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Rabban Hormuzd was formerly in the possession of the Nestorian Chaldæans ; but has been appropriated by the Catholics since the conversion of the inhabitants of Alkosh, Tel Kef, and other large villages of the plain. It is said to have been founded by one of the early Chaldæan patriarchs, in the latter part of the fourth century. The saint, after whom the convent is called, is much venerated by the Nestorians, and was, according to some traditions, a Christian martyr, and the son of a king of Persia. The convent is partly excavated in the rocks, and partly constructed of well-cut stone. Since it was plundered by the Kurds, under the Bey of Rowandiz, no attempt has been made to restore the rich ornaments which once decorated the chapel, and principal halls. The walls are now naked and bare, except where hung with a few hideous pictures of saints and holy families, presented or stuck up by the Italian monks who occasionally visit the place. In the chapel are the tombs of several Patriarchs of the Chaldæan church, buried here long before its division, and whose titles, carved upon the monuments, are always “Patriarch of the Chaldæans of the East."* Six or eight half-famished monks reside in the building. They depend for supplies, which are scanty enough, upon the faithful of the surrounding country.
It was night before we reached the large Catholic village of Tel Kef. I had sent a horseman in the morning, to apprise the people of my intended visit ; and Gouriel, the Kiayah, with several of the principal inhabitants, had assembled to receive me. As we approached they emerged from a dark recess, where they had probably been waiting for some time. They carried a few wax lights, which served as an illumination, and whose motion, as the bearers advanced, was so unsteady, that there could be no doubt of the condition of the bearers.
Gouriel and his friends reeled forwards towards my Cawass,
* The seal used by Mar Shamoun bears the same title; and the Patriarch 80 styles himself in all public documents. It is only lately that he has been induced, on some occasions, when addressing Europeans, to call himself „“ Patriarch of the Nestorians,” the name never having been used by the Chaldæans themselves.
who chanced to be the first of the party; and believing him to be me, they fell upon him, kissing his hands and feet, and clinging to his dress. Ibrahim Agha struggled hard to extricate himself, but in vain. “ The Bey is behind,” roared he. “ Allah! Allah! will no one deliver me from these drunken infidels ?” Rejoicing in the mistake, I concealed myself among the horsemen. Gouriel, seizing the bridle of Ibrahim Agha’s horse, and unmindful of the blows which the Cawass dealt about him, led him in triumph to his residence. It was not before the wife of the Kiayah and some women, who had assembled to cook our dinner, brought torches, that the deputation discovered their error. I had alighted in the meanwhile unseen, and had found my way to the roof of the house, where all the cushions that could be found in the village were piled up in front of a small table covered with bottles of raki and an assortment of raisins and parched peas, prepared in my honor. I hid myself among the pillows, and it was some time before the Kiayah discovered my retreat. He hiccupped out excuses till he was breathless, and endeavoring to kiss my feet, asked forgiveness for the unfortunate blunder. “Wallah! O Bey," exclaimed Ibrahim Agha, who had been searching for a stable, “the whole village is drunk. It is always thus with these unbelievers. They have now a good Pasha, who neither takes jerums nor extra salian *, nor quarters Hytas upon them, What dirt do they then eat ? Instead of repairing their houses, and sowing their fields, they spend every para in raki, and sit eating and drinking, like hogs, night and day.” I was forced to agree with Ibrahim Agha in his conclusions, and would have remonstrated with my hosts; but there was no one in a fit state to hear advice; and I was not sorry to see them at midnight scattered over the roof, buried in profound sleep. I ordered the horses to be loaded, and reached Mosul as the gates opened at daybreak.
