Text source: A Popular Account of Discoveries at Nineveh. Austen Henry Layard. J. C. Derby. New York. 1854.
(Page 105) The preparations for my journey were completed by the 28th August, and on that day I started from Mosul. My party consisted of Mr. Hormuzd Rassam, Ibrahim Agha, two Albanian irregulars, who were to accompany me as far as Amadiyah, a servant, a groom, and one Ionan, or Ionunco, as he was familiarly called, a half-witted Nestorian, whose drunken frolics were reserved for the entertainment of the patriarch, and who was enlisted into our caravan for the amusement of the company. We rode our own horses. As Ionunco pretended to know all the mountain-roads, and volunteered to conduct us, we placed ourselves under his guidance. I was provided with Bouyourouldis, or orders, from the pashaw to the authorities as far as Amadiyah, and with a letter to Abd-ul-Summit Bey, the Kurdish chief of Berwari, through whose territories we had to pass. Mar Shamoun, the patriarch, gave me a very strong letter of recommendation to the meleks and priests of the Nestorian districts.
As I was anxious to visit the French excavations at Khorsabad on my way to the mountains, I left Mosul early in the afternoon, notwithstanding the great heat of the sun. It was the sixth day of Ramazan, and the Mohammedans were still endeavoring to sleep away their hunger when I passed through the gates, and crossed the bridge of boats. Leaving my baggage and servants to follow leisurely, I galloped on with the Albanians, and reached Khorsabad in about two hours.
(Page 106) The mound is about fourteen miles N. N. E. of Mosul. A small village[6.1] formerly stood on its summit, but the houses were purchased and removed by M. Botta, when excavations were undertaken by the French government. It has been rebuilt in the plain at the foot of the mound. The Khausser, a small stream issuing from the hills of Makloub, is divided into numerous branches as it approaches Khorsabad, and irrigates extensive rice-grounds. The place is consequently very unhealthy, and the few squalid inhabitants who appeared were almost speechless from ague. M. Botta's workmen suffered greatly from fever, and many fell victims to it.
The excavations were carried on as at Nimroud; and the general plan of the building is the same as that of the Assyrian edifices already described. It has, however, more narrow passages, and the chambers are inferior in size; though the sculptured slabs are in general higher. The relief of the larger figures is bolder, that of the smaller about the same. The human-headed bulls differ principally in the head-dress from those at Nimroud; the horned cap is not rounded off, but is high and richly ornamented, like that of the winged monsters of Persepolis. The faces of several of the bulls are turned inward, which gives them an awkward appearance.
Since M. Botta's departure the sides of the trenches have fallen in, and have filled up the greater part of the chambers; the sculptures are rapidly perishing; and, shortly, little will remain of this remarkable monument. Scarcely any part of the building had escaped the fire which destroyed it, and consequently very few bas-reliefs could be removed. Of exterior architecture I could find no trace except a curious cornice, and a flight of steps, flanked by solid masonry, apparently leading to a small temple of black stone or basalt, the foundations of (Page 107) which still remain. At the foot of the mound lies an altar or tripod, similar to that now in the Louvre.
Khorsabad, or Khishtabad, is mentioned by the early Arab geographers. It is described as a village occupying the site of an ancient Assyrian city called "Saraoun," or "Saraghoun;" and Yakuti declares, that soon after the Arab conquest considerable treasures were found among the ruins. It was generally believed at Mosul, where a copy of Yakuti's very rare work exists, that it was in consequence of this notice, and in the hopes of finding further riches, M. Botta excavated in the mound - hence much of the opposition encountered from the authorities.
I had finished my examination of the ruins by the time the baggage reached the village. The sun had set, but being unwilling to expose my party to fever by passing the night on this unhealthy spot, I rode on to a small hamlet about two miles distant. It was dark when we reached it, and we found ourselves in the midst of a marsh, even more extensive than that of Khorsabad. As there was no village beyond, I was (Page 108) obliged to stop here, and clambering up to a platform of branches of trees elevated upon poles, I passed the night free from the attacks of the swarms of gnats which infested the stagnant water below.
