hours the march of frenzied
processions was heard, and the loud smiting on human breasts and the
clash of the chains with which the dervishes beat themselves, were
intermingled with a united rhythmic cry of anguish--_Ah Houssein! Wai
Houssein!_ (O Houssein! Woe for Houssein!) _Ya Houssein! Ya Hassan!_
and in the flickering light of the torches black flags were waving,
and frenzied men were seen beating their bare breasts.

In some of the cities these processions are a sickening spectacle.
Throngs move along the streets, escorting large troops of men either
stripped to their waists or wearing only white shirts which expose the
bosom. Beating their breasts with their right hands in concert till
they make them raw, gashing themselves on their heads with daggers,
streaming with blood, and maddened by religious frenzy, they pass from
street to street, and the yell rises from all quarters, _Ya Houssein!
Wai Houssein!_ Occasionally men drop down dead from excitement, and
others, falling from loss of blood, are carried away by their friends.
It is at the end of the month of mourning that these processions,
called _testeh_, increase so much in frenzy and fanaticism as to be
dangerous to the good order of cities, clashing with each other, and
sometimes cutting their way through each other with loss of life. To
join in a _testeh_ is to perform a "pious act," and atones for sin
committed and to be committed. The _Tazieh_ or Passion Play itself,
acted in splendour before the Shah, is repeated everywhere throughout
Persia, lasting from ten to twelve days, the frenzy with which the
different incidents are received culminating on the last day, when the
slaughter of Houssein is represented. On the whole the _Tazieh_ is
among the most remarkable religious phenomena of our age.

Under the rule of the present Prince Governor complete religious
toleration exists in Hamadan, and the missionaries have a fair field,
though it must never be forgotten that a _proselytising_ Christian,
rendering honour to Christ as God, by his mere presence introduces a
disturbing element into a Moslem population. In consequence of this
tolerant official spirit there are a few Moslem girls among the sixty
boarders here. In addition there are a large number of day pupils.

The girls live in native fashion, and wear native dresses of red
cotton printed with white patterns, white _chadars_, and such
ornaments as they possess. They sit on the floor at their meals, at
each of which one of the ladies is present. They have excellent food,
meat once a day in summer and twice in winter, bread, tea, soup,
curds, cheese, melons, cucumbers, pickles, and gourds. The winter
supplies are now being laid in, and caravans of asses are arriving
daily with firewood, cheeses, and melons. The elder girls cook, and
all the washing, making, and mending are done at home, each elder girl
in addition having a small family of young ones under her care. The
only servant is the _bheestie_ or water-carrier. The dormitories,
class-rooms, eating-room, and _hammam_ are large and well ventilated,
but very simple.

A plain but thorough education of the "National School" type is given,
in combination with an industrial training, fitted for girls whose
early destiny is wifehood and maternity. Some of the teachers are men,
but the religious instruction, on which great stress is laid, is given
by the ladies themselves, and is made singularly interesting and
attractive. Music and singing are regarded as among the recreations.
The discipline is perfect, and the dirtiest, roughest, lumpiest, and
most refractory raw material is quickly transformed into cleanliness,
brightness, and docility, partly by the tone of the school and the
influence of the girls who have been trained in it, but chiefly by the
influence of love.

The respect with which the office of a teacher is regarded in the East
allows of much more _apparent_ familiarity than would be possible with
us. Out of school hours the ladies are accessible at all times even to
the youngest children. Many a little childish trouble finds its way to
their maternal sympathies, and they are just as ready to give advice
about the colour and making of dolls' clothes as about more important
matters. The loving, cheerful atmosphere of an English home pervades
the school. I write English rather than American because the ladies
are Prince Edward Islanders and British subjects.

Some of the girls who have been trained here are well married and make
good wives, and the school bids fair to be resorted to in the future
by young men who desire companionship as well as domestic
accomplishments in their wives. The ordinary uneducated Armenian woman
is a very stupid lump, very inferior to the Persian woman. Of the
effect of the simple, loving, practical, Christian training given, and
enforced by the beauty of example it is easy to write, for not only
some of the girls who have left the school, but many who are now in it
show by the purity, gentleness, lovingness, and self-denial of their
lives that they have learned to follow the Master, a lesson the wise
teaching of which is, or should be, I think, the _raison d'être_ of
every mission school. Christianity thus translated into homely lives
may come to be the disinfectant which will purify in time the deep
corruption of Persian life.

The cost of this school under its capable and liberal management is
surprising--only £3:15s. per head per annum! Its weak point (but at
present it seems an inevitable blemish) is, that the board and
education are gratuitous.

There is a High School for boys, largely attended, under the charge of
Mr. Watson, the clerical missionary, with an Armenian Principal,
Karapit, educated in the C.M.S. school in Julfa, a very able man, and
he is assisted by several teachers. There is also a large school of
Jewish girls, who are often maltreated on their way to and from it.

There are a flourishing medical mission and dispensary under Dr.
Alexander's charge, with a hospital nearly finished for the more
serious cases. There is another dispensary at Sheverin, and both there
and here the number of patients is large. A small charge is made for
medicines. Mirza Sa'eed, a medical student of mature years and
remarkable capacities, occasionally itinerates in the distant
villages, and, being a learned scholar in the Koran, holds religious
disputations after his medical work is done. He was a Moslem, and
having embraced Christianity preaches its doctrines with much force
and enthusiasm. He is popular in Hamadan, and much thought of by the
Governor in spite of his "perversion." He also gives addresses on
Christianity to the patients who assemble at the dispensary. Any
person is at liberty to withdraw during this religious service, but
few avail themselves of the permission. Miss ---- speaks on
Christianity to the female patients at Sheverin, and befriends them in
their own homes.

The day's work here begins at six, and is not over till 9 P.M. An
English class for young men is held early, after which people on
business and visitors of all sorts and creeds are arriving and
departing all day, and all are welcome. On one day I counted
forty-three, and there were many more than these. The upper class of
Persian women announce their visits beforehand, and usually arrive on
horseback, with attendants to clear the way. No man-servant must enter
the room with tea or anything else during their visits. The Armenian
women call at all hours, and the Jewish women in large bands without
previous announcement. Tea _à la Russe_ is provided for all, and
Ibrahim goes to the door and counts the shoes left outside in order to
know how many to provide for. "_Khanum_," he exclaimed one day after
this inspection, "there are at least twenty of them!"

Some call out of politeness or real friendliness, others to see the
_tamasha_ (the sights of the house), many from the villages to talk
about their children, and some of the Jewish women, who have become
_B[=a]bis_, ask to have the New Testament read to them in the hope of
hearing something which they may use in the propagation of their new
faith. A good many women have called on me out of politeness to my
hostesses. Persian gentlemen invariably send the day before to know if
a visit can be conveniently received, and on these occasions the
ladies always secure the _chaperonage_ of one of the men missionaries.
The _concierge_ has orders not to turn any one away, and it is a
blessing when sunset comes and the stream of visitors ceases.

All meet with a genial reception, and the ladies usually succeed not
only in lifting the conversation out of the customary frivolous
grooves, but in awaking more or less interest in the religion which
they are here to propagate. They are missionaries first and everything
else afterwards, and Miss ----, partly because of her goodness and
benevolence to all, and partly because of an uncompromising honesty in
her religious beliefs which the people thoroughly appreciate, has a
remarkable influence in Hamadan, and is universally respected. Her
jollity and sense of humour are a great help. She thoroughly enjoys
making people laugh.

I have never been in any place in which the relations with Moslems
have been so easy and friendly. The _Sartip_ Reza Khan told me it
would be a matter of regret to all except a few fanatics if the ladies
were to leave the city. From the Prince Governor downwards courtesy
and kindness are shown to them, and their philanthropic and
educational work is approved in the highest quarters, though they
never blink the fact that they are proselytisers.[18]

There is an Armenian Protestant congregation with a native pastor and
a fine church, and nothing shows more plainly the toleration which
prevails in Hamadan than the number of Moslems to be seen every Sunday
at the morning service, which is in Persian. In this church total
abstinence is a "term of communion," and unfermented wine is used in
the celebration of the Eucharist.

This wine is very delicious, and has the full flavour and aroma of the
fresh grape even after being three years in bottle. It is not boiled,
as much "unfermented wine" is here, but the grapes are put into a
coarse bag, through which the juice drops without pressure. The gluten
being retained by the bag, fermentation does not take place, and a
bottle of the juice, even if left without a cork, retains its
excellence till it dries up.

_Hamadan, September 15._--"_Revenons à nos moutons_"--the _moutons_ in
this instance being my travelling arrangements. Three roads go to Urmi
from Hamadan, one, the usual caravan route _viâ_ Tabriz, the
commercial capital of Persia, and round the north end of Lake Urmi,
very long, but safe; another called the "Kurdistan route," which no
_charvadar_ will take by reason of its danger; and a third by
Sujbul[=a]k, the capital of Persian Kurdistan, twenty marches, only
five of which are reported as risky. I decided on the last, but it was
only two days ago that I was able to get a _charvadar_ willing to
undertake the journey. "It is too late," they say, "there are robbers
on the road," they "don't know the way," or "provender is dear," or
"snow will come on" before they can return. Kerbelai, the excellent
fellow who brought my loads from Burujird, wished to go, and I engaged
him gladly, but afterwards his father came and declared he could not
let him go, for he did not know the way, and would be robbed. Another
man was engaged, but never reappeared.

Soon after I came a tall, well-dressed rich Turk, the owner of sixty
mules, applied for the engagement, and we think that by certain
underhand proceedings, familiar to the Persian mind, he has driven off
other competitors, and made himself my last resource. I engaged him on
Saturday, and the mules and Mirza went off this morning. An agreement
was drawn up in Persian and English placing five mules _under my
absolute control_, to halt or march as I desire, at thirteen pence a
day each so long as I want them, with two men, "handing over the mules
and men" to me till I reach Urmi, which arrival is to suit my own
convenience. This was read over twice, and the Turk sealed it in
presence of four witnesses. All his other mules are going with loads
to Urmi, and this accounts for his great desire to send the five with
me. I have expressly stipulated that I am to have nothing to do with
the big caravan, but am to take my own time. This Turk has good looks
and plausible manners, and the animals have sound backs, but I
distrust him.

The servant difficulty, which threatened to keep me here indefinitely,
is also adjusted. Hassan left me when I arrived, being unwilling to go
to the north of Persia so late, and he bought a new opium pipe, saying
that he cannot bear the pain and craving of being without it. He was a
fair travelling servant for a Persian, not unreasonably dishonest, and
I am sorry to lose him. In the attempt to replace him a maze of lies,
fraud, and underhand dealing has been passed through. I have at last
engaged Johannes, a strong-looking young Armenian, speaking Turkish
and Persian besides Armenian. He has never served Europeans, but has
learned baking and the wine trade. He looks much of a cub. For
appearance sake I have armed him with a long gun. He and Mirza are
alike incompetent to make any travelling arrangements or overcome any
difficulties, to discover where escorts are needed and where they may
be dispensed with, or to meet any emergencies, and as Persian will be
considerably replaced by Turki _en route_ Mirza will be of less and
less use as an interpreter. I cannot get any recent information about
the route, and very little at all. I see endless difficulties ahead,
and a prospect of illustrating in my own experience the _dictum_ often
dinned into my ears, that "No lady ought to travel alone in Persia."

This will be my last opportunity of posting a letter for nearly a
month. The Persian post is only exceeded in unreliability by the
Persian telegraph. To register letters is the only way of securing
their safe arrival, and it is necessary to send a trustworthy man to
the Post Offices, who, after seeing the effacing stamp put upon the
postage stamp, will further insist upon seeing the postmaster put the
letters in the bag. In Tihran the Europeans make much use of the
Legation bags, and the merchants prefer to trust their letters to
private _gholams_ rather than to the post, while at Isfahan people are
often glad to send their letters by the monthly telegraph _chapar_
rather than run a postal risk. However, a foreign letter, registered,
is pretty safe. The telegraph is worse; you often have to bribe the
telegraph clerk to send the message, and unless you see it sent it
will probably be destroyed. Of five messages sent by me from Hamadan
one was returned because the British agent in Isfahan was "not known"
(!), two were slower than letters sent the same day, the fourth took a
week, and of the fifth there is "no information." Even in this
important commercial city the Post Office is only open for a short
time on two days in the week.

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[17] For a detailed and most interesting account of these remarkable
representations the reader is referred to Mr. Benjamin's _Persia and
the Persians_, chap. xiii.

[18] Since I returned I have been asked more than once, "What are the
results of missions in Hamadan?" Among those which appear on the
surface are the spiritual enlightenment of a number of persons whose
minds were blinded by the gross and childish superstitions and the
inconceivable ignorance into which the ancient church of S. Gregory
the Illuminator has fallen. The raising of a higher standard of morals
among the Armenians, so that a decided stigma is coming to be attached
to drunkenness and other vices. The bringing the whole of the rising
generation of Armenians under influences which in all respects "make
for righteousness." The elevation of a large number of women into
being the companions and helps rather than the drudges of men. The
bestowing upon boys an education which fits them for any positions to
which they may aspire in Persia and elsewhere, and creates a taste for
intellectual pursuits. The introduction of European medicine and
surgery, and the bringing them within the reach of the poorest of the
people. The breaking down of some Moslem prejudices against
Christians. The gradually ameliorating influence exercised by the
exhibition of the religion of Jesus Christ in purity of life, in
ceaseless benevolence, in _truthfulness_ and _loyalty to engagements_,
in kind and just dealing, in temperance and self-denial, and the many
virtues which make up Christian discipleship, and the dissemination in
the city and neighbourhood of a higher teaching on the duties of
common life, illustrated by example, not in fits and starts, but
through years of loving and patient labour.



LETTER XXV


     GAUKHAUD, _Sept. 18_.

This is a difficult journey. The road is rarely traversed by
Europeans, the marches are long, and I am really not well enough to
travel at all, not having been able to shake off the fever. Cooler
days and cold nights are, however, coming to the rescue.

My Hamadan friends gave me a _badraghah_ (a parting escort)--Miss C.
M----, Mr. Watson, Pastor Ovannes and his boy, all on horseback; Mrs.
Watson and her baby on an ass; several servants on foot, and Miss
M---- and Mrs. Alexander in a spidery American buggy with a pair of
horses; Dr. Alexander, a man six feet two inches high and very thin,
"riding postilion" on one of them to get the buggy over difficult
places; Ibrahim, the ladies' _factotum_, with a gun slung behind him,
following on horseback. Two of the ladies and the native pastor stayed
at night. It was not a pleasant return to camp life, for Johannes is
quite ignorant of it, and everything was at sixes and sevens. Nor was
the first morning pleasant, for the head _charvadar_, Sharban, came
speaking loud with vehement gesticulation, saying that if I did not
march with the big caravan and halt when it did, they would only give
me one man, and added sundry other threats. Miss M---- scolded him,
reminding them of their agreement, and Ibrahim told them that if they
violated it in the way they threatened they would have to "eat more
wood than they had ever eaten in their lives on going back to
Hamadan." ("Eating wood" is the phrase for being bastinadoed.) A
squabble the first morning is a usual occurrence, and Miss M----
thought it would be all right, and advised me to go on to Kooltapa,
the first stage put down by the _charvadars_.

Cultivation extends over the eight miles from Hamadan to Bahar. There
are streams, and willows, and various hamlets with much wood, and
Bahar is completely buried in orchards and poplars. It is a place of
1500 people, and has well-built houses, small mosques, and _mollahs'_
schools. It makes _gelims_ (thin carpets), and grows besides wheat,
barley, cotton, and oil seeds, an immense quantity of fruit, which has
a ready market in the city.

Miss M---- and Pastor Ovannes escorted me for the first mile, and,
meeting the caravan on their way back, gave Sharban a parting
exhortation. As soon as they were out of sight he sent back one man,
and, in spite of Mirza's remonstrances, drove my _yabus_ with the big
caravan--a grievance to start with, as his baggage animals were so
heavily loaded that they could not go even two miles an hour, and I
have taken five, though I only need three, in order to get over the
ground at three miles an hour. I am obliged to have Johannes with me,
as comparatively little Persian is spoken by the common people along
this road.

Beyond Bahar the road lies over elevated table-lands, destitute of
springs and streams, and now scorched up. One or two small villages,
lying off the track, and some ruinous towers on eminences, built for
watching robbers, scarcely break the monotony of this twenty-four
miles' march.

At three, having ascended nearly 1000 feet, we reached the small and
very poor walled village of Kooltapa, below which are some reservoirs,
a series of pools connected by a stream, and the camping-ground, a
fine piece of level sward, much of which was already occupied by two
Turkish caravans, with 100 horses in each, and a man to every ten. The
loads were all carefully stacked, covered with rugs, and watched by
very large and fierce dogs.

I lay down in the _shuldari_, feeling really ill. Four o'clock, five
o'clock, sunset came, but no caravan. Johannes was quite ill, but went
to the village to hire a _samovar_, and to try to get tea and
supplies. There was neither tea nor _samovar_, and no supplies but
horse food and some coarse cheese and blanket bread, too sour and
dirty to be eaten. Long after dark they brought a little milk. _Boy_
was locked up in a house, and I rolled myself in his blanket and the
few wraps I had with me, and, making the best of circumstances, tried
to sleep; but it was too cold, and the position too perilous, and
Johannes, who had loaded his gun with ball, overcome with fatigue,
instead of watching was sound asleep. At eleven Mirza's voice, though
it said, "Madam, these _charvadars_ won't do for you, they are wicked
men," was very welcome. They had stopped half-way, and four of them,
including Sharban's father, had dragged him off his horse with some
violence, and had unloaded it. He appealed to the village headman,
who, after wrangling with them for some hours, persuaded them to let
him have a mule, and come to Kooltapa with the servants' tent, my bed,
and other comforts, and sent two armed guides with him.

The larger tent was pitched and I went to bed, and not having the
nettings which hang from the roof of my Cabul tent, and are a complete
security against mere pilferers, I put all I could under the blankets
and arranged the other things within reach of my hand in the middle of
the tent. I also burned a light, having learned that Kooltapa is a
dangerous place. At midnight the Turkish caravans started with noise
inconceivable, yells of _charvadars_, shouts of village boys, squeals
of horses, barking of big dogs, firing of guns, and jangling of 200
sets of bells, all sobering down into a grandly solemn sound as of
many church steeples on the march.

I went out to see that all was right, found my servants sleeping
heavily and had not the heart to awake them, found the mercury a
degree below the freezing point, and lay down, covering my head with a
blanket, for the shivering stage of fever had come on. The night was
very still, and after some time I heard in the stillness the not
uncommon noise of a dog (as I thought) fumbling outside my tent. I
took no notice till he seemed getting in, when I jumped up with an
adjuration, saw the floor vacant, and heard human feet running away. I
ran out and fired blank cartridge several times in the direction of
the footsteps, hoping that the flashes would reveal the miscreant, but
his movements had been more agile than mine. Mirza ran into the
village and informed the _ketchuda_, but he took it very quietly and
said that the robbers were Turks, which was false. I offered a large
reward, but it was useless.

When daylight came and I investigated my losses I found myself without
any of the things which I have come to regard as indispensable. My
cork helmet, boots, gloves, sun umbrella, stockings, scanty stock of
underclothing, all my brushes, towels, soap, scissors, needles,
thread, thimble, the strong combination knife which Aziz coveted and
which was used three or four times every day, a large silk
handkerchief a hundred years old which I wore as a protection from the
sun, my mask, revolver case, keys, pencils, paint brushes, sketches,
notes of journeys, and my one mug were all gone. If anything could be
worse, my gold pen, with which I have written for the last eighteen
years, had also disappeared. Furthermore, to relieve the tedium of
the long wait during the pitching of my tent, and of the hour's rest
which I am obliged to take on my bed after getting in, I was "doing" a
large piece of embroidery from an ancient Irish pattern, arabesques on
dark, apricot-coloured coarse silk in low-toned greens, pinks, and
blues, all outlined in gold. This work has been a real pleasure to me,
and I relied on it for recreation for the rest of my journey. Gone
too, with all the silks and gold for finishing it! Now I have nothing
to do when the long marches are over, and as I can scarcely write with
this pen and have also lost my drawing materials, a perspective of
dulness opens out before me. If Sharban had not disobeyed orders and
stayed behind with my tent all this would not have happened. I now
realise what it is to be without what to a European are "the
necessaries of life," and I can scarcely replace any of them for three
weeks.

The caravan came in at nine, and I soon got into my tent and spent
much of the day in making a head-cover by rolling lint and wadding in
handkerchiefs and sewing them up into a sort of turban with a
leather-needle and packthread obtained from Mirza. I was able to get
from a villager a second-hand pair of _ghevas_,--most serviceable
shoes, with "uppers" made of stout cotton webbing knitted here by the
women and among the Bakhtiaris by the men, and with soles of rag sewn
and pressed tightly together and tipped with horn. These and the
"uppers" are connected with very stout leather brought to a point at
the toe and heel. _Ghevas_ are the most comfortable, and for dry
weather and mountain-climbing the most indestructible of shoes. Thus
provided I have to face the discomfort caused by the other losses as
best I may. "It's no use crying over spilt milk!"

The day before, when the _charvadars_ pulled Mirza off his mule and he
threatened them with the agreement, they replied that it was false
that they had made any agreement except to take me to Urmi in twenty
days, and that they were not afraid of the Prince Governor of Hamadan,
"for he is always asleep, and the Feringhi is _only a Khanum_." I sent
to them that I wished to leave Kooltapa at noon. They replied that
they were not going to move. I was in their power, for they had
received advance pay for seven days, and I said no more about moving.
However, at noon I sent Mirza to read the agreement to them, and
Sharban and his father could not deny the authenticity of the seal,
and a superior villager, who could read, testified that Mirza had read
it correctly.

They then saw that they had put themselves into a "tight place," and
sent that they desired to humble themselves, saying, "your foot is on
our eyes," a phrase of humility. I took no notice of them all day, but
at sunset sent for Sharban, and telling Mirza not to soften down my
language, spoke to him in few words. "You have broken your agreement,
and you will have to take the consequences. Your conduct is
disgraceful and abominable, so cowardly that you don't deserve to be
called a man, it is only what one would expect from a _pidar sag_. Do
you mean to keep your agreement or not?" He began to whine, and threw
himself at my feet, but I reluctantly assumed a terrific voice, and
saying "_Khamosh! Bero!_" (Be silent! Begone!), shut the tent.

_Bijar, September 21._--No Persian ever believes your word, and these
poor fellows did not believe that I had letters to the governors _en
route_. They are now terribly frightened, and see that a Feringhi,
even though "_only a Khanum_," cannot be maltreated with impunity.
When I arrived here, even before I sent my letter of introduction, the
Governor sent a _farash-bashi_ with compliments and offers of
hospitality, and afterwards a strong guard. Then Sharban piteously
entreated that I would not take him before the Governor, and would
not make him "eat wood," and his big caravan at last has chimed away
on its northward journey to be seen no more. Thus, by acting a part
absolutely hateful to me, the mutiny was quelled, and things are now
going on all right, except that Sharban avails himself of small
opportunities of being disobliging. I do sincerely detest the
cowardliness of the Oriental nature, which is probably the result of
ages of oppression by superiors.

It is so vexing that the policy of trust which has served me so well
on all former journeys has to be abandoned, and that one of suspicion
has to be substituted for it. I am told by all Europeans that from the
Shah downwards no one trusts father, brother, wife, superior, or
inferior. Every one walks warily and suspiciously through a maze of
fraud and falsehood. If one asks a question, or any one expresses an
opinion, or tells what passes for a fact, he looks over each shoulder
to see that no one is listening.[19]

A noble Persian said to me, "Lying is rotting this country. Persians
tell lies before they can speak." Almost every day when one is wishing
to be trustful, kind, and considerate, one encounters unmitigated
lying, cowardly bluster, or dexterously-planned fraud, and the
necessity of being always on guard is wearing and repulsive.

Here is another specimen of the sort of net which is woven round a
traveller. At Kooltapa, after the theft, I sent to the _ketchuda_ for
a night-watchman, and he replied that he could not give one without
an order, and that as he knew only Turki, my letter in Persian from
the Prince Governor of Hamadan was nothing to him. Later, a _sowar_,
who said he was also a "road-guard," came and said that he only was
responsible for the safety of travellers, and that I could not get a
watchman from the _ketchuda_, as no one could pass the gates after
sunset without his permission. I already knew that there were no
gates. He said he was entitled to five _krans_ a night for protecting
the tents. (The charge is one _kran_, or under exceptional
circumstances two.) I told him we were quite capable of protecting
ourselves. Late in the evening an apparently respectable man came and
warned us to keep a good look-out, as this _sowar_ and another had
vowed to rob our tents out of revenge for not having been employed.
These men, acting as road-guards, are a great terror to the people.
They levy blackmail on caravans and take food for their horses and
themselves, "the pick of everything," without payment. The people also
accuse them of committing, or being accessory to, the majority of
highway robberies. The women who came to condole with me on my losses
accused these men of being the thieves, but it was younger feet which
clattered away from my tent.

Sharban, thoroughly subdued for the time, and his servant watched, and
to show that they were awake fired their guns repeatedly. The nightly
arrangement now is to secure a watchman from the _ketchuda_; to walk
round the camp two or three times every night to see that he is awake,
and that _Boy_ is all right; to secure the _yekdan_ to my bed with a
stout mule-chain, and to rope the table and chair on which I put my
few remaining things also to the bed, taking care to put a tin can
with a knife in it on the very edge of the table, so that if the
things are tampered with the clatter may awake me.

After leaving Kooltapa, treeless country becomes bushless, and nothing
combustible is to be got but animal fuel. Manure is far too precious
for this purpose to be wasted on the fields. Men with asses follow
caravans and collect it in bags. The yards into which the flocks and
herds are driven at night have now been cleaned out, and in every
village all the women are occupied in moulding the manure into
_kiziks_ or cakes fully a foot long and four inches thick. These,
after being dried in the sun, are built up into conical stacks, often
exceeding twenty feet in height, and are plastered with a layer of the
same material. The making of this artificial fuel is one of the most
important industries of Persia, and is exclusively in the hands of
women. The preparation of the winter stock takes from six to fourteen
weeks, and is very hard wet work. The fuel gives out a good deal of
heat, but burns fast. Its combustible qualities are increased by an
admixture of cut straw. At this season, between the colossal black
stacks of fuel and the conical piles of winter "keep" upon the roofs,
the villages are almost invisible.

The march to Gaukhaud was over twenty miles of rolling scorched
table-lands--baked mud, without inhabitants. Gaukhaud and the villages
for fifty miles farther are unwalled, but each house, with its
cattle-yard and upper and underground folds, has a massive mud wall
sloping slightly inwards, with an entrance closed by a heavy wooden
gate, strengthened with iron. The upper sheep-folds have thick stone
doors three feet square. Each house is a fortress, and nothing is to
be seen above its walls but a quantity of beehive roofs and a number
of truncated cones of winter fodder on a central platform.

The female costume is also different. The women, unveiled, bold-faced,
and handsome in the Meg Merrilees style, wear black sleeveless
jackets vandyked and tasselled, red skirts, and black handkerchiefs
rolled round their heads. Little Persian is spoken or even understood,
and everything indicates that the limit of Persia proper, _i.e._ the
Persia of Persians, has been passed. Gaukhaud is a village of 350
houses, grows wheat, barley, grapes, and melons; and though a once
splendid caravanserai on a height is roofless and ruined, and the
village has no better water than an irrigation ditch, it is said to be
fairly prosperous.

The march to Babarashan is for twenty miles along a featureless
irrigated valley about a mile wide, with grass and stubble, several
beehive villages, and mud hills never over 150 feet high on either
side. Crossing a brick bridge over a trifling stream, and passing
through the large village of Tulwar, where men who were burying a
corpse politely laid fried funeral-cakes flavoured with sesamum on my
saddle-bow, we ascended over low scorched hills, much ploughed for
winter sowing, to the beehive village of Babarashan, of 180 houses,
abundantly supplied with water, where we camped close to some tents of
the Kara Tepe and a large caravan. The dust blown across the camp from
the threshing-floors was obnoxious but inevitable. The "sharp
threshing instruments having teeth" are not used in this region, but
mobs of animals, up to a dozen, tied together, oxen, cows, horses, and
asses, are driven over the wheat.

I am finding the disadvantages of having an untrained servant.
Johannes that evening ran hither and thither without method, never
finished anything, spent an hour in bargaining for a fowl, failed to
get his fire to burn, consequently could not cook or make tea, and I
went supperless to bed. The same confusion prevailed the next morning,
but things have been better since. No life is so charming as camp
life, but incompetent servants are a great drawback.

Another uninteresting march of twenty miles over high table-lands and
through a valley surrounded by mud hills, with quaint outcrops of
broken rock on their summits, and a pass through some picturesque
rocky hills brought us into a basin among mountains, in which stands
the rather important town of Bijar in the midst of poplars, willows,
apricots, and vines. Bijar is said to have 5000 inhabitants. It has a
Governor for itself and the surrounding district, and a garrison of a
regiment of infantry and 100 _sowars_ to keep the turbulent frontier
Kurds in order. It has ruinous mud walls, no regular bazars, only
shops at intervals; fully a third is in ruins, and most of the houses
and even the Governor's palace are falling into decay. It is, however,
accounted a thriving place, and is noted for _gelims_ and carpenters'
work. It has four caravanserais, hardly habitable, however, seven
_hammams_, and a few mosques and _mollahs'_ schools. It has an air of
being quite out of the world. I have been here two days, and as
foreigners are very rarely seen, the greater part of the population
has strolled past my tent.

I camped as usual outside the walls, near a small spring, and soon a
_farash-bashi_ came from the Governor, with a message expressive of
much annoyance at my having "camped in the wilderness when I was their
guest, and they would have given me a safe camping-ground in the
palace garden." Mirza took my introduction to him, and he sent a
second message saying that the next three marches were "very
dangerous," and appointed an hour for an interview. Soon eight
infantrymen, well uniformed and set up, with rifles and fixed
bayonets, arrived and mounted guard round my tent, changing every six
hours. This completed Sharban's discomfiture.

Various difficulties arose on Sunday, and much against my will I had
to call on the Governor. He received me in a sort of _durbar_. A great
number of men, litigants and others, crowded the corridors and
reception-rooms. He looked bloated and dissipated, and seemed scarcely
sober. He sat on cushions on the floor, with a row of scribes and
_mollahs_ on his right, and many _farashes_ and soldiers stood about
the door. Seyyids, handsome and haughty, glanced at me contemptuously,
and the drunken giggle of the Khan and the fixed scowl of the
motionless row of scribes were really overpowering. Tea was produced,
but the circumstances were so disagreeable that I did not wait for the
conventional third cup. The Khan said that the ladies are in the
country a few miles off, and hoped I would visit them, that some
marches on the road are unsafe, and that he would give me a letter
which would be useful in procuring escorts after I left his
jurisdiction, and he has since sent it. He was quite courteous, as
indeed all Persians of the upper classes are, but I hope never again
to pass through the ordeal of calling upon a Moslem without a European
escort.

Later, the principal wife of the military commander of the district
called with a train of shrouded women, followed by servants bringing
an abundant dinner, with much fruit. She came to ask me to take up my
quarters in the very handsome house which is her husband's, very near
my tent. After a good deal of intelligent conversation she asked if I
had a husband and children, and on my replying in the negative she
expressed very kindly sympathy, but added, "There are things far
worse, things which can never be where, as among you, there is only
one wife. One may have a husband and children, and yet, God knows, be
made nearly mad by troubles," and she looked as if indeed her sorrows
were great. Doubtless a young wife has been installed as favourite, or
there is a divorce impending.

_Takautapa, September 24._--This is a great grain-growing region, and
by no means unprosperous, but it only yields one crop a year, the land
is ploughed immediately after harvest, and the irrigation is cut off
until sowing-time. Consequently nothing can exceed the ugliness of the
aspect of the country at this time. There is not one redeeming
feature, and on the long marches there is rarely anything to please or
interest the eye. On the march from Bijar there was not a green thing
except some poplars and willows by a stream, not a blade of grass, not
a green "weed,"--nothing but low mud hills, with their sides much
ploughed and the furrows baked hard, and unploughed gravelly stretches
covered sparsely with scorched thistles.

Eight miles of an easy descent of 1500 feet brought us to the Kizil
Uzen, a broad but fordable stream, on the other side of which is
Salamatabad, a village consisting chiefly of the large walled gardens
and houses of the Governor of Bijar. A little higher up there is a
solid eight-arched stone bridge, over 300 feet long. This Kizil Uzen
is one of the most important streams in north Persia. It drains a very
large area, and after a long and devious course enters the Caspian Sea
under the name of the Sefid Rud. Eleven miles from this place I
crossed the lofty crest of the ridge which divides the drainage basins
of the Kizil Uzen and Urmi. A number of _sowars_ came out and escorted
me through a gateway down a road with high walls and buildings on both
sides to an inner gateway leading to the Khan's _andarun_. Here we all
dismounted, but the next step was not obvious, for the heavy wooden
gate which secludes the _andarun_ was strongly barred, and showed no
symptoms of welcome. An aged eunuch put his melancholy head out of a
hole at the side, and said that the ladies were expecting me and that
food was ready for the animals and the servants, but still the gate
moved not. I asked if Mirza could go with me to interpret, the
_sowars_ suggesting that he could be screened behind a curtain, quite
a usual mode of disposing of such a difficulty. The eunuch returned,
and with him the Khan's mother, a fiendish-looking middle-aged woman,
who looked through the peep-hole, but on seeing a good-looking young
man drew back, and said very definitely that no man could be admitted,
especially in the absence of the Khan. All the men were warned off,
and the door was opened so as just to allow of my entrance and no
more.

The principal wife received me in a fine lofty room with fretwork
windows opening on a courtyard with a fountain in it and a few
pomegranates, and a crowd of Persian, Kurdish, and negro women, with
all manner of babies. The lady is from Tihran, and her manners have
some of the ease and polish of the capital. It is still the Moharrem,
and she was enveloped in a black _chadar_, and wore as her sole
ornament a small diamond-studded watch as a locket. Her mother-in-law,
who, like many mothers-in-law in Persia, fills the post of _duenna_ to
the establishment, frightened me by the expression of her handsome
face and her sneering, fiendish laugh. It must be admitted that there
was much to amuse her, for my slender stock of badly-pronounced
Persian is the Persian of muleteers rather than of polite circles, and
she mimicked every word I uttered, looking all the time like one of
Michael Angelo's "Fates."

The room was very prettily curtained, and furnished with Russian
materials, they told me, and the lithographs, the photographs and
their frames, and the many "knick-knacks" which adorned the tables and
recesses were all Russian. They showed me several small clocks and
very ingenious watches, all Russian also. They said that the goods in
the shops at Bijar are chiefly Russian, and added, "The English don't
try to suit our taste as the Russians do." The principal lady
expressed a wish for greater liberty, though she qualified it by
saying that men who love their wives could not let them go about as
the English ladies do in Tihran. Dinner had been prepared, a huge
Persian dinner, but they kindly allowed me to take tea instead, and
produced with it _gaz_ (manna) and a cake flavoured with asafoetida.
When I came to an end of my Persian, and they of their ideas, I said
farewell, and was followed to the gate by the mocking laugh of the
_duenna_.

The _sowars_ asserted that the next _farsakh_ was "very dangerous," so
we kept together. Wild, desolate, rolling, scrubless open country it
is, the spurs of the Kurdish hills. The _sowars_ were very fussy and
did a great deal of galloping and scouting, saying that bands of
robber horsemen are often met with on this route, who, being Sunnis,
would rejoice in attacking Shiahs. Doubtless they magnified the risk
in order to enhance the value of their services. In the early
afternoon we reached the Kurdish village of Karabul[=a]k, sixty mud
hovels, on the flaring mud hillside, the great fodder stacks on the
flat roofs alone making the houses obvious. The water is very bad and
limited in quantity, and of milk there was none. The people are very
poor and unprosperous, and a meaner set of donkeys and oxen than those
which were treading out the corn close to my tent I have not seen.

Though most of the inhabitants are Kurds, there are some Persians and
Turks, and each nationality has its own _ketchuda_. Towards evening
the _sowars_ came to me with the three _ketchudas_, who, they said,
would arrange for a guard, and for my escort the next day. I did not
like this, for the _sowars_ had good double-barrelled guns, and were
in Persian uniform, and had been given me for three days, but there
was no help for it. The _ketchudas_ said that they could not guarantee
my safety that night with less than ten men, and I saw in the whole
affair a design on my very slender purse. A monetary panic set in
before I reached Hamadan: the sovereign had fallen from thirty-four to
twenty-eight _krans_, the Jews would not take English paper at any
price, I could not cash my circular notes, and it was only through the
kindness of the American missionaries that I had any money at all, and
I had only enough for ordinary expenses as far as Urmi. I told them
that I could only pay two men, and dismissed the _sowars_ with a
present quite out of proportion to the time they had been with me.

During these arrangements the hubbub was indescribable, but the men
were very pleasant. Three hours later the _sowars_ returned, saying
that after riding eight miles they had met a messenger with a letter
from the Khan, telling them to go on another day with me. I asked to
see the letter, and then they said it was a verbal message. They had
never been outside of Karabul[=a]k! I tell this in detail to show how
intricate are the meshes of the net in which a traveller on these
unfrequented roads is entangled.

Later, ten wild-looking Kurds with long guns, various varieties of old
swords, and long knives, lighted great watch-fires on either side of
my tent, and put _Boy_ between them. This pet likes fires, and lies
down fearlessly among the men, close to the embers.

A little below my camp was a solitary miserable-looking melon garden
with a low mud wall. At midnight I was awakened by the loud report of
several guns close to my tent, and confused shouts of men, with
outcries of women and children. The watchmen saw two men robbing the
melon garden, shot one, and captured both. I gave a present to the
guards in the morning, and the _ketchudas_ took half of it.

The march to Jafirabad is over the same monotonous country, over
ever-ascending rolling hills, with small plateaux among them, very
destitute of water, and consequently of population, the village of
Khashmaghal, with 150 houses, and two ruined forts, being the one
object of interest.

On the way to Jafirabad is the small village of Nasrabad, once a
cluster of semi-subterranean hovels, inhabited by thieves. Some years
ago the present Shah halted near it on one of his hunting excursions,
and observing the desolation of the country, and water running to
waste, gave money and lands to bribe a number of families to settle
there. There are now sixty houses surrounded by much material wealth.
The Shah still divides 100 _tumans_ yearly among the people, and takes
a very small tribute. Nasr-ed-Din has many misdeeds to answer for,
many despotic acts, and some bloodshed, but among the legions of
complaints of oppression and grinding exactions which I hear in most
places, I have not heard one of the tribute fixed by him--solely of
the exactions and merciless rapacity of the governors and their
subordinate officials.

Jafirabad, a village of 100 houses in the midst of arable land, has
one of those camping-grounds of smooth green sward at once so tempting
and so risky, and we all got rheumatism in the moist chilliness of the
night. The mercury is still falling slowly and steadily, and the sun
is only really hot between ten and four. Jafirabad is a prosperous
village, owned, as many in this region are, by the Governor of Tabriz,
who is merciful as to tribute.

Everything was wet, even inside my tent. It was actually cold. In the
yellow dawn I heard Mirza's cheerful voice saying, "Madam, they think
your horse is dead!" The creature had been stretched out motionless
for two hours in the midst of bustle and packing. I told them to take
off his nose-bag, which was nearly full, but still he did not move. I
went up to him and said sharply, "Come, get up, old _Boy_" and he
struggled slowly to his feet, shook himself, and at once fumbled in my
pockets for food, thumping me with his head as usual when he failed to
find any. He was benumbed by sleeping on the damp ground in the
hoar-frost. The next night he chose to sleep under the verandah of my
tent, snoring loudly. He has became quite a friend and companion.

The _sowars_ finally left me there, and I was escorted by the
_ketchuda_, a very pleasant intelligent man of considerable property,
with his two retainers. The next stage has the reputation of being
"very dangerous," and many people anxious to go to the next village
joined my caravan. My tents were guarded by eight wild-looking village
Kurds, armed with clubbed sticks and long guns. I asked the _ketchuda_
if two were not enough, and he said that I should only pay for two,
the others were there for his satisfaction, that two might combine to
rob me, but that more would watch each other, and that the robbers of
this region do not pilfer in ones and twos, but swoop down on tents in
large parties.

The next march is chiefly along valleys among low hills. The
_ketchuda_ did much scouting, not without good reason, and we all kept
close together. A party of well-mounted men rode down upon us and
joined us. Mirza sidled up to me, and in his usual cheery tones said
"Madam, these are robbers." They were men of a well-known band, under
one Hassan Khan. They spoke Persian, and Mirza kept me informed of
what they were saying. They said they had been out a night and a day
without success, and they must take my baggage and horse--they wanted
horses badly. The _ketchuda_, to whom they were well known,
remonstrated with them, and the parley went on for some time, they
insisting, and he threatening them with the regiment from Bijar, but
all he said was of no use, till he told them that I was the wife of
the Governor of Tabriz, that I had been paying a visit to Hamadan, and
was then going to be the guest of the ladies of Hadji Baba, Governor
of Achaz, that I had been committed to him, and that he was answerable
for my safety. "You know I am a man of my word," was the conclusion of
this brilliant lie, which served its purpose, for they said they knew
him, and would not rob me _then_.

They rode with us for some miles, in fact the leader, a
sinister-looking elderly man, in a turban and brown _abba_ like an
Arab, rode so close to me that the barrel of his gun constantly
touched my saddle. They carried double-barrelled guns besides
revolvers. On coming to a part of the country where the _ketchuda_
said the road became safe, I sent the caravan on with the servants,
the band having gone in another direction, and halted for two hours.
Riding on again, and turning sharply round a large rock, there they
all were, dismounted, and rushed out upon us. A _mêlée_ ensued, and as
I then had only two men they were two to one, and would certainly have
overpowered my escort had not several horsemen appeared in the
distance, when they mounted and rode away. One of the horses was
scratched, and I got an accidental cut on my wrist. They believed that
I had a considerable sum of money with me. The _ketchuda_ of Takautapa
said that they had robbed his village of some cattle a few days
before.

Takautapa is a village of thirty-five houses, with two shops, and a
gunsmith who seemed to drive a "roaring trade." For three days I have
scarcely seen an unarmed man. Shepherds, herdsmen, ploughmen,
travellers, all carry arms. Mirza went to the Governor of Achaz, six
miles off, with my letter from the Governor of Bijar, and he was most
courteous. He sent his secretary to ask me to spend a day or two at
his house, and told him, in case I could not, to remain for the night
to arrange for my comfort and safety, an order very efficiently
carried out.[20]

He sent word also that if I could not accept his hospitality I was
still to be his guest, and not to pay for anything--a kindness which,
for several reasons, I never accept. He added, that though the road
was safe, he should send three _sowars_ "to show the _Khanum_ honour,"
and they had received strict orders not to accept any present. The men
who attempted to rob my caravan spent the night here, and, as they had
robbed them before, the villagers were very glad of the protection of
the Governor's scribe and my _sowars_.

_Sujbul[=a]k, October 2._--Having been "courteously entreated," I sent
on the caravan and servants at daybreak, and, having the _sowars_ with
me, was able to make the march to Geokahaz at a fast pace. The
_sowars_ were three wild-looking Kurds, well mounted, and in galloping
_Boy_ had to exert himself considerably to keep up with them, and they
obviously tried to force his pace.

The day was cool, cool enough for a sheepskin coat, and the air
delightful. The halcyon season for Persian travelling has come, the
difficulties are over, and the fever has left me. Brown, bare, and
bushless as are the rolling hills over which the road passes, it would
be impossible not to enjoy the long gallops over the stoneless soil,
the crisp, bracing air, the pure blue of the glittering sky, and the
changed altitude of the sun, which, from having been my worst foe is
now a genial friend. True, the country over which I pass is not
interesting, but, as everywhere in Persia, craggy mountains are in
sight, softened by a veil of heavenly blue, and the country, though
uninteresting, suggests pleasant thoughts of fertility, an abundant
harvest, and an industrious and fairly prosperous people.[21] Turki is
now almost exclusively spoken.

The whole of that day's route was an ascent, and the halting-place was
nearly 9000 feet in altitude. I crossed the Sarakh river by a
three-arched brick bridge, and afterwards the Gardan-i-Tir-Machi, from
which there is an extensive view, and reached Geokahaz by a rough path
on the hillside frequently dipping into deep gulches, now dry. The
wettest of these is close to the village, and is utilised for a
flour-mill. Springs abound, and as Persian soil brings forth
abundantly wherever there is water, the village, which is Kurdish,
confessed to being extremely prosperous. Its seven threshing-floors
were in the full tide of winnowing with the fan, and so complete is
the process that nothing but the wheat is left on the firm, hardened
gypsum floor, recalling the Baptist's words, "Whose fan is in his
hand, and he will throughly purge his floor." The wheat was everywhere
being gathered "into the garner"--the large upright clay receptacles
holding twenty bushels each with which every house is supplied.

This village of only 200 houses owns 7000 sheep and goats, 60 horses
and mares, and 400 head of cattle, and its tribute is only 230
_tumans_. It and very many other villages belong to Haidar Khan,
Governor of Achaz, of whom the villagers speak as a lenient lord.
Apricot and pear orchards abound, and on a piece of grass in one of
these I found my camp most delectably pitched. The _ketchuda_ and
several other men came to meet me; indeed, the _istikbal_ consisted of
over twenty Kurdish horsemen. The village was absolutely crowded with
men and horses, 200 pilgrims being lodged there for the night.

The road at intervals all day had been enlivened by long files of
well-mounted men in bands of 100 each on their way to the shrines of
Kerbela, south of Babylon, to accumulate "merit," receive
certificates, and be called _Kerbelai_ for the remainder of their
lives. Superb-looking men in the very prime of life most of them are,
cheerful and ruddy, wearing huge black sheepskin caps shaped like
mushrooms, high tan-leather boots, gaily embroidered, into which their
full trousers are tucked, and brown sheepskin coats covering not only
themselves but the bodies of their handsome fiery horses. A few
elderly unveiled women were among them. They ride mostly on pads with
their bedding and clothing under them, and their _kalians_ and cooking
utensils hanging at the sides. All are armed with guns and swords. I
met over 1000 of them, most of them Russian subjects, and those who
had occasion to pass in front of my tent vindicated their claim to be
the subjects of a civilised power by bowing low as often as they saw
me. They are really splendid men, and had many elements of the
picturesque.

The 200 who halted in Geokahaz were under the command of a Seyyid who,
before starting, beat about for recruits, and levied from them about
five _krans_ per head. On the journey he receives great honour as a
descendant of the Prophet. He has a baggage mule and a tent, and the
"pilgrims" under his charge gratefully cook his food, wait on him,
groom his animal, water the dusty ground round his tent, shampoo his
limbs, keep the flies from him, and are rewarded for the performance
of all menial offices by being allowed to kiss his hand. On his part
he chooses the best stations and the most fortunate days for starting,
and he pledges himself to protect his flock from the woful plots of
malignant genii and the effects of the evil eye. On the journey he
both preaches and recites tales.

The Seyyid in charge of this party was a man of commanding _physique_
and deadly pallor of countenance. As frigid as marble, out of which
his statuesque face might well have been carved, he received the
attention paid to him with the sublime indifference of a statue of
Buddha. The odour of an acknowledged sanctity hung about him, and
pride of race and pride of asceticism dwelt upon his handsome
features. He spent the evening in preaching a sermon, and, by a
carefully-arranged exhibition of emotion, studied to perfection, wound
up his large audience to a pitch of enthusiasm. The subject was the
virtues of Houssein, and what preacher could take such a text without
enlarging finally upon the martyrdom of that "sainted" man? Then the
auditors wept and howled and beat their breasts, and long after I left
the singular scene, trained "cheers" for the Prophet, for Ali, and for
the martyred Hassan and Houssein, led by the Seyyid, rang out upon
the still night air. At midnight, and again at four, a solitary
bell-like voice proclaimed over the sleeping village, "There is but
one God, and Mohammed is His prophet, and Ali is His lieutenant"; and
200 voices repeated grandly in unison, "There is but one God, holy and
true, and Mohammed is His prophet, and Ali is His lieutenant." The
addition of the words "holy and true" to the ordinary formula is very
striking, and is, I believe, quite unusual. The Seyyid preached in
Persian, and the pilgrims speak it.

In such caravans a strictly democratic feeling prevails. All yield
honour to the Seyyid, but otherwise all are equal. No matter what the
social differences are, the pilgrims eat the same food, lodge in the
same rooms, sit round the same bivouac fire, and use towards each
other perfect freedom of speech--a like errand and a like creed
constituting a simple bond of brotherhood.

Geokahaz is the first Kurdish village in which I have really mixed
with the people. I found them cordial, hospitable, and in every way
pleasant. The _ketchuda's_ wife called on me, and later I returned the
visit. Each house or establishment has much the same externals, being
walled round, and having between the wall and house an irregular yard,
to which access is gained by a gate of plaited osiers. Within are very
low and devious buildings, with thick mud walls. The _atrium_, an
alcove with plastered walls, decorated with circles and other figures
in red, is the gathering-place of the men, with their guns and pipes.

It is necessary to stoop very low to enter the house proper, for the
doorway is only three feet high, and is protected by a heavy wooden
door strengthened by iron clamps. The interior resembles a cavern,
owing to the absence of windows, the labyrinth of rooms not six feet
high, the gnarled, unbarked trees which support the roofs, the
dimness, the immense thickness of the mud walls, the rays of light
coming in through protected holes in the roof, the horses tethered to
the tree-trunks, and the smoke. The "living-room" is a small recess,
rendered smaller by a row of clay receptacles for grain as high as the
roof on one side, and a row of oil-jars, each large enough to hold a
man, on the other. A fire of animal fuel in a hole in the middle of
the floor emitted much pungent smoke and little heat. A number of
thick wadded quilts were arranged for me, and tea was served in
Russian glass cups from a Russian _samovar_.

