Geographical description of Vakhan and Garan-The Pandsh valley-The river Pandsh-Its sources and tributaries-The Hindu Kush range-The Badakhshan range-The southern border mountains of Pamir-Garan, its holy fountains and altars, passages, pass-roads, paths, bridges, and ferries-Hot springs and geysers, earthquakes, metals, and minerals
WHEN a man comes down from the north through desolate Pamir, moving across its poor infertile high steppes, the once rugged outlines of its gigantic clumsy mountains flattened out to mighty smoothnesses, worn down by vast ages of the fierce sun#039;s beat, ground away by long eons of the frost#039;s blasting bite, and by the rude assault of centuries of wind and rain, he reaches the swift-flowing waters of the river Pamir Darya. If he pass along the banks of the Pamir Darya where it rushes through its stony bed, its western mountainous bank rising in steeps of conglomerate and gneiss and granite and slate on his right, its high eastern bank springing upwards on his left to the plateau of the Vakhan mountains which stretch from Pamir Darya to the Vakhan Darya, he will strike the Khargosh river where it flows into Pamir Darya at Mazar Tepe (The Grave Mound). Gazing from Mazar Tepe he will see, arising in the distant prospect, high imposing pointed black peaks that prospect like the steeples of buried cathedrals from amongst the perpetual snow and blue-green glaciers that flash in the eternal sunshine of this high world. Their outlines are in sharp contrast to the mountains of Pamir ; and at once he knows that these peaks do not belong to the range of the Pamirs, and that he will thenceforth move through a mighty change of scenery as he makes his way through these, the most majestic mountains of Central Asia.
To the south of Kizil Kreshim wild roses abound in gay profusion, and here and there along the valley spring slim poplars.
But he must move forward to Zir-i-Zamin, the Iranian word for Under the Ground, a small mountain stream which runs through a deep and narrow cleft to flow into the waters of Pamir Darya, before there bursts upon his vision the lovely deep valley with its flat-roofed houses built close together and surrounded by gardens, fields, and thick copse, along the banks of the arms of the river, and up the mountain terraces. He is now only ten kilometres from Vakhan. He is in the province of Vakhan, and before him he sees the majestic range of mountains known as the Hindu Kush. The river Pandsh that flows below through the valley is the main source of the Oxus or Amu Darya. That river is of unusual importance, for it is the boundary between the troops of Russia and the fierce hordes of Afghanistan.
In the following pages I shall treat wholly of this part of Vakhan and of the provinces along the Pandsh, Ishkashim and Garan, all lying in Russian territory.
Journeying through Pamir in 1896, I had passed through Vakhan during the summer time, on the way from Langarkish along the Pandsh to Khorok, moving northwards to Shugnan, Roshan, Darvas, and Karategin ; and in 1898-99, in command of the second Danish Pamir Expedition that is the subject of this book, I passed the time from September to March in the Pandsh valley between Langarkish and Khorok, wintering from October 26, 1898, to the first day of March 1899 in the village of Khorok, which lies at the function of the rivers Gund and Pandsh. After several excursions in various directions, the expedition started out from Khorok on the first of March, and passed through Garan and Vakhan on its way to Turkestan, as all other roads are barred by deep snow at this time of the year. It may seem strange that, during our long stay in the upper Pandsh valley we did not once set foot on the Afghan side of this river Pandsh, which, in order to give a full and satisfactory account of the country, would of course have been both desirable and advantageous to the expedition ; but owing to the request of the British authorities the Danish Government had forbidden me to allow any member of the expedition to intrude on any but absolutely Russian territory.
The upper valley of the Pandsh is remarkable chiefly in that it is watered by the river Pandsh (Pandsh being Persian for Five) which is the main source of the historic waters of the Amu Darya (Amu being Turkish for River, and Darya the Persian for River) or Oxus ; and in that it forms the boundary between the most majestic mountains of the world-Pamir (or Bam-i-dunya, the splendid Persian name for The Roof of the World) on the one hand, and the Hindu Kush on the other.
It is also remarkable in having a resident agricultural people at so very high an altitude. The people of these distant mountains, cut off from the rest of the world, are little influenced by civilization ; indeed, we have but very meagre evidence as to their past history. The details given by the famous Venetian, Marco Polo, and the Englishman, Wood, are of the slightest. In 1837-38 Wood passed the southern side of the river Pandsh on his way by Sebak to Badakhshan ; and Marco Polo also, most probably, chose the southern bank for his journey in 1262-73, this being the best route, as the northern bank offers serious difficulties to traffic in several places, and even in the summer of 1896 and to be impassable in those places.
The main source of the Oxus or Amu Darya embraces Pamir like a mighty eagle#039;s claw clutching its spoil. By Hara Berezaiti, or The High Mountain, the Iranian myths possibly mean Pamir, whence flows the Ardvisura (or Oxus), about which, according to the Iranian myths, was the garden of our first parents--Airyana vaeja, in Avesta.
The Oxus receives its waters entirely from the glaciers and the perpetual snow of Pamir, and especially from the snow which falls here in winter, and drifts in the valleys. When the Oxus (Amu Darya) leaves the mountains, south of Samarkand, it receives the waters of no more tributary streams on its long course through deserts and steppes to the lake of Aral.
The two main sources of Amu Darya (Oxus) are the Kizilsu Surkhab, or Wakhs, and the Pandsh.
The Kizilsu Surkhab (Kizilsu being Turkish for Red Water, and Surkhab the Persian for Red Water) has its source near the pass of Ton Murtin in Transalai, and, with its broad fertile valley, forms the boundary between the Alai mountains and Transalai, the most northerly range of Pamir.
The village of Shund, situated near the banks of the river Garm-chashma Darya , at a height of 2566 metres above sea level as measured by the hypsometer, shows the fall of Garm-chashma Darya from Shund to the outflow of its waters in the Palidsh to be about 200 metres in 11ii kilometres. The hamlets of but a few houses, are dotted about the mountain slopes near the little tributaries. idyllically situated in the wooded ravines, where the Garans take great care in the growing of corn high up on the mountain sides.
The kislak of Shah Hindarah is situated so high up on a terrace in the mountains north of Garm-chashma Darya that the village can only be seen from the top of the southern mountain slope. This is often the case with the kislaks in all the mountain valleys of Pamir more especially in Garan. When making one#039;s way through the Pandsh valley, along the bank of the river, one would think that there was scarcely a village to be found in the region ; and it was not until one reached the slopes higher up that they came into sight-stowed away as on shelves in the mountains, one above the other along the rivers. The native Garans told us that many of the inhabitants live up on these terraces without ever descending the mountains ; partly, it would seem, owing to the difficulty in climbing and down the heights, and partly owing to their dread of meeting wicked people and spirits and demons outside their native place, which is all the world to them. One old man in the town of Shund, over a hundred years of age, had thus never been outside the valley of Garm-chashma Darya. Indeed, even the people who live on the principal rivers, which from time immemorial have been the chief thoroughfares for all communication in these regions, often only know the river to the distance of a few kilometres on either side of their kislak.
A fair riding path runs along the southern banks of Garmchashma Darya to Rach through a valley which is shut in by such a narrow mountain gate towards the Pandsh valley that one would never dream of finding inhabited places in this place. Thelice a path runs southwards across the mountains to Vakhan at the kislak of Darshal. A passage, very difficult of ascent, leads from RAch upwards almost to the source of the Garm-chashma Darya, and turns to the north-west to the Shakhdarra valley across some passes which are also very difficult of ascent.
From Kuh-i-lal in Garan a very rough path runs across the mountains by way of the kislak of Delak to the Garm-chashma Darya valley. From Kuh-i-lal we moved in the autumn of 1898 towards the north-east, up a very steep and difficult ravine between two isolated peaks. The path runs all the way along a steep dried-up river-bed, where the horses are led with great difficulty from one terrace to another. The whole place is quite devoid of trees, but it is covered with very high grass which, during the early part of summer, affords good pasture for the cattle of the Garans. The path turns due west at a point which, with the aid of a pedometer and the angle of the mountain#039;s slope, I judged to be about 1500 metres above the terrace of Kuh-i-lal, or about 4000 metres above sea-level. Here we arrived at a small uninhabited town with houses built of piled-up stones, and with flat roofs made of large pieces of slate. Each house consisted of various little rooms with fireplaces ; and in the middle of the town was a square, fenced in by high stone walls, which formed a fold for the cattle. This was a so-called Ailak, or summer village, where the Garans stay with then- cattle during the time when the pastures are at their best, when they, like the people in Norway, take the cattle to the mountain pastures.
North of this Ailak we passed a small mountain stream which, all the year through, conveys water to the Pandsh, and so along a path which has been worn by the natives using this route. This path winds west and south of some isolated peaks and the plateau-like grass-covered mountain terrace, and is continued in steep windings through the town of Delak and along the idyllic ravine overgrown with thicket through which runs the tributary stream of Sijaw, down to the valley of Garm-chashma Darya. From the terrace there is a comparatively wide view towards the west across the Pandsh valley to the mountains on the Afghan side.
The mountains impress us in this region, as is generally the case in Pamir, by their imposing massiveness and heavy form, not by the height of their peaks and their sharp outline. Their character is that of gigantic terraced colossi, whereon the small villages are placed as on shelves, one above the other.
Besides the noteworthy fact that a rather considerable wood of tall willows and poplars, a rare sight in the Pamirs, is found in the valley round the middle course of Garm-chashma Darya, the valley offers another feature worthy of note--hot geysers.
The hot geysers, situate about 350 metres west of the kislak of Shund, on the northern bank of the river Garm-chashma Darya, are a sanctuary to the Garans. The geysers are called Garm-chashma (Hot Spring), and their craters situated along a sharp rocky ridge in a west and east direction, whilst the range which borders the valley, to the north of which this geyser-vomiting rocky ridge is a spur, runs West 35#039; North.
The geysers are in a line of ten large craters, and numbers of smaller ones. In most of them the water only bubbles up just above the opening, but several of the western ones fling up fountains, of which one at the top of the ridge shoots up a hot jet of water to a height of twelve centimetres, and another one, lower down the ridge, spurted out a jet of thirty centimetres horizontally from the rock. They all contain yellowish green sulphurous water. This water, on being tested in sample, showed that it contained the salts lithium, natrium, calium, calcium, and zinc. From the whole of this mountain ridge a vapour arises with a strong sulphurous stench ; indeed, the ridge seems to be a deposit of the springs ; on both sides of the crater-line, natural basins of deposits from the geysers have formed, the layers being built up round each other like a wasps#039; nest. These deposits are of limes mixed with sulphur, A few of the geysers had a crater of eight centimetres in diameter; and out of these openings issued small white balls, some of the size of little peas, but mostly quite tiny--these pea-stones were of a lime substance which forms in the eddy owing to the upward pressure of the hot water. The springs are situated about twenty-five metres above the river Garm-chashma Darya, at a height of 2590 metres above sea-level. About 250 metres above these springs, on the northern slope of the valley itself, are several deposits of the same kind, which shows that in the past there were hot springs here also.
On a terrace of the rock below the place at which the eastern uppermost fountain issues, a small yard has been fenced about with a wooden paling; this yard encloses a number of little fountains, which bubble out of small holes only large enough to allow the passage of an ordinary lead pencil. This is the sanctuary of the natives, as is indicated by a small primitive altar beside the uppermost fountain, which pours down on the fenced-in square. The altar consists only of some natural little caves in the rock beside the source--on shelves in these caves are placed a small copper lamp, a small earthenware lamp, and a round black stone ; above the altar is a white banner on a staff, and on the top of the staff is a hand with distended fingers, made of sheet iron-this hand has certainly, as will be shown later on, a symbolic significance, as it is often found carved in rocks and stones in Vakhan. It was also found on a stone with inscriptions, which the expedition brought home to the National Museum at Copenhagen.
The earthenware lamp resembles the chiraks ordinarily used in Turkestan ; the copper lamp, on the contrary, consists of a small bowl resting on a copper stand about 20 centimetres high, with twisted arms. We shall have cause to consider similar lamps from the sanctuary in Vakhan later on.
In the yard in front of the altar the natives say their prayers-kneeling down before the lamps, which are lit on special occasions, they cover their faces with their hands. It is the scene of great religious festivals, when cattle are killed on the rock, and the rich people divide the meat among their poorer neighbours.
The natives bathe in the sulphurous hot water in the basins which, according to their tradition, heals all ailments. During our stay, naked children lay in the basins, splashing about in the water which was at a temperature Of 42#039; Centigrade; and from the neighbouring valleys pilgrimages are made to the holy place. Red, grey, and green algae grow round the spurs from the sides of the rocks, and with the sulphur-laiden watery vapours lend a strangely fantastic look to the place. The grey algae grew in hot water of 39#039; Centigrade ; the red algae in water of a somewhat lower temperature ; and the green ones in water of a still lower warmth.
From Andarab to Badjan the river bank can only be used during autumn ; and then only by pedestrians. Beasts of burden and saddle-horses have to be sent across the mountains, where there is a pass at a distance of about four kilometres in a straight line east of the river, through which, during the summer, Badjan can be reached in about eighteen hours ; but the road is very bad. The road to this pass, which I went through duringg the summer of 1896, runs due east along a tributary stream which flows into the Pandsh about three kilometres north of Andarab. The stream runs through a very narrow picturesque ravine covered with willows, poplars, crab-trees, wild pear-trees, and shrubs interwoven with clematis and honeysuckle. On some of the terraces, where the water oozed down from the river, we rode through a wood of umbelliferous plants the height of a man, which was the haunt of great numbers of mountain fowl. The ascent is very steep and dangerous for beasts of burden up to 3000 metres above sea-level ; and the horseman has to lead his horse by the rein from one terrace to another. At a height somewhat above 3000 metres, the growth of trees almost stops, and here and there on the slopes we find a sporadic growth of juniper. The little groves of these trees are generally the haunt of the small mountain panther, which is very common here. This animal has, all the year round, a very thick fur, almost snow-white with dark spots, and a remarkably long tall. By very complicated paths that wind amongst a number of rounded hills, partly covered with grass and partly with a strange coarse vegetation, through a chaos of slate, over which it is very difficult to find one#039;s way, we pass at last above the tree-limit to the top of the pass some 3771 metres above sea-level.
The making of roads has been left to Nature by the people, and the manner of crossing rivers is as primitive--boats are unknown, and could only be employed in very few places owing to the rush of the stream. Between Ptuk and Shirtar in Vakhan, and at Somdjen in Ishkashim boats must be used for the crossing. In Vakhan only two bridges were found across the Pandsh, and none in Garan; indeed, no bridges are made across the Pandsh the whole way northwards to Kalat Klumb in Darvas. The bridges in Vaklan are near the towns of Drais and Namatgut, and are so rickety that they can only be crossed at the peril of one#039;s life. Two long trunks of trees are placed from each bank between bridge-heads formed of trunks of trees made secure in piled-up heaps of stones--in the middle of the river these trunks are bound together with osier-bands, so that the whole structure resembles a safety net for high-trapeze athletes, and on top of this hurdle-work flat pieces of slate are placed. A man and a horse can pass over such a bridge at the same time, if the horse#039;s rein is so long that man and beast are not on the middle part of the bridge at the same time. Across such-like bridges I passed the Surkhab with my caravan in Karategin in 1896.
Across the smaller rivers the natives make bridges in the following simple way : they bend a tree, or the branches of a tree, across the stream whilst the people on the opposite bank fasten it with osier-bands, then they can crawl and climb like monkeys from bank to bank, with a small burden on the back.
The chief means of water transport employed by the people is, however, the gupsar--the natives are most skilful in the handling of this rickety craft, and accidents are most rare. It is the means also that the European traveller must employ when he cannot ride through the current. The word gupsar, also called by its Turkish name of sanach, is of Iranian origin, meaning "ferry" ; and the place whence the ferry starts is also called gupsar or gusar. The gupsar is made of the entire hide of an animal, the skin of a goat or wolf being preferred. It is tanned quite smooth, the holes at the head and three of the legs are tied taut, while in the fourth leg is placed a wooden tap with a wooden stopple. Through the tap the skin is blown full by the native, who seizes the tap with his left hand, and with his left elbow presses the distended hide close up to his chest. He now throws himself into the stream, and, whilst the hide keeps him above water, he, with his legs :ind right arm, works slantwise across the river. A great deal of practice is necessary to gain facility with the gupsar, especially to acquire the habit of keeping the gupsar steady with the left arm whilst the tap and hand are kept above water. The gupsar is of course apt to rise above the water, and if this happens it is very difficult to get it below the surface again in a swift current. Where there arc not too many rocks and the stream is not too rapid, the natives will often go long distances in this way. Thus in the summer of 1896 I saw half a dozen natives, one behind the other, coming down the river Shakdarra to Khorok, on the river Gund, on their gupsars. They had strapped their small bundles of clothes across the nape of their necks so as to keep out of reach of the water. At first glance I took them for a flock of waterfowl, but fortunately, I looked a second time, and thus an ugly accident was avoided.
When women and children, baggage, sheep, goats, or donkeys are to be taken across the rivers, a small ferry is made of several gupsars, on to which are lashed branches and skins. A ferry made of six gupsars will carry three men besides some baggage. It is steered by two naked natives who, holding the ferry with their hands and swimming with their legs, steer it through the eddies.
The crossing is made where the river bends, so that the current runs slantwise from one bank to the other ; and the task of the swimmers is to prevent the ferry from turning round in the whirlpool. Large animals like horses are made to swim the rivers--they are driven into the stream in a place where it curves, and the current then carries them so far towards the opposite bank that they can gain a footing there ; they are then enticed ashore by coaxing cries of "Mo, mo, mo." Of course it happens now and again that a horse takes a wrong direction in the current and is carried away by it down stream, but generally the little intelligent horses perform such a crossing in the most neat and deft way.
The frequency of the deposits of sulphur and the great number of hot springs seem to indicate that the territory round the Pandsh is volcanic. Earthquakes are very frequent everywhere in the valleys of Pamir, and on the way from the Hindu Kush to Karategin in 1896, 1898 and 1899 we experienced some rather violent shocks which, amongst other things, caused the collapse of a mosque in Karategin and of an old castle in Darvas. During our winter stay in Khorok, on the river Gund, our house was now and again shaken by earthquakes to a most disagreeable extent.
