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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Pleated blue skirts reaching just below the knee

At the sides of the row of cliff dwellings were two smaller doors giving access to storehouses also dug in the rock. I was told that the natives migrated to this village during the winter months from October till one month after the Persian New Year, while they spend the remainder of the year higher up on the mountains owing to the intense heat. Firewood, which is scarce, is stored piled up on the top of roofs, whence a little at a time is taken down for fuel, and prominent in front of the village was a coarse and well-fortified pen for sheep. Wolves were said to be plentiful in the neighbourhood, and as I was sitting down writing my notes a shepherd boy ran into the tower to say that a wolf had killed one of his sheep.

Both from men and beasts there seemed to be little safety near the village, according to the natives, who invariably took their old-fashioned matchlocks with them when they went to work in their fields, even a few yards away from the castle.

One peculiarity of this village, which stood at an altitude of 6,180 feet, was that nobody seemed to know its name. The people themselves said that it had no name, but whether they were afraid of telling me, in their suspicions that some future evil might come upon them or for other reasons, I cannot say.

The natives were certainly rather original in their appearance, their ways and speech, and as I comfortably sat under the big tree and watched them coming in and out of the castle-village, they interested me much. Donkeys in pairs were taken in and out of the gate to convey manure to the fields, and old men and young came in and out carrying their long-poled spades and matchlocks. Even little boys were armed.

The men reminded one very forcibly, both in features and attire, of the figures in ancient Egyptian sculptures, of which they were the very image. They wore felt skull caps, the side locks of jet black hair cut straight across. They had clean-shaven necks and lumpy black beards. Their tall bodies were slender, with short waists, and their wiry feet showed beneath ample trousers--so ample as almost to approach a divided skirt. The children were pretty, and although miserably clothed looked the very picture of health and suppleness.

The women, of whom a number sat the whole day perched on the domed roofs of their huts to watch the doings of the _ferenghi_, showed their faces fully, and although professing to be Mussulman made no attempt whatever at concealment. They wore picturesque light blue and red kerchiefs on the head and shoulders, falling into a point behind, and held fast in position round the skull by a small black and blue turban. A pin held the two sides of the kerchief together under the chin. The women were garbed in short, pleated blue skirts reaching just below the knee, and a short loose coat of the same cotton material with side slits and ample sleeves. They had bare legs, well proportioned and straight, with handsome ankles and long, well-formed feet and toes. When working they went about bare-footed, but when their daily occupations were finished put on small slippers.

They were particularly to be admired when they walked, which they did to perfection, looking most attractively picturesque when carrying jugs of water on the head. The head had to be then kept very erect, and gave a becoming curve to the well-modelled neck and a most graceful swing to the waist. A long black cloak, not unlike a _chudder_, was worn over the head after sunset when the air was turning cold.

The women did all the hard work and seemed to put their whole soul into it. Some gaily spun wool on their wheels, and others worked at small, neat, but primitive weaving looms which were erected on the top storey of the castle.

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