We left the hamlet long before sunrise, and soon reached some of the springs of the Khausser, a small stream which rises at the northern extremity of the Jebel Maklub, irrigates the lands of numerous villages on its course toward Mosul, and falls into the Tigris, near Kouyunjik, after traversing the large quadrangle, of which that mound forms a part.
Our road crossed the northern spur of Jebel Maklub, and then stretched over an extensive plain to the first range of the Kurdish hills. The heat soon became intense, the soil was parched and barren; a few mud walls marked here and there the ruins of a village, and the silence and solitude were only broken by parties of Kurds, lazily driving before them, toward Mosul, donkeys laden with rich clusters of grapes from the mountains.
A weary ride brought us to the Yezidi village of Ain Sifni. Its white houses and conical tombs had long been visible on the declivity of a low hill; its cleanliness was a relief after the filth of Mussulman and Christian habitations. I had expected to find Sheikh Naser, the religious chief of the Yezidis. As he was absent, I partook of the hospitality of the head of the village, and continued my journey to the tomb of Sheikh Adi. After a further ride of two hours through a pleasant ravine watered by a mountain torrent, whose banks were concealed by flowering oleanders, we reached a well wooded valley, in the center of which rose the white spire of the tomb of the great Yezidi saint.
Stretching myself by a fountain in the cool shade, flung over the tomb by a cluster of lofty trees, I gave myself up to a full flow of gratitude, at this sudden change from the sultry heat and salt streams of the plains, to the verdure and sweet springs of the Kurdish Hills. There were "pleasure-places" enough for all my party, and each eagerly seized his tree, and (Page 109) his fountain. The guardians of the tomb, and a few wanderers from a neighboring village, gathered round me, and satisfied my curiosity as far as their caution and prejudices would allow.
We passed the night on the roof of one of the buildings within the precincts of the sacred edifice, and continued our journey at dawn on the following morning.
Quitting the Yezidi district, we entered the mountains inhabited by the large Kurdish tribe of Missouri. The valleys were well wooded; many-shaped rocks towered above our leads or rose in the streams of the Gomel,[6.2] which almost cut off our passage through the narrow defiles. A few villages were scattered on the declivities, but their inhabitants had deserted them for rude huts, built of branches of trees, - their summer habitations.
In four hours we reached the large village of Kaloni, or Kalah-oni, rising among vineyards, and hanging over the bed of the Gomel. The houses, well constructed of stone, were empty. Huge horns of the ibex ornamented the lintels of the gateways, and the corners of the buildings. The inhabitants were at some distance, on the banks of the stream, living under the trees in their temporary sheds.
These Kurds were of the Badinan branch of the Missouri tribe. Their chief, whose hut was in the midst of this group of simple dwellings, was absent; but his wife received me with hospitality. Carpets, the work of her own women, were spread under a mulberry-tree; and large bowls of milk and cream, wooden platters filled with boiled rice, slices of honey comb, and baskets of new-gathered fruit, were speedily placed before us. The men sat at a respectful distance, and readily gave me such information as I asked for. The women, unembarrassed by the vail, brought straw to our horses, or ran to and fro with their pitchers. Their hair fell in long tresses down their backs, and their foreheads were adorned with rows of coins and beads; (Page 110) many were not unworthy of the reputation for beauty which the women of Missouri enjoy.
The spot was rich in natural beauties. The valley, shut in by lofty rocks, was well wooded with fruit trees - the mulberry, the peach; the fig, the walnut, the olive, and the pomegranate; beneath them sprang the vine, or were laid out plots of Indian corn, sesame, and cotton. The sheds were built of boughs; and the property of the owners, - carpets, horse-cloths, and domestic utensils, - were spread out before them. From almost every door, mingling with the grass and flowers, stretched the many-colored threads of the loom, at which usually sat one female of the family. There was a cleanliness, and even richness, in the dresses of both women and men, an appearance of comfort and industry, which contrasted strikingly with the miserable state of the people of the plain; and proved that these Kurds had been sufficiently fortunate to escape the notice of the last governor of Mosul, and were reserved for some scrutinizing pashaw.
