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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And portions of Koran inscriptions


Among

other fragments was the capital of a pillar, and portions of Koran inscriptions. As we dug excitedly with our hands in the sand we found other inscriptions on slate and on grey-stone, of one of which I took an impression on paper. It seemed much more ancient than the others and had a most beautiful design on it of curves and flowers.

A tablet at the entrance of the tomb of the Forty Saints was not of marble but of slate carved. It bore the following date: [Arabic: 1282] which I believe corresponds to 1282. The heptagonal tower had two entrances, one to the north, the other to the south, but was, unfortunately, getting smothered in sand again.

We became greatly excited on discovering the inscriptions, and pulled up our sleeves and proceeded in due haste to dig again in the sand--a process which, although much dryer, reminded one very forcibly of one's younger days at the seaside. Our efforts were somewhat cooled by a ghastly white marble figure which we dug up, and which had such a sneering expression on its countenance that it set the natives all round shrieking with laughter.

[Illustration: The Figure we dug out at Zaidan.]

[Illustration: Arabic Inscription and marble columns with earthenware lamps upon them. Fragment of water-pipe. Stone implements. Brick wall of the "Tombs of Forty Saints" showing in top corners of photograph.]

justify;">We thought we had better leave off. Moreover, the natives who had accompanied us seemed rather upset at my photographing and digging, and now that I had got what I wanted I did not care to make them feel more uneasy than was necessary. I had exhausted all the photographic plates I had brought out with me, night was coming on fast, and we had twenty miles to ride back. On my last plate I photographed our last find, which is reproduced for the benefit of my readers facing page 218.

This ugly head, with a very elongated and much expanded nose and a vicious mouth full of teeth, had been carved at the end of a piece of marble one and a half feet high. The head, with its oblique eyes, was well polished, but the remainder of the marble beyond the ears, which were just indicated by the artist, was roughly cut and appeared to have been made with the intention of being inserted into a wall, leaving the head to project outside. Its flat forehead, too, would lead to the conclusion that it had been so shaped to act as a support, very likely to some tablet, or moulding of the mosque.

The Katkhuda said that it was a very ancient god, but its age was not easy to ascertain on so short an acquaintance. It certainly seemed very much more ancient than anything else we had found and inspected at Zaidan.

CHAPTER XXIII

A short historical sketch of Zaidan city--How it was pillaged and destroyed--Fortresses and citadels--Taimur Lang--Shah Rukh--Revolutions--The Safavi dynasty--Peshawaran, Pulki, Deshtak--Sir F. Goldsmid's and Bellew's impressions--The extent of the Peshawaran ruins--Arabic inscriptions--A curious ornamentation--Mosques and _mihrab_--Tomb of Saiyid Ikbal--The Farah Rud and Harut Rud--The "Band" of the Halmund--Canals and channels old and new of the Halmund delta--The Rud-i-Nasru and the Rud-i-Perian--Strange temporary graves--Ancient prosperity of Eastern Persia.


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