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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Notwithstanding the remonstrances of Sadek and Haji


The

plain on which we are travelling rises gently up to the village of Kudeshk at the foot of the mountain (altitude 6,750 feet). We ascend gradually between hills to the north and south and find ourselves in another flat valley, about three quarters of a mile broad and one mile and a half long. (Altitude 7,200 feet.) We are surrounded by hills, and find two villages, one to the east, the other to the west of the valley. The latter possesses buildings with masonry walls instead of the usual mud ones, and also masonry enclosures round wheat-fields and fruit-tree groves.

We continue to rise until the highest point of the plain is reached, 7,620 feet. Two or three smaller hamlets are found in the centre of the plain.

A second basin is found on proceeding east, with here and there miserable clusters of trees; otherwise everything is as barren as barren could be. On the reddish hills the rocky portion shows through at the summit only, whereas the bases are enveloped in a covering of sand and salt. To the north the Fishark and Sara mountain range extends in a general direction of N.W. to S.E., and its formation is quite interesting. Due north of us the eye is attracted by a peculiar hill, a double cone, two pointed, and much redder in colour than the hills near it.

On nearing the mountains many small villages appear. Yazih village has a solid stone wall round it. Wheat is cultivated

by the natives, good water being obtainable here in small but limpid streams. Then we have the old village of Lhas, now rejoicing in the new name of Mazemullahmat, and near it, Fezahbad, where I halted.

I strolled in the afternoon a mile from the latter village to the pass, 8,000 feet above sea level. Directly in front of the pass (at 110 deg. bearings magnetic) stands a high peak, and beyond it to the right of the observer (at 140 deg. b.m.) another and higher summit.

We leave behind to the W.N.W. the high Sara mountain range, no peaks of which, I estimated, rose above 10,000 feet. W.N.W. (at 280 deg. b.m.) is a most curious conical hill, standing isolated and very high above the plain.

Among the most common sights of these parts are the whirlwinds--the _tourbillons_,--each revolving with terrific rapidity round its own axis and raising to the sky a cylindrical column of dust. They further move along the country in a spasmodic manner, but never so fast that they cannot be avoided. The diameter of the wind columns I observed by the dust carried with it, varied from 3 feet to 20 feet.

The mountains we are travelling on are said to be somewhat unsafe, the villagers being given to attacking caravans, and robber bands coming here for shelter when it becomes unsafe for them to be on the Kashan-Yezd high road. In fact, while resting in the house of Haji-Mulla Ahmed at Fezahbad, a curious lot of men appeared, who, notwithstanding the remonstrances of Sadek and Haji, broke into the house in a most boisterous manner, demanding food of the landlord. They were armed with revolvers and old Martini rifles, and had plenty of cartridges about their persons. They seemed quite taken aback to find a European inside the room. They changed their attitude at once, and became quite polite.

I entertained them to tea, of which they drank gallons. I cannot say that I was particularly charmed with their faces, but their manner was certainly most courteous. They showed me their rifles--English Martinis with additional gold ornamentations of lion and sun, such as one sees in thousands all over Persia. I asked them where they got them from. They said they came from the Persian Gulf.


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