I acknowledged the hospitality of the Kurdish lady by a present to her son, and rode up to the small Chaldean village of Bebozi, standing on the summit of a high mountain. The ascent was most precipitous, and the horses could with difficulty reach the place. We found a group of ten houses, built on the edge of a cliff overhanging the valley, at so great a height, that the stream below was scarcely visible. The inhabitants were poor, but received us with unaffected hospitality. I had left the usual road to Amadiyah for the purpose of visiting an inscription, said to exist near this village. A guide was soon found to conduct me to the spot of which I had heard; but after toiling up a very difficult pathway, I was shown a rock on which were only a few rude marks, bearing no resemblance to any writing that had ever been invented. I was accustomed to such disappointments, and always prepared for them. I returned to the village and visited the small church. The people of Bebozi are among those Chaldeans who have been recently brought over to the Roman Catholic faith. They furnish but a too common instance of the mode in which such proselytes (Page 111) are made. In the church I saw a few miserable Italian prints, dressed up in all the horrors of red, yellow, and blue, miracles of saints, and of the blessed Virgin.
Having rested in the village, we resumed our journey, and crossed a range of hills, covered by a forest of dwarf oak. We descended into the valley of Cheloki, reaching, about sunset, the large Kurdish village of Spandareh, so called from its poplar-trees.
We were now separated from the valley of Amadiyah by a range of high and well-wooded mountains called Ghara. This we crossed by a road little frequented, and of so precipitous a nature, that our horses could scarcely keep their footing - one, indeed, carrying part of our baggage, suddenly disappeared over the edge of a rock, and was found some hundred feet below, on his back, firmly wedged between two rocks; how he got there with nothing but the bone of his tail broken, was a mystery beyond the comprehension of our party. The valley of Amadiyah is cut up into innumerable ravines by the torrents, which rush down the mountains, and force their way to the river Zab. It is, however, well wooded with oaks, producing in abundance the galls for which this district is celebrated. The peasants were now picking this valuable article of export.
The town and fort of Amadiyah had been visible from the crest of the Ghara range; but we had a long ride before us, and it was nearly mid-day ere we reached the foot of the lofty isolated rock on which they are built. We rested in the small Chaldean village of Bebadi, one of the few in the district which still retain the Nestorian faith. The inhabitants were miserably poor, and I had to listen to a long tale of wretchedness and oppression. The church was hung with a few tattered cotton handkerchiefs, and the priest's garments were to match. I gave him two or three pieces of common print, out of which he made a turban for himself, and beautified the altar.
Some half-clothed, fever-stricken Albanians were slumbering on the stone benches as we entered the gates of the fort, which, certainly, during the season of Ramazan, if not at all others, (Page 112) might be taken by surprise by a few resolute Kurds. We found ourselves in the midst of a heap of ruins - porches, bazars, baths, habitations, all laid open to their inmost recesses. Falling walls would have threatened passers-by, had there been any; but the place was a desert. We had some difficulty in finding our way to a crumbling ruin, honored with the name of Serai - the Palace. Here the same general sleep prevailed. Neither guards nor servants were visible, and we wandered through the building until we reached the room of the governor. His hangers on were indulging in comfort and sleep upon the divans, and we had some trouble in rousing them. We were at length taken to a large, gaudily-painted room, in a tower, built on the very edge of the rock, and overlooking the whole valley - the only remnant of the state of the old hereditary pashaws of Amadiyah. A refreshing breeze came down from the mountain, the view was extensive and beautiful, and I forgot the desolation and misery which reigned around.
