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passed on to the women. The dinner having been devoured to the last fragment, dancing succeeded. Some scruples had to be overcome before the women would join, as there were other tribes, besides their own, present; and when at length, by the exertions of Mr. Hormuzd Rassam, this difficulty was overcome, they made up different sets. Those who did not take an active share in the amusements seated themselves on the grass, and formed a large circle round the dancers. The Sheikhs remained on the sofas and divans. The dance of the Arabs, the Debkè, as it is called, resembles in some respects that of the Albanians, and those who perform in it are scarcely less vehement in their gestures, or less extravagant in their excitement, than those wild mountaineers. They form a circle, holding one another by the hand, and, moving slowly round at first, go through a shuffling step with their feet, twisting their bodies into various attitudes. As the music quickens, their movements are more active; they stamp with their feet, yell their war-cry, and jump as they hurry round the musicians. The motions of the women are not without grace; but as they insist on wrapping themselves in their coarse cloaks before they join in the dance, their forms, which the simple Arab shirt so well displays are entirely concealed.
When those who formed the Debkè were completely exhausted by their exertions, they joined the lookers-on, and seated themselves on the ground. Two warriors of different tribes, furnished with shields and naked scimitars, then entered the circle, and went through the sword-dance. As the music quickened the excitement of the performers increased. The bystanders at length were obliged to interfere and to deprive the combatants of their weapons, which were replaced by stout staves. With these they belabored one another unmercifully to the great enjoyment of the crowd. On every successful hit, the tribe, to which the one who dealt it belonged, set up their war-cry and shouts of applause, whilst the women deafened us with the shrill tahlehl, a noise made by a combined motion of the tongue, throat, and hand vibrated rapidly over the mouth. When an Arab or a Kurd hears this tahlehl he almost loses his senses through excitement, and is ready to commit any desperate act.
A party of Kurdish jesters from the mountains entertained the Arabs with performances and imitations, more amusing than refined. They were received with shouts of laughter. The dances were kept up by the light of the moon, the greater part of the night.
On the following morning Abd-ur-rahman invited us to his tents, and we were entertained with renewed Debkès and sword-dances. The women, undisturbed by the presence of another tribe, entered more fully into the amusement, and danced with greater animation. The Sheikh insisted upon my joining with him in leading off a dance, in which we were followed by some five hundred warriors, and Arab women.
The festivities lasted three days, and made the impression I had anticipated. They earned me a great reputation and no small respect, the Arabs long afterwards talking of their reception and entertainment. When there was occasion for their services, I found the value of the feeling towards me, which a little show of kindness to these ill-used people had served to produce.
Hafiz Pasha, who had been appointed to succeed the last governor, having received a more lucrative post, the province was sold to Tahyar Pasha, who made his public entry into Mosul early in May, followed by a large body of troops, and by the Cadi, Mufti, Ulema, and principal inhabitants of the town. The Mosuleeans had not been deceived by the good report of his benevolence and justice which had preceded him. He was a perfect specimen of the Turkish gentleman of the old school, of whom few are now left in Turkey: venerable in his appearance, bland and polished in his manners, courteous to Europeans, and well informed on subjects connected with the literature and history of his country. I had been furnished with serviceable letters of introduction to him ; he received me with every mark of attention, and at once permitted me to con
tinue the excavations. As a matter of form, he named a Cawass, to superintend the work on his part. I willingly concurred in this arrangement, as it saved me from any further inconvenience on the score of treasure ; for which, it was still believed, I was successfully searching. This officer's name was Ibrahim Agha. He had been many years with Tahyar Pasha, and was a kind of favourite. He served me during my residence in Assyria, and on my subsequent journey to Constantinople, with great fidelity; and, as is very rarely the case with his fraternity, with great honesty.
The support of Tahyar Pasha relieved me from some of my difficulties; for there was no longer cause to fear any interruption on the part of the authorities. But my means were very limited, and my own resources did not enable me to carry on the excavations as I wished. I returned, however, to Nimroud, and formed a small but effective body of workmen, choosing those who had already proved themselves equal to the work.