It is of course impossible to determine whether these earthquakes are connected with volcanic workings or whether they are the result of collapses in the inner hollows of the mountains, especially as our knowledge of these things is still so very limited. It always seemed to me that the direction of these earthquakes was north and south.
Hot springs, which are found everywhere in Pamir in great numbers, are used by the Kirghiz as well as by the inhabitants of the valleys of Pamir for bathing and as a remedy against diseases ; they are at the same time regarded as a kind of sanctuary. We found such springs in the Pandsh valley on the mountain slope about one kilometre north of Zunk, and near the kislak of Sirgyn, and about three kilometres south of the kislak of Barsliar, besides the before-mentioned geysers at the kislak of Shund by the river Garm-chashma Darya.
The Spring at Zunk is situated at a height of 2969 metres above sea-level. It runs into a basin dug out by the natives and covered in by a house, in which basin they bathed. The water in the basin was at a temperature of 44.5#039; Celitigrade ; but as cold water trickled into the basin from the mountain slope, the temperature of the spring itself must have been a good deal higher than this. In the house was a strong sulphurous smell, and the colour of the water of the brooks was of yellow ochre, as they flowed round the house and down the slopes amongst the tufts of grass that were here and there covered with layers of salt. A sample of the water which we took with us showed that it contained salts of lithium, natrium, calium, calcium, and magnium.
The spring at Sirgyn, which issues slowly out of the foot of the slope south of the village, had in its crater a temperature of 32-5#039; Centigrade ; and the test of a sample, brought home from it, showed that it contained salts, amongst which were carbonates of lithium, natrium, callum, calcium and magnium.
The spring south of Barshar issued from the foot of the mountain slope in much the same manner as at Sirgyn, 2650 metres above sea-level, with a slight pressure-it had a temperature of 30.4#039; Centigrade in the crater, and the water sample showed that it contained salts of lithium, natrium, calium, calcium, and magnium.
Nothing certain can be said as to the metals and precious stones to be found in the mountains. Presumably metals are found in the mountains round the Pandsh valley as in the rest of Pamir, where gold, copper, iron, and zinc have been seen here and there; but as the finding of these metals has only been accidental, and no systematic examination has ever been made, it cannot, of course, be known if the mountains are rich in metals or not. I myself have found traces of gold in the river sand. The other metals were found and shown to me by Lieutenant-Colonel Zaitzef, the present chief of the district at Osh in Ferghana, who is very well acquainted with North Pamir.
Of precious stones, great numbers of garnets are found in the slate on all the mountain slopes in Vakhan, Ishkashim, and Garan.
Near the kislak of Kuh-i-lal in Garan are some caves in the rocks where the natives have tried to dig out spinel. They told me that in former times pieces had been found of the size of a hen#039;s egg, but the mines were no longer worked. The caves and the slopes round about them were full of little bits of this mineral, of which we brought home specimens which were examined in Copenhagen. In the caves we found thin veins of spinel amongst other kinds of stones.
Natives of Garan
THE INHABITANTS OF THE UPPER PANDSH VALLEY
The inhabitants of the Pandsh valley are doubtless principally unmixed descendants of the old Iranian people, who, as far back as we can trace, have formed the principal part of the population of Transoxania, Turkestan, and the mountains south of these to the Hindu Kush. Both the language, of which the expedition has collected a record that will be published later, and the anthropological material show that the population consists of pure Iranians. It is only in the eastern part of Vakhan that some of the people seem to have a partly Indian stamp of feature. This is easily accounted for when we realise that the intercourse through the passes of the Hindu Kush, and more especially through the pass of Boroghil, has occasioned a mixture of the Iranian and Indian stock ; also the former rule of the Siaposh in Vakhan has presumably left its traces in the mixture of population thereabout, as we shall see later on. Further west and north in Ishkashim and Garan the population is of pure Iranian type-a middle-sized, mostly dark-haired people, with longish faces and marked features. The women are much shorter than the men, and their hair is always raven-black, whilst a few of the men are rather fairhaired. Their features are much coarser than those of the present-day Persian, who is not pure Iranian ; still, the coarse features of the Iranians of the Upper Pandsh valley are presumably largely due to their primitive conditions of life, as the manner of life in all nations produces a more or less refined type without, in the main, changing the features.
The people here have been moulded by the hard toil which goes to the earning of their very bread in the poor and, from the field-worker#039;s point of view, troublesome mountain agriculture. Their time is wholly taken up with winning their food and raiment; they have had no time or leisure to attend to anything but strictly material affairs.
They are all slender, and by nature are trained sportsmen who can perform incredible feats in climbing up and down the mountains with the aid of their long alpenstocks. Stout people are never seen amongst them.
The Vakhans call themselves Vakhe ; the inhabitants of Ishkashim called themselves Ishkashime; and the Garans, Garane. In the ethnography they are classed amongst the Galchahs, and are, as we said before, Iranianss or Tajiks -in other words, they are of the same origin as the Tajiks of Bokhara and Turkestan ; so perhaps the most correct description of them would be the Mountain Tajiks.
The type is rather handsome, more particularly the women, who in their youth have good features ; but they grow old early owing to uncleanliness, hard work, and early marriage. The men are at their handsomest when boys and when old-the old Iranian is of a very handsome, dignified and aristocratic type. These people are of a very amiable disposition, and are a pleasant folk for strangers to deal with. They are hospitable, polite, and very discreet ; but, as they are also very intelligent and diplomatic, it is very difficult to avoid their wiles if they should intrigue against one in a spirit of ill-will.
The principal language of all the Pandsh valley is the Shugne, an old Persian tongue spoken by the Shugnans in Shugnan, Garane, Ishkashime, and Vakhe. Each of the provinces has, however, a special dialect of the Shugnan language, the difference between them, however, being so slight that the people can easily understand each other.
In Vakhan there is also spoken an older Iranian language as well as the Shugnan tongue, -which Shugnan is only spoken by the people of quality. This older Iranian tongue is the original tongue of the Vakhans, which now seems to have degenerated into a country dialect. All the people of Vakhan speak this language; and as a rule the children know no other, but such as are likely to have intercourse with their neighbours of the other provinces learn the Shugnan tongue later on. And as a consequence of the Kirghiz living near them, some of the natives of the Eastern Vakhan can understand Turkish.
The Kirghiz of High Pamir speak a Turkish dialect which is so much like Ottoman Turkish that in a short time one is able to make oneself understood by this people with the aid of this language.
With regard to the women#039;s clothing, it is alike in Vakhan, Ishkashim, and Garan, with a few exceptions inGaran. The principal colours are white and brown in all the materials which are woven here, the want of dyes compelling them to keep to the original colour of the wool. White, dark brown, and black sheep are found in these parts ; and their woollen stuffs are in consequence always of these colours.
The men#039;s dress consists of a brown or white woollen dressing-gown ("chupan"), which reaches to the middle of the shin. Beneath this they wear a somewhat similar and shorter white or brown woollen shirt ("piran"). For this shirt, however, white cotton is also sometimes used; but this is imported from Afghanistan or India. The white or brown trousers ("shuvalak") reach a little below the knee, and are tied round the waist with a string, like a bag. They wear short soft brownish yellow tanned leather boots, or rather a kind of leather stocking ("musa"), which, to prevent their failing off, are tied round the ankle with a string plaited of wool of different colours, green, red, and white, that hangs down on the foot in a bow.
While the Sarts in Turkestan and the Kirghiz in Pamir wear long linen or woollen strips wrapped round their feet, and the Kirghiz in Pamir sew a kind of long felt stocking for winter use, the more well-to-do folk in the Upper Pandsli valley wear stockings ("jirab"), but the poor people use strips. The stockings, which generally reach to the middle of the thigh, are knitted like a bag, without a heel, and are adorned with very tasteful patterns. Each of the three provinces has its own pattern, so that we can easily recognise them. These stockings are highly prized, and are used as valuable gifts both amongst the natives themselves and for strangers. Great pains are taken in the making of them. The patterns are in all colours, which is probably the reason that they are so highly prized, as dyes are so expensive and rare.
On the head is worn a small brown woollen hood ("chelpok"), which is fastened on both sides so that it resembles a small soft hat. In bad weather it is pulled down over the head like a hood. This head-dress, which is very old, is now going out of fashion. The well-to-do import turbans, from Afghanistan, of long blue or while pieces of linen, which are wrapped round the head itself or round a small braided cap of the kind used everywhere throughout Turkestan. The poor people imitate this fashion, and are delighted when presented with linen for the purpose.
A handkerchief ("longi"), or a leather belt, is tied round the waist over the long white garment. The handkerchiefs, which are preferred as gay as possible and very long so that they can be twisted several times round the waist, are imported from Afghanistan or Kashmir. A silk handkerchief is accounted one of the most desirable of possessions; but only a minority possess even the cotton ones. The leather belts are imported from Afghanistan, and are provided with small bags, not unlike modern European purses.
During winter white tanned sheepskin cloaks are worn, of the same shape as the woollen summer garment. The fur is worn towards the body, and whilst the summer garment is often adorned with a gay braiding on the high collar, the fur cloak has no ornament whatever. During winter the well-to-do often wear cotton breeches ("tumbun").
Only the rich possess the whole of this wardrobe. The typical costume is the white woollen "chupan," woollen trousers, a woollen shirt, a brown cap, and yellowish brown boots. The poor often wander about both in the summer and winter dressed only in a ragged sheepskin cloak and an undeterminable lot of furry and woollen rags wrapped round their legs and feet. When travelling on foot, they always carry a long stick, which is used as a staff and as an alpenstock; and the natives are very skilled in using it as a weapon.
The bright white woollen garments are preferred ; and it cannot be denied that this costume, whether it be worn by the handsome white-bearded old man or man of mature age with his long black beard, is very tasteful, and enhances the Asiatic idea of a dignified appearance.
The men#039;s hair, which is generally black or brown, is worn short ; but they do not shave their heads like the Mussulmans of Turkestan. The descendants of holy men, the so-called Salts, wear longish hair hanging down their backs.
The women#039;s dress consists, in summer, of a long wide white woollen smock with long sleeves. It is open in front, and is fastened at the neck by a cord of different colours, or by a small buckle. They wear besides, under their smock, a white woollen or cotton chemise and woollen trousers like the men#039;s, always white. In summer they mostly go barefoot; but sometimes they wear boots like the men#039;s, and the more well-to-do wear leather shoes ("shysk") embroidered with gold wire and with pointed turned-up toes; these are imported from Kashmir. On the head they wear a small white woollen or cotton cap ("chelpok") not unlike the European travelling-cap without a brim; and on top of this they wear, when out of doors or when travelling, a white handkerchief ("chil"). During winter they wear fur cloaks like the men. The women in the valley of Garm-chashma Darya in Garan wear during the summer a short white woollen or cotton jacket or coat above the woollen smock, as well as a woollen or cotton petticoat; a dress not unlike that of the Russian peasant woman. Not that it has any connection therewith, for it is worn nowhere else in the valleys of Pamir.
The trinkets of the women are few and primitive. Earrings of silver are highly prized, as also are rings for the fingers. As a rule these are imported from Afghanistan, and only consist of simple plates or wire, sometimes ornamented with inlaid pieces of lapis-lazuli which is found in the mines of Badakhshan. Both the old and young women wear chains round their necks, sometimes consisting of pieces of lapis-lazuli drawn on a string, but as a rule of stringed kernels of apricots ("pyrk").
On the shoulders of the top garment, and above the breasts, they wear as an ornament some triangular cloth tassels hanging in a short string. Sometimes written copies of Mahometan prayers are found sewn into these tassels. These are obtained from wandering kalandars or dervishes, and are believed to be protection against illnesses.
The unmarried women wear their hair, which is generally raven black, down their backs ; but the married ones wear it hanging down their backs in two long plaits ("shafch"). Lomg plaits are considered very beautiful, and the length is often added to by plaiting together with it woollen strings of the same colour as the hair. They never wear veils; but on the arrival of strange men they generally throw a handkerchief, or whatever they may have at hand, over the head, leaving the impression that the main idea is to hide the face, since they very freely show other nude parts of the body.
Marriages are contracted between boys and girls before the age of puberty, but as long as the connubial union has not been consummated the girl wears her hair floating down her back.
The little boys as a rule run about naked all through the summer, their only clothing being often a string round the neck on which hangs a perforated stone. The little girls generally only wear a white woollen chemise like that of the women. During winter they are dressed almost like the adults. To add to their charms the little girls often have their cheeks painted with a red dye; and the hair of the boys is closely cropped in a belt from the forehead to the nape of the neck, whilst it hangs down in long tufts on the sides of the head in a somewhat similar way to the fashion amongst the Persians.
An article of dress which is worn in all the valleys of Pamir, from Vakhan to Karategin, is the wooden shoe, exactly resembling the shoe worn in Jutland; these are only worn in winter. In Turkestan they are quite unknown.
Houses and their arrangement
THE towns of these people are of mud houses, built so closely together that the roofs almost form one large flat, across which it is possible to walk over the whole town. The houses are built partly of flat pieces of slate, which are always close at hand on the mountain slopes for the gathering, and partly of grey mud kept together by a frame wall of roughly hewn trunks of trees. Their yellowish grey colour thus merges into the colour of the terraces on which they stand, so that they might easily be passed unnoticed if their position were not betrayed by the trees surrounding them, which at a distance look like small plantations. Between the houses there are narrow passages through which it is just possible to squeeze oneself, and, being like so many mazes, it is very difficult to find one#039;s way through the towns.
These kislaks have a very monotonous appearance, no cupolas or minarets standing out from the flat grey mass, as in other Asiatic towns. When quite near them one notices on most of the roofs a square tower with loopholes; but as these are often built of the same yellowish grey mud as the house itself, and are wholly devoid of ornament, they do not relieve the general monotony of the township, which is solely relieved by the tall poplars and the large green tops of the mulberry and apricot.
These people build their houses of the simplest materials and have little idea of decorating them or of keeping them in repair; they seem always to aim at building them in one particular style ; their arrangements of detail are everywhere the same, alike for the rich and poor. The hearthroom is everywhere alike in Vakhan and Garan ; indeed the poor have only this one room in their houses in which both man and beast consequently pass the winter together.
In the farms of the landed Vakhans or Garans which would correspond to an ordinary Danish farm, the entrance is through a low wooden door in a stable ("hata"), which, as a rule, is only a square surrounded by a high wall. Along one of these walls are mangers built of mud for the donkeys or horses. The horse is a rare animal here. Sometimes there is a pent-roof above the mangers; and along the opposite wall runs, as a rule, a mud-built platform on which the saddles and harness are kept. Through this stable a small channel is generally conducted to a small reservoir of water; and on the platform mulberry trees are often planted, under the shade of which the people of passing caravans can rest and take their meals.
From the donkey stable one goes through a low wooden door into a small room where are platforms built of mud on both sides. This is the so-called Meheman-khanah ("Shugnan "), where strangers are received-not being allowed into the inner room where dwells the family of the master of the house. On these platforms are placed primitive agricultural implements and the large household articles for which there is no room in the inner apartment.
From thence another small low wooden door leads into the hearth-room (" khrun "), which is mainly reserved for women, and into which only their husbands and nearest relatives are allowed to enter. Several closely connected families often live together. We, as specially well-recommended guests, were allowed to enter the hearth-room after the women had withdrawn.
A hearth-room in Namagut
The roof of the hearth-room, like the roofs of the other rooms, consisting of rafters covered with fagots and hay, with a layer of mud on top, rests on four strong hewn wooden pillars, which are always ornamented with wreaths of ears of corn. The custom of crowning columns with flowers and branches is found in the Zoroastrian religion of the Parthians-or rather in the mixture of religion whereof this creed consisted. In a low-relief from the time of the Parthians is a Magian consecrating a holy column crowned with wreaths. As the Parthian realm embraced all Bactria, it is possible that the custom may have originated as far back as from that period. On the outer side of all the pillars are broad clay platforms three-quarters to one metre high, so that the space in the middle forms a square hole ("yarich"). In the platform to the right, in rare cases to the left, of the entrance is the hearth ("ghogof"), which consists of a cavity in the platform ending at the top in a small vetit for the smoke. In front of the platform is the fireplace, and below this in the floor are several ash-pits ("tokh"). The other platforms are divided into several stalls ("barkondje") by partition walls from the rafters of the roof. They do not reach the ceiling.
Each mother of the common household has such a stall for herself, her husband and her children ; they are the bedrooms of the different families. The stall opposite the hearth is reserved for the master of the house and his family. If a man be wealthy enough to keep several wives, each of them has a stall to herself and her children ; the favourite wife being in the stall opposite the hearth.
In that part of the platform where the hearth is made, and which is not quite wholly taken up with the hearth, is a cavity into which leads a narrow round hole covered by a flat stone. The hole is just large enough for a child to crawl through into the cavity. Here the natives keep their corn, presumably to prevent its getting moist ; and in order to prevent its being stolen the entrance is made as small as possible. When the corn is wanted, a boy is sent down and fetches it up in wooden bowls. If there is not room enough for the corn in these holes, then cubical houses of mud are built near the house, to which places the only entrance is a narrow hole at the top of the flat roof, covered with a flat stone, which is often walled up.
Sometimes there is another room behind the hearth-room where the sheep and goats are kept during the winter, and in this room are detached presses of mud and frame-work. In these presses corn is kept, and the entrance to these storehouses is only a small hole in the wall of the press, with just enough room for the arm to be put through and fetch up the corn in a wooden bowl.