The wife was handsome, and never in any country have I seen a more
beautiful girl than the daughter, who might have posed for a Madonna.
They told me that for the five months of winter the snow comes "as
high as the mouth," and that there is no egress from the village. The
men attend to the horses and stock, and the women weave carpets, but
much of the time is spent by both in sleep.

Accompanied by this beautiful girl, who is graceful as well as
beautiful, and an old servant, I paid many visits, and found all the
houses arranged in the same fashion. I was greatly impressed by their
scrupulous cleanliness. The floors of hardened clay are as clean as
sweeping can make them, and the people are clean in dress and person.
The women, many of whom are very handsome, are unveiled, and do not
even wear the _chadar_. The very becoming head-dress is a black
coronet, from which silver coins depend by silver chains. A red
kerchief is loosely knotted over the back of the head, on which heavy
plaits of hair are looped up by silver pins. This girl passed with me
through the crowds of strange men unveiled, with a simplicity and
maidenly dignity which were very pleasing. It was refreshing to see
the handsome faces, erect carriage, and firm, elastic walk of these
Kurdish women after the tottering gait of the shrouded, formless
bundles which pass for Persian women. The men are equally handsome,
and are very manly-looking.

These Kurdish villagers are Sunnis, and are on bad terms with their
neighbours, the Shiahs, and occasionally they drive off each other's
cattle.

On leaving this pleasant place early next morning the _ketchuda_ and a
number of men escorted me for the first _farsakh_, and with my escort
of _sowars_ increased by four wild-looking "road-guards," riding as it
seemed good to them, in front or behind, sometimes wheeling their
horses at a gallop in ever-narrowing circles, sometimes tearing up and
down steep hills, firing over the left shoulders and right flanks of
their horses, lunging at each other with much-curved scimitars, and
singing inharmonious songs, we passed through a deep ravine watered by
a fine stream which emerges through gates of black, red, and orange
rock into a long valley, then up and up over long rolling hills, and
then down and down to a large Ilyat camp beside a muddy and nearly
exhausted stream, where they feasted, and I rested in my _shuldari_.

Two or three times these "road-guards" galloped up to shepherds who
were keeping their flocks, and demanded a young sheep from each for
the return journey, and were not refused. The peasants fear these men
much. They assert that, so far from protecting caravans and
travellers, they are answerable for most of the robberies on the road,
that they take their best fowls and lambs without payment, and ten
pounds of barley a day for their horses, and if complaints are made
they quarter themselves on the complainant for several days. For these
reasons I object very strongly to escorts where they are not
absolutely needed for security. I pay each man two _krans_ a day, and
formerly gave each two _krans_ daily as "road money" for himself and
his horse, but finding that they took the food without paying for it,
I now pay the people directly for the keep of the men and horses. Even
by this method I have not circumvented the rapacity of these horsemen,
for after I have settled the "bill" they threaten to beat the
_ketchuda_ unless he gives them the money I have given him.

The Ilyat women from the camp crowded round me with a familiarity
which, even in savages, is distressing, a contrast to the good manners
and unobtrusiveness of the women of Geokahaz.

On the way to Sanjud, a Kurdish village in a ravine so steep that it
was barely possible to find a level space big enough for my tent,
there is some very fine scenery, and from the slope of Kuh Surisart,
on the east side of the Gardan-i-Mianmalek, the loftiest land between
Hamadan and Urmi, the view is truly magnificent. The nearer ranges
stood out boldly in yellow and red ochre, in the valleys indigo
shadows lay, range beyond range of buff-brown hills were
atmospherically glorified by brilliant cobalt colouring, and the hills
which barred the horizon dissolved away in a blue which blended with
the sky. In that vast solitude the fine ruins of the fortress palace
of Karaftu, where the fountain still leaps in the deserted courtyard,
are a very conspicuous object.

From the Mianmalek Pass there is a descent of 5000 feet to the Sea of
Urmi, and the keen edge of the air became much blunted ere we reached
Sanjud. Nearly the whole of the road from Hamadan has been extremely
solitary. We have not met or passed a single caravan, and on this
march of seven hours we did not see a human being. Yet there are
buff-brown villages lying in the valleys among the buff-brown hills,
and an enormous extent of country is under tillage. In fact, this
region is one of the granaries of Persia.

Sanjud is a yellow-ochre village of eighty houses built into a
yellow-ochre hillside, above which rises a high hill of red mud. It is
not possible to give an idea of the aspect of the country at this
season. Sheep and goats certainly find pickings among the rocks, but
the visible herbage has all been eaten down. The thistles and other
fodder plants have been cut and stacked in the villages. Most of the
streams are dry, and the supplies of drinking water are only pools,
much fouled by cattle. The snows which supply the sources of the
irrigation channels have all melted, and these channels are either dry
or stopped. There has scarcely been a shower since early April, and
for nearly six months the untempered rays of the Persian sun have been
blazing upon the soil. The arable land, ploughed in deep furrows, has
every furrow hardened into sun-dried brick. Villages of yellow or
whitish baked mud, supporting on their dusty roofs buff stacks of
baked fodder, are hardly distinguishable from the baked hillsides. The
roads are a few inches deep in glaring white dust. Over the plains a
brown dust haze hangs.

This rainless and sun-scorched land lives by the winter snows, and the
snowfall of the Zagros ranges is the most interesting of all subjects
to the cultivator of Western Persia. If the country were more
populous, and the profits of labour were secure, storage for the
snow-water would be an easy task, and barren wastes might sustain a
prosperous people; for the soil, when irrigated, is prolific, and the
sun can always be relied upon to do his part. The waste of water is
great, as considerably more than half the drainage of the empire
passes into _kavirs_ and other depressions. The average rainfall on
the central plateau is estimated by Sir Oliver St. John at five inches
only in the year.

My arrival at Sanjud was not welcome. The _ketchuda_ sent word that he
was not prepared to obey the orders of the _Sartip_ of Achaz. I could
buy, he said, what I could get, but he would furnish neither supplies
nor guards for the camp. I did not wonder at this, for a traveller
carrying an official letter is apt to be palmed off on the villagers
as a guest, and is not supposed to pay for anything.

I went to see the _ketchuda_, and assured him that I should pay him
myself for all supplies, and a night's wages to each watchman, and the
difficulty vanished. Many of the handsome village women came to see
me. The _ketchuda_ made me a feast in his house, and when I bade him
farewell in the morning he said solemnly, "We are very glad you have
been our guest, we have suffered no loss or inconvenience by having
you, we should like to be protected by the great English nation." This
polite phrase is frequently used.

The Persian Kurds impress me favourably as a manly, frank, hospitable
people. The men are courteous without being cringing, and the women
are kind and jolly, and come freely and unveiled to my tent without
any obtrusiveness.

The _ketchuda_ sent eight guards to my camp at night, saying it was in
a very dangerous place, and he did not wish his village disgraced by a
stranger being robbed so near it. He added, however, that six of these
men were sent for his own satisfaction, and that I was only to pay for
the two I had ordered.

My journey, which is through a wild and little frequented part of
Persia, continues to be prosperous. The climate is now delightful,
though at these lower altitudes the middle of the day is rather hot.

It was a fertile and interesting country between Sanjud and Sain Kala,
where I halted for Sunday. The road passes through the defiles of
Kavrak, along with the deep river Karachai, from the left bank of
which rises precipitously, at the narrowest part of the throat, the
fine mountain Baba Ali. A long valley, full of cultivation and bearing
fine crops of cotton, a pass through the red range of Kizil Kabr, and
a long descent brought us to a great alluvial plain through which
passes the river Jagatsu on its way to the Dead Sea of Urmi. Broad
expanses of shingle, trees half-buried, and a number of wide shingly
water-channels witness to the destructiveness of this stream. A severe
dust storm rendered the end of the march very disagreeable, as the
path was obliterated, and it was often impossible to see the horses'
ears. In winter and spring this Jagatsu valley is completely flooded,
and communication is by boats. There are nearly 150 villages in the
district, peopled almost entirely by Kurds and Turks, and there are
over 200 nomad tents. The Jagatsu is celebrated for its large fish.

When the storm abated we were close to Sain Kala, a picturesque but
ruinous fort on a spur of some low hills, with a town of 300 houses at
its base. In the eastern distance rises the fine mountain Pira Mah,
and between it and Sain Kala is a curious mound--full of ashes, the
people said--a lofty truncated cone, evidently the site of an
_Atash-Kardah_, or fire-temple. This town is in the centre of a very
fertile region. Its gardens and orchards extend for at least a mile in
every direction, and its melons are famous and cheap--only 6d. a dozen
just now.

It is a thriving and rising place. A new bazar is being built, with
much decorative work in wood. The junction of the roads to Tabriz from
Kirmanshah and Hamadan, with one route to Urmi, is in the immediate
neighbourhood, and the place is busy with the needs of caravans. It
looks much like a Chinese Malay settlement, having on either side of
its long narrow roadway a row of shops, with rude verandahs in front.
Among the most prominent objects are horse, mule, and ass shoes;
pack-saddles, _khurjins_, rope, and leather. Fruiterers abound, and
melons are piled up to the roofs. Russian cottons and Austrian lamps
and mirrors repeat themselves down the long uncouth alley.

The camping-ground is outside the town, a windy and dusty plain. Here
my eight guards left me, but the _ketchuda_ shortly called with a
message from the _Sartip_ commanding a detachment of soldiers and the
town, saying that a military guard would be sent before sunset. Sain
Kala is in the government of Sujbul[=a]k, and its people are chiefly
Kurds with an admixture of Turks, a few Persians, mainly officials,
and the solitary Jew dyer, who, with his family, is found in all the
larger villages on this route.

An embroidery needle was found sticking in my _dhurrie_ a few days
ago, and I had the good fortune not only to get some coarse
sewing-cotton but some embroidery silks at Sain Kala, and having a
piece of serge to work on, and an outline of a blue centaurea, I am no
longer destitute of light occupation for the mid-day halt.

Truly "the Sabbath was made for man"! Apart from any religious
advantages, life would be very grinding and monotonous without the
change of occupation which it brings. To stay in bed till eleven, to
read, to rest the servants, to intermit the perpetual _driving_, to
obtain recuperation of mind and body, are all advantages which help to
make Sundays red-letter days on the journey; and last Sunday was
specially restful.

In the afternoon I had a very intelligent visitor, a _Hak[=i]m_ from
Tabriz, sent on sanitary duty in consequence of a cholera scare--a
flattering, hollow upper-class Persian. He introduced politics, and
talked long on the relative prospects of Russian or English
ascendency in Asia. England, he argued, made a great mistake in not
annexing Afghanistan, and his opinion, he said, was shared by all
educated Persians. "You are a powerful nation," he said, "but very
slow. The people, who know nothing, have too much share in your
government. To rule in Asia, and you are one of the greatest of
Asiatic powers, one must not introduce Western theories of government.
You must be despotic and prompt, and your policy must not vibrate. See
here now, the Shah dies, the Zil-i-Sultan disputes the succession with
the Crown Prince, and in a few days Russia occupies Azirbijan with
200,000 men, captures Tihran, and marches on Isfahan. Meanwhile your
statesmen talk for weeks in Parliament, and when Russia has
established her _prestige_ and has organised Persia, then your fleet
with a small army will sail from India! Bah! No country ruled by a
woman will rule in Asia."

In the evening the _ketchuda_ and two other Persian-speaking Kurds
hovered so much about my tent that I invited them into the verandah,
and had a long and pleasant talk with them, finding them _apparently_
frank and full of political ideas. They complained fiercely of
grinding exactions, which, they said, "keep men poor all their lives."
"The poorest of men," they said, "have to pay three _tumans_ (£1) a
year in money, besides other things; and if they can't pay in money
the tax-gatherer seizes their stock, puts a merely nominal value upon
it, sells it at its real value, and appropriates the difference." They
did not blame the Shah. "He knows nothing." They execrated the
governors and the local officials.[22] If they keep fowls, they said,
they have to keep them underground or they would be taken.

At the Shah's death, they said, Persia will be divided between Russia
and England, and they will fall to Russia. "Then we shall get
justice," they added. I remarked that the English and the Kurds like
each other. They said, "Then why is England so friendly with Turkey
and Persia, which oppress us, and why don't travellers like you speak
to the Sultan and the Shah and get things changed." They said that at
one time they expected to fall under English rule at the Shah's death,
"but now we are told it will be Russia."

After a long talk on local affairs we turned to lighter subjects. They
were much delighted with my folding-table, bed, and chair, but said
that if they once began to use such things it would increase the cost
of living too much, "for we would never go back to eating and sleeping
among the spiders as Mohammedans do." They said they had heard of
Europeans travelling in Persia to see mines, to dig among ruins for
treasure, and to collect medicinal herbs, but they could not
understand why I am travelling. I replied that I was travelling in
order to learn something of the condition of the people, and was
interested likewise in their religion and the prospects of
Christianity. "Very good, it is well," they replied; "Islam never
recedes, nor can Christianity advance."


FOOTNOTES:

[19] Apparently it was always thus, for on a tablet at Persepolis
occurs a passage in which the vice of lying is mentioned as among the
external dangers which threatened the mighty empire of the Medes and
Persians. "Says Darius the king: May Ormuzd bring help to me, with the
deities who guard my house; and may Ormuzd protect this province from
slavery, from decrepitude, _from lying_; let not war, nor slavery, nor
decrepitude, _nor lies_ obtain power over this province."

[20] I have very great pleasure in acknowledging a heavy debt of
gratitude to Persian officials, high and low, for the courtesy with
which I was uniformly treated. It is my practice in travelling to make
my arrangements very carefully, to attend personally to every detail,
and to give other people as little trouble as possible, but in Persia,
when off the beaten track, the insecurity of some of the roads, the
need of guards at night when one is living in camp, and the frequent
insubordination and duplicity of _charvadars_ render a reference to
the local authorities occasionally imperative; and not only has the
needed help been given, but it has been given _courteously_, and I
have always been treated as respectfully as an English lady would
expect to be in her own country.

[21] The general verdict of travellers in Persia is, that misrule,
heavy taxation, the rapacity and villainy of local governors, and
successive famines have reduced its small stationary population to a
condition of pitiable poverty and misery, and this is doubtless true
of much of the country, and of parts of it which I have traversed
myself. But I can only write of things as I found them, and on this
journey of 300 miles from Hamadan to Urmi I heard comparatively little
grumbling. Many of the villages are contented with their taxation and
landlords, in others there are decided evidences of prosperity, and
everywhere there is abundance of material comfort, not according to
our ideas, but theirs. As to _clothing and food_, the condition of the
cultivators of that part of western Persia compares favourably with
that of the _rayats_ in many parts of India. But just taxation and a
complete reform in the administration of justice are needed equally by
the prosperous and unprosperous parts of Persia.

[22] The truth is that since Persia broke the power of the Kurds ten
years ago, at the time of the so-called Kurdish invasion, she has kept
a somewhat tight hand over them, and her success in coercing them
indicates pretty plainly what Turkey, with her fine army, could do if
she were actually in earnest in repressing the disorder and chronic
insecurity in Turkish Kurdistan.



LETTER XXV (_Continued_)


The following morning the _Sartip_ turned out in my honour all the
road-guards then in Sain Kala to the number of twelve to escort me to
the castle of Muhammad Jik, a large village, the residence and
property of the _Naib Sartip_. This was the wildest escort I have had
yet. These men were dressed in full Kurdish finery, and besides guns
elaborately inlaid with silver and ivory, and swords in much-decorated
scabbards, they carried daggers with hilts incrusted with turquoises
in their girdles. They went through all the usual equestrian
performances, and added another, which consists in twirling a loaded
and clubbed stick in a peculiar manner, and throwing it as far ahead
as possible while riding at full gallop, the one who picks it up
_without dismounting_ being entitled to the next throw. Very few
succeeded in securing it in the regulation manner, and the scrimmage
for this purpose was often on the point of becoming a real fight. They
worked themselves up to a pitch of wild excitement, screamed, yelled,
shouted, covered their horses with sweat and foam, nearly unhorsed
each other, and used their sharp bits so unmercifully that the mouth
of every horse dripped with blood.

After they received _bakhsheesh_ they escorted me two miles farther
"to honour the _Khanum_," fired their guns in the air, salaamed
profoundly, and with shrieks and yells left me at a gallop.

The village of Muhammad Jik has a well-filled bazar and an aspect of
mixed prosperity and ruin. The castle, a large, and, at a distance, an
imposing pile, a square fort with flanking towers, is on an eminence,
and has a fine view of the alluvial plain of the Jagatsu, studded with
villages and cultivated throughout.

Here, for a rarity, the _Seigneur_ lives a stately life among those
who are practically his serfs in good old medieval fashion. Large
offices are enclosed within an outer wall, and are inhabited by
retainers. Rows of stables sheltered a number of fine and well-groomed
horses from the sun. Bullocks were being brought in from ploughing;
there were agricultural implements of the best Persian type, fowls,
ducks, turkeys, angora goats; negroes and negresses, grinning at the
stranger; mounted messengers with letters arriving and departing;
scribes in white turbans and black robes lounging--all the
paraphernalia of position and wealth.

It was nearly nine, and the great man had not risen, but he sent me a
breakfast of tea, _kabobs_, cracked wheat, curds, _sharbat_, and
grapes. The courtyard is entered by a really fine gateway, and the
castle is built round a quadrangle. The _andarun_ and its fretwork
galleries are on one side, and on another is what may be called a hall
of audience, where the _Sartip_ hears village business and decides
cases.

He offered me a few days' hospitality, paid the usual compliments,
said that no escort was needed from thence to Sujbul[=a]k, where my
letter to the Governor would procure me one if "the roads were
unsettled," hoped that I should not suffer from the hardships of the
journey, and offered me a _kajaveh_ and mule for the next marches.

A level road along the same prosperous alluvial plain leads to
Kashava, a village of 100 houses embosomed in fruit trees and
surrounded by tobacco and cotton. It has an old fort, a very fine
spring, and a "resident proprietor," who, as soon as he heard of my
arrival, sent servants with melons and tea on silver trays, stabled my
horse, and provided me with a strong guard, as the camping-ground was
much exposed to robbers. Such attentions, though pleasant, are very
expensive, as the greater the master the greater are the expectations
of the servants, and the value of such a present as melons must be at
least quadrupled in _bakhsheesh_.

While halting the next day the horses eagerly ate the stalks and roots
of a strongly-scented bulb which lay almost on the surface of the
ground, and were simultaneously seized with a peculiar affection.
Their hair stood out from their bodies like bristles, and they threw
their heads up and down with a regular, convulsive, and apparently
perfectly involuntary motion, while their eyes were fixed and staring.
This went on for two hours, _Boy_ following me as usual; but owing to
this most distressing jerk, over which he had no control, he was
unable to eat the dainties which his soul loves, and which I hoped
would break up the affection--a very painful one to witness. After the
attack both animals perspired profusely. The water literally ran off
their bodies. The jerks gradually moderated and ceased, and there were
no after effects but very puffy swellings about the throat. Both had
barley in their nose-bags, but pawed and wriggled them off in order to
get at this plant, a species of _allium_.

When _Boy_ was well enough to be mounted we descended into an immense
plain, on which were many villages and tracks. This plain of Hadji
Hussein is in fact only another part of the alluvial level of the
Jagatsu, which, with a breadth of from four to ten miles, extends for
nearly forty miles, and is fertile and populous for most of its
length. At the nearest village all the men were busy at the
threshing-floor, and they would not give me a guide; at the next the
_ketchuda_ sent a young man, but required payment in advance.

After crossing the plain, on which villages occur at frequent
intervals on gravelly islands surrounded by rich, stiff, black soil,
we forded the broad Jagatsu and got into the environs of, not an
insignificant village, as I expected, but an important town of 5000
people. A wide road, planted and ditched on both sides, with well-kept
irrigated gardens, shaded by poplars, willows, and fruit trees, runs
for a mile from the river into the town, which is surrounded by
similar gardens on every side, giving it the appearance of being
densely wooded. The vineyards are magnificent, and the size and
flavour of the grapes quite unusual. Melons, opium, tobacco, cotton,
castor oil, sesamum, and _bringals_ all flourish.

Miandab is partly in ruins, but covers a great extent of ground with
its 1000 houses, 100 of which are inhabited by Jews and twenty by
Armenians. People of five tribes are found there, but unlike Sain
Kala, where Sunnis and Shiahs live peaceably, the Mussulmans are all
Shiahs, no Sunni having been allowed to become a permanent inhabitant
since the Kurdish attack ten years ago, when Sunnis within the city
betrayed it into the hands of their co-religionists.

It has several mosques, a good bazar with a domed roof, a part of
which displays very fine copper-work done in the town, and a garrison
of 100 men. I saw the whole of Miandab, for my caravan was lost, and
an hour was spent in hunting for it, inquiring of every one if he had
seen a caravan of four _yabus_, but vainly, till we reached the other
side, where I found it only just arrived, and the men busy
tent-pitching in a lonely place among prolific vineyards. Sharban had
lost the way, and after much marching and counter-marching had reached
the ford of the Jagatsu, which I had been told to avoid, where the
caravan got into deep strong water which carried the _yabus_ off their
feet, and he says that they and the servant were nearly drowned. Mirza
had to go back into the town to obtain a guard from an official, as
the camping-ground was very unsafe, and it was 11 P.M. before dinner
was ready.

The next day I was ill, and rode only twelve miles, for the most part
traversing the noble plain of Hadji Hussein, till the road ascends by
tawny slopes to the wretched village of Amirabad--seventeen hovels on
a windy hill, badly supplied with water. Partly sunk below ground,
this village, at a short distance off, is only indicated by huge
stacks of the _Centaurea alata_ and tall cones of _kiziks_, which,
being neatly plastered, are very superior in appearance to the houses
which they are intended to warm.

The western side of the great plain was studded with Ilyat camps of
octagonal and umbrella-shaped tents with the sides kept out by stout
ribs. Great herds of camels, and flocks of big fat-tailed sheep,
varying in colour from Vandyke brown to golden auburn, camels carrying
fodder, and tribesmen building it into great stacks, round which, but
seven feet off, they place fences of a reed which is abundant in
swampy places, gave life and animation. Ilyat women brought bowls of
milk and curds, and offered me the hospitality of their tents.

As I passed through a herd of grazing camels, an ancient,
long-toothed, evil-faced beast ran at _Boy_ with open mouth and a
snarling growl. Poor _Boy_ literally gasped with terror (courage is
not his strong point) and dashed off at a gallop; and now whenever he
sees camels in the distance he snorts and does his best to bolt to one
side, showing a cowardice which is really pitiable.

It was very cold when I left Amirabad the next morning at 6.30, and
hoar-frost lay on the ground. The steadiness with which the mercury
descends at this season is as interesting as its steady ascent in the
spring, and its freedom from any but the smallest fluctuations in the
summer. The road to Sujbul[=a]k passes over uplands and hill-slopes,
tawny with sun-cured grass, and after crossing some low spurs, blue
with the lovely _Eryngium cæruleum_, descends into a long rich valley
watered by the river Sanak. This valley, in which are situated Inda
Khosh and other large villages, is abundantly irrigated, and is
cultivated throughout. Well planted with fruit trees, it is a great
contrast to the arid, fiery slopes which descend upon it.

Long before reaching Sujbul[=a]k there were indications of the
vicinity of a place of some importance, caravans going both ways,
asses loaded with perishable produce, horsemen and foot passengers,
including many fine-looking Kurdish women unveiled, and walking with a
firm masculine stride, even when carrying children on their backs.

A few miles from the town two _sowars_ met me, but after escorting me
for some distance they left me, and taking the wrong road, I found
myself shortly on a slope above the town, not among the living but the
dead. Such a City of Death I have never seen. A whole hour was
occupied in riding through it without reaching its limits. Fifty
thousand gravestones are said to stand on the reddish-gray gravel
between the hill and the city wall, mere unhewn slabs of gray stone,
from six inches to as many feet in height, row beyond row to the limit
of vision--300,000 people, they say, are buried there. There is no
suggestion of "life and immortality." Weird, melancholy, and terribly
malodorous, owing to the shallowness of the graves, the impression
made by this vast cemetery is solely painful. The tombs are continued
up to the walls and even among the houses, and having been much
disturbed there is the sad spectacle of human skulls and bones lying
about, being gnawed by dogs.

The graveyard side of Sujbul[=a]k is fouler and filthier than anything
I have seen, and the odours, even in this beautiful weather, are
appalling. The centre of each alley is a broken channel with a broken
pavement on each side. These channels were obviously constructed for
water, but now contain only a black and stagnant horror, hardly to be
called a fluid, choked with every kind of refuse. The bazars are
narrow, dark, and busy, full of Russian commodities, leather goods,
ready-made clothing, melons, grapes, and pop-corn. The crowds of men
mostly wore the Kurdish or Turkish costume, but black-robed and
white-turbaned Seyyids and _mollahs_ were not wanting.

Sujbul[=a]k, the capital of Northern Persian Kurdistan, and the
residence of a governor, is quite an important _entrepôt_ for furs, in
which it carries on a large trade with Russia, and a French firm, it
is said, buys up fur rugs to the value of several hundred thousand
francs annually. It also does a large business with the Kurdish tribes
of the adjacent mountains and the Turkish nomads of the plains, and a
considerable trade in gall-nuts. It has twenty small mosques, three
_hammams_, some very inferior caravanserais, and a few coffee-houses.
Its meat bazar and its grain and pulse bazars are capacious and well
supplied.

It has a reputed population of 5000 souls. Kurds largely predominate,
but there are so many Turks that the Turkish Government has lately
built a very conspicuous consulate, with the aspect of a fortress, and
has appointed a consul to protect the interests of its subjects. There
are 120 Armenians, who make wine and _arak_, and are usurers, and gold
and silver smiths. The Jews get their living by money-lending,
peddling drugs, dyeing cotton goods, selling groceries, and making
gold and silver lace. There is a garrison, of 1000 men nominally, for
the town and district are somewhat turbulent, and a conflict is always
imminent between the Kurds and Turks, who are Sunnis, and the small
Persian population, which is Shiah. The altitude of Sujbul[=a]k is
4770 feet. Here I have come upon the track of Ida Pfeiffer, who
travelled in the Urmi region more than forty years ago, when
travelling in Persia was full of risks, and much more difficult in all
respects than it is now.

  [Illustration: KURD OF SUJBUL[=A]K.]

The Sanak, though clear and bright, is fouled by many abominations,
and by the ceaseless washing of clothes above the town; there are no
pure wells, and all people who care about what they drink keep asses
constantly bringing water from an uncontaminated part of the river,
two miles off. Even the Governor has to depend on this supply.
Sujbul[=a]k looks very well from this camp, with the bright river in
the foreground, and above it, irregularly grouped on a rising bank,
the façade, terraces, and towers of the Governor's palace, the
fort-like Turkish consulate, and numbers of good dwelling-houses, with
_balakhanas_ painted blue or pink, or covered with arabesques in red,
with projecting lattice windows of dark wood, and balconies
overhanging the water.

This shingle where I am encamped is the Rotten Row of the town, and is
very lively this evening, for numbers of Kurds have been galloping
their horses here, and performing feats of horsemanship before the
admiring eyes of hundreds of promenaders, male and female, most of the
latter unveiled. As all have to cross the ford where the river is some
inches above a man's knees, the effect is grotesque, and even the
women have no objection to displaying their round white limbs in the
clear water. The ladies of the Governor's _andarun_ sent word that
food and quarters had been prepared for me since noon, but I excused
myself on the plea of excessive fatigue. This message was followed by
a visit from the Governor's foster-mother, an unveiled jolly woman, of
redundant proportions, wearing remarkably short petticoats, which
displayed limbs like pillars. A small woman attended her, and a number
of Kurd men, superbly dressed, and wearing short two-edged swords,
with ebony hilts ornamented with incrustations of very finely-worked
filigree silver. These weapons are made here. The lady has been to
Mecca, and evinces much more general intelligence than the secluded
women. She took a dagger from one of the attendants, and showed me
with much go how the thrusts which kill are made.

All were much amused with _Boy's_ gentle ways. He had been into the
town for supplies, and, as usual, asked me to take off his bridle by
coming up and putting his ears under my chin, when, if I do not attend
to him at once, he lifts his head and gives me a gentle push, or rubs
his nose against my cheek. The men admired his strong, clean limbs,
which are his best points. Last night I heard snoring very near me,
and thinking that the watchmen were sleeping under the _flys_, I went
out to waken them, and found the big beast stretched out fast asleep
in the verandah of the tent, having retired there for warmth. I
accompanied my visitors to the ford, followed by _Boy_, to their great
amusement, as it was to mine to see the stout lady mount nimbly on a
Kurd's back, and ride him "pickaback" through the water!

This has not been a comfortable afternoon. The Governor has been out
all day hunting, and his deputy either at the bath or a religious
function. Milk can only be got in the Jewish quarter, where smallpox
is prevailing; the Sanak water is too foul to be used for tea, and no
man will go two miles so late for a pure supply. Johannes, who is most
disobedient as well as incompetent, has brought no horse food, and
poor _Boy_ has been calling for it for two hours, coming into my tent,
shaking the bag in which the barley is usually kept, and actually in
his hunger clearing the table of melons and grapes. These, however,
are only among the very small annoyances of travelling.

9 P.M.--The Governor has returned, and has sent a guard of twenty-five
soldiers, with an invitation to visit the ladies before I start
to-morrow.

     I. L. B.



LETTER XXVI


     TURKMAN, _Oct. 6_.

Rising very early on Friday morning to keep my appointment with the
ladies of the Governor of Sujbul[=a]k, as well as to obtain a letter
from him, I reached the palace entrance a little after sunrise, the
hour agreed upon. The walls and gateway are crumbling, the courtyard
is in heaps, the glass windows of the façade and towers are much
broken, the plaster is mangy--a complete disappointment. The Kurdish
guard slept soundly at the entrance; only a big dog, more faithful
than man, was on the alert. The Governor was not yet awake, nor the
ladies. It would be an "intolerable crime," the sentry said, to waken
them. He looked as if he thought it an "intolerable crime" that his
own surreptitious slumbers had been disturbed. It is contrary to
Persian etiquette to waken persons of distinction till they please. I
waited at the entrance for half an hour and then reluctantly departed,
very sorry not to give the ladies the opportunity they ardently
desired of seeing a European woman. They had sent word that they had
only once in their lives seen one!

The march to the poor village of Mehemetabad was over uninteresting
low rounded hills and through a valley without habitations, opening
upon a fine plain, at the south-east end of which the village stands.
The camping-ground was a green fallow near some willows and a stream.
After marching for some hours under a glittering sky and a hot sun
over scorched, glaring yellow soil, a measure of greenness just round
the tent is most refreshing to eyes which are suffering from the want
of the coloured glasses which were ground under a _yabu's_ hoofs a
fortnight ago.

The Khan of the village was very courteous, and sent a tray of
splendid grapes, and six watchmen. Buffalo bulls of very large size
were used there for burden. Buffaloes are a sure sign of mitigated
aridity, for they must bathe, _i.e._ lie down in water three times
daily, if they are to be kept in health, and if the water and mud are
not deep enough for this, boys go in along with them and pour water
over them with a pannikin. In these regions they are almost
exclusively used for burdens, draught, and milk, and everywhere their
curved flat horns and sweet, calm, silly faces are to be seen above
the water of the deep irrigation ditches. The buffalo, though usually
mild enough to be driven by small children, has an uncertain temper,
and can be roused to frightful ferocity. In Persian Kurdistan, if not
elsewhere, this is taken advantage of, and in the spring, when the
animals are in good condition after the winter's rest, the people have
buffalo fights, in which cruel injuries would be inflicted were it not
for the merciful provision of nature in giving these animals flat
incurved horns.[23]

As I sat at my tent door a cloud of dust moved along the road towards
the village, escorting an indefinite something which loomed
monstrously through it. I have not seen a cart for nine months, and
till the unmistakable creak of wooden wheels enlightened me I could
not think what was approaching. Actually every village on these plains
has one or more buffalo-carts, with wooden wheels without tires, and
hubs and axles of enormous size and strength, usually drawn by four
buffaloes. A man sits on the front of the cart and drives with a
stick, and a boy _facing backwards_ sits on the yoke between the two
foremost beasts. He croons a perpetual song, and if this ceases the
buffaloes stop. For every added pair (and on the next plain I saw as
many as six yoke) there is an additional boy and an additional song.

This apparition carried a light wooden frame, which was loaded to a
preposterous height with the strong reeds which are used to support
the mud roofs, heavily weighted as these are with stacks of fodder.

One would think one was in the heart of the Bakhtiari country and not
on a caravan route, from the difficulty of getting any correct
guidance as to the road, distance, safety, or otherwise, etc. Sharban
has never been this way, and is the prey of every rumour. Between his
terror of having to "eat wood" on his return, and his dread of being
attacked and robbed of his _yabus_, he leads an uneasy life, and when,
as at Mehemetabad, there is no yard for his animals, he watches all
night in the idea that the guards are the "worst robbers of all." I
think he has all the Mussulman distrust of arrangements made by a
woman! Hitherto the guards have been faithful and quiet. I always ask
them not to talk after 8 P.M., and I have not once been disturbed by
them; and when I walk as usual twice round the camp during the night I
always find them awake by their big watch-fires.

The village Khan, an intelligent man, spent some time with me in the
afternoon. The fields of his village are not manured at all, and the
yield is only about tenfold. Willows are grown for the sake of the
osiers, which are a necessity, and not for fuel, and the whole of the
manure is required for cooking and heating purposes. He said that his
village becomes poorer annually owing to the heavier exactions of the
officials and the larger sums demanded to "buy off robbers." The
latter is a complaint often made in the villages which are near the
Turkish frontier, a boundary which from all accounts needs
considerable "rectification." The people say that Kurds cross the
border, and that unless they bribe them they drive off their sheep and
cattle and get over it again safely, but I doubt the truth of these
statements.

I got away at sunrise for a march of nominally fourteen miles, but in
reality twenty-four. Sharban not only stated the distance falsely but
induced others to do the same thing, and when he passed me at midday,
saying the halting-place was only two miles ahead, he went on for
twelve miles, his desire being to rejoin that bugbear, the "big
caravan," which he heard had reached Urmi. The result is that I have
had to rest for two days, and he has gained two days' pay, but has
lost time.

After some serious difficulties in crossing some swampy streams and a
pitiable display of cowardice on _Boy's_ part, we embarked on the
magnificent plain of Sulduz, where Johannes, with a supreme
self-confidence which imposed on me, took the wrong one of two tracks,
and we rode west instead of east, to within a few hours' journey of a
pass into Turkey through the magnificent range of the Zibar mountains,
which even at this advanced season are in some places heavily patched
with last winter's snow.

To regain the caravan route we had to cross the greater part of this
grand plain, which I had not then seen equalled in Persia for
fertility and population. It possesses, that crown of blessings, an
abundant water supply, indeed so abundant that in the spring it is a
swamp, and the spring sowing is delayed till May. It has several large
villages, slightly raised and well planted, a few of them with the
large fortified houses of resident proprietors overtopping the smaller
dwellings. Evidences of material prosperity meet the eye everywhere, a
prosperity which needs to be guarded, however, for every shepherd,
cowherd, ploughman, and buffalo-driver goes about his work armed.

Large herds of mares with mule foals, of big fat cattle, and of
buffaloes, with plenty of mud to wallow in, stacks of real hay and of
fine reeds, buffalo carts moving slowly near all the villages carrying
the hay into security, grass uncut and unscorched, eighteen inches
high, a deep, black, stoneless soil, impassable at certain seasons,
towering cones of animal fuel, for export as well as use, an intensely
blue sky above, a cool breeze, and the rare sight of cloud-shadows
drifting over waving grass and flecking the cobalt sides of the Zibar
mountains, combined to form a picture I would not willingly have
missed, impatient as I was for the first view of the Sea of Urmi.

Beyond there are low stony hills, which would be absolutely bare now
but for the _Eryngium cæruleum_ and the showy spikes of a great yellow
mullein, a salt lake, most of which is now a salt incrustation,
mimicking ice from beneath which the water has been withdrawn, but
with an odour which no ice ever has, then a gradual ascent to a windy
ridge, and then--the Dead Sea of Urmi or Urumiya.

Dead indeed it looked from that point of view, and dead were its
surroundings. It lay, a sheet of blue, bluer even than the heavens
above it, stretching northwards beyond the limits of vision, and
bounded on the east, but very far away, by low blue ranges, seen
faintly through a blue veil. On the west side there are mountains,
which recede considerably, and descend upon it in low rounded buff
slopes or downs, over which the track, keeping near the water, lies.
There was not a green thing, not a bush, or house, or flock of sheep,
or horseman, or foot passenger along the miles of road which were
visible from that point. The water lay in the mocking beauty of its
brilliant colouring, a sea without a shore, without a boat, without a
ripple or flash of foam, lifeless utterly, dead from all time past to
all time to come. Dead, too, it is on closer acquaintance, and its
odour, which can be discerned three miles off, is that odour of
corruption known to science as sulphuretted hydrogen. Now and then
there is a shore, a shallow bay or inlet, in which the lake, driven by
the east wind, evaporates, leaving behind it a glaring crust of salt,
beyond which a thick, bubbly, blackish-green scum lies on the blue
water. In such places only the expressive old-fashioned word _stench_
can describe the odour, which was strong enough nearly to knock over
the servants and _charvadars_. No description can give an idea of the
effluvium which is met with here and there beside this great salt
lake, which has a length of eighty miles and an average breadth of
twenty-four.

A few miles from Dissa the lake-water is brought into tanks and
evaporated, and many donkeys were being loaded with the product,
which, like all salt which is sold in Persia, is impure, and for
European use always requires a domestic and tedious process of
purification.

After a solitude of several miles villages appear, lying off the road
in folds of the hills, which gradually recede so far as to leave a
plain some miles broad and very fertile. At the end of an eleven
hours' march we reached the important village of Dissa, with large
houses and orchards, abundant water, a detachment of soldiers as a
garrison, a resident proprietor's house, to which in his absence I
was at once invited by his wife, and so surrounded by cultivation that
a vacant space could only be found for the camp in a stubble-field.

The caravan had only just come in, and there was neither fuel nor
drinking water within easy reach. I was so completely worn out that I
was lifted off the horse and laid on the ground in blankets till the
camp was in order late at night. Sharban, knowing that his deception
was discovered, had disappeared with his _yabus_ without helping as
usual to pitch my tent. Mirza, always cheerful and hard-working,
though always slow, and Johannes did their best, but it is very hard
on servants who are up before five not to bring them in till sunset,
when their work is scarcely over till near midnight, and has to be
done in the dark. The next day there were a succession of dust storms
and half a gale from noon to sunset, but my tent stood it well, and
the following day this was repeated. These strong winds usually
prevail in the afternoon at this season.

_Urmi, October 8._--A march over low and much-ploughed hills, an easy
descent and a ford brought us down upon the plain of Urmi, the
"Paradise of Persia," and to the pleasant and friendly hamlet of
Turkman, where I spent the night and made the half-march into Urmi
yesterday morning. This plain is truly "Paradise" as seen from the
hill above it, nor can I say that its charm disappears on more
intimate acquaintance. Far from it!

I have travelled now for nine months in Persia and know pretty well
what to expect--not to look for surprises of beauty and luxuriance,
and to be satisfied with occasional oases of cultivation among brown,
rocky, treeless hills, varied by brown villages with crops and spindly
poplars and willows, contrasting with the harsh barrenness of the
surrounding gravelly waste.

But beautiful Urmi, far as the eye can reach, is one oasis. From
Turkman onwards the plain becomes more and more attractive, the
wood-embosomed villages closer together, the variety of trees greater.
Irrigation canals shaded by fruit trees, and irrigation ditches
bordered by reeds, carry water in abundance all through the plain.
Swampy streams abound. Fair stretches of smooth green sward rejoice
the eye. Big buffaloes draw heavy carts laden with the teeming produce
of the black, slimy, bountiful soil from the fields into the villages.
Wheat, maize, beans, melons, gourds, potatoes, carrots, turnips,
beets, capsicum, chilis, _bringals_, lady's fingers, castor-oil (for
burning), cotton, madder, salsify, scorzonera, celery, oil-seeds of
various sorts, opium, and tobacco all flourish. The orchards are full
of trees which almost merit the epithet noble. Noble indeed are the
walnuts, and beautiful are the pomegranates, the apricots, the apples,
the peach and plum trees, and glorious are the vineyards with their
foliage, which, like that of the cherry and pear, is passing away in
scarlet and gold. Nature has perfected her work and rests. It is
autumn in its glories, but without its gloom.

Men, women, and children are all busy. Here the wine-press is at work,
there girls are laying clusters of grapes on terraces prepared for the
purpose, to dry for raisins; women[24] are gathering cotton and
castor-oil seeds, little boys are taking buffaloes to bathe, men are
driving and loading buffalo-carts, herding mares, ploughing and
trenching, and in the innumerable villages the storehouses are being
filled; the herbs and chilis are hanging from the roofs to dry, the
women are making large cakes of animal fuel (of which they have
sufficient for export), and are building it into great conical stacks,
the crones are spinning in the sun, and the swaddled infants bound in
their cradles are lying in the fields and vineyards, while the mothers
are at work. This picture of beauty, fertility, and industry is framed
by the Kurdistan mountains on the one side, and on the other by long
lines of poplars, through which there are glimpses of the deep blue
waters of the Urmi Sea. These Kurdistan mountains, a prolongation of
the Taurus chain, stern in their character, and dwarfing all the minor
ranges, contrast grandly with the luxuriant plains of Sulduz and Urmi.

As I passed northwards the villages grew thicker, the many tracks
converged into a wide road which was thronged with foot passengers,
horsemen, camel and horse caravans, and strings of asses loaded with
melons and wood. Farther yet the road passes through beautiful
orchards with green sward beneath the trees; mud walls are on both
sides, and over them droop the graceful boughs and gray-green foliage
of an _elægnus_, with its tresses of auburn fruit.

At the large village of Geog-tapa a young horseman overtook me, and
said in my native tongue, "Can you speak English?" He proved to be a
graduate of the American College at Urmi, and a teacher in _Shamasha
Khananeshoo's_ school (known better to his supporters in England as
Deacon Abraham). He told me that I was expected, and shortly
afterwards I was greeted by the son of the oldest missionary in Urmi,
Dr. Labaree.

The remaining four miles were almost entirely under the shade of fine
trees, past the city walls and gates, put into tolerable repair after
the Kurdish invasion ten years ago, and out into pretty wooded
country, with the grand mountains of the frontier seen through the
trees, where a fine gateway admitted us into the park in which are the
extra-mural buildings of the American Presbyterian Mission, now more
than half a century old. These are on high ground, well timbered, and
the glimpses through the trees of the mountains and the plain are
enchanting.

Through the kindness of my friends at Hamadan, who had written in
advance, I am made welcome in the house of Dr. Shedd, the Principal of
the Urmi College.[25]

Within two hours of my arrival I had the pleasure of visits from Canon
Maclean and Mr. Lang of the English Mission, and from Dr. Labaree and
the ladies of the Fiske Seminary, the English, French, and American
missionaries being the only European residents in Urmi.

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[23] While I was sleeping in a buffalo stable in Turkey two buffaloes
quarrelled and there was a terrible fight, in which the huge animals
interlocked their horns and broke them short off, bellowing fearfully.
It took twenty men with ropes, or rather cables, two and a half inches
in diameter, which are kept for the purpose, to separate them; and
their thin skins, sensitive to insect bites and all irritations, were
bleeding in every direction before they could be forced apart.

[24] Christian women and girls share the work of the fields with the
men.

[25] It is a pleasant duty to record here the undeserved and exceeding
kindness that I have met with from the American, Presbyterian, and
Congregational missionaries in Persia and Asia Minor. It is not only
that they made a stranger, although a member of the Anglican Church,
welcome in their refined and cultured homes, often putting themselves
to considerable inconvenience in order to receive me, but that they
ungrudgingly imparted to me the interests of their work and lives,
helping me at the cost of much valuable time and trouble with the
complicated and often difficult arrangements for my farther journeys,
showing in every possible way that they "know the heart of a
stranger," being themselves "strangers in a strange land." Specially,
I feel bound to acknowledge the kindness and hospitality shown to me
by the Presbyterian missionaries in Urmi, who were aware that one
object of my journey through North-West Persia was to visit the
Archbishop of Canterbury's Assyrian Missions, which work on different
and, I may say, opposite lines from their own.



NOTES ON PROTESTANT MISSIONS IN URMI[26]


A sketch of Urmi would present few features of general interest if it
did not embrace an outline of the mission work which is carried on
there on a large scale, first by the numerous agents, lay and
clerical, male and female, of the American Presbyterian Board of
Foreign Missions, and next by the English Mission clergy and the
Sisters of Bethany, who form what is known as "The Archbishop of
Canterbury's Mission to the Assyrian Christians."

Besides these there is a Latin Mission of French Lazarists, aided by
Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, which has been at work in Urmi and on
the plain of Salmas for forty years.

Urmi, the reputed birthplace of Zoroaster, and in past ages the great
centre of Fire Worship, was made the headquarters of the American
Mission to the Nestorians in 1834, which, with the exception of the
C.M.S. Mission in Julfa, was the only Protestant Mission in Persia up
to the year 1885.

At present there are four ordained American missionaries, several
ladies, and a medical missionary working in Urmi. Under their
superintendence are thirty ordained and thirty-one licentiate pastors,
ninety-three native helpers, and three Bible-women. The number of
Nestorians or Syrians employed as teachers in the College and the
Fiske Seminary for girls, as translators, as printers, and as medical
assistants, is very considerable.

The whole plain of Urmi, with its innumerable villages, and the
eastern portion of the Kurdish mountains, with its Syrian hamlets, are
included within the sphere of Mission work.

This Mission has free access to Syrians, Armenians, and Jews, but for
Moslems there can be no public preaching or teaching, nor can a Moslem
openly profess Christianity, or even frequent the Syrian services,
without being a marked man. Hence, while all opportunities are
embraced of conversation with Mohammedans, and of circulating the
Bible among them, the mission work is chiefly among nominal
Christians.

The Americans own a very large amount of property at Urmi. The Fiske
Seminary--a High School, in which a large number of girls receive
board as well as education--is within the city walls, as well as some
of the houses of both clerical and lady missionaries. About a mile
outside they have acquired a beautiful and valuable estate of about
fifteen acres, plentifully wooded and watered, and with some fine
avenues of planes. On this are the large buildings of the Urmi
College, the professors' houses, the Dispensary, and the Medical
Mission Hospitals for the sick of both sexes.

A very high-class education is given in the Urmi College, and in
addition to the general course there are opportunities for both
theological and medical education. Last year there were 151 students,
of which number eighteen graduated.

The education given is bringing about a result which was not
anticipated. The educated Syrian and Armenian young men, far from
desiring generally to remain in their own country as pastors and
teachers, and finding no opportunities of "getting on" otherwise, have
of late been seized with a craze for leaving Persia for America,
Russia, or any other country where they may turn their education to
profitable account. It is hardly necessary to add that the admirable
training and education given in the Fiske Seminary do not produce a
like restlessness among its "girl graduates." The girls marry at an
early age, make good housewives, and are in the main intelligent and
kindly Christians.

Possibly the education given in the Urmi College is too high and too
Western for the requirements of the country and the probable future of
the students. At all events similar regrets were expressed in Urmi, as
I afterwards heard, regarding some of the American Mission Colleges in
Asia Minor. The missionaries say that the directly religious results
are not so apparent as could be desired, that the young men are not
ready to offer themselves in any numbers for evangelistic work, and
that the present tendency is to seek secular employment and personal
aggrandisement.

Though this secular tendency comes forward strongly at this time, a
number of evangelistic workers scattered through Persia, Turkey, and
Russia[27] owe their education and religious inspiration to the
teachings of the Urmi College. At present a few of the young men have
banded themselves together to go forth as teachers and preachers with
the object of carrying the Gospel to all, without distinction of
nationality. The hopefulness of this movement is that it is of native
origin, and that the young men are self-supporting. A capable Syrian
physician and a companion are also preaching and healing at their own
cost, only accepting help towards the expense of medicines.

The Medical Mission at Urmi, with its well-equipped Dispensary and its
two admirable Hospitals, is of the utmost value, as such missions are
all the world over.

Dr. Cochrane, from his courtesy and attention to the niceties of
Persian etiquette, is extremely acceptable to the Persian authorities,
and has been entrusted by them more than once with missions involving
the exercise of great tact and ability. He is largely trusted by the
Moslems of Urmi and the neighbourhood, and mixes with them socially on
friendly and easy terms.

He and some of the younger missionaries were born in Persia, their
fathers having been missionaries before them, and after completing
their education in America they returned, not only with an intimate
knowledge of etiquette and custom, as well as of Syriac and Persian,
but with that thorough sympathy with the people whom they are there to
help and instruct, which it is difficult to gain in a single
generation, and through languages not acquired in childhood. Dr.
Cochrane has had many and curious dealings with the Kurds, the dreaded
inhabitants of the mountains which overhang the beautiful plain of
Urmi, and a Kurd, who appears to be in perpetual "war-paint," is the
gatekeeper at the Dispensary. One of the most singular results of the
influence gained over these fierce and predatory people by the
"Missionary _Hak[=i]m_" occurred in 1881, when Obeidullah Khan, with
11,000 Kurds, laid siege to Urmi.

