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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And in the more elaborate Mesjids


[Illustration: Ziarat at Chah Sandan. (Belind Khan Salaaming.)]

[Illustration: Desert covered with Gypsum, near Sotag.]

We passed the salt well of Jujiki about half way between the two stations, and arrived at the desolate shed of Chakal at nine in the evening, where the thatched roofs of two out of three of the rooms had been torn down to supply fuel to travellers. There is only a salt well at this place, but some two miles off the road a well of good water has been dug, near which a new bungalow has been erected.

But as we arrived late, having done a double march--

Mirui to Sotag 12 miles 1,320 yards Sotag to Chakal 14 " 220 " -------------------- Total 26 miles 1,540 yards

--and as I intended moreover continuing to Dalbandin after three hours' rest, I did not avail myself of the convenience. We had carried a supply of good water with us. There was no wood here nor grazing for camels, but both fuel and food for the animals can be obtained at the Bungalow.

Chakal was at the identical altitude of Mirui, 3,600 feet.

My camels with loads left at midnight, and some two hours later I followed. This was a most uninteresting march in a north-east by east (70 deg.) direction with sand hills on either side of the track, and high distant mountains to the south--a red stretch of flat sand between extending all along from north-east to south-west. When there were no more sand hills we came to sand banks, which made the track undulating like a switchback railway.

Our attention was drawn to a curious plant with a fruit resembling small oranges lying upon the ground and called by the natives _karenghi rirri_. There were hundreds of these fruit about, but Mahommed, who had great local botanical knowledge, advised me not to eat them because their poison was deadly, and we did not care to experiment in order to test the accuracy of his statement.

All along this Robat-Nushki route one finds a great many _Mesjids_ (or _Masit_, as the word is pronounced by the Beluch). The Mesjid or Masit is a sort of temporary praying spot where good Mussulmans say their prayers at sunrise or sunset, and answers the purpose--if one may be allowed the expression--of an open-air mosque! The Mesjid may be simple or elaborate, small or big, according to devoutness, patience and materials at hand, but its most frequent shape is circular, or at least more or less regularly curved, and its material, stones, or if stones are not obtainable, sand or mud banked up. Looking to the west towards Mecca is a stone higher than the others, and in the more elaborate Mesjids, such as the one shown in the illustration, a proper kneeling-place to fit the knees is made on the western side, with a stone in the centre to mark the exact direction of Mecca. A "revered tomb" is duly placed in the centre of the larger Mesjids, and an entrance way into them bordered with stones is always present. To enter the Mesjid by stepping over the ledge from any other side would be considered irreverent. The interior is always cleared of all stones and made as smooth as practicable.

There are Mesjids just big enough for one man, these being frequently made by caravan men to say their prayers; and there are large ones for the use of several people. The praying spot to the west is, however, generally only big enough for one at a time.

[Illustration: Circular Mesjid, with Tomb and Outer Kneeling Place.]


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