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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The photographs given of them facing pages 218


The

Katkhuda told us that a great many things had been found in digging near here, but the more valuable ones had disappeared, sold to officials or rich people of Sistan. A great many seals, coins, stone weapons, lamps and pottery had been found, the latter often glazed. Innumerable fragments of earthenware were strewn everywhere round about these ruins, some with interesting ornamentations, generally blue on white ground. The "parallel lines" and "heart pattern" were common, while on some fragments of tiles could be seen quotations from the Koran in ancient Arabic. Some pieces of tiles exhibited a very handsome blue glaze, and on some plates the three leaf pattern, almost like a fleur-de-lis, was attempted, in company with the two-leaf and some unidentified flower.

Most interesting of all were the beautiful inscriptions on stone and marble, recently been found in the tomb of the Forty Saints. Some had already been covered again by the sand, but we dug them out afresh and I photographed them. They were in fair preservation. They bore Arabic characters, and were apparently dedicated in most laudatory terms, one to "the Pomp of the country, Sun of righteousness and religion, and the founder of a mosque"; the other commemorated the death of a great Amir. As, however, there appears to be some difficulty in deciphering some of the very ancient characters I will refrain from giving any translation of them for fear of being inaccurate. The photographs given

of them facing pages 218, 220, 222, are, however, quite clear enough for any one interested in the matter to decipher them for himself.

These tablets were most artistic and beautifully carved, and one had a most charming ornamentation of two sprays of flowers in each of the two upper corners. The second inscription had much more minute writing on it, and was of a finer design and cut, but was, unfortunately, rather worn. It had evidently been subjected to a long period of friction--apparently by sand. The natives had made a sort of altar with this last inscription and some cylindrical sections of columns carved out of beautiful marble, white or most delicately variegated.

There were also various other large pieces of marble and stone, which had evidently formed part of a very fine and rich building, as well as a very ancient fragment of a red baked earthenware water-pipe. Many of the pieces of marble in the heap contained ornamentations such as successions of the heart pattern, graceful curve scrolls suggesting leaves, and also regular leaf patterns. One stone was absolutely spherical, like a cannon ball, and quite smooth; and some stone implements, such as a conical brown hammer and a pestle, were very interesting.

On the white marble columns stood two charming little oil lamps, of a most graceful shape, in green earthenware, and in digging we were fortunate enough to find a third, which is now in my possession. They can be seen in the illustration (facing page 218), although I fear not at their best, being so small. They were not unlike the old Pompeian lamps in shape, and certainly quite as graceful. The wick used to be lighted at the spout.


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