Six months previously, at this Khan's request, Dr. Cochrane went up a
three days' journey into the mountains, where he remained for ten
days, during which time he cured the Khan of severe pneumonia, and
made the acquaintance of several of the Kurdish chiefs. Before the
siege began Obeidullah Khan sent for Dr. Cochrane, saying that he
wished to know his residence and who his people were, so as to see
that none of them suffered at the hands of his men. Not only this, but
he asked for the names of the Christian villages on the plain, and
gave the _Hak[=i]m_ letters with orders that nothing should be touched
which belonged to them. The mission families were assembled at the
College, and 500 Christians, with their cattle and horses, took refuge
in the College grounds, which were close to the Kurdish lines. The
siege lasted seven weeks, with great loss of life and many of "the
horrors of war," as time increased the fury of both Kurds and
Persians. But Obeidullah kept his word, and for the sake of the
_Hak[=i]m_ and his healing art, not only was not a hair on the head of
any missionary touched, but the mixed multitude within the gates and
the herds were likewise spared.

Mrs. Cochrane, the widow of the former medical missionary,
superintends the food and the nursing in the hospitals, and I doubt
whether the most fanatical Kurd or Persian Moslem could remain
indifferent to the charm of her bright and loving presence. The
profession of Dr. Cochrane opens to him homes and hearts everywhere.
All hold him as a friend and benefactor, and he has opportunities,
denied to all others, of expounding the Christian faith among Moslems.
A letter from him is a safe-conduct through some parts of the Kurdish
mountains, and the mere mention of his name is a passport to the
good-will of their fierce inhabitants.

The work of the mission is not confined to the city of Urmi. Among the
villages of the plain there are eighty-four schools, taught chiefly in
Syriac, seven of which are for girls only. The mission ladies
itinerate largely, and are warmly welcomed by Moslem as well as
Christian women, and even by those families of Kurds who, since their
defeat in 1881, have settled down to peaceful pursuits, some of them
even becoming Christians.

In fifty years the American missionaries have gained a very
considerable and wide-spread influence, not only by labours which are
recognised as disinterested, but by the purity and righteousness of
their lives; and the increased friendliness and accessibility of the
Moslems of Urmi give hope that the purer teachings of Christianity and
the example of the life of our Lord are regarded by them with less of
hostility or indifference than formerly.

The history of the mission is best given in the words of Dr. Shedd,
one of its oldest members.[28]

The communicants of the "Evangelical Syriac Church," which might be
termed, from its organisation and creed, the _Presbyterian Syriac
Church_, numbered 216 in 1857 and 2003 in 1887.

Apart from the results of Christian teaching and example, there can
be, I think, no doubt that the residence of righteous foreigners in
Urmi for over half a century has had a most beneficial effect on the
condition of the Nestorians. At the time when the first American
missionaries settled in Urmi the yoke of Islam was hardly bearable.
The Christians were oppressed and plundered, their daughters were
taken by violence, and they were scarcely allowed to practise the
little religion left to them. The Persian Government, sensitive as it
is to European opinion, has gradually remedied a state of matters upon
which the reports of the missionaries were justly to be dreaded, and
at the present time the Christians of Urmi and the adjacent plain have
comparatively very little to complain of.

At the same time the Syriac Church was at its lowest ebb, absolutely
sunk in ignorance and superstition. It had no exposition of the Bible,
and all worship was in the ancient Syriac tongue, then as now "not
understanded of the people." It had no books or any ability to
establish schools. Bibles were scarce, and a single copy of the Psalms
could not be bought for less than 32s. The learned nuns and
deaconesses of the early days were without successors. Women were
entirely neglected, and it was regarded as improper for the younger
among them to be seen at church. In Urmi not a woman could read, and
in the whole Nestorian region they were absolutely illiterate, with
the exception of the Patriarch's sister and two or three nuns.

The translation of the Bible into modern Syriac, a noble work, now
undergoing revision; the College; the Female Seminary; the translation
and publication of many luminous books; the circulation of a
periodical called _Rays of Light_, together with fifty years of
intercourse with men and women whose chief aim is the religious and
intellectual elevation of the people among whom they dwell, have
wrought a remarkable change, though that the change is menaced with
perils, and is not an absolutely unmixed good, cannot be gainsaid.

It is for the future to decide whether the Reform movement in Umri or
elsewhere could survive in any strength the removal of the agency
which inaugurated it, and whether a Church without a ritual and with a
form of government alien to the genius of the East and the traditions
of the fathers, can take root in the affections of an eminently
conservative people.

The Mission, founded by the present Archbishop of Canterbury at the
request of the _Catholicos_ of the East, Mar Shimun, the Patriarch of
the Syrian Church, arrived in Urmi in the autumn of 1885. At the time
of my visit it consisted of five mission priests, graduates of Oxford
and Cambridge Universities, and an ordained Syrian, four of whom were
at the headquarters in Urmi, one in the Kurdish mountains, and one on
the Urmi Plain. Four Sisters of Bethany arrived in the spring of 1890
for the purpose of opening a boarding-school for girls and instructing
the women.

It is hardly necessary to say that the lines on which the Anglican and
American missions proceed are diametrically different, and the modes
of working are necessarily in opposition. The one is _practically_ a
proselytising agency, and labours to build up a Presbyterian Church in
Persia; the other purposes to "bring back an ancient church into the
way of truth, and so prepare it for its union with its mother church,
the Orthodox Church of the East." The objects of the latter and its
ecclesiastical position are stated briefly in the note below.[29]

The actual work to be done by the Mission is thus summed up by its
promoters: "The work of the Mission is in the first place to train up
a body of literate clergy; secondly, to instruct the youth generally
in both religious and secular knowledge; and thirdly, to print the
very early liturgies and service-books, to which the Assyrians are
much attached, which have never been published in the original, and of
which the very primitive character is shown by their freedom from
doubtful doctrine. The Mission in no way seeks to Anglicanise the
Assyrians on the one hand, nor, on the other, to condone the heresy
which separated them from the rest of Christendom or to minimise its
importance."

The English clergy are celibates, receive no stipends, and live
together, with a common purse, each receiving £25 per annum for
personal expenses.

It is not a proselytising mission. It teaches, trains, and prints. It
has one High School at Urmi for boys under seventeen, and two upon the
Urmi Plain, but the work to which these may be regarded as subsidiary
is the Urmi Upper School for priests, deacons, and candidates for holy
orders. In these four establishments there are about 200 pupils,
mostly boarders. There are also seventy-two village day-schools, and
the total attendance last year was--boys 1248, girls 225. Seventy-six
deacons and young men above seventeen are in the Upper School at Urmi.

The education given in the ordinary schools is on a level with that of
our elementary schools. In the school of St. Mary and St. John, which
contains priests, deacons, and laymen, some being mountaineers, the
subjects taught are Holy Scripture, catechism, Scripture geography,
universal history, liturgy, preaching, English, Persian, Osmanli
Turkish, arithmetic, and Old Syriac.[30] Preaching is taught
practically. A list of 100 subjects on a systematic theological plan
has been drawn up, and each week two of the deacons choose topics from
the list and write sermons upon them.

In 1887 the Mission clergy drew up a catechism containing between 200
and 300 questions, with "Scripture proofs," which the scholars in all
their schools are obliged to learn by heart.

The boys of the Urmi High School and of the Upper School board in the
mission house, and are under the constant supervision of the clergy.
Their food and habits of living are strictly Oriental. All imitations
of Western manners and customs are forbidden, the policy of the
Mission being to make the Syrians take a pride in their national
customs, which as a rule are adapted to their circumstances and
country, and to look down upon those who ape European dress and
manners. Denationalisation is fought against in every possible way.

A year and a half ago work among women was begun by four ladies of the
community of the Sisters of Bethany. The position of Syrian women, in
spite of its partial elevation by means of the Fiske Seminary, is
still very low, and within the Old Church there is an absolute
necessity for raising it, and through it the tone of the home life and
the training of children. These ladies have thirty boarders in their
school between the ages of eight and sixteen, a previous knowledge of
reading acquired in the village schools being a condition of
admission. The daily lessons consist of Bible teaching, the catechism
before referred to, ancient and modern Syriac, geography, arithmetic,
and all branches of housework and needle-work. Due regard is paid to
Syrian customs, and the picturesque Syrian costume is retained.

Since these ladies have acquired an elementary knowledge of Syriac
they have been itinerating in the Urmi villages, holding Bible
classes, giving instruction, and distributing medicines among the
sick. The ignorance and superstition of the Christian women are almost
past belief. One great difficulty which the "sisters" have to
encounter arises from the early marriages of the girls, child-brides
of eleven and twelve years old being quite common. It may reasonably
be expected that the presence and influence, the gentleness and
self-sacrifice of these refined and cultured Christian ladies will
tell most favourably upon their pupils, and strengthen with every
month of their residence in Urmi. The Moslems understand and respect
the position of voluntarily celibate women, and speak of them as
"those who have left the world."

The Mission clergy of late have striven to instruct the adult Syrian
population of the Urmi Plain by preaching among them systematically,
explaining in a very elementary manner the principles of Christianity,
and their application to the life of man. They have also set up a
printing press, and have already printed in Syriac type a number of
school books, the Catechism, the _Liturgy of the Apostles_, the most
venerable of the Syrian Liturgical documents, the _Second_ and _Third
Liturgies_, the _Baptismal Office_, ancient and modern Syriac
grammars, and a Lectionary.

It is the earnest hope of the promoters of this Mission that if this
ancient Oriental church, once the first mission agency in the world,
can be reformed and enlightened, she may yet be the means of
evangelising the two great sects of Moslems by means of missionaries
akin to them in customs, character, and habits of thought--"Orientals
to Orientals."

The subject of Christian missions in Persia is a very interesting one,
and many thoughtful minds are asking whether Christianity is likely to
be a factor in the future of the Empire? As things are, no direct
efforts to convert Moslems to Christianity can be made, for the death
penalty for apostasy is not legally abolished, and even if it were,
popular fanaticism would vent itself upon proselytes. It must be
recognised that the Christian missionary is a disturbing element in
Persia. He is tolerated, not welcomed, and tolerated only while his
efforts to detach people from the national faith are futile. Missions
have been in operation in Persia for more than fifty years, and
probably at the present time there are over seventy-five missionaries
at work in the country. If the value of their work were to be judged
of by the number of Moslem converts they have made it must be
pronounced an _absolute failure_.

The result of the impossibility of making any direct attack upon Islam
is that these excellent men and women are at present ostensibly
engaged in the attempt to purify the faith and practice of the Syrian
and Armenian churches, to enlighten their members religiously and
intellectually, and to Christianise the Jews, waiting patiently for
the time when an aggressive movement against Islam may be possible. In
the meantime the Holy Scriptures are being widely disseminated; the
preacher of Christianity itinerates among the villages, the Christian
religion is greatly discussed, and missionary physicians, the true
pioneers of the faith, are modifying by their personal influence the
opposition to the progress of the missionaries with whom they are
associated.

On the whole, and in spite of slow progress and the apparently
insurmountable difficulties presented by hostility or indifference, I
believe that Christian missions in Persia, especially by their
educational agencies and the circulation of the Bible, are producing
an increasing under-current, tending towards secular as well as
religious progress, and are gaining an ever-growing influence, so
that, lamentably slow as the advance of Christianity is, its prospects
cannot justly be overlooked in considering the probable future of
Persia.[31]


FOOTNOTES:

[26] The name of the town and lake is spelt variously Urmi, Urumi,
Urumiya, Ourmia, and Oroomiah. The Moslems call it Urumi, and the
Christians Urmi, to which spelling I have adhered.

[27] At the present time, when the persecution of the _Stundists_ in
Russia is attracting considerable attention, it may interest my
readers to hear that one of the earliest promoters of the _Stundist_
movement was Yacub Dilakoff, a Syrian, and a graduate of the Old
American College. He went to Russia thirty years ago, and was so
horrified at the ignorance and gross superstition of the peasantry
that he studied Russian in the hope of enlightening them, and to aid
his purpose became an itinerant hawker of Bibles. The "common people
heard him gladly," and among both the Orthodox and the Lutherans
prayer unions were formed, from which those who frequented them
received the name by which they are known, from _stunde_, hour.

Dilakoff, whom the _Stundists_ love to call "our Bishop," has been
thrown into prison several times, but on his liberation began to teach
among the sect of the _Molokans_ in the Crimea and on the Volga with
such success that sixteen congregations have been formed among them.
His zeal has since carried him to the _Molokan_ colonies on the Amoor,
where he has been preaching and teaching for three years with such
remarkable results as to have received the title of "a Modern
Apostle."

[28] In twenty-eight years after its establishment a conference of
bishops, presbyters, and deacons, all of whom had received ordination
in the Old Church, with preachers, elders, and missionaries, met and
deliberated. "This conference adopted its own confession, form of
government, and discipline----at first very simple. Some things were
taken from the canons and rituals of the Old Church, others from the
usages of Protestant Churches. The traditions of the Old Church were
respected to some extent; for example, no influence has induced the
native brethren to remit the diaconate to a mere service in
temporalities. The deacons are a preaching order."

Of the subsequent history of this church the same authority writes as
follows:----

"The missionaries in 1835 were welcomed by the ecclesiastics and
people, and for many years an honest effort was made to reform the old
body" (the Syrian Church) "without destroying its organisation. This
effort failed, and a new church was gradually formed for the following
reasons----

"(1) _Persecution._ The patriarch did all in his power to destroy the
Evangelical work. He threatened, beat, and imprisoned the teachers and
converts, and made them leave his fold. (2) _Lack of discipline._ The
converts could no longer accept unscriptural practices and rank abuses
that prevailed, and it became evident that there was no method to
reform them. At every effort the rent was made worse. (3) _Lack of
teaching._ The converts asked for better care, and purer and better
teaching and means of grace than they found in the dead language,
rituals, and ordinances of the Old Church.

"The missionaries were slow in abandoning the hope that the Nestorian
Church would become reformed and purified; but their hope was in vain,
their efforts therefore have been not to proselytise, but to leaven
the whole people with Christian truth. The separation was made in no
spirit of hostility or controversy. There was no violent disruption.
The missionaries have never published a word against the Old Church
ecclesiastics or its polity.

"The ordination of the Old Church has always been accepted as valid.
The missionaries and the evangelical bishops have sometimes joined in
the ordination services, and it would be difficult to draw the line
when the Episcopal ordination ceased and the Presbyterian began in the
Reformed body.

"The relation of the Presbyterian mission work to the old
ecclesiastics is thus something different from that found among any
other Eastern Christians. The Patriarch in office fifty years ago was
at first very friendly to the missionaries, and personally aided in
superintending the building of mission houses. Subsequently he did all
in his power to break up the mission. The Patriarch now in office has
taken the attitude of neutrality, with frequent indications of
fairness and friendliness toward our work.

"The next in ecclesiastical rank is the Mattran (Syriac for
Metropolitan), the only one left of the twenty-five Metropolitans
named in the thirteenth century. The present incumbent recently made
distinct overtures to our Evangelical Church to come to an
understanding by establishing the scriptural basis of things
essential, and allowing liberty in things non-essential. He fails,
perhaps, to understand all the scriptural issues between us, but he
has a sincere desire to walk uprightly and to benefit his people.

"Of the bishops, three have been united with the Reform, and died in
the Evangelical Church. The three bishops in Kurdistan are friendly,
and give their influence in favour of our schools.

"A large majority of the priests or presbyters of the Old Church, in
Persia at least, joined the Reform movement, and as large a proportion
of the deacons. In all, nearly seventy of the priests have laboured
with the mission as teachers, preachers, or pastors, and more than
half of these continue, and are members of our Synod. In some places
the Reform has gathered nearly all the population within its
influence. In many places it is not unusual to find half the
population in our winter services. On the other hand, there are many
places where the ecclesiastics are immoral and opposed, and ignorance
and vice abound, and the Reform moves very slowly."

[29] "By God's help: (1) To raise up and restore a fallen Eastern
Church to take her place again amongst the Churches of Christendom.
(2) To infuse spiritual life into a church which the oppression of
centuries has reduced to a state of weakness and ignorance. (3) To
give the Chaldæan or Assyrian Christians (_a_) a religious education
on the broad principles of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
(_b_) a secular education calculated to fit them for their state of
life, the common mistakes and dangers of over-education and of
Europeanising education being most carefully guarded against. (4) To
train up the native clergy, by means of schools and seminaries, to be
worthy to serve before God in their high vocation, and to rise to
their responsibilities as leaders and teachers of the people in their
villages. (5) To build schools, of which at present there are none,
owing to the extreme poverty and misery of the people. (6) To aid the
Patriarch and Bishops by counsel, by encouragement, and by active
support. (7) To reorganise the Chaldæan Church upon her ancient lines,
to set in motion the ecclesiastical machinery now rusty through
disuse, and to revive religious discipline amongst clergy and laity.
(8) To print the ancient Chaldæan service-books. They are now only in
MS., and the number of copies is totally insufficient for the supply
of the parish churches."

[30] "_Old Syriac_ as a lesson means reading portions of Holy
Scripture, and translating them into modern Syriac."

[31] The absolute fact, however, is that Christian nations have not
shown any zeal in communicating the blessings of Christianity to
Persia and Southern Turkey. England has sent two missions--one to
Baghdad, the other to Julfa. America has five mission stations in
Northern and Western Persia, but not one in Southern Turkey or Arabia.

The populous shores of the Persian Gulf, the great tribes of the
plains of the Tigris and Euphrates, the Ilyats of Persia, the
important cities of Shiraz, Yezd, Meshed, Kashan, Kûm, Kirmanshah, and
all Southern, Eastern, and Western Persia (excepting Hamadan and
Urmi), are untouched by Christian effort! Propagandism on a scale so
contemptible impresses intelligent Moslems as a sham, and is an injury
to the Christianity which it professes to represent.



LETTER XXVII


URMI, _Oct. 14_.

Very few European travellers visit Urmi and its magnificent plain, the
"Paradise of Persia," though it is only 112 miles from Tabriz. Gardens
come up to the city walls, and the plain, about fifty miles long by
eighteen broad, is cultivated throughout, richly wooded, very
populous, and bounded on the east not by a desert with its aridity,
but by the blue waters of the Urmi Sea, and on the west by the
magnificent mountains of Kurdistan. The city is some miles to the west
of the lake.

Urmi is on the whole very pretty and in good repair. The Christian
quarter is almost handsome, well built and substantial, and the houses
are generally faced with red bricks. The bazars are large and well
supplied, and trade is active. The walls and gateways are in good
repair, and so is the deep ditch, which can be filled with water,
which surrounds them. Every gate is approached by an avenue of noble
_elægnus_ and other fruit trees. The gardens within the walls are very
fine, and orchards and vineyards, planes and poplars testify to the
abundance of water and the excellent method of its distribution. The
altitude is stated at 4400 feet. The estimate of the population varies
from 12,000 to 20,000.

Though the Sea of Urmi receives fourteen rivers, some of them by no
means insignificant, and has no known outlet, it recedes rather
steadily, leaving bare a soil of exceeding richness, and acres of
dazzling salt. It has very few boats, and none suited for passenger
traffic. Its waters are so salt that fish cannot live in them.

The antiquarian interests of Urmi consist in the semi-subterranean
Syrian church of Mart-Mariam, said to have been built by the Magi on
their return from Bethlehem! a tower and mosque of Arab architecture
seven centuries old, and some great mounds outside the walls, from
sixty to one hundred feet in height, composed entirely of ashes,
marking the site of the altars at which the rites of one of the purest
of the ancient faiths were celebrated. As the birthplace of Zoroaster,
and for several subsequent ages the sacred city of the Fire
Worshippers and the scene of the restoration of the Mithraic rites,
Urmi must always remain interesting.

The Christian population of the city is not very large, though it is
estimated that there are 20,000 Syrian Christians in the villages of
the plain. The city Syrians are mostly well-to-do people, who have
come into Urmi to practise trades. The best carpenters, as well as the
best photographers and tailors, are Syrians, and though in times past
the Moslems refused to buy from the Christians on the ground that
things made by them are unclean, the prejudice is passing away.

There is a deputy-governor called the _Serperast_, whose duty it is to
deal with the Christians. The office seems to have been instituted for
their protection at the instigation of the British Government, but the
Europeans regard it simply as a means of oppression and extortion, and
desire its abolition. Canon Maclean goes so far as to say, "The
multiplication of judges in Persia means the multiplication of
injustice, and of the number of persons who can extort money from the
unfortunate people." The _Serperast_ depends chiefly for his living
and for keeping up a staff of servants on what he can get out of the
Christians in the way of fines and bribes, and consequently he
foments quarrels and encourages needless litigation on all hands, the
Syrians being by all accounts one of the most litigious of peoples.

I write of the Christians of Urmi and its plain as Syrians because
that is the name by which they call themselves. We know them at home
as _Nestorians_, but this is a nickname given to them by outsiders,
and I know of no reason why we should use a nomenclature which
attaches to a nation the stigma of an ancient "heresy." They are
sometimes called Chaldæans,[32] and the present Archbishop of
Canterbury has brought into currency the term "Assyrians," which,
however, is never used by themselves, or by any Orientals in speaking
of them. The Moslems apply the name Nasara (Nazarenes) solely to the
Syrian Christians. They claim that Christianity was introduced among
them by the Magi on their return from Bethlehem. The highest estimate
of their numbers is 120,000, and of these more than 80,000 are in
Turkey. The Persian Syrians inhabit the flat country, chiefly the
plains of Urmi and Salmas, where the fertile lands are most carefully
cultivated by their industry.

In my last letter I remarked upon the prosperity and garden-like
appearance of the Urmi Plain. Its 20,000 Syrian inhabitants usually
live in separate villages from the Kurds, Persians, and Armenians, and
are surrounded on all sides by Moslems of the Shiah sect. The
landlords or Aghas of their villages are generally Moslems, who govern
their tenants in something of feudal style. Land is a favourite
investment in Persia, and owing to the industrious habits of the
Syrians, the "Agha-ship" of their villages commands a high price. The
Aghas often oppress the peasants, but the tenure of houses is fairly
secure, and according to Canon Maclean, to whom I am indebted for my
information, a system much like the Scotch feuing system (though
without feu charters) is in force. If a man wishes to build a house he
takes a present of a few sugar-loaves or a few _krans_ with him, and
applies to an Agha for a site. After it is granted he pays an annual
ground rent of 4s. 9d., but he can build his house as he pleases, and
it cannot be taken from him so long as he pays his ground rent.
Moreover, he can sell the house and give a title-deed to the
purchaser, with the sole restriction that the new possessor must
become a vassal of the Agha.

In addition to the payment of the ground rent, the tenant is taxed
annually by the Agha for every female buffalo 2s., for every cow 1s.,
and for every ewe and she-goat 6d., after they have begun to bear
young. The Agha also receives from each householder annually two
fowls, a load of _kiziks_, some eggs, three days' labour or the price
of it, and a fee on every occasion of a marriage. Each house pays also
a tax of 8d. a year and gives a present of firewood to the _Serperast_
of Urmi, the Mussulman governor of the Christians. In his turn the
Agha pays to the Shah from a third to a half of the total taxation.

A village-house, even when built of sun-dried bricks, rarely costs
more than £35, and often not the half of that sum.[33] The great
feature of a Syrian dwelling is what is called emphatically "the
house"; the combined living-room, bedroom, smoking-room, kitchen,
bakery, and workroom of one or more families. This room cannot possess
a _balakhana_, as its openings for light and air are in the roof. A
stable, store-rooms, and granary are attached to it.

Vineyards are the chief reliance of the Syrians of the Urmi Plain,
their produce, whether as grapes, raisins, or wine, being always
marketable. They are held on the same tenure as the houses, and as
long as the vine-stocks remain in the ground, and the ground rent,
which is 7s. a year for the _tanap_, a piece of ground 256 yards
square, is paid, the tenant cannot be evicted. Where vineyards are
sub-let for a year a fair rent is from 10s. to 12s. a _tanap_. If a
tenant buys a property from an Agha the yearly taxation is 5s. a
_tanap_; grass fields and orchards are held on the same tenure as
vineyards, and at the same rent. With ploughed land the case is
different. If the tenant provides the seed, etc., he gives the Agha a
third of the produce, and if the Agha provides seed the tenant returns
two-thirds. The tenant of ploughed land may be changed annually.

This paying the rent in kind is going on just now in every village,
and the Aghas secure themselves against dishonesty by requiring that
the grain shall be threshed on their floors. In addition, their
servants watch night and day by turns, in an erection similar to the
"lodge in a garden of cucumbers" or melons, an arbour of boughs
perched at a height of seven or eight feet upon four poles. The
landlord's _nasr_ appears at intervals to take away his master's share
of the grain. It is all delightfully primitive.

The arrangements sound equitable, the taxes are moderate, and in some
respects the Christians are not more victimised by their landlords
than are their Mohammedan neighbours. The people acknowledge readily
that as regards oppression they are much better off than they were,
and that in this respect the presence of the American missionaries in
Urmi has been of the greatest advantage to them, for these gentlemen
never fail to represent any gross case of oppression _which can be
thoroughly substantiated_ to the Governor of Urmi, or in the last
resort to the Governor of Azerbijan. The oppressions exercised by the
Aghas consist in taking extra taxes, demanding labour without wages,
and carrying off Christian girls for their _harams_. The laws which
affect Christians specially and injuriously are--

1. That the evidence of a Christian is not received against a
Mussulman.

2. That if any member of a Christian family becomes a Moslem, he or
she becomes entitled to claim the whole property of the "house," which
as often as not consists of two or three families. The apostatising
member of a household is usually a girl, who either falls in love with
or is carried off by a young Mohammedan, who declares truly or falsely
that she has embraced his creed. A good governor is careful in these
matters, and in some cases gives the girl only her share of the family
property, but a bad governor may at any time carry out the law, or use
it as a means for extorting ruinous bribes.[34]

Every Christian man above the age of sixteen pays a poll tax of 3s.
annually for exemption from military service, but from this impost the
headman of a village, who is at once its tax-gatherer and its
spokesman, is free. He ranks next to the priest, and is treated by
the villagers with considerable respect. I have found the Syrian
_kokhas_ as polite and obliging as the Persian _ketchudas_.

Although the Persian Government has been tolerably successful in
subduing the Kurds within its territory, the Christians of the slopes
of the Urmi Plain are exposed to great losses of sheep and cattle from
Kurdish mountaineers, who (it is said) cross the Turkish frontier, and
return into Turkey with their booty.[35]

The American and English missionaries do not paint the Syrians
_couleur de rose_, though the former during their long residence in
the country must have lifted up several hundreds to the blessings of a
higher life, and these in rising themselves must have exercised an
unconscious influence on their brethren. Since I came I have seen
several women whose tone would bear comparison with that of the best
among ourselves, and who owe it gratefully to the training and
influence of the Fiske Seminary. I like the women much better than the
men.

The Christians complain terribly of the way in which "justice" is
administered, and doubtless nothing can be worse, but the Europeans
say that the people bring much of its hardship upon themselves by
their frightful litigiousness, and their habit of going to law about
the veriest trifles. Intense avarice seems to be a characteristic of
the Syrians of the Persian plains, and they fully share with other
Orientals in the failings of untruthfulness and untrustworthiness.
They are said to be very drunken as well as grossly ignorant and
superstitious, and the abuses and unutterable degradation of their
church perpetuate all that is bad in the national character. The
women are spoken of as chaste, and some of the worst forms of vice are
happily unknown among the Syrians, though they are practised by the
Moslems around them. Their hospitality, their sufferings for the
faith, and their family attachment are justly to be reckoned among
their virtues, but on the whole I think that the extraordinary
interest attaching to them, and which I feel very strongly myself, is
due rather to their Past than to their Present.

On this plain the dress of the men is much assimilated to that of the
Persians, but the women wear their national costume. The under-garment
is a coloured shirt, over which is worn a sleeved waistcoat of a
different colour, and above this is an open-fronted coat reaching to
the knees. Loose trousers, so full as to look like a petticoat, are
worn, and frequently an apron and a heavy silver belt are added. The
head-dress is very becoming, and consists of a raised cap of cloth or
silk, embroidered or jewelled, with a white muslin veil over it and
the head, but the face is exposed, except in the case of married
women, who draw a part of the veil over the mouth. It is not proper
that the hair should be seen.

There is something strikingly Biblical about their customs and speech.
At dinner at Geog-tapa I noticed that it is a mark of friendship for a
man to dip a piece of bread (a sop) into the soup and give it to
another, a touching reminiscence. A priest is greeted with "Hail,
Master," a teacher is addressed as "Rabban," the salutation is "Peace
be with you," and such words as _Talitha cumi_ and _Ephphatha_
occasionally startle the ear in the midst of unintelligible speech,
suggesting that the Aramaic of our Lord's day was very near akin to
the old Syriac, of which the present vernacular is a development. As
among the Moslems, pious phrases are common. A Syrian receiving a
kindness often replies, "May God give you the kingdom of Heaven," and
when a man makes a purchase, or enters on a new house, or puts on a
new garment, it is customary to say to him, "May God bless your house,
your garment," etc. A child learning the letters of the alphabet is
taught to say at the close, "Glory to Christ our King." A copyist
begins his manuscript by writing within an ornamental margin, "In the
strength of our Lord Jesus Christ we begin to write," and a man
entering on a piece of work honours the Apostolic command by saying,
"If the Lord will I shall accomplish it."[36] My friends tell me that
I shall find the Syrians of the mountains a different people, and a
mountaineer is readily recognised in the streets by the beauty and
picturesqueness of his dress.

The eight days in Urmi have been a very pleasant whirl, a continual
going to and fro between the College and the Fiske Seminary, the
English clergy house and the Sisters' house, receiving Syrian visitors
at home and holding a reception for them in the city, calling on the
Governor, visiting the English upper school, where deacons, in the
beautiful Syrian costume, with daggers in their girdles, look more
like bandits than theological students, and spending a day at
Geog-tapa, where I saw Shamasha Khananeshoo's (Deacon Abraham's)
orphanage, dined with him and his charming wife, and a number of other
Syrians in Syrian style, and went to the crowded Geog-tapa church,
where the part of the floor occupied by the women looked like a
brilliant tulip-bed. Here, in the middle of the service, the _Qasha_
or priest said that the people, especially the women, were very
anxious to know for what reason I was travelling, to which evidence of
an enlightened curiosity I returned a reply through an interpreter,
and reminded them of the glories of their historic church and its
missionary fervour.

Geog-tapa (_cerulean hill_) possesses one of the largest of the
Zoroastrian mounds of ashes. It is a pity that these are not
protected, and that the villagers are allowed to carry away the soil
for manure, and to break up the walls and cells (?) which are imbedded
in them for building materials. This vandalism has brought to notice
various curious relics, such as earthenware vessels of small size and
unique shape, and a stone tomb containing a human skeleton, with
several copper spikes from four to five inches long driven into its
skull. In another mound, at some distance from this one, a large
earthen sarcophagus was discovered, also containing a skeleton with
long nails driven into its skull.

Deacon Abraham's work is on the right lines, being conducted entirely
by Syrians. It is most economically managed, and the children are
trained in the simple habits of Syrian peasants. The religious
instruction is bright and simple. The boys receive an elementary
education, a practical training in agriculture on some lands belonging
to the Orphanage, and in various useful handicrafts. As much of the
money for the support of this work is raised in England, it is
satisfactory to know that the accounts are carefully audited by the
American missionaries.

The days have flown by, for, in addition to the social whirl, I have
been occupied in attempts, only partially successful, to provide
myself with necessaries for the journey, and in an endeavour,
altogether unsuccessful, to replace Johannes by a trustworthy servant.
The kind friends here have lent me a few winter garments out of their
slender stock, and have helped me in every way.

It has been most difficult to get _charvadars_. The country on the
other side of the frontier is said to be "unsettled," no Persians
will go by the route that I wish to take, and two sets of Kurds, after
making agreements to carry my loads, have disappeared. Various Syrians
have come down from the mountains with stories of Kurdish raids on
their sheep and cattle, but as such things are always going on, and
the impression that "things are much worse than usual" does not rest
on any ascertained basis, my friends do not advise me to give up the
journey to Kochanes, and I am just starting _en route_ for Trebizond.
I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[32] A name usually applied to the Roman Uniats at Mosul.

[33] The mode of building mud houses was described in Letter VI. vol.
i. p. 149.

[34] Dr. Labaree, whose experience stretches back for thirty years,
writes of the races under Persian rule in the Province of Azerbijan in
the following terms: "The Nestorians and Armenians of Persia in common
with their Mohammedan neighbours suffer from the evil forms of society
and government which have been bequeathed to them from the earliest
dawnings of history. Landlordism in its worst forms bears sway. The
poor _rayat_ or tenant must pay his landlord one-half or two-thirds of
all the produce of his farm. Aside from his poll tax he must pay a tax
on his house, his hayfields, and his fruit trees, and on all his stock
with the exception of the oxen with which he tills the soil. But this
is not all. He is virtually at the mercy of his Agha, which translated
literally means master, a word which most correctly describes the
relation of the landlord to his peasants. By law he may require from
each of his _rayats_ three days of labour without pay. In reality he
makes them work for him as much as he sees fit. He helps himself to
what he pleases whenever he makes them a visit. He sells them grain
and flour above the market price. He ties them up and beats them for
slight offences. And to all this and much else must the poor peasant
submit for fear of worse persecutions if he complains. In these
respects Moslem, Christian, and Jew suffer alike."

[35] Later, I heard the same accusation brought against the Persian
Kurds by a high official in Constantinople.

[36] The national customs of the Syrians are endless, and in many ways
very interesting. They are treated very fully in a scarce volume
called _Residence in Persia among the Nestorians_, by Dr. Justin
Perkins.



FAREWELL IMPRESSIONS OF PERSIA


In the letters by which this chapter is preceded few general opinions
have been expressed on Persia, its government, and its people, but now
that I contemplate them with some regard to perspective, and have
reversed some of my earlier and hastier judgments, I will, with the
reader's permission, give some of the impressions formed during a
journey extending over nine months, chiefly in the western and
south-western portions of the Empire.

On the pillared plain of Persepolis, on the bull-flanked portals which
tower above the Hall of Xerxes, the Palace of Darius, and the
stairways with the sculptured bas-reliefs, which portray the
magnificence, the military triumphs, and the religious ceremonial of
the greatest of the Persian monarchs, runs the stately inscription: "I
am Xerxes the King, the Great King, the King of Kings, the King of the
many-peopled countries, the Upholder of the Great World, the son of
Darius the King, the Achæmenian"; and on the tablets on the rock of
Besitun is inscribed in language as august the claim of Darius the
Mede to a dominion which in his day was regarded as nearly universal.

The twenty-four centuries which have passed since these claims were
made have seen the ruin of the Palace-Temples of Persepolis, the
triumph of Islam over Zoroastrianism, the devastating sweep of the
hordes of Taimurlane and other semi-barbaric conquerors, the
destruction of ancient art and frontiers, and the compression of the
Empire within comparatively narrow limits.

Still, these limits include an area about thrice the size of France,
the sovereign has reassumed the title of King of Kings, Persia takes
her own place--and that not a low one--in the comity of nations, and
the genuine Persians retain vitality enough to compel the allegiance
of the numerically important tribes included within their frontiers,
though scarcely more than 30,000 soldiers are with the colours at any
given time.

Still, under a land system fourteen centuries old, Persia produces
cereals enough for home consumption with a surplus for export; her
peasants are thrifty and industrious, and their methods of tillage,
though among the most ancient on earth, are well adapted to their
present needs and the conditions of soil and climate.

Her merchants are able and enterprising, and her sagacious liberality
in the toleration of Christians and Jews has added strength to her
commercial position.

Though she has lost the high order of civilisation which she possessed
centuries before Christ, she has in no sense relapsed into barbarism,
and on the whole good order and security prevail.

The condition of modern Persia has to be studied along with that of
the configuration of the country. The traveller through Khorasan and
Seistan, from the Gulf to Yezd, or from Bushire to Tihran, views it as
a sparsely-peopled region--a desert with an occasional oasis, and
legitimately describes it as such. The traveller through the
"Bakhtiari mountains," and from Burujird through Western Persia up to
the Sea of Urmi, seeing the superb pasturages and perennial streams of
the Zard-Kuh, the Sabz-Kuh, and the Kuh-i-Rang, and the vast area of
careful cultivation, sprinkled with towns and villages, which extends
from a few miles north of Burujird to the walls of Urmi and far
beyond, may with equal fidelity describe it as a land of abounding
waters, a peopled and well-watered garden.

The direction of my journey has been fully indicated. It is only from
the descriptions of others that I know anything of the arid wastes of
Eastern Persia or of the moist and malarious provinces bordering on
the Caspian Sea, with their alluvial valleys and rice grounds, and
their jungle and forest-covered mountains, or of the verdureless
plains and steppes of Kerman and Laristan.

Persia proper, the country which has supplied the race which has
evinced such a remarkable vitality and historic continuity, may be
described as a vast plateau from 3500 to 6000 feet in altitude,
extending on the east into Afghanistan, on the north-west into
Armenia, and overlooking the Caspian to the north, and the Persian
Gulf and the vast levels of Mesopotamia to the south and south-west.

To reach this platform from the south, lofty ranges, which include the
_kotals_ of Shiraz, must be crossed. From the Tigris valley on the
west it is only accessible by surmounting the Zagros chain and lesser
ranges; and to attain it from the north the traveller must climb the
rocky pathways of the Elburz mountains. This great "Iranian plateau,"
except in Eastern Persia, is intersected both by mountain ranges and
detached mountain masses, which store up in their sunless hollows the
snowfall on which all Persian agriculture depends, the rainfall being
so scanty as to be of little practical value.

Thus the possibility of obtaining supplies of water from the melting
snows dictates the drift of population, and it seems unlikely that the
plains of Eastern Persia, where no such supplies exist, were ever more
populous than now. It was otherwise with parts of Central Persia, now
lying waste, for the remains of canals and _kanaats_ attest that a
process of local depopulation has been going on. It is the
configuration of the country rather than anything else which accounts
for the unpeopled wastes in some directions, and the constant
succession of towns and populous villages in others.

Of the population thus distributed along hill slopes and on the plains
at the feet of the ranges, there is no accurate record, and the total
has been variously estimated at from six to nine millions. Estimates
of the urban and village populations were in most cases supplied to me
by the Persian local officials, but from these I am convinced that it
is necessary to make a very liberal deduction. General Schindler, a
gentleman for some years in the Persian Government service, who has
travelled over a great part of Persia with the view of ascertaining
its resources and condition, in the year 1885 estimated its population
at 7,653,000. In his analysis the Christian and the Bakhtiari and
Feili Lur populations are, according to present information, greatly
under-estimated.

If I may venture to hazard an opinion, after travelling over a
considerable area of Western Persia, it would be that the higher
estimate is nearest the mark, for the natural increase in time of
peace, as accepted by statists, is three-quarters per cent per annum,
and Persia has had peace and freedom from famine for very many
years.[37]

The country population consists of _rayats_ or permanent cultivators,
and Ilyats or nomadic pastoral tribes. Coal-fields and lead and iron
may hereafter produce commercial centres, but the industry of Persia
at present may be said to be nearly altogether agricultural.

The settled peasant population, so far as I am able to judge, is well
fed and fairly well clothed, and the habitations suit the climate. The
people are poor, but not with the poverty of Europe--that is, except
in famine years, there is no scarcity of the necessaries of life, with
the single exception of fuel.

The wages of the agricultural labourer vary from 5d. a day with food
to 9d. without; a skilled mason earns 1s. 6d., a carpenter 1s. 4d.
Men-servants get from 17s. to £2 per month, nominally without board,
but with _modakel_ and other pickings; female servants much less.
Prices are, however, low. Clothing, tea, coffee, and sugar cost about
the same as in Europe. The cotton worn by the poor is very cheap.
Wheat, which is sold by weight, costs at harvest-time from 7s. 6d. to
15s. per load of 320 lbs. I have been told by several cultivators that
a man can live and bring up an average family on something under £6 a
year.

I did not see anything like "grinding poverty" in the villages. If it
existed, the old and helpless could scarcely be supported by their
relatives, and the women, in spite of the seclusion of custom and
faith, would be compelled to work in the fields, a "barbarism" which I
never saw in Persia among Moslems.

In both town and country the working classes appeared to me to be as
comfortable and, on the whole, as happy as people in the same
condition in life in most other countries, with the exception, and
that not a small one, of their liability to official exactions. The
peasants are grossly ignorant, hardy, dirty, bigoted, domestic,
industrious, avaricious, sober, and tractable, and ages of misrule
have developed in them many of the faults of oppressed Oriental
peoples. Of the country outside of the district in which they live
they usually know nothing, they detest the local governors, but to
the Shah they willingly owe, and are ready to pay, a right loyal
allegiance.

My impression of the Persians of the trading and agricultural classes
is that they are thoroughly unwarlike, fairly satisfied if they are
let alone, unpatriotic, and apparently indifferent to the prospect of
a Russian "occupation." Their bearing is independent rather than
manly; their religious feelings are strong and easily offended; their
sociability and love of fun come out strongly in the freedom of their
bazars. Europeans do not meet with anything of the grovelling
deference to which we are accustomed in India. If there be
obsequiousness in stereotyped phraseology, there is none in manner. We
are treated courteously as strangers, but are made to feel that we are
in no wise essential to the well-being of the country, and a European
traveller without introductions to the Provincial authorities finds
himself a very insignificant person indeed.

Governors and the governed are one. They understand each other, and
are of one creed, and there is no ruling alien race to interfere with
ancient custom or freedom of action, or to wound racial
susceptibilities with every touch. Even the traditional infamies of
administration are expected and understood by those whom they chiefly
concern.

The rich men congregate chiefly in the cities. It is very rare to find
any but the poorer Khans, Aghas or proprietors of villages, men little
removed from the peasants around them, living on their own properties.
The wealthy _Seigneur_, the lord of many villages, resides in Tihran,
Kirmanshah, or Isfahan; pays a _nasr_, who manages his estate and
fleeces his tenants, and spends his revenues himself on urban
pleasures. The purchase of villages and their surrounding lands is a
favourite investment. This system of absenteeism not only prevents
that friendly contact between landowner and peasant which is such a
desirable feature of proprietorship, but it leaves the villages
exposed to the exactions of the _nasr_, and without a semblance of
protection from the rapacious demands of the provincial authorities.
It is noteworthy that fortunes made in trade are seeking investment in
land.

The upper classes in Persia appear to me to differ widely from
Orientals, as they are supposed to be, and often really are. They love
life intensely, fill it with enjoyment, and neither regard existence
as a task to be toiled through nor as a burden to be got rid of.
Handsome, robust, restless, intelligent, imaginative, accumulative,
vivacious, polished in manner and speech, many of them excellent
linguists, well acquainted with their own literature, especially with
their poets; lavish, alike in expenditure on personal luxuries and in
charity to the poor; full of artistic instincts, and loving to
surround themselves with the beautiful, inquisitive, adaptable;
addicted to sport and out-of-doors life, untruthful both from
hereditary suspiciousness and excess of courtesy--the Persian
gentleman has an individuality of his own which is more nearly akin to
the French or Russian than to the Oriental type.

My impressions of the morals both of the Persian peasantry and the
Bakhtiari Lurs are, as to some points, rather favourable than the
reverse, and I think and hope that there is as much domestic affection
and fidelity as is compatible with a religion which more or less
effectually secures the degradation of woman. The morals of the upper
classes are, I believe, very easy. In various carefully written
papers, one of them at least official, very painful glimpses have been
given incidentally into the state of Persian upper-class morality, and
undoubtedly the intrigues of the _andarun_ are as unfavourable to
purity as they are to happiness.

For the traveller the greater part of Persian territory is absolutely
safe. I have ridden on horseback through it at every season of the
year, in some regions without an escort, in others with Persian or
Kurdish guards supplied by the local authorities, and was never
actually the victim of any form of robbery, except the pilfering from
an unguarded tent. Though travelling with only an Indian servant, I
found the provincial authorities everywhere courteous, and ready to
aid my journey by every means within their power, though in Persia as
elsewhere I never claimed, and indeed never received, any special
favour on the ground of sex.

A few darker shadows remain to be put in. There is no education truly
so called for Persians, except in Tihran, and under the existing
system the next generation is not likely to be more enlightened than
the present. All the towns and the larger villages possess mosque
schools, in which the highest education bestowed is a smattering of
Arabic and a knowledge of the tales of _Saadi_. The Persian characters
are taught, and some attention is paid to caligraphy, for a man who
can write well is sure to make a fair living. The parrot-like reading
of the Koran in Arabic is the _summum bonum_ of the teaching. Very few
of the boys in the village schools learn to write, but if a clever lad
aspires to be a _mirza_ or secretary he pays great attention to the
formation of the Persian characters, and acquires that knowledge of
compliment, phrase, and trope which is essential to his proposed
calling.

Pleading, waiting, and the elements of arithmetic are usual among the
bazar class and merchants, but with the rest the slight knowledge of
reading acquired in childhood is soon forgotten, and the ability to
repeat a few verses from the Koran and a few prayers in Arabic is all
that remains of the mosque school "education." School discipline is
severe, and the rope and pulley and bastinado are used as instruments
of punishment.

A few young men in the cities, who are destined to be _mollahs_,
_hak[=i]ms_, or lawyers, proceed to the _Medressehs_ or Colleges,
where they acquire a thorough knowledge of Arabic, do some desultory
reading, and "hang on" to their teachers, at whose feet they literally
sit on all occasions, and after a few years have been spent in rather
a profitless way they usually find employment.

Government _employés_, courtiers, the higher officers in the army,
diplomats, and sons of wealthy Khans receive the rudiments of a
liberal education in the College at Tihran, where they frequently
acquire a very creditable knowledge of French.

The admirable schools established by the American and English
missionaries at Urmi, Tihran, Tabriz, Hamadan, and Julfa affect only
the Armenians and Syrians and a few Jews and Zoroastrians. Outside of
these there is neither intellectual nor moral training, and even the
simplest duties of life, such as honesty, truthfulness, and regard for
contract, are never inculcated.

It may be supposed that in conformity with the Moslem axiom, "not to
open the eyes of a woman too wide," the bulk of Persian women are not
thought worthy of any education at all. A few of the daughters of rich
men can read the Koran, but without comprehending it, and can both
read and recite poetry.

Throughout the country, law, that is the _Urf_ or unwritten law, a
mass of precedents and traditions orally handed down and administered
by secular judges--is not held in any respect at all, and while the
rich can override it by bribery, the poor regard it only as a
commodity which is bought and sold, and which they are too poor to
buy.

The other department of Persian law, the _Sh[=a]hr_, which is based
upon the Koran, and is administered by religious teachers, takes
cognisance chiefly of civil cases, and its administration is nearly as
corrupt as that of the _Urf_. Law, in the sense in which we understand
it, as the avenger of wrong and the sublimely impartial protector of
individual rights and liberties, has no existence at all in Persia.

The curse of the country is venal mal-administration. It meets one at
every turn, and in protean shapes. There is no official conscience,
and no public opinion to act as a check upon official
unscrupulousness. Of Government as an institution for the good of the
governed there is no conception. The greed, which is among the most
painful features of Persian character, finds its apotheosis in
officialism. From the lowest to the highest rounds of the official
ladder unblushing bribery is the _modus operandi_ of promotion.

It is very obvious that the Shah himself is the Government. He is an
absolute despot, subject to no controlling influences but the
criticisms of the European press, and the demands of the European
Legations. He is the sole executive. His ministers are but servants of
the highest grade, whose duties consist in carrying out his orders.
The lives and properties of all his subjects are held only at his
pleasure. His sons are but his tools, to be raised or degraded at his
will, and the same may be said of the highest personages in the
Empire. The Shah is the State,--irresponsible and all-powerful.

Nasr-ed-Din is a most diligent ruler. No pleasures, not even the
chase, to which he is devoted, divert his attention from business. He
takes the initiative in all policy, guides with a firm hand the
destinies of Persia, supervises every department, appoints directly to
all offices of importance, and by means known to absolute rulers has
his eyes in every part of his dominions. He is regarded as a very
able man,--his European travels have made him to some extent an
enlightened one.

His reign of forty-two years has been disfigured, especially in its
earlier portion, by some acts which we should regard as great crimes,
but which do not count as such in Oriental judgment; neither are the
sale of offices, the taking of bribes under the disguise of presents,
the receiving of what is practically _modakel_, or exactions upon rich
men, repugnant in the slightest degree to the Oriental mind.

Remembering the unwholesome traditions of his throne and dynasty, we
must give him full credit for everything in which he makes a new
departure. Surrounded by intrigue, hampered by the unceasing political
rivalry between England and Russia, thwarted by the obstructive
tactics of the latter at every turn, and with the shadow of a Russian
occupation of the northern provinces of the Empire looming in a not
far distant future, any step in the direction of reform taken by the
Shah involves difficulties of which the outer world has no conception,
not only in braving the antagonism of his powerful neighbour, and her
attempted interference with the internal concerns of Persia, but in
overcoming the apathy of his people and the prejudices of his
co-religionists.

As it is, under him Persia has awakened partially from her long sleep.
The state of insecurity described by the travellers of thirty and
forty years ago no longer exists. Far feebler than Turkey, Persia,
through the resolute will of one man, has eclipsed Turkey altogether
in suppressing brigandage, in subduing the Kurds and other nomadic
tribes, in securing safety for travellers and caravans even on the
remoter roads, and in producing tolerable contentment among the
Armenian and Nestorian populations.