A house in Barshar
GROUND-PLAN OF A HOUSE IN THE VILLAGE OF NAMAGUT
A. Donkey stable. B. Reservoir fed by a neighbouring river. C. Verandah. D. Hearth-room for the servants. E. Cow-shed. F. Hearth-room (as shown in previous picture; this is the same house). x. Hearth. G. Sheepfold wherein is placed L, which is a detached press built of frame-work and clay for the storing of corn. H. Storehouses. a. Clay platforms. K. A small loopholed reduit. M. A detached corn storehouse outside the house.
in the middle of the roof of the hearth-room, or women#039;s room, is a square hole covered with a wooden trap-door which is opened and shut by the aid of a pendulous stick that hangs from the trap-door. Through this trap-door the smoke from the hearth escapes, and the light shines into the room windows or wooden shutters in the wall being unknown here. As the smoke spreads all over the room before escaping at the roof, one must always lie down so as not to be suffocated. The room is, of course, all over soot. When the fire-place is thoroughly heated and only the embers are left, the trap-door is closed and the heat then diffuses itself all over the room.
With the poorer families, who often have only this one room, cows, sheep and goats frequently have their evening fodder in this hearth-room, and stay there during the night. This, of course, causes an incredible filthiness ; but even in the houses of the well-to-do the fowls or lambs and kids, being unable to bear the winter cold in the outhouses, are then taken into the hearth-room. For their accommodation there are inches in the walls, where the hens have their nests and where there are beds of straw for the lambs and kids. When we have stayed overnight with these people on our march in winter-time, it has often happened that, having gone to sleep in one of the stalls of the hearth-room, we have been awakened by the hens flying down from their nests just above our heads, or by a lamb bleating above our couches. The most frequent disturbers of our sleep, however, were fleas, which were in such numbers that in the evenings they jumped into our tea-glasses, and we had to fish them out before being able to drink our tea. Lice are said to be unknown in the valleys of Pamir or in the Kirghiz of High Pamir; at any rate, we were never troubled by them, and the Russian garrisons stationed in the Pamir bore testimony to the same fact.
The only attempt at decorating the rooms is found in the hearth-room, where all the primitive household articles, like earthen pots, earthen dishes, wooden dishes, and earthen jugs, are placed on the platform round the chimney-hole, and where all the articles of clothing are kept in the stalls. Along the walls are drawn white lines, and between several horizontal lines are drawn white figures resembling hands. The lines are made in a very simple way by dipping a string into flour and flipping its full length against the wall. The hand-like figures are made by dipping the hand into flour and pressing it against the wall. It has presumably a religious significance in the Shiah religion, as we shall see later on. In one place in Vakhan we found an attempt at carving on the wooden pillars of the hearth-room in the shape of stiff fancy leaf ornaments that greatly reminded one of the Persian style. In all other places the rooms were devoid of all ornaments, with the exception of wreaths round the pillars.
In the evenings the hearth-room is lighted by the aid of torches ("shuichirak") of a very primitive kind; on the pillars nearest the ash-pit is placed a wooden case, pierced with holes, into which long sticks are stuck, the ends projecting above the ash-pits and being smeared with a black combustible dough made of the seeds of a cruciform plant ground together with the stories of apricots. This torch sheds a rather strong light and smokes but very slightly ; it, however, drips continually, and it is for this reason that it is placed above the ash-pits. At festivals several torches are placed round about the room.
Times must have been very unsettled in Vakhan right up to the present day, for we find not only fortified castles still in a state of defence, extensive old fortifications and fortified mountain caves, but the greater number of the larger houses in the kislaks are in themselves small independent forts with either a loopholed tower ("usdun") on the roof, or there is a tower in the neighbourhood on some mountain terrace, difficult of access, which is reached from the house by a secret path. This tower is a kind of reduit to which the family can make their escape and defend themselves against the approaching enemy or against a shameless taxgatherer and his assistants.
When the tower is situated on the roof of the building the ascent is accomplished by a ladder from the hearth-room. The tower is always square and seldom more than a couple of metres high, and each side is pierced with loopholes, from which they let fly stones from double-stringed bows, or, in more modern times, bullets from old Afghan matchlocks. As the heat of the sun can be very trying in these unclouded skies, those natives who possess the larger farms always erect their buildings with the dwelling-rooms facing the north. In the hottest time of the year they sleep on the roofs at night ; indeed the roofs are their favourite resort, especially after sundown in the summer-time, and even in winter during sunshine. On the farms there are often open verandahs, especially outside the women#039;s room-the roofs of these verandahs being made of fagots and branches-and if they are especially set apart for the women and children and are not situate in the yard itself, but can be seen from the outside, there is sometimes a lattice in front of the verandah, which gives it the appearance of a cage, through which it is difficult to distinguish the women.
In Vakhan they often build comically shaped huts of branches on the flat roofs, in which they rest both in the daytime and at night the hut keeps off the sun, and allows free access to the current of air from the Vakhan wind, and is a very pleasant resort. To procure a cool retreat in summer-time they sometimes build, in the same manner as they do further north in the Pamir valley (Darwas), huts of branches on a little bridge across a mountain stream, and the running water underneath makes such resorts most refreshing.
Indeed, everywhere in Central Asia, where the summer heat is intense, the people use all their inventive powers in trying to procure coolness. Under large shady trees in the gardens they generally make mounds of clay round the trunks, from which they have a good view over their domain, and, when it is practicable, they lead small water channels round the elevation. Towards the end of the summer, when the large apricot trees are loaded with golden fruit, these mounds under their shade afford a most idyllic resting-place, where the people often take their meals, the women and children staying until a stranger appears, whereupon they all retreat into the house.
The houses in Garan, which is the poorest province, often consist of one room only, the hearth-room-just as is the case with the houses of the poorer class in Vakhan. The house is then generally surrounded on three of its sides by a high wall which, together with the hearth-room, forms a sort of yard where the cattle are sheltered and the firewood is kept.
As we have seen, the arrangement of the hearth-room is everywhere exactly the same ; and the hearth is, with few exceptions, always on one#039;s right-hand side as one enters the room.
As an illustration of the continuance of a traditional scheme of construction throughout time in a province which is cut off from the rest of the world, it is interesting to note that the inhabitants of the neighbouring province of Badakshan have a totally different way of building the hearth-room. Until 1893, when the Russians arrived in the North Pamir and occupied Vakhan and Garan and Shugnan, the Afghans were masters over the land, and had military stations here and there. One of these Afghans had built himself, in the town of Kuh-i-lal in Garan, a house in the Badakhshan style.
Besides the dwellings here mentioned, there are to be found in Vakhan and Ishkashim, from the kislak of Sirgyn to about Somdjen, a great number of caves in the rocks, partly hewn into the conglomerate slopes and partly consisting of natural hollows amongst the masses of slate which have rolled down the mountain declivities.
When I passed through the Pandsh valley in 1896, most of these caves were inhabited, owing to the unusual poverty and disturbances that were prevailing in the provinces. The native princes, Mirs or Shahs, and, later on, the Afghan Governors, of which each province had its own, and who all considered themselves descendants of Alexander the Great ("Iskandar"), were only princes by the grace and favour of the Emir of Afghanistan. They paid a large yearly tribute to Kabul, which, besides the products of the provinces, included slaves, especially women, whose beauty was considered very great. The tax was levied with extreme severity ; only the favourites of the princes owned land, and the lower classes of the people were entirely plundered. Besides which, the different small princes were often at war with each other, a state of affairs that naturally led to the total impoverishment of the provinces.
Russia in 1893 had formally taken possession of the provinces, but had not occupied them. The last Mir of Vakhan, Ali Mardhan Shah, was expelled about the year 1876, and Afghan government officials had ruled the province from the time of his expulsion until 1893. When Russia took possession in 1893 all the Afghan officials withdrew; and as the Russians had not in 1896 occupied the provinces, they suffered severely through the depredations of the Afghans, who were also raiding the country during my stay therein. I shall, however, here only explain the occupation of these miserable caves by the natives.
Of cave-dwellings fitted up for permanent use we found several, especially on the tract from Rang to Somdjen. They consisted of a single square compartment, so high that a grown-up man could stand upright inside them. The entrance to the cave was closed by a wall made of pieces of slate, only leaving open a hole just large enough to get through. A couple of these caves near the kislak of Rang had doors fitted into the entrance.
Inside the cave a primitive hearth was found plastered and built of slate and clay. The family belongings only consisted of some rugs and skins on which they rested, and a few household utensils.
The way to the caves always led from the valley between a number of loosened rocks, so that it is difficult to find the entrance.
East of the kislak of Varang in Vakhan there is a collection of about twenty cave-dwellings, situate in a perpendicular conglomerate precipice of about a hundred metres in height, which rises above the mountain slope about 300 metres above the valley of the Vakhan. They are hewn into the conglomerate. Together they form quite a system of fortifications, as they are laid out in three terraces, one above the other. The uppermost row of caves is situate at a height of about fifty metres above the mountain slope. The wings and centre of the caves are each composed of three large caves above each other, between which led a small path hewn into the precipice. The entrance to these paths was defended from below by a small square loopholed tower. All the caves, of which the largest could hold about twenty men, had crescent-shaped entrances, and in front of all the entrances was a breastwork with loopholes. At the place where one was expected to enter, this breastwork was so low that one could stride over it. Only the wings and central caves had paths leading to them. The rest of the caves, which were situated between these, were reached by the occupants placing sticks into the perpendicular precipice, drawing them out again as they mounted up higher. The caves must have been hewn out under similar conditions of reaching them, and must certainly have been a very difficult piece of work to accomplish.
The Vakhans say that they were made as a protection against Kirghiz nomads, who some years ago plagued the Vakhans by their raiding expeditions ; indeed, they are still much disliked by the Vakhans, who have no dealings with them if it can be avoided. The Kirghiz of High Pamir, not without reason, are looked upon as wandering gypsy robbers whom it is best to drive away as soon as they show themselves in the neighbourhood.
In several of these caves the hearths were quite undamaged, and remnants of meals, the bones of animals, shards, and remnants of firewood, as well as their well-kept condition, showed that they had been in use not very long ago.
According to the statements of the Vakhans, they have been used by them against the Kirghiz, which is very probable. But, on the other hand, it is quite improbable that they were made by the Vakhans; they are most likely the work of the Siaposh, who now people the province of Kafiristan, south of the Dora pass in the Hindu Kush. The Siaposh, "The Black Skin clad"-being the Iranian word from Siah, " black," and push or posh "skin," as they are called by the people of the neighbourhood-ruled over Vakhaii not so very long ago, as our researches proved, and their numerous relics of fortifications and fortified castles in the province are unmistakable, being built with much greater military ingenuity than those built by the rest of the population. The cave fortress at Varang was originally constructed in connection with another fortress situate above the cave fortification on the upper slope. This top fortress is composed of several ramparts built in terraces one above the other; and on an elevated spot above the cave fortress stands a square well-preserved tower, which was probably used as an outlook.
The cave fortifications and the upper fortress are connected with each other by a natural pass in the conglomerate precipice, through which a steep and very difficult path leads upwards. On the slope, outside the upper ramparts, between these and the caves, terraces are formed which were certainly planted with corn and were irrigated by canals, which were led from a neighbouring mountain stream down through the fortress, so that in case of siege they were provided with food and water.
When we regard the local conditions and the weapons at their command, the whole system seems to have gone to make up a very powerful fortress ; and the conglomerate precipice itself is a typical example of the way in which the strongly coherent mass of the conglomerate is able to resist the effects of water : for the surrounding looser parts are by degrees being washed away at the melting of the snows, whilst the conglomerate remains unbroken and unharmed. Several places in High Pamir, especially near the place where the Alitshur river joins the Yashilkul, such conglomerate walls or pillars are to be seen-often with a large piece of rock on top, the surrounding parts having been washed away-looking in the distance like fortifications.
In 1896, when my caravan was passing through the western Vakhan and the province of Ishkashim, one day whilst I wandered about between the fallen masses of granite and slate on the mountain slope, I discovered some people lying in holes amongst the rocks-I was in fact walking unwittingly on their roof, which was made of flat slates.
On closer inspection a great number of these caves were found, inhabited by poor people who earned their living by doing odd jobs for the landowners. They were in possession of a few sheep and goats, which grazed on the mountain slope beyond the tilled fields. The greatest number of such dwellings were found in the province of Ishkashim, between the towns of Rang and Nut, where the Pandsh river bends towards the north. They were made very simply by removing the stones out of the mountain#039;s face so that a hole was made large enough to accommodate a family. The roofs were made of trunks of trees covered over with flat stones-sometimes only of flat stones.
By the ragged clothing of the inhabitants and the few rugs and ragged skins on which they rested, and which, together with a few earthenware pots for the cooking of food, made up all their belongings, one concludes that poverty had directed their choice in selecting such a habitation. Yet, another explanation is possible : several of the houses in the villages were empty, so that it is probable that their owners, who, in the summertime, when the passes are open, are annoyed by the pillaging of the Afghans, resort to these caves because they are not easily found ; indeed, only an accident could lead to their discovery. The dwellers therein, who were of exactly the same type as the rest of the natives, were very timid and were only with great difficulty prevailed upon to come out of their caves, for the defence of which they possessed only some long double-stringed bows. When I revisited these provinces in 1898, the Russians had taken possession of them and had founded several military posts, so that life was tolerably tranquil--the caves being wholly deserted.
Of the large inhabited strongholds, which answer to the castles of the Middle Ages, and are the homes of the upper classes and large landowners, there is one in nearly every town, especially on the southern bank of the Pandsh in Vakhan-their tall walls and square towers being plainly visible from the north bank of the Pandsh. The largest of these fortresses, in which resided the last Mir of Vakhan, Ali Mardhan, who owned both banks of the river, is the castle of Kalai Pandsh, situate right opposite to the kislak of Zunk in Vakhan. Kalai being a "castle," and Pandsh being "five," it has been said that Kalai Pandsh means " five castles " ; but five castles would be called Pandsh Kalal, the numeral always being placed first ; the correct meaning of the name is, therefore, "the castle on the Pandsh." This castle resembles a large stronghold of the Middle Ages, with high walls and towers built of slate, granite, and clay kept together by a strong framework. It is now the stronghold of an Afghan Beg, or governor, with a garrison of about three hundred men. It is said that five fortresses were originally built on small hills beside each other here ; but we cannot now determine whether these ruins were originally fortresses or ordinary houses.
Some of the fortresses on the northern bank of the Pandsh were now deserted and lay in ruins; but the fortresses of Kalai Sirgyn, by the kislak of Sirgyn, and Kalai Chiltak, west of Yemtshin, and Kalai Varang, by the kislak of Varang, were still occupied, and kept in a state of defence, and ready to check an advancing enemy.
GROUND-PLAN OF THE CASTLE KALAI SIRYN
A. Garden. B. Summer stable. C. Visitors#039; room. D. Towers with breastworks on the roofs. E. Corridors. F. Ladders and stairs. G. The men#039;s room. g. Hearth. h. Clay platforms. i. Shutters of cock-loft. H. Platform for shooting. K. Women#039;s room. k. Clay platform divided into stalls, the hearth being opposite the stairs F. L. Covered balcony with latticed front (summer residence of the women). P. Reduit. R. Storehouse. S. Outwork in front of door of tower D. T. Wall decorations of the rooms.
As an example of the arrangement of these fortresses, which are in the main alike, we cannot do better than take Kalai Sirgyn (The Castle of Sirgyn), which is situated about 500 metres south-west of the kislak of Sirgyn. The kislak itself is on a mountain terrace a couple of hundred metres above the valley of the Pandsh, watered by a mountain stream which flows out over the terrace. On an elevated isolated rock which falls sheer down on all sides stands the fortress of Kalai Sirgyn, towering over the place. It consists of a compact one-storied building about a hundred metres in circumference and about four metres high, provided with a continuous breastwork round the top of the roof, flanked at the corners with square towers, which rise about three metres above the roof of the fortress ; in front of all the entrances to the fortress are outworks in the form of raised breastworks. The building is constructed of a very strong framework of enormous wooden pillars and beams, and its walls are made of the ordinary building material--flat slates cemented with clay of about a metre in thickness. The fortress castle of Kalal Sirgyn had formerly belonged to one of Mir Ali Mardhan#039;s chiefs, but was now in the possession of a so-called Ishan, who had come over from the Afghan side.
Amongst the Mahomedans in Central Asia, Ishan is the title of a holy man who is at the same time reputed a sage. The chief occupation of an Ishan is to pray to Allah, perform religious rites, and do deeds acceptable to Allah ; but generally these Ishans are great humbugs, who use their influence to fleece the population in every way in order to enrich themselves, or they are half or quite insane. Insane people are held in great esteem by the natives, who believe that the wisdom of Allah shines through their mad talk, their souls being already in heaven with God, who speaks through their mouths. The Ishans have a great influence over the population, who believe in them as in an oracle, Their advice is sought after in everything. They cure all diseases by prayers or by hanging on the body upon the seat of the disease a scrap of paper on which is written a prayer appropriate to the malady. We often saw the natives going about with a string round the head with such scraps of paper suspended from it. The Ishans all become rich people through the numerous pilgrimages that are made to them ; and if no patients come they go about in the kislaks, where no one dares to refuse them hospitality and gifts. They will go to a man whom they have selected as a victim and say : "You are ill, and must soon die unless you give me some of your sheep and I pray that you may live." Most of the natives dare not disobey this summons. Such an Ishan, then, it was that lived in Kalai Sirgyn. He received us very kindly; but clearly disliked our minute investigation of his house, and only submitted to it because it was unavoidable.
From the main entrance, the solid wooden doors of which could be barred with beam barricades, we entered a long, narrow passage, and thence passed to the left into the men#039;s room ("dargha"), in the middle of which was a large hearth right under the trap-door of the roof and between four strong pillars which supported the tier of beams; round these pillars were wound wreaths of corn. Along the walls of the room ran a clay platform, where the men had their couches, and above this was a narrower clay platform, whereon were placed the household utensils, wooden and earthenware dishes, and the primitive agricultural implements. On the walls were hung the inflated skins ("sanatsh" or "gupsars") used in ferrying the Pandsh, and several other things, which shall be touched upon later on.
The Ishan and his men glanced at us suspiciously when we surveyed the house, and he was greatly disturbed when we asked to see the women#039;s room and the other rooms; but as the Mingbashi ("chief of a thousand men") of the district, Tana Beg, who held his command under the Russians, assured him of our peaceful intentions, the women were sent away, and we were allowed to go through the whole stronghold.
