« ElőzőTovább »
his fountain. The guardians of the tomb, and a few wanderers from a neighbouring village, gathered round me, and satisfied my curiosity as far as their caution and prejudices would allow. We passed the night on the roof of one of the buildings within the precincts of the sacred edifice, and continued our journey at dawn on the following morning. Quitting the Yezidi district, we entered the mountains inhabited by the large Kurdish tribe of Missouri. The valleys were well wooded; many-shaped rocks towered above our heads or rose in the streams of the Gomel”, which almost cut off our passage through the narrow defiles. A few villages were scattered on the declivities, but their inhabitants had deserted them for rude huts, built of branches of trees, –their summer habitations. In four hours we reached the large village of Kaloni, or Kalah-oni, rising amongst vineyards, and hanging over the bed of the Gomel. The houses, well constructed of stone, were empty. Huge horns of the ibex ornamented the lintels of the gateways, and the corners of the buildings. The inhabitants were at some distance, on the banks of the stream, living under the trees in their temporary sheds. These Kurds were of the Badinan branch of the Missouri tribe. Their chief, whose hut was in the midst of this group of simple dwellings, was absent; but his wife received me with hospitality. Carpets, the work of her own women, were spread under a mulberry tree; and large bowls of milk and cream, wooden platters filled with boiled rice, slices of honey-comb, and baskets of new-gathered fruit, were speedily placed before us. The men sat at a respectful distance, and readily gave me such information as I asked for. The women, unembarrassed by the veil, brought straw to our horses, or ran to and fro with their pitchers. Their hair fell in long tresses down their backs, and their foreheads were adorned with rows of coins and beads; many were not unworthy of the reputation for beauty which the women of Missouri enjoy. The spot was rich in natural beauties. The valley, shut in by lofty rocks, was well wooded with fruit trees— the mulberry, the peach, the fig, the walnut, the olive, and the pomegranate; beneath them sprang the vine, or were laid out plots of Indian corn, sesame, and cotton. The sheds were built of boughs; and the property of the owners, – carpets, horse-cloths, and domestic utensils, —were spread out before them. From almost every door, mingling with the grass and flowers, stretched the manycolored threads of the loom, at which usually sat one female of the family. There was a cleanliness, and even richness, in the dresses of both women and men, an appearance of comfort and industry, which contrasted strikingly with the miserable state of the people of the plain; and proved that these Kurds had been sufficiently fortunate to escape the notice of the last governor of Mosul, and were reserved for some more scrutinising Pasha. I acknowledged the hospitality of the Kurdish lady by a present to her son, and rode up to the small Chaldaean village of Bebozi, standing on the summit of a high mountain. The ascent was most precipitous, and the horses could with difficulty reach the place. We found a group of ten houses, built on the edge of a cliff overhanging the valley, at so great a height, that the stream below was scarcely visible. The inhabitants were . poor, but received us with unaffected hospitality. I had left the usual road to Amadiyah for the purpose of visiting an inscription, said to exist near this village. A guide was soon found to conduct me to the spot of which I had heard; but after toiling up a very difficult pathway, I was shown a rock on which were only a few rude marks, bearing no resemblance to any writing that had ever been invented. I was accustomed to such disappointments, and always prepared for them. I returned to the village and visited the small church. The people of Bebozi are amongst those Chaldaeans who have been recently brought over to the Roman Catholic faith. They furnish but a too common instance of the mode in which such proselytes
* Or Gomer; this stream forms the principal branch of the Ghazir or Bumadas.