Under him the authority of the central Government has been
consolidated, the empty treasury has been filled, the
semi-independence of the provincial governors has been broken, Persia
has been re-created as a coherent Empire, certain roads have been
made, posts and telegraphs have been inaugurated, an Imperial Bank
with branches in some of the principal towns has been formed, foreign
capital has been encouraged or at least permitted to enter the
country, a concession for the free navigation of the Karun has been
granted, and the _Nasiri_ Company, the most hopeful token of native
progress, has received Imperial favour.

But under all this lies the inherent rottenness of Persian
administration, an abyss of official corruption and infamy without a
bottom or a shore, a corruption of heredity and tradition, unchecked
by public opinion or the teachings of even an elementary education in
morals and the rudiments of justice. There are few men pure enough to
judge their fellows or to lift clean hands to Heaven, and power and
place are valued for their opportunities for plunder.

In no part of Persia did I hear any complaint of the tribute levied by
the Shah. It is regarded as legitimate. But in most districts
allegations concerning the rapacity and exactions of the provincial
governors were universal, and there is unfortunately great reason for
believing them well founded. The farming of the taxes, the practical
purchase of appointments, the gigantic system of bribery by which all
offices are obtained, the absence of administrative training and
supervision, the traditions of office, and the absolute dependence of
every official on the pleasure of a Sovereign surrounded by the
intrigues of an Oriental court, are conditions sufficient to destroy
the virtue of all but the best of men.

Where all appointments are obtained practically by bribery, and no one
has any security in the tenure of an office of which slander,
bribery, or intrigue at Court may at any moment deprive him, it is
natural that the most coveted positions should be those in which the
largest perquisites can be made, and that their occupants should feel
it their bounden duty to "make hay while the sun shines,"--in other
words, to squeeze the people so long as there is anything left to
squeeze. The great drawback of the Persian peasant's life is that he
has no security for the earnings of labour. He is the ultimate sponge
to be sucked dry by all above him. Every official squeezes the man
below him, and the highest is squeezed by the Crown.

Little, if any, of the revenue drawn from the country is spent on
works of public utility, and roads, bridges, official buildings,
fortifications, and all else are allowed to fall into disrepair. In
downright English the administration of government and law is
execrable, and there can be little hope of a resurrection for Persia
until the system under which she is impoverished be reformed or swept
away.

But who is to cleanse this Augean stable? Who will introduce the
elementary principles of justice? Are tools of the right temper to
work with to be found among the men of this generation? Is the
dwarfing and narrowing creed[38] of Islam to be replaced or in any way
to be modified by Christianity? It looks very much as if the men to
initiate and carry out administrative and financial reforms are not
forthcoming, and that, unless the Shah is willing to import or borrow
them, the present system of official corruption, mendacity, bribery,
and obstruction may continue to prevail.

The inherent weakness of Persia lies in her administrative system
rather than in her sparse population and paucity of fuel and water, a
paucity arising partly out of misgovernment. In the felt evils of this
system, and in the idea that law, equitable taxation, and security for
the earnings of labour are distinctively European blessings, lies a
part of the strength of Russia in Persia. I have elsewhere remarked
upon the indifference with which Russian annexation is contemplated. A
reformed system of administration, by giving the Persian people
something to live for and die for, would doubtless evoke the dormant
spirit of patriotism, and render foreign conquest, or acquisition
without conquest, a less easy task.

After living for ten months among the Persian people, and fully
recognising their faults, I should regret to see them absorbed by the
"White Czar" or any other power. A country which for more than 2000
years has maintained an independent existence, and which possesses
customs, a language, a civilisation, and a nationality of its own, and
works no injury to its neighbours, has certainly a _raison d'être_.

My early impressions of Persia were of effeteness and ruin, but as I
learned to know more of the vitality, energy, and industry of her
people, and of the capacities of her prolific soil, I have come to
regard her resurrection under certain circumstances as a possibility,
and cordially to echo the wish eloquently expressed by the Marquis of
Salisbury on the occasion of the Shah's last visit to England: "We
desire above all things that Persia shall not only be prosperous, but
be strong,--strong in her resources, strong in her preparations,
strong in her alliances,--in order that she may pursue the peaceful
path on which she has entered in security and tranquillity." I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[37] On this subject there can be no better authority than the Hon.
George N. Curzon, M.P., who after careful study has estimated the
total population of Persia at over nine millions.

[38] In _The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline, and Fall_, a valuable
recent work, its author, Sir W. Muir, K.C.S.I., dwells very strongly
on the narrowing influence of Islam on national life, and concludes
his review of it in the following words: "As regards the spiritual,
social, and dogmatic aspect of Islam, there has been neither progress
nor material change. Such as we found it in the days of the Caliphate,
such is it also at the present day. Christian nations may advance in
civilisation, freedom, and morality, in philosophy, science, and the
arts, but Islam stands still. And thus stationary, so far as the
lessons of its history avail, it will remain." In a chapter at the end
of his book he deals with polygamy, servile concubinage, temporary
marriages, and the law of divorce, as cankering the domestic life of
Mohammedan countries, and _infallibly neutralising all civilising
influences_.



LETTER XXVIII


     KOCHANES, _Oct. 23_.

The Kurdish _katirgis_ turned out very badly. They came at twelve
instead of eight, compelling me to do only a half-day's march. Then
they brought six horses instead of the four which had been bargained
for, and said they would "throw down the loads" if I did not take
them. Each night they insisted on starting the next morning at
daybreak, but no persuasions could get them off before eight. They
said they could not travel with a Christian except in broad daylight.
They would only drive a mile an hour, and instead of adhering to their
contract to bring me here in four days, took four to come half-way. On
the slightest remonstrance they were insolent and violent, and
threatened to "throw down the loads" in the most inconvenient places,
and they eventually became so mutinous that I was obliged to dismiss
them at the half-way halt at the risk of not getting transport any
farther.[39]

The "throw on the road" from Urmi was a very large one, and consisted
of nearly all the English and American Mission clergy and two Syrians,
all on screaming, biting, kicking horses. It was a charming ride
through fruitful country among pleasant villages to Anhar. The wind
was strong and bracing. Clouds were drifting grandly over the
splendid mountains to the west, the ranges to the north were glorified
by rich blue colouring, purple in the shadows; among mountains on the
east the Urmi sea showed itself as a turquoise streak, and among
gardens and vineyards in the middle distance rose Zoroastrian cones of
ashes, and the great mound, which tradition honours as the scene of
the martyrdom of St. George.

When all my kind friends left me, and I walked alone in the frosty
twilight on the roof of my comfortable room in the _Qasha's_ house,
and looked towards the wall of the frontier mountains through which my
journey lay, I felt an unwonted feeling of elation at the prospect
before me, which no possible perils from Kurds, or from the sudden
setting-in of winter could damp, and thus far the interest is much
greater even than I expected.

The next morning I was joined by _Qasha_ ----, a Syrian priest, a man
of great learning and intelligence, a Turkish subject and landed
proprietor, who knows everybody in this region, and speaks English
well. He is fearfully anxious and timid, partly from a dread of being
robbed of his splendid saddle mule, and partly from having the
responsibility of escorting an English lady on a journey which has
turned out full of peril.

On the long ascent from Anhar a bitter wintry wind prevailed, sweeping
over the tattered thistles and the pale belated campanulas which alone
remain of the summer flora, but the view from the summit was one of
rare beauty. The grandly drifting clouds of the night before had done
their work, and had draped the Kurdish mountains half-way down with
the first snows of winter, while the valley at their feet, in which
Merwana lies, was a smiling autumn scene of flowery pasturage and busy
harvest operations under the magic of an atmosphere of living blue.

Merwana is a village of 100 houses, chiefly Christian, though it has
a Kurdish _ketchuda_. It is a rich village, or was, being both
pastoral and agricultural. The slopes are cultivated up to a great
height, and ox sleds bring the sheaves to the threshing-floor. The
grain is kept in great clay-lined holes under ground, covered with
straw and earth. I write that the village _was_ rich. Lately a cloud
of Kurds armed with rifles swooped down upon it towards evening, drove
off 900 sheep, and killed a man and woman. The villagers appealed to
Government, after which Hesso, a redoubtable Kurdish chief in its pay,
went up with a band of men to Marbishu, a Christian village in Turkey,
drove off 1460 sheep, and offered to repay Merwana with the stolen
property. As matters now stand 700 of the poorest of the sheep have
been restored to Marbishu, Merwana loses all, and Hesso and his six
robber brothers have gained 760. The sole hope of the plundered people
of both villages is in the intercession of Dr. Cochrane with the
Governor of Azerbijan.[40]

As I reached Merwana at 10 A.M., and the _katirgis_, after raging for
an hour, refused to proceed, I took Mirza and _Qasha_ Bardah, the
priest under whose hospitable roof I lodged, with me, and went up the
valley to Ombar, the abode of Hesso, with the vague hope of "doing
something" for the poor people. The path lay among bright streams and
flowery pastures, the sun was warm, the air sharp, the mountains
uplifted their sunlit snows into a heaven of delicious blue, the ride
was charming. Hesso's village, consisting of a few very low rough
stone houses, overshadowed by great cones of _kiziks_, is well
situated on a slope above a torrent issuing from a magnificent cleft
in the mountain wall, at the mouth of which is a square keep on a
rock.

  [Illustration: HESSO KHAN.]

Hesso's house is just a "but and a ben," with a door which involves
stooping. Its rough stone walls are unplastered, and the only light
admitted comes from a hole in the roof, which serves to let out the
smoke. I confess to a feeling of trepidation when I asked to see the
Kurdish chief, and I felt the folly of my errand. A superbly-dressed
Kurd took us into a room dense with tobacco smoke, which, from its
darkness, the roughness of its walls, and the lowness of its rude
roof, resembled a cave rather than a house. Yet Hesso receives £200 a
year from the Persian Government, and has apparently unlimited
opportunities for plunder.

There were some coarse mats on the floor, and a _samovar_ with some
Russian glass tea-cups. Two Persian officials and a number of
well-armed and splendidly-dressed Kurds, with jewelled _khanjars_ and
revolvers in their girdles and rifles by their sides, sat or reclined
against the wall. Hesso himself leaned against a roll of bedding at
the upper end of the room, and space was made for us on the floor at
his left hand. A superb stage brigand he looked, in fitting
surroundings, the handsomest man I have seen in Persia, a large man,
with a large face, dark prominent eyes, a broad brow, a straight nose,
superb teeth, a fine but sensual mouth, a dark olive complexion, and a
false smile. A jewelled Kurdish turban with much crimson, a short
jacket and full trousers of a fine cream-coloured woollen fabric, an
embroidered silk shirt, socks of an elaborate pattern, a girdle of
many yards of Kashmir stuff, with eight knots, one above another, in
the middle, and a _khelat_ or coat of honour of rich Kerman brocade
formed his striking costume. In his girdle he wore a _khanjar_, with
an ebony hilt and scabbard ornamented with filigree gold knobs
incrusted with turquoises, attached to the girdle by a silver chain
two yards long, of heavy filigree balls, a beautiful piece of work.
Hesso's brothers, superb men, most picturesquely dressed, surrounded
him. The Kurds who handed round the tea and the jewelled _kalians_
looked fantastic brigands. The scene was a picture.

Of course my errand failed. I could not speak about the sheep through
the priest of the robbed village, and Hesso said that he could not
speak on any "political" subject before the Persians who were present.
The conversation was not animated, and _Qasha_ Bardah was very
nervous till Hesso turned round, and with an awakened expression of
face asked how it was that "England had allowed Turkey to grow so
feeble that her frontier and Armenia are in a state of anarchy"?
Hesso's handsome face is that of a villain. He does not look more than
thirty. He has 200 well-mounted marksmen at his disposal. The father
of this redoubtable Kurdish chief died in prison, where he was
confined by order of the Shah, and the son revenged himself by
harrying this part of the Shah's dominions, and with sixty men,
including his six brothers, successfully resisted a large Persian
force sent against him, and eventually escaped into Turkey, doing much
damage on his way. Hesso on arriving in Kerbela obtained a letter from
the Sheikh, or chief _Mollah_ there, saying that he offered his
submission to the Shah, and went to Tihran, where after seeing the
Shah's splendour he said that if he had known it before, he would not
have been in rebellion.

Before this the Persians took a strong castle from the Kurds, and
garrisoned it with an officer and a company of soldiers. Up to it one
day went Hesso boldly, keeping the six men who went with him out of
sight, and thumped upon the gate till it was opened, saying he was a
bearer of despatches. He first shot the sentry dead, and next the
officer, who came to see what the disturbance was about. Meantime the
six men, by climbing on each other's shoulders, scaled the castle
wall, and by confused shouts and dragging of the stone roller to and
fro over the roof they made the garrison believe that it was attacked
by a large force, and it surrendered at discretion. The lives of the
soldiers were spared, but they were marched out in their shirts, with
their hands above their heads.

The Merwana threshing-floor was guarded at night by ten men. The
following morning we were to have started an hour before daylight, but
the _katirgis_ refused to load, and the Kurdish _ketchuda_, with his
horsemen, declined to start till an hour after sunrise, because he
could not earlier "tell friends from foes." The ground was covered
with hoar-frost, and the feathery foliage of the tamarisk was like the
finest white coral.

Turning into the mountains, we spent nine hours in a grand defile,
much wooded, where a difficult path is shut in with the Marbishu
torrent. The Kurds left us at Bani, when two fine fellows became our
protectors as far as a small stream, crossing which we entered Turkey.
At a Kurdish semi-subterranean village, over which one might ride
without knowing it, a splendidly-dressed young Khan emerged from one
of the burrows, and said he would give us guards, but they would not
go farther than a certain village, where two of his men had been
killed three days before. "There is blood between us and them," he
said. After that, for five hours up to Marbishu, the scenery is
glorious. The valley narrows into a picturesque gorge between
precipitous mountains, from 2000 to 4000 feet above the river, on the
sides of which a narrow and occasionally scaffolded path is carried,
not always passable for laden mules. Many grand ravines came down upon
this gorge, their dwarf trees, orange, tawny, and canary-yellow,
mingled with rose-red leafage. The rose bushes are covered with masses
of large carnation-red hips, the bramble trailers are crimson and
gold, the tamarisk is lemon-yellow. Nature, like the dolphin, is most
beautiful in dying.

The depths were filled with a blue gloom, the needle-like peaks which
tower above glittered with new-fallen snow, the air was fresh and
intoxicating--it was the romance of travel. But it soon became
apparent that we were among stern and even perilous realities. A
notorious robber chief was disposed to bar our passage. His men had
just robbed a party of travellers, and were spread over the hill.
They took a horse from Johannes, but afterwards restored it on certain
conditions. Farther on we met a number of Kurds, with thirty fat sheep
and some cattle, which they were driving off from Marbishu. Then the
_katirgis_ said that they would go no farther than the village, for
they heard that robbers were lying in wait for us farther on!

In the wildest part of the gorge, where two ravines meet, there is
fine stoneless soil, tilled like a garden; the mountains fall a little
apart--there are walnuts, fruit trees, and poplars; again the valley
narrows, the path just hangs on the hillside, and I was riding over
the roofs of village houses for some time before I knew it. The hills
again opened, and there were flourishing breadths of turnips, and
people digging potatoes, an article of food and export which was
introduced by the missionaries forty years ago. The glen narrowed
again, and we came upon the principal part of Marbishu--rude stone
houses in tiers, burrowing deeply into the hills, with rock above and
rock below on the precipitous sides of a noisy torrent, crossed by two
picturesque log bridges, one of the wildest situations I have ever
seen, and with a wintry chill about it, for the sun at this season
deserts it at three. Rude, primitive, colourless, its dwellings like
the poorest cowsheds, its church like a Canadian ice-house, clinging
to mountain sides and spires of rock, so long as I remember anything I
shall remember Marbishu.

Steep narrow paths and steep rude steps brought us to a three-sided
yard, with a rough verandah where cooking and other operations were
going on, and at the entrance we were cordially welcomed by _Qasha_
Ishai, the priest. After ascertaining that it would be very dangerous
to go farther, I crossed the river to the church, which is one of the
finest in the country, and a place of pilgrimage. The village is noted
for its religious faithfulness. The church is said to be 850 years
old--a low, flat-roofed, windowless stone building. Either it was
always partially subterranean, or the earth has accumulated round it,
for the floor is three feet below the ground outside. The entrance is
by a heavy door two feet six inches high. Inside it is as nearly dark
as possible. Two or three circular holes at a great height in the
enormously thick wall let in as many glimmers, but artificial light is
necessary. There are several small ante-chapels. In two are rude and
ancient tombs of ancient bishops, plain blocks of stone, with crosses
upon them. In another is a rough desk, covered with candle droppings,
on which the _Liturgy of the Apostles_ lay open, and on it a cross,
which it is the custom to kiss. A fourth is used for the safe keeping
of agricultural implements. Two are empty, and one of these serves the
useful purpose of a mortuary chapel. The church proper is very small
and high. The stone floor has been worn into cavities by the feet of
worshippers; the walls, where not covered with lengths of grimy
printed cotton, are black with the candle smoke of ages. The one sign
of sacred use is a rude stone screen at the east end, at openings in
the front of which the people receive the Eucharist. Behind this is
the sanctuary, into which the priest alone, and he fasting, may enter.
Old brass lamps and candelabra, incrusted with blackened tallow, hang
from the roof, and strings of little bells from wall to wall, which
are plucked by each recipient of the sacred elements as he returns to
his "stand."

In this gloomy vault-like building prayers are said, as in all
Nestorian churches, at sunrise and sunset by the priest in his
ordinary clothing, the villagers being summoned by the beating of a
mallet on a board.[41]

The church is a place of refuge when a Kurdish attack is expected.
Nine years ago the people carried into it all their movables that they
valued most, believing it to be secure, but the Kurds broke in in
force and took all they wanted. The few sacred treasures of the
village and the Eucharistic leaven are hidden in an elevated recess in
the wall. The graveyard, which contains only a few flat slabs imbedded
in the soil, is the only possible camping-ground; but though it is
clean and neat, it looked so damp and felt so cold that I preferred to
accept a big room with walls six feet thick in the priest's house,
even though it overhangs the torrent with its thunder and clash.

Many a strange house I have seen, but never anything so striking as
the dwelling of _Qasha_ Ishai. Passing through the rude verandah, and
through a lofty room nearly dark, with a rough stone dais, on which
were some mattresses, and berths one above another, I stumbled in
total darkness into a room seventy feet by forty, and twenty feet or
more high in its highest part. It has no particular shape, and wanders
away from this lofty centre into low irregular caverns and recesses
excavated in the mountain side. Parts of the floor are of naked rock,
parts of damp earth. In one rocky recess is a powerful spring of pure
water. The roofs are supported on barked stems of trees, black, like
the walls, wherever it was possible to see them, with the smoke of two
centuries. Ancient oil lamps on posts or in recesses rendered darkness
visible. Goat-skins, with the legs sticking out, containing butter,
hanging from the blackened cross-beams, and wheat, apples, potatoes,
and onions in heaps and sacks, piles of wool, spinning-wheels, great
wooden cradles here and there, huge oil and water jars, wooden stools,
piles of bedding, ploughs, threshing instruments, long guns, swords,
spears, and gear encumbered the floor, while much more was stowed away
in the dim caverns of the rock.

I asked the number of families under the roof. "Seven ovens," was the
reply. This meant seven families, and it is true that three
generations, seventy-two persons, live, cook, sleep, and pursue their
avocations under that patriarchal roof.

The road is a bad one for laden beasts, and very dangerous besides,
and the few travellers who visit Kochanes usually take the caravan
route from Urmi _viâ_ Diza, and the fact of an English person passing
through Marbishu with a letter to the Turkish authorities was soon
"noised abroad," and I was invited to spend the evening in this most
picturesque house. All the inmates were there, and over a hundred of
the villagers besides; and cooking, baking, spinning, carding wool,
knitting, and cleaning swords and guns went on all the time. There
were women and girls in bright red dresses; men reclining on bedding
already unrolled on the uneven floor, or standing in knots in their
picturesque dresses leaning on their long guns, with daggers gleaming
in their belts; groups seated round the great fire, in the uncertain
light of which faces gleamed here and there in the dim recesses, while
the towering form of _Qasha_ Ishai loomed grandly through the smoke,
as the culmination of the artistic effect.

The subject discussed was equally interesting to the Syrians and to
me,--the dangers of the pass and the number of guards necessary. We
talked late into the night, and long before I left the female and
juvenile part of the family had retired to their beds. Again I heard
of Hesso's misdeeds, of the robbery of 1400 sheep; of the driving off
on the previous morning of thirty sheep which they were about to
barter for their winter supply of wheat; of the oppressive taxation,
100 _liras_ (nearly £100) on 100 houses; of the unchecked depredations
of the Kurds, which had increased this summer and autumn, leaving them
too poor to pay their taxes; of a life of peril and fear and
apprehension for their women, which is scarcely bearable; of the
oppression of man and the silence of God. Underlying all is a feeling
of bitter disappointment that England, which "has helped the oppressed
elsewhere, does nothing for us." They thought, they said, "that when
the English priests came it was the beginning of succour, and that the
Lord was no longer deaf, and our faces were lightened, but now it is
all dark, and there is no help in God or man."

I now find myself in the midst of a state of things of which I was
completely ignorant, and for which I was utterly unprepared, and in a
region full of fear and danger, in which our co-religionists are the
nearly helpless prey of fanatical mountaineers, whose profession is
robbery.

  [Illustration: A SYRIAN FAMILY.]

Looking round on the handsome men and comely women, who would greet
the sunrise with Christian prayer and praise, and whose ancestors have
worshipped Christ as God for fourteen centuries in these mountain
fastnesses, I wondered much at my former apathy concerning them. It is
easier to _feel_ them our fellow-Christians on the spot than to put
the feeling into words, but writing here in the house of their
Patriarch, the _Catholicos_ of the East, I realise that the Cross
signed on their brows in baptism is to them as to us the symbol of
triumph and of hope; that by them as by us the Eucharistic emblems are
received for the life of the soul, "in remembrance of Christ's
meritorious Cross and Passion"; that through ages of accumulating
wrongs and almost unrivalled misery, they like us have worshipped the
crucified Nazarene as the crowned and risen Christ, that to Him with
us they bend the adoring knee, and that like us they lay their dead in
consecrated ground to await through Him a joyful resurrection.

There were five degrees of frost during the night, and as I lay awake
from cold the narratives I had heard and the extraordinary state of
things in which I so unexpectedly found myself made a very deep
impression on me. There, for the first time in my life, I came into
contact with people grossly ignorant truly, but willing to suffer "the
loss of all things," and to live in "jeopardy every hour" for
religious beliefs, which are not otherwise specially influential in
their lives. My own circumstances, too, claimed some consideration,
whether to go forward, or back to Urmi. It is obvious from what I hear
that the bringing my journey to Erzerum to a successful issue will
depend almost altogether on my own nerve, judgment, and power of
arranging, and that at best there will be serious risks, hardships,
and difficulties, which will increase as winter sets in. After nearly
coming to the cowardly decision to return, I despised myself for the
weakness, and having decided that some good to these people might come
from farther acquaintance with their circumstances, I fell asleep, and
now the die is cast.

We were ready at daybreak the next morning, but for the same reasons
as those given at Merwana did not start till seven for an eleven
hours' march. I took two armed horsemen and six armed footmen, all
fine fellows used to the work of reconnoitring and protecting. Three
of them scouted the whole time high up on the sides of the pass, not
with the purposeless sensational scouting of Persian _sowars_, but
with the earnestness of men who were pledged to take us safely
through, and who live under arms to protect their property and
families.

After five hours of toiling up the Drinayi Pass, taking several deep
fords, and being detained by a baggage horse falling fifty feet with
his load, we crossed the summit, and by a long descent through hills
of rounded outlines covered with uncut sun-cured hay, reached the
plain of Gawar, where the guards left us. On the way we passed the
small Christian hamlet of Eyal, which was robbed of its sheep with the
sacrifice of the shepherd's life the following night. At the village
of Yekmala on the plain the Kurdish _katirgis_ by a shameful exaction
got us into great trouble, and there was a fight, in which Johannes's
gun was wrested from him, and some of my things were taken, the Kurds
meantime driving off their animals at a fast trot. The aspect of
affairs was so very bad and the attack on my men so violent that I
paid the value of the Kurdish depredations, and we got away. A little
farther on the _katirgis_ were extremely outrageous, and began to
fulfil their threat of "throwing down their loads," but I persuaded
_Qasha_ ----, who was alarmed and anxious, to leave them behind, and
they thought better of it.

The mountain-girdled plain of Gawar is a Paradise of fertility, with
abundant water, and has a rich black soil capable of yielding twenty
or thirtyfold to the cultivator. On it is the town of Diza, chiefly
Armenian, which is a Turkish customs station, a military post, and the
residence of a Kaimakam. There are over twenty Christian as well as
some Moslem villages on Gawar, and a number of Kurdish hamlets and
"castles" on the slopes and in the folds of the hills above it.

The sun was sinking as we embarked on the plain, and above the waves
of sunset gold which flooded it rose the icy spires and crags of the
glorious Jelu ranges and the splintered Kanisairani summits. The
plain has an altitude of over 6000 feet, and there was a sharp frost
as we dismounted at the village of Pirzala and put up at the house of
the _Malek_ David, having been eleven and a half hours in the saddle.
After consulting with him and other village worthies I dismissed the
_katirgis_ and paid them more than their contract price. The next
morning they swore by the Prophet's beard, and every other sacred
thing, that they had not been paid, and when payment was proved by two
respectable witnesses, they were not the least abashed. Poor fellows!
They know no better and are doubtless very poor. I was glad to get rid
of their sinister faces and outbreaks of violence, but for some days
it was impossible, being harvest-time, to obtain transport to
Kochanes, though I was able to leave Pirzala for other villages.

The next day mists rolled down the mountains, and a good cold English
rain set in, in which I had a most pleasant ride to Diza, which was
repeated the following day in glorious weather, the new-fallen snow
coming half-way down the mountain sides. I was surreptitiously on
Turkish soil, and it was necessary to show my passport to the Diza
officials, get a permit to travel, and have my baggage examined. Ishu,
the present _Malek_ of the plain, through whom all business between
the Christians and the Government is transacted, accompanied us to the
Mutessarif of Julamerik.

Diza is an unwalled town on an eminence crowned by barracks. The
garrison of 200 men was reduced to six during the summer. The Kurds
evidently took the reduction as a hint to them to do what they liked,
and they have mercilessly ravaged and harried the plain for months
past.[42] An official assured me that 15,000 sheep have been driven
off from the Gawar Christian villages between the middle of June and
the 17th of October, partly by the nomad Herkis. There are now sixty
soldiers at Diza, and the Mutessarif of Julamerik is there, having
come down to capture Abdurrahman Bey, one of the great oppressors of
the Christians,--an attempt rendered abortive (it is said) by a bribe
given by the Bey to the commanding officer of the troops.

I was interested in my first visit to a Turkish official. His room was
above a stable, with a dark and difficult access, and the passages
above were crowded with soldiers. The Mutessarif sat on a divan at the
upper end of a shabby room, an elderly man much like Mr. Gladstone,
very courteous and gentlemanly, with plenty of conversation and
_savoir-faire_. He said that the letter I carry is "a very powerful
document," that it supersedes all the usual formalities, that my
baggage would not even be looked at, and that I should not require a
_teskareh_ or permit. By his advice I called on the Kaimakam, and in
each room a soldier brought in delicious coffee. The Kaimakam was also
very courteous, and talked agreeably and intelligently, both taking
the initiative, as etiquette demands.

In this and in the general tone there was a marked difference between
Persian and Turkish officialdom. The Persian Governor is surrounded by
civilians, the Turkish by soldiers, and in the latter case the manner
assumed by subordinates is one of the most profound respect. The
sealing of my passport took a considerable time, during which, with
_Qasha_ ----, I paid several visits, was regaled with Armenian
cookery, tried to change a _mejidieh_ at the Treasury, but found it
absolutely empty, and went to see a miracle-working New Testament,
said to be of great antiquity, in an Armenian house. It was hanging on
the wall in a leather bag, from which depended strings of blue and
onyx beads. Sick people come to it even from great distances, as well
as the friends of those who are themselves too ill to travel. The bag
can only be opened by a priest. The power of healing depends on a sum
of money being paid to the priest and the owners. The sick person
receives a glass bead, and is forthwith cured.

On Gawar Plain I lodged in the village houses, either in
semi-subterranean hovels, in which the families live with their horses
and buffaloes, or in rooms over stables. Very many sick people came to
me for medicines, and others with tales of wrong for conveyance to
"the Consul" at Erzerum. No one seemed to trust any one. These
conversations were always held at night in whispers, with the candle
hidden "under a bushel," the light-holes filled up with straw, the
door barred or a heavy stone laid against it, and a watch outside.

The Gawar Christians are industrious and inoffensive, and have no
higher aspiration than to be let alone, but they are the victims of a
Kurdish rapacity which leaves them little more than necessary food.
Their villages usually belong to Kurdish Aghas who take from them
double the lawful taxes and tithes. The Herkis sweep over the plain in
their autumn migration "like a locust cloud," carrying off the
possessions of the miserable people, spoiling their granaries and
driving off their flocks. The Kurds of the neighbouring slopes and
mountains rob them by violence at night, and in the day by exactions
made under threat of death. The latter mode of robbery is called
"demand." The servants of a Kurdish Bey enter and ask for some jars of
oil or _roghan_, a Kashmir shawl, women's ornaments, a jewelled
dagger, or a good foal, under certain threats, or they show the owner
a bullet in the palm of the hand, intimating that a bullet through his
head will be his fate if he refuses to give up his property or informs
any one of the demand.

In this way (among innumerable other instances) my host at ----,[43] a
much-respected man, had been robbed of five valuable shawls, such as
descend from mother to daughter, four handsome coats, and 300 _krans_
in silver. In the last two years ten and fifteen loads of wheat have
been taken from him, and four four-feet jars filled with oil and
_roghan_. Four hundred and fifty sheep have likewise been seized by
violence, leaving him _with only fifteen_; and one night while I was
at his house fifty-three of the remaining village sheep, some of which
were his, were driven off in spite of the guards, who _dare not
fire_. I was awakened by the disturbance, and as it was a light night
I saw that the Kurds who attacked the sheepfold were armed with modern
guns. The _reis_ of that village and this man's brother have both been
shot by the Kurds.

Testimony concurred in stating that the insecurity of life and
property has enormously increased this summer, especially since the
reduction of the Diza garrison; that "things have grown very much
worse since the Erzerum troubles;" that the Kurds have been more
audacious in their demands and more reckless of human life; and that
of late they have threatened the Christians _as such_, saying that the
Government would approve of "their getting rid of them." Very little
of any value, the people said, was left to them, and the extreme
bareness of their dwellings, and the emptiness of their stables and
sheepfolds, while surrounded with possibilities of pastoral and
agricultural wealth, tend to sustain their statements. "The men of
Government," they all said, "are in partnership with the Kurds, and
receive of their gains. This is our curse."

Many women and girls, especially at Charviva and Vasivawa, have been
maltreated by the Kurds. A fortnight ago a girl, ten years old, going
out from ----, to carry bread to the reapers, was abducted. It became
known that two girls in ---- were to be carried off, and they were
hidden at first in a hole near ----. Their hiding-place last week was
known only to their father, who carried them food and water every
second night. He came to me in the dark secretly, and asked me to
bring them up here, where they might find a temporary asylum. Daily
and nightly during the week of my visit Gawar was harried by the
Kurds, who in two instances burned what they could not carry away, the
glare of the blazing sheaves lighting up the plain.

The people of Gawar express great anxiety for teachers. The priests
and deacons must work like labourers, and cannot, they say, go down to
Urmi for instruction. A priest, speaking for two others, and for
several deacons who were present, said, "Beseech for a teacher to come
and sit among us and lighten our darkness before we pass away as the
morning shadows. We are blind guides, we know nothing, and our people
are as sheep lost upon the mountains. When they go down into the
darkness of their graves we know not how to give them any light, and
so we all perish."

This request was made in one of the large semi-subterranean dwellings,
which serve for both men and beasts in Kurdistan. The firelight
flickered on horses and buffaloes, receding into the darkness, and the
square mud-platform on which we sat was framed by the long horns and
curly heads of mild-eyed oxen.

I answered that it would be very difficult to raise money for such an
object in England. "But England is very rich," the priest replied. I
looked round, and the thought passed across my mind of Him "who though
He was rich yet for our sakes became poor," whose life of self-denial
from the stable at Bethlehem to the cross on Calvary is the example
for our own, and whose voice, ringing down through ages of luxury and
selfishness, still declares that discipleship involves a love for our
brethren equal to His own. Yes, "England is very rich," and these
Syrians are very poor, and have kept the faith through ages of
darkness and persecution.

This plain, the richest in Kurdistan, is also most beautiful. In
winter a frozen morass, it is not dry enough for sowing till May, and
even June. This accounts for the lateness of the harvest. The Jelu
mountains, the highest in Central Kurdistan,--a mass of crags, spires,
and fantastic parapets of rock, with rifts and abysses of
extraordinary depth,--come down almost directly upon it. There is no
wood. The villages are all alike, surrounded just now by piles of
wheat and straw on their threshing-floors, with truncated cones of
fodder, and high smooth black cones of animal fuel. These are often
the only signs of habitations. One may ride over the roofs without
knowing that houses are below.

Being entirely baffled by the difficulty of obtaining transport, I
went on to Gahgoran, and put up at the house of the parish priest,
where the subterranean granary allotted to me was so completely dark
that I sat all day in the sheepfold in order to be able to write and
work, shifting my position as the sun shifted his. A _zaptieh_ had
been sent from Diza, who guarded me so sedulously that _Qasha_ ----
dared not speak to me, lest the man should think he was giving me
information.

Gahgoran was full of strangers. The Patriarch had come down from
Kochanes, and occupied the only room in the village, whither I went to
pay my respects to him. The room was nearly dark, and foggy with
tobacco smoke, but a ray of light fell on Mar Gauriel, Bishop of Urmi,
a handsome full-bearded man in a Nestorian turban, full trousers, a
madder-red frock with a bright girdle in which a _khanjar_ glittered,
and a robe over all, a leader of armed men in appearance. I had met
him in Urmi, and he shook hands and presented me to Mar Shimun, a
swarthy gloomy-looking man. In his turn he presented me to Mar Sergis,
Bishop of Jelu, a magnificent-looking man with a superb gray beard,
the _beau-ideal_ of an Oriental ecclesiastic. _Maleks_ and headmen of
villages sat round the room against the wall, not met for any
spiritual conclave but for stern business regarding the taxes, for the
Patriarch is a salaried official of the Turkish Government. All rose
when I entered, and according to a polite custom stood till I sat
down. They held out no hope of getting baggage animals, and I
returned to the sheepfold.

It was a long day. The servants did not arrive till night, and
Kochanes receded hourly! Many people came for medicine, and among them
a very handsome man whose house was entered by Kurds a month ago, who
threatened him with death unless he surrendered his possessions. After
this he and his brothers fled and hid among the wheat, but fearing to
be found and killed, they concealed themselves for a fortnight in the
tall reeds of a marsh. He is now subject to violent fits of trembling.
"My illness is fear," the poor fellow said. Three hundred sheep had
been taken from him and twenty-five gold _liras_; his grass had been
burned, "and now," he said, "the oppressor Hazela Bey says, 'give me
the deeds of your lands, if not I will kill you.'" He had been a
_Malek_, and was so rich that he entertained travellers and their
horses at all times. Now his friends have to give him wheat wherewith
to make bread.

The house of _Qasha_ Jammo has granaries at each side of the low door,
a long dark passage leading into a subterranean stable with a platform
for guests, and a living-room, on a small scale, like the one at
Marbishu. A space was cleared in the granary for my bed among wheat,
straw, ploughs, beetles, starved cats, osier graintubs coated with
clay, six feet high, and agricultural gear of all sorts. It was a
horrid place, and the door would not bolt. After midnight I was
awakened by a sound as if big rats were gnawing the beams. I got up
and groping my way to the door heard it more loudly, went into the
passage, looked through the chinks in the outer door, and saw a number
of Kurds armed with guns. I retreated and fired my revolver in the
granary, which roused the dogs, and the dogs roused the twenty
strangers who were receiving the priest's hospitality. In the stable
were fourteen horses, including my own two, and several buffaloes. The
Kurds had dug through the roof of the granary opposite mine, and
through its wall into the stable, and were on the point of driving out
the horses through the common passage when the hardy mountaineers
rushed upon them. The same night, though it was light and clear,
another house in Gahgoran was dug into, and a valuable horse belonging
to a man in the Patriarch's train was abstracted. A descent was also
made on the neighbouring village of Vasivawa, which has suffered
severely. Eight _zaptiehs_ employed by the villagers at a high price
to watch the threshing-floor, and my own _zaptieh_ escort, were close
at hand.

Horses having at last been obtained from a Kurdish Bey, I left on
Tuesday, the Gahgoran people being stupefied with dismay at the
growing audacity of the Kurds. The mountain road was very dangerous,
but I travelled with Mar Gauriel and his train, thirteen well armed
and mounted men, besides armed servants on foot. The ice was half an
inch thick, but the sun was very hot. The mountain views were superb,
and the scenery altogether glorious, but the passes and hillsides are
not inhabited. We were ten hours on the journey, owing to the custom
of frequent halts for smoking and talking.

In the afternoon a party of Syrians with some unladen baggage mules
came over the crest of a hill, preceded by a figure certainly not
Syrian. This was a fair-complexioned, bearded man, with hair falling
over his shoulders, dressed in a girdled cassock which had once been
black, tucked up so as to reveal some curious nether garments, Syrian
socks, and a pair of rope and worsted shoes, such as the mountaineers
wear in scaling heights. On his head, where one would have expected to
see a college "trencher," was a high conical cap of white felt with a
_pagri_ of black silk twisted into a rope, the true Tyari turban.
This was Mr. Browne, one of the English Mission clergy, who, from
living for nearly four years among the Syrians of the mountains,
helping them and loving them, has almost become one of them. He was
going to Diza to get winter supplies before his departure for one of
the most inaccessible of the mountain valleys, but with considerate
kindness turned back to Kochanes with me, and remains here until I
leave. This fortunate _rencontre_ adds the finishing touch to the
interest of this most fascinating Kurdistan journey.

Crossing the Kandal Pass, we descended on the hamlet of Shawutha,
superbly situated on a steep declivity at the head of a tremendous
ravine leading to the Zab, blocked apparently by mountains
violet-purple against a crimson sky, with an isolated precipitous rock
in the foreground, crowned by an ancient church difficult of access.
Below the village are fair shelving lawns, with groups of great walnut
trees, hawthorn, and ash, yellow, tawny, and crimson--a scene of
perfect beauty in the sunset, while the fallen leaves touched the soft
green turf with ruddy gold. The camping-grounds were very fair, but
the villagers dared not let me camp. The Kurds were about, and had
exacted a ewe and lamb from every house. Owing to the influx of
strangers, it was difficult to get any shelter, and I slept in a horse
and ox stable, burrowed in the hillside, the passage to the family
living-room, without any air holes, hot and stifling, and used my
woollen sheets for curtains. The village is grievously smitten by the
"cattle plague." In telling me of the loss of "four bulls" within
three days, my host used an expression which is not uncommon here, "By
the wealth of God, and the head of Mar Shimun."

Yesterday we descended 1500 feet, alongside of a torrent fringed with
scarlet woods, and halted where the Shawutha, Kochanes, and Diz
valleys meet at the fords of the Zab, here known as "the Pison, the
river of Eden." The Zab, only fordable at certain seasons, is there a
fast-flowing dark green river, fully sixty yards wide, deep enough to
take the footmen up to their waists, and strong enough to make them
stagger, with a lawn bright with autumnal foliage below the savage and
lofty mountains on its right bank.

From the Zab we ascended the gorge of the Kochanes water by a wild
mountain path, at times cut into steps or scaffolded, and at other
times merely a glistening track over shelving rock, terminating in a
steep and difficult ascent to the fair green alp on which Kochanes
stands at the feet of three imposing peaks of naked rock--Quhaibalak,
Qwarah, and Barchallah.

Thus I beheld at last the goal of my journey from Luristan, and was
not disappointed. Glorious indeed is this Kurdistan world of
mountains, piled up in masses of peaks and precipices, cleft by
ravines in which the Ashirets and Yezidis find shelter, every peak
snow-crested, every ravine flaming with autumn tints; and here, where
the ridges are the sharpest, and the rock spires are the most
imposing, on a spur between the full-watered torrents of the Terpai
and the Yezidi, surrounded on three sides by gorges and precipices, is
this little mountain village, the latest refuge of the Head of a
Church once the most powerful in the East.

Kochanes consists of a church built on the verge of a precipice, many
tombs, a grove of poplars, a sloping lawn, scattered village houses
and barley-fields extending up the alp, and nearly on the edge of a
precipitous cliff the Patriarch's residence, a plain low collection of
stone buildings, having an arched entrance and a tower for refuge or
defence. The houses of his numerous relations are grouped near it.
Everything is singularly picturesque. The people, being afraid of an
attack from the Kurds, would not suffer me to pitch my tent on their
fair meadow, and Sulti, the Patriarch's sister, has installed me in a
good room in the house, looking across the tremendous ravine of the
Terpai upon savage mountains, the lower skirts of which are clothed
with the tawny foliage of the scrub oak, and their upper heights with
snow.

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[39] I have since heard that these Kurds, a short time afterwards,
betrayed some Christian travellers into the hands of some of their own
people, by whom they were robbed and brutally maltreated.

[40] I give the story as it was repeatedly told to me. It was a very
shady and complicated transaction throughout.

[41] Dr. Cutts, in his interesting volume, _Christians Under the
Crescent in Asia_, gives the following translation of one of the
morning praises, which forms part of the daily prayer. The earlier
portion is chanted antiphonally in semi-choirs--

"_Semi-choir--1st._ At the dawn of day we praise Thee, O Lord: Thou
art the Redeemer of all creatures, give us by Thy mercy a peaceful
day, and give us remission of our sins.

"_2d._ Cut not off our hope, shut not Thy door against our faces, and
cease not Thy care over us. O God, according to our worthiness reward
us not. Thou alone knowest our weakness.

"_1st._ Scatter, O Lord, in the world love, peace, and unity. Raise up
righteous kings, priests, and judges. Give peace to the nations, heal
the sick, keep the whole, and forgive the sins of all men.

"_2d._ In the way that we are going may Thy Grace keep us, O Lord, as
it kept the child David from Saul. Give us Thy mercy as we are
pressing on, that we may attain to peace according to Thy will. The
Grace which kept the prophet Moses in the sea, and Daniel in the pit,
and by which the companions of Ananias were kept in the fire, by that
Grace deliver us from evil.

"_Whole choir._--In the morning we all arise, we all worship the
Father, we praise the Son, we acknowledge the Holy Spirit. The grace
of the Father, the mercy of the Son, and the hovering of the Holy
Spirit, the Third Person, be our help every day. Our help is in Thee.
In Thee, our true Physician, is our hope. Put the medicine of Thy
mercy on our wounds, and bind up our bruises that we be not lost.
Without Thy help we are powerless to keep Thy commandments. O Christ,
who helpest those who fulfil Thy will, keep Thy worshippers. We ask
with sighing, we beseech Thy mercy, we ask forgiveness from that
merciful One who opens His door to all who turn unto Him. Every day I
promise Thee that to-morrow I will repent: all my days are past and
gone, my faults still remain. O Christ, have mercy upon me, have mercy
upon me."

[42] About Christmas 1890 in Constantinople I had an opportunity of
laying the state of the Gawar Christians and the reduction of the
garrison of Diza before His Highness Kiamil Pasha, then Grand Vizier.
He appeared deeply interested, and said that it was the purpose of his
Government to send troops up to the region as soon as the roads were
open. Since then I have heard nothing of these people, but to-day, as
this sheet is going to press, I have received the following news from
Dr. Shedd of Urmi: "You will be glad to know that Gawar is very much
changed for the better. The Turkish Governor has been removed, and
another of far better character and ability has the post. The Kurdish
robbers have been arrested, and their leader, Abdurrahman Bey,
killed."--_November 2_, 1890.

[43] The complaints to which I became a listener were made by
_maleks_, bishops, priests, headmen, and others. Exaggerations
prevail, and the same story is often told with as many variations as
there are narrators. I cannot vouch for anything which did not come
under my own observation. Some narratives dissolved under
investigation, leaving a mere nucleus of fact. Those which I thought
worthy of being noted down--some of which were published in the
_Contemporary Review_ in May and June in two papers called _The Shadow
of the Kurd_--were either fortified by corroborative circumstances, or
rest on the concurrent testimony as to the main facts of three
independent narrators.

In some cases I was asked to lay the statements before the British
Consul at Erzerum, with the names of the narrators as the authority on
which they rested, but in the greater number I was implored not to
give names or places, or any means of identification. "We are in fear
of our lives if we tell the truth," they urged. Sometimes I asked them
if they would abide by what they told me in the event of an
investigation by the British Vice-Consul at Van. "No, no, no, we dare
not!" was the usual reply. Under these circumstances, the only course
open to me is to withhold the names of persons and places wherever I
was pledged to do so, but as a guarantee of good faith I have placed
the statements, confidentially, with the names, in the hands of Her
Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.



LETTER XXIX


     KOCHANES, _Oct. 27_.

After two days the Patriarch arrived from Gahgoran with nearly forty
persons. To realise what this house is like, one must go back four
centuries, to the mode of living of the medieval barons of England.
Mar Shimun is not only a spiritual prince, but the temporal ruler of
the Syrians of the plains and valleys, and of the Ashirets or tribal
Syrians of the mountains of Central Kurdistan, as well as a judge and
a salaried official of the Turkish Government. He appoints the
_maleks_ or lay rulers of each district, where the office is not
hereditary, and possesses ecclesiastical patronage. For over four
centuries the Patriarch has been of the family of Shimun, which is
regarded as the royal family; and he is assisted in managing affairs
by a "family council." Kochanes is thus the ecclesiastical and
political metropolis of the Syrian nation, and the innumerable
disputes which arise among the people of this region are brought here
for judgment and arbitration.

It is a crowded life. From sunrise to sunset the pavement outside the
rude hall of entrance, the great room, like that at Marbishu, where
Sulti presides, and the guest-chambers, are always thronged with men
waiting to be received by the Patriarch, sleeping on the big settle in
the hall, or cleaning swords and guns, or wrestling, performing feats
of horsemanship, playing chess, and eating. Sixty persons more or
less are guests here. Every one coming into the valley is received,
and horses are stabled while men are fed. Outside, sheep and fowls are
being continually killed, two or three sheep being required daily;
mules are departing for Diza for stores, or are returning with flour
and sugar; oxen are bringing in hay, and perpetual measuring and
weighing are going on. The cost of provisioning such an army of guests
is enormous, and presses heavily on the Patriarch's slender resources.
Intrigues are rife. In some ways every man's hand is against his
fellow, and the succession to the Patriarchate, although nominally
settled, is a subject of scheming, plotting, rivalries, and
jealousies. Then there are various appointments, secular and
spiritual, to be wrangled for, the difficult relations with Turkey to
be managed, and such a wavering policy to be shaped towards Rome and
American Presbyterianism as shall absolutely break with neither.

Among the guests who come and go as they please, unquestioned, are
refugees from the barbarities of the Kurds, among the most pitiable of
whom is Mar ----, Bishop of ----, bereft under threat of death of his
Episcopal seal, and a fugitive from his diocese, which is almost
destroyed by violence and exactions. Few hours pass in which some
fresh tale of bloodshed, or the driving off of flocks, or the
attacking of travellers, or the digging into houses, is not brought up
here. A piteous state of alarm prevails. Mar Shimun, naturally feeble
and irresolute, and his family council are helpless. His dual position
aggravates his perplexities. Counsels are divided and paralysed. No
one knows where to turn for help on earth, and "the Lord is deaf,"
some of the people say.

On entering the house by an archway, where the heavily-bossed door
stands always open, a busy scene is to be witnessed in the hall,
which is roughly paved with irregular slabs of stone. On the rude
stone settle men are sitting or sleeping, or a carpenter is using it
as his bench, or a sheep is being cut up on it. At the end of a
passage is the "house," a high, big, blackened room, with shelving
floors of earth and rock, ovens in the floors, great _quaraghs_
holding grain, piles of wood, men sawing logs, huge pots, goat-skins
of butter hanging from the rafters, spinning-wheels, a loom, great
roughly-cut joints of meat, piles of potatoes, women ceaselessly
making blankets of bread, to be used as tablecloths before being
eaten, preparations for the ceaseless meals involved by the unbounded
hospitality of the house, and numbers of daggered serving-men, old
women, and hangers-on. This room is only lighted from the doors and
from a hole in the roof. Nearly opposite is a low dark lobby, from
which opens my room, sixteen feet square, with walls three feet thick,
and Mar Shimun's room, about the same size, which serves him for
sleeping, eating, reception-room, and office.

On the same side of the hall are two guest-rooms, now packed to their
utmost capacity, and a large room in which Ishai, the Patriarch's
half-brother, a young man of exceeding beauty, lives, with his lovely
wife, Asiat, and their four children. In a ruinous-looking tower
attached to the main building Mr. Browne has his abode, up a steep
ladder. Below there are houses inhabited by the Patriarch's relations,
one of whom, Marta, is a dignified and charming woman, and the mother
of Mar Auraham, the Patriarch-designate, whose prospective dignity is
the subject of much intrigue.

The presiding genius of the Patriarch's household is his sister Sulti,
a capable woman of forty, who has remained unmarried in order to guide
his house, and who rules as well as guides. When she sleeps I know
not. She is astir early and late, measuring, weighing, directing, the
embodiment of Proverbs chap. xxxi. No little brain-power must be
required for the ordering of such a household and the meeting of such
emergencies as that of to-day, when twenty Jelu men arrived
unexpectedly.