A few miserable Nestorian Chaldeans, and one or two half-starved Jews came to me with the usual melancholy tale of distress; and, shortly after, Kasha Mendi, a worthy ecclesiastic, who ministered to the spiritual wants of half the villages in the valley, hearing of my arrival, joined the party. The priest was, of course, better informed than the rest; and from him I obtained the information I required as to the state of the Chaldeans in the district, and as to the means of reaching Tiyari. The Albanian irregulars were to leave me here, the authority of the Pashaw of Mosul not extending beyond Amadiyah. We were now to enter the territories of Kurdish chiefs, who scarcely admitted any dependence upon the Porte. I determined upon hiring mules for the rest of my journey, and sending all my horses, except one, with the Albanians to Dohuk, there to await my return.
It was the hour of afternoon prayer before Selim Agha, the mutesellim, or governor, emerged from his harem; which, however, as far as the fair sex were concerned, was empty. The old gentleman, who was hungry, half asleep, and in the third (Page 113) stage of the ague, hurried through the ordinary salutations, and asked at once for quinine. His attendants exhibited illustrations of every variety of the fever; some shivered, others glowed, and the rest sweated. He entreated me to go with him into the harem; his two sons were buried beneath piles of cloaks, carpets, and grain-sacks, but the whole mass trembled with the violence of their shaking. I dealt out emetics and quinine with a liberal hand, and returned to the Salamlik, to hear from Selim Agha a most doleful history of fever, diminished revenues, arrears of pay, and rebellious Kurds. The tears ran down his cheeks as he recapitulated his manifold misfortunes, and entreated me to intercede with the governor of Mosul for his advancement or recall. I left him with his watch in his hand, anxiously looking for sunset, that he might console himself with a dose of tartar-emetic.
Amadiyah was formerly a place of considerable importance and strength, containing a very large and flourishing population. It was governed by hereditary pashaws - feudal chiefs, who traced their descent from the Abbaside caliphs, and were always looked up to, on that account, with religious respect by the Kurds. The ladies of this family were no less venerated, and enjoyed the very peculiar title, for a woman, of "Khan." The last of these hereditary chiefs was Ismail Pashaw; who long defied, in his almost inaccessible castle, the attempts of Injeh Bairakdar Mohammed Pashaw to reduce him. A mine was at length sprung under a part of the wall, which, from its position, the Kurds had believed safe from attack, and the place was taken by assault. Ismail Pashaw was sent a prisoner to Baghdad, where he still remains; and his family, among whom was his beautiful wife, Esma Khan, not unknown to the Europeans of Mosul, together with Mohammed Seyyid Pashaw of Akra,[6.3] a member of the same race, long lived upon the bounty of Mr. Rassam. Amadiyah is frequently mentioned by the early Arab geographers and historians, and its foundation dates, most (Page 114) probably, from a very early epoch. Kasha Mendi casually confirmed the assertion of Rich, that the town was once called Ecbatana, by saying, that he had seen it so designated in a very early Chaldean MS. The only ancient remains that I could discover, were a defaced bas-relief on the rock near the northern gate, of which sufficient alone was distinguishable to enable me to assign to it an approximate date - the time of the Arsacian kings; and some excavations in the rock within the walls, which appear to have been used at an early period as a Christian church. Amadiyah is proverbially unhealthy, notwithstanding its lofty and exposed position. At this time of the year, the inhabitants leave the town for the neighboring mountains, in the valleys of which they construct "ozailis," or sheds, with boughs.
I made my way through the deserted street to a small inclosure, in which were the quarters of the Albanians. The disposable force may have consisted of three men; the rest were stretched out on all sides, suffering under every stage of fever, amid heaps of filth, and skins of water-melons, showing the nature and extent of their commissariat. One of their chiefs boasted that he had braved the fever, and insisted upon my drinking coffee, and smoking a narguileh of no very prepossessing appearance, with him. He even indulged so far in mirth and revelry, that he disturbed a shivering youth basking in the last rays of the sun, and brought him to play upon a santour, which had lost the greater number of its strings. An air of his native mountains brought on a fit of melancholy, and he dwelt upon the miseries of an irregular's life, when there was neither war nor plunder. The evening gun announced sunset while I was sitting with the chief; and I left the garrison as they were breaking their fast on donkey-loads of unripe water-melons.