The heats of summer had now commenced, and it was no longer possible to live under a white tent. The huts were equally uninhabitable, and still swarmed with vermin. In this dilemma I ordered a recess to be cut into the bank of the river, where it rose perpendicularly from the water's edge. By screening the front with reeds and boughs of trees, and covering the whole with similar materials, a small room was formed. I was much troubled, however, with scorpions and other reptiles, which issued from the earth forming the walls of my apartment; and later in the summer by the gnats and sandflies, which hovered on a calm night over the river. Similar rooms were made for my servants. They were the safest that could be invented, should the Arabs take to stealing after dark. My horses were picketted on the edge of the bank above, and the tents of my workmen were pitched in a semi-circle behind them.
The change to summer had been as rapid as that which ushered in the spring. The verdure of the plain had perished almost in a day. Hot winds, coming from the desert, had
burnt up and carried away the shrubs; flights of locusts, darkening the air, had destroyed the few patches of cultivation, and had completed the havoc commenced by the heat of the sun. The Abou-Salman Arabs, having struck their black tents, were now living in ozailis, or sheds constructed of reeds and grass, along the banks of the river. The Shemutti and Jehesh had returned to their villages, and the plain presented the same naked and desolate aspect that it wore in the month of November. The heat, however, was now almost intolerable. Violent whirlwinds occasionally swept over the face of the country. They could be seen as they advanced from the desert, carrying along with them clouds of sand and dust. Almost utter darkness prevailed during their passage, which lasted generally about an hour, and nothing could resist their fury. On returning home one afternoon after a tempest of this kind, I found no traces of my dwellings; they had been completely carried away. Ponderous wooden frame-works had been borne over the bank, and hurled some hundred yards distant; the tents had disappeared, and my furniture was scattered over the plain. When on the mound, my only secure place of refuge was beneath the fallen lion, where I could defy the fury of the whirlwind : the Arabs ceased from their work, and crouched in the trenches, almost suffocated and blinded by the dense cloud of fine dust and sand which nothing could exclude.* Although the number of my workmen was small, the excavations were carried on as actively as possible. The two human-headed lions, at the small entrance to the great hall, already described, led into another chamber, or to sculptured walls, forming an outward facing to the building. * The slabs to the right and left, had fallen from their original position, and, with the exception of one, were broken. I had some difficulty in raising the pieces from the ground. As the face of the slabs was downwards, the sculpture had been well preserved. To the right was represented the King holding a bow in one hand and two arrows in the other. He was followed by his attendant eunuch, who bore a second bow and a quiver for his use, and a mace, with a head in the form of a rosette, which may have been one of the wooden clubs, topped with iron, mentioned by Herodotus as a weapon used by the Assyrians, or one of those staffs adorned with an apple, a rose, a lily, or an eagle, described by the same historian as carried by the Babylonians.f Standing before him were his vizir and an eunuch, their hands crossed before them, a posture still assumed in the East as one of respect and submission by inferiors in the presence of persons of rank. It is interesting thus to trace the observance of the same customs in the same countries, after the lapse of so many centuries. In the basrelief representing a similar subject discovered in the S.W. ruins, the vizir raises his right hand before the king — an attitude, apparently denoting an oath or homage in which dependants are seen on the later monuments of the Achaemenian and Sassanian dynasties. Dejoces, who was the successor of the Assyrian monarchs, permitted no one to see him, except certain privileged individuals; and the person of the Persian king, as we learn from the story of Esther, was considered so sacred, that even the queen, who ventured before him without being bidden, was punished with death, “except the king might hold out the golden sceptre that she might live.”f It might be expected, therefore, that in the Assyrian sculptures those who stand in the royal presence would be portrayed in the humblest posture of submission. These figures were about
* Storms of this nature are frequent during the early part of summer throughout Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Susiana. It is difficult to convey an idea of their violence. They appear suddenly and without any previous sign, and seldom last above an hour. It was during one of them that “the Tigris” steamer, under the command of Colonel Chesney, was wrecked in the Euphrates; and so darkened was the atmosphere that, although the vessel was within a short distance of the bank of the river, several persons who were in her are supposed to have lost their lives from not knowing in what direction to swim.