The serving-men all look like bandits. The medieval Jester is in
existence here, Shlimon, a privileged person, who may say and do
anything, and take all manner of liberties, and who, by his unlimited
buffooneries, helps the Patriarch and his family through the dulness
of the winter days. He and another faithful fellow, said to be equally
quick with his tongue and his dagger, are Mar Shimun's personal
servants. At fixed hours the latter carries food to his lord in tinned
copper bowls on a large round tray, knives and forks not having
penetrated to Kochanes.

The routine of the day is as follows. The Patriarch rises very early,
and says prayers at dawn, after which those who have the _entrée_ are
served with pipes and coffee in his room, and talk _ad libitum_.
Business of all sorts follows; a _siesta_ is taken at mid-day, then
there is business again, and unlimited talk with unlimited smoking
till five, when the Patriarch goes to prayers at church, after which
everybody is at liberty to attend his _levée_, and talking and smoking
go on till 9 or 10 P.M. It is a life without privacy or quiet. The
affairs of the mountains, litigation, tribal feuds, the difficulty of
raising the tribute, the gossip of the village, and just now, above
all else, the excesses of the Kurds, form the staple of conversation,
as I understand from _Qasha_ ----, who, as a personal friend, spends
much of the day in the Patriarch's room. In winter, when Kochanes is
snowed up, chess and the pranks and witticisms of the Jester fill up
the time.

The curious little court, the rigid etiquette, the clank of arms, the
unbounded hospitality, and the political and judicial functions
exercised by the Patriarch, with the rude dwelling and furnishings,
combine to re-create the baronial life as it might have been lived in
Roslin or Warkworth Castles.

Though I had half-seen Mar Shimun at Gahgoran, I was only formally
presented after his arrival here. It is proper for a woman to cover
her head before him, and I put on my hat and took off my shoes. His
room is well paved, the plaster is newly coloured, and there is a
glazed window with a magnificent prospect. There were rugs at one end,
on which the Patriarch was seated, with two chairs at his left hand.
He rose to receive me, and, according to custom, I kissed his hand. He
took my letter of introduction, and put it under a cushion, as
etiquette demanded, and asked me to be seated. On the floor along the
walls were bishops, priests, deacons, Jelu and Tyari mountaineers,
lowlanders from Urmi, and men of the Shimun family, all most
picturesquely dressed and smoking long wooden pipes. On each
subsequent occasion, when I paid my respects to him, he was similarly
surrounded. Mr. Browne acted as interpreter, but nothing but very
superficial conversation was possible when there was the risk that
anything said might be twisted into dangerous use. Mar Shimun is a man
about the middle height, with large dark eyes, a sallow complexion, a
grizzled iron-gray beard, and an expression of profound melancholy,
mingled with a most painful look of perplexity and irresolution. He
cannot be over fifty, but the miseries and intrigues around him make
him appear prematurely old. When I approached the subject of the
anarchy of the country he glared timidly and fearfully round, and
changed the subject, sending me a message afterwards that _Qasha_ ----
and Kwaja Shlimon, a Chaldæan educated in Paris, are in possession of
all that he could tell me, and would speak for him.

He and his family are very proud both of ancestry and position. Within
limits his word is law; a letter from him is better than any
Government passport or escort through the nearly inaccessible
fastnesses of the Ashirets; "By the Head of Mar Shimun," and "By the
House of Mar Shimun" are common asseverations, but he and his are
exposed constantly to indignities and insults from minor Turkish
officials and from Kurdish chiefs, and the continual disrespect to his
person and office is said to be eating into his soul.

He wears a crimson _fez_ with a black _pagri_, a short blue cloth
jacket with sleeves wide at the bottom and open for a few inches at
the inner seam, blue cloth trousers of a sailor cut, a red and white
striped satin shirt, the front and sleeves of which are very much _en
évidence_, and a crimson girdle, but without the universal _khanjar_.

This is the man who is the head at once of a church and nation, the
temporal and spiritual ruler of the Syrian people, the hereditary
Patriarch, the _Catholicos_ of the East, whose dynastic ancestors
ranked as sixth in dignity in the Catholic Church in its early ages.
It was not, however, till the early part of the fifth century, when
the Church of the East threw in her lot with Nestorius, after his
condemnation in 431 by the Council of Ephesus for "heretical" views on
the nature of our Lord, that the _Catholicos_ of the East assumed the
farther title of Patriarch. As I look on Mar Shimun's irresolute face,
and see the homage which his people pay to him, I recall the history
of a day when this church, which only survives as an obscure and
hunted remnant, planted churches and bishoprics in Persia, Central
Asia, Tartary, and China; its missionaries, full of zeal and
self-sacrifice, brought such legions into its fold that in the sixth
century the ecclesiastical ancestor of this Patriarch, then resident
at Baghdad, ruled over twenty-five metropolitical provinces extending
from Jerusalem to China; and when in the fourteenth century it was not
only the largest communion in Christendom, but outnumbered the whole
of the rest of Christendom, east and west, Roman, Greek, and other
churches put together. It is truly a marvel not only that Baghdad,
Edessa, and Nisibis possessed Nestorian schools of divinity and
philosophy, but that Christian colleges, seminaries, and theological
schools flourished in Samarcand, Bokhara, and Khiva! How this huge
church melted away like snow, and how the tide of Christianity ebbed,
leaving as a relic on its high-water mark within the Chinese frontier
a stone tablet inscribed with the Nestorian creed, and how Taimurlane
pursued the unfortunate Christian remnant with such fury that the
_Catholicos_ himself with a fugitive band was forced to fly into these
mountains, are matters of most singular historic interest. Most
fascinating indeed is it to be here. Each day seems but an hour, so
absorbing are the interests, so deep the pathos, so vivid the
tableaux, so unique the life in this hamlet of Kochanes, on its fair
green alp at a height of 6000 feet among these wild mountains of
Kurdistan, musical with the sound of torrents fed by fifty
snow-drifts, dashing down to join "the Pison, the river of Eden" (as
the Patriarch calls the Zab), on its way to the classic Tigris.

The afternoon I arrived, Sulti, Marta, Asiat, and several other women
courteously visited me, and the next day I returned their visits in
their simple pleasant houses. These formalities over, I have enjoyed
complete liberty, and have acquainted myself with the whole of
Kochanes, and with many of the people and their interests, and have
had small gatherings of men in my room each evening, _Qasha_ ---- or
Mr. Browne interpreting their tales of strife or wrong.

"Fear is on every side," the fear of a people practically unarmed,
for their long guns, some of them matchlocks, are of no use against
the rifles of the Kurds, _nor dare they fire in self-defence_.
Travelling is nearly suspended. A company of people whose needs call
them to Urmi dare not run the risk of the journey till they can go
down with Mar Gauriel and his large escort. It is evident that the
Patriarch and his people hoped for a British protectorate as one
result of "the Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission," and that they are
bitterly disappointed that their condition is growing worse.

"How can we listen to teaching," say some of them, "when we have no
rest? How can we believe in God when He lets these things happen to
us? The Almighty is deaf, and we cease to pray. Can we hear teaching
when the wolf is on us by night and day? If we let go the Cross we
might be rich and safe. Night by night we ask, 'Shall we see the
morning?' for our oppressors wax fiercer daily."

Mar ----, Bishop of ----, mentioned previously as a fugitive from his
diocese, is a fine, pleasant-looking middle-aged man, more like a
sailor than an ecclesiastic. Late one night, in a whisper, with a
trusty watch at the door, he told his story, through _Qasha_ ----, in
the following words:

      "I fled, fearing for my life, because many times I had spoken
      against the oppressions. The Kurds have carried away most of
      the sheep and goats, besides taking all they wished to have,
      and they entered through the houses, plundering everything,
      and burning two in ----. Their words are 'give or die.' I
      petitioned Government regarding the oppressions, and Mohammed
      Bey came, and by threat of death he got my seal, and wrote in
      my name a letter, saying it was all false, there were no
      oppressions, and he was a very good man, and he signed it
      with my seal, and it went to Stamboul. My seal has now been
      for one year in the hands of Mohammed Bey, who has killed
      about thirty Christians in Berwar. Three months ago I fled to
      save my life.

      "Seventeen years the oppressions have begun; but it was ten
      years ago when we could easily keep ourselves and raise our
      bread--now we cannot. In ----, five years ago, all had plenty
      of dress and bread, and every family kept two cows and two
      hundred or more of sheep. But now, when I visited them, I
      would shame to look at the female persons, so naked were
      they, and so did they hide themselves for shame in the dark
      parts of their houses, for their dress was all in pieces, so
      that their flesh was seen. I was thirsty and asked for milk,
      and they made reply, 'Oh, we have not a cow, or a sheep, or a
      goat: we forget the taste of milk!' And most of their fine
      fields were gone out of their hands by oppressions, for they
      could no longer find money wherewith to pay taxes, and they
      sold them for a vile price.

      "K---- was the best village in Sopana, and more wealthy than
      any village of Kurds or Christians. There I went and asked
      for some milk. They said, 'Never a goat, or a sheep, or a cow
      have we.' I ask of all the families their condition, and they
      make reply, with many tears, 'All that we have has left our
      hands, and we fear for our lives now. We were rich, now we
      have not bread to eat from day to day.' Seventeen years ago
      the village of B---- had fifty families of wealthy villagers,
      but now I only find twelve, and those twelve could scarcely
      find bread. I had asked bread, but I could not find it. By
      day their things were taken by force out of their houses: at
      night their sheep and cattle were driven off. They could keep
      nothing. Our wheat, our sheep, our butter is not our own. The
      chief, Mohammed Bey, and his servants ask of us, saying,
      'Give, or we will kill you.'"

This is a sample of innumerable tales to which I listen daily. Some
are probably grossly exaggerated, others, and this among them, are
probably true in all essential particulars. Daily, from all quarters,
men arrive with their complaints of robbery and violence, and ask the
Patriarch to obtain redress for them, but he is powerless.

  [Illustration: DESIGNS ON TOMBS AT KOCHANES.
   _To face p. 297, vol. II._]

My favourite walk is down the fair green lawn outside the village, on
which is a copse of poplars, with foliage of reddening gold. Beside
it, on the verge of the precipitous heights above the Terpai, is a
bold group of rocks, on which the church dedicated to Mar Shalita is
built. The ruins of a former church, dedicated to Mart Mariam, are
higher up the alp. Below the rocks are a great number of tombstones,
with incised ornaments upon them bearing the general name of crosses.
The church has nothing specially ecclesiastical in its appearance. It
has some resemblance to a keep with out-buildings, and its irregular
form seems to have been dictated by the configuration of the rock. It
has no windows, and the cruciform slits at a great height look like
loopholes. It is indeed the ultimate refuge of the Patriarch and the
villagers in case of a descent of the Kurds. I walked all round it,
through the poplar grove, with its mirthful waters, among the tombs,
and back by the edge of the ravine to the west side without finding a
door. In truth the only entrance is up a rude and very steep ladder,
about ten feet high, with a rude door at the top six inches thick, but
only three feet high. How old and infirm people get up and down I
cannot tell. So difficult is the access that I was glad to avail
myself of the vigorous aid of Mar Gauriel, who, having visited
England, is ready on all occasions with courteous attentions to a
lady. The reason of the low doors is said to be that all may bow their
heads on entering the house of God, and that the Moslems may not
stable their cattle in the church. The entrance harmonises with the
obvious pervading motive of the design, which is _inaccessibility_.

  [Illustration: SYRIAN CROSS.]

The door opens into a small courtyard, partly protected by a wooden
roof. At its farther end, in a recess in its massive wall, is a small
altar. Its west wall is pierced so that the approach can be commanded.
In this courtyard the daily prayers are frequently said during the
warm weather. A few steps lead from this into a building of two
stories, a rude little house in fact, once occupied by one of the
Patriarchs, and latterly by the late Rabban Yonan, a holy man, almost
a hermit, whose reputation for sanctity has extended far beyond the
limits of Kurdistan.

Removing our shoes, we entered the church through a sort of porch, the
lintel of which is ornamented with bas-reliefs consisting of a cross
in knot-work and side ornaments of the same, very rudely executed. The
threshold is elevated, and the lintel of the door only three feet four
inches high, so that the worshipper must bend again before entering.
It was a gloomy transition from the bright October sunshine to the
dark twilight within, and even with the aid of candles the interior
was only dimly seen. It consists of a nave, about thirty-four feet
long, with a sanctuary, and a sacristy which also serves as the
baptistery, at the east end. The nave is lofty and without seats. The
worshippers stand during divine service, even the aged and infirm only
rest by leaning on their cross-handled staffs. In the nave, below the
screen of the sanctuary, are three altars. On one, the "altar of
prayers," the anthem books are laid; on another, the "altar of the
Gospels," is a copy of the Gospels wrapped in a cloth, on which is a
cross, which it is customary to kiss; on the third there is also a
cross. A very thick wall separates the nave from the eastern chamber,
which in its turn is divided unequally into two parts. This wall is
pierced by a narrow chancel arch, and there is a narrow platform
behind the altars of prayer, etc., ascended by three steps, at which
the people receive the Eucharistic elements. Through the arch is dimly
seen the altar, over which is a stone canopy, or _baldachino_,
supported on four pillars. In the sacristy is a narrow but deep font,
in which the infant is baptized by being dipped in the water up to the
knees at the name of the Father, up to the waist at the name of the
Son, and wholly immersed at the name of the Holy Ghost, the priest
repeating, "Thou art baptized in the name of the Father, Amen, and of
the Son, Amen, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen." Before the rite the
infant's forehead is anointed with oil in the church, and it is
completely anointed in the baptistery before being plunged into the
font. Every infant has two god-parents, who act as sponsors at its
subsequent marriage. These persons by undertaking this office are
placed in a relationship of affinity close enough to be a bar to
marriage. After the baptism the child is confirmed in the nave with
oil and the imposition of the priest's hands, and after being very
tightly bound up in its swaddling clothes is handed to the
god-parents. Infant communion is the rule of the Church, but the
elements are rarely received at the time of baptism.

Baptism is only valid when celebrated by a priest and in a consecrated
church. Private baptisms are unlawful, but there is a form of prayer
appointed for use if a child is dangerously ill, during which the
priest signs a basin of water with the sign of the Cross, saying, "In
the strength of our Lord may this water be of blessing in the name,"
etc. The mother afterwards bathes the child in the water, and if it
dies they "trust it to the mercy of God." If it recovers it must be
taken to church to be baptized in the usual manner. The Holy
Communion, the _Kourbana_, ought by rule to precede baptism in the
very early morning, and the baptismal rite ought to be administered on
the eighth day, but it is often postponed till the annual village
festival, at which the _Kourbana_ is always celebrated.[44]

The whole interior of the church of Kochanes is covered by a plain
vaulted stone roof. At the west end of the nave is a row of oblong
stone tombs, four feet high, in which several of the patriarchs are
buried; and a steep narrow stone stair leads from these to a small
door high up in the north wall, which gives access to a small chamber
in which the priest prepares and bakes the bread for the Holy
Communion. The flour for this purpose is preferably of wheat which has
been gleaned by girls. It is ground in a hand-mill and is mixed with
"holy leaven," handed on from sacrament to sacrament. The bread is
made into round cakes, a quarter of an inch thick and two and a half
inches in diameter, which are stamped with a cross. Great importance
is attached to the elements, and the water used for mixing with the
sacramental wine is always brought from the purest spring within
reach.[45]

On one side of this upper chamber, at a height of four feet, there is
the mouth of a sort of tunnel which runs between the flat exterior
roof and the vaulted ceiling of the nave. This is used for concealing
the Liturgies and the other poor valuables of the church in times of
peril. Secret as this hiding-place is, the Kurds discovered it some
years ago, and carried off and destroyed whatever of value had been
hidden, including a _firman_ and a knife which (it is said) were given
by Mohammed to a former _Catholicos_, and which are now in Stamboul.

The general arrangement of the church is a pathetic protest against
chronic insecurity and persecution. The interior, and especially the
sanctuary, are as black as smoke can make them, although very few
candles are ordinarily used, the clergy holding rolls of thin wax
taper in their hands when they require light on the Liturgies and
Gospel. There is little architectural ornament except some sculptured
stones, and two recesses with scallop-shell roofs at the sides of the
chancel arch. The church is in good repair, for if any rain gets into
a sacred building it has to be reconsecrated.

Towards five o'clock the sounding-board is beaten, and the Patriarch,
the two bishops, and some other men, all in secular dress, saunter
down to evening prayers, which are usually said by the Patriarch
himself, and consist of a few prayers, a short lesson, and some
psalms. The custom is for the people on entering to kiss the Cross,
the Gospels, and the Patriarch's hand, and to lay their daggers in the
church porch. Clerical vestments are not worn at these services. The
Liturgies and Gospels are magnificent specimens of caligraphy, and the
Syriac characters are in themselves beautiful.

It is appointed that the whole Psalter be recited in three days, and
though I imagine that some abridgment is made, the priests and people,
contrary to rule, are apt to sit on the floor during the antiphonal
singing of the psalms, owing to their extreme length. The chanting is
very discordant, as each man adopts the key which suits himself.

The "kiss of peace" is an interesting and decorous feature of the
daily worship, and is always given at the beginning, even if it should
be omitted at the close. On entering the church the priest crosses
himself and kisses the Cross, which always lies on the altar on the
north side, saying, "Glory be to God in the highest." After this the
people come forward and kiss first the Cross and then the priest's
hand, and each passing on touches the hands of those who before him
have kissed the sacred emblem and raises his own hand to his lips. It
is the custom always to kiss the hand of a bishop or priest on meeting
him in the road or elsewhere and the salutation is performed in a
reverential manner.

The church furniture and vestments show the great poverty of the
people. The altar cloth is figured white cotton. Two tarnished and
battered candlesticks stand on the altar, and a very sordid cross in
the recess behind it. The chalice is a silver bowl, tarnished, almost
blackened, by neglect, and the paten is a silver tray in the same
state. There are a bronze censer, an antique, with embossed scripture
figures upon it, and a branched lamp-stand surmounted by a bird, both
of the rudest construction, and greatly neglected. Dust and cobwebs of
ancient date, droppings from candles and bits of candle wicks offend
Western eyes in the sacristy and elsewhere.

The clerical dress is very simple and of the poorest materials. The
priest wears an alb, a girdle, and a stole crossed over the breast,
and at the _Kourbana_ a calico square with crosses in coloured cotton
sewn upon it, thrown over the shoulders, and raised at times to cover
the head, or to form a screen between him and the congregation. The
deacon wears an alb or "church shirt" with coloured cotton crosses on
the breast and back, a blue and white girdle, and a stole which is
crossed over the right shoulder and has its ends tucked into the
girdle. The only difference in the dress of a bishop is that he wears
a stole reaching to the ankles and not crossed upon the breast. The
ordinary attire of the clergy and laity is the same, and the same
similarity pervades their occupations. Even bishops may be seen hard
at work in the fields. The sanctuary is held in great reverence, and
Mar Gauriel, who is more like a jolly sailor than a priest, put on a
girdle and stole before entering it when he showed it to me. Strange
to say, the priests and deacons officiating at the Holy Communion
retain their shoes and remove their turbans. The graves round the
church are very numerous, and are neatly kept. One burial has taken
place since I came. The corpse, that of a stranger, was enclosed in a
rough wooden coffin, and the blowing of horns, beating of drums,
carrying of branches decorated with handkerchiefs and apples, and the
wailing of the women and other demonstrations of grief, such as men
jumping into the grave, beating their breasts and uttering cries of
anguish, distressing scenes which are usual at Syrian funerals, were
consequently absent. The burial service is very striking and dramatic,
and there are different "orders" for bishops, priests, deacons,
laymen, women, and children. The whole, if recited at full length,
takes fully five hours! Besides prayers innumerable both for the
departed and the survivors, there are various dialogues between the
mourners and the departed, and between the departed and the souls of
those already in Hades.[46]

In spite of the perils around, "marrying and giving in marriage" go on
much as usual. Mar Gauriel, Bishop of Urmi, has come up on nothing
less important than a matrimonial errand, to ask for the hand of the
Patriarch's niece, a small child of eight years old, the daughter of
Ishai and Asiat, for his nephew, a boy of fourteen. Girls may marry at
twelve, and the beautiful Asiat, the child's mother, is only twenty. I
was invited to tea when the proposals were made in a neutral house,
where Mr. Browne interpreted the proceedings for me. Mar Gauriel,
handsomely dressed in red, with a _khelat_ or "coat of honour" given
him by the Shah over his usual clothes, looked as blithe and handsome
as a suitor should. He sat on one side of the floor with a friend to
help his suit, and on the other were seated Sulti, Asiat, and the
child.

Conversation was general for a time; then the Bishop, with a change of
face which meant business, produced a small parcel, and laid on the
floor, with a deliberate pause between the articles, carbuncle and
diamond rings, gold-headed pins, gold bracelets, a very fine pink
coral necklace, with a gold and turquoise pendant, and finally a long
chain of hollow balls of massive filigree silver, beautiful enough to
"fetch" any woman. The mother and aunt sat rigidly, assumed stony
faces, and would not admire. But Mar Gauriel had other weapons in his
armoury, and produced from a large bundle articles of dress of full
size, among which were Constantinople gauze gowns sprigged with gold,
a green silk gown covered with embroidery, and lastly a sort of coat
of very rich cloth of gold, a costly thing. The child's eyes sparkled
at this. The Bishop looked up from it at the two women, but a look of
contempt alone flitted across their stony faces.

Then he began his plea, which was loud and eloquent. He said he could
get a hundred brides for his nephew, who would be good workers, but
the daughter of Asiat should be a princess, and have servants to wait
upon her, and have nothing to do. He said he would wait four years for
her, he only wanted a promise. He was not tactful. He set forth the
advantages of an alliance with himself too strongly for a suitor. The
house of Mar Shimun is very proud and its connection is courted by
all, and the ladies were obdurate and literally frowned on his plea,
looking with well-acted contempt upon the glittering display on the
floor. Two days later the Patriarch himself rejected Mar Gauriel's
suit, saying, "It would be a shame for the House of Mar Shimun--it
would be a shameful example to betroth so young a girl." There the
matter must rest, for a time at least.

An actual marriage is arranged, and this time the bride, Sanjani, is a
handsome and very attractive girl of fourteen years old, with a strong
will and individuality. She has been several times to see me, and I
have become quite interested in her. Yesterday a number of men were
seen descending the dizzy zigzags which lead from Jelu down the
mountain on the other side of the Terpai ravine, and later, after a
few shots had been fired, a party of Jelu mountaineers superbly
dressed came up into Kochanes, also on a matrimonial errand. Some of
these men are quite blond. They came on behalf of a youth of high
position in Jelu, and the bargaining was keen, for the girl is of the
House of Mar Shimun. Eventually they gave twenty _liras_, a mule, a
gun, thirty sheep, and a revolver for her, as well as presents to the
negotiators. She wept most bitterly at the prospect of leaving
Kochanes. The money is spent on the _trousseau_, and the bride's
parents give a present to the bridegroom.

Shortly after the betrothal, Mar Sergis, Bishop of Jelu, arrived, with
fifty Jelu men, the young bridegroom, and some matrons. The Bishop,
who is a grand-looking man, was dressed in a robe, red _shulwars_, and
a turban; the other men were in silks and gold embroideries, and
carried jewelled _khanjars_, revolvers, and long guns with the stocks
curiously inlaid with ivory and silver. As they climbed up through the
bushes of the ravine they simulated an attack by skirmishers, firing
guns and revolvers. A few Kochanes men fired as if in defence, but
most of the people decided not to show this "sign of joy," because
news had come that the Kurds had driven off the sheep of the father of
Asiat. So with this feint of attack and capture the brilliant throng
reached the top of the ascent, Mar Sergis and others riding mules,
musicians playing a drum and flageolets, and five or six men with
drawn swords in their right hands and leather shields on their left
arms escorting the bridegroom to the hospitalities of the Patriarch's
house. The roofs were crowded with villagers, but the bride was hidden
in her father's house. The father had beaten her on her head with a
long wooden spoon, and she was lying down!

On that and the two following evenings there was dancing in the house
late into the night, and the days were spent in feasting,
sword-dances, and masquerading. It is regarded as a very "good"
marriage for Sanjani. The marriage ceremony, which is private, was
performed in the church at sunrise on the fourth day. There were
present Mar Sergis the bridegroom's uncle, the bridegroom, "the
bridegroom's friend," and Sanjani and her mother, who were preceded to
the church by a fifer. The marriage service, which took half an hour,
was performed at the west end of the nave. At the conclusion wine and
water (but not as a Eucharistic symbol), mixed with a little earth
from the church precincts, were administered to the married couple.
The ring is used as with us. The most curious part of the ceremony is
that while the service or "Blessing," as it is called, is proceeding,
the groomsman holds up a light wooden frame, to which fruits are
attached. This is also hung over the bridegroom's head at the
father-in-law's house, and is carried with him when he goes out to
dance. It is broken on the last day of the feasting, and the pair and
their friends eat the fruit. The festivities were prolonged for three
days more, after which the bride, with music and firing of guns, was
taken away in charge of the matrons to her husband's house in Jelu,
where there were to be rejoicings and feastings for other seven days.
As the bride's procession passes, the bridegroom, attended by his
young men-friends, takes his place on a roof, with a store of apples
beside him, which, after signing himself with the Cross, he throws
among the crowd, the hitting of the bride being regarded as a sign of
good luck.

Bishops are not allowed to marry, but to priests after their
ordination both first and second marriages are permitted. The law of
divorce is very lax, even according to the Church canons, and Canon
Maclean says that the practice is very bad, and that it is a great
temptation to the bishops, several of whom are very poor, to grant
divorces for the sake of the fees.

Friday was a severe fast in the Patriarch's household, as in all
others. The fasts of the Syrian Church, it has been said, "can only be
described as prodigious." A Syrian fast means serious self-denial, for
it involves not only abstinence from meat, but from fish, honey, eggs,
milk, butter, cheese, and all animal products, and the Syrian eats
nothing but rice cooked in walnut oil, raisins, walnuts, treacle,
beans, plain potatoes, and bread. All Wednesdays and Fridays in the
year this strict _regimen_ is adhered to, and the members of the Old
Church also fast for fifty days in Lent, and twenty-five in Advent,
and keep the very severe three days' fast of the Ninevites. Most
adults keep also the fast of St. Mary, the first fourteen days of
August. No religious observance is more rigidly adhered to by the
nation than these severe and prolonged abstinences, and it is
difficult for the Syrians to believe in the piety of any who do not,
by the same methods, mortify the body and bring it into subjection.

Mar Auraham, son of Marta, a man of twenty-six, Patriarch-designate,
and a bishop without a diocese, has returned, and spent part of
yesterday evening in my room. He looks delicate, but has a bright,
intelligent, charming face, and his conversation was thoughtful and
interesting. He really cares about his church and its discipline, is
regarded as honourable and straightforward in a marked degree, and as
preferring the spiritual to the temporal interests of his nation. He
is apparently a warm friend of the English Mission, and if he should
succeed to the chair of Mar Shimun great progress might be expected;
but intrigues are surging round him, and the patriarchal family is not
without its ambitions, to which he may possibly be sacrificed.

The succession to the Patriarchate and Episcopate is the subject of a
peculiar arrangement, which makes these offices practically
hereditary. In the Mar Shimun family there has been provided for more
than three centuries a regular succession of youths called
_Nazarites_, who have never eaten meat or married, and whose mothers
ate no meat for many months before they were born. One of these is
chosen by the Patriarch as his successor, and then some of the
disappointed youths take to eating meat like other men. At the present
time, though Mar Auraham has been designated, there are one or two
boy-relatives of the Patriarch who are being brought up not to eat
meat. The same prohibition applies to a bishop. He also usually has
one or more _Nazarites_, frequently nephews or cousins, who have been
brought up by him not to eat meat, one of whom, if there be more than
one, he chooses as his successor. If he neglects to make a choice, the
Bishopric at his death falls like a fief to the Patriarch, who has an
enormous diocese, while three of the Bishops have only a few villages
to look after.

Bishops, priests, and deacons are very poor. Occasionally a church has
a field or two as an endowment, or the villagers contribute a small
sum annually, or plough the priest's fields, or shear his sheep, but
the fees given for baptisms, marriages, and other occasional offices
would be his sole dependence unless he followed some secular calling.
In some places there is a plethora of supernumerary priests, and it is
shrewdly said that these obtain holy orders from the Bishops for the
sake of the loaves of sugar paid as fees. There are great abuses
connected with ordination. One of the present bishops was consecrated
when quite a young boy, and deacons are often ordained at sixteen, and
even much earlier. Mar Auraham must have been consecrated before he
was twenty. The only qualification for ordination is the ability to
read old Syriac. The gaily-dressed and fully-armed young mountaineers
whom I have seen as representing the diaconate look far more like
bandits than deacons. In one large village there are at present fifty
deacons and fifteen priests attached to one church!!

  [Illustration: SYRIAN PRIEST AND WIFE.]

The _Kourbana_ cannot be celebrated without the assistance of a
deacon. It is almost entirely confined to the great festivals and the
feast of the patron saint of each village. After the making of the
bread with the "holy leaven," and certain preliminaries by the clergy,
the congregation comes into church, summoned by blows on the wooden
sounding-board. The men stand in front, the women behind, all taking
off their shoes and kissing the Cross. When the elements are to be
received the priest advances to the door of the sanctuary, and a
deacon, completely enveloped by the curtain before the entrance, holds
the paten while the priest gives the bread to the men first, then to
the women and to the little children, held up either by father or
mother. The adults receive the cup in order from the deacon, who
passes it through a hole in a wall about six feet high, which runs
parallel with the wall of the sanctuary, but at a little distance from
it. On leaving the church after communion each person takes a piece of
ordinary bread from a tray near the door. The priests and deacons
communicate after the people when the sanctuary veil has again been
drawn. The Eucharist is always celebrated at or before daybreak,
except in the case of certain fast days and at funerals, when it is
considered a devotional act to fast till mid-day. During parts of the
communion service one deacon swings a censer and another "clangs" a
cymbal.

The _Kourbana_ as celebrated in the Syrian villages reminds me both of
the great communion gatherings of the Scottish Highlands and the
Church service which, in my childhood, ushered in the revelry of the
village wake or feast. The festivals which, as in England, fall on the
feast of the patron saint of the village are the great gaieties of
Syrian life, and even the Kurd cannot altogether overshadow them.
After the celebration of the _Kourbana_ at dawn, when the crowds are
frequently so great that the church is filled by several successive
congregations of communicants, the day is spent in visiting, and in
every house fruit, sweetmeats, and tea are provided for all comers,
and _arak_, if it be obtainable, forms a part of the entertainment.
Dances and games are kept up all day, and at its close many are drunk
and disorderly. These are the occasions when fighting with the Moslems
is apt to take place.

Men and women, of course, dance separately, and the women much in the
background. The dancing, as I have seen it, is slow and stately. A
number of either sex join hands in a ring, and move round to slow
music, at times letting go each other's hands for the purpose of
gesticulation and waving of handkerchiefs. It is not unlike the
national dance of the Bakhtiaris. The women not only keep in
retirement on this but on all occasions. They never sit at meat with
the men, but take their food afterwards in private--indeed, I strongly
suspect that they eat the leavings of their superiors. It is not,
however, only the women who occupy a subordinate position. Young men
treat not only their fathers but their elder brothers with extreme
respect; and when there are guests at table the sons do not sit down
with the fathers, but wait on the guests, and take their own meals,
like the women, afterwards.

The Syrians call Easter "The Great Feast" and Christmas "The Little
Feast." At the former, eggs coloured red are lavishly bestowed. The
festival of the Epiphany also receives great honour, but it is curious
that a people who believe that they owe their Christianity to the Wise
Men should not keep this feast so much in commemoration of them as of
our Lord's baptism. So much does the latter view preponderate, that
the Urmi Christians call it by a name which means "The New Waters."
Here in the mountains, however, it is called "The Brightness." During
the night before the celebration of the _Kourbana_ on the Feast of the
Epiphany it is customary to plunge into frozen pools! "One Lord, one
faith, one baptism" they hold with us, and it is of great interest to
recognise this fact in the midst of many superstitions and even
puerilities.

It is impossible by any language to convey an idea of the poverty and
meanness, the blackness and accumulations of dust, the darkness and
the gloom of the Syrian churches, of which this one is a favourable
specimen, typifying, I fear, too truly the gross ignorance,
indifference, and superstition in which bishops, priests, and people
are buried. And yet they are "faithful unto death." My daily wonder is
that people who know so little will for that little suffer the loss of
all things. Apostasy would be immediate emancipation from terror and
ruin, but it is nearly unknown. Their churches are like the catacombs.
Few things can be more pathetic than a congregation standing in the
dark and dismal nave, kissing the common wooden cross, and passing
from hand to hand the kiss of peace, while the priest, in dress like
their own, with girdle and stole of the poorest material, moves among
the ancient Liturgies in front of the dusty sanctuary, leading the
worshippers in prayers and chants which have come down from the
earliest ages of Christianity; from the triumphant Church of the East
to the persecuted remnant of to-day.

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[44] For the correction of my very imperfect investigations into the
religious customs of the Syrians, I am indebted to a very careful and
learned paper by Canon Maclean, _Some Account of the Customs of the
Eastern Syrian Churches_, originally published in the _Guardian_, and
now to be obtained at the office of "The Archbishop of Canterbury's
Mission to the Assyrian Christians, 2 Deans Yard, Westminster."

[45] A singular legend is told regarding the origin of the sacred
leaven and the sacred oil.

The Syrians say that as our Lord went up out of the Jordan after His
baptism John the Baptist collected in a phial the baptismal water as
it dropped from His sacred person, giving it before his death to St.
John the Evangelist. At the Last Supper (the legend runs) our Lord
gave to John two loaves, putting it into his heart to preserve one. At
the Cross, when this same apostle saw the "blood and water," he took
the phial from his bosom and added the water from the pierced side to
the water of baptism, dipping the loaf at the same time in the blood.
After the Day of Pentecost the disciples, before going forth to
"disciple" the nations, ground John's blood-dyed loaf to powder, mixed
it with flour and salt, divided it among themselves, and carried it
forth to serve as leaven for ever for the bread of remembrance. In
like manner they took of the mingled water of the phial, and mixing it
with oil of unction, divided it, and preserved it for the perpetual
sanctification of the waters of baptism.

[46] A portion of one of the latter follows:--

_The newly dead._--"Hail, my brethren and friends who sleep. Open the
door that I may enter in and see your ranks."

_Those in Hades._--"Come, enter and see how many giants are sleeping
here, and have been made dust and rust and worms in the bosom of
Sheol. Come, enter and see, O child of death, the race of Adam: see
and gaze where thy kind dwells. Come, enter and see the abundance of
the bones and their commingling. The bone of the king and the bone of
the servant are not separated. Come, enter and see the great
corruption we are dwelling in."

_The mourners._--"Wait for the Lord, who will come and raise you by
His right hand."

Translations of the Liturgies are to be found in Dr. Badger's valuable
book, _The Nestorians and their Rituals_.



LETTER XXIX (_Continued_)


Who is or is not in this house it is hard to say. Mirza tells me that
there are 115 guests to-day! Among them are a number of Tyari men,
whose wild looks, combined with the splendour of their dress and arms,
are a great interest. Their chief man has invited me to visit their
valley, and they say if I will go to them they will give me "a fine
suit of clothes." I need it much, as doubtless they have observed!
Their jackets are one mass of gold embroidery (worked by Jews), their
shirts, with hanging sleeves, are striped satin; their trousers, of
sailor cut, are silk, made from the cocoons of their own silkworms,
woven with broad crimson stripes on a white ground, on which is a
zigzag pattern; and their handsome jack-boots are of crimson leather.
With their white or red peaked felt hats and twisted silk _pagris_,
their rich girdles, jewelled daggers, and inlaid pistols, they are
very imposing. Female dress is very simple.

These Tyari men come from one of the wildest and most inaccessible
valleys of Central Kurdistan, and belong to those Ashirets or tribal
Syrians who, in their deep and narrow rifts, are practically
unconquered by the Turks and unmolested by the Kurds, and maintain a
fierce semi-independence under their _maleks_ (lit. kings) or chiefs.
They are wild and lawless mountaineers, paying taxes only when it
suits them; brave, hardy, and warlike, preserving their freedom by the
sword; fierce, quarrelsome among themselves, and having little in
common with the _rayahs_ or subject Syrians of the plains except their
tenacious clinging to their ancient Church, with its Liturgies and
rites, and their homage to our Lord Jesus as divine. They and their
priests, many of whom cannot even read, are sunk in the grossest
ignorance. They love revenge, are careless of human life, and are
wilder and more savage than their nominal masters. It is among these
people, who purchase their freedom at the cost of absolute isolation,
that Mr. Browne is going to spend the coming winter, in the hope of
instructing their priests and deacons, to whom at present guns are
more than ordinances. He has been among them already, and has won
their good-will.

  [Illustration: A SYRIAN GIRL.]

These Ashirets, of whom the Tyari guests are specimens, are quite
unlike the Syrian lowlanders, not only in character but in costume and
habits. As they have naturalised numbers of Kurdish words in their
speech, so their dress, with its colour, rich materials and
embroideries, and lavish display of decorated and costly arms, is
almost altogether Kurdish. If report speaks truly their fierce tribal
feuds and readiness with the dagger are Kurdish also. Their country is
the country of the hunted. Its mountains rise nearly perpendicularly
to altitudes of over 12,000 feet, and the valleys, such as Tyari,
Tkhoma, Baz, Diz, and Jelu, are mere slits or gashes, through which
furious tributaries of the greater Zab take their impetuous course.
Above these streams the tribes have built up minute fields by raising
the lower sides on stone walls a few feet above the rivers, the upper
being the steep hill slope. So small are these plots that it is said
that the harvest of some of them would only fill a man's cap!
Occasionally heavy floods sweep away the rice and millet cultivation
of a whole district, and the mountaineers are compelled to depend for
their food entirely on the produce of their flocks.

If they could sustain themselves and their animals altogether within
their own fastnesses, they would be secure from molestation either
from Kurds or Turks, for the only possible entrances to their valleys
are so narrow and ruggedly steep as scarcely to be accessible for a
pack-horse, and ten men could keep any number at bay. But
unfortunately the scanty herbage of their mountains is soon exhausted,
and they have to feed their flocks outside their natural
fortifications, where the sheep are constantly being carried off by
the Kurds, who murder the shepherds and women. The mountaineers are
quick to revenge themselves; they carry off Kurdish sheep, and savage
warfare and a life under arms are the normal condition of the
Ashirets. The worst of it is, that they are disunited among
themselves, and fight and spoil each other as much as they fight the
Kurds, even at times taking part with them against their Christian
brethren. Travellers are scarcely safer from robbery among them than
among the Kurds, but fierce, savage, and quarrelsome as they are, and
independent both of Turk and Kurd, they render a sort of obedience to
Mar Shimun, who rules them, through their _maleks_. There is not only
enmity between tribe and tribe, but between village and village, and,
as in parts of the Bakhtiari country, guides refuse to conduct
travellers beyond certain spots, declaring that "blood" bars their
farther progress.

Besides the Kurdish and Ashiret inhabitants of these mountains of
Kurdistan there are Yezidis, usually called devil-worshippers, and a
few Jews and Armenians. Probably there is not a wilder population on
the face of the earth, or one of whose ideas, real beliefs, and ways
Europeans are so ignorant. What, for instance, do we really know of
the beliefs which underlie the religious customs of the Kizilbashes
and Yezidis, and of the Christianity to which these semi-savage
Ashirets are so passionately attached?

If I were to leave Mr. Browne unnoticed I should ignore the most
remarkable character in Kochanes. Clothed partly as a Syrian and
living altogether like one,--at this time speaking Syriac more readily
than English; limited to this narrow alp and to the narrower exile of
the Tyari valley; self-exiled from civilised society; snowed up for
many months of the year; his communications even with Van and Urmi
irregular and precarious; a priest without an altar; a teacher without
pupils; a hermit without privacy; his time at the disposal of every
one who cares to waste it; harassed by Turkish officialism and
obstruction, and prohibited by the Porte from any active "mission
work," it yet would be hard to find a sunnier, more loving, and more
buoyant spirit. He has lived among these people for nearly four years
as one of themselves, making their interests completely his own,
suffering keenly in their persecutions and losses, and entering warmly
even into their most trivial concerns, till he has become in fact a
Syrian among Syrians. He sits on the floor in native fashion; his
primitive and unpalatable food, served in copper bowls from the
Patriarch's kitchen, is eaten with his fingers; he is nearly without
possessions, he sleeps on the floor "among the spiders" without a
mattress, he lives in a hovel up a steep ladder in a sort of tower out
of repair--Syrian customs and etiquette have become second nature to
him.

He has no "mission work" to report. He is himself the mission and the
work. The hostility of the Turkish Government and the insecurity of
the country prevent him from opening schools, he cannot even assemble
a few boys and teach them their letters; he got a bit of land and the
stones for erecting a cottage, but is not allowed to build; his plans
are all frustrated by bigotry on one side and timidity on the other,
and he is even prevented from preaching by the blind conservatism of
the patriarchal court. It has not been the custom to have preaching at
Kochanes. "Sermons were dangerous things that promoted heresy," the
Patriarch said. But Mr. Browne is far from being idle. People come to
him from the villages and surrounding country for advice, and often
take it. They confide all their concerns to him, he acts effectively
the part of a peacemaker in their quarrels, he is trusted even by the
semi-savage chiefs and priests of the mountain tribes, and his medical
skill, which is at the service of all, is largely resorted to at all
hours of the day. Silenced from preaching and prohibited from
teaching, far better than a sermon is his own cheery life of
unconscious self-sacrifice, truth, purity, and devotion. This example
the people can understand, though they cannot see why an Englishman
should voluntarily take to such a life as he leads. His power lies in
his singular love for them, and in his almost complete absorption in
their lives and interests.

His room is most amusing. It is little better than a Kerry hovel. He
uses neither chair, table, nor bed; the uneven earthen floor is
covered with such a litter of rubbish as is to be seen at the back of
a "rag and bone" shop, dusty medicine bottles predominating. There is
a general dismemberment of everything that once was serviceable. The
occupant of the room is absolutely unconscious of its demerits, and my
ejaculations of dismay are received with hearty laughter.[47]

Humbly following his example, I have become absorbed in the interests
of the inhabitants of Kochanes, and would willingly stay here for some
weeks longer if it were not for the risk of being blocked in by snow
on the Armenian highlands. The cattle plague is very severe, in
addition to other misfortunes. The village has already lost 135 of its
herd, and I seldom go out without seeing men dragging carcasses to be
thrown over the cliff. The people believe that the men will die next
year.

My future journey and its safety are much discussed. If I had had any
idea of the "disturbed" state of the region that I have yet to pass
through I should never have entered Turkey, but now I have resolved to
go _viâ_ Bitlis to Erzerum. If the road is as dangerous as it is said
to be, and if the rumours regarding the state of the Christians turn
out to have much truth in them, the testimony of a neutral observer
may be useful and helpful. At all events the risk is worth running. My
great difficulty is that _Qasha_ ---- must leave me here to return to
Urmi with Mar Gauriel's escort, and that I have no competent man with
me in case of difficulty. Mirza not only does not speak Turkish, but
has no "backbone," and Johannes, besides having the disadvantage of
being an Armenian, is really half a savage, as well as disobedient,
bad-tempered, reckless, and quarrelsome. He fought with a Turk at
Yekmala, and got me into trouble, and one of his first misdemeanours
here was to shoot the church doves, which are regarded as sacred,
thereby giving great offence to the Patriarch.

It is most difficult to get away. The Julamerik muleteers are afraid
of being robbed on the route I wish to take, and none of them but a
young Kurd will undertake my loads, and though he arrived last night
the _zaptiehs_ I applied for have failed me. They were to have been
here by daylight this morning, and the loads were ready, but nine
o'clock came without their appearance. I wanted to take armed men from
Kochanes, but Mar Shimun said that twelve Christians would be no
protection against the Kurds, and that I must not go without a
Government escort, so things were unpacked. Late this evening, and
after another messenger had been sent to Julamerik, one _zaptieh_
arrived with a message that they could not spare more, and the people
protest against my leaving with such insufficient protection.

Another difficulty is the want of money. Owing to the "boom" in silver
in Persia, and the semi-panic which prevailed, the utmost efforts of
my friends in Urmi could only obtain £10 for a £20 note, and this only
in silver _mejidiehs_, a Turkish coin worth about 4s. As no money is
current in the villages change cannot be procured, and on sending to
Julamerik for small coins, only a very limited quantity could be
obtained--Russian _kopecks_ locally current at half their value,
Turkish coins the size of a crown piece, but so debased that they are
only worth 1s., a number of pieces of base metal the size of
sixpences, and "groats" and copper coins, miserably thin. It took me
an hour, even with Mr. Browne's help, to count 8s. in this truly
execrable money. The Julamerik _shroff_ sent word that the English
sovereign is selling at 16s. only.

So, owing to these delays, I have had another day here, with its usual
routine of drinking coffee in houses, inviting women to tea in my
room, receiving mountaineers and others who come in at all hours and
kiss my hand, and smoke their long pipes on my floor, and another
opportunity of walking in the glory of the sunset, when the mountain
barriers of beautiful Kochanes glow with a colouring which suggests
thoughts of "the land which is very far off." Good Mr. Browne makes
himself one with the people, and is most anxious for me to identify
everybody, and say the right thing to everybody--no easy task, and as
I hope and fear that this is my last evening, I have tried to "leave a
pleasant impression" by spending it in the great gathering-place,
called pre-eminently the "house"! Mirza says that the people talk of
nothing but "guns, Kurds, the harvest, and the local news," but the
conversation to-night had a wider range, and was often very amusing,
taking a sombre turn only when the risks of my journey were discussed,
and the possible misconduct of my Kurdish _katirgi_. Ishai, who
describes him as "a very tame man" (not at all my impression of him),
has told him that "if he gives any trouble the House of Mar Shimun
will never forget it."

Nothing could exceed the picturesqueness of the "house" to-night.
There were doubtless fifty people there, but the lamps, which look as
old as the relentless sweep of Taimurlane, hanging high on the
blackened pillars, only lighted up the central group, consisting of
Sulti and Marta in the highest place, the English priest in his turban
and cassock, the grotesque visage of Shlimon the Jester, and the
beautiful face and figure and splendid dress of Ishai the Patriarch's
brother, as proud as proud can be, but sitting among the retainers of
his ancient house playing on a musical instrument, the hereditary
familiarity of serf and lord blending with such expressions of respect
as "your foot is on my eyes," and the favourite asseveration, "by the
Head of Mar Shimun." The blackness in which the lofty roof was lost,
the big ovens with their busy groups, the rows of men, half-seen in
the dimness, lounging on natural ledges of rock, and the uphill floor
with its uncouth plenishings, made up such a picture as the feudalism
of our own middle ages might have presented.

My letter[48] from the Turkish Ambassador at Tihran was sent to
Julamerik this afternoon, and has produced another _zaptieh_, and an
apology!

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[47] In the winter of 1887 and the spring of 1888 every effort was
made by Fikri Pasha, the Turkish Governor of this district, but a Kurd
by race, to dislodge Mr. Browne from his position in the mountains.
"Soldiers were continually sent to inquire into his plans; he was
accused of practising without a diploma as a medical man, because he
gave a few simple remedies to the natives in a country destitute of
physicians, and his position became well-nigh intolerable when he
found that his host, Mar Shimun, was being insulted and punished for
harbouring him, and that the native Christians were being made to
suffer for his residence among them. The Patriarch, however, stood
firm. 'Your presence here,' said he to Mr. Browne, 'may save us from a
massacre; and as for these troubles we must put up with them as best
we can.' These words were verified a few months afterwards."--Mr.
Athelstan Riley's _Report on the Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission to
the Assyrian Christians_, 1888.

[48] Translation of a letter given to the author by His Excellency the
Turkish Ambassador to the Court of Tihran.

"Among the honoured of English ladies is Mrs. Bishop. On this tour of
travel she has a letter of recommendation from the Exalted Government
of England, issued by the English Embassy in Tihran, and earnest
request is made that in her passage through the Imperial Territory she
be well protected. As far as _zaptiehs_ are necessary let them be
given for her safety, all necessary provision for her most comfortable
travel be perfected, and all her requests from the High Government of
the Osmanlis be met.

"That all courtesy and attention be shown to this distinguished lady,
this letter is given from the Embassy at Tihran."

As various statements purporting to be narratives of attacks made upon
me in Turkey have appeared in Russian and other papers, I take this
opportunity of saying that they are devoid of any foundation. I was
never robbed while in the dominion of His Majesty the Sultan: courtesy
was shown me by all the Turkish officials between the Persian frontier
and Erzerum, and efficient escorts of steady and respectful _zaptiehs_
were readily supplied.



LETTER XXX


     KOTRANIS, KURDISTAN, _Oct. 28_.

Here, in one of the wildest of mountain hamlets, I hoped to indulge in
the luxury of my tent, and it was actually unrolled, when all the
village men came to me and with gestures of appeal besought me not to
pitch it, as it would not be safe for one hour and would "bring
trouble upon them." The hamlet is suffering terribly from the Kurds,
who are not only robbing it of its sheep and most else, but are
attempting to deprive the peasants of their lands in spite of the fact
that they possess title-deeds. This Berwar-Lata valley has been
reduced from a condition of pastoral wealth to one of extreme poverty.
Kotranis, and Bilar a little lower down, from which the best hones are
exported, are ruined by Kurdish exactions. The Christians sow and the
Kurds reap: they breed cattle and sheep and the Kurds drive them off
when they are well grown. One man at ---- a few miles off, had 1000
sheep. He has been robbed of all but sixty. This is but a specimen of
the wrongs to which these unhappy people are exposed. The Kurds now
scarcely give them any respite in which "_to let the sheep's wool
grow_," as their phrase is.