On my return to the serai, I found the governor recovering from the effects of his emetic, and anxious for his dinner. As the month of Ramazan is, during the nights, one of festivity and open house, Ismail Agha of Tepelin (the Albanian chief in command of the garrison), the cadi, the collector of the revenue, (Page 115) a Kurdish chief, and one or two others came as guests. Our meal gave undoubted proofs either of the smallness of the means of Selim Agha, or of the limited resources of the country. When the dinner was over, I introduced a theological subject as becoming the season, and the cadi entered deeply into the subject of predestination and free will. The reckless way in which the Albanian threw himself into the argument, astonished the company, and shocked the feelings of the expounder of the law. His views of the destinies of man were bold and original; he appealed to me for a confirmation of his opinions, and assuming that I fully concurred with him, and that he had silenced the cadi, who was ejaculating a pious "Istaffer Allah" (may God forgive him), he finished by asking me to breakfast.
Next morning, I left my guards and the attendants of the governor to collect mules for my journey from the peasants who had brought provisions to the town, and after some difficulty found my way to the quarters of Ismail Agha. They were in a small house, the only habitable spot in the midst of a heap of ruins. His room was hung round with guns, swords, and yataghans, and a few dirty Albanians, armed to the teeth, were lounging at the door. The chief had adorned himself most elaborately. His velvet jacket was covered with a maze of gold embroidery, his arms were of the most costly description and ample fur cloaks were spread over the dingy divans. It was a strange display of finery in the midst of misery. He received me with great cordiality; and when he found that I had been to his old haunts in his native land, and had known his friends and kindred, his friendship exceeded all reasonable bounds. "We are all brothers, the English and the Tosques" (an Albanian tribe), exclaimed he, endeavoring to embrace me; "we are all Framasouns;[6.4] I know nothing of these Turks and their Ramazan, thank God! Our stomachs were given us to be (Page 116) filled, and our mouths to take in good things." He accompanied these words with a very significant signal to one of his followers, who, at no loss to understand his meaning, set about forming a pyramid of cushions, to the top of which he mounted at the imminent risk of his neck, and reached down from a shelf a huge bottle of wine, with a corresponding pitcher of raki. Ismail Agha then dived into the recesses of a very capacious but ill looking purse, out of which he pulled twenty paras,[6.5] its sole contents, and dispatched without delay one of his attendants to the stall of a solitary grocer, who was apparently the only commercial survivor in the wreck around him. The boy soon returned with a small parcel of parched peas, a few dates, and three lumps of sugar, which were duly spread on a tray, and placed before us as zests to the wine and brandy. It was evident that Ismail Agha had fully made up his mind to a morning's debauch, and my position was an uncomfortable one. After drinking a few glasses of raki in solitary dignity, he invited his followers to join him. Messengers were dispatched in all directions for music; a Jew with the ague, the band of the regiment, consisting of two cracked dwarf kettle-drums and a fife, and two Kurds with a fiddle and a santour, were collected together. I took an opportunity of slipping out of the room unseen, amid the din of Albanian songs, and the dust of Palicari dances.
On my return to the serai, I found the mules ready, the owners having been, after much discussion, brought to understand that it was my intention to pay for their hire. Every thing being settled, and the animals loaded, I wished the mutesellim good day, and promised to bring his miserable condition to the notice of the pashaw.
