National Geographic : 1959 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine But we had come to see the mud bathers. Lake Urmia is noted for its black mud, said to have medicinal qualities. People with ar thritis, rheumatism, or just ordinary aches and pains roll and lie caked in this thick, mal odorous mud for hours, then take to the water and bathe. We spent an hour taking pictures (page 65). As we drove on through pleasant rolling country, a small shrine on a height was pointed out by the Iranian Army officer, Lt. Col. Mansour Ghadar, who was traveling with us. "People who have hydrophobia or snake bite go there to be cured," he said. "Are you teasing?" I asked. "By thy precious life, I am not," he said. "Why do you swear by my life rather than your own?" I asked. "In Persia," he answered, "to swear by one's own life is to swear by something not as precious as the other man's life." It was dark within an hour after we had quit the town of Khvoy. The wind came up. It fairly howled out of the north, sweep ing ahead of it great clouds of dust that forced us to stop again and again. About an hour short of Makf the road makes an elbow to the northeast. Here we were only 16 miles from the Soviet border. Beyond the Aras River, through the storm, we saw blinking lights. They marked the town of Shakhtakhty, in the Azerbaijan S.S.R. Migration to the Soviet Border Morning came cool, bright, and glorious. We had scarcely started our 15-mile journey from Maku to the Turkish border when we saw nomads on the move. Several families with a dozen or more heavily loaded camels were headed northeast across the valley. We parked and ran across fields of thistles to get their picture (page 62). Another group appeared with camels, then another on horses and donkeys. Our ques tions revealed that this was a tribal migration of Jalali Kurds headed for a new camp along the Aras River, which marks the Russian border. Hundreds of families kept pouring over a. hill from the south. The rich Jalalis owned camels; the poorer ones, donkeys. Big gray dogs herded sheep by the thousands. Some of the women rode horses, with large woven bags on each side of the saddle to hold their small children. Mary commented on the bearing of the women. "They seem to have a wonderful air of nobility about them," she said. Soldiers Shout a Welcome to Turkey Outside the main building at the Iranian Turkish frontier, twelve Iranian gendarmes presented arms as we passed. The buildings form a courtyard, the border running down the middle. A young man in his twenties crossed the courtyard to greet us. Vedat Uras had been sent by the Turkish Government to be our interpreter. "There is a guard of honor to meet you," Uras said. I walked with him through an archway of the customs building to find a squad of nine Turkish soldiers. They came to attention. Uras whispered, "You are supposed to say 'Merhaba' to them." "Merhaba," I shouted. "Sagol, sagol," they shouted back. Then they marched away. "What did we say?" I asked Uras. "Merhaba is a salutation like the English hello; and sagol means long life." It warmed our hearts to get this welcome. And in retrospect it seems that merhaba and sagol were symbolic of the hospitality we received all across Turkey. The road ahead of us stretched over rolling hills as far as the eye could see. Snow-capped Mount Ararat rose straight ahead, almost close enough to touch (page 66). Beside it was Little Ararat, free of snow. This is big country. From the border looking west there is no sign of habitation. It looks much like Wyoming and Colorado country for horses and cattle, for unfenced pastures, for unlimited horizons. The day we crossed this region, the air was freshly washed by a storm. The good dirt roads-for which modern Turkey has become famous-had been thoroughly wetted down. We met no dust, no washboard ruts crosswise of the road, no high centers to ride. We found Ancient Hittite carvings adorn the walls of towering cliffs near Bogazkale. "When one steps into the jaws of these limestone cliffs, he seems completely shut off from the world," says the author. This bas-relief portrays a Hittite god in pointed headdress throwing a protective left arm around the neck of the smaller priest-king. KODACHROMEBY W. ROBERTMOORE. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSTAFF N. G . S.