National Geographic : 1951 Oct
447 Kashgai Nomads, Visited During Their Spring Trek, Said They'd Never Seen a Camera Skeptical at first, they found posing for pictures amusing and wanted to see the results at once. Long ago the Kashgais migrated from Turkey; they still speak a Turkish dialect. Some have taken up farming. green salad, tea, and fruit, the modest snack we sought turned out to be a banquet. A late-afternoon sun cast long shadows when the towering columns of Persepolis, capital of ancient Persia, loomed before us. Backed by a beetling rock wall, crowning a high man-made terrace, these impressive ruins overlook the wide, mountain-ringed Marvdasht plain. After 25 centuries the majesty, the power, and the grandeur that was the Achaemenian Empire still haunt this spectacular site (page 459). Six Americans in Persepolis Persepolis was not deserted. There we were welcomed by Dr. Ali Sami, Director of Excavations; Dr. and Mrs. Richard Etting hausen, of the Freer Gallery of Art in Wash ington, D. C.; two lads from the University of Michigan; and a couple from the French Embassy in Tehran. We were wined, dined, and housed in comfortable rooms built into the former harem of Xerxes. "This, you can bet, is the first night I've ever spent in a harem," was Joe's comment as we prepared for bed. As if to impress us with the site, Nature put on a show. During our brief stay we saw Persepolis in a gorgeous sunset, by moon light and dawn light, and in a resounding thunderstorm. The night was one to be re- membered. Atomic-age visitors from a dis tant continent, we wandered by the ghostly brilliance of a full moon in the footsteps of kings long departed, through the heart of an empire long dead.* Black goatskin tents dotted valleys and hillsides south of Persepolis. The annual migration of the Kashgais had begun. Win tering around Firuzabad, south of Shiraz, these hardy people gather their flocks, pack their few possessions, and start for distant highlands near Isfahan at spring's first sign. In autumn they retrace the long, slow trek. Such seminomadic peoples-Lurs, Kurds, Bakhtiari, Kashgais, and lesser tribes make up an estimated one-sixth of Iran's 18, 000,000 population.t We encountered many Kashgai caravans where their centuries-old routes crossed our road. Mounted heads of families, bronzed and lean, wore big wool capes and round felt hats. Full-skirted women and young children perched on packs of household gear carried by horses, burros, and camels (pages 456 and 462). Often a woman held a woolly * See "Exploring the Secrets of Persepolis," by Charles Breasted, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, October, 1933. t See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "I Become a Bakhtiari," by Paul Edward Case, March, 1947; and "Mountain Tribes of Iran and Iraq," by Harold Lamb, March, 1946.