National Geographic : 1956 Jul
ranging from sweet to brackish, vary in depth from about 4 to 60 feet. Goatskins are used Sfor hauling up the water. Many of these groves are imperiled by the relentlessly moving dunes, and lines of fronds have been stuck in the sand to hold back the enemy. Some settlements are occupied only temporarily by nomads who come to gather the date harvest. On arrival at a settlement we would stop to refresh ourselves at one of the wells beneath the sand cliffs. If there were people in resi dence, there would be an immediate rush from the dunes above to bestow on us whatever hospitality the humble land afforded. If camels were grazing in the area, women or children would arrive with bowls of warm milk. If there were goats, two or three would be placed before us as gifts. Mortar Rings a Welcome At one settlement, figures carrying coffee pots descended on us from each of the houses, and we quickly had a dozen pots simmering on our fire. One old man surprised even his neighbors by producing a small bottle of bril liantine. With great ceremony he placed a little on the head of each of his guests. If we arrived at a settlement early in the day, we would accept an invitation to shelter from the sun in one of the palm-frond houses. Our host and his family would push aside 91 + Hypnotized Performers Chant and Sway as Stabbings Climax Dervish Rites Oriental rugs carpet the earth for a display of faith by this Sufi sect. Drums throb; members loudly extol Ali, Mohammed's cousin, whom they honor as their founder. Suddenly the leader points to a disciple, who lurches forward. With one powerful thrust an assistant drives a stiletto into the man's shoulder (pages 77 and 86). -+Another devotee, a young boy, takes his turn. With blade driven completely through his shoulder, he sways glassy-eyed for several minutes. Then the weapon is withdrawn, and he rejoins the circle.