Kotranis is my last Syrian halting-place, and its miseries are well
fitted to leave a lasting impression. It is included in the _vilayet_
of Van, in which, according to the latest estimates, there are 80,000
Syrian Christians. The _rayahs_ either own the village lands or are
the dependants or serfs of a Kurdish Agha or master. In either case
their condition is deplorable, for they have practically no rights
which a Kurd or Turk is bound to respect. In some of their villages
they have been robbed till they are absolutely without the means of
paying taxes, and are beaten, till the fact is established beyond
dispute. They are but scantily supplied with the necessaries of life,
though their industry produces abundance. Squeezed between the
rapacity and violence of the Kurds and the exactions of the Turkish
officials, who _undoubtedly connive at outrages so long as the victims
are Christians_, the condition of these Syrians is one of the most
pitiable on earth. They have no representatives in the cities of
Europe and Asia, and no commercial instincts and habits like the
Armenians. They have the Oriental failings of untruthfulness and
avarice, and the cunning begotten by centuries of oppression, but
otherwise they are simple, grossly ignorant, helpless shepherds and
cultivators; aliens by race and creed, without a rich or capable man
among them, hemmed in by some of the most inaccessible of mountain
ranges, and by their oppressors the Kurds; without a leader, adviser,
or friend, rarely visited by travellers, with no voice which can reach
Europe, with a present of intolerable bondage and a future without
light, and yet through all clinging passionately to the faith received
by tradition from their fathers.

As I have no lodging but a dark stable, I am utilising the late
afternoon, sitting by the village threshing-floor, on which a mixed
rabble of animals is treading corn. Some buffaloes are lying in moist
places looking amiable and foolish. _Boy_ is tied to my chair. The
village women knit and stare. Two of the men, armed with matchlock
guns, keep a look-out for the Kurds. A crystal stream tumbles through
the village, over ledges of white quartz. Below, the valley opens and
discloses ranges bathed in ineffable blue. The mountain sides are
aflame with autumn tints, and down their steep paths oxen are bringing
the tawny gold of the late harvest on rude sledges. But the shadow of
the Kurd is over it all. I left English-speaking people so lately that
I scarcely realise that I am now alone in Central Kurdistan, in one of
the wildest parts of the world, among fierce predatory tribes, and a
ravaged and imperilled people.

I bade the Patriarch farewell at six this morning, and even at that
early hour men were seated all round his room. After shaking hands
with about thirty people, I walked the first mile accompanied by Mr.
Browne, who then left me on his way to seek to enlighten the wild
tribesmen of the Tyari valley. From the top of the Kamerlan Pass,
above Kochanes, the view was inconceivably beautiful. On the lovely
alp on which the village stands a red patch of autumnal colouring
flamed against the deep indigo and purple mountains of Diz and
Shawutha, which block up the east end of the lofty valley; while above
these rose the Jelu ranges, said to be from 12,000 to 15,000 feet in
altitude, bathed in rich pure blue, snow-fields on their platforms,
new-fallen snow on their crests, indigo shadows in their clefts and
ravines,--a glorious group of spires, peaks, crags, chasms,
precipices, rifts, parapets, and ridges perfect in their beauty as
seen in the calm coloured atmosphere in which autumn loves to die.
Higher up we were in vast solitudes, among splintered peaks and
pasturages where clear streams crashed over rock ledges or murmured
under ice, and then a descent of 1800 feet by steep zigzags, and a
seven hours' march in keen pure air, brought us through rounded hills
to this village.

_Van, November 1._--There was a night alarm at Kotranis. A number of
Kurds came down upon the threshing-floor, and the _zaptiehs_ were
most unwilling to drive off the marauders, saying that their only
orders were to protect me. The Kurds, who were at least ten to one,
retired when they saw the Government uniforms, but the big dogs barked
for the rest of the night.

The next day's march occupied eleven hours. It was very cold, "light
without heat," superb travelling weather. One _zaptieh_ was a Moslem,
the other an Armenian, and there were strong differences of opinion
between them, especially when we halted to rest at a Christian
village, and the Kurdish _katirgi_ took several sheaves of corn from a
threshing-floor without paying for them. The Moslem insisted that he
should not pay and the Christian that he should, and it ended by my
paying and deducting the sum from his _bakhsheesh_. The _zaptiehs_ are
usually men who have served five years with the colours. In Eastern
Asia Minor they are well clothed in dark blue braided uniforms, and
have ulsters in addition for cold weather. They provide their own
horses. Their pay is eighty piastres a month, with rations of bread
for themselves and of barley for their animals, but the pay is often
nine months in arrear, or they receive it in depreciated paper. They
are accused of being directly or indirectly concerned in many
robberies, and of preying on the peasantry. They are armed with Snider
rifles, swords, and revolvers. From the top of a high pass above
Kotranis there was a final view of the Jelu mountains, and the
remainder of the day was spent among hills, streams, and valleys, with
rich fertile soil and abundant water, but very thinly peopled.

A very ingenious plough has taken the place of the primitive implement
hitherto used. The share is big and heavy, well shod with iron, and
turns up the soil to a great depth. The draught is from an axle with
two wheels, one of them two feet in diameter and the other only ten
inches. The big wheel runs in the last furrow, and the little one on
the soil not yet upturned, the axle being level. Some of these ploughs
were drawn by eight buffaloes, with a boy, singing an inharmonious
tune, seated facing backwards on each yoke. After the ploughing, water
is turned on to soften the clods, which are then broken up by the
husbandmen with spades.

There is a great charm about the scenery as seen at this season, the
glorious colouring towards sunset, the fantastic forms and brilliant
tints of the rocks, and the purity of the new-fallen snow upon the
heights; but between Kotranis and Van, except for a little planting in
the "Valley of the Armenians," there is scarcely a bush. If I had warm
clothing I should regard the temperature as perfect, nearly 50° at
noon, and falling to about 25° at night. After a severe march, a
descent and a sudden turn in the road brought us in the purple
twilight to Merwanen, the chief village of Norduz, streamily situated
on a slope--a wretched village, semi-subterranean; a partly finished
house, occupied by a newly arrived _Kaimakam_ and a number of
_zaptiehs_, rising above the miserable hovels, which, bad as they are,
were all occupied by the _Kaimakam's_ attendants. _Zaptiehs_,
soldiers, Kurds, and villagers assured me that there was no room
anywhere, and an officer, in a much-frogged uniform, drove my men from
pillar to post, not allowing us standing room on the little dry ground
that there was. I humbly asked if I could pitch my tent, but a rough
negative was returned. A subterranean buffalo stable, where there was
just room among the buffaloes for me to lie down in a cramped
position, was the only available shelter, and there was none for the
servants. I do not much mind sharing a stable with _Boy_, but I "draw
the line" at buffaloes, and came out again into the frosty air, into
an inhospitable and altogether unprepossessing crowd.

Then there was a commotion, with much bowing and falling to the right
and left, and the _Kaimakam_ himself appeared, with my powerful letter
in his hand, took me into the unfinished house, at which he had only
arrived an hour before, and into a small room almost altogether
occupied by two beds on the floor, on one of which a man very ill of
fever was lying, and on the other an unveiled Kurdish beauty was
sitting. The _Kaimakam_, though exceedingly "the worse of drink," was
not without a certain dignity and courtesy. He apologised profoundly
for the incivility and discomfort which I had met with, and for his
inability to entertain me "with distinction" in "so rough a place,"
but said that he would give up his own room to so "exalted a
personage," or if I preferred a room outside it should be made ready.
Of course I chose the latter, with profuse expressions of the
gratitude I sincerely felt, and after a cup of coffee bade him
good-night.

The room was the justice or injustice room over the _zaptieh_
barracks, and without either door or glazed windows, but cold and
stiff as I was after an eleven hours' march, I was thankful for any
rest and shelter. Shortly my young Kurdish _katirgi_, a splendid
fellow, but not the least "tame," announced that he must leave me in
order to get the escort of some _zaptiehs_ back to Julamerik. He said
that "they all" told him that the road to Van was full of danger, and
that if he went on he would be robbed of his mules and money on the
way back. No transport however, was to be got, and he came on with me
very pluckily, and has got an escort back, at least to Merwanen. In
the morning the _Kaimakam_ rose early to do me honour, but was so
tipsy that he could scarcely sit upright on his chair on a stone dais
amidst a rabble of soldiers and scribes. We were all benumbed with
cold, and glad that the crossing of an expanse of frozen streams
rendered walking a necessity. A nine hours' march through mountains
remarkable for rocky spires and needles marvellously coloured, and for
the absence of inhabitants, took us to the Armenian village of
Khanjarak, finely situated in a corrie upon a torrent bank; but it is
so subterranean, and so built into the hillside, that a small square
church and conical piles of _kiziks_ are the only obvious objects, and
I rode over the roofs without knowing what was underneath.

All the women and children, rabbit-like, came out of their holes,
clothed in red rags, and some wore strings of coins round their heads.
The men were dressed like Kurds, and were nearly as wild-looking. They
protested against my tent being pitched. They said the Kurds were
always on the watch, and would hack it with their swords in half an
hour to get at its contents, that they had only three matchlock guns,
and that the Kurds were armed with rifles. I felt that I could
scarcely touch a lower depth in the matter of accommodation than when
they lodged me in a dark subterranean stable, running very far back
into the hill, with a fire of animal fuel in the middle giving off
dense and acrid fumes. A recess in this, with a mud bench, was
curtained off for me, and the rest of the space was occupied by my own
horses and baggage mules, and most of the village asses, goats, cows,
calves, and sheep. Several horses belonging to travellers and to my
own escort were also there, and all the _zaptiehs_, servants,
travellers, and _katirgis_ were lodged there. There were legions of
fleas revelling in a temperature which rose to 80° at midnight, though
there were 5° of frost outside. In the part of the roof which
projected from the hill there were two holes for light, but at night
these were carefully closed with corks of plaited straw.

The wretched poverty of the people of this place made a very painful
impression on me. They _may_ have exaggerated when they told me how
terribly they are oppressed by the Kurds, who, they say, last year
robbed them of 900 sheep and this year of 300, twenty-five and some
cattle having been driven off a few days before, but it is a simple
fact that the night of my visit the twenty-four sheep for which there
was no room in the stable were carried away by a party of well-armed
Kurds in the bright moonlight, the helpless shepherds not daring to
resist. It is of no use, they say, to petition the Government; it will
not interfere. The Kurds come into their houses, they say, and terrify
and insult their women, and by demands with violence take away all
they have. They say that the money for which they have sold their
grain, and which they were keeping to pay their taxes with, was taken
by the Kurds last week, and that they will be cruelly beaten by the
_zaptiehs_ because they cannot pay. Their words and air expressed
abject terror.[49]

Their little church is poorer than poverty itself, a building of
undressed stone without mortar, and its length of thirteen feet
includes the rude mud dais occupied by the yet ruder altar. Its
furniture consists of an iron censer, an iron saucer containing oil
and a wick, and an earthen flagon. There are no windows, and the
rough walls are black with candle smoke. The young man who showed the
church took a Gospel from the dais, kissing the cross upon it before
handing it to me, and then on seeing that I was interested went home
and brought a MS. of St. Matthew's Gospel, with several
rudely-illuminated scenes from our Lord's life. "Christos," he said
with a smile, as he pointed to the central figure in the first
illustration, and so on as he showed me the others, for in each there
was a figure of the Christ, not crowned and risen, but suffering and
humiliated. Next morning, in the bitter cold of the hour before
sunrise, the clang of the mallet on the sounding-board assembled the
villagers for matins, and to the Christ crowned and risen and "sitting
on the right hand of power" they rendered honour as Divine, though in
the midst of the grossest superstition and darkness, and for Him whom
they "ignorantly worship" they are at this moment suffering the loss
of all things. Their empty sheepfold might have been full to-day if
they had acknowledged Him as a Prophet and no more.[50]

Leaving this wretched hamlet, where the unfortunate peasants are as
avaricious as they are poor and dirty, and passing a Kurdish village
with a stone fort picturesquely situated, we crossed a pass into a
solitary valley, on which high rounded hills descend in harmonised
buffs and browns, both hills and valleys covered with uncut hay. The
_zaptiehs_ said that this was a specially dangerous place, and urged
the caravan to its utmost speed. We met three Armenian _katirgis_ in
their shirts. They complained most bitterly that they had been robbed
an hour before of five mules with their equipments, as well as of
their clothing and money. The ascent and the very tedious descent of
the Kasrik Kala Pass brought us into the large and fertile plain of
Haizdar, the "plain of the Armenians," sprinkled with Armenian
villages, and much cultivated.

Mirza and one _zaptieh_ had gone back for a blanket which had been
dropped, and after halting in an orchard till I was half-frozen I
decided to proceed without them, having understood that we could reach
Van in three hours. I started my party by signs, and after an hour's
riding reached a village where Johannes spoke fluently in an unknown
tongue, and the _zaptieh_ held up five fingers, which I learned too
late meant that Van was five hours off. I thought that they were
asking for instructions, and at every pause I repeated _Van_.

After a brief consultation we went up among the hills, the young
Kurdish _katirgi_ jumping, yelling, singing, and howling, to keep his
mules at a trot, the _zaptieh_ urging them with his whip, and pointing
ominously at the fast sinking sun. On we clattered with much noise,
nor did we slacken speed till we gained a high altitude among desert
solitudes, from which we looked down upon the Dead Sea of Van, a sheet
of water extending in one direction beyond the limits of vision, lying
red and weird, with high mountains jutting into it in lofty headlands
hovered over by flame-coloured clouds. High up along the mountain side
in a wavy line lay the path to Van in the deepening shadows, and the
_zaptieh_, this time holding up three fingers, still urged on the
caravan, and the Kurd responded by yells and howls, dancing and
jumping like a madman.

Just as it was becoming dark, four mounted men, each armed with two
guns, rode violently among the mules, which were in front of me, and
attempted to drive them off. In the _mêlée_ the _katirgi_ was knocked
down. The _zaptieh_ jumped off his horse, threw the bridle to me, and
shouldered his rifle. When they saw the Government uniform these Kurds
drew back, let the mules go, and passed on. The whole affair took but
a few seconds, but it was significant of the unwillingness of the
Kurds to come into collision with the Turks, and of the power the
Government could exercise in the disturbed districts if it were once
understood that the marauders were not to be allowed a free hand.

After this attack not a word was spoken, the bells were taken off the
mules, the _zaptieh_, as fine and soldierly a man as one could wish to
see, marched in front, quiet and vigilant, and so in a darkness in
which I could not see my horse's ears we proceeded till, three hours
later, the moon rose as we entered Van. It was one of the _eeriest_
rides I ever made, and I had many painful reflections on having risked
through ignorance the property of my faithful Kurdish _katirgi_. The
first light of Van was a welcome sight, though after that there was a
long ride to "the gardens," a large wooded suburb chiefly inhabited by
Armenians, in which the American missionaries live. Dr. Reynolds, the
medical missionary, has given me a most hospitable welcome, though his
small house is more than full with new arrivals from America. I wanted
to re-engage my jolly _katirgi_ for Bitlis, but he went back at once
with the _zaptieh_, and after the obvious perils of the road it would
not have been fair to detain him. Visitors are scarce here. Van does
not see more than one non-official European in three years. The
Vice-Consul says that he should have doubted the sanity of any one who
had proposed to travel from Urmi to Van by the route I took, but now
that the journey is safely over I am glad that no one at Urmi knew
enough to dissuade me from it. The Vice-Consul and all the mission
party are as kind as they can be, and Van is for me another oasis.

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[49] I must ask my readers to believe that I crossed the Turkish
frontier without any knowledge of or interest in the "Armenian
Question;" that so far from having any special liking for the
Armenians I had rather a prejudice against them; that I was in
ignorance of the "Erzerum troubles" of June 1890, and of yet more
recent complications, and that the sole object of my journey by a
route seldom traversed by Europeans from Urmi to Van was to visit the
Patriarch of the Nestorians and the Kochanes station of the Archbishop
of Canterbury's Assyrian Church Mission, and that afterwards I
travelled to Erzerum _viâ_ Bitlis only to visit the American
missionaries there. So far as I know, I entered Turkey as a perfectly
neutral and impartial observer, and without any special interest in
its Christian populations, and it is only the "inexorable logic of
facts" which has convinced me of their wrongs and claims.

[50] In another village, a young man in speaking of their
circumstances said: "We don't know much, but we love the Lord Jesus
well enough to die for Him."



LETTER XXXI


     VAN,[51] ARMENIA, _Nov. 4_.

Van and its surroundings are at once so interesting and picturesque
that it is remarkable that they are comparatively seldom visited by
travellers. Probably the insecurity of the roads, the villainous
accommodation _en route_, and its isolated position account for the
neglect.[52] Here as elsewhere I am much impressed with the excellence
of the work done by the American missionaries, who are really the
lights of these dark places, and by their exemplary and honourable
lives furnish that _moral model_ and standard of living which is more
efficacious than preaching in lifting up the lives of a people sunk in
the depths of a grossly corrupted Christianity. The boys' and girls'
schools in Van are on an excellent basis, and are not only turning out
capable men and women, but are stimulating the Armenians to raise the
teaching and tone of their own schools in the city, with one of which
I was very greatly pleased. The creation of churches, strict in their
discipline, and protesting against the mass of superstitions which
smother all spiritual life in the National Armenian Church, is
undoubtedly having a very salutary effect far beyond the limited
membership, and is tending to _force reform_ upon an ancient church
which contains within herself the elements of resurrection. Great
honour is due to Dr. Reynolds for the way in which, almost
single-handed, he has kept the valuable work of this Mission going for
years, and now that colleagues have arrived a considerable development
may be hoped for.

I have confessed already to a prejudice against the Armenians, but it
is not possible to deny that they are the most capable, energetic,
enterprising, and pushing race in Western Asia, physically superior,
and intellectually acute, and above all they are a race which can be
raised in all respects to our own level, neither religion, colour,
customs, nor inferiority in intellect or force constituting any
barrier between us. Their shrewdness and aptitude for business are
remarkable, and whatever exists of commercial enterprise in Eastern
Asia Minor is almost altogether in their hands. They have singular
elasticity, as their survival as a church and nation shows, and I
cannot but think it likely that they may have some share in
determining the course of events in the East, both politically and
religiously. As Orientals they understand Oriental character and modes
of thought as we never can, and if a new Pentecostal _afflatus_ were
to fall upon the educated and intelligent young men who are being
trained in the colleges which the American churches have scattered
liberally through Asia Minor, the effect upon Turkey would be
marvellous. I think most decidedly that reform in Turkey must come
through Christianity, and in this view the reform and enlightenment
of the religion which has such a task before it are of momentous
importance.

Islam is "cabined, cribbed, confined." Its forms of belief and thought
and its social and political ideas remain in the moulds into which
they were run at its rise. Expansion is impossible. The arrogance
which the Koran inculcates and fosters is a dead weight on progress.
If the Turk had any disposition to initiate and carry out reforms his
creed and its traditions would fetter him. Islam, with its fanaticism,
narrowness, obstructiveness, and _grooviness_ is really at this moment
the greatest obstacle to every species of advance both in Turkey and
Persia, and its present activity and renewed proselytising spirit are
omens of evil as much for political and social progress as for the
higher life of men.

The mission houses and schools are on fairly high ground more than two
miles from Van, in what are known as "the Gardens," where most of the
well-to-do Armenians and Turkish officials reside. These gardens,
filled with vineyards and all manner of fruit trees, extend for a
distance of five miles, and being from two to three miles wide their
mass of greenery has a really beautiful effect. Among them are many
very good houses, and the roads and alleys by which they are
intersected are well planted with poplars and willows, shading
pleasant streams which supply the water for irrigation.

The view from the roof is a glorious one. Looking west over the
gardens, which are now burning with autumn tints, the lofty crests of
the huge crater of Nimrud Dagh are always visible across the lake of
Van, intensely blue in the morning, and reddening in the sunsets of
flame and gold. In the evenings too, the isolated rock on which the
castle of Van is built bulks as a violet mass against the sinking
sun, with a foreground of darkening greenery. The great truncated cone
of the Sipan Dagh looms grandly over the lake to the north; to the
east the rocky mass of the Varak Dagh, with white villages and
monasteries in great numbers lying in its clefts and folds, rises
precipitously to a height of 10,500 feet; and to the south the
imposing peaks of Ardost, now crested with snow, and Mount Pelu,
projecting into the lake, occupy prominent positions above the lower
groups and ridges.

The town of Van is nearly a mile from the lake, and is built on an
open level space, in the midst of which stands a most picturesque and
extraordinary rock which rises perpendicularly to a height of about
300 feet. It falls abruptly at both extremities, and its outline,
which Colonel Severs Bell estimates at 1900 yards in length, is
emphasised by battlemented walls, several towers, and a solitary
minaret rising above the picturesque irregularity of the ancient
fortifications. Admission to the interior of the castle is refused,
consequently I have not seen the chambers in the rock, supposed to
have been the tombs of kings. The most celebrated of the cuneiform
inscriptions cut on tablets smoothed in the rock is on the south side
in an inaccessible position, and was with difficulty copied by the
murdered traveller Schulz with the aid of a telescope. It is well seen
from below, looking, as has been remarked, like an open copy of a
newspaper. Like the tablets of Persepolis and Mount Elwend, it relates
in august language the titles and deeds of Xerxes.

The founding of Van is ascribed to Semiramis, who, according to
Armenian history, named it Shemiramagerd, and was accustomed to resort
to its gardens, which she had herself planted and watered, to escape
from the fierce heat of the summer at Nineveh. The well of Semiramis
and other works attributed to her bring her name frequently into
conversation--indeed she is mentioned as familiarly as Queen Elizabeth
is among us!

  [Illustration: ROCK AND CITADEL OF VAN.
   _To face p. 338, vol. II._]

The town, which is walled, is not particularly attractive, but there
is one very handsome mosque, and a very interesting Armenian church,
eleven centuries old, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. The houses
are mean-looking, but their otherwise shabby uniformity is broken up
by lattice windows. The bazars are poorly built, but are clean, well
supplied, and busy, though the trade of Van is suffering from the
general insecurity of the country and the impoverishment of the
peasantry. It is very pleasant that in the Van bazars ladies can walk
about freely, encountering neither the hoots of boys nor the
petrifying Islamic scowl.

  [Illustration: KURDS OF VAN.]

Fifty years ago Venetian beads were the only articles imported from
Europe. Now, owing to the increasing enterprise of the Armenians,
every European necessary of life can be obtained, as well as many
luxuries. Peek and Frean's biscuits, Moir's and Crosse and Blackwell's
tinned meats and jams, English patent medicines, Coats' sewing cotton,
Belfast linens, Berlin wools, Jæger's vests, and all sorts of
materials, both cotton and woollen, abound. I did not see such a
choice and abundance of European goods in any bazar in Persia, and in
the city of Semiramis, and beneath the tablet of Xerxes, there is a
bazar devoted to Armenian tailors, and to the clatter of American
sewing machines stitching Yorkshire cloth! One of these tailors has
made a heavy cloth ulster for me, which the American ladies pronounce
perfect in fit and "style!"

The Armenians, with their usual industry and thrift, are always
enlarging their commerce and introducing new imports. Better than
this, they are paying great attention to education, and several of
their merchants seem to be actuated by a liberal and enlightened
spirit. It is, however, to usury not less than to trade that they owe
their prosperity. The presence of Europeans in Van, in the persons of
the missionaries and vice-consuls, in addition to the admirable
influence exerted by the former, has undoubtedly a growing tendency
towards ameliorating the condition of the Christian population.

In the _vilayet_ of Van it is estimated by Colonel Severs Bell that
the Christians outnumber the Moslems by 80,000, the entire population
being estimated at 340,000. In the city of Van, with a population
estimated by him at 32,000, the Christians are believed to be as 3 to
1.[53]

The formalities required for Turkish travelling are many and
increasing, and from ignorance of one of them Johannes has been
arrested, and Mirza marched to the Consulate by the police. I have
been obliged to part with the former and send him back to Hamadan, as
it would not be safe to take the risky journey to Erzerum with such an
inexperienced and untrustworthy servant. Through Mr. Devey's kindness
I have obtained an interpreter and servant in Murphy O'Rourke, a
British subject, but a native of Turkey, and equally at home in
English, Turkish, and Armenian, though totally illiterate.

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[51] Van may be considered the capital of that part of Kurdistan which
we know as Armenia, but it must be remembered that under the present
Government of Turkey Armenia is a prohibited name, and has ceased to
be "a geographical expression." Cyclopædias containing articles on
Armenia, and school books with any allusions to Armenian history, or
to the geography of any district referred to as Armenia, are not
allowed to enter Asia Minor, and no foreign maps which contain the
province of Armenia are allowed to be used in the foreign schools, or
even to be retained in the country. Of the four millions of the
Armenian race 2,500,000 are subjects of the Sultan, and with few
exceptions are distinguished for their loyalty and their devotion to
peaceful pursuits.

The portion of Armenia which lies within the Turkish frontier consists
for the most part of table-lands from 5000 to 6000 feet in elevation,
intersected by mountain ranges and watered by several rivers, the
principal of which are the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the Aras. Of its
many lakes the Dead Sea of Van is the principal, its dimensions being
estimated at twice the area of the Lake of Geneva, and at eighty miles
in length by twenty-five in breadth. From its exquisitely beautiful
shores rise the two magnificent extinct volcanoes, the Sipan Dagh,
with an altitude of over 12,000 feet, and the Nimrud Dagh, with a
crater five miles in diameter and 1600 feet in depth, the top of its
wall being over 9000 feet in height.

The Armenians claim an antiquity exceeding that of any other nation,
and profess to trace their descent from Haik, the son of Togarmah, the
grandson of Japhet, who fled from the tyranny of Belus, King of
Assyria, into the country which in the Armenian tongue is known by his
name, as _Haikh_ or _Haizdani_. It may be said of the Armenians that
the splendour and misery of their national history exceed those of any
other race. Their national church claims an older than an apostolic
foundation, and historically dates from the third century, its actual
founder, S. Gregory the Illuminator, having been consecrated at
Cæsarea as Bishop of Armenia in the second year of the fourth century.
In the fifteenth century a schism brought about by Jesuit missionaries
resulted in a number of Armenians joining the Church of Rome, and
becoming later a separate community known as the "Catholic Armenian
Church." Within the last half-century, under the teaching of the
American missionaries, a Reformed Church has arisen, known as the
Protestant Armenian Church, but with these exceptions the race and the
national church may be regarded as one. The Armenians have had no
political existence since the year 1604, but form an element of
stability and wealth in Turkey, Russia, and Persia, where they are
principally found.

Their language is regarded by scholars as an off-shoot of the Iranian
branch of the Indo-Germanic group of languages. Their existing
literature dates from the fourth century, and all that is not
exclusively Christian has perished. Translations of the Old and New
Testaments dating from the fifth century are among its oldest
monuments, and the dialect in which they are written, and in which
they are still read in the churches, known as Old Armenian, is not now
understood by the people. During the last century there has been a
great revival of letters among the Armenians, chiefly due to the
_Mekhitarists_ of Venice, and a literature in modern Armenian is
rapidly developing alongside of the study and publication of the works
of the ancient writers.

[52] It has, however, received due attention both from scholars and
antiquaries, and among the popularly-written accounts of it are very
interesting chapters in Sir A. H. Layard's _Nineveh and Babylon_, and
in a charming volume by the Rev. H. F. Tozer, _Turkish Armenia and
Eastern Asia Minor_.

[53] An estimate by Mr. Devey, Her Britannic Majesty's Vice-Consul at
Van, gives a population of only 250,000 for the whole _vilayet_.



LETTER XXXII


     BITLIS, _Nov. 10_.

I arrived here two days ago, having ridden the ninety miles from Van
in three and a half days. Dr. Reynolds accompanied me, and as we had a
couple of _zaptiehs_ on good horses we deserted the caravan, and came
along at as good a pace as the mountainous nature of the road would
allow. The early winter weather is absolutely perfect for travelling.
All along I am quite impressed with the resemblance which the southern
shores of Lake Van bear to some of the most beautiful parts of the
Italian Riviera--Italian beauty seen under an Italian sky. Travellers
lose a great deal by taking the easier route round the north shore of
the lake.

The first day's half march ended at Angugh, an Armenian village on the
river Hashal, on the plain of Haizdar or Haigatsor, where the people
complained of some Armenian women having been despoiled of their
jewels by some Kurds during the afternoon. The views are magnificent
_en route_, especially of the Christian village of Artemid, on a spur
on a height, with a Moslem village in gardens below, with green
natural lawns sloping to the lake. At Angugh I was well accommodated
in a granary on a roof, and as there was no room for my bed, found a
comfortable substitute in a blanket spread upon the wheat. The next
day's march was through exquisitely beautiful scenery, partly skirting
deep bays on paths cut in the rock above them, among oaks and ferns,
and partly crossing high steep promontories which jut out into the
lake. A few villages, where strips of level ground and water for
irrigation can be obtained, are passed, and among them the village of
Vastan, the "Seat of Government" for the district, and a Turkish
telegraph station, but in the eleventh century the residence of the
Armenian royal family of Ardzrauni.

Art aids nature, and there are grand old monasteries on promontories,
and Kurdish castles on heights, and flashing streams and booming
torrents are bridged by picturesque pointed arches. There are 150
monasteries in this region, and the towers of St. George at the
mountain village of Narek, high on a rocky spur above one of the most
beautiful of the many wooded valleys which descend upon the lake of
Van, lend an air of medieval romance to a scene as fair as nature can
make it. Nearly all the romantic valleys opening on the lake are
adorned with one or more villages, with houses tier above tier in
their rocky clefts, and terrace below terrace of exquisite cultivation
below, of the vivid velvety green of winter wheat. These terraces
often "hang" above green sward and noble walnut trees. Occasionally
the villages are built at the feet of the mountains, on small plateaux
above steep-sided bays, and are embosomed in trees glowing with
colour, from canary-yellow to crimson and madder-red, and mountains,
snow-crested and forest-skirted tower over all. Lake Van, bluer than
the blue heavens, with its huge volcanic heights--Sipan Dagh, Nimrud
Dagh, and Varak Dagh, and their outlying ranges--its deep green bays
and quiet wooded inlets; its islets, some like the Bass Rock, others
monastery-covered; its pure green shadows and violet depths; its heavy
boats with their V-shaped sails; and its auburn oak-covered slopes,
adds its own enchantment, and all is as fair as fair can be.

Though the state of things among the Christians is not nearly so bad
as in some of the Syrian valleys, the shadow of the Kurd is over this
paradise. The Armenians complain of robbery with violence as being of
constant occurrence, and that they have been plundered till they are
unable to pay the taxes, and it is obvious that travellers, unless in
large companies, are not safe without a Government escort. In each
village the common sheepfold is guarded from sunset to sunrise by a
number of men--a heavy burden on villagers whose taxation should
ensure them sufficient protection from marauders.

In one of the fairest bays on this south side of the lake is the
island rock of Akhtamar, crowned with a church and monastery built of
red sandstone. The convent boat, which plies daily to the mainland for
supplies, is available for travellers. Eleven monks with their pupils
inhabit the rock. It is a very ancient foundation, dating from A.D.
633, and the church is attributed to the Armenian King Kakhik, who
reigned in the tenth century. It is a cruciform building, with a
hexagonal tower and a conical terminal at the intersection of the
cross. The simple interior is decorated with some very rude pictures,
and a gilded throne for the Patriarch stands at the east end. This
Patriarchate of Akhtamar, the occupant of which has at times claimed
the title of _Catholicos_, was founded in 1113 by an archbishop of
Akhtamar who declared himself independent of the _Catholicos_ of the
Armenian Church who resides in Echmiadzin, but at the present time he
has only a few adherents in the immediate neighbourhood of Van, and
has the reputation of extreme ignorance, and of being more of a farmer
than an ecclesiastic. He was at Haikavank, at the fine farm on the
mainland possessed by the convent, but we had not time to call.

Plain as is the interior of the Church of Akhtamar, the exterior is
most elaborately ornamented with bas-reliefs, very much undercut.
Three of the roofs rest on friezes on which birds and beasts in
singularly vigorous action are portrayed, and there are besides two
rows of heads in high relief, and a number of scripture subjects very
boldly treated, in addition to some elaborate scroll-work, and bands
of rich foliage. On this remarkable rock Dr. Reynolds and his family
took refuge a few years ago, when it was apprehended that Van would be
sacked by the Kurds.

The vivid colouring of the lake is emphasised by a line of pure white
deposit which runs round its margin, and vivacity is given to its
waters by innumerable wild fowl, flamingoes, geese, ducks, pelicans,
cormorants, etc. From a reedy swamp near it ducks rose in such numbers
as literally to darken the air. Carbonate of soda and chloride of
sodium are obtained from the lake water by evaporation, but it is not
nearly so salt as that of the Sea of Urmi. Not very far from the south
shore a powerful fresh-water spring bubbles up in the midst of the
salt water. The only fish known of is a species said to be like a
small herring. These are captured in enormous quantities in the spring
as they come up into the streams which feed the lake.

On the last two nights at Undzag and Ghazit I had my first experiences
of the Turkish _odah_ or village guest-house or _khan_, of which, as
similar abodes will be my lodgings throughout my journey to Erzerum, I
will try to give you an idea. Usually partially excavated in the
hillside and partly imbedded in the earth, the _odah_ is a large
rambling room with an irregular roof supported on rough tree-stems. In
the centre, or some other convenient place, is a mud platform slightly
raised; in the better class of _odahs_ this has a fireplace in the
wall at one end. Round this on three sides is a deep manger, and
similar mangers run along the side walls and into the irregular
recesses, which are lost in the darkness. The platform is for human
beings, and the rest of the building for horses, mules, oxen, asses,
and buffaloes, with a few sheep and goats probably in addition. The
_katirgis_ and the humbler class of travellers sleep among the beasts,
the remainder, without distinction of race, creed, or sex, on the
enclosed space. Light enters from the door and from a few small holes
in the roof, which are carefully corked up at night, and then a few
iron cups of oil with wicks, the primitive lamp in general use,
hanging upon the posts, give forth a smoky light.

In such an _odah_ there may be any number of human beings cooking,
eating, and sleeping, and from twenty to a hundred animals, or more,
as well as the loads of the pack-horses and the arms of the
travellers. As the eye becomes accustomed to the smoke and dimness, it
sees rows of sweet ox faces, with mild eyes and moist nostrils, and
wild horse faces surrounding the enclosure, and any number more
receding into the darkness. Ceaseless munching goes on, and a neigh or
a squeal from some unexpected corner startles one, or there is a horse
fight, which takes a number of men to quell it. Each animal is a
"living stove," and the heat and closeness are so insupportable that
one awakes quite unrefreshed in the morning in a temperature of 80°.
The _odah_ is one of the great features of travelling in Eastern Asia
Minor. I dined and spent the evenings in its warmth and cheeriness,
enjoying its wild picturesqueness, but at Undzag I pitched my small
tent at the stable door, and at Ghazit on the roof, and braved the
cold in it.

_Boy_ is usually close to me, eating scraps from my dinner, and gently
biting the back of my neck when he thinks that I am forgetting his
presence. He amuses all the men everywhere by his affectionateness,
and eating out of my hand, and following me like a dog. I never saw
so gentle and trustworthy a creature. His hair has grown very long,
thick, and woolly, and curls in parts like that of a retriever. His
sweet ways have provided him with a home after his powerful legs and
big feet have trudged with me to Trebizond, for my hosts here, who are
old and somewhat frail, have taken such a fancy to his gentleness and
winsomeness that he is to return to them when the roads open in the
spring.

It was a grand ride from Undzag over lofty mountain passes to the
exquisitely-situated village of Ghazit, built in a deep _cul de sac_
above the lake. Terraces, one above another, rise from the lake shore,
so beautifully cultivated as to realise Emerson's description of the
appearance of English soil, "Tilled with a pencil instead of a
plough." A church stands on a height, and the village, almost hidden
among magnificent walnuts, is crowded upon a terrace of green sward at
the foot of a semicircle of mountains which wall it in from the world.
The narrow village road, with its low, deep-eaved stone houses, was
prettily brightened by colour, for all the women were dressed more or
less in red, and wore high red coronets with dependent strings of
coins, and broad aprons, reaching from the throat to the feet, of
coarse dark blue cotton, completely covered with handsome patterns
worked in cross-stitch in silk.

Fine walnut trees are one of the specialities of this part of Turkey.
They provide much of the oil which is used during the long fasts which
both Armenians and Syrians observe, and they develop very large woody
excrescences or knots, the grain and mottling of which are peculiarly
beautiful. These are sought for by buyers for Paris houses even in the
remote valleys of Kurdistan for use in the making and veneering of
furniture, especially of pianos. Fortunately the removal of this
growth does not kill the tree, and after a time the bark grows over
much of the uncovered portion of the trunk, only a scar being left.

At sunset that evening 800 sheep were driven into the village
sheepfold just below the roof on which my tent was pitched, and it was
a very picturesque scene, men pushing their way through them to find
their own sheep by ear-mark, women with difficulty milking ewes here
and there, big dogs barking furiously from the roofs above, and all
the sheep bleating at once. In winter they are all housed and hand
fed. The snow lies six feet deep, and Ghazit can communicate neither
with Bitlis nor Van. It is the "milk of the flocks" which is prized.
Cows' milk is thought but little of. I made my supper of one of the
great articles of diet in Turkey, boiled cracked wheat, sugar, and
_yohoort_, artificially soured milk, looking like whipped cream.

I was glad to escape to my tent from the heat and odours of the
_odah_, even though I had to walk over sheep's backs to get up to the
roof. I had a guard of two men, and eight more armed with useless
matchlock guns watched the sheepfold. I was awakened by a tremendous
noise, the barking of infuriated dogs close to me, the clashing of
arms and the shouts of men, mixed up with the rapid firing of guns not
far off on the mountain side, so near, indeed, that I could see the
flashes. It was a Kurdish alarm, but nothing came of it. A village
which we passed a few hours later was robbed of 600 sheep, however.

Leaving beautiful Ghazit before the sun rose upon it the next morning,
we spent some hours in skirting the lake, and in crossing elevated
passes and following paths along hillsides covered with oaks, the
russet leaves of which are being cut for winter "keep." The dwarf
juniper is also abundant. After crossing a pass on the top of which
are graves covered with heavy stone slabs with inscriptions on their
sides, and head-stones eight feet high inscribed with epitaphs in
Kufic or early Arabic, we descended upon the great plain of Rahwan,
separated from the plain of Mush only by a very low ridge, which,
however, is a remarkable water-parting, dividing the drainage systems
of the Tigris and the Euphrates. On this solitary plain there are the
ruins of a magnificent building, known as "the Persian Khan," built of
large blocks of hewn stone. Parts of it are still available for
shelter during snowstorms. It has courtyards with stately entrances,
domes, arches, and vaulted chambers, and is a very striking object.
Two other _khans_ are placed as refuges in the valley nearer Bitlis.

Shortly afterwards we reached the meeting-place of three valleys and
three roads, leading respectively to the plain of Mush, the lake of
Van, and Bitlis. It is in this neighbourhood that the eastern source
of the Tigris is situated, and here there is also the great interest
of coming upon one of the landmarks on the retreat of the Ten
Thousand. Scholars appear to agree in general that this gallant band
must have come up by these eastern sources of the Tigris, for then, as
now, the only practicable entrance into Armenia from the Karduchi
territory, the modern Kurdistan, was by this route.[54]

The march was very long and fatiguing, and as we were compelled to
rest for two hours at the beautifully-situated village of Toogh,
evening was coming on with a gray sky and a lurid sunset before we
left the Rahwan plain, after which we had a ride of more than three
hours down the wild and stony Bitlis valley before we reached our
destination. If I had made this march in spring, when herbage and
flowers drape the nakedness of the rocky and gravelly mountains and
precipices, it would not have made such an impression upon me as it
did, but seeing the apparently endless valley for ever winding and
falling to the south, with two bars of lurid light for ever lying
across what never proved to be its opening, and the higher peaks
rising snow-crested into a dark and ominous-looking sky, I think it
one of the weirdest and wildest rides I ever took.

The infant Tigris is rapidly augmented by a number of streams and
torrents. The descent was like taking leave of the bright upper world
to go down into some nether region, from which there would be no exit.
The valley, at times narrowing into a ravine, is hemmed in by sterile
mountains, so steep as not to afford sites for villages. There are
parapetless ancient arches of stone, flung across torrents which have
carved hideous pathways for themselves through hideous rocks, scoriæ,
and other signs of volcanic action, rough gulches, with narrow paths
hanging on their sides, and in spite of many climbs upwards the course
is on the whole downwards.

Darkness settled upon the valley long before lights, in what looked
like infinite depths, and straggling up remarkable heights, trees,
stone walls, and such steep ups and downs that it felt as if the
horses were going to topple over precipices, denoted that we had
entered Bitlis. Then came a narrow gateway, a flagged courtyard choked
with mules and men, a high house with heavily-barred windows, a steep
outside stair, and at the top sweet faces and sweet voices of
European women, and lights and warm welcomes.

_Bitlis, November 12._--This is the most romantically-situated city
that I have seen in Western Asia. The dreamy impressions of height and
depth received on the night of my arrival were more than realised the
following morning. Even to the traveller arriving by daylight Bitlis
must come as a great surprise, for it is situated in a hole upon which
the upper valley descends with a sudden dip. The Bitlis-chai or
Eastern Tigris passes through it in a series of raging cataracts, and
is joined in the middle of the town by another torrent tumbling down
another wild valley, and from this meeting of the waters massive stone
houses rise one above another, singly, and in groups and terraces,
producing a singularly striking effect. Five valleys appear to unite
in Bitlis and to radiate from a lofty platform of rock supported on
precipices, the irregular outlines of which are emphasised by walls
and massive square and circular towers, the gigantic ruins of Bitlis
Castle.

The massiveness of the houses is remarkable, and their courtyards and
gardens are enclosed by strong walls. Every gate is strengthened and
studded with iron, every window is heavily barred, all are at a
considerable height, and every house looks as if it could stand a
siege. There is no room to spare; the dwellings are piled tier above
tier, and the flagged footways in front of them hang on the edges of
precipices. Twenty picturesque stone bridges, each one of a single
arch, span the Tigris and the torrents which unite with it. There are
ancient ruins scattered through the town. It claims immense antiquity,
and its inhabitants ascribe its castle and some of its bridges to
Alexander the Great, but antiquarians attribute the former either to
the Saracens or to the days when an ancient Armenian city called
Paghesh occupied the site of the present Bitlis. It seems like the end
of the world, though through the deep chasms below it, through which
the Tigris descends with great rapidity to the plains, lies the
highway to Diabekir. Suggestions of the ancient world abound. The
lofty summits towering above the basin in which this extraordinary
city lies are the termination of the Taurus chain, the Niphates of the
ancients, on the highest peak of which Milton localised the descent of
Satan.[55]

Remote as Bitlis seems and is, its markets are among the busiest in
Turkey, and its caravan traffic is enormous for seven or eight months
of the year. Its altitude is only 4700 feet, and the mercury in winter
rarely falls to zero, but the snowfall is tremendous, and on the
Rahwan Plain snow frequently lies up to the top of the telegraph
poles, isolating the town and shutting up animals in their stables and
human beings in their houses for weeks, and occasionally months, at a
time. Bitlis produces a very coarse, heavy cotton cloth which, after
being dyed madder red or dark blue, is largely exported, and is used
for the embroidered aprons which the Armenian women wear. It also
exports _loupes_, the walnut whorls or knots of which I have written
before, oak galls, wax, wool, and manna, chiefly collected from the
oak. The Bitlis people, and even some Europeans, regard this as a
deposit left by the aromatic exhalations which the wind brings in this
direction from Arabia, and they say that it lies on any plant without
regard to its nature, and even on the garments of men. The deposit is
always greatest in dry years. In addition to the white manna, obtained
by drying the leaves and allowing the saccharine matter to fall
off--and the green, the result of steeping the leaves in water, which
is afterwards strained, there is a product much like golden syrup,
which is used for the same purposes.

Bitlis is one of the roughest and most fanatical and turbulent of
Turkish cities, but the present Governor, Raouf Pasha, is a man of
energy, and has reduced the town and neighbourhood to some degree of
order. Considerable bodies of troops have been brought in, and the
garrison consists of 2500 men. These soldiers are thoroughly well
clothed and equipped, and look remarkably clean in dress and person.
They are cheery, soldierly-looking men, and their presence gives a
little confidence to the Christians.

The population of Bitlis is estimated at 30,000, of which number over
20,000 are Kurds. Both men and women are very handsome, and the
striking Kurdish costume gives a great brilliancy and picturesqueness
to this remarkable city. The short sleeveless jackets of sheepskin
with the black wool outside which the men are now wearing over their
striped satin vests, and the silver rings in the noses of the girls
give them something of a "barbarian" look, and indeed their habits
appear to be much the same as those of their Karduchi ancestors in the
days of Xenophon, except that in the interval they have become Moslems
and teetotallers! Here they are Sunnis, and consequently do not clash
with their neighbours the Turks, who abhor the Kurds of the mountains
as Kizilbashes. The Kurdish _physique_ is very fine. In fact I have
never seen so handsome a people, and their manly and highly
picturesque costume heightens the favourable effect produced by their
well-made, lithe, active figures.

The cast of their features is delicate and somewhat sharp; the mouth
is small and well formed; the teeth are always fine and white; the
face is oval; the eyebrows curved and heavy; the eyelashes long; the
eyes deep set, intelligent, and roving; the nose either straight or
decidedly aquiline, giving a hawk-like expression; the chin slightly
receding; the brow broad and clear; the hands and feet remarkably
small and slender.

The women when young are beautiful, but hard work and early maternity
lead to a premature loss of form, and to a withered angularity of
feature which is far from pleasing, and which, as they do not veil, is
always _en évidence_.

The poorer Kurds wear woollen socks of gay and elaborate patterns;
cotton shoes like the _gheva_ of the Persians; camlet trousers, wide
at the bottom like those of sailors; woollen girdles of a Kashmir
shawl pattern; short jackets and felt jerkins without sleeves. The
turban usually worn is peculiar. Its foundation is a peaked felt cap,
white or black, with a loosely-twisted rope of tightly-twisted silk,
wool, or cotton wound round it. In the girdle the _khanjar_ is always
seen. Over it the cartridge belt is usually worn, or two cartridge
belts are crossed over the chest and back. The girdle also carries the
pipe and tobacco pouch, a long knife, a flint and steel, and in some
cases a shot pouch and a highly-ornamented powder horn.

The richer Kurds dress like the Syrians. The under-garment, which
shows considerably at the chest and at the long and hanging sleeves,
is of striped satin, either crimson and white or in a combination of
brilliant colours, over which is worn a short jacket of cloth or silk,
also with long sleeves, the whole richly embroidered in gold. Trousers
of striped silk or satin, wide at the bottom; loose medieval boots of
carnation-red leather; a girdle fastened with knobbed clasps of silver
as large as a breakfast cup, frequently incrusted with turquoises; red
felt skull-caps, round which they wind large striped silk shawls, red,
blue, orange, on a white or black ground, with long fringed ends
hanging over the shoulders, and floating in the wind as they gallop;
and in their girdles they carry richly-jewelled _khanjars_ and
pistols decorated with silver knobs, besides a number of other
glittering appointments. The accoutrements of the horses are in
keeping, and at marriages and other festivities the head-stalls,
bridles, and breast-plates are completely covered with pendent silver
coins.

The dress of the women is a foil to that of their lords. It consists
of a blue cotton shirt; very wide trousers, drawn in at the ankles; a
silver saucer on the head, from which chains depend with a coin at the
end of each; a square mantle hanging down the back, clasped by two of
its corners round the neck, and many strings of coins round the
throat; a small handkerchief is knotted round the hair, and in
presence of a strange man they hold one end of this over the mouth.
The Turks in Bitlis are in a small minority, and the number of
Armenian Christians is stated at from 2000 to 5000. The Old Church has
a large monastery outside the town and several churches and schools.
The Protestant Armenians have a substantial church edifice, with a
congregation of about 400, and large boarding-schools for boys and
girls.

The population is by far the wildest that I have seen in any Asiatic
city, and is evidently only restrained from violence by the large
garrison. It is not safe for the ladies of this mission to descend
into the Moslem part of the city, and in a residence of more than
twenty years they have never even passed through the bazars. The
missionaries occupy a restricted and uncertain position, and the
Armenian Christians are subject to great deprivations and restraints,
and are distrusted by the Government. Of late they have been much
harassed by the search for arms, and Christian gunsmiths have been
arrested. Even their funeral ceremonies are not exempt from the
presence of the police, who profess to believe that firearms are
either carried in the place of a corpse or are concealed along with
it. Placed in the midst of a preponderating and fully-armed Kurdish
population, capable at any moment of being excited to frenzy against
their faith, they live in expectation of a massacre, should certain
events take place which are regarded as probable within two or three
years.

