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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

But worship in the improvised Mesjids which I have described


[Illustration:

Mesjid on the Site where a Man had been Killed.

(Between Kishingi and Morad Khan Kella.)]

Then there are the more ornamental constructions which had a neatly made wall of white marble enclosed in a case of black stones, a high black pillar to the west and two small white marble ones by its side. The entrance in this case was to the east with a stone slab across it which was raised when entering the Mesjid.

One Mesjid, or more, are generally to be found near burial places. Occasionally I have seen large square or rectangular ones, but they are not quite so common as those of a rounded shape. In some cases the Mesjid consists of a mere semicircle facing towards the west.

The Beluch, as every one knows, is a Suni Mussulman and nourishes a hatred for the Shia sect, but although very observant of certain rites pertaining to the religion of Mahommed, the Beluch is not bigoted in religious matters, and this is probably due to the fact that _mullahs_, _saiyads_, _fakirs_ or other such religious officials and fanatics are seldom to be encountered among the Beluch in Northern Beluchistan.

Far south in Makran matters are different; the people are more fanatical, and several religious sects, such as the _Rafais_--a sect which proves its faith in the prophet by self-inflicted tortures--the _Khwajah_ and the _Zikris_ are

found, as well as the "_Biadhiah_," who are despised as heretics by both Suni and Shia Mussulmans, and who fully reciprocate the hatred. Unlike other true Mussulmans, these Biadhiahs indulge in intoxicants and are very slack in religious observances.

But the Brahuis--with whom I mostly came in contact in the North--although not very strict, are certainly most reverent and generally not intemperate. They have no actual mosques wherein to go and pray, but worship in the improvised Mesjids which I have described. In fact, the word _Mesjid_ merely means "a place of worship."

Superstition is generally rampant in people leading a somewhat wild life of adventure. Some of the legends of the good and evil _gins_, or spirits and _peris_, fairies, are very quaint. The belief in the magic power of spells and charms is also deeply rooted.

Captain Webb-Ware told me two rather amusing instances of superstition. One day he was out stalking in the hills near Dalbandin, when he came across a snake (_ekis carinata_). The Beluch shikars who were with him refused to go on and sat down for half an hour waiting for the evil influences--of which the snake was a palpable symbol--to vanish.

On another occasion one of his men dropped his knife--a knife which, by the way, he had found on the road. The Beluch got off his camel and stalked the knife as it lay on the ground, and when within a few feet of it he let fly a stone at it--or as near it as he could. This was, he explained, to hit and hurt the "pal" which was in the knife, by which he meant that the knife was "possessed," and a positive proof of it lay in the fact that he had dropped it on no less than three separate occasions.

There was a certain humour in the remark made by a Beluch at Isa Tahir to Captain Webb-Ware when he saw the captain's servant, with an efficient filter, reduce the filthily slimy water of the only local pool into water as clear as crystal. He rushed to the captain in a state of great concern and anxiety.

"Sahib," he said, "do you know what your servant is doing? He is taking _all_ the colour, _all_ the strength, and _all_ the smell out of the water that you are going to drink!"


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