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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Who were still numerous in Kerman


style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XLIV

The deserted city of Farmidan--More speculation--The Afghan invasion--Kerman surrenders to Agha Muhammed Khan--A cruel oppressor--Luft-Ali-Khan to the rescue--The Zoroastrians--Mahala Giabr--Second Afghan invasion--Luft-Ali-Khan's escape--Seventy thousand human eyes--Women in slavery--Passes--An outpost--Fire temples--Gigantic inscriptions--A stiff rock climb--A pilgrimage for sterile women--A Russian picnic--A Persian dinner--Fatabad--The trials of abundance--A Persian menu--Rustamabad--Lovely fruit garden.

The very large deserted city of Farmidan lies directly south of the mountainous crescent on which are found the fortifications described in the previous chapter. The houses of the city do not appear very ancient, their walls being in excellent preservation, but not so the domed roofs which have nearly all fallen in. The houses are entirely constructed of sun-dried mud bricks, now quite soldered together by age and reduced into a compact mass. A few of the more important dwellings have two storeys, and all the buildings evidently had formerly domed roofs. In order that the conformation of each house may be better understood, a plan of one typical building is given. On a larger or smaller scale they all resembled one another very closely, and were not unlike the Persian houses of to-day.

There

was a broad main road at the foot of the mountains along the southern side of which the city had been built, with narrow and tortuous streets leading out of the principal thoroughfare. Curiously enough, however, this city appeared not to have had a wall round it like most other cities one sees in Persia. It is possible that the inhabitants relied on taking refuge in the strength and safety of the forts above, but more probable seems the theory that Farmidan was a mere settlement, a place of refuge of the Zoroastrians who had survived the terrible slaughter by Agha Muhammed Khan.

It may be remembered that when the Afghan determined to regain his throne or die, he came over the Persian frontier from Kandahar. He crossed the Salt Desert from Sistan, losing thousands of men, horses and camels on the way, and with a large army still under his command, eventually occupied Kerman.

Kerman was in those days a most flourishing commercial centre, with bazaars renowned for their beauty and wealth, and its forts were well manned and considered impregnable. So unexpected, however, was the appearance of such a large army that the inhabitants made no resistance and readily bowed to the sovereignty of Agha Muhammed. They were brutally treated by the oppressors. Luft-Ali-Khan hastened from the coast to the relief of the city, and fiercely attacked and defeated the Afghan invader, who was compelled to retreat to Kandahar; but Kerman city, which had undergone terrible oppression from the entry of the Afghans, fared no better at the hands of the Persians. The Zoroastrians of Kerman particularly were massacred wholesale or compelled to adopt the Mahommedan religion.

It is not unlikely--although I assume no responsibility for the statement--that at that time the Zoroastrians, who were still numerous in Kerman, driven from their homes by the invading Afghan and Persian armies, settled a few miles from the city, unable to proceed further afield owing to the desolate nature of the country all round. With no animals, no means of subsistence, it would have been impossible for them with their families to go much further _en masse_ in a country where food and even water are not easily obtainable. The name of the town--Farmidan--also would point to the conclusion that it had been inhabited by Fars, and the age attributed to the city by the natives corresponds roughly with the epoch of the Afghan invasion.


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