It was not to see the grandeur and picturesqueness of Bitlis that I
came here so late in the season, but to visit the American
missionaries, especially two ladies. My hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Knapp,
have returned from a visit to America to spend their last days in a
country which has been their home for thirty years, and have lately
been joined by their son, who spent his boyhood in Bitlis, and after
graduating in an American university has come back, like so many sons
of missionaries, to cast in his lot with a people to whom he is bound
by many links of sympathy, bringing his wife with him. The two Misses
----, who are more than half English, and are highly educated and
accomplished, met Mr. and Mrs. Knapp long ago in a steamer on the
Mediterranean, and decided to return with them to this dangerous and
outlandish place, where they have worked among the women and girls for
twenty-three years, and are still full of love and hope. The school
for girls, in which fifty boarders are received in addition to fifty
day pupils, has a _kindergarten_ department attached to it. The
parents of all are expected to contribute in money or in kind, but
their increasing poverty is telling on their ability to do so, and
this winter the supply of food contributed by them is far short of the
mark.

The tastefulness and generosity of these ladies have produced as
bright and beautiful a schoolroom as could be found anywhere, and ivy
trained round the windows, growing plants, and pictures which are not
daubs give a look of home. With them "Love is the fulfilling of the
law"--love in every tone, look, and touch, and they have that true
maternity of spirit which turns a school into a family, and trains as
well as educates. They are now educating the children, and even
grandchildren, of their earliest pupils, and have the satisfaction of
seeing how very much their school has effected in permeating the
household and social relationships of the Armenian women with the tone
of Christian discipleship, so that one would scarcely hear from the
lips of any of their married pupils the provoking question, "We are
only women, what can we do?" Many of them have gone to homes in the
roughest and wildest of mountain villages, where they sweeten village
life by the gentle and kindly ways acquired in the Bitlis school.
These ladies conduct a mothers' meeting, and I thought that the women
were much developed in intelligence and improved in manner as compared
with the usual run of Armenian women. On being asked to address them,
I took their own words for my text, "We are only women," etc., and
found them intelligent and sympathetic.

These ladies have endured great hardships, and their present position
is one of continual deprivation and frequent risk. One of them was so
severely stoned in Bitlis that she fell unconscious from her horse. In
the winter Miss ---- itinerates among the Armenian villages of the
Mush and Rahwan Plains and the lake shore, travelling over the crust
of the enormously deep snow in a hand-sled drawn by a man, braving
storms which have nearly cost her her life, sleeping and living for a
month or more at a time chiefly in _odahs_, and fearlessly
encountering the very roughest of Kurds and others in these dim and
crowded stables. The danger of village expeditions, and the difficulty
of obtaining _zaptiehs_ without considerable expense, have increased
of late, and the Mush Plain especially has been ravaged all the
summer and autumn by the Kurds, with many barbarities and much loss of
life, so that travelling for Christians even in companies has been
dangerous. Caravans have lately been attacked and robbed, and in the
case of one large mixed caravan the Christians were robbed but the
Moslems were unmolested. A traveller was recently treacherously
murdered by his _katirgis_, and Miss ----, having occasion to employ
the same men a few days ago, saw and heard them rehearse his dying
agonies more than once for the amusement of Kurds on the road.

Luxury is unknown in this mission house. It is so small that in order
to receive me the ladies are sleeping in a curtained recess in the
kitchen, and the reception-room for the natives is the eating and
living room of the family. Among them all there is a rare devotion,
and lives spent in cheerful obedience to God and in loving service for
man have left on their faces the impress of "the love which looks
kindly and the wisdom which looks soberly on all things." The mission
has had a severe struggle. The life on this mountain slope above the
fanatical city is a very restricted one,--there is nothing of what we
are accustomed to regard as "necessary recreation," and a traveller is
not seen here above once in two or three years. All honour to those
who have courage and faith to live such a life so lovingly and
cheerfully!

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[54] It does not present any difficulty to me that Xenophon omits all
mention of the lake of Van, for a range of hills lies between it and
the road. I have travelled over the track twice, and failed to see
anything in the configuration of the country which would have led me
to suppose that the region to the eastward was anything but a
continuity of ranges of hills and mountains, and if the Ten Thousand
took the route from the eastern head-waters of the Tigris to the
Murad-chai at the farther end of the plain of Mush, directing all
their investigations and inquiries in a westerly direction, there are
very many chances against their having been informed, even by their
prisoners, of the existence of the sea of Van.

[55] _Paradise Lost_, iii. 741, "Nor stayed, till on Niphates' top he
lights."



LETTER XXXIII


     PIKHRUZ, _Nov. 14_.

I was indeed sorry to leave the charming circle at the Mission House
and the wild grandeur of Bitlis, but a certain wan look in the sky and
peculiar colouring on the mountains warned my friends that winter
might set in any day, and Dr. Reynolds arranged for _katirgis_ and an
escort, and obtained a letter from the Governor by means of which I
can procure additional _zaptiehs_ in case of need. My Turkish
_katirgi_, Moussa, is rich, and full of fun and jollity. He sings and
jokes and mimics Mirza, rides a fine horse, or sprawls singing on its
back, and keeps every one alive by his energy and vitality. My loads
are very light, and his horses are strong, and by a peculiar screech
he starts them off at a canter with no other object than the
discomfiture of Mirza, who with all his good qualities will never make
a horseman. Unluckily he has a caravan of forty horses laden with
ammunition for the Government on the road, so things may not be always
so smooth as they are now. Descending by a track more like a stair
than a road, and crossing the Tigris, my friends and I performed the
feat of riding through some of the bazars, even though Mr. Knapp and I
had been pelted with stones on an open road the day before. There was
no molestation, for the people are afraid of the _zaptiehs'_ swords.
Bitlis is busy, and it is difficult to get through its crowded
markets, low, narrow, and dark as they are, the sunbeams rarely
entering through their woven roofs. The stalls were piled with fruits,
roots, strange vegetables, red home-dyed cottons, gay gear for horses,
daggers and silver chains such as Kurds love, gay Kurdish clothing,
red boots with toes turned up for tying to the knees, pack-saddles,
English cottons ("_Mankester_"), mostly red, and pipes of all kinds.
There was pottery in red and green, huge earthen jars for the storage
of water, brooms, horse-shoes, meat, curds, cheeses, and everything
suited to the needs of a large and mixed population, and men seated in
the shops plied their curious trades.

Emerging into the full sunlight on the waggon road to Erzerum, we met
strings of girls carrying water-jars on their backs from the wells,
and long trains of asses and pack-bullocks bringing in produce, mixed
up with foot passengers and Kurds on showy horses. Bitlis rejoices in
abundant streams, wells, fountains, and mineral springs, some strongly
chalybeate, others resembling the Vichy waters. The grandly
picturesque city with its piled-up houses, its barred windows
suggestive of peril, its colossal ruins, its abounding waters, its
bridges, each one more remarkable than the other, its terraced and
wooded heights and the snow-crested summits which tower above them,
with their cool blue and purple shadows, disappeared at a turn of the
road, and there too my friends left me to pursue my perilous journey
alone.

The day was superb, and full of fine atmospheric effects. As we
crossed the Rahwan Plain the great mountains to the west were
enshrouded in wild drifting mists, through which now and then peaks
and ledges, white with recent snow, revealed themselves, to be hidden
in blackness the next moment. Over the plain the blue sky was vaulted,
and the sun shone bright and warm, while above the mountains to the
south of Lake Van white clouds were piled in sunlit masses. After
halting at Tadvan, a pleasant village among streams, fountains,
gardens, and fruit trees, we skirted the lake along pleasant
cultivated slopes and promontories with deep bays and inlets to
Gudzag, where I spent the evening in an _odah_, retiring to sleep in
my small tent, pitched in the village, where a big man with a gun, and
wearing a cloak of goatskin reaching to his feet, kept up a big fire
and guarded me till morning. The water froze in my basin during the
night. The _odah_ was full of Armenians, and Murphy interpreted their
innumerable tales of wrong and robbery. "Since the Erzerum troubles,"
so the tales ran, "the Kurds kill men as if they were partridges." On
asking them why they do not refuse to be robbed by "demand," they
replied, "Because the Kurds bring big sticks and beat us, and say they
will cut our throats." They complained of the exactions of the
_zaptiehs_ and of being tied to the posts of their houses and beaten
when they have not money wherewith to pay the taxes.

Starting at sunrise on the following morning I had a very pleasant
walk along the sweet shore of the lake, while water, sky, and
mountains were blended in a flood of rose and gold, after which,
skirting a wooded inlet, on the margin of which the brown roofs of the
large village of Zarak were scarcely seen amidst the crimson foliage,
and crossing a low range, we descended upon a plain at the head of a
broad bay, on the farther side of which, upon a level breezy height,
rose the countless monoliths and lofty mausoleums of Akhlat, which I
had made a long detour to see. The plain is abundantly watered, and
its springs were surrounded with green sward, poplars, and willows,
while it was enlivened by numerous bullock-carts, lumbering and
creaking on their slow way with the latest sheaves of the harvest.

After winding up a deep ravine we came upon a great table of rock
scarped so as to be nearly perpendicular, at the base of which is a
stone village. On the other side is a fine stream. I had purposed to
spend the night at Akhlat, but on riding up the village street, which
has several shops, there was a manifest unfriendliness about its
Turkish inhabitants, and they went so far as to refuse both lodgings
and supplies, so I only halted for a few hours. Few things have
pleased me more than Akhlat, and the dreamy loveliness of the day was
altogether propitious.

I first visited the Kharaba-shahr or "ruined city." The table rock is
honeycombed with a number of artificial chambers, some of which are
inhabited. Several of these are carefully arched. A very fine one
consists of a chamber with an arched recess like a small chancel, and
a niche so resembling a piscina at one side that one involuntarily
looks for the altar. These dwellings are carefully excavated, and
chisel marks are visible in many places. Outlining this remarkable
rock, and above these chambers, are the remains of what must have been
a very fine fortress, with two towers like those of the castle of
Bitlis springing from below the rock. The whole of it has been built
of hewn red sandstone. The walls have been double, with the centre
filled up with rough stones and mortar, but not much of the stone
facing remains, the villages above and below having been built of it.
Detached pieces of masonry, such as great masses of walls, solitary
arches, and partially-embedded carved fragments extend over a very
large area, and it is evident that investigators with time and money
might yet reap a rich reward. Excavators have been recently at
work--who or what they were I could not make out, and have unearthed,
among other objects of interest, a temple with the remains of a dome
having a cornice and frieze, and two small circular chambers, much
decorated, the whole about twenty-five feet long.

Akhlat Kalessi, or the castle of Akhlat, stands on the sea-shore, on
which side it has no defences. It is a fortress with massive walls,
with round and square towers at intervals, and measures about 700
paces from the water to the crest of the slope, and about 330 across.
The enclosure, which is entered by two gates, contains two ancient
mosques solidly built, and a few houses among fruit trees, as well as
some ruins of buildings. The view of the Sipan Dagh from this very
striking ruin is magnificent.

There are many Circassian villages on the skirts of the Sipan Dagh,
and their inhabitants bear nearly as bad a reputation as that of the
Kurds. They are well armed, and defy the local government. They are
robbers and pilferers, and though they receive, or did receive, an
allowance raised by a tax on the general community, they wring what
they please out of the people among whom they live.

A mile from Akhlat, on a table-land of smooth green sward high above
the silver sea, facing southwards, with a glorious view of the
mountains of Central Kurdistan whitened with the first snows of
winter, lies in an indescribable loneliness--the city of the dead. The
sward is covered though not crowded with red sandstone monoliths, from
six to fourteen feet in height, generally in excellent preservation.
Each has a projecting cornice on the east side with carved niches, and
the western face is covered with exquisite tracery in arabesques and
knot-work, and inscriptions in early Arabic. On the graves are either
three carved stones arranged on edge, or a single heavy hewn stone
with a rounded top, and sides decorated with arabesques. Few of these
beautiful monoliths have fallen, but some are much time-worn, and have
a growth of vivid red or green lichen upon them.

Besides these there are some lofty _turbehs_ or mausoleums, admirably
preserved and of extreme beauty. The form is circular. The sepulchre
is a closed chamber, with another above it open half-way round on the
lake side, and a colonnade of very beautiful pillars supports round
arches, above which are five exquisitely-carved friezes. The whole is
covered with a conical roof of carved slabs of red stone, under which
runs an Arabic inscription. Each of these buildings is decorated with
ornament in the Saracenic style, of a richness and beauty of which
only photography could give any adequate representation. Close to the
finest of these _turbehs_ is an old mosque with a deeply-arched
entrance, over which is a recess, panelled and carved like one in the
finest of the rock chambers. The lintels of the door are decorated
with stone cables. Mirza counted more than 900 monoliths.

As I sketched the finest of these beautiful mausoleums some _mollahs_
came up and objected to the proceeding, and Moussa urged me to desist,
as the remainder of the march was "very dangerous," he said, and must
be "got over" in full daylight. This phrase "very dangerous," as used
in Armenia, means that there is a serious risk of having the baggage
and horses driven off, and the men stripped to a single garment. Such
things are happening constantly, and even Moussa ceases his joking
when he speaks of them.[56] The remaining march was over great
solitary sweeps of breezy upland to Pikhruz, an Armenian village of
100 houses, which has an intelligent Protestant teacher with sixty
boys in his school. The villagers possess 4000 sheep, and have not
been much harassed by the Kurds. They employ Kurdish shepherds and
four night watchmen, two of whom are Kurds. The head-dresses of the
women are heavy with coins, and they wear stomachers and aprons so
richly embroidered that no part of the original material is visible.

The _khan_ is an exceptionally bad _odah_, and is absolutely crowded
with horses, oxen, and men, and dim with the fumes of animal fuel and
tobacco. It is indeed comically wretched. The small space round the
fire is so crowded with _zaptiehs_, _katirgis_, and villagers that I
have scarcely room for my chair and the ragamuffin remains of my
baggage. Murphy is crouching over a fire which he is trying to fan
into a state in which it will cook my unvarying dinner--a fowl and
potatoes. Moussa is as usual convulsing the company with his stories
and jokes, and is cracking walnuts for me; the schoolmaster is
enlarging to me on that fruitful topic--"the state of things," the
sabres and rifles of my escort gleam on the blackened posts, the
delectable ox and horse faces wear a look of content, as they munch
and crunch their food, the risk of sleeping in a tent is discussed,
and meanwhile I write spasmodically with the candle and ink on a board
on my lap. I am fast coming to like these cheery evenings in the
_odahs_, where one hears the news of the country and villages. The
_khanji_, the man who keeps the guest-house, provides fire, light,
horse-food, and the usual country diet at so much per head, and
obtains the daily fowl, which costs about 6d., and is cooked while
warm. Milk can be got from one of the cows in the stable. My expenses
for food and lodging are from 4s. to 6s. a night.

_Matchetloo, November 19._--One of the most unpleasant parts of the
routine of the journey is the return to the _odah_ at 5 A.M. after a
night in the fresh air, for the atmosphere is so heated and foul as
almost to knock one down. The night frosts are sharp, and as we start
before sunrise we are all glad to walk for the first hour. The night
in my tent at Pikhruz was much disturbed, and I realised that it is
somewhat risky for me to have my servants out of hearing in the depths
of a semi-subterranean dwelling. The village dogs raged at times as
though the Kurds were upon them, and every half-hour the village
guards signalled to each other with a long mournful yell. I was
awakened once by a confusion of diabolical sounds, shots, shrieks,
roars, and yells, which continued for some time and then died away. In
the morning the guards said that the Kurds had attacked a large
caravan on the plain below, but had been repulsed, and that men on
both sides had been wounded.

The following day's march by the silver sheet of the Kuzik Lake, alive
with ducks, divers, and other water fowl, was very charming. Snow had
fallen heavily, and the Sipan Dagh and the Nimrud Dagh were white more
than half-way down their sides. From the summit of a very wild pass we
bade adieu to the beautiful Sea of Van, crossed a plain in which is a
pretty fresh-water lake with several villages and much cultivation on
its margin, and, after some hours of solitary mountain travelling,
came down upon the great plain of Norullak, sprinkled with large
villages, very fertile, and watered by the Murad-chai, the eastern
branch of the Euphrates.

I was to have had an easy march of five hours, and to have spent
Sunday at Shaoub in the comfortable house of a Protestant pastor with
an English-speaking wife, but the _zaptiehs_ took the wrong road, and
as twilight came on it was found that Shaoub had been left hours
behind. I have been suffering very much from the fatigue of the very
long marches, and only got through this one by repeatedly lying down
by the roadside while the _zaptiehs_ went in search of information.
After it was quite dark and we were still astray, news came that
Shaoub was occupied by 400 Turkish soldiers, and that there were
neither supplies nor accommodation, and after two more hours of
marching and counter-marching over ploughed lands and among irrigation
ditches, we emerged on the Erzerum road, six inches deep in dust,
forded a river in thick darkness, got very wet, and came out upon the
large village of Yangaloo, a remarkable collection of 170 ant-hills
rather than houses, with their floors considerably below the ground.
The prospects in this hummocky place were most unpromising, and I was
greeted by Moussa, who, on finding that Shaoub was full of troops, had
had the wits to go on to Yangaloo, with the information that there was
"no accommodation."

A womanly, Christian grip of my arm reassured me, and I was lodged for
Sunday in the Protestant church, the villagers having arranged to
worship elsewhere. A building forty feet long with small paper-covered
windows under the eaves was truly luxurious, but the repose of Sunday
morning was broken by loud and wearisome noises, lasting for several
hours, which received a distressing explanation. I was informed by the
priests and several of the leading men of the village that Yangaloo
for some time past had suffered severely from the Kurds, and that just
before a heavy demand for taxes had been made by the Government, the
three days' grace usually granted having been refused. The local
official had seized the flax seed, their most profitable crop, at
half-price, and had sold it for full price, his perquisite amounting
to a large sum. Fifteen _arabas_, each one loaded with seven large
sacks of "linseed," were removed in the morning.

The people were very friendly. All the "brethren" and "sisters" came
to kiss hands, and to wish that my departure "might be in great
peace," and on Sunday evening I was present at a gathering of men in a
room with the door carefully bolted and guarded, who desired me to
convey to "the Consul" at Erzerum, with the attestation of the names
of the priests of the Old and Reformed Churches, certain complaints
and narratives of wrong, which represented a condition of living not
to be thought of without grief and indignation, and not to be ignored
because it is partially chronic.

Yangaloo is a typical Armenian village, its ant-hill dwellings are
half-sunk, and the earth which has been excavated is piled up over
their roofs and sides. The interior of each dwelling covers a
considerable area, and is full of compartments with divisions formed
by low clay walls or by the posts which support the roof, the
compartments ramifying from a widening at the inner end of a long dark
passage. In Yangaloo, as in other villages on the plains, the earth is
so piled over the houses as to render them hardly distinguishable from
the surrounding ground, but where a village burrows into a hill-side
only a small projection needs an artificial roof. The people live
among their live stock; one entrance serves for both, and in winter
time the animals never leave the stables. The fireplace or _tand[=u]r_
is in the floor, but is only required for cooking purposes, as the
heat and steam of the beasts keep the human beings comfortably warm.
From two to five families live in every house, and the people are
fairly healthy.[57]

All the male members of a family bring their brides to live under the
parental roof, and one "burrow" may contain as many as three
generations of married couples with their families. On becoming an
inmate of her father-in-law's house, each Armenian bride, as in the
country districts of Persia, has to learn the necessity of silence. Up
to the day of the birth of the first child she is the family drudge,
and may not speak to any one but her husband, and not to him in the
presence of his parents. Maternity liberates her tongue; she may talk
to her child, and then to the females of the household; but she may
not speak freely till some years of this singular novitiate have
passed by. She then takes a high place in the house, and eventually
rules it if she is left a widow. The Armenian women are veiled out of
doors, but only in deference to the Moslems, who regard an uncovered
head as the sign of a bad woman. The girls are handsome, but
sheepish-looking; their complexions and eyes are magnificent.

Sunday was windy, with a gray sky, and the necessity of getting over
the Ghazloo Pass before the weather absolutely broke was urged upon me
by all. On the plain of Norullak, not far from Yangaloo, I forded the
Euphrates,--that is, the Murad-chai, a broad, still, and deep river,
only fordable at certain seasons. The fine mountain Bijilan is a
landmark in this part of the country. Leaving the Euphrates we
ascended for some hours through bleak uninteresting regions to Kara
Kapru, and on the road passed thirty well-armed Kurds, driving a
number of asses, which the _zaptiehs_ said had been driven off from
two Christian villages, which they pointed out. I was interested in
the movements of some mounted men, who hovered suspiciously about my
caravan, and at one time galloped close up to it, but retired on
seeing the Government uniforms, and were apparently "loafing about"
among the valleys. The _zaptiehs_ said that they were notorious
robbers, and would not go home without booty. Towards evening they
reappeared with several bullocks and asses which they had driven off
from the village of ----, the headman of which came to me in the
evening and asked me to report the robbery to "the Consul," adding
that this was the third time within a week that his village had been
robbed of domestic animals, and that he dared not complain.

At Kara Kapru, the best-looking Armenian village I have seen, while I
was looking for an _odah_, Moussa, in spite of Murphy and the
_zaptiehs_, dashed off with his horses at full speed, and never
stopped till he reached Ghazloo, three hours farther on. This
barbarous conduct was occasioned by his having heard that two of his
forty horses ahead had broken down, and he hurried on to replace them
with two of mine! I was so tired and in so much pain that I was
obliged to lie down on the roadside for a considerable time before I
could proceed, and got a chill, and was so wretched that I had to be
tied on my horse. It was pitch dark, the _zaptiehs_ continually lost
the way, heavy rain came on, and it was 9 P.M. when we reached
Ghazloo, a village high up on a hill-slope, where Mirza and Murphy
carried me into a small and crowded stable, and later into my tent,
which was pitched in the slime at the stable door. Moussa was
repentant, borrowed a _kajaveh_, and said he would give me his strong
horse for nothing!

Torrents of rain fell, changing into sleet, and sleet into snow, and
when the following day dawned dismally my tent was soaked, and
standing in slush and snow. My bed was carried into the stable, and I
rested while the loading was going on. Suleiman, my special _zaptieh_,
said that the _khanji_ was quadrupling the charges, and wanted me not
to pay him anything. The _khanji_ retorted that I gave the _zaptieh_
money to pay, and that he gave only a few coppers to the people--a
glaring untruth, for Murphy pays everything in my presence. Thereupon
Suleiman beat the _khanji_ with his scabbarded sword, on which the man
struck him, and there was a severe fight, in the course of which the
combatants fell over the end of my bed. So habituated does one become
to scenes of violence in this country that I scarcely troubled myself
to say to Murphy, "Tell them to fight outside."

It was a severe day's march over the Bingol Dagh, and I know little
about the country we passed through. We skirted a bleak snowy
hillside, first in rain and then in a heavy snowstorm, made a long
ascent among drifting snow clouds, saw an ass abandoned by a caravan
shivering in the bitter wind, with three magpies on its back picking
its bleeding wounds, and near the summit of the Ghazloo Pass
encountered a very severe "blizzard," so severe that no caravan but my
own attempted to face it, and sixty conscripts _en route_ for Bitlis
in charge of two officers and some cavalry turned back in spite of
words and blows, saying, "We may be shot; better that than to die on
the hillside"! Poor fellows, they are wretchedly dressed, and many of
them have no socks. The "blizzard" was very awful--"a horror of great
darkness," a bewildering whirl of pin-like snow coming from all
quarters at once, a hurricane of icy wind so fearful that I had to
hold on by the crupper and mane to avoid being blown out of the
saddle; utter confusion, a deadly grip at my heart, everything blotted
out, and a sense of utter helplessness. Indeed I know of no peril in
which human resources count for so little. After reaching the summit
of the pass the risk was over, but we were seriously delayed in
forcing a passage through the drift, which was fully seven feet deep.
The men were much exhausted, and they say that "half an hour of it
would have finished them." All landmarks were lost in the storm, and
after some hours of struggling through snow, and repeatedly losing the
way, the early darkness compelled us to take refuge in a Kurdish
village of bad repute on a bleak mountain side.

The _odah_ was not only the worst I have yet seen, but it was crammed
with handsome, wild-looking Kurds, and with the conscripts who had
turned back at the pass, some of whom were suffering from fever, and
with cavalrymen and their horses, every man trying to get near the
fire. I cannot say that any of them were rude, indeed the Kurds did
their best for what they supposed to be my comfort. I spent the
evening among them, but slept in my tent outside, in two feet of snow,
100 yards from the stable, in spite of the protestations of the
_zaptiehs_. In fact I trusted to Kurdish watchmen, who turned out
faithful, and when an attempt was made to rob my tent in the night
they sprang on the robbers, and after a struggle got two of them down
and beat them with their guns, both sides yelling like savages. When I
left the _odah_ for the tent two Kurds gripped my arms and led me to
it through the deep snow. It was better to run some risk than to be
suffocated by the heat and overpowering odours of the stable, but it
was an eerie place.

_November 21._--The weather considerably delayed my farther progress.
The days were severe, and the nights were spent in a soaked tent,
pitched in slush or snow. Mist and snow concealed the country, and few
travellers were stirring. We marched with the powder caravan for the
sake of the escort and for its services in beating the track, and
Moussa and his men watched at night. The going was very bad, and both
Moussa and I fell down hill slopes with our horses, but the animals
luckily alighted on their feet. Moussa's jollity was very useful. He
is a capital mimic, and used to "take off" Mirza in the _odahs_ at
night, and as Murphy lost no opportunity of showing up the poor
fellow's want of travelling _savoir-faire_, he would have had a bad
time but for his philosophical temperament and imperturbable
good-nature. I suffered very much from my spine, but the men were all
kind, and tried to make things easy for me, and the _zaptiehs_ were
attentive and obliging.

Kurdistan is scarcely a "geographical expression," and colloquially
the word is used to cover the country inhabited by the Kurds. They are
a mysterious people, having maintained themselves in their original
seats and in a condition of semi-independence through all the changes
which have passed over Western Asia, though they do not exceed
numerically two and a quarter millions of souls. Such as they were
when they opposed the retreat of the Ten Thousand they seem to be
still. War and robbery are the business of Kurdish life.

  [Illustration: A HAKKIARI KURD.]

One great interest of this journey is that it lies through a country
in which Kurds, Turks, and Armenians live alongside each other--the
Kurds being of two classes, the tribal, who are chiefly nomads, owning
no law but the right of the strongest; and the non-tribal or settled,
who, having been conquered by Turkey, are fairly orderly, and are
peaceable except in their relations with the Christians. The
strongholds of the tribal Kurds are in the wild mountains of
Kurdistan, and especially in the Hakkiari country, which is sprinkled
with their rude castles and forts. An incurable love of plunder, a
singular aptitude for religious fanaticism, a recklessness as to the
spilling of blood, a universal rapacity, and a cruel brutality when
their passions are roused, are among their chief vices. The men are
bold, sober, and devoted to their kinsmen and tribe; and the women are
chaste, industrious, and maternal. Under a firm and equitable
Government, asserting vigorously and persistently the supremacy of law
and the equal rights of race and creed, they would probably develop
into excellent material.

The village Turk, as he is described by Europeans well acquainted with
him and speaking his language, and as I have seen him on a long
journey, is a manly, hospitable, hard-working, kindly, fairly honest
fellow, domestic, cheerful, patriotic, kind to animals, usually a
monogamist, and usually also attentive to his religious duties.

The Christians, who, in this part of Kurdistan, are all Armenians by
race, live chiefly on the plains and in the lower folds of the hills,
and are engaged in pastoral and agricultural pursuits. My letters have
given a faithful representation of them as dwelling with their animals
in dark semi-subterranean hovels. The men are industrious, thrifty,
clannish, domestic, and not given to vices, except that of
intoxication, when they have the means and opportunity, and the women
are hardworking and chaste. Both sexes are dirty, hardy, avaricious,
and superstitious, and ages of wrong have developed in them some of
the usual faults of oppressed Oriental peoples. They cling desperately
to their historic church, which is represented among the peasants by
priests scarcely less ignorant than themselves. Their bishops
constitute their only aristocracy.

They are grossly ignorant, and of the world which lies outside the
_sandjak_ in which they live they know nothing. The Sultan is to them
a splendid myth, to whom they owe and are ready to pay a loyal
allegiance. Government is represented to them by the tax-gatherer and
his brutalities. Of justice, the most priceless product of good
government, they know nothing but that it is a marketable commodity.
With the Armenian trading communities of the cities they have slender
communication, and little except nationality and religion in common.

As a rule, they live in villages by themselves, which cluster round
churches, more or less distinguishable from the surrounding hovels,
but there are also mixed villages in which Turks and Armenians live
side by side, and in these cases they get on fairly well together,
though they instinctively dislike each other, and the Turk despises
his neighbour both for his race and creed. The Armenians have not
complained of being maltreated by the Turkish peasants, and had there
been any cause for complaint it would certainly have reached my ears.

On this journey hundreds of stories have been told to me by priests of
both the Old and Protestant Churches, headmen, and others, of robbery
by demand, outrages on women, digging into houses, killing,
collectively and individually, driving off sheep and cattle, etc.,
etc.[58]

On the whole, the same condition of alarm prevails among the Armenians
as I witnessed previously among the Syrian _rayahs_. It is more than
alarm, it is _abject terror_, and not without good reason. In plain
English, general lawlessness prevails over much of this region.
Caravans are stopped and robbed, travelling is, for Armenians,
absolutely unsafe, sheep and cattle are being driven off, and
outrages, which it would be inexpedient to narrate, are being
perpetrated. Nearly all the villages have been reduced to extreme
poverty by the carrying off of their domestic animals, the pillage,
and in some cases the burning, of their crops, and the demands made
upon them at the sword's point for every article of value which they
possess, while at the same time they are squeezed for the taxes which
the Kurds have left them without the means of paying.

The repressive measures which have everywhere followed "the Erzerum
troubles" of last June,--the seizure of arms, the unchecked ravages of
the Kurds, the threats of the Kurdish Beys, who are boldly claiming
the sanction of the Government for their outrages, the insecurity of
the women, and a dread of yet worse to come,--have reduced these
peasants to a pitiable state.

The invariable and reasonable complaint made by the Christians is,
that though they are heavily taxed they have no protection from the
Kurds, or any advantage from the law as administered in Kurdistan, and
that taxes are demanded from them which the Kurds have left them
without the means of paying. They complain that they are brutally
beaten when they fail to produce money for the payment of the
Government imposts, and they allege with great unanimity that it is
common for the _zaptiehs_ to tie their hands behind them, to plaster
their faces with fresh cow-dung, and throw pails of cold water at
their eyes, tie them to the posts of their houses and flog them
severely. In the village of ----, which has been swept bare by the
Kurds, the people asserted that the _zaptiehs_ had tied twenty
defaulters together, and had driven them round and round barefooted
over the thistles of the threshing-floor, flogging them with their
heavy whips. My _zaptiehs_ complain of the necessity they are under of
beating the people. They say (and I think correctly) that they can
never know whether a man has a hoard of buried money or not without
beating him. They tell me also that they know that half the peasants
have nothing to pay their taxes with, but that unless they beat them
to "get what they can out of them" they would be punished themselves
for neglect of duty.

On the plains to the west and north-west of the lake of Van, where the
deep, almost subsoil, ploughing and carefully-constructed irrigation
channels testify to the industry of a thrifty population, great
depredations are even now being committed, and though later the
intense cold and tremendous depths of snow of the Armenian highlands
will proclaim the "Truce of God," the Kurds are still on the alert.
Nor are their outrages confined to small localities, neither are they
the result of "peculiar local circumstances," but from the Persian
frontier near Urmi, along a more or less travelled road of several
hundred miles, there is, generally speaking, no security for life,
traffic, or property, and I hear on good authority that on the other
side of Erzerum, even up to the Russian frontier, things are if
possible worse.

I have myself seen enough to convince me that in the main the
statements of the people represent accurately enough the present reign
of terror in Armenia, and that a state of matters nearly approaching
anarchy is now existing in the _vilayet_ of Erzerum. There is no
security at all for the lives and property of Christians, law is being
violated daily, and almost with perfect impunity, and peaceable and
industrious subjects of the Porte, taxed to an extent which should
secure them complete protection, are plundered without redress. Their
feeble complaints are ignored, or are treated as evidence of
"insurrectionary tendencies," and even their lives are at the mercy of
the increased audacity and aroused fanaticism of the Kurds, and this
not in nearly inaccessible and far-off mountain valleys, but on the
broad plains of Armenia, with telegraph wires above and passable roads
below, and with a Governor-General and the Fourth Army Corps,
numbering 20,000 seasoned troops, within easy distance!

I have every reason to believe that in the long winter evenings which
I have spent in these sociable _odahs_, the peasants have talked to me
freely and frankly. There are no reasons why it should be otherwise,
for my _zaptiehs_ are seldom present, Moussa is looking after his
horses in distant recesses, quite out of hearing, and my servants are
Christians. If the people speak frankly, I am compelled to believe
that the Armenian peasant is as destitute of political aspirations as
he is ignorant of political grievances; that if he were secured from
the ravages of Moslem marauders he would be as contented as he is
loyal and industrious; and that his one desire is "protection from the
Kurds" and from the rapacity of minor officials, with security for his
life and property. Not on a single occasion have I heard a wish
expressed for political or administrative reform, or for autonomy. The
Armenian peasants are "of the earth, earthy," and the unmolested
enjoyment of material good is their idea of an earthly Paradise.

With regard to the Kurds, they have been remorseless robbers for ages,
and as their creed scarcely hesitates to give the appropriation of the
goods of a _Kafir_ a place among the virtues, they prey upon the
Syrian and Armenian peasants with clear consciences. To rob them by
violence and "demand," month after month and year after year, till
they have stripped them nearly bare, to cut their throats if they
resist, to leave them for a while to retrieve their fortunes,--"_to
let the sheep's wool grow_," as their phrase is,--and then to rob them
again, is the simple story of the relations between Kurd and
Christian. They are well armed with modern rifles and revolvers. I
have rarely seen a Kurd with an old-fashioned weapon, and I have
_never_ seen a Christian with a rifle, and their nearly useless long
guns have lately been seized by the Government. The Kurds hate and
despise the Turks, their nominal rulers; but the Islamic bond of
brotherhood is stronger than the repulsion either of hatred or
contempt, and the latent or undisguised sympathy of their
co-religionists in official positions ensures them, for the most part,
immunity for their crimes, for the new Code, under which the evidence
of a Christian has become nominally admissible in a court of law,
being in direct opposition to the teaching of the Koran, to the
practice of centuries, to Kurdish fanaticism, and to the strong
religious feelings and prejudices of those who administer justice, is
practically, so far as the Christians are concerned, a dead
letter.[59]

I am writing in an _odah_ in the village of Harta, after a wild
mountain ride in wind, sleet, and snow. The very long marches on this
journey have been too much for me, and I made a first and last attempt
to travel in a _maffir_ or covered wooden pannier, but the suffering
was so great that I was glad to remount my faithful woolly _Boy_. We
had a regular snowstorm, in which nothing could be seen but the
baggage horses struggling and falling, and occasional glimpses of
caverned limestone cliffs and precipitous slopes, with a foamy torrent
at a tremendous depth below. On emerging from the pass, Moussa,
Suleiman, and I came at a good pace through the slush to this _odah_,
and I arrived so cold that I was glad to have to rub my horse dry, and
attend to him. Murphy describes him thus: "That's a strange horse of
yours, ma'am; if one were to lie down among his legs he'd take no
notice to hurt one. When he comes in he just fills hisself, then he
lies down in the wettest place he can find, and goes to sleep. Then he
wakes and shakes hisself, and hollers, he does, till he gets his
grub"--an inelegant but forcible description of the excellences of a
travelling horse. _Boy_ is truly a gentle pet; it afflicts me sorely
to part with him. A few nights ago as I took some raisins to him in a
dark recess of the stable, my light went out, and I slipped and fell
among the legs of some animal. Not knowing whether it was a buffalo or
a strange horse I did not dare to move, and said, "Is this you, my
sweet _Boy_?" A low pleasant snuffle answered "yes," and I pulled
myself up by the strong woolly legs, which have carried me so sturdily
and bravely for several hundred miles.

The Christians appear not to have anything analogous to our "family
worship," but are careful in their attendance at the daily prayers in
church, to which they are summoned before dawn, either by loud
rappings on their doors or the striking of a wooden gong or
sounding-board. The churches differ very little. They usually have an
attempt at an outer courtyard, the interior of the edifice is
generally square, the roof is supported by two rows of poplar pillars,
and the rough walls are concealed by coarse pictures and dirty torn
strips of printed cotton. Dirty mats or bits of carpets cover the
floor, racks are provided for the shoes of the worshippers, and if
there is not a gallery a space is railed off for the women. The
prayers are mumbled by priests in dirty vestments, while the women
knit and chatter. Candle-grease, dust, and dirt abound. There is such
an air of indifference about priests and people that one asks what
motive it is which impels them to leave their warm stable dwellings on
these winter mornings to shiver in a dark and chilly church. They say,
"We will tread the paths our fathers trod; they are quite good enough
for us." Two nights ago, in an _odah_ full of men, the Kurdish
_khanji_, at the canonical hour, fell down on his forehead at prayer
in the midst of us, all daggers, pistols, and finery as he was. In
which case is the worship most ignorant, I wonder?

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[56] Akhlat was a place of immense importance in ancient days, and its
history epitomises the vicissitudes of Armenia; Abulfeda, Bakani,
Deguignes, Ritter, and Finlay in his _History of Greece_ are among the
best-known authorities on its history, and Mr. Tozer in his work on
_Turkish Armenia_, p. 318, etc., gives an interesting popular sketch
of the way in which it was conquered and reconquered by Saracens,
Greeks, Kurds, Turks, Khoarasmians and Georgians, till eventually the
Turks reconquered it from the Kurds. Its ancient Armenian name of
Khelat is altogether unknown to its present inhabitants.

[57] Xenophon in his _Anabasis_ describes the Armenian dwellings of
his day thus:--

"Their houses were underground, the entrance like the mouth of a well,
but spacious below; there were passages dug into them for the cattle,
but the people descended by ladders. In the houses were goats, sheep,
cows, and fowls, with their young. All the cattle were kept in fodder
within the walls." I have not seen the entrance by a well, but have
understood that it still exists in certain exposed situations.
Xenophon mentions buried wine, and it is not unlikely that the deep
clay-lined holes in which grain is stored in some of the villages are
ancient cellars, anterior to the date when the Karduchi became Moslems
and teetotallers.

[58] It was not possible to ascertain the accuracy of these
narratives, and though many of them appeared to be established by a
mass of concurrent and respectable testimony, I forbear presenting any
of them to my readers, especially as the report presented to
Parliament in January 1891 (_Turkey_, No. 1) not only gives, on
British official authority, a mass of investigated facts, but states
the case of the Armenian peasantry in language far stronger than any
that I should have ventured to use.

[59] In a Minute by the late Mr. Clifford Lloyd (_Turkey_, No. 1,
1890-91, p. 80) the condition of the Christian peasant population of
Kurdistan is summarised thus:--

"Their sufferings at present proceed from three distinct causes--

"1. The insecurity of their lives and properties, owing to the
habitual ravages of the Kurds.

"2. The insecurity of their persons and the absence of all liberty of
thought and action (except the exercise of public worship).

"3. The unequal status held by the Christian as compared with the
Mussulman in the eyes of the Government."



LETTER XXXIV


     ERZERUM, _Dec. 1_.

I left Harta in a snowstorm without the caravan, and wherever the snow
was well beaten got along at a good pace, passing on the right the
fortress of Hassan-Kaleh, with several lines of fortifications and a
town at its base, which, with the surrounding district, consumes, it
is said, an amount of strong drink equal in value to its taxation. The
adjacent Pasin Plain, watered by the Araxes, has suffered severely
from the Kurds. A short time ago all its Christian villages were
plundered, and _at least_ 20 horses, 31 asses, 2282 sheep, and 750
head of cattle, nearly the whole pastoral wealth of the people, were
carried off by these marauders, while the Moslem villages were exempt
from their attacks. After winding among uninteresting hills crowned
with forts, along valleys in which military posts occur at frequent
intervals, and making a long ascent, the minarets and grim
fortifications of the unhappy town of Erzerum loomed through the
snow-mist; the city itself lying on a hill slope above a very
extensive plain at a height of over 6000 feet. It was a solemn scene.
The snow was deep and was still falling, the heavens were black, and
swirls of mist driven by a strong wind blotted out at times the
surrounding mountains. A dead calm followed, and snow clouds hung
suspended over the city.

My first impression of Erzerum was of earthworks of immense size
extending for miles, with dismounted guns upon them looking very black
in the snow; of a deep ditch, and a lofty rampart pierced by a fine
granite tunnel; of more earthworks, and of forts crowning all the
heights directly above the city, and of many flags drooping on their
staffs. Between the fortifications and the town there is a great deal
of open ground sprinkled with rifle pits, powder magazines, and
artillery, cavalry, and infantry barracks, very solidly built and
neatly kept up. After passing through cemeteries containing thousands
of gravestones, we abruptly entered the principal street, wide and
somewhat European-looking, in which are some of the Consulates and the
Protestant Armenian church and schools. The houses in this street are
very irregular, and most of them have projecting upper fronts.

I was received with the utmost kindness at the American Mission House,
where it has seemed likely that I might be detained for the winter! I
understood that when I reached Erzerum I should be able to drive to
Trebizond in a _fourgon_, so I sent Murphy to Van on _Boy_, and
thought with much satisfaction of the ease of the coming journey. Then
I was ill, and afterwards found that the _fourgons_ were long rough
waggons without springs, in which one must lie or sit on the top of
the baggage, and that I should never be able to bear the jolting.
There was another heavy snowstorm, and winter set in so rigorously
that it was decided that driving was out of the question, and that I
must hire a horse. After the matter had been settled thus, Murphy and
_Boy_, both in very bad case, were found in a low part of the town,
and though Murphy asserts that he encountered Kurds near Hassan-Kaleh
who robbed him of everything, it is not believed that he ever passed
through the city gate. He looks a pitiable object, and his
much-frogged uniform, and the blanket, revolver, and other things that
I had given him are all gone. In spite of his fatal failing, I have
re-engaged him, and shall again ride my trusty pet. The Vali, ignoring
my official letter, has insisted on a number of formalities being
complied with, and though the acting-Consul has undertaken all the
formal arrangements, the delays have been many and tiresome. There are
two bugbears on the Trebizond road,--the Kop and Zigana mountains,
which are liable to be blocked by snow.

As compared with Persian towns, Erzerum looks solid and handsome, and
its uncovered bazars seem fairly busy. The through traffic between
Trebizond and Tabriz, chiefly in British goods, is very heavy. The
Custom House is in sight from my windows, and in one day I have
counted as many as 700 laden camels passing through it, besides horse
and mule caravans. There are about 2000 Persians in the city, and the
carrying trade is mainly in their hands. The present population is
estimated at from 20,000 to 24,000. The Armenians are not very
numerous, but their enterprise as traders gives them an importance out
of proportion to their numbers. The Armenian cathedral, the "Pair of
Minarets," the "Single Minaret," and the castle, which stands on a
height in the middle of the city, and contains a small Saracenic
chapel, are the chief "sights."

Nothing is talked about but "the troubles,"[60] and the European
Consuls, who possess trustworthy information, confirm my impressions
of the seriousness of the present latitude allowed to the Kurds. The
Turkish Government has just taken a step which is regarded as full of
hazard. Certain Kurdish Beys were summoned to Erzerum, nominally for
the purpose of being reprimanded for their misdeeds; but they were
allowed to enter the gates with a number of armed followers, and
afterwards went to Erzingian, where, from the hands of Zeki Pacha, the
Commander of the Fourth Army Corps, they received commissions as
officers of irregulars. The Christians (but I hope erroneously) regard
this step as a menace, and the Kurds appear to think that it gives
them license to maraud.

These Beys, after receiving their commissions, went through the
Christian quarter of the Erzingian bazars, making gestures as of
cutting throats, and saying to the Christian merchants, "Your time has
come now; hitherto we have not had the co-operation of the Government,
but we have it now." It remains to be seen whether the Porte will
succeed in bringing these men and their wild followers under the
conditions of military discipline.

The excitement following upon the "troubles" last June has only
partially subsided, and I learn from the Europeans that the state of
suspicion, fear, distrust, and repression within the city has
undergone little diminution. Every day brings fresh reports of robbery
and outrage, and for murders of well-known Christians no arrests are
being made.[61] Trade among the Armenians is suffering, for those
merchants whose transactions are with Kurdish districts dare not
collect their debts for fear of losing their lives. Arrests of
Christians on frivolous and worthless pretexts are being made daily,
Armenian houses are being searched continually, and individuals are
being imprisoned for long terms of years for having books in their
possession containing references to the past history of Armenia, and
the Government is, or affects to be, in constant dread of an
insurrectionary rising among the Christians. The accounts from the
country districts are so very bad that one of the ablest and
best-informed of the European Consuls, a very old resident in Asia
Minor, remarked indignantly, "It's no longer a question of politics
but of humanity."

One of the most interesting sights in Erzerum is the Sanassarian
College, founded and handsomely endowed by the liberality of an
Armenian merchant. The fine buildings are of the best construction,
and are admirably suited for educational purposes, and the equipments
are of the latest and most complete description. The education and the
moral and intellectual training are of a very high type, and the
personal influence of the three directors, who were educated in
Germany and England, altogether "makes for righteousness." The
graduation course is nine years. The students, numbering 120, wear a
uniform, and there is no distinction of class among them. They are,
almost without exception, manly, earnest, and studious, and are full
of enthusiasm and _esprit de corps_. Much may be hoped for in the
future from the admirable moral training and thorough education given
in this college, which is one of the few bright spots in Armenia.

I have seen Erzerum under very favourable circumstances, for, since
the last snowstorm, the weather has been magnificent, and everything
that is untidy or unsightly has an unsullied covering. The winter
sunsets reddening the white summits of the Deveh Boyun and other lofty
ranges, and the absolute purity of the whiteness of the plain, between
thirty and forty miles long and from ten to twenty broad, which lies
below the city, exercise a witchery which the scorching heats of
summer must utterly destroy.

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTES:

[60] The reader will recollect that the "Erzerum troubles" so
frequently referred to consisted of riot and bloodshed following upon
a search for arms which was made under the floors of the Armenian
Cathedral and the Sanassarian College, on the strength (it is said) of
an anonymous telegram in June 1890. The lucid account given of this
deplorable affair and of the subsequent inaction of the local
Government by Her Britannic Majesty's Consul-General for Kurdistan, in
the "White Book," to which allusion has been made, should be studied
by all who are interested in the so-called "Armenian Question."

[61] In a despatch in the "White Book" (_Turkey_, No. 1, 1890-91) Mr.
Clifford Lloyd sums up the condition of things in Kurdistan thus: "In
a country such as this is, lawlessness is to be expected; _but
unfortunately in nearly every instance armed and ungoverned Kurds are
the aggressors, and unarmed and unprotected Armenian Christians the
victims_."



LETTER XXXV


     TREBIZOND, _Dec. 13, 1890_.

The journey from Erzerum to Trebizond in the winter season occupies
from ten to twelve days, and involves a transition from an altitude of
6000 feet to the sea-level, and from treelessness, aridity, and
severities of cold to forests and moisture, a temperate climate, and
the exquisite greenness of the slopes which descend upon the Black
Sea. There is a well-made waggon road, carefully engineered, for the
whole distance, with stone bridges in excellent repair; many of the
_khans_ are tolerable, supplies can be procured, and the country is
passably safe.

I left Erzerum on the 2d of December, escorted by my kindly hosts as
far as Elijeh, having an Armenian _katirgi_, who in every respect gave
me the greatest satisfaction, and the same servants as before. The
mercury fell rapidly the following night, was 2° below zero when I
left Elijeh for Ashkala the next morning, and never rose above 15°
during the whole day. The road follows the western branch of the
Euphrates, the Frat, a reedy and winding stream. The horsemen and foot
passengers were mostly muffled up in heavy cloaks with peaked hoods,
and the white comforters which wrapped up their faces revealed only
one eye, peering curiously out of a cavern of icicles. Icicles hung
from the noses and bodies of the horses, it was not possible to ride
more than half an hour at a time without being benumbed, and the snow
was very deep for walking. After crossing the Euphrates twice by
substantial stone bridges, I halted at Ashkala, a village of _khans_,
at a clean but unfinished _khan_ on the bank of the river, and in a
room with unglazed windows and no possibility of making a fire
experienced a temperature of 5° below zero. My dinner froze before I
could finish it, the stock of potatoes for the journey, though wrapped
in a fur cloak inside my _yekdan_, was totally spoilt, and my ink
froze. The following day was cloudy and inclined to snow rather than
frost, and the crossing of the much-dreaded Kop Dagh was managed
without difficulty in five hours, in snow three feet deep. There is a
refuge near the summit, but there are no habitations on the ascent or
descent. It is a most dangerous pass, owing to the suddenness and fury
of the storms, and only last winter sixty fine camels and ten drivers
perished there in a blizzard. My _zaptieh_ was left behind ill at the
refuge, and I made the remainder of the journey without an escort. The
Kop Dagh, 7500 feet in altitude, forms the watershed between the
Euphrates valley and the Black Sea, and on such an afternoon as that
on which I crossed it, when wild storms swept over successive mountain
ranges, and yet wilder gleams lighted up the sinuous depression which
marks the course of the Frat, the view from its lofty summit is a very
striking one.