From the men#039;s room a door opened into the women#039;s room, and a staircase led through the roof to the fortress on the top of the house. The long passage which one entered from the main entrance was connected with a narrower passage towards the southern side of the fortress, so that the men#039;s room and the women#039;s room formed separate houses in the stronghold. I cannot say whether these double walls, which were only found towards the south, were to procure coolness in the rooms, or if they formed double security towards the side most subjected to attack. Perhaps they were designed for both purposes. The broad passage in front of the main entrance was built to hold the cattle during a siege, and in the narrow passage to the south the horses and the donkeys were stabled under the like conditions.
The women#039;s room ("khrun") was in the same style as the men#039;s, with platforms along the walls, and these platforms were, as in the ordinary houses, divided into stalls with partition walls which did not reach up to the ceiling. The hearth was at the left of the entrance, and was of a similar construction to that already described. Each of the women had a stall to herself, her husband, and her children, where they rested on rugs and skins spread upon the floor. Several of the pillars were adorned with carved leaf ornamentations, and on the walls were white lines of flour, above which were painted white hands.
From the women#039;s room a staircase led to a covered balcony with a lattice front, whence the women could enjoy the view without being seen themselves.
From the women#039;s room a wooden door opened into a store-room and granary of corn, and from thence a door to the left opened into the reduit of the fortress ("huidjirra"), and one to the right into the largest corner tower, the upper storey of which was provided with loopholes and was reached by the aid of a ladder. The holes in the roof, through which one reached the breastworks, were all provided with strong trap-doors, which could be opened and shut from below, like the trap-doors of the ordinary houses. In the reduit, the corner of which was flanked by two square towers built closely together, from which a door led into the open air, was a large collection of matchlocks. The doors and trap-door of the reduit could all be barred with strong wooden cross-beams.
From the largest corner tower a door likewise led into the open air ; and the two doors in the main tower and the reduit, which could only be reached by clinging on to the roughnesses of the rock, were moreover secured by a small outwork consisting of a loopholed breastwork. At the opposite end of the fortress, to the right hand of the main entrance, was a large room to the north ("khuskanah") for the accommodation of guests; and here again both corners were flanked by square loopholed towers, which were reached by the aid of ladders.
The fortress, the defence of which was carried out from the roof behind the breastworks and from the towers, and from the outworks behind the doors, was kept in a perfect state of defence-each tower, each trap-door, each loophole was in good repair. On the northern side of the fortress was a garden, with fruit trees and vegetables, protected by a high wall. On a small isolated rock, about two hundred metres from the fortress, stood a square watchtower, from which there was a wide view of the whole neighbourhood.
Tools-Household utensils-Trades and crafts-Weapons
THE household utensils, as well as the agricultural implements, consist for the greater part of clay or wood. Only very few articles of metal were found, and these were all imported from the south of Afghanistan or the province of Badakhshan, where iron mines are found. Some curved bread-knives in sheaths, and some axes and saws, were the only metal tools by the aid of which they made their wooden articles.
The household utensils were chiefly flat wooden dishes ("kobun") ; wooden bowls; large flat earthenware dishes ; earthenware bowls; earthenware pitchers of the same shape as those used in Scandinavia in olden time; low flat earthenware jugs for milk and water ("lubt") with a handle and a wide mouth ; rather large earthenware pots for the cooking of the food of exactly the same shape as our vessels of Jutland pottery ; earthenware lamps, consisting of a small bowl with a handle, in which was placed a greasy wick; melon-shaped baskets (" sabt ") of braided straw with lids but without handles, in which fruit and seeds were kept; and, lastly, oblong excavated wooden troughs for washing.
Only in very few places did we see the flat tinned copper dishes or trays of Afghanistan, on which are served meat, fruit, and pillan, or the Afghan copper jugs ("abtaba") for the making of tea.
If there be no mill in the neighbourhood of the kislak an excavated stone and one of rounded form are used as a kind of pestle and mortar for the grinding of apricot kernels, seeds, dried mulberries and bread-corn. The apricot kernels are employed for cooking. Dried pulverised mulberries are eaten in this powdery form, in which they are almost always carried by travellers in a small leathern bag. These are also employed for the baking of cakes, and everywhere take the place of sugar for the sweetening of bread and pastry, as sugar is quite unknown, or at least never seen in these parts.
Sheep#039;s wool, which in Vakhan is of an extremely fine quality, is cleaned with the aid of a small wooden bow with a gut-string. The wool is placed in a heap on a horsehair sieve, which is also used for sifting flour, and, by beating the wool with the string, it is freed from dust and dirt, and the tangles are unravelled. After the wool is cleansed and washed, it is spun on a hand-spindle, which consists of a wooden rod with a perforated stone or a wooden cross as a crank. The wool is wound on to a winder (" chark ") made of wood, and from the winder passes on to the loom, which is constructed in the same manner as the loom used by the Kirghiz. A piece of yarn of about twelve metres length is now suspended in the open air between wooden pegs, and the place where they weave is kept off the ground by a cross-bar suspended by strings on a pyramid of sticks stuck into the ground. This method of weaving is, in spite of its primitiveness, the same as the European method ; and the woollen stuff which they weave, always either white or brown, the natural colour of the wool, is very serviceable and often very beautifully woven.
Another kind of loom, on which the ordinary coarse white and brown striped rugs are made, consists only of a wooden frame on which the coarse woollen yarn is stretched, and other yarn is now simply interwoven with these.
The local industries are very few. The white or blackish brown woollen material which is always woven in long narrow pieces for wearing apparel, the coarse white and brown striped rugs, the strings and braids and rope for the cattle which are twisted and plaited of woollen yarn, are, together with stockings, the only things produced in the way of woollen goods. Stouter cord and rope for the cattle and for the agricultural implements are always plaited of osier bands, of which also large baskets are made for hay and fruit.
The tanning of the hides of both domestic and wild animals for boots and for the leather bags used for flour and corn is understood by almost all the natives. The hides of Kiyik and the Ovis Poli, the large wild sheep from Pamir, are especially valued for fur cloaks on account of their long thick fur, but, as they are difficult to get, most people wear ordinary sheep-skin cloaks.
When, to those house utensils, I add sieves made of horsehair or string, for the cleaning of corn and the sifting of flour, wooden spoons, and a churn, everything that is a household possession is set down.
The churn is only found in a few places, chiefly because the luxury of eating butter cannot be widely enjoyed, also because most people who can afford the luxury make their butter by shaking the cream in a bladder. A few, however, do churn their butter, which does not taste like Danish butter, but has a peculiar greasy taste.
The churn is a large earthenware pot placed close to one of the detached pillars which support the roof of the house. In this pot is placed a stick with wings at the end; at the mouth of the pot the stick plays through a couple of pieces of wood in which are round holes, these pieces of wood being fastened to the pillar. A string is tied round the upper end of the stick, which is made to revolve by pulling each end of the string alternately as it winds on the stick.
The weapons of the natives are for the chief part bows made of the wood of the apricot tree. The bow is strung with two strings of gut, and flings stones. The stone is placed in a piece of leather, fastened to the strings at their middle. In passing through the Patidsh valley for the first time in 1896, when I camped outside a town or village, all the males of the place would come out to look at the strangers. They were all, from the oldest to the youngest, armed with these bows, which are of the height of a man, and each carried a handful of round stones. When asked if they used arrows, they said that though the Siaposh tribes, of whom they stood in great awe, used arrows, they themselves never did so. We saw them kill little birds with these stone-flinging bows at a distance of twenty to thirty paces. These weapons are to all appearance harmless against an enemy unless the stories should strike the face ; but as these people were matvellously skilled in the use of this bow it is possible that they may be effective. They use, besides the bow, stone slings made of strings and leather.
Only the very well-to-do possess old matchlocks with a wooden fork fixed to the barrel. When this wooden fork is turned forward the matchlock looks for all the world like a pitchfork. In shooting, which is with difficulty accomplished otherwise than in a recumbent position, the fork is stuck into the ground, forming a rest which keeps the barrel steady whilst firing.
Of trenchant arms and goring weapons, we found here and there a few old scimitars ; the short sheath knives which they carry in the belt being more used as tools than as weapons.
Agricultural and pastoral pursuits-Articles of food-
THE people all live by agriculture, or the breeding of cattle and flocks.
When the glaciers and snow-water have made their way down the mountain slope they have gradually formed a stratum of loose material deposited from the weathering and erosion of the mountains. The water also, on freezing, expands and cracks the ground rock itself, on which the floods at thawing time have deposited their loose disintegrated mountain rubbish in a sort of terrace in the lower course of the tributary streams. It is on these terraces that the kislaks are situated, with their cornfields and gardens.
All cultivation is attained by litigation, as in all other parts of central Asia. Outside of the irrigated areas there is no considerable vegetation to be found except, of course, along the banks of the rivers. On the land not directly watered by rivers or irrigation only a spontaneous vegetation is found, and that only of a kind which can adapt itself to being watered at the time the snow melts, and which can do without water for the rest of the year.
There are no forests, as Europeans reckon forests. The tipper mountain slopes, outside the river courses, are bare and barren. Only in a few places, as in the valley of the Garm-chashma Darya, high up on the dry slopes, do we find rather large trees of the juniper variety, which grow round about in the crevices of the hard rock, where it is difficult to understand how the tree can get enough nourishment. In the bottom of the same valley is found a rather large wood of tall willows and poplars on an island in the river. By Latigarkish and Zunk, on the islands in the Pandsh river, in Vakhan and Ishkashim, on the banks of the Pandsh between Nut and Somdjen, by the upper course of the Kuh-i-lal and Andarab rivers, are extensive copses of willow, poplar, birch, and hippophae, intertwined with hawthorn, clematis, honeysuckle, and wild rose ; and in the quicksand by the Pandsh river large tamarisks grow.
Except in these places, only very meagre copses are here and there found outside the irrigated areas.
Concerning the growth of grass on the mountain slopes, the same thing happens here as on the steppes. After the snow-melting time, when the high slopes and terraces are irrigated, the plain is transformed, and for a short time a rather luxuriant growth of grass and flowers bursts forth, almost as at the stroke of a magician#039;s wand, and lasts until well into July. The natives take advantage of the short time before it is burnt up by the sun and lack of water to send their cattle tip into the mountains. Only a few inhabitants remain in the kislaks-as a rule only the old people and children and such as cannot climb the mountains. All the rest wander up to the mountain pastures, just as in Norway, with their cattle ; and during this time they live in primitively built stone houses which are built for the occasion, made of heaped up loose stones, with compartments similar to those of the houses in the kislaks. These Ailaks, or summer camps, are found round about on the high terraces of the mountains in Vakhan and Garan. The centre of the terrace, where the Ailak is situated, is always occupied by a large fold, consisting, as a rule, of an enclosure within a circular wall, where the cattle are driven in and herded at night to protect them from wild animals and thieves.
When one passes through the kislaks of the province in the beginning of July, one is astonished to find them almost deserted-only a white-haired old man who with difficulty supports himself on his staff, an old woman, and a few children are met with here and there in the town. But in the Ailaks there is plenty of life until the end of July, when they are deserted again for the kislaks-the mountain slopes resume their barren blackish brown aspect, and everything looks like a desert in which the kislak forms the oasis.
The cultivated fields and gardens in the neighbourhood of the kislaks are irrigated by water from the rivers. The water is conveyed by means of a few channels which are seldom more than two feet deep and the same in breadth, cut from the upper course of the rivers on the mountain slopes down to the kislaks, whence minor channels ("wado") lead the water to every landed proprietor, who again, by means of innumerable little channels, leads the water out over the fields and gardens. It is one of the most difficult of undertakings to keep the channels in order; often they must be led several kilometres in zig-zag or in numberless windings down the slopes. Often it is impossible to make them in the hard rock and they have to be constructed of stones and clay along the mountain sides, and in snowmelting time the earthslips and avalanches destroy the whole work so that in spring they have to be constructed anew.
As prosperity and the amount of produce depend upon the quantity of water used in the fields, manure never being employed, the distribution of the water is often the cause of strife between the natives. In this respect, justice is maintained, here, as elsewhere, by the Aksakal of the town-Turkish for " white-beard"-the oldest and the Kasi ("judge "), who by turns command the peasants to open and shut with flat pieces of slate the channels by which their fields are watered. Towards autumn the river dries up, or there is so little water that it cannot be led round to the channels, so that the corn is very short and thin.
If possible they commence to work in the hard but rather fertile earth at the beginning of April. With sufficient irrigation and modern agricultural implements the earth could be made to produce much more than it now does with the primitive implements which are at the disposal of the natives. The fields are ploughed with wooden ploughs drawn by two oxen. The plough itself consists of two trunks of trees notched into each other; the back part, which is the longest, is pointed and sometimes shod with iron, or there is a stone at the end which makes a furrow in the earth ; whilst the horizontal front part is fastened by an osier band to a yoke, which rests on the necks of the oxen, and is harnessed on to them by another osier band. The clods of earth are crushed with short clubs ; then the seed is sown and the water led into the fields in little ditches and furrows which are made by the aid of a wooden shovel, the blade of which is fastened on to the handle with osier bands.
The most important species of grain are rye, wheat, horsebeans, peas, and millet. In a few places lucerne is grown, and a little cotton, which does not, however, thrive well here. The rye is sown in June, the other grain in April. The harvest is in September.
The corn is cut with a sickle and bound in sheaves, which are carried home on the backs of men or donkeys. To be able to carry several sheaves at a time, they have a board on to which a stick is fastened with strings. The sheaves are put on the board in a heap, and are fastened by the strings on to the board, between the board and the stick. On the board are loops made of willow into which the man puts his arms so that the burden rests on his back. In September these little wandering loads of corn are seen everywhere on the terraces being brought home to the kislaks, where they are piled in stacks beside the house or on its roof, with the aid of a wooden fork formed by a branch.
Immediately after the harvest is over, the corn is thrashed by the aid of oxen which, for this purpose, are generally tied together, four in number, by their heads, with a cord which is fastened to a pole. The corn is strewn on the ground round the upright pole, and the oxen are chased round the pole by a small and generally naked boy, whereby the corn is thrashed under their hoofs.
The corn, when it is thrashed, is piled up and cleaned of chaff by being thrown up into the air on a wooden shovel so that the wind parts the light chaff from the grain ; it is then stored in the store-rooms by the hearth or in the granaries outside the house. Hay and straw are always heaped on to the roofs of the houses, partly to make the houses warmer, and partly so as not to be a temptation to the cattle, which are kept outside as long as possible in order to save the winter supply of provender.
During the winter the natives live on the supplies that they have stored during the summer, and do no work except tending the cattle and putting their houses and agricultural implements in repair ; sometimes they have a little hunting.
The domestic animals are small black and grey donkeys, some very nice persevering and good-tempered animals, employed both for riding and as beasts of burden. When I passed from Langarkish to Khorok the first time in 1896, there were no horses to be seen. But of late years the province has made much progress under Russian protection, and now the little horses of Kirghiz and Badakhshan have been imported. These horses are small, persevering, sagacious, and well adapted to mountain use, and they are highly prized by the people. To possess a horse of one#039;s own is one of the heart-felt desires of the Vakhans and Garans.
As far as I could make out, there were two races of oxen -both small. One kind is somewhat smaller and more slender than our ordinary cow, with pointed, short, slightly curved, forward-bending horns. The other kind is a crippled dwarfed race of cattle with more strongly curved horns. Like European cattle, they are of different colours. They produce but little milk. The yak-ox (Kutas Kirghizian), or "grunting ox" as it is called, because it grunts incessantly while moving about, is found in great numbers domesticated by the Kirghiz in Paimir ; but they are nowhere to be seen in the Upper Pandsh valley. An Aksakal in Langarkish possessed a few which he bought from the Kirghiz, but these were the only ones in all these parts, and the natives stated everywhere that these cattle have never been kept in Vakhan or Garan.
There were also two races of sheep and goats which are kept in great numbers by these people-one somewhat smaller than our European sheep, and one of quite a dwarf race. Their wool is exceedingly fine.
In Vakhan, both races of cattle, of sheep, and of goats were found, the larger race was, however, prevalent; but in Garan almost all the cattle and flocks belonged to the dwarf race. The full-grown oxen were often not larger than an ordinary European calf ; and the full-grown sheep and goats no larger than lambs of two or three months old in Denmark. I had already noticed this on my first expedition ; and when on my arrival here with the second expedition I pointed out the diminutive sheep and goats to my companions, they exclaimed : "But they are lambs and kids." However, they soon discovered that other still smaller toy-like animals were sucking those which they had taken to be lambs and kids.
The dwarf race, or crippled race, which is the common race met with in Garan and parts of Shugnan-which also is seen in Vakhan-is really wonderfully small. During our winter stay in Khorok, on the Gund, we could as a rule get no other cattle for food. One sheep was just sufficient to make a meal for one man. Only very few specimens of the fattailed sheep are found in these parts, and these have been bought from the Kirghiz in Pamir. Of other domestic animals, there is a small species of fowl, the eggs of which are of the size of a large pigeon#039;s egg ; there is a snappish, sagacious watch-dog of a large Scotch collie type ; and there is a small greyhound of a reddish brown colour which was especially used for starting game. There is, moreover, the tiger-coloured cat, much like our European cat.
These people have much taste for gardening; each house has its little flower garden, vegetable garden, and orchard, which are often carefully tended. Fruits are of no slight value for food ; and the natives are very fond of flowers. It is thus a common experience that the stranger, on arriving at their village, has bouquets of flowers presented to him as a welcome.
When we camped in these parts during the summer, either the Aksakal on the Kasi of the town brought fresh flowers into our tents nearly every morning.
The gardens ("gulistan ") are situate near the houses, and are irrigated by small channels which lead the water to the fruit trees, vegetables, and flower beds. From these channels the natives generally fetch their drinking water, which, as a rule, is beautifully fresh and clear. Yet one should be careful in drinking the water unbolted, as in some places it causes a tumour, resembling bronchocele, on the neck from the chin down on the breast. There was no sign of this disease in Vakhan, Ishkashim, or Garan, but higher up, in the. valleys of western Pamir, in Darwas and Katrategin, it abounded. The same disease is also found in Turkestan, and is supposed to be a consequence of drink-nice the water unbolted. This disease proves fatal in the course of a few years, and according to the Russian physicians, there is no positively effective medicine known to combat it.
