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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Illustration Beluch Mesjid and Graveyard at Dalbandin


[Illustration:

Beluch Mesjid and Graveyard at Dalbandin.]

Beluch graves are most peculiarly cut into the ground. Instead of being vertical, like ours, they are in three sections. The higher is vertical, and leads to an inclined side channel giving access to a lower last chamber, in which the body is actually deposited. The origin of this, I was told, is to prevent hyenas and wolves digging up the bodies.

[Illustration: Section of Beluch Grave.]

When once the body is laid in its place of rest, dried sweet-scented rose leaves are spread over it in profusion, and then the grave is filled up with stones and plastered with mud. The channel between the two chambers is filled entirely with stones, and the upper chamber entirely with earth.

Some few of the graves I saw had fallen through, but most were in excellent preservation and appeared to be well looked after by the people. That the Beluch are provident people we had palpable proof in this cemetery, where one saw several graves ready for likely future occupants.

Another Mesjid, a circular one seven feet in diameter, was further to be noticed to the north-east of the graveyard. It had yellow marble pillars of sugar-loaf and cylindrical shapes and was enclosed by a neat stone wall.

A Beluch marriage is a practical business transaction by which

a girl fetches more or less money, camels or horses, according to her personal charms, beauty, and social position. Beluch women, when young, are not at all bad-looking with well-cut features and languid eyes full of animal magnetism like the Persian, and they seem shy and modest enough. The Beluch men have great respect for them, and treat them with consideration, although--like all Orientals--they let women do all the hard work, which keeps the women happy.

A marriage ceremony in Beluchistan bears, of course, much resemblance to the usual Mussulman form, such as we have seen in Persia, with variations and adaptations to suit the customs and circumstances of the people.

A good wife costs a lot of money in Beluchistan, although occasionally, in such cases as when a man has been murdered, a wife can be obtained on the cheap. The murderer, instead of paying a lump sum in cash, settles his account by handing over his daughter as a wife to the murdered man's son. Bad debts and no assets can also be settled in a similar manner if the debtor has sufficient daughters to make the balance right.

Under normal circumstances, however, the girl is actually bought up, the sum becoming her property in case of divorce. When the marriage ceremony takes place and the relations and friends have collected, the first step is for the bridegroom to hand over the purchase sum, either in cash, camels, or sheep. A great meal is then prepared, when the men sit in a semicircle with the bridegroom in the centre. Enormous quantities of food are consumed, such as rice saturated with _ghi_ (butter), piles of _chapatis_ (bread) and sheep meat. A man who pays four or five hundred rupees for a wife is expected to kill at least twenty or thirty sheep for his guests at this entertainment, and there is a prevailing custom that the bridegroom on this occasion makes a gift to the _lori_ or blacksmith of the clothes he has been wearing since his betrothal to the girl.


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