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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

000 in 1900 over the trade of 1899


It

seems very likely that the British Government may now fall out also and stop the meagre guarantee of L1,000. This may have disastrous results, for it cannot be expected that a private firm will continue the navigation of the Karun at a great loss. This is, in a few words, what it may lead to. Should the British abandon the work already done, Russia will step in--she has had her eye upon the Karun more than upon any other spot in Persia--and reap the benefit of the money and labour that has been spent by us. In the plain of Arabistan Russian influence is not yet very far advanced, but among the Backhtiaris it is spreading fast. Intrigue is rampant. The Russian agents endeavour to get the tribesmen into disgrace with the Government and they succeed to a great extent in their aim.

Isphandiar Khan, who has the title of Sirdar Assad, is the head chief of the Backhtiaris, and with his cousin Sephadar keeps going the various branches of the family, but serious family squabbles are very frequent and may eventually cause division. The two above named men manage to keep all together except Hadji-Riza Kuli Khan, who is an opposing factor. He is an uncle of Isphandiar Khan, and his rancour arises from having been ousted from the chieftainship. He is said to have fallen very badly under Russian influence, and instigated his followers to rebellion, the cause being, however, put down not to family squabbles and jealousy--the true causes--but to disapproval

of the new road and the influence exercised by it upon the Backhtiari country.

Only about one-fifth of foreign imports into Mahommerah find their way up the Karun River. It is certainly to be regretted that no articles direct from the United Kingdom are forced up the river. The trade with India in 1900 only amounted to some L43,062 against L30,149 the previous year, France, Turkey, and Egypt being the only other importers. The total imports into Mahommerah for transhipment to Karun ports amounted to L59,194 in 1900, and showed a considerable increase on 1899.

Piece goods find their way up the river in considerable quantities. Then loaf-sugar and soft sugar are the principal articles of import; dates, iron, and treacle come next; while various metals, tea and matches come last.

In regard to local commerce the river trade for 1900 was L100,437, showing an increase of L37,449 upon the trade of 1899. This ought to be regarded as satisfactory, considering the slowness of Oriental races in moving from their old grooves.

The down river trade falls very short of the up river commerce, and consists mostly of wheat, oil seeds, opium, wool, gum, flour, beans, cotton, rice, tobacco, piece goods, glue. In 1900 the decrease in the carriage of wheat was enormous, and also the trade in oil seeds. Although gum was carried down stream in much larger quantities, owing to the yield being unusually abundant, the price obtained was very poor, owing to the falling London market. Gum Tragacanth was conveyed principally by the Isfahan-Ahwaz route. Notwithstanding all this there was an increase of L17,000 in 1900 over the trade of 1899, which shows that the route is nevertheless progressing and is worth cultivating.

Cotton goods, which are reimported from India mostly by Parsee and Jewish firms, originally come from Manchester and are in great demand. They consist of grey shirtings, prints (soft finish), lappets, imitation Turkey red, Tanjibs and jaconets. Marseilles beetroot sugar is holding its own against other cheaper sugars imported lately and finds its way to Isfahan by the Ahwaz road.


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