In Vakhan, the apricot is the most important fruit tree, and in August these trees are covered with beautiful fruit, which are partly eaten straight off the tree, and partly dried on the flat roofs as winter provisions.
Moreover, there is especially found in Garan, as well as in Vakhan, a great many white mulberry trees, the fruit of which is gathered, dried, and ground into flour. This flour made of mulberries takes the place of sugar. There are some pear and apple trees, the fruit of which is not good, walnut trees, and, in some places in Garan, peaches. On the other hand, grapes, figs, and almonds are not found in these parts ; they do not make their appearance until we reach the north of Roshan, and further north still.
No vegetables are found except melotis and pumpkins.
There is one plant that is never wanting in the gardens of the natives-the opium poppy ("kuknar"). This plant is very carefully tended, as many are addicted to the smoking of opium. Before the capsules get ripe, an incision is made into them with a knife, and the juice which comes out coagulates into a kind of resin which is scraped off and kneaded together into a dough (" afiun"). This dough is burned over a lamp, whilst several persons lie round the lamp and inhale the smoke through long tubes until the sleep or stupor commences. In Vakhan only the poor people smoke opium; it was looked down upon as a vice by the well-to-do. In Shugnan and Garan, on the contrary, the smoking of opium seemed to be common to all classes.
The opium-smoker is easily told by his sallow face, dim eyes, and flaccid body. Many become quite imbecile from this pernicious habit. We always had to make sure before engaging a native whether he were an opium-smoker or not.
One more sensuous pleasure was derived from the ripe opium capsules by grinding them into flour after removing the seeds. This flour is then mixed with water and drunk -the water turning yellow when mixed with the flour.
Another intoxicating liquor is made from the poisonous thorn-apple (" tatalka"), which in a few places is cultivated in the gardens. This drink, however, is not common.
The flowering plants generally found in the gardens were hollyhocks, hemp, mallow, marigolds, yellow carnations, fox-tail, and yellow tobacco. Flowers are only employed for the beautifying of the gardens, and not in the houses. The caps or turbans of the natives are, however, often adorned with flowers stuck into them. The tobacco plant is mostly employed for decorative purposes ; indeed, tobacco smoking is but little known. Tobacco pipes are unknown ; when tobacco is smoked it is done in the following primitive way : A hole is dug in the earth, and filled with tobacco leaves, generally mixed with dry apricot leaves, some straws are stuck slantingly into the hole, and several persons lie flat on the ground and suck at these straws, whilst the smoke hangs like a cloud round their heads.
ARTICLES OF FOOD
During the summer, when the cattle are taken up to the mountain pastures, the meals of the people consist for the greater part of milk and milk dishes. Sometimes a sheep or goat is killed ; but the oxen are not generally killed until they are decrepit. Goat#039;s meat is considered a very poor dish ; mutton is much more highly appreciated. The natives are very fond of fat things, and will frequently be seen drinking with great relish a cup of a decoction of fat.
As a rule it may be said that the lower a people stand the more fond they are of fat and fatty dishes. One of their favourite dishes, which according to the European idea smells and tastes horrible, is a mixture of milk and fat and flour ("shirbad"). Curdled milk and millet-porridge ("bakala"), are, moreover, amongst their favourite dishes in the season when the cattle are at the mountain pastures (" ailak"). The millet is ground and boiled in water ; it is also sometimes eaten dry, like flour, heated in a pan, but it is said that this dish, when eaten too frequently, causes St. Vitus#039;s dance. The bread is baked of the flour of wheat, or rye, or pea. As a rule it is ground in a turbine mill by a man whose only occupation is that of a miller. The people who live far from such a mill use a kind of mortar made of an excavated stone in which they grind the corn with a round one.
The numerous mountain streams yield an abundant water power, and along such streams there will often be five or six water mills all in a row, in idyllic clefts covered with trees and bushes.
The mill is a small clay hut built on a bridge across the stream. A small wooden turbine, driven round by the water, makes two roughly hewn flat stones rub against each other. In spite of the rude primitiveness of the process, the flour is not at all badly ground, even from a European point of view.
Three different kinds of bread are made. One is a small round cake made of a mixture of pea-flour and mulberry flour. This is baked in an earthenware dish, and has often an excellent flavour. Another kind is a large flat biscuit of wheat meal. The most ordinary bread is in the form of an immense, thin pancake-shaped loaf. These loaves the natives carry with them when travelling, rolled up in the cloths ("lungi") which they wear round their waists. They are baked in a special oven made of a small clay vault with a hole at the top, not unlike the cupola of a mosque. The ovens are always built outside the house, and the bread is baked thus : the dough is placed in thin layers on the outside of the clay vault, which is then heated inside -the hole at the top of the vault is the vent. During the summer, at the mountain pastures, the natives often content themselves with slices of dough kneaded together, and baked on the ground near a pile of faggots.
Bread is not, as with us, eaten with meat or other things, but is eaten by itself, and generally eaten hot. It is quite an ordinary custom to invite neighbours to a bread feast, where the dishes consist only of different kinds of bread, the host himself breaking the loaves, and offering them to his guests.
The dish called Pillau, which is known all over Central Asia, is also eaten in these parts, and is considered a great delicacy. It is made of cooked rice, pieces of meat and fat mixed with currants, carrots or quinces, and pepper. The rice is imported from Badakhshan. Tea has been known here from time immemorial. It was, according to the natives and to tradition, brought to these parts by Chinese merchants. It must be remembered that the Chinese once possessed High Pamir ; and at the lake of Yashilkul we found remnants of Chinese fortresses, the stone foundations of which were adorned with Chinese ornaments.
It is only a small part of the population, be it said, that can indulge in this drink, of which they are very fond.
The people do not avail themselves much of the fishing in the Pandsh, though carp abound in its waters. Fish is looked upon as a poor dish, but it is sometimes eaten fried or boiled, being caught in osier baskets turned upside down, a stick being fastened to the bottom of the basket when it is sunk into the river. Sometimes they are caught in small traps made of willow.
It is often very difficult for the natives to procure firewood in the parts where trees are so scarce, and the poor people generally only heat the huts a little whilst the meals are being prepared, or when they have visitors. At other times they wrap themselves up in their fur cloaks and keep themselves as warm as they can in a heap of straw or hay on the platform in the hearth-room.
To make up for this lack of wood the manure is gathered during the autumn in a heap, together with the household leavings and remnants of fruit, and all this is kneaded with the hands and made into cakes, which are stuck on to the roof and walls of the house to dry, and are then kept in store for winter use. It can easily be imagined that a house covered with these fuel cakes does not look very attractive, and has a strangely curious appearance.
There can only be any real home life amongst the natives in the villages during the winter. Spring and summer and autumn see them busy in the fields, sowing, repairing the water channels, tending the cattle, harvesting, and procuring provisions for the winter-indeed, there is no time left to them for any kind of recreation. During the winter, however, the people, especially the men, do hardly any work. They lounge about in the village to hear and tell news, take their meals together, marry, and feast as much as the provisions gathered during the summer will allow. It often happens, unfortunately, that the store of provisions comes to an end too early both for man and beast if the cold weather lasts long, and many cattle perish for lack of food.
During the winter, wolves and panthers come right down to the kislaks, and even break into the open byres and attack the domestic animals. The natives in their wanderings are often stopped by packs of wolves, and the children are very much afraid of being out alone during the winter owing to the wild beasts. During the winter nights there is a perpetual howlinc, of wolves and jackals round about the kislaks.
Wild birds are scarce. Fowls are rather numerous ; of these there are two species-one very diminutive and of the grey colour of sparrows ; the other a larger species, the colour of which is brown with a very pretty pattern on the wings. Both are delicious to eat. These people often put the larger kind in cages as ornamental pets, just as they do in Turkestan. Of other birds, there are rather large numbers of pigeons which have their nests in the rocks, a small grey duck with a blue mark on the wings, and a variety of small and large falcons. When we add to these the magpie, which is found everywhere in the valleys of Pamir, the black crow, and some small birds that feed on seeds and insects, we exhaust the list of the birds of this region.
Mice and rats are so numerous in the houses as to be a serious nuisance. On the mountain terraces, even at considerable altitudes, there are numbers of snakes. On the terraces in Garan, at a height of some 2700 metres, there are many, of which I estimated the longest to be about 69 centimetres. They are of a greyish colour, and, according to the natives, harmless. Lizards run about the rocks in large numbers, amongst them a pretty little specimen with red and yellow spots on the head. A disagreeable animal which is very numerously represented at Vakhan and Garan is the scorpion, the venomous bite of which is much dreaded. They are here found as large as twelve and fourteen centimetres in length, and in some places they were in such numbers that we had to clear the place of them with a broom before pitching our tents. Poisonous spiders are also found ; and in a few places, by the Pandsh and its tributaries, mosquitoes swarmed.
During the winter some of the natives pass the time in hunting, mostly in the way of trapping. Both birds and the larger animals are caught in traps. The children amuse themselves by setting miniature traps for little birds. Traps are made of strong flexible branches, like bows. Two such bows, provided with wooden or bone spikes, are placed together on a board, and by the aid of twisted ropes catch hold of the legs of the animal which is enticed into the trap by a piece of meat or some corn. Sometimes carcases are placed on the snow, and the animals which are enticed to the place by this means are ambushed and killed with a matchlock. In a few places, though this is rare, falcons, of which there are large numbers in the Upper Pandsh valley, are employed for the hunting of birds. In some places the people have iron traps, of the European kind imported from Afghanistan.
Of larger game, there is in the mountains of Pamir, near the Pandsh, the large wild sheep called kiyik, which resembles an immense ibex, of a greyish colour, with a black stripe down the back. Its size is that of an ordinary stag; its horns are large and bent backwards like the horns of the ibex. The flesh, which has a sweet taste, and the skin, with its thick wool, are highly prized by the natives. Its horns are used to decorate the graves of holy men and in all other sanctuaries.
The Ovis Poli, or large Pamir wild sheep, does not come so far south as this-it attains at times to the size of a small Norwegian horse, has immense twisted horns like a ram, and is of the same colour as the kiyik.
In the mountains between the Pandsh and the Shakdarra we find a small brownish grey bear, a large number of almost yellow wolves with short tails and of smaller size than the European or Siberian wolf, a small form of a very light colour with red stripes down the back and a thick bushy tail and very fine fur, also a small species of liare. The long-haired, light-grey panther with black spots is very common here, and is much hunted. One specimen had a height of 70 centimetres, was 130 centimetres from snout to base of tail, and had a tail a metre long. There are besides these animals numbers of jackals.
When marching across the snow during the winter, and when engaged in hunting, both the Tadjiks and the Kirghiz wear a kind of snow-shoe plaited from osier bands, which is tied on to the foot to prevent them from sinking into the snow. In spite of the difficulty in tramping in these troublesome shoes, on which they can only get along by a kind of swinging motion, they will cover twenty to twenty-five kilometres at a time across the snow fields.
Song, Music, and the Dance
THESE people are earnest and severe, a consequence of their hard struggle for very existence; they are rarely heard to laugh or sing, yet they are not devoid of taste both for vocal and instrumental music. They never sing in the open air during the summer ; but in winter, at their parties and feasts, they exhibit their musical talents in the house. When they become enthusiastic their monotonous singing resembles the howling of a dog, but mainly it is a melancholy humming - as they accompany their song the while on guitars and tambourines and sometimes flutes.
The professional musician is unknown; but in the villages there are always some people who can play one of the three instruments, and be hired as fiddlers on festive occasions. In the house of every well-to-do family there is always a guitar and a tambourine. The musicians generally make their own instruments during the winter. The guitar ("rihab") is hollowed out of a piece of apricot wood, which is very hard-it resembles a violin, the cover of which consists of a stretched skin-it has four to five strings of gut and a bridge and screws just like a violin, but is played like a guitar. The tambourine ("darya") is made of wood, also covered with a stretched skin, and is used like the European tambourine for accompanying the ribab (or guitar), or during the dance. The flute ("nai") is made of wood, like a piccolo flute without keys.
Dancing (" rakhas ") is only performed by men. They come forward one at a time, and make gestures with the arms, bending the body and tramping and stamping, whilst they now and again whirl round, often at the same time playing on the tambourine. The dancing is done to the music of guitar and tambourine, or to the clapping of hands by the onlookers. It is rather obscene.
The greatest festivals take place at marriages, and when a son has been born. These festivals are always accompanied with dance and music.
Marriage-Children and courtesy
MOST likely as a consequence of their busy life during the summer, marriages always take place in winter.
As the official religion is Mahometan, each man is allowed to have four wives; but the men of this people seldom avail themselves of this permission, as they cannot support so many. Polygamy is also allowed in the religion of the Parsees, and concubines are permitted. Some of the men have two wives, but most have only one. Most married women must work hard in this region ; as a rule they have to take charge both of the house and the children, and sometimes tend the cattle ; and they have to take a part in all the work in the fields, whilst the husband often only lounges about. However they seem to have a greater amount of personal liberty than is general in Mahometan countries. The husband as a rule does not decide any important step without asking the advice of his wife ; and we often saw the women meddle in their husbands#039; affairs in a way that could not be misunderstood. If we were buying cattle from a man, the wife often came to help him to fix the price; and when a quarrel has arisen amongst the men in a village, it has often happened that some of them would be fetched home by their wives-nay, the women did not shrink from interfering in a fight with sticks.
The young women were often very pretty, and would have been more so if their fine Iranian features had not always been covered with dirt. But they become old very early in life owing to early marriage, hard work, and uncleanliness. Often in the early twenties they look like old hags. They are never veiled; but the young women always rush into the houses on the arrival of strange men, or, if they are in the fields, they lie down and cover their heads until the stranger has passed by.
The wife is always bought ; marriage takes place without any regard to social position, and, with the exception of brothers and sisters, relationship is no hindrance. Whilst the son of a rich man often marries very early in life, the poor man#039;s son must often remain a bachelor. As it is very costly to buy a wife, it is considered very grand to have several wives, and on the other hand the man who has none is not considered of much account.
Rape of women therefore often takes place. It happened several times during our stay in these provinces. A few years ago part of the tribute to the liege lords of Shugnan, Badakhshan, or Kabul consisted of a certain number of young women.
Marriages take place very early, often between children. When the marriage is consummated the girl#039;s hair is plaited in two plaits. A young woman is more valuable than an older one, and it therefore depends on the father#039;s means whether his son will get an older or a younger wife. It thus sometimes happens that a boy of twelve years will get for his first wife a woman of forty, perhaps a widow. The sum is always paid down-in cattle and cloth. One Aksakal thus paid ten head of cattle for a wife, another ten sheep, a third eight cows, a fourth two donkeys, and so on.
When a man wants a wife for his son, he sends two men to one of his acquaintances who has a daughter who would be suitable match for his son, and the price is then fixed in the presence of the Kasi and the Aksakal. Then the business is determined, the girl#039;s consent not being asked. Twenty days after the price is fixed the wedding takes place, during which time the bride arranges her primitive trousseau and makes other preparations.
Accompanied by many attendants on horseback, on donkeys, or on foot, the bridegroom and his father go to the bride#039;s house. In front of the procession a singing howling man prances about ; then follow four tambourine players on foot, and after these comes the bridegroom on horseback or on a donkey, in his gayest attire. He is followed by his attendants, who utter wild howls and fire off their matchlocks into the air. In the house of the bride is arranged a banquet for the guests, and the bride and bridegroom are allowed to stay atone in a separate room. It should be remarked in passing that kisses ("bhah") and caresses are given in the European manner ; this is, or should be, the first time that they see each other, but most likely they have already secretly made each other#039;s acquaintance.
During the meal the bride and bridegroom appear before the guests. The bride is veiled. A Mullah and the Kasi read something out of the Koran in Arabic, which is generally not understood either by themselves or the others ; the Mullah then asks the girl if she will have the man who has been chosen for her, and she does not dare to refuse.
The banquet, which consists of mutton, dishes of fat, bread, and dried fruits, is accompanied by the music of tambourines, guitars, or flutes, until towards evening, when the bridegroom and his attendants leave the house.
The next day a similar procession is formed. It is the bride#039;s father taking his daughter to her husband. The bride, who rides a horse or donkey, is dressed in a white robe which completely covers her. Her head is generally covered with a red handkerchief. She rides behind the tambourine players, and her horse is led by one of her relations. As on the day before, a banquet again takes place, but at the bridegroom#039;s house, and the couple are again left alone in a separate room.
On this second day, if the people possess horses, they have games ("At Tamasha") like the Kirghiz. A sheep or goat being tied to a pole in the field, several horsemen gallop past on horseback and fire at the animal with their matchlocks. The one who kills it must lift it on his horse and gallop a certain number of times between two points without the other horsemen being able to get it away from him. If be succeeds, he is the victor, and wins a prize of cloth, which is presented by the father of the bridegroom. It is needless to say that it is only the well-to-do who can afford this sport.
The time is passed with the aid of several meals, music and dance ; and the feasting often lasts till far into the night. The young couple are then considered husband and wife.
The day after the wedding, four elderly women come to the house of the young couple to bear witness that the bride was a virgin before the wedding. If this is not the case, the husband can immediately demand a divorce. They then plait her hair in two plaits as a sign that she is a wife
Most young couples remain at the house of the parents of the husband, and serve them ; but if they are able to do so they get a home of their own.
In these provinces there is a very strange law, that a man who has been away several years on a journey to other countries, if he has rich relatives, shall have the right to demand that they procure him a wife.
The natives seem to live happily with their wives, and the connubial code of morality is high.
A married woman was staying at a house in the kislak of Mishus, with her blind brother, whilst her husband was away. Another Tadjik came into the house and ravished her. Her screams called other women to the house; but they failed to prevent the man from getting away. The young woman asked, weeping: How can I now face my husband when he comes home ? She then went down to the river, put all her clothes on a stone, cut off the braids of her hair, placing them beside her clothes, threw herself into the torrent, and was drowned.
If a man lie with another man#039;s wife with her consent, any one has a right to kill them both. If it be done against her will, and this can be proved, the man is punished with flogging and fines.
Divorce is said to be very rare, yet it is not difficult to obtain. The reason is probably that it is so costly to get another wife. If the husband beat the wife, or if he cannot support her, she can demand a divorce. The case is always judged by the Kasi. If a man demand a divorce, and it be not by reason of adultery, he must pay the woman a certain number of cattle-this number being fixed by the Kasi.
When a husband dies, his widow can demand, after the lapse of four months and ten days, that the brother of her late husband, or if there be no brother, then his nearest male relation, shall marry her, if she does not prefer to marry some other man. When she enters into a new marriage, if she has had children, these children always inherit all their dead father#039;s possessions, the boys#039; inheritance being double that of the girls#039;. If she prefer to remain single she inherits all. When a man leaves more wives, the one who marries again gets nothing; but if she has had any children they inherit the part belonging to her, as all the widowed wives divide the inheritance equally. Orphans are maintained by the nearest relations ; but they get no inheritance from the family that supports them.
CHILDREN AND COURTESY
The natives are very fond of children, who are much spoiled, especially by the father, and are considered as a gift from God--the more children they get the greater their bliss. A childless marriage is looked upon as a punishment from God. Boys are especially desired ; and when a boy is born in the kislak all the neighbours rush to the house to congratulate the parents ; there is feasting, with music of guitar and tambourine, whilst volleys are fired outside the house.
An old woman assists at the birth-a kind of midwife, of whom there is one in every kislak. Only women are allowed to be present at birth ; the father is not allowed into the room until the child is born. He then receives in his house the congratulations of the neighbours-but if the child is a girl there is no banquet, nor are volleys fired.
If a child be still-born, it is at once buried.
For three days the new-born child is nourished on fat then the mother nurses it until its third year-if she has no other child in the meantime.
Boys are always circumcised, at the age of four, with a knife by an old practised man, and the wound smeared with burnt wadding or felt. Eunuchs are not made amongst these peoples.
When the child has lived three days on fat, it receives its name, which is given by its father in the presence of a Mullah, if there be one in the neighbourhood. On this occasion a banquet is given. Some of the most common names given to boys are: Ali, Mahommad, Aman, Tana, Salil, Tamasha, Yusuf, Ramasha, Shaker ; and to girls : Kurban, Begin, Sadji, Damah, Dawlat-Mah, Ashurmah, Niashbibi, Madian, and Suleika.
The little children are the only members of the family who sleep in a kind of bed ("gahvarra") ; all the others sleep in their clothes on skins, rugs, straw, or hay. The children#039;s bed is, like the beds in Turkestan, Bokhara and Khiva, a small oblong wooden box on four legs. A kind of awning is made with some wooden hoops, covered with cloth, to keep the sun and wind off the child when it stands outside the house. Between the hoops is a cross-bar which forms a handle to carry the cradle or bed, which is painted as a rule in bright red and green colours. The bedclothes are rags and pieces of cloth and skin. For the removal of the urine there is, with the Kirghiz, a hole in the bed, through which, in the case of boys, the urine is conducted by the aid of a tube made out of a hollow bone, which is placed on the sexual organ.
During their youth the children do odd jobs of a small kind about the house-tend the cattle and so on ; and, if possible, they attend a kind of school, which is generally only temporary, and kept by a wandering Mullah. In the larger kislaks there are also professional teachers who can read and write. Mullah is a title which in the Mahometan countries of Central Asia, is bestowed on a man when he can read the language of the country, and Mirza is the title of a man who can both read and write. These titles do not in the least mean that the man belongs to the clergy-this, of course, he cannot do without certain qualifications.
In these schools the children learn to read the language of the country, sometimes also a little writing and arithmetic, and the recital of some Mahometan prayers by rote. The language the children learn to read and write is Shugnan (the Tadjik). Many children, however, get no other instruction than what their parents can give them, and, in consequence, only speak Vakhan.
In some houses little wooden slates hang on the walls with the Persian alphabet for the instruction of the children, and as a useful memorandum for the adults. If there be a school in the kislak or in its neighbourhood, both boys and girls are sent there at the age of seven or eight. If a man does not send his children to school or to the wandering Mullah, the elders of the town remonstrate with him in the matter ; but he is quite independent, and can do as he likes in this respect.
The poor people often send their boys into the service of the rich ; but never the girls. As soon as the children are able to run about and take care of themselves they are allowed to do so. During the summer the boys as a rule go about quite naked, and flock together on the flat roofs or in the gardens to play. One of their games, Bushull (Shugnan) or Shitik (Vakhan), is played with bone pegs, which they throw into the air, and the winner is he whose peg falls so that it stands on end in the ground. Another game, Djigand (Shugnan), is played with pins on which there is a hook. The children, dividing into two sides, fling the pins from one party to the other, who try and catch them on sticks by the hooks.
The children and young people are remarkable for the great modesty of their conduct towards their parents and elders. They are rarely heard to meddle in the conversation of their elders ; and when the grown-up people go to their meals the children always keep at a respectful distance. When a son receives an order from his father he always bows to him. It may be said that implicit obedience and respect is common both in the family and the community. Great respect is always paid to old people, and each old white-beard is called Baba (grandfather).
The ordinary salutation of the natives to their superiors consists in crossing the hands over the breast and bowing, after which both hands are drawn down past the face, one after the other. If they want to show an exceptional respect they kneel down on the ground. The Vakhans salute their superiors by placing both hands on the forehead and bowing.
They salute their equals by pressing both hands together, and kissing their fingers to them ; and when saluting a very dear friend they touch him under his chin with one hand and then kiss the hand which has touched him-sometimes they kiss both his hands.
If a man of quality comes to a kislak, whether he be a foreigner or a native, he is always received outside the kislak by a deputation of the men of the town, headed by the Kasi and Aksakal and the elders, who welcome him with a Salam Aleikum. They also bring him gifts consisting of bread, and fruit, and eggs, and the like. Whether he be foreigner or Mussulman, he is entertained free for three or four days, but if he remain longer he has to pay or work for his food.
Weights and measures-Commerce
IN these provinces the customs are most patriarchal. just as the father is the unrestricted master of the family, the Aksakal (chief magistrate of the village) has the executive power in the village, whilst the Kasi is the judge-all under the rule of their changing sovereign princes. The Aksakal has an assistant, Harbab, which means "in every way." The Harbab has the responsibility of seeing that strangers who come into the town get what they need for their support.
For all minor crimes and offences the Kasi of the village pronounces the sentence, which is executed by a person commanded to do so by the Aksakal. These punishments generally consist of fines and floggings ; more severe punishments can only be executed by permission of former sub-princes under the Emir of Afghanistan, and capital punishment only by the Emir of Afghanistan.
Slight crimes are often very severely punished. Thus a Kasi told us that a man who confessed a theft, or was caught in the act, was flogged the first or second time, and the third time his eyes were put out and his hands cut off.
If a man, accused of theft, deny his guilt, he must place his hands on the Koran and swear that lie is innocent by his own death and the death of his wife and children and cattle.
If a man kill another man, a sentence of death is pronounced by the Kasi ; and when the sentence has been ratified by the prince of the province the punishment is executed with a knife by an executioner ("djalat"). If the relations of the slain man demand it, the prisoner may be stoned to death or killed by the axe of a man appointed to this office ("quatil"). If the family of the man that was killed agree, the accused may free himself by paying a large fine.
During the time of the former Shahs or Mires, caste existed, so that all offices were inherited, and the poor man, whatever his talents, was as a rule forced to remain in the same social position which his father had occupied. There is still left a remnant of this division into castes, and the descendants of the former officials, who, as a rule add the title Beg to their name, are the only ones who can occupy the leading positions in the villages. These people all employ the Shugnan (Tadjik) language, but they also speak Vakhan.
Until the middle of the last century slavery existed throughout this country. Each Kasi and Aksakal had both male and female slaves ("k#039;galam"). The slaves were sold and bought. The Siaposh generally provided them with these slaves, whom they robbed from the neighbouring districts, especially from Chitral and Kundut. A good male slave was worth about seven pounds. Payment was, as indeed was the case with all other wares, made by barter, for the provinces have never had coin of their own. Yet, as a rule, Afghan money was known here, and Chinese coins were common, brought here by Chinese merchants who from olden time visited the provinces.
For weights and measures, primitive units are employed. A stone of the size of a clenched fist ("gharr") represents the unit pau-a pound ; and four paus make one nimkhurd. As a measure of length, the arm#039;s length from the shoulder is employed, called one ghaz.
Commercial intercourse with the outer world is, and has always been, very slight-partly by reason of the secluded situation of the provinces, shut off as they are from civilisation by the most mighty mountains of the world, and partly on account of the poverty of the people. The foreigner-Chinese, Afghan, or Indian merchant-has seldom come to these parts, where he could only expect to get cattle in exchange for his wares, whilst the native for the same reason has been unable to perform long travels in search of commercial adventure. Perhaps this seclusion is one of the reasons why epidemic illnesses are so rare. Yet the healthy mountain climate, at these high altitudes presumably quite devoid of infection, must be considered chiefly responsible for this immunity.
Sickness, death, funerals, tombs-Mazars and holy altars
THE natives everywhere look strong and healthy. They are a lean, hardy, muscular people, bearing the stamp both bodily and mentally of the hard struggle for daily bread and of their sportsmanlike climbing of the mountains. Stout jolly people are never met with-the type is a slender, sinewy sportsman of earnest countenance.
These mountain valleys have from time immemorial been famed for their healthiness, and the people live to a hale old age. To this reputation everything bears witness ; we met old men walking about, hale and active, at the age of a hundred years-and some few were even a hundred and twenty-five. But I also suspect that the delicate and the fragile die very young, killed by lack of hygiene and of delicate food, the strong alone surviving childhood.
Tuberculous diseases do not seem to exist. A few pockmarked persons proved that small-pox has claimed victims. Diseases of the stomach are common, perhaps owing to the scarcity of salt, which has to be imported from distant parts and is very expensive. It is often used for payment instead of money. Rheumatism and rheumatic affections are rather common in Vakhan, probably due to the perpetual strong western wind, and to the fact that the people rest and sleep on the ground with little but a rug or some rags of skin to lie on. Weak eyes and headache are easily explained by the perpetual wind, the sun#039;s glare, the sand and dust, the smoky hearth-room, and the utter lack of cleanliness.
In the village of Nut a great many of the people suffered from an illness which took the loathsome form of horrible ulcerating yellowish white sores and tumours, which spread all over the body. This is presumably a form of leprosy. They attribute it to some springs whence the village gets its water, as the people in another part of the village who get their water from a mountain stream do not suffer from this loathsome disease at all. We therefore took samples of the water from these polluted streams, and had them examined upon our return to Denmark; but they were only found to contain salts of natrium, callum, calcium and magnium.
These people know of scarcely any medicines except those which are connected with their religion or superstition. Now and again a wandering "medicine-man" comes from one of the neighbouring provinces of India or Afghanistan with a bag of herbs, which he prescribes quite promiscuously against all ills. The natives also bathe in the hot springs, to which, not without good reason, they attribute a healing influence. I have already touched upon the prayers written upon scraps of paper which are attached to a string and fastened over the part where the disease has its seat, which are procured from Ishans, wandering Mullahs, Dervishes, and Calenders ; besides these there are numbers of other superstitious preventions against sickness used by these folk. Thus it is a safeguard against all disease to wear a piece of a bear#039;s heart, or an amulet of a bear#039;s or an eagle#039;s claw. It is as good as a blessing to carry about the horns of snakes. They believe that snakes with horns are found in the mountains, and they will produce a piece of bone or the old tooth of some animal found on a mountain slope, which they believe to be the horn of a snake ! When they are ill they tear a piece off their clothes, touch the suffering place on their body with it, and then place the rag on the grave of some holy man, believing that his spirit will take away the illness. Sometimes they tie this rag to some fantastic-looking tree in a lonely place, believing that the disease will be transplanted into the tree.
Sick people, or those who are in distress, often go to a lonely place, some strangely shaped rock, some mystically formed ravine-some place where there is a good view or a high pass being preferred. Here they build a cairn, either just a pile of stones, or a pile of stones in the shape of a chimney, and then they smear the stones with fat. In Arabia they have this same custom of smearing the holy stones with fat. The rags I spoke of are also placed on these cairns ; and the people who afterwards pass such a cairn always add a stone, or decorate them with the horns of the kiyik. These cairns are found all over Pamir, for the Kirghiz nomads have the same custom. To sleep near one of these cairns during the night is very common, as the people think that the place is safe against wicked men or against evil spirits, which play a great part in their life.
When a man is very ill he is often carried by his friends to such a cairn, an old one being preferred, or to the grave of some holy man. If he seems to be at death#039;s door, he is brought to his home where, if possible, he dies out of doors on one of the mud-built platforms outside the house, to prevent his spirit haunting the house after his death.
When a man is dead, or in the agonies of death, all his relations come to mourn his loss, and prayers are said at the body, and earthenware lamps kept burning. The corpse is washed in hot water, and if the dead be a man his body is dressed in a white costume consisting of three articles of dress, the Sinaposh, the Hajaposh, and the Chaudir-this last garment covering the whole body and being tied together in a knot on the head ; a long handkerchief is also tied above the outer garment and round the head. For a woman the white shroud consists of the Piran (chemise), the Tumbun (trousers) and the Chaudir (tent)-this last covering the whole body like the man#039;s, and round the head also is wrapped the handkerchief (Chil).
The body, upon a primitive bier of willows, is carried to the grave on the shoulders of four men, and is placed in the tomb so that it is stretched out at full length, the head resting much higher than the body. The head is to the north, and the body is so turned that the eyes are almost towards the west, and, to prevent the body from turning round in the grave, clods of earth and stones are placed on the eastern side of it. A man#039;s grave is the depth of the height of a full-grown man to his waist. A woman#039;s is to the depth that would reach to her neck.
The men, women, and children of the dead man#039;s family are present at the funeral. Prayers are read at the grave, lamps are lighted, and all kneel down numberless times and pass their hands over their faces.
Then the shroud is opened a little, so that the face, hands, and feet shall be free, and the dead be able to arise on the Day of Judgment. If this be omitted, it is said the dead will bite the shroud asunder, when all his relations and their cattle will die.
When the grave has been filled up, a mound is always made over it, and it is sometimes surrounded by a high stone or clay wall, according to the social standing of the dead man, his riches, or his holiness. If his piety were remarkable, the grave is especially ornamented.
On all graves there is erected a mound of clay, and sometimes this mound is covered with white stuff, whereon are placed flowers, berries, and corn. On the top of the mound is generally placed a round or rounded stone. I cannot discover whether this stone, which is also often found on graves in other parts of Pamir, has any connection with the holy black stone at Mecca (the natives themselves could give no reason for its use), but there is just the possibility that this is the case, as it is also found in holy places, as we shall see later on.
On the side of the clay mound facing the cast there was always a small rectangular niche wherein earthenware lamps or torches were placed at the festivals. In some places several rectangular mounds were placed in terraces, one above the other. This way of adorning the graves we also find in some places along Amu Darya in Transkaspia, and in Khiva.
The graves of the well-to-do are surrounded by a high stone wall with a small wooden door, yet in most places there was no entrance to the grave ; one could only look at it through some crescent-shaped holes in the southern part of the wall. I was told that, on festival days, prayers were said through these holes to the dead.
In many places in Vakhan, Ishkashim, and Garan, the common graves (gur, Persian for grave; guristan, the burial place) are often grouped round a so-called mazar. The mazar is the grave of a man who by reason of his holy life is looked upon after death as a saint who can intercede with God for the people on earth. This mazar is always adorned in a special way-just in the same way that the Kirghiz in Pamir and the people of Turkestan, Khiva, and Bokhara adorn the graves of their holy men.
As a token of its holiness, masts are raised, on which wave tails of the yak-ox ("tok") or red and white rags, as banners ("alam") ; and if the place is especially holy, a metal or earthenware pot ("kobba") is placed on top of the masts. These vessels are of the same shape as the so-called weeping pots. The mazar is also adorned with horns of the kiyik and of oxen, and with strangely shaped stones, and lamps.
The mazar Khodja Radiab in the kislak of Barshar is such a saint#039;s grave. It consists of a small mud hut, to which leads a small wooden door. The edges of the flat roof are covered with horns of the kiyik, and in the middle of the roof is a collection of these horns twisted into a figure that makes one think of a crown. In the sepulchral chamber was the usual clay platform to the memory of the dead teacher, the righteous Khodja Radiab, who was said to have lived one hundred years ago ; and on top of the platform, which was overlaid with plaster, was a strange figure formed of plaster. I cannot make out whether this figure, the broadest end of which lay just above the head of the saint, where offerings are burnt on festival days in the hook-formed figure, has any special religious meaning. This was the only one found in South Pamir. It resembled somewhat a sword or staff-it may possibly be meant to represent the staff of a dervish. Beside the platform was placed a wooden log on which stood two little earthenware bowls for torchlights made of the same brown dough of which the torches used in the houses of Vakhan are made.
In all difficulties, in sickness, poverty, and accidents, or in order to get certain wishes fulfilled, both men and women come to the mazar to pray to the dead saint to intercede for them with Allah. They offer up sacrifices on the grave, of the most extraordinary things-horns, wreaths of apricot kernels, wooden spoons, wooden dishes, and so on-and festivals are often celebrated in the sepulchral chamber itself, when sheep are killed and given to the poor, whilst torches are burnt on the grave.
Besides the mazars there is in almost every kislak a small house of prayer-a little low mud hut with a clay altar, on which stand little bowls or lamps ("chirak") of earthenware or copper or iron, to hold a wick and fat, as in Turkestan. These bowls or lamps are religiously kept burning by people when in trouble. Often round black stones or old cowhorns are placed beside the lamps.
In 1896, in a wild romantic narrow ravine in Garan, through which a small mountain stream runs to the Pandsh, I found some ten or eleven little black clay bowls of the size and shape of an ordinary Indian-ink bowl on a terrace in the rocks. They were undoubtedly placed for use in this ravine, for there were remains of the combustible black torch-dough in some of them, and small burnt wooden sticks lay beside them. They were probably employed in some religious rites, in which the fantastic dark ravine, blasted by the frost into weird shapes, undoubtedly played a part. A specimen of these bowls, which I pocketed to examine, is now in the National Museum of Copenhagen. The rest were lost, being packed in a box with other baggage which was lost, being on the horses that fell from a mountain slope in Garan into the Pandsh river.
Just as the most holy place in Garan is at the springs with the altar by the river Garm-chashma Darya, so in Vakhan and Ishkashim an altar, or rather a monument, to Hazreti Ali, seems to be the holy of holies. The natives do not know to which Ali the monument was erected ; but there is scarcely a doubt that he was the son-in-law of Mahomet; indeed he plays a greater part in the religion of the Shiites than Mahomet himself.
The Persians who are Shiites always call on the name of Ali when in distress. When they lift a heavy weight, they cry at each pull : "Ali ! Ali ! " and the Persian pirates on the Caspian likewise shout at each stroke when they pull the oar very hard Ali ! Ali!
This monument in Vakhan is said to have been erected in memory of the holy Ali having once rested in this place. It is a small mud-built house about six feet high and nine feet square. The entrance to the house is through a small wooden door, and on each side of this door are the platforms so common in Vakhan, which are used for seats. In the house is a cubical clay altar about three feet high with a base one metre square, chalked all over. On the altar were placed two large rounded black stones of seventeen centimetres diameter; and between these two stones was another like them but smaller, of the size of a hen#039;s egg. Beside the large round stones lay two cow-horns for tooting-horns; round one of these was a copper ring. On a small shelf at the top of the altar was placed a small earthenware bowl which was used as a lamp. On the front of the altar was placed a small lamp in a little triangular niche. It was made out of a hollow stone, and beside it was an iron lamp with a wick ("chirak"). At the foot of the altar, on a shelf, were placed two candlesticks of copper, or rather two bowls which were fastened by some twisted copper branches to stands, the pointed ends of which were fastened to a piece of wood on the shelf. In a hole in the wall, to the left of the entrance, was a white yak-ox tail, which is a still more holy symbol than a dark one. On staffs, which pass from the altar through a hole in the roof, wave red and white banners over the building, and on the end of these three flagstaffs were the so-called kobba, two of tinned copper and one of glazed clay. The house was surrounded by a shady well-kept orchard, enclosed by a high stone wall. Judging by the good state of repair of the house from the Vakhan point of view, and the care with which the house was cleaned and the orchard kept, and that an old man was appointed to guard the sanctuary-a Sait, a descendant of the prophet-this must be considered the very holiest place of the Vakhans. Later on we will go into its origin.
The Aksakal of the village told me that at the festivals of the new moon, which are celebrated at the house and in the garden, sheep are killed and eaten on the spot, the lamps are lit on the altars, and all present, men and women, stand bowing before the altar, their faces covered with their hands. At each New Year a great festival was celebrated at which a bull was killed. During the festivals they tooted on the cow-horns placed upon the altar.
The people have a story about the round black stones upon the altars to the effect that when Ali now and again dwells in the house he uses them to play at ball. This is probably a legend to show that the stones are a symbol of the strength of the saint. The horns which are placed on mazars and other holy places are a sign of strength.
In Bokhara they say that in some place in Asia there is a religious sect called Lakhe, of which the people have sanctuaries of a kind similar to that of Hazreti Ali, where both men and women come together at the festivals. From the men present there is one chosen, and his eyes being bandaged, he now, whilst blindfolded, chooses one of the women present, and this woman stays in the house twenty-four or twenty-five days, the man visiting her blindfolded every night, and living with her during that time as if she were his wife.
The native Kasi and Aksakal, however, denied that such a custom existed here. I cannot say whether the word of the Kasi and Aksakal can be trusted. It is, however, certain that amongst the so-called Fire-Extinguishers, a sect or variety of the Parsians, the Lures and Dushikkurds of Persia, it is the custom, in buildings erected for the purpose, to meet once a year, extinguish the holy fire, and mix sexually, regardless of age or position-unmarried women and children not being present at these orgies. The Mahdak sect, and the Avesta religion which had formerly many worshippers in Transoxania, had similar religious orgies. According to a later statement of a Kasi in Garan, it is probable that this custom has also been followed in Vakhan in the sanctuary of Hazreti Ali.
Besides the altar Hazreti All, there is still another sanctuary in Vakhan which is held in special awe by the people. This is the so-called " mazar " situated about two hundred metres west of the cleft through which runs the road from Vakhan to Garm-chashma. Both in the valleys of Pamir and in High Pamir amongst the nomads the name mazar is given to the sepulchral chamber or the specially adorned tomb of some righteous or holy man. But this sanctuary was called "mazar," though nobody knew why it was here; it had no special name ; the Vakhans only knew that it was very old, and that no one was buried under the monument -a statement most likely correct, as the place for a great distance round about was solid granite. A Beg from Bokhara, Mirza Abdul Kader, who by order of the Emir came with us on both expeditions as an interpreter, told us that the sanctuary was not a "mazar" but a "kadamga"- footprint - erected in memory of a holy man having set foot on this place. This is most probable, as there are many places in Arabia and Transkaspia where such holy footprints have led to the erection of monuments of many different forms. This one was a stone enclosure on a small rock- the stones were heaped up loosely on each other, and on top of the wall was placed one kiyik horn beside the other. At one end of the enclosure was a cairn ornamented with horns of the kiyik and with staffs, on the top of which was a kobba of glazed clay. Before entering the enclosure the natives cover their faces with their hands ; but they only knew concerning the place that it was good to visit it. Rags, which were hung up, showed that the people appeal here for cures against disease.
The Siaposh and their fortresses in Vakhan
BEFORE we proceed to touch upon the religion of this people, it is necessary to understand the Siaposh, for the remains of their fortresses and carved designs on the rocks, together with the tradition of the Vakhans that the Siaposh of Kafiristan once lived in Vakhan, or rather were masters of the country, compel us to examine what remains of their power, for it is almost certain that their customs, religion, and mode of life have influenced and left more than a trace upon the life of these peoples.
These Siaposh, or Kafirs as they are also called-Kafir meaning infidel, being a term commonly employed by Mussulmans about people of other religions-are one of the most interesting tribes in Asia. They are not very much known, its the European explorer has been kept away from their territory, partly on account of their bloodthirstiness and partly on account of Russian and English political interests. Many wonderful reports are abroad about these people- amongst others, they are said to be descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great ; and their colour is said to be lighter than that of their neighbours, due to the fact, according to the Kafirs, that they had come from the West, from a country far away from Kafiristan.
A few travellers have succeeded in getting a glimpse of their country : the Mullah Nudjib, who was sent there by the British Embassy in Kabul in 1808; Captain Wood, who, in 1840, paid a visit into their mountain valleys ; Colonel Lockhart, who, in 1885, went from Chitral to the upper part of the valley of the Bashgul, a tributary of the Chitral river, and stayed there some days; and, finally, Dr. G. S. Robertson, who, in 1893, visited some of the Kafir or Siaposh tribes that live near English territory in North-West India. Much of the following information culled from these explorers I have had the opportunity of getting confirmed, and am able to add some information from the Kasi Khoda Da, who paid me a long visit during the wintering of the second Danish Pamir Expedition at Khorok, on the river Gund, in 1898-99. Born in Vakhan, and having studied at the Medressi in Faisabad, he had got an appointment in Badakhshan under the Afghans, but had fled to Russian territory, where he was appointed kasi in Ishkashim. This man, during his stay in Afghanistan, had often come in contact with the Kafirs, whom he knew well.
The country of Kafiristan, which is about 20,000 square miles, with a population of about 250,000, is situated directly south of the western part of the Hindu Kush, about 35#039; and 36#039; lat. N. and 70#039; and 71#039; long. E. of Greenwich. The country is chiefly narrow, deep mountain valleys of a north and south direction, watered by mountain streams of rapid current. The river valleys are separated by mountain ranges, which are very difficult of access-spurs from the Hindu Kush towards the south. The passes between the valleys are orjy devoid of snow a few months of the year, so as to be passable ; consequently the intercourse even between the inhabitants of the valleys is comparatively slight. Towards the north the country is entered partly by the pass of Mandal along the Koksha river to Badakhshan, which is very difficult of access, and partly by the more easy pass of Dora, by way of Sebak to Ishkashim, Vakhan, and Garan. Reckoned from west to east, the most important valleys are the Ramgul and Kulam valleys, through which run some tributary streams of the Kabul river ; also the Pressuia and Bashgul valleys, with tributaries to the river Chitral.
The valleys are said to be most picturesque ; many of them are so narrow and deep that the sun only reaches into them a few hours a day, and during winter they are always in shade, which gives them a most mysterious appearance. The main roads are always along the river banks, and are often very difficult on account of the fragments of rocks. Across the rivers bridges are built in several places, which above the water, very narrow, and with a very low parapet. Sometimes they use, as in the Pandsh valley, a tree hanging out over the river, or the bridge is only a row of poles rammed into the river, over which one has to go very carefully. In the Pressun valley there is said to be a kind of pontoon bridge, and in a few places there arc wooden bridges.
In the valleys grow various fruit trees-pomegranates, mulberries, apricot and peach, grapes which the Kafirs make into wine, and horse-chestnuts. On the higher slopes there are wild olives and evergreen oaks, besides forests of fir and cedar, whilst the highest slopes are only covered with grass and moss.
The people live by agriculture, cattle-breeding, and hunting; and they rear bees. Wine, honey, and wax arc their most important exports.
The Kafirs, who are of Aryan origin, are divided into several tribes, each with its chief ; and the tribes are again divided into families. The tribes have each languages of their own, which, in spite of their common origin (see Trumpp, Burnes, Lister, and Elphinstone), are so unlike each other that, with the exception of the Siaposh proper, one tribe cannot understand the other.
As far as regards the main tribe, the Siaposh, the men are all agile, well-trained sportsmen, wearing black goatskins with a leather belt round the waist, in which hangs the indispensable dagger. In other tribes, white woollen garments are considered to be finest. The women, who are said to be very beautiful in youth, are short, and wear a kind of tunic. The hair is dressed in a hornlike way, or is worn hanging down the back under a small white woollen cap. Most of the Kafirs are dark-haired, yet, in some of the tribes, fair and red-haired people are found. Dr. Robertson tells that the Kafirs wear their hair long, hanging down their backs, which gives them a wild look. Our Kasi told that they shaved their heads, with the exception of a small round spot at the top of the head where it grows long, and is plaited. He told me that the men were very ugly but we must remember that he himself was a Mussulman. He also told me that the women wear a turbanlike head-dress, adorned with various metal plates.
The Kafirs are said to be more intelligent than their neighbours, to be of a reserved character, and to love intrigues and secret plots. Their religion is a kind of Buddhism mixed with many ancient Shamanistic elements. Idolatry, with sacrifices to carved wooden images erected in memory of dead people, within which images are supposed to dwell the spirits of the dead, holy song, dancing ceremonies on the graveyards, all play a great part in their religion.
Imra is the maker of all things, and besides him there are numbers of sub-gods of whom the god of war, Gish, created by Imra, is the most important. Valour is considered the greatest of all virtues, and, in connection with wealth, it is the best recommendation for becoming a chief ("yast"). Until 1896, when their country was occupied by the Emir of Afghanistan, they had maintained their independence of the neighbouring Mahometan tribes, whom they detest heartily, and whose religion they could never be made to adopt. The Mahometans, and those of their countrymen who had adopted Islam, always suffered heavily from the Kafir love of war - it is said that no Kafir marries until he has killed at least one Mussulman, whose head he carries home as a trophy. This is perhaps exaggeration. To kill their own fellow believers is considered a great sin, as their force against the Mussulmans is thereby diminished. Murderers stay in special sanctuaries, and can return by paying great fines. Each Kafir wears the same number of feathers in his headdress as the number of Mussulmans he has killed. Their weapons are bows and arrows, daggers, and old matchlocks. Besides the god of war, Gish, they have several other gods who each have their appointed task - thus cows, goats, and sheep have a god or goddess each to themselves. There are numbers of evil spirits, amongst whom a lord-demon and several sub-demons, who closely resemble Angro Mainyus (Ahriman) and his staff in the Zoroastrian religion.
They have a game which is played by throwing balls of iron, and the one who throws the best has to give the others a treat ; for they say Imra has given him the strong arm, therefore he must give a feast in honour of Imra.
It will be remembered that the altar of Hazreti Ali had stone balls like these.
The wife is always obtained by purchase, and by applying to the girl#039;s father. As a rule a Kafir has several wives. If the husband die, his wives are sold by his relations. All births take place in special houses outside the villages, and the name-giving is carried out by an elderly woman, saying by rote all the names of the babe#039;s ancestors-the name which is pronounced when the child begins to feed being its name. Our Kasi, Khoda Da, told us that the ordinary Kafir names were Darwah, Kamruk, Shotor, and Shurwah. He also told us that the Kafirs, some years ago, were frequently to be seen in Badakhshan, where they came to trade. They do not bury their dead, but place the bodies in wooden coffins on the hills or mountain slopes, often even near the road beside their houses, where the putrified corpses poison the air. By the coffins of the chiefs is placed a small staff bearing a rag; and often a wooden figure, or stone, is erected by the resting-place of the dead man. They make sacrifices to this figure, and victuals are placed there for the dead, especially by sick members of the family.
It is difficult to determine how far the dominion of these martial Kafirs extended. They were slave-traders and slave-robbers, and much dreaded by their neighbours. It is said that a few names of places in the northwest of Pamir originate from them. Possibly the advance of the Kafirs toward the north-west is connected in some way with the propagation of Buddhism to Khulm and Balkh - or Balikh, an old Turkish word which means supreme capital where Buddhistic drawings and pictures have been found. But if there be any connection between these two things, the Kafirs must have lived in Kafiristan at a much earlier period than the eleventh century, for the collision of the Buddhistic faith the Parsee religion at Balkh, the former Mecca of the Avesta people, and in Transoxania, must have come about in the first century. Buddhistic influence, however, may possibly have made itself felt for a long time in these parts. In Bokhara, Buddhistic idols were sold at the fairs during the earliest period of Islam, and not until the eighth century does Islam seem to have penetrated to the borders of Pamir.
Buddhism seems to have been the first religion which fought against the Parsee faith, and it is most likely that a fight raged in Transoxania and the more accessible parts of Central Asia between the Turans, who brought Buddhism from Tibet, and the Avesta people. Nor is it at all unlikely that the Kafir conquest of their present country took place through a war with the former inhabitants, and that they tried to extend their dominion further to the north of the Hindu Kush.
As the valleys of Pamir can never have had any special material interest owing to their poverty, a consideration which has not been wholly excluded even from religious wars, the Parsee faith has no doubt survived up here to a later period than in any other places. The Zoroastrian religion has undoubtedly existed in Vakhan up to the end of the nineteenth century-of course in a much corrupted form, and with many later additions, which, however, was already the case even two thousand years ago.
While it is very difficult, therefore, to decide whether the Kafirs have really extended their dominion to the north of Pamir and the mountainous parts in the neighbourhood, there is not the slightest doubt that they, not so very long ago, possessed Vakhan, where certain traces of them are found in the fortresses and strongholds they have left behind them. The present generation in Vakhan have from their forefathers the story of the conquest of Vakhan by the Siaposh ; indeed, they themselves have known the Siaposh to rob slaves from the province whilst it was under Afghan supremacy. It is said that Captain Wood, without knowing it, met with some of the Siaposh near Ishkashim, where they had their easiest access to the Upper Pandsh valley through the pass of Ishkashim.
When, in 1896, I passed through Vakhan, I paid a short it to some ruins of old fortifications which the Vakhans told me were built by the Siaposh - Siapush they called them. A closer examination of them was not made until 1898 by the second Danish Pamir Expedition, as I had then neither the time for it nor interpreters.
After a detailed examination of all the fortresses, and a thorough interrogation of the natives, we made sure that almost all the fortresses in Vakhan were built by the Siaposh. They were easily distinguishable from the others, for they were constructed with great military ingenuity and skill, which is in accordance with the tradition of their intelligence and very warlike disposition. Some of the older amongst the Vakhans can remember their grandparents speaking of the Siaposh living here when they were children ; and a comparatively well-instructed Kasi told us that it was at least 300 years since the Siaposh had reigned in Vakhan. Though one cannot attribute too much importance to the numerical statements of the natives, the condition of the fortresses seemed to indicate that they cannot date from a much earlier period. However, they may possibly be 500 to 600 years old, as even walls made of stones dried in the sun will last very long in this dry climate.
Besides the Siaposh fortress spoken of, which was possibly connected with the cave fortress situated about 200 metres east of Varang, there are still some others. These are the large Siaposh fortress of Zengi-bar at Zunk -, a very large fortification west of Yemchin ; a smaller fort about 1000 metres east of Darshai, at the ravine already spoken about, which is a road to the river Garm-chashma Darya#039;s upper course ; the fortress of Ka#039;a-Ka, about 1000 metres west of Namatgut, near the Pandsh ; a fort on the southern side of the Pandsh, near the river, on the hill at the middle of the pass at Ishkashim ; and a smaller fort about seven kilometres north of Nut, on the eastern bank of the Pandsh, in the province of Ishkashim. Here the line of Siaposh forts ceases, and no Siaposh ruins whatever are found further north in the Pandsh valley than this fortified place north of Nut.
All these military constructions are based on the defence of the provinces of Vakhan and Ishkashim, and are built most ingeniously. The fort of Zengi-bar, from its situation, barred the way against any invasion either from Vakhan or the valley of Pamir Darya. The fortress on the road from Darshal to Garm-chashma Darya barred the passes from Garan. The fortress north of Nut was alike calculated to stop the attacks of the Shugnans and Garans. The main fortress of the Siaposh, Ka#039;a-Ka, at Namatgut, is built just near the Pandsh, and was most likely so placed to bar the entrance to Vakhan from the south, through the pass of Istragh. It is situate only about twelve kilometres from the pass at Ishkashim, through which the Siaposh themselves poured into Vakhan, so that, in the event of being forced to retreat, they were near the line of retreat by way of Sebak and the Dora or Nuksan passes, or the pass of Istragh, along the river Chitral to Kafiristan.
The possibility that the Siaposh have gone further north along the valley of the Pandsh to Garan, Shugnan, Roshan, and beyond is not excluded by the fact that their fortifications cease at Nut, for they may have been driven back from the north at an earlier period and their fortifications pulled down after their retreat, whilst their large fortifications in Ishkashim and Vakhan on their line of retreat would enable them to hold their ground in these parts for a long time. In the fort in the pass at Ishkashim they had a kind of fortified repli for the garrisons of the forts north of Nut and Ka#039;a-Ka, which secured their retreat towards the south.
It seems, however, most probable that they advanced no further north than the southern boundary of Garan-the narrow poor ravine, difficult of access, would not tempt them to advance further north-besides, in the pass of Darbatid, where the valley narrows exceedingly, the northern tribes would be able to defend themselves easily enough to be a match for them. Indeed, they would perhaps be content to conquer the larger and populous valley in Vakhan and Ishkashim, and to settle down therein as the masters of the country.
Not only do the whole system and the skill in choice of the situations fur the fortresses in Vakhan bear witness to their high military ingenuity, but the fortresses themselves are based on a carefully made plan, as we shall see by examining the three largest, Zengi-bar, Yemchin, and Ka#039;a-Ka.
It is said in Vakhan that Ka#039;a-Ka was a powerful Siaposh chief, who conquered all Vakhan and Ishkashim, and built many fortresses. His two chief generals were Zengi-bar and Rondh, or Rang, after whom the fortress at Zunk and the kislak of Rang got their names. In the pass of Darband, south of Barshar, the Tadjiks from Shugnan and Garan are said to have stopped the advancing Siaposh and to have built forts which are now in ruins ; later on they attacked the chief Ka#039;a-Ka, and the tradition is that Hazreti Ali himself descended to earth to head the Tadjiks against the Siaposh. Ka#039;a-Ka had to retreat with his whole army through the pass of Ishkashim to Kafiristan. It was in memory of this event that the sanctuary to Hazreti Ali was erected near the destroyed Siaposh fortress of Ka#039;a-Ka.
This seems to indicate that Islam came to Vakhan after the Siaposh were driven out, when the northern Pamir people of Shugnan, Badakhshan, and Roshan, by force of arms, compelled the Vakhans to adopt their religion. If we go by the story about Hazreti Ali#039;s combat with Ka#039;a-Ka, it seems to be the Shiite sect which supplanted the Parsee religion in Vakhan, as Ali is the chief prophet of the Shiites, and the recognised successor of the prophet. This agrees with Captain Wood#039;s statement that the Vakhans, during his journey along the southern bank of the Pandsh, at any rate officially belonged to the Shiite sect.
The people of quality amongst the Vakhans-Kasis, Aksakals and greater landowners-form, together with their families, a kind of superior caste. They only speak Shugnan amongst themselves, and the old Vakhan language seeins to have degenerated into a peasant-dialect. The lower classes generally can only speak Vakhan.
It is probable that this governing class came into Vakhan with the Shiite Tadjiks coming from the north, and that they kept their dominion over the native Vakhans after the Siaposh were driven out.
THE SIAPOSH FORTRESSES AND CARVINGS ON STONES
Zengi-bar is situated about three kilometres from Langarkish, between that kislak and Zunk, on a high isolated slaty rock about a hundred metres high, and very difficult of access. The rock, judged by the position of the layers, looks as if it might have slid down from the mountain slope to the north. The rock falls steeply away on all sides, and in several places its sides are perpendicular as walls. The fortress is built on the upper plateau of this rocky eminence, which has a circumference of some 458 metres, its walls and towers standing right at the sheer edge of the plateau. It dominates the surrounding territory, and it was clearly intended to defend the people against attack from the north-east-from Pamir and Vakhan Darya. It is built exclusively of flat pieces of slate, without any framework ; this slate being formerly cemented with mud. The walls and towers, which are still well preserved, in some places rise to a height of seven metres above the plateau and are a metre in thickness. The square towers are provided with loopholes and are ornamented with a belt of stones placed edgewise and running round the entire fortress. All the way round the wall is flanked by twelve main towers, besides some smaller ones, and the walls are thus shaped in accordance with the form of the plateau so that there is not a single place outside the fortress which was not raked from the walls. Inside, along the whole wall, there are remains of buildings with rooms for the garrison, and in these are still well-preserved hearths, and niches in the walls for the storing of household utensils and weapons. In the middle of the fortress, within the line of houses throughout its length along the outer wall, are the remains of a larger building, the walls of which still indicate that they have been coated with plaster, and in which we find the niches so common in Central Asia for the storage of household utensils.
Fortress of Zengi-Bar
GROUND-PLAN OF THE RUINS OF THE SIAPOSH FORTRESS ZENGI-BAR
A-B: irrigation channel. C: outer walls and towers. D: Ascent to the gate. E: brick cistern. F: ruins of a dwelling, probably the one occupied by the chief.
This building is so large that it would hold several hundred people. It was divided into four halls, and was probably the residence of the chief. In three places in the fortress were found remains of three cisterns of brickwork to hold the water supply, and remnants of vaults built over them showed that they were covered over to hinder the evaporation of the water and to keep out the dust and dirt blown hither by the wind. The covered wells are also found in Bokhara, Khiva, Persia, and the neighbouring lands. Besides this large building for the chief were some smaller ones inside the walls, which presumably were occupied by the garrison with their horses and cattle and provisions. A whole little township was within these walls, and it is most likely that all the Siaposh quartered in this town had their dwelling here. The entrance to the fortress was to the south-west, by an artificial rampart formed by the heaping up of stones and fragments of rocks, and along this rampart a road led to the only gateway of the fortress. This gateway, which was vaulted, is built of a very solid material of large roughly hewn granite blocks-as was the case also with the two towers which defend it. The gateway was shut most likely by strong wooden doors, but of these there is now no trace. Inside the gateway are several houses with numbers of rooms connected by small doors-the plaster on their walls is partly preserved. Several of these rooms seem to have had arched ceilings. They were most likely occupied by a strong force for the defence of the entrance. As in Parthian and Sassanide buildings, so here also, corridors are never found, the rooms opening into each other. The vaults of the buildings seem to have been round, not pointed, as was ordinarily the case everywhere in Central Asia. The roofs, which are all fallen in, or have been removed, were most likely flat and built of beams, with a layer of clay on top, as in other places in Central Asia; but the beams have been removed, either to be employed by the Vakhans for the building of their own houses or for firewood. A watering channel is led past the north-western side of the fortress along the foot of the rock, and an underground passage led from the rampart to the water channel; this passage has now fallen in almost completely. All the walls of the fortress are provided with loopholes constructed in such a way that the garrison were able to shoot downwards as well as along the walls.
The Siaposh fortress at Yemchin is situated about two kilometres west of the kislak of Yemchin, on a mountain slope which is very difficult of access, about 600 metres above the Vakhan valley. One can only reach it by almost crawling on all fours. The walls of this fortress have the considerable circumference of about 12 kilometres. It is built ingeniously on a terrace that juts from the mountain slope, and is surrounded by two very rapid mountain streams, the deep ravines of which, worn out by their erosion, are some hundred metres deep, forming a natural moat round the mountain fastness. Highest upon the mountain top, where the rivers go past at a distance of only some 200 metres from each other, and where the ground round the banks furthest away from the fortress is quite inaccessible, is the reduit of the fortress, which consists of an independent fort, something like Zengi-bar, with a high wall flanked by towers. From this reduit there is a long wall along the western stream right down to the edge of the terrace, where it bends and runs along the edge of the slope to the eastern stream. At the eastern stream, where the ground is easier of access, are two walls, one behind the other, so that the garrison were able to defend themselves behind the second wall in case the first was carried by the enemy; and, in order to further strengthen this wing, an independent fort was built on a small island in the eastern stream. The walls were built so that they could fire upon the whole of the ground in front, and were curved in accordance with the shape of the ground so that they were able to rake it lengthwise. The walls, whereof several were still left to a height of seven or eight metres, had loopholes in two stories, and the towers flanking them, which were of a corneal form and ornamented on the outside by zigzag-formed figures, even had three stories of loopholes. These loopholes were all directed downward, and narrower at the outside than at the inside, just like our modern ones. Smaller towers are built here and there at the foot of the larger flanking towers.
They hang like a gallery on the perpendicular precipice down to the rivers, and are provided with machicolations and loopholes for the raking of the riverbeds thing it was impossible to do from the larger towers. Along the whole length of the wall, from tower to tower, there were, and still partly are, covered rooms for the defenders, and the whole slope on which the fortress is situate, both inside and outside, is laid out in terraces, which were most likely employed for growing corn, a fact of which there were still some traces left, so that the garrison in case of siege had a provision of corn. The irrigation was easily performed by leading in the water from the upper course of the rivers. The fortress is built entirely of flat pieces of slate cemented with mud ; in several places in the walls, and on almost all the towers, the clay covering is still partly undamaged. In some of the towers the beamed ceilings, with their cover of flat stones and mud floors, are still in existence, but otherwise all the roof constructions have been removed. When we look at the finely polished towers, it is borne in upon us that the whole fortress must have had a very handsome appearance, and it seems almost incomprehensible that they were able to build such a mighty construction in defence of this poor mountain province, and still more incomprehensible that they were able to support a garrison large enough for its defence. It was clearly an enormous work. It must have taken several years to build such a fortress at a height of 600 metres above the Vakhan valley, on a mountain slope so difficult of access, even if the whole population of Vakhan had worked at it.
The fortress of Ka#039;a-Ka is situated about 1000 metres west of the kislak of Namatgut, on an isolated rock some forty metres high, near the Pandsh. Right opposite to it, on the southern side of the river, is the pass road from the kislak of Istragh across the Hindu Kush to Chitral. The whole edge of this isolated rock is crowned by the mighty wall of the fortress, with loopholes in stories, in some places three stories, in others only two, strengthened here and there by square or conical flanking towers, ten metres high. In the middle of the circle of the outer wall, at the highest part of the rock, is the reduit, or main fortress, where Ka#039;a-Ka is said to have lived. The fortress has, with its walls and towers, a circumference of some 450 metres, and in its western part there are still ruins of a large square tower, which was most likely used as a watch-tower. The reduit is flanked towards east and west by walls with towers. These flanks were connected with the outer wall so that the fortress was divided into two parts. Its defence was undoubtedly based on attacks from the southern river bank in Vakhan, for there is still another wall to strengthen this frontage below the general outer wall near the river Pandsh. The ends of this wall were probably connected with the periphery of the proper outer wall, so that it formed a complete whole with the main fortress. There were thus three lines of defence towards the south-the lower wall by the river ; the outer wall ; and the recruit with its flanking walls -whilst towards the north there was only one line of defence-the outer wall.
The reduit is situate higher up, dominating the rest of the fortress, and between this and the outer wall is a deep valley round it, so that it would have been very difficult for an enemy to storm. The valley seems to have been made deeper by artificial means, and possibly the stories of the walls and towers were got therefrom. Through the valley, at the northern part of the fortress, was led a channel which provided it with water. As attacks were expected from the south, the channel is of course in the northern part of the fortress, for thus the fastness would still be supplied with water, even if the southern wall were taken by the enemy. This wall, having been won, the fight would be continued from the reduit and its flanks, which still formed an independent fortress owing to its communicating with the northern wall as well as with the southern one.
This Siaposh fortress, being built so near the Pandsh, and so evidently being based for defence not only against the Indian people as they crossed the pass of Istragh, but also against the Vakhans on the southern side of the river, seems to indicate that the Siaposh had only conquered the northern river bank in Vakhan. Whether similar Siaposh fortresses are found on the southern side of the Pandsh we could not personally discover; but the Vakhans denied the existence of any such. Perhaps the Siaposh occupation of Vakhan was only of short duration, the conquests of Ka#039;a-Ka possibly remaining under Siaposh sway only so long as Ka#039;a-Ka lived-a thing which is common in realms founded by an eminent commander.
The fortress must have been exceedingly imposing in its original form. Several of its walls and towers still stand to a height of ten metres ; they are all built on a solid stone foundation on which stand the walls of unbaked clay, being everywhere at least a metre thick. From the larger towers and the walls of the reduit they were able to shoot through three stories of loopholes ; whilst, in the outer wall, there were only two stories of loopholes. Sloping brick descents, both in the reduit and below the outer wall, indicate the presence of underground passes from the reduit to the outer wall, and from the outer wall to the wall at the banks of the Pandsh. In a few places ramparts are constructed for the passage from the inner walls to the outer ones, and along the outer wall there are remains of buildings which show that all alone this wall there were covered rooms for the garrison.
On the middle of the smooth outer front there were ornamentations resembling a ribbon or border, made of small pyramidal figures stamped on the clay in rows, one above the other ; and above this border were semicircular figures with rays from the centre to the periphery. If the few and simple remains of Siaposh art be compared to the art of any other people, it must be said to be most closely allied to that of the Parthians.
These Siaposh fortresses far surpass the fortresses of the Vakhans in size and in their solid and ingenious construction. The Vakhan fortresses are also very primitive, and generally only consist of a high square stone wall built on some mountain terrace very difficult of access. But the Siaposh fortresses also surpass those in the more fertile provinces of Darvas and Kai-ategin, though these be situated nearer the centres of Asiatic culture ; for, whilst in those provinces we still find some old fortresses in good repair and the ruins of others, yet, from a military point of view, they cannot be compared to the Siaposh fortresses in the Upper Pandsh valley; indeed, these are only surpassed by the largest old fortifications of Turkestan, Bokhara, and Khiva, and only in regard to size, not with respect to the ingenious employment of ground.
No articles were found in any of these fortresses which could remind one of their former defenders, but possibly excavations here might lead to the unearthing of things of interest.
Other older remains which may possibly originate front the Siaposh, but about the origin of which we could learn nothing whatever from the Vakhans, were some stones of granite which we found in several places, and on which figures and signs were carved, which we carefully copied. Near the northern end of Langarkish, where a small tributary stream flows into the Pandsh, we found three such stones. On one is a figure which is a little difficult to determine, but is probably meant to represent a kiyik with the two backward-bent horns ; on another were two distinctly carved kiyiks ; and on the third were some strange signs resembling the figures on old Indian coins, and some hands. As has been said, the hand is constantly found in the flour drawings in the houses of Vakhan ; moreover, it is found in the figure erected above the altar at the hot springs of Shund in Garan, and on a monumental stone with a Persian inscription which was brought from Shugnan to the National Museum at Copenhagen. It is also found as a wall decoration in the temples of the Parsee of the present day in Yezd in Persia ; but whether it is connected with the Parsee faith or with the Siaposh sect cannot be determined-most probably, however, with the Siaposh.
A large block of granite, about a metre and a half high, which stood near the ravine, about 1000 metres east of Darshai, where there are the ruins of a Siaposh fortress, had, on its front side, which was smooth from the hand of nature, carved drawings representing a hunting of the kiyik with bows and arrows. On the top picture the figure furthest to the left probably represents a kiyik killed by the archer to the right, who is now aiming at the next kiyik. Below the upper design is carved the picture of a dog. As the Siaposh used bows and arrows, the drawings are possibly meant to represent their hunting exploits.
Near the waterfall at Darband, formed by the Pandsh, south of Barshar, we found a granite stone about a metre high, on which were carved four kiyiks. As all these stones were of hard granite, the figures may be of considerable age ; but whether they ivere carved by Vakhans or by the Siaposh it is very difficult to determine. Besides these stones we found one at a path between Hazreti Ali and Ka#039;a-Ka, on which there was a Tadjik inscription, and under the heart-shaped figure a carved frame in which there was writing in Shugnan (Tadjik): "Hussini-ai-ari mara tamasha kuni"; "Nai babari mara tamasha kuni" - which our interpreter translated : "A good wife and good children give a merry face" ; "A man with a merry face speaks well."
GRANITE BLOCKS WITH CARVED FIGURES
A, B, C: Stones near Langarkish, 70, 80, and 150 cm high. D: Stone in the ravine east of Darshai, 150 cm high. E: Stone at Darband, 100 cm high. F: Stone by the roadside between Hazreti Ali shrine and Ka#039;a-ka.
Religion and superstition
IN several places in Vakhan and Ishkashim, as at Langarkish, Darshai, Nut, and Somdjen, there were some detached square towers without any entrance or opening in the walls ; they were built of flat stones cemented with mud, and had a height of about six metres and a base of from four to six metres. Apparently without any purpose whatever, they stood on barren mountain terraces or in dark ravines amongst the mountains. Several of them were scarcely more than half a century old, and no ruins were found in their neighbourhood to indicate that they might have belonged to former fortresses, though this was what the Vakhans said they were built for, calling them Topkhanah, Turkish for gun-tower or arsenal; but for such a purpose they were quite useless, as one could only get into them by creeping up a ladder and then sliding down into them. I am inclined to believe that these towers were possibly once towers of silence, where the natives placed their dead in accordance with the Parsee religion. No remains of bodies were found in the towers, but the natives, in spite of the Shiite faith which was forced upon them, may have clung to their original Zoroastrian religion and used these towers secretly. Possibly they have kept them in repair, being of opinion that Islam was only a passing evil.
It was very difficult to learn anything about their old religion, as the province during the autumn of 1896 was surrendered to Bokhara, and the officials sent there on that occasion gave strict orders to everybody to pay homage to Islam-those that dared have another religion being subjected to corporal punishment. I am therefore certain that the natives who accompanied us, and, according to orders from Bokhara, were at our disposal, did all in their power not to betray customs connected with their old religion, and gave us evasive answers with regard to these towers, as they did about the sanctuary of Hazreti Ali.
With regard to the religion of the people, and more especially the religion of the Vakhan, I am inclined to believe that the Parsee religion held its own here up to the beginning of the nineteenth century ; and even if the Shiite faith were the official religion, it is the religion forced upon them by the Afghans, and is not favourably looked upon by the people. Probably no steps were taken either by the Afghans or from the province of Badakhshan, north of Afghanistan, under which sway Vakhan has lately been, to try to spread any culture through the poor valley of the Upper Pandsh.
When I passed through