Accompanied by a Kurdish chief, we left Amadiyah by the gate opposite to that by which we had entered. We were obliged to descend on foot the steep pathway leading to the valley below. Crossing some well-cultivated gardens, we (Page 117) commenced the ascent of the mountains through a wooded ravine, and came suddenly upon the Yilaks, or summer quarters of the population of Amadiyah. The spot was well chosen. The torrent was divided into a thousand streams, which broke over the rocks, falling in cascades into the valley below. Fruit trees and oaks concealed the huts and tents, and creepers of many hues almost covered the sides of the ravine. All our party enjoyed the delicious coolness and fragrance of the place; and we did not wonder that the people of Amadiyah had left the baneful air of the town for these pleasant haunts. An hour's ride brought us to the summit of the pass, from which a magnificent view of the Tiyari mountains opened before us. Ionunco became eloquent when he beheld his native Alps, and named one by one the lofty peaks which sprang out of the confused heaps of hills; that of Asheetha and several others were covered with snow. Below us was the long valley of Berwari, which separates the range of Amadiyah from the Nestorian country. At a short distance from the crest of the pass we found a small barren plain, called Nevdasht, in which stands the Kurdish village of Maglana. We reached Hayis, a Nestorian hamlet, about sunset. There were but four families in the place, so destitute, that we could only procure a little boiled meal, and some dried mulberries for our supper. The poor creatures, however, did all they could to make us comfortable, and gave us what they had.
The valley of Berwari is well wooded with the gall-bearing oak; and the villages are surrounded by gardens and orchards. The present chief of the district, Abd-ul-Summit Bey, is a fanatic, and has almost ruined the Christian population. In all the villages through which we passed, we saw the same scene, and heard the same tale of wretchedness. Yet the land is rich, water plentiful, and the means of cultivation easy. Fruit trees of many descriptions abound; and tobacco, rice, and grain of various kinds could be extensively cultivated. Even the galls afford but a scanty gain to the villagers, as those who collect them are obliged to sell them to the chief at a (Page 118) very small price. The villages are partly inhabited by Kurds and partly by Nestorian Chaldeans; there are no Catholics among them. Many of the Christian villages have been reduced to five or six houses, and some even to two or three. We stopped at several during our day's journey. The men, with the priests, were generally absent picking galls; the women were seated in circles under the trees, clipping the grapes, and immersing them in boiling water, previous to drying them for raisins. We were everywhere received with the same hospitality, and everywhere found the same poverty. Even Ibrahim Agha, who had been inured to the miseries of misgovernment, grew violent in his expressions of indignation against Abd-ul-Summit Bey, and indulged in a variety of threats against all the male and female members of his family.
The castle of Kumri or Gumri, the residence of Abd-ul-Summit Bey, stands on the pinnacle of a lofty isolated rock, and may be seen from most parts of the valley of Berwari. It is a small mud fort, but it is looked upon as an impregnable place by the Kurds. The chief had evidently received notice of my approach, and probably suspected that the object of my visit was an inspection, for no friendly purposes, of his stronghold; for as we came near to the foot of the hill, we saw him hastening down a precipitous pathway on the opposite side, as fast as his horse could carry him. A mullah, one of his hangers-on, having been sent to meet us on the road, informed me that his master had left the castle early in the morning, for a distant village, whither we could follow him. Not having any particular wish to make a closer inspection of Kalah Kumri, I struck into the hills, and took the pathway pointed out by the mullah.
We rode through several Kurdish villages, surrounded by gardens, and well watered by mountain streams. A pass of some elevation had to be crossed before we could reach the village of Mia, our quarters for the night. Near its summit we found a barren plain on which several Kurdish horsemen, who had joined us, engaged with my own party in the Jerid. The mimic fight soon caused general excitement, and old habits (Page 119) getting the better of my dignity, I joined the melee. A severe kick in the leg from a horse soon put an end to my manoeuvers, and the party was detained until I was sufficiently recovered from the effects of the blow to continue our journey. It was consequently sunset before we reached Mia. There are two villages of this name; the upper, inhabited by Mohammedans, the lower by Nestorian Chaldeans. A Kurd met us as we were entering the former, with a message from Abd-ul-Summit Bey, to the effect that, having guests, he could not receive me there, but had provided a house in the Christian village, where he would join us after his dinner. I rode on to the lower Mia, and found a party of Kurds belaboring the inhabitants, and collecting old carpets and household furniture. Understanding that these proceedings were partly meant as preparations for my reception, though the greater share of the objects collected was intended for the comfort of the Bey's Mussulman guests, I at once put a stop to the pillaging, and released the sufferers. We ascended a spacious and cleanly roof; and with the assistance of the people of the house, who were ready enough to assist when they learned we were Christians, established ourselves there for the night.
