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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Exists between Isfahan and Yezd


the right (west) side of the track, eight miles from Yezd, is the neat mud wall of Nusseratabad, with a few trees peeping above it, but to the left of us all is barren, and we toddled along on grey, clayish sand.

Half-way between Nusseratabad and Yezd a four-towered well is to be found, and a quarter of a mile further the Mazereh Sadrih village, one and a-half farsakhs from Yezd. The mules sank deep in the fine sand. There were a good many Guebres about, mostly employed in carrying manure on donkeys. One of them, who was just returning from one of these errands, addressed me, much to my surprise, in Hindustani, which he spoke quite fluently. He told me that he had travelled all over India, and was about to start again for Bombay.

[Illustration: Halting at a Caravanserai.]

[Illustration: A Street in Yezd, showing High _Badjirs_ or Ventilating Shafts.]

Some "_badjir_"--high ventilating shafts--and a minaret or two tell us that we are approaching the town of Yezd--the ancient city of the Parsees--and soon after we enter the large suburb of Mardavoh, with its dome and graceful tower.

A track in an almost direct line, and shorter than the one I had followed, exists between Isfahan and Yezd. It passes south of the Gao Khanah (Salt Lake) to the south-east of Isfahan.


Yezd--Water supply--Climate--Cultivation--Products--Exports and imports--Population--Trade--Officials--Education--Persian children--Public schools--The Mushir school--The Parsee school--C.M.S. mission school--The medical mission--The hospital--Christianizing difficult--European ladies in Persia--Tolerance of race religions.

Yezd is the most central city of Persia, but from a pictorial point of view the least interesting city in the Shah's empire. There are a great many mosques--it is said about fifty--but none very beautiful. The streets are narrow and tortuous, with high walls on either side and nothing particularly attractive about them. Curious narrow arches are frequently to be noticed overhead in the streets, and it is supposed that they are to support the side walls against collapse.

There is not, at least I could not find, a single building of note in the city except the principal and very ancient mosque,--a building in the last degree of decay, but which must have formerly been adorned with a handsome frontage. There is a very extensive but tumbling-down wall around the city, and a wide moat, reminding one of a once strongly fortified place.

To-day the greater portion of Yezd is in ruins. The water supply is unfortunately very defective and irregular. There are no perennial streams of any importance, and all the irrigation works are dependent on artificial subterranean canals and kanats, and these in their turn are mostly subject to the rain and snow fall on the hills surrounding Yezd. Unluckily, the rains are now neither frequent nor abundant, and the land has in consequence been suffering severely from want of water. Snow falls in winter and to a great extent feeds the whole water supply of Yezd and its neighbourhood. It is not surprising, therefore, that more than three-quarters of the province of Yezd is barren land, cultivation being under the circumstances absolutely out of the question. Some portions of the province, however, where water is obtainable are quite fertile.

Towards the west the hills show some signs of vegetation, mainly fruit trees. But nothing larger than a bush grows wild, if we except occasional stunted fig-trees. Surrounded by mountains as Yezd is, there are two different climates close at hand: that of the "Kohestan" or hills, temperate in summer but piercing cold in winter, and the other, much warmer, of the low-lying land. In the eastern lowlands the summer heat is excessive, in autumn just bearable, and in the spring the climate is quite delightful. In all seasons, however, with few exceptions, it is generally dry and always healthy and pure.

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