are made. In the church I saw a few miserable Italian prints, dressed up in all the horrors of red, yellow, and blue, miracles of saints and of the blessed Virgin. Having rested in the village, we resumed our journey, and crossed a range of hills, covered by a forest of dwarf oak. We descended into the valley of Cheloki, reaching about sunset the large Kurdish village of Spandareh, so called from its poplar trees. We were now separated from the valley of Amadiyah by a range of high and well-wooded mountains called Ghara. This we crossed by a road little frequented, and of so precipitous a nature that our horses could scarcely keep their footing — one, indeed, carrying part of our baggage, suddenly disappeared over the edge of a rock, and was found some hundred feet below, on his back, firmly wedged between two rocks: how he got there with nothing but the bone of his tail broken, was a mystery beyond the comprehension of our party. The valley of Amadiyah is cut up into innumerable ravines by the torrents, which rush down the mountains and force their way to the river Zab. It is, however, well wooded with oaks, producing in abundance the galls for which this district is celebrated. The peasants were now picking this valuable article of export. The town and fort of Amadiyah had been visible from the crest of the Ghara range; but we had a long ride before us, and it was nearly mid-day ere we reached the foot of the lofty isolated rock on which they are built. We rested in the small Chaldaean village of Bebadi, one of the few in the district which still retain the Nestorian faith. The inhabitants were miserably poor, and I had to listen to a long tale of wretchedness and oppression. The church was hung with a few tattered cotton handkerchiefs, and the priest's garments were to match. I gave him two or three pieces of common print, out of which he made a turban for himself, and beautified the altar. Some half-clothed, fever-stricken Albanians were slumbering on the stone benches as we entered the gates of the fort, which certainly during the season of Ramazan, if not at all others, might be taken by surprise by a few resolute Kurds. We found ourselves in the midst of a heap of ruins—porches, bazaars, baths, habitations, all laid open to their inmost recesses. Falling walls would have threatened passers-by, had there been any ; but the place was a desert. We had some difficulty in finding our way to a crumbling ruin, honored with the name of Serai — the Palace. Here the same general sleep prevailed. Neither guards nor servants were visible, and we wandered through the building until we reached the room of the governor. His hangers-on were indulging in comfort and sleep upon the divans, and we had some trouble in rousing them. We were at length taken to a large gaudily painted room, in a tower built on the very edge of the rock, and overlooking the whole valley—the only remnant of the state of the old hereditary Pashas of Amadiyah. A refreshing breeze came down from the mountain, the view was extensive and beautiful, and I forgot the desolation and misery which reigned around. A few miserable Nestorian Chaldaeans, and one or two halfstarved Jews came to me with the usual melancholy tale of distress; and shortly after Kasha Mendi, a worthy ecclesiastic, who ministered to the spiritual wants of half the villages in the valley, hearing of my arrival, joined the party. The priest was, of course, better informed than the rest; and from him I obtained the information I required as to the state of the Chaldaeans in the district, and as to the means of reaching Tiyari. The Albanian irregulars were to leave me here, the authority of the Pasha of Mosul not extending beyond Amadiyah. We were now to enter the territories of Kurdish chiefs, who scarcely admitted any dependence upon the Porte. I determined upon hiring mules for the rest of my journey, and sending all my horses, except one, with the Albanians to Dohuk, there to await my return. It was the hour of afternoon prayer before Selim Agha, the Mutesellim or governor, emerged from his harem; which, however, as far as the fair sex were concerned, was empty. The old gentleman, who was hungry, half asleep, and in the third stage of the ague, hurried through the ordinary salutations, and asked at once for quinine. His attendants exhibited illustrations of every variety of the fever; some shivered, others glowed, and the rest sweated. He entreated me to go with him into the harem; his two sons were buried beneath piles of cloaks, carpets, and grain-sacks, but the whole mass trembled with the violence of their shaking. I dealt out emetics and quinine with a liberal hand, and returned to the Salamlik, to hear from Selim Agha a most doleful history of fever, diminished revenues, arrears of pay, and rebellious Kurds. The tears ran down his cheeks as he recapitulated his manifold misfortunes, and entreated me to intercede with the governor of Mosul for his advancement or recall. I left him with his watch in his hand, anxiously looking for sunset, that he might console himself with a dose of tartar emetic. Amadiyah was formerly a place of considerable importance and strength, containing a very large and flourishing population. It was governed by hereditary Pashas — feudal chiefs, who traced their descent from the Abbaside Caliphs, and were always looked up to, on that account, with religious respect by the Kurds. The ladies of this family were no less venerated, and enjoyed the very peculiar title for a woman of “ Khan.” The last of these hereditary chiefs was Ismail Pasha; who long defied, in his almost inaccessible castle, the attempts of Injeh Bairakdar Mohammed Pasha to reduce him. A mine was at length sprung under a part of the wall, which, from its position, the Kurds had believed safe from attack, and the place was taken by assault. Ismail Pasha was sent a prisoner to Baghdad, where he still remains; and his family, amongst whom was his beautiful wife, Esma Khan, not unknown to the Europeans of Mosul, together with Mohammed Seyyid Pasha of Akra", a member of the same race, long lived upon the bounty of Mr. Rassam. Amadiyah is frequently mentioned by the early Arab geographers and historians, and its foundation dates, most pro