Soon after dark another messenger came from Abd-ul-Summit Bey, to say that as the cadi and other illustrious guests were with him, he could not visit me before the morning. I had from the first suspected that these delays and excuses had an object, and that the chief wished to give a proof of his dignity to the Kurds, by treating me in as unceremonious a manner as possible; so, calling the Kurd, and addressing him in a loud voice, that the people who had gathered round the house might hear, I requested him to be the bearer of a somewhat uncivil answer to his master, and took good care that he should fully understand its terms. Ionunco's hair stood on end at the audacity of this speech, and the Nestorians trembled at the results. Ibrahim Agha tittered with delight; and pushing the Kurd away by the shoulders, told him to be particular in delivering his answer. The message had the effect I had anticipated; an hour afterward, shuffling over the (Page 120) housetops at the great risk of his shins, and with a good chance of disappearing down a chimney, came the bey. He was enveloped in a variety of cloaks; and wore, after the manner of the Bohtan chiefs, a turban of huge dimensions - about four feet in diameter - made up of numberless kerchiefs and rags of every hue of red, yellow, and black, and a jacket and wide trowsers, richly embroidered; in his girdle were all manner of weapons. In person he was tall and handsome; his eyes were dark, his nose aquiline, and his beard black; but the expression of his face was far from prepossessing. I left him to open the conversation, which he did by a multiplicity of excuses and apologies for what had passed, not having, by the Prophet, been aware, he said, of the rank of the guest by whose presence he had been honored. I pointed out to him one or two fallacies in his assertions; and we came to a distinct understanding on the subject, before we proceeded to general topics. He sat with me till midnight, and entered, among other things, into a long justification of his conduct toward Christians, which proved that his authority was not established as well as he could desire.
In the morning the bey sent me a breakfast, and gave me a party of Kurdish horsemen as an escort as far as the Tiyari frontier, which was not far distant. Beyond Mia we passed through Bedou, the largest and most populous Kurdish village I had seen.
Our guards would not venture into the territories of the Tiyari, between whom and the Kurds there are continual hostilities, but quitted us in a narrow desolate valley, up which our road to Asheetha now led. I lectured my party on the necessity of caution during our future wanderings; and reminded my cawass and Mohammedan servants that they had no longer the quiet Christians of the plains to deal with. Resigning ourselves to the guidance of Ionunco, who now felt that he was on his own soil, we made our way with difficulty over the socks and stones with which the valley is blocked up, and struck into what our guide represented to be a short cut to (Page 121) Asheetha. The pathway might certainly, on some occasions, have been used by the mountain goats; but the passage of horses and mules was a miracle. After a most tedious walk, we reached the top of the pass and looked down on the village. From this spot the eye rested upon a scene of great beauty. In front rose the lofty peak, with its snows and glaciers, visible even from Mosul. At our feet the village spread over the whole valley; and detached houses, surrounded by gardens and orchards, were scattered over the sides of the mountains. To the right ran the valley which leads to the Zab. We had little difficulty in descending through the loose stones and detritus which cover the face of the mountain, although both our mules and ourselves had frequent falls. On reaching the entrance of the valley, we rode at once to the house of Yakoub, the rais or chief of Asheetha, who received us with grateful hospitality.
[6.1] In the drawing of this village engraved in M. Botta's large work on Nineveh, the houses are represented with shelving roofs and as of considerable size. Such roofs are never seen in this part of the East, and the village, like all others in Assyria, was a mere collection of miserable mud huts.
[6.2] Or Gomer; this stream forms the principal branch of the Ghazir or Bumadas.
[6.3] A district to the east of Amadiyah.
[6.4] The term Framasoun (or Freemason) as well as Protestant, are in the East, I am sorry to say, equivalent to infidel. The Roman Catholic missionaries have very industriously spread the calumny.
[6.5] About one penny.
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