It was dark when I reached the very miserable hamlet on the western
side of the Kop, and as earlier caravans had taken up the better
accommodation, I had to content myself with a recess opening out of a
camel stable. The camels sat in circles of ten, and pleasant family
parties they looked, gossiping over their chopped straw, which, with a
ball of barley-meal dough in the morning, constitutes their slender
but sufficient diet. Nothing gives a grander idea of the magnitude and
ramifications of commerce than the traffic on the road from Erzerum
to Trebizond. During eleven days there has scarcely been a time when
there has not been a caravan in sight, and indeed they succeed each
other in a nearly endless procession, the majority being composed of
stately mountain camels, gaily caparisoned, carrying large musical
bells, their head-stalls of crimson leather being profusely tasselled
and elaborately decorated with cowries and blue beads. The leader of
each caravan wears a magnificent head-dress covering his head and
neck, on which embroidery is lavishly used in combination with tinsel
and coloured glass, the whole being surmounted by a crown with a plume
set between the ears. There is one driver to every six animals; and
these men, fine, robust, sturdy fellows, are all dressed alike, in
strong warm clothing, the chief feature of which is a great brown
sheepskin cap of mushroom shape, which projects at least nine inches
from the head. The road is a highway for British goods. The bales and
packing cases are almost invariably marked with British names and
trade marks. The exception is Russian kerosene, carried by asses and
horses, of which an enormous quantity was on the road.

I was glad to leave Kop Khané at daybreak, for caravan bells jingled,
chimed, tolled, and pealed all night, and my neighbours the camels
were under weigh at 3 A.M. The road descends gently down the wide
valley of the Tchoruk, the ancient Acampsis, and then ascends to
Baiburt, a town with a population of about 12,000 souls, 1800 being
Christians. It is very picturesquely situated at the junction of two
or three valleys, the houses rise irregularly as at Bitlis tier above
tier, and the resemblance is heightened by a great reddish-yellow rock
which rises in the centre, the long and varied contour of which is
followed by the walls of a fortress imposing even in its ruins, round
and square towers cresting the remarkable eminence. A handsome
military college on a height, wide streets lined by well-built houses
with projecting upper stories, and well-supplied and busy markets, in
which an enormous quantity of mutton is exposed for sale, are among
the chief features of this very striking town. A domiciliary visit
from a courteous chief of police, who assured me that an escort was
not needed, and re-sealed my passports, was my only contact with
Turkish officialism between Erzerum and Trebizond.

After leaving Baiburt I diverged a little, in spite of very deep snow,
to visit the ruined Armenian ecclesiastical edifices at Varzahan, a
village from which a mountain road to Trebizond passing near the Greek
monastery of Sumelas branches from the main road. The most interesting
and best-preserved of these buildings is an octagonal chapel of a very
elaborate design, with remains of a circle of slender shafts, a very
fine west window, round arches, and some curious designs in fresco. In
another a pointed arch, and a fragment of a blind arcade with niches
on its outer face, remain, along with some very carefully-executed
cable and twisted moulding. It was truly refreshing to come upon such
very beautiful relics of Christian art in so wild a country. These
edifices are attributed to the eleventh or twelfth century. In an
ancient and adjacent cemetery there are several monumental stone rams,
very much like the stone lions of the Bakhtiari country.

I quite broke down on that march, and was obliged to bribe the Turkish
occupants of a most miserable hovel to vacate it for me, and on the
following day was only able to ride three hours to Getchid. The sky
was grim and threatening, and the snow deep, and when after a long
ascent we descended into a really magnificent defile, so narrow that
for a long distance the whole roadway is blasted out of the rock, a
violent snowstorm came on, with heavy gusts of wind. There were high
mountains with a few trees upon them dimly seen, walling in the
wildest and most rugged part of the defile, where some stables offered
a shelter, and I was glad to be allowed to occupy the wood house, a
damp excavation in the mountain side! No words can convey an
impression of the roughness of Asia Minor travelling in winter!

It was lonely, for the stable where the servants were was a short
distance off, and the _khanji_ came several times to adjure me to keep
the bolt of the door fastened, for his barley was in my keeping, and
there was a gang of robbers on the road! I fell asleep, however, but
was awakened at midnight by yells, shouts, tramplings, and a most
violent shaking of my very insecure door. It was the Turkish post,
who, being unable to get into the stable, was trying to bring his
tired horses into my den for a little rest! Fine fellows these Turkish
mail riders are, who carry the weekly mail from Trebizond into the
interior. The post drives two horses loaded with the mail bags in
front of him at a gallop, urging them with yells and his heavy whip,
the _zaptieh_ escort galloping behind, and at this pace they dash up
and down mountains and over plains by day and night, changing at short
intervals, and are only behind time in the very worst of weather.

Snow fell heavily all night, and until late in the afternoon of the
following day, but we started soon after seven, and plodded steadily
along in an atmosphere of mystery, through intricate defiles, among
lofty mountains half-seen, strange sounds half-heard, vanishing
ravines and momentary glimpses of villages on heights,
fortress-crowned precipices, suggestive of the days of Genoese
supremacy, as in the magnificent gorge of Kala, and long strings of
camels magnified in the snow-mist, to the Kala village, with its
dashing torrent, its fine walnut trees, and its immense camel stables,
in and outside of which 700 camels were taking shelter from the
storm. We pushed on, however, during that day and the next, through
the beautiful and populous Gumushkhané valley to Kupru Bridge, having
descended almost steadily for five days.

The narrow valley of the Kharshut is magnificent, and on the second
day the snow was only lying on the heights. The traveller is seldom
out of sight of houses, which are built on every possible projection
above the river, and on narrow spurs in wild lateral ravines, and
wherever there are houses there are walnut, pear, apple and apricot
trees, with smooth green sward below, and the walnut branches often
meet over the road. The houses are mostly large, often whitewashed,
always brown-roofed, and much like Swiss _châlets_, but without the
long slopes of verdure which make Switzerland so fair. Instead of
verdure there is the wildest rock and mountain scenery, a congeries of
rock-walls, precipices, and pinnacles, and the semblance of minarets
and fortresses, flaming red, or burnt sienna, or yellow ochre,
intermingled with bold fronts of crimson and pale blue rock, the
crimson cliffs looking in the rain as if torrents of blood were
pouring over them. The roadway has been both blasted out of the rock
and built up from the river. Far up picturesque ravines oxen were
ploughing the red friable soil on heights which looked inaccessible;
there was the velvety greenness of winter wheat; scrub oak and
barberry find root-hold in rocky rifts, and among crags high up among
the glittering snows contorted junipers struggle for a precarious
existence.

The road was enlivened by local as well as through traffic, and
brightened by the varied costumes of Turks, Greeks, Armenians, and
Lazes. The latter do not resemble the Turks in physiognomy or costume.
All of them carry rifles and sabres, and two daggers in their
girdles, one of which always has a cloven hilt. They are on their way
to their native province of Lazistan with droves of horses, and are
much dreaded by both the _katirgis_ and _khanjis_ on the road for
their marauding habits. The Turkish Government has a very difficult
task in ruling and pacifying the number of races which it has
subjugated even in Asiatic Turkey. Between the Arabs of the Chaldæan
Plains and the Lazes of the shores of the Black Sea I have met even in
my limited travels with Sabeans, Jews, Armenians, Syrians, Yezidis,
Kurds, Osmanlis, Circassians, and Greeks, alien and antagonistic in
creed and race, but somehow held together and to some extent governed
by a power which is, I think, by no means so feeble as she is
sometimes supposed to be.

The Kharshut is crossed at Kupru Bridge by a very fine stone arch.
This village, at the foot of the Zigana Mountain, is entirely composed
of inferior _khans_, food shops, and smiths' shops. The clang of
hammers lasted late into the night, for the road was reported as
"icy," and more than 400 horses and mules were having their shoes
roughed for the passage of the Zigana Mountain. I arrived late in the
evening, when all the _khans_ were full, and had to put up in a hovel,
the door of which was twice attempted during the night by a band of
Lazes, about whose proceedings Stephan, my _katirgi_, had been very
suspicious. After the servants and _katirgis_, roused by my whistle,
had rushed out of an opposite stable upon the marauders, I lay awake
for some time trying to realise that my ride of 2500 miles was nearly
at an end, and that European civilisation was only five days off; but
it was in vain. I felt as if I should _always_ be sleeping in stables
or dark dens, _always_ uttering the call to "boot and saddle" two
hours before daylight, _always_ crawling along mountain roads on a
woolly horse, _always_ planning marches, _always_ studying Asiatic
character, and _always_ sinking deeper into barbarism!

From the summit of the Zigana Mountain to Trebizond is a steady
descent of twelve hours. The ascent from Kupru Bridge occupied five
hours and a half. It was a much more serious affair than crossing the
Kop Dagh, for the snowstorm had lasted for three days, the snow was
from four to nine feet deep on the summit, and the thawing of its
surface at the lower altitudes, succeeded by keen frost, had resulted
in the production of slopes of ice, over which I had to walk for two
hours, as _Boy_ could scarcely keep on his feet.

The early snow has a witchery of its own, and it may be that the
Zigana Mountain and the views from it are not so beautiful as I think
them, but under the circumstances in which I saw them, I was
astonished with the magnificence of the scenery, and with the vast
pine forests which clothe the mountain sides. Villages of _châlets_,
with irregular balconies, and steep roofs projecting from two to six
feet, are perched on rocky heights, or nestle among walnuts with a
blue background of pines, above which tower spires and peaks of
unsullied snow; ridges rise into fantastic forms and mimicries of
minarets and castles; pines, filling gigantic ravines with their blue
gloom, stand sentinels over torrents silenced for the winter; and
colossal heights and colossal depths, an uplifted snow world of
ceaseless surprises under a blue sky full of light, make one fancy
oneself in Switzerland, till a long train of decorated camels or a
turbaned party of armed travellers dissipates the dream.

The last hour of the ascent was very severe. The wind was strong and
keen, and the drifting snow buffeted us unmercifully. The mercury fell
to 3° below zero, and the cold was intense. Murphy complained of
"trembles" in his knees and severe pain in his legs, and when we
reached the summit was really ill. The drift was not only blinding and
stinging but suffocating. I was quite breathless, and felt a chill
round my heart. I could not even see _Boy's_ neck, and he cowered from
the blast; but just as all things were obliterated I found myself
being helped to dismount in the shelter of a camel stable full of
Lazes, but was so benumbed that I could not stand. Some _zaptiehs_ had
the humanity to offer me the shelter of a hovel nearly buried in the
snow, and made a fire and some coffee, and I waited there till the
wind moderated. It came in such fierce gusts as actually to blow two
of the baggage horses over on their sides. Murphy was really ill of
fever for two days from the cold and exposure. The altitude of the
pass is about 6627 feet.

The first part of the descent was made on foot, for the snow had
drifted on the road to a height of fully twenty feet, leaving only a
path of shelving ice on the brink of a precipitous slope. Earlier in
the day twenty laden camels had gone over, and were heaped in the
ravine below, not all dead. The road dips with some suddenness into a
deep glen, dark with pine and beech forests; large rhododendrons and
the _Azalea pontica_ forming a dense undergrowth. Long gray lichen
hung from the branches, Christmas roses and premature primroses
bloomed in sheltered places, the familiar polypody and the _Asplenium
adiantum nigrum_ filled every crevice, soft green moss draped the
rocks, there was a delicious smell of damp autumn leaves, and when we
reached the Greek village of Hamzikeuy clouds were rolling heavily up
the valley from the not far distant ocean.

The two days which followed were easy and pleasant, through a
prosperous and peopled valley brightened by the rushing waters of the
Surmel, the ancient Pyxites. Orchards and tillage beautify the lower
slopes of the mountains, the road is excellent, the homesteads are in
good repair, the people are bright and cheery-looking, and Greek
villages with prominent churches on elevated spurs add an element of
Christian civilisation to the landscape. The exceeding beauty of
natural forests, of soft green sward starred with the straw-coloured
blossoms of the greater hellebore, of abounding ferns and trailers, of
"the earth bringing forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the tree
yielding fruit after his kind," of prosperous villages with cheerful
many-windowed houses and red-tiled deep-eaved roofs, can only be fully
appreciated by the traveller who has toiled over the burning wastes of
Persia with their mud villages and mud ruins, and across the bleak
mountains and monotonous plateaux of the Armenian highlands, with
their ant-hill dwellings, and their poverty-stricken population for
ever ravaged by the Kurd.

"Tilled with a pencil," carefully weeded, and abundantly manured, the
country looks like a garden. The industrious Greek population thrives
under the rule of the Osmanlis. Travellers on foot and on horseback
abound, and _khans_ and _cafés_ succeed each other rapidly. When the
long descent alongside of the Surmel was accomplished, the scenery
gradually became tamer, and the look of civilisation more emphasised.
The grass was if possible greener, the blossoming hellebore more
abundant, detached balconied houses with their barns and outhouses
evidenced the security of the country, the heat-loving fig began to
find a place in the orchards, the funereal cypress appeared in its
fitting position among graves, and there was a briny odour in the air,
but, unfortunately for the traveller, the admirable engineering of the
modern waggon road deprives him of that magnificent view of the ocean
from a height which has wrung from many a wanderer since the days of
the Ten Thousand the joyful exclamation, "_Thalatta! Thalatta!_"

The valley opened, there was a low grassy hill, beyond it, broad
yellow sands on which the "stormy Euxine" thundered in long creamy
surges, and creeping up the sides of a wooded headland, among
luxuriant vegetation, the well-built, brightly-coloured, red-roofed
houses of the eastern suburb of Trebizond, the ancient Trapezus.[62]
It was the journey's end, yet such is the magic charm of Asia that I
would willingly have turned back at that moment to the snowy plateaux
of Armenia and the savage mountains of Kurdistan.

     I. L. B.


FOOTNOTE:

[62] The itineraries will be found in Appendix B.



APPENDIX A


Among the prayers recited by the Hadjis are those with which the
pilgrims circle the Kaaba at Mecca, a translation of which was given
by Canon Tristram in a delightful paper on Mecca contributed to the
_Sunday at Home_ volume for 1883. The following is a specimen:--

"O God, I extend my hands to Thee: great is my longing towards Thee.
Accept Thou my supplication, remove my hindrances, pity my
humiliation, and mercifully grant me Thy pardon.

"O God, I beg of Thee that faith which shall not fall away, and that
certainty which shall not perish, and the good aid of Thy prophet
Mohammed--may God bless and preserve him! O God, shade me with Thy
shadow in that day when there is no shade but Thy shadow, and cause me
to drink from the cup of Thy prophet Mohammed--may God bless him and
preserve him!--that pleasant draught after which is no thirst to all
eternity."



APPENDIX B

ITINERARIES WITH APPROXIMATE DISTANCES


     1
  From BAGHDAD to KIRMANSHAH.

                       Miles
     Orta Khan            16
     Yakobieh             14
     Wiyjahea             16
     Sheraban             11
     Kizil Robat          18
     Khanikin             17
     Kasr-i-Shirin        16
     Sir-i-pul-Zohab      18
     Myan Tak             15
     Kirrind              14
     Harunabad            20
     Mahidasht            22
     Kirmanshah           14
                         ---
                         211

     2
  From KIRMANSHAH to TIHRAN.[63]

     Besitun              22
     Sannah               16
     Kangawar             21
     Phaizalpah           24
     Hamilabad            12
     Nanej                18
     Dizabad              24
     Saruk                22
     Ahang Garang         12
     Siashan              20
     Jairud               18
     Taj Khatan           14
     Kûm                  25
     Shashgird.           16
     Aliabad              24
     Husseinabad          28
     Tihran               28
                         ---
                         344

     3
  From TIHRAN to ISFAHAN.

                       Miles
     Husseinabad          28
     Aliabad              28
     Shashgird            24
     Kûm                  16
     Passangham           16
     Sinsin               24
     Kashan               24
     Kuhr[=u]d            28
     Soh                  24
     Murchehkhurt         28
     Gez                  24
     Isfahan              16
                         ---
                         280

     4
  From ISFAHAN to BURUJIRD.
  The actual distance travelled, about 700 miles.

     5
  From BURUJIRD to HAMADAN.

     Deswali              16
     Sahmine              13
     Daulatabad           12
     Jamilabad            22
     Mongawi               6
     Yalpand               9
     Hamadan               8
                          --
                          86

     6
  From HAMADAN to URMI.

                     Miles
     Bahar               8
     Kooltapa           24
     Gaukhaud           20
     Babarashan         20
     Bijar              20
     Karabulak          16
     Jafirabad          16
     Takautapa          15½
     Geokahaz           16
     Sanjud             14
     Sain Kala          14½
     Kashawar           15
     Miandab            21
     Amirabad           12
     Sujbul[=a]k        16
     Mehemetabad        14
     Dissa              25
     Turkman            12
     Urmi               10
                       ---
                       309

     7
  From URMI to VAN.

                     Hours
     Anhar               2
     Merwana             3½
     Marbishu            9
     Pirzala            10
     Gahgoran            2
     Shawutha            8
     Kochanes            6
     Kotranis            7
     Merwanen           10
     Khanjarak           9
     Van                 9
            188 Miles.

     8
  From VAN to BITLIS.

                        Hours
     Angugh              4.45
     Undzak              8.30
     Ghazit              7
     Bitlis              8
             90 Miles.

     9
  From BITLIS to ERZERUM.

     Gudzag              8
     Pikhruz             8
     Yangaloo            9
     Ghazloo            10
     Ama                 6.30
     Matchetloo          6
     Herta               7
     Erzerum             5
           177 Miles (?)

     10
  From ERZERUM to TREBIZOND.

     Elijeh              3½
     Ashkala             7½
     Kop Khané           8½
     Baiburt             7
     ---- Bridge         6½
     Getchid             4
     Gumush Khané        8
     Kupru Bridge        7
     Hemizkeuy           8¾
     Atli Killessi       8
     Trebizond           6

     199 Miles by Measurement.


FOOTNOTE:

[63] Probably the distance by this route is over-estimated, as it is
the computation of the _charvadars_.



INDEX


     A

     Ab-i-Arjanak, ii. 77

     Ab-i-Baznoi, ii. 59, 70

     Ab-i-Bazuft, ii. 15

     Ab-i-Burujird, ii. 71, 114

     Ab-i-Diz, ii. 71, 113

     Ab-i-Khonsar or Abi Kûm, i. 161, 168, 170

     Ab-i-Kirrind, i. 93

     Ab-i-Mowaz, ii. 18

     Ab-i-Nozi, ii. 18

     Ab-i-Sefid, ii. 66

     Ab-i-Zaz, ii. 94

     _Abba_, Arab dress, i. 33

     Abdul Azim, i. 178, 189

     ---- Rahim, i. 99;
       hospitality, 99;
       family history, 99;
       _ménage_, 101, 115;
       courtesy, 114

     Abraham, Deacon, ii. 243

     Agha Hassan, i. 99

     Ahang Garang, i. 152

     Ahwaz, i. 9, 10

     Aimarah, i. 16;
       prison, 17

     Akabah-i-Holwan, i. 88

     Akhlat, ii. 360;
       rock chambers, 361;
       castle, 362;
       monoliths, 362;
       _turbehs_ or mausoleums, 362

     Akhtamar, Island rock of, ii. 343;
       Church, 343

     Alexander, Dr., ii. 162

     Ali-Ilahis, i. 85, 86

     Ali-Kuh, ii. 1, 4;
       wild-flowers, 5;
       Pass, 5

     Aliabad, caravanserai of, i. 172, 226

     Amin-es-Sultan, or Prime Minister, i. 176, 203

     Amin-i-lewa, ii. 5

     Amir-i-Panj, i. 261-266;
       character, 262;
       _andarun_, 263;
       on the education and position of English women, 264

     Amirabad, ii. 205

     Angugh, ii. 341

     Anhar, ii. 261

     Arabs, improvement of, i. 11;
       condition, 20;
       costume, 33;
       tattooing, 34

     _Arak_, i. 272

     Ardal, i. 311, 317, 336; ii. 2;
       valley, i. 316;
       castle, 318;
       _andarun_, 318-322

     Ardost, peaks of, ii. 338

     Arjanak, ii. 78

     Arjul, alpine meadow, i. 349

     Armenian houses, i. 37, 270;
       women, 272;
       churches, 273-276;
       pictures, 274;
       long fasts, 276;
       superstitions, 277;
       costume, 278, 364;
       needle-work, 366;
       banquet, 367;
       church, 368;
       characteristics of, ii. 336;
       condition, 340;
       brides, 368;
       in Kurdistan, 373-377;
       ruins, 389

     Artemid, ii. 341

     Ashirets, the, ii. 314

     Ashkala, ii. 387

     Aslam Khan, ii. 63

     Aurugun, i. 370


     B

     Baba Ali Mountain, ii. 197

     B[=a]b[=a] Yadg[=a]r, tomb of, i. 86

     Babarashan, ii. 177

     B[=a]bis, sect of the, i. 273

     Badush, ii. 83

     Bagh-i-Washi, i. 301

     Baghdad, i. 21;
       Church Mission at, 24;
       impressions of, 26;
       population, 28;
       bazars, 29;
       cafés, 30;
       trade, 30, 43;
       "Fish of Tobias," 31;
       bricks, 35;
       schools at, 36, 37;
       dispensary, 38;
       boils, 39

     Bahar, ii. 169

     Baiburt, ii. 388

     Bakhtiari Country, the general description of, i. 286-293;
       women, 319;
       hair-dyes, 319;
       costume, 320;
       dying man, 322-325;
       politics, 327;
       punishments, 329;
       entertainment, 331;
       _haram_, 353;
       marriage customs, 355;
       _chapi_, national dance, 356;
       conceit, 357;
       camping-ground, 371;
       tents, 372;
       hospitality, 377;
       diseases, 379;
       education, ii. 7;
       methods of cultivation, 9;
       paternal tenderness, 21;
       diet, 22;
       sensitiveness, 32;
       poverty, 54;
       "blood feuds," 55;
       tribal feuds, 84;
       tribesmen, 98;
       burial rites, 99;
       graveyards, 100;
       religion, 101-103;
       men's costume, 106;
       women's, 107;
       polygamy, 108;
       population, 110 _note_;
       taxation, 111;
       exports, 111;
       animals, 117

     Baldiji, Moslem village, i. 369

     Bani, ii. 267

     Barchallah, ii. 286

     Basnoi, ii. 67

     Basrah, i. 1, 6;
       climate, 7;
       date industry, 7;
       inhabitants, 8

     Bawali, ii. 124

     Bazuft or Rudbar valley, ii. 10, 13

     Beladruz, i. 60

     Bell, Colonel S., on Van, ii. 338, 340

     Berigun, ii. 23

     Berwar-Lata valley, ii. 323

     Besitun range, i. 98, 119;
      village, 121, 122

     Bideshk, i. 236

     Bihishtabad, the _Mansion of Heaven_, ii. 3

     Bijar, ii. 173, 178

     Bijilan mountain, ii. 368

     Bilar, ii. 323

     Bingol Dagh, ii. 370

     Bitlis, ii. 341, 350;
       trade, 351;
       population, 352;
       Christian Mission at, 354;
       school, 355;
       mineral springs, 359;
       valley, 349

     Blizzards, i. 95, 123, 154, 235; ii. 370

     Boka, i. 129

     "Boy," a pet horse, ii. 135

     Bread-making, Persian, i. 159

     Browne, Mr., ii. 284, 317-319

     Bruce, Dr., i. 5, 46, 248, 252

     ---- Mrs., i. 245

     Buffaloes, ii. 212

     Burujird, town of, ii. 124;
       "tribute insurrection," 127;
       population, 130;
       manufactures, 130;
       prosperity, 131;
       plain of, 124

     Bushire, i. 1;
       commerce of, 3


     C

     Canals, i. 51

     Caravan, fate of a, i. 133

     Caravans, i. 50; ii. 388;
       collision of, i. 91, 144

     Caravanserai, dirt of a, i. 81-83

     Carmelite monks, French, i. 37

     Carpets, Persian, i. 109

     _Chadar_, i. 17

     Chahar Bagh bridge, i. 258

     ---- Mahals or four districts, i. 308, 361

     Chaharta, i. 359

     Chaldæan plains, i. 14

     Challeh Kuh, peak of, i. 370

     Chalonitis, i. 85

     Chaman Kushan, plain of, ii. 28

     _Chapi_, Bakhtiari dance, i. 356

     Charmi village, i. 307

     Charzabar Pass, i. 94

     Cherri Pass, ii. 13

     Cheshmeh-i-Charzabar torrent, i. 95

     Chesmeh-i-Gurab, i. 346

     ---- Zarin, plain of, ii. 24

     Chigakhor, i. 348;
       plain of, 369;
       patients, 369;
       "season," 370;
       fort, 375

     Child-life, Persian, i. 218

     Chiraz, i. 358

     Christian missions at Baghdad, i. 24;
       at Bitlis, ii. 355;
       at Erzerum, 382;
       at Hamadan, 162,
         result of, 164 _note_;
       at Julfa, i. 248;
       at Tihran, 188;
       at Urmi, ii. 221-234,
         history of, 226,
         results, 229;
       at Van, 335 _note_

     "Christians of St. John," i. 17

     Cochrane, Dr., ii. 224

     Ctesiphon, ruins of, i. 22

     Curzon, Mr. G., letter to the _Times_, i. 198;
       on Julfa, 246


     D

     Dalonak, peak of, ii. 16

     Darkash Warkash, i. 317

     Dastagird, i. 60

     Dastgird, i. 376

     "Date boils," i. 39

     ---- palms, i. 8

     Daulatabad, ii. 140

     "David's Fort," i. 86

     Dead, mode of carrying, i. 36, 168

     Dehnau village, i. 353

     Demavend, cone of, i. 176, 240

     "Demon wind," the, i. 127

     Dervishes, i. 236-238

     "Desert," the, i. 48

     Deswali, ii. 134

     Deveh Boyun, ii. 385

     Dilakoff, Yacub, ii. 223 _note_

     Dilleh, peak of, ii. 22

     Dima, ii. 19, 25

     Dinarud river, i. 348

     Dissa, ii. 216

     Diyalah, i. 51, 60

     Diz Arjanak, ii. 82

     Diza, ii. 276;
       reduction of the garrison, 276;
       first visit to a Turkish official, 277

     Dizabad, i. 140;
       ruins of, 142

     Dizful or Bridge of Diz, ii. 71

     Drinayi Pass, ii. 275

     Duab river, ii. 11

     Duashda Imams, i. 343

     Dukkani-Daoud or David's shop, i. 85, 87

     Dupulan, i. 351;
       Pass, 352


     E

     Elam, Upper, ii. 34

     Elburz mountains, i. 176, 225

     Elijeh, ii. 386

     Elwend, Mount, ii. 144

     England, native opinions of, i. 19, 73, 171, 198; ii. 7, 79, 128,
       199, 272

     Erzerum, ii. 381;
       Christian mission at, 382;
       trade, 383;
       "sights," 383;
       "troubles," 383;
       Sanassarian College, 385

     Esther and Mordecai, tomb of, ii. 153

     Etiquette, code of, i. 105

     Euphrates, ii. 365, 368

     Eyal, hamlet of, ii. 275

     Ezra, tomb of, i. 13


     F

     Faidun, ii. 47

     Fao, i. 5

     Fath' Ali Shah, i. 170

     Fatima, shrine of, i. 167-169;
       pilgrimages to, 167

     Feraghan, plain of, i. 151;
       carpets, 151;
       salt lake, 158

     Fire-worshippers, i. 194

     Fraser, Mr. Baillie, _Travels in Kurdistan_, i. 28

     Frat, the, ii. 386


     G

     Gaberabad, caravanserai of, i. 232

     Gahgoran, ii. 282;
       night alarm, 283

     Gal-i-Bard-i-Jamal Pass, ii. 26, 36

     Gal-i-Gav Pass, ii. 34, 39

     Gamasiab river, i. 123, 125

     Gandaman, plain of, i. 361;
       village, 363

     Gardan-i-Cherri, ii. 13, 19

     Gardan-i-Gunak, ii. 71

     Gardan-i-Rukh, i. 308

     Gardan-i-Tak-i-Girreh, i. 88

     Gardan-i-Tir-Machi, ii. 188

     Gardan-i-Zirreh, i. 313

     Garden of Eden, i. 13

     Gargunak, ii. 19

     Gartak, ii. 45

     Gas Khana marsh, i. 301

     Gates, language of, i. 271

     Gaukhaud, ii. 168, 176

     Gawar, plain of, ii. 275;
       request for teachers, 281

     Geog-tapa, ii. 219;
       church, 243;
       orphanage, 244

     Geokahaz, ii. 188;
       cleanliness, 192

     Getchid, ii. 389

     Gez, i. 240, 242

     Ghazit village, ii. 346

     Ghazloo Pass, ii. 368;
       village, 369

     Gil-i-Shah Pass, ii. 31

     Givr, i. 161

     Gokun, ii. 41;
       river, 45

     _Gopher_, a, i. 19

     Gorab, plateau of, ii. 15;
       serious incident, 17

     Gudzag, ii. 360

     Gulabek, i. 183

     Gumushkhané valley, ii. 391

     Gurab plain, i. 346

     Gur[=a]ns, the, i. 86

     Guwa river, ii. 49


     H

     Hadji Hussein, plain of, ii. 203

     Haizdar or Haigatsor plain, ii. 332, 341

     _Hak[=i]ms_, female, ii. 74;
       remedies, 74;
       diseases, 75

     Hamadan, ii. 134, 148;
       ruinous condition, 149;
       bazars, 150;
       _namads_ or felts, 151;
       intemperance, 152;
       tomb of Esther and Mordecai, 153;
       tablets, 154;
       degradation of the Jews, 155;
       inhabitants, 155, 156;
       Faith Hubbard school, 160;
       Medical mission at, 162;
       visitors, 162;
       Christian mission at, 164;
       travelling arrangements, 165

     Hamilabad, i. 127, 134;
       a diseased crowd, 135

     Hamrin hills, i. 59

     Hamzikeuy, Greek village, ii. 394

     Handawan, pass of, ii. 124

     Harta village, ii. 378

     Harunabad, i. 94

     Hashal river, ii. 341

     Hassan-Kaleh, fortress of, ii. 381

     Hassan Khan, ruined fort, i. 123

     Hesso Khan, a Kurdish chief, ii. 264;
       costume, 265

     Holiwar valley, ii. 95, 104

     Holwan, i. 63, 81, 85

     Horses, Arab, i. 118.

     ---- Bakhtiari, ii. 117

     ---- Persian, i. 190;
       clothing, 185; ii. 136;
       food, 137

     "Hospital Sunday," i. 155

     Husseinabad, i. 134, 176, 212


     I

     Ilyat villages, i. 78, 81;
       camps, 84, 314; ii. 193, 205;
       costume, i. 316;
       familiarity, ii. 194

     Imamzada-i-Mamil, ii. 118

     Imamzada torrent, i. 350

     Imam Kuli Khan, Ilkhani, i. 325

     Inda Khosh, ii. 206

     Indo-European telegraph line, i. 227

     Inn, Turkish, i. 52

     Irene, Lake, ii. 87, 88

     Isfahan, i. 244;
       bridges, 258;
       dyed fabrics, 258;
       _Medresseh_, armoury, 266;
       trade, 267;
       _Farhang_ newspaper, 268;
       manufactures, 269;
       climate, 269

     Isfandyar Khan, Ilbegi, i. 328;
       _haram_, 332-335


     J

     Jabali-Besitun range, i. 112, 119

     Jafirabad, ii. 184

     Jagatsu river, ii. 197

     Jairud, i. 158;
       fruit exported, 158

     Jalanda mountain, ii. 50

     Jamilabad village, ii. 143

     Jan Mir, sheikh, i. 79

     Jehanbin, i. 312

     Jelu ranges, ii. 281, 325

     Julfa, i. 227, 243;
       "alleys," 246;
       society, 247;
       history, 248;
       church missions at, 248;
       schools, 250:
       mission house, 251;
       picnics, 257;
       "city of waters," 269;
       preparations for journey, 281-285


     K

     _Kabobs_, Persian dish, ii. 139

     Kahva Rukh, i. 300, 308;
       patients, 309;
       nocturnal robbery, 311

     Kaisruh mountain, ii. 11

     Kaj, ii. 3

     _Kajawehs_ or panniers, i. 118

     Kala Kuh, ii. 58, 65

     Kalahoma, ii, 47, 50;
       patients, 51

     Kalhurs, the, i. 86

     _Kalian_, or water pipe, i. 107

     Kalla Khanabad, ii. 105

     Kamand-Ab, ii. 124

     Kamarun, ii. 47

     Kamerlan Pass, ii. 325

     _Kanaats_, i. 241

     Kandal Pass, ii. 285

     Kangawar, i. 131

     Kanisairani summits, ii. 276

     Kar Kanun, ii. 27

     Kara Kapru, ii. 369

     Karabul[=a]k, Kurdish village, ii. 182

     Karachai river, ii. 196

     Karaftu, fortress palace of, ii. 194

     Karasu river, i. 112, 114

     _Karsi_ or platform, i. 132

     Karun river, i. 5, 342, 351; ii. 23, 29;
       trade on, i. 10, 12;
       its tributaries, ii. 30

     Kashan, i. 220;
       telegraph station, 227;
       manufactures, 230;
       _reflêt_ tiles, 231

     Kashava, ii. 202

     Kashgan, ii. 120

     Kasr-i-Kajar, i. 195

     Kasr-i-Shirin, i. 79;
       ruins of, 80;
       romantic legends, 80 _note_

     Kasrik Kala Pass, ii. 332

     Kasseinabad, i. 226

     _Katirgis_ or muleteers, i. 50

     Kavir or Great Salt Desert, i. 174, 177

     Kavrak, defiles of, ii. 196

     Kazimain, i. 23

     Kerbela, "Dead March," i. 35, 36;
       pilgrims to, ii. 189-191

     Kerkhah, i. 94

     _Ketchuda_ or headman, i. 329;
       duties, 377

     Khana Mirza plain, i. 360

     Khanjarak, ii. 329;
       poverty, 330;
       church, 330

     Khannikin, i. 61;
       _haram_, 66, 71;
       trade, 69;
       peasant life, 74-76

     Kharba valley, ii. 36

     Khariji village, i. 312

     Kharshut valley, ii. 391;
       village, 392

     Khashmaghal village, ii. 184

     Kherson valley, ii. 19

     Khosroe Parviz, legend, i. 80 _note_

     Khuramabad, ii. 103, 120;
       dirt and squalor, 122;
       Bala Hissar fort, 123

     Killa Bazuft, ii. 8, 19

     Kirmanshah, i. 98;
       population, 101;
       street, 102;
       inhabitants, 102;
       customs, 103;
       punishment, forms of, 103;
       reception by the Governor, 103;
       the Citadel, 104;
       code of etiquette, 105,
         of pipes, 107;
       rugs, 109;
       carpet-weaving, 110;
       soldiers, 111;
       lanterns, 111;
       horses, 118

     Kirrind, i. 84, 92;
       plain of, 87;
       valley, 90

     Kizil Kabr, red range of, ii. 197

     ---- Robat, i. 53;
       dirt and discomfort, 60

     ---- Uzen stream, ii. 180

     Knapp, Mr. and Mrs., ii. 355

     Kochanes, ii. 261, 286;
       Mar Shimun the Patriarch, 288-294;
       church, 296-302;
       cattle plague, 319

     Kooltapa, ii. 169;
       robbery, 171

     Kop Dagh, ii. 387

     ---- Khané, ii. 388

     Kornah, i. 13

     Kotranis, ii. 323

     _Kourbana_, celebration of the, ii. 310

     _Kufas_ or _gophers_, i. 18

     Kuh-i-Bozah, i. 129

     Kuh-i-Dinar, ii. 2

     Kuh-i-Gerra, ii. 2

     Kuh-i-Haft Kuh, ii. 94

     Kuh-i-Hassan, i. 129

     Kuh-i-Kaller, i. 360

     Kuh-i-Milli, ii. 12

     Kuh-i-Nassar, i. 313

     Kuh-i-Paran, i. 129

     Kuh-i-Rang, ii. 34

     Kuh-i-Sabz, i. 316

     Kuh-i-Shahan, ii. 26

     Kuh-i-Sukhta range, i. 313

     Kuh-i-Zirreh, ii. 2

     Kuh-Shah-Purnar, i. 313

     Kuh Sufi, i. 257

     Kuh Surisart, ii. 194

     Kuhr[=u]d, i. 233;
       exports, 234;
       valley, 232;
       pass of, 234

     Kûm, i. 160, 211;
       telegraph line and post-office, 166;
       Fatima, shrine of, 167;
       the dead, source of wealth, 168;
       industries, 170;
       "holy" city, 170;
       theological college, 170;
       ruinous condition, 220

     Kunak, i. 363

     Kupru Bridge, ii. 391

     Kurdish houses, i. 88; ii. 191;
       women, 192

     Kurds, depredations of the, ii. 272;
       robbery and violence, 278, 295, 323, 330;
       costume, 352-354;
       _physique_, 352;
       description of, 372;
       outrages, 375;
       remorseless robbers, 377

     Kut-al-Aimarah, i. 18

     Kuzik lake, ii. 365


     L

     Labaree, Dr., ii. 240 _note_

     Lahdaraz, i. 359

     Land, cultivation of, i. 21

     Lanterns, Persian, i. 111; ii. 158

     Layard, Sir A. H., _Early Adventures_, i. 13 _note_;
       on Ali-Ilahism, 87;
       on the Bakhtiaris, 294

     Lazes, the, ii. 391

     Legation, the British, at Tihran, i. 175

     Letter from the Turkish Ambassador, ii. 322

     Libasgun, i. 365

     Lodgings for travellers, i. 82

     Luri-Buzurg, the, i. 286-299

     Lurs, Bakhtiari, i. 293-297;
       external improvement, ii. 18

     Lurs, Feili, i. 297-299

     Lyne, Mr. and Mrs., i. 214


     M

     Mahidasht, i. 93;
       plain of, 97;
       river, 96

     Makhedi, ii. 58

     Mar Shimun, the Syrian Patriarch of Kochanes, ii. 288-294

     Marbishu, ii. 267;
       church, 269;
       _Qasha_ Ishai's dwelling, 271

     Margil, i. 7

     Martaza, Ilyat encampment, i. 343

     Masir, ii. 48

     Matchetloo, ii. 364

     Mauri Zarin valley, ii. 77

     Mehemetabad, ii. 211

     _Meron_ or holy oil, i. 277

     Merwana, ii. 262

     Merwanen village, ii. 327

     Miandab, ii. 204

     Mianmalek Pass, ii. 194

     Mirza Taghi, murder of, i. 206

     Missionaries, female, life, i. 253-255

     ---- Medical, i. 38, 188, 250; ii. 162, 224

     Missions. _See_ Christian

     _Modakel_, i. 115

     Mohammerah, i. 5

     Moharrem, or month of mourning, ii. 158

     Money, difficulty of procuring, ii. 320

     Mongawi village, ii. 143

     Mowaz, ii. 15

     Muhammad Jik, ii. 202

     Murad-chai river, ii. 365

     Murcheh Khurt, i. 232, 239

     Muschir-u-Dowleh, i. 205;
       his mosque, 206;
       college, hospital, 207;
       palace, 207;
       _andarun_, 209

     Mush, plain of, ii. 348

     Myan Tak hamlet, i. 88


     N

     Naghun village, i. 331;
       Pass, ii. 2

     Nahrwan canal, i. 51

     Nal Shikan Pass, i. 94

     _Namads_ or felts at Hamadan, ii. 151

     Names, i. 140

     Nanej, i. 135;
       female curiosity, 137;
       ceremonials on the birth of a child, 138, 139

     Narek village, ii. 342

     Nasrabad, i. 226; ii. 184

     Nimrud Dagh, ii. 342

     _No Ruz_ or New Year, festival of, annual ceremony, i. 204, 219

     Norduz, ii. 327

     Norullak, plain of, ii. 365


     O

     _Odah_, Turkish guest-house, ii. 344

     Odling, Dr. and Mrs., i. 198

     Ombar, ii. 263

     Orta Khan, first camping-ground, i. 49


     P

     Padshah-i-Zalaki, ii, 60;
       disorderly crowd, 60;
       attack, 63;
       thefts, 71;
       savage life, 73

     Pai-Tak, i. 87

     Pambakal Pass, ii. 30

     Pamir desert, "the roof of the world," i. 127

     Parwez, ii. 90, 93, 104;
       under fire, 90

     Pasbandi Pass, i. 312

     Pasin Plain, ii. 381

     "Pass of the Angel of Death," i. 175

     Passangh[=a]m, i. 225

     Peasant's house, Persian, i. 148;
       flat roofs, 149

     Pedlars, i. 260

     Pelu, Mount, ii. 338

     Persia, bibliography of, i. 6, 13, 84, 87, 107, 113, 138, 182,
       228, 286, 307, 327; ii. 158, 243, 249, 258, 269, 300, 304, 335,
       363, 367, 378, 383, 384

     ---- farewell impressions of, ii. 246-260;
       condition, 247;
       population, 249;
       condition of the working classes, 250;
       independence, 251;
       characteristics of the upper classes, 252;
       morals, 252;
       education, 253;
       law, 254;
       Shah, a despotic ruler, 255;
       official corruption, 257

     Persian frontier, i. 78

     ---- lady, costume of a, i. 216, 217;
       amusements, 219

     Pharipah, i. 134

     Pigeon towers, i. 302

     Pikhruz, ii. 358, 363

     Pipes, etiquette of, i. 107-109

     Pira Mah mountain, ii. 197

     Piru, precipice of, i. 120, 121

     Pirzala, ii. 276

     Polygamy, i. 214

     Post stations, i. 223

     Potter, Dr., i. 188

     Pul-i-Hawa, ii. 114

     Pul-i-Kaj[=u], i. 258

     Pul-i-Kala, i. 304

     Pul-i-Wargun, i. 300


     Q

     Quhaibalak, ii. 286

     Qwarah, ii. 286


     R

     Rahwan, plain of, ii. 348

     Ramazan, fast of, i. 303

     Rawlinson, Sir H., on Ali-Ilahism, i. 86;
       on the rock sculptures, 112;
       on Besitun antiquities, 122;
       on the Bakhtiaris, 296

     Reynolds, Dr., ii. 336

     Rhages or Rhei, ancient city of, i. 178, 194

     Riji, i. 360

     Riz, i. 301;
       pigeon towers, 301;
       lack of privacy, 303

     "Road Beetle," i. 242

     ---- Guards, escort of, ii. 193, 201

     Ross, Colonel, i. 2

     Rugs. _See_ Carpets

     Russia, native opinions of, i. 198; ii. 181, 199

     Rustam-i village, ii. 4


     S

     Sabz Kuh, i. 359

     Sabzu ravine, i. 352;
       river, 359;
       valley, 359

     Safid-Kuh, or "white mount," ii. 19

     Sah Kala, ii. 49

     Sahid stream, ii. 41;
       village, 41;
       burial-ground, 42

     Sahmine, ii. 137;
       buildings, 138;
       exports, 139

     Sain Kala, ii. 197;
       trade, 197;
       inhabitants, 198

     Salamatabad village, ii. 180

     Sanak river, ii. 206, 208

     "Sang Miwishta," ii. 70

     Sanginak mountain, i. 345

     Sanjud, ii. 194

     Sannah, i. 119, 125;
       a diseased crowd, 127

     Sar-i-Cheshmeh-i-Kurang, ii. 29, 33

     Sarakh river, ii. 188

     Sarawand, ii. 88;
       noisy crowd, 89

     Saripul-i-Zohab, i. 77;
       history of, 84

     Saruk, i. 143;
       carpets, 146;
       climate, 146;
       peasants' houses, 148;
       flat roofs, 149

     Sassoon, Sir A., i. 36

     Schindler, General, on the population of Persia, ii. 249

     Scribe, Persian, i. 284

     Seleucia, i. 22

     Seligun, valley of, i. 313; ii. 1;
       lake, i. 315

     Serba torrent, ii. 17

     Seyyids, the, i. 32; ii. 123

     Shah, palace of the, at Tihran, i. 192;
       _haram_, 192;
       hunting grounds, 195;
       gardens, 198;
       treasure house, 199;
       Peacock Throne, 201;
       presentation to, 201;
       description of, 202;
       despotic ruler, ii. 255

     Shahbadar village, ii. 115

     Shalamzar, i. 312;
       eye diseases, 312

     _Shamal_, i. 1, 5

     Shamisiri valley, ii. 20

     Shamran, twin peaks of, i. 124

     Shamsabad village, i. 312;
       river, 317

     Shashgird, caravanserai of, i. 173, 213

     Shat-el-Arab, the, i. 5, 6

     Shawutha, hamlet of, ii. 285

     Shedd, Dr., ii. 226

     Sheraban, i. 57

     Shiahs, the, i. 35

     Shimran hills, i. 182, 193, 195

     Shiraz, i. 227

     Shorab valley, ii. 27

     Shurishghan, legends, i. 309 _note_

     Shuster, ii. 16

     Shuturun, ii. 77;
       mountain, 83

     Siashan, i. 150

     Silakhor, plain of, ii. 89, 94

     Sinsin, i. 225

     Sipan Dagh, ii. 342, 362

     Snow scene, i. 153

     Soh village, i. 236;
       telegraph testing station, 227, 236

     _Sowars_, the, i. 78

     Stone lions, i. 343

     Sujbul[=a]k, ii. 187, 207;
       cemetery, 206;
       trade, 207;
       consulate, 207;
       inhabitants, 207

     Sulduz, plain of, ii. 214

     Sultan Ibrahim, i. 360

     Sunnis, the, i. 36

     Surmel, the, ii. 394

     Sutton, Dr. and Mrs., i. 24, 37, 39, 46

     Syrians, characteristics of the, ii. 241;
       costume, 242;
       pious phrases, 242;
       baptism, 299;
       clerical dress, 302;
       burial rites, 303;
       marriage customs, 307;
       fasts, 308;
       episcopal succession, 309;
       _kourbana_, 310;
       dancing, 312;
       condition of, 324


     T

     Tabarak, stream, ii. 19

     Tadvan village, ii. 360

     Taimur Khan, ii. 52

     Taj Khatan, i. 157;
       bread-making, 159

     Tak-i-Girreh, pass of, i. 88

     Tak-i-Kasr, palace of, i. 22

     Takautapa, ii. 179, 186

     Takt-i-Bostan, rock sculptors of, i. 112

     _T[=a]nd[=u]r_ or fire-hole, i. 132

     Tang-i-Ardal, gorge, i. 342

     Tang-i-Bahrain, ii. 94

     Tang-i-Buzful, ii. 124

     Tang-i-Darkash Warkash, ii. 3

     Tang-i-Ghezi, ii. 24

     Tang-i-Karun, ii. 11

     Taug-i-Wastagun, i. 361

     Tarsa, ii. 49

     _Tazieh_ or Passion Play, i. 35, 184; ii. 158

     Tchoruk, ii. 388

     Terpai torrent, ii. 286

     Threshing, mode of, ii. 138

     Tigris, river, i. 1, 9, 15, 27, 51; ii. 350;
       navigation of, i. 12

     Tihran, i. 175;
       arrival at, 180;
       aspects of, 183;
       population, 184;
       bazars, 184;
       horse furniture, 185;
       foreign goods, 186, 187;
       European quarter, 188;
       Christian mission at, 188;
       dispensary, hospital, 188;
       modern improvements, 189;
       Imperial Bank, 189;
       squares, 192;
       Citadel or Ark, 192;
       freight of goods, 196;
       society, 197;
       Museum, 199;
       telegraphic centre, 227

     Tiles, i. 231

     Toogh village, ii. 349

     "Tower of Silence," i. 194

     Travelling equipments, i. 44, 47, 117, 282

     Trebizond, ii. 386, 396

     Tuk-i-Karu, ii. 94

     Tulwar village, ii. 177

     Tur, i. 338, 347

     _Turbehs_ or mausoleums, ii. 362

     Turkish house, i. 40

     Turkman, hamlet of, ii. 211, 217

     Twig Bridge, ii. 114


     U

     Undzag, ii. 344

     Urmi, the "Paradise of Persia," ii. 217;
       Protestant missions at, 221-234;
       the Fiske Seminary, 222;
       College, 222;
       medical mission, 224;
       siege, 225;
       schools, 226, 231;
       history of the mission, 226;
       results, 229;
       Anglican mission, 229;
       Sisters of Bethany, 232;
       population, 235;
       antiquarian interests, 236;
       Syrians or Assyrians, 237;
       inhabitants, 237;
       tenure of houses, 237;
       of lands, 238;
       laws injurious to Christians, ii. 240

     Urmi, Dead Sea of, ii. 215, 235


     V

     V-Shaped slit, difficult passage of the, ii. 44

     Van, ii. 325, 334 _note_;
       Christian mission at, 335;
       schools, 335;
       the "Gardens," 337;
       castle, 338;
       church, 339;
       increasing trade, 339

     ---- Dead Sea of, ii. 332

     ---- Lake, ii. 342

     Varak Dagh, ii. 342

     Varzahan village, ii. 389

     Vastan village, ii. 342

     Vignau, M. du, i. 227


     W

     Walnut trees, ii. 346

     Water supply of Persia, i. 241, 305

     Wells, Colonel, i. 197, 227

     Wiyjahea caravanserai, i. 54

     Wolff, Sir H. Drummond, i. 181

     Writing, a fine art, i. 284


     Y

     Yakobiyeh, i. 46, 52

     Yalpand village, ii. 144

     Yangaloo, Armenian village, ii. 366

     Yekmala, ii. 275

     Yezd, i. 194

     Yezidi torrent, ii. 286

     Yezidis, the, ii. 317


     Z

     Zab river, ii. 286

     Zagros, gates of, i. 87

     Zainderud river, i. 258, 269, 301; ii. 19;
       process of rinsing, i. 258

     _Zalabi_, Bakhtiari eatable, i. 330

     _Zaptiehs_, ii. 326

     Zarak village, ii. 360

     Zard Kuh range, ii. 23, 27, 28

     Zarin valley, ii. 19

     Zibar mountains, ii. 214

     Zigana mountain, ii. 392

     Zobeideh valley, i. 95


THE END


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, _Edinburgh_.





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can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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