National Geographic : 1921 Apr
PERSIAN CARAVAN SKETCHES ics, which fact added zest to the scenery of successive mountains and rolling val leys. On one day, out of thirteen cars (blessed Fords), one turned turtle, one burned up, one broke its steering gear on a steep pass, and one ran over a Kurd! The following outline of a combined two days' journey is quite typical of the scenery: First, along the wide Kangavar Valley, past a small village with fine pop lars and deliciously scented sweet brier. Over a three-arched brick bridge, which, though built some hundreds of years ago and of little more than a foot's thickness at the top of the arch, was so well con structed that loaded two-ton motor lor ries could cross with safety (see Color Plate XII). Then up through the nar row defile of a pass, leaving a magnificent view of a snow range behind us, onto an undulating plain, where brown and white oxen were pulling crude wooden plows. Skirting another insignificant village with a .picturesque ruined "chateau" perched on the top of a steep crag. Down to the side of a swift-flowing stream, with witch-elm, wild almond, and clusters of fruit trees-apricots, peaches, and cher ries-where we camped. With the dawn, out again onto the bar ren plateau, up and down a second pass to a deserted valley with shimmering salt deposits. Around a promontory of the range we were encircling, and, from the height of a bluff, there lay the village of Huseinabad below us. A characteristic heat or dust haze turned the clouds shell pink, the clouds that browsed on the tow ering snow form of Mt. Elwend, which shouldered out the northern sky. TIHE KURDISH HORSEMEN The Kurds are racially quite distinct from the Persians and have rarely been submissive to the central government. They are in reality semi-barbaric, no madic tribes that live on their flocks and by hunting in these wild mountain val leys. They have their own national cos tume, which is perhaps the most pictur esque in all Persia. Almost always armed to the teeth, these tribesmen look particularly roman tic when dashing down a boulder-strewn hillside on their sure-footed ponies: the gleam of a rifle slung over a shoulder; flowing purple turban loosely bound around a huge black felt hat; broad, col orful scarf about the waist, half hiding two or even three bandoleers and above which projects hilts of a knife and a lo cally made revolver or perhaps a German automatic Mauser; baggy trousers, gaily tasseled and embroidered saddle-cloths, and a certain air of bravado withal that vividly recalls an Oriental, a more bril liant Velasquez, or those gallantly attired heroes so naively shown in old Persian miniatures. A KURDISII WEDDIING CELEli.lR'ION The Kurdish women are generally somber in dress, but do not hide the beauty of their faces under veils as strictly as the Persian women. We were, however, lucky in seeing a gathering all decked out in their Sunday best. The occasion was a wedding. It was evening. I was seated on a grave-stone, painting the dilapidated town of Kasr-i-Shirin, sprawled out over the brow of the opposite hill, ending in the ruins of a third-century castle. I could look into a courtyard over the en closing walls and see a noisy wedding crowd. "Hi, ya, ya, ya, ya," the women cried, emphasizing the first and last syllables, to the accompaniment of a big drum. There was an orchestra, too, consisting of four weird instruments - a guitar violin, a piccolo-flute, a six-foct brass trombo-horn, and kettledrums - which were being played apparently at random and intermittently. Now and then one or more of the players would stop for re freshments, and then resume hastily and with much added gusto, catching up, I suppose, the part of the unwritten score that he had missed! The men and women had formed in separate lines, and with locked arms were swaying backward and forward in a sort of folk-dance. Finally a group of men guests left the wedding, trotting down the hill, still keep ing in step and singing in unison that monotoinous refrain of the Kurdish wed ding march. They were going to a pile of merchandise under some willows by the banks of the river. Soon they would call their camels from where they were 42.