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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Nasr being an abbreviation of Nasr ed din Shah


"Oh,

yes, everybody knows the English Consulate. I will take you there. It is only a short distance from here, near the city of Sher-i-Nasrya!"

Thanks to this fellow, a few minutes later I found myself greeted most effusively by Major and Mrs. Benn in their charming mud Consulate. This was on the evening of December 6th.

CHAPTER XVI

English fancy geographical names--Sher-i-Nasrya--The main street--The centre of the city--Reverence of the natives for Major Benn--A splendid type of British official--Indian and Russian goods--The Shikin Maghut cloth--Steadily increasing trade of the Nushki route--Khorassan horses for remounts--Husseinabad--Russian Vice-Consulate--Mr. Miller--Characteristic windmills--"The wind of 120 days"--Benn Bazaar.

Disappointing as it may seem that the natives themselves should be barefaced enough not to call their city by the fancy name given it by certain British geographers, we might as well explain why the natives call the capital of Sistan by its real name, Sher-i-Nasrya. The three words mean the "City of Nasr," Nasr being an abbreviation of Nasr-ed-din Shah, in honour of whom the city was named. In Sistan itself the city goes by the shortened name of mere "Sher" or "city," but letters sent by Persians from other parts of the Shah's dominions are

generally addressed Sher-i-Nasrya, or simply Sher-i-Sistan.

[Illustration: Women at Bandan.]

[Illustration: Dr. Golam Jelami and his Patients.]

When the place was first conquered by the father of the present Amir, Mir-Alam-Khan, it was spoken of as Nusratabad, or the "City or Victory," just the same as we speak of the "City of the Commune," or the "Eternal City," or the "City of Fogs." The name "Nusratabad" only applied to the victory and not to the city. We should certainly not wish to see the names of the three above illustrations given on maps for Paris, Rome, or London.

As for calling the city Nasirabad, as the Trigonometrical Survey maps do, there is no excuse whatever for this, which is a mere blunder--not the only one, unfortunately--and attributes to the city the name of a small village some eight miles off.

The present Sher-i-Nasrya is not more than twenty years old. It has a double wall all round, a higher one with semicircular castellated towers, and a lower on a mud bank with outwardly projecting semicircular protected platforms, the walls of which, eight feet high, are loopholed in a primitive fashion. On the inner side of the lower wall there is a platform all along the wall for soldiers to stand upon. The city wall, forty feet high, is separated from this outer defence by a road all round the city, and outside of all there is a moat, but with very little water in it.

The wall on the south side (really S.S.W.) has ten towers, the two central ones being close together and larger than the others, between which is the principal city gate, reached by an earthen bridge and a tortuous way, as the entrance of the outer wall is not in a line with the inner. The east and west side have only eight towers, including the corner ones, the double towers being the fourth and fifth. Every tower is semicircular, with loopholes pointing towards the sky--very useful in case of defence--and a large opening for pieces of artillery. The corner towers have two of these apertures, one under the other.

A kind of bastion or battlement has been formed by piling up the earth removed from the moat round the lower wall. The moat is forty feet broad and thirty feet deep.


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