The reader may desire to learn the fate of Tkhoma. A few
* At Mosul Jerums mean fines; salian, the property tax, or taxes levied on corporations under the old system.
days after my return to Mosul, notwithstanding the attempts of Tahyar Pasha to avert the calamity, Beder Khan Bey marched through the Tiyari mountains, levying contributions on the tribes and plundering the villages, on his way to the devoted district. The inhabitants, headed by their Meleks, made some resistance, but were soon overpowered by numbers. An indiscriminate massacre took place. The women were brought before the chief, and murdered in cold blood. Those who attempted to escape were cut off. Three hundred women and children, who were flying into Baz, were killed in the pass I have described. The principal villages with their gardens were destroyed, and the churches pulled down. Nearly half the population fell victims to the fanatical fury of the Kurdish chief; amongst them were one of the Meleks, and Kasha Bodaca. With this good priest, and Kasha Auraham, perished the most learned of the Nestorian clergy; and Kasha Kana is the last who has inherited any part of the knowledge, and zeal, which once so eminently distinguished the Chaldæan priesthood.
The Porte was prevailed upon to punish this atrocious massacre, and to crush a rebellious subject who had long resisted its authority. An expedition was fitted out under Osman Pasha; and after two engagements, in which the Kurds were signally defeated by the Turkish troops headed by Omar Pasha, Beder Khan Bey took refuge in a mountain-castle. The position had been nearly carried, when the chief, finding defence hopeless, succeeded in obtaining from the Turkish commander the same terms which had been offered to him before the commencement of hostilities. He was to be banished from Kurdistan ; but his family and attendants were to accompany him, and he was guaranteed the enjoyment of his property. Although the Turkish ministers more than suspected that Osman Pasha had reasons of his own for granting these terms, they honorably fulfilled the conditions upon which the chief, although a rebel, had surrendered. He was brought to Constantinople, and subsequently sent to the Island of Candia—a punishment totally inadequate to his numerous crimes.
After Beder Khan Bey had retired from Tkhoma, a few of the surviving inhabitants returned to their ruined villages; but Nur-Ullah Bey, suspecting that they knew of concealed property, fell suddenly upon them.. Many died under the tortures to which they were exposed; and the rest, as soon as they were released, fled into Persia. This flourishing district was thus destroyed ; and it will be long ere its cottages again rise from their ruins, and the fruits of patient toil again clothe the sides of its valleys.
INVITATION TO THE FEAST OF THE YEZIDIS. – DEPARTURE FROM MOSUL.
— BAADRI. -HUSSEIN BEY, THE YEZIDI CHIEF. THE BIRTH OF HIS SON. - HISTORY OF THE YEZIDIS. RIDE TO THE TOMB OF SHEIKH ADI. _SHEIKH NASR. __DESCRIPTION OF THE TOMB.- ARRIVAL OF PILGRIMS. -AN INCIDENT. --SHEIKH SHEMS, OR THE SUN. VOTIVE LAMPS. CELEBRATION OF RITES. -YEZIDI MUSIC. -THE DOCTRINES AND RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES OF THE SECT.—THE EVIL PRINCIPLE. THE PROBABLE ORIGIN OF THEIR RITES.—THEIR ORDERS OF PRIESTHOOD.-THEIR LANGUAGE AND BOOKS. — RETURN TO MOSUL.- DEPARTURE FOR THE SINJAR. - ABOU MARIA.—TEL AFER.MIRKAN.— ESCAPE OF THE YEZIDIS. — THE VILLAGE OF SINJAR. — WILD ASSES.
A Few days after my return to Mosul from the Tiyari mountains, a priest of the Yezidis, or, as they are commonly called, “ Worshippers of the Devil,” was sent by Sheikh Nasr, the religious chief of that remarkable sect, to invite Mr. Rassam and myself to their great periodical feast. The Vice-consul was unable to accept the invitation; but I seized with eagerness the opportunity of being present at ceremonies not before witnessed by an European.
The origin of my invitation proves that the Yezidis may lay claim to a virtue which is, unfortunately, not of frequent occurrence in the East, -I mean gratitude. When Keritli Oglu, Mohammed Pasha, first came to Mosul, this sect was amongst the objects of his cupidity and tyranny. He seized by treachery, as he supposed, their high priest ; but Sheikh Nasr had time to escape the plot against him, and to substitute in his place the second in authority, who was carried a prisoner to the town. Such is the attachment shown by the Yezidis to their chief, that the deceit was not revealed, and the substitute bore with resignation the tortures and imprisonment inflicted upon him. Mr. Rassam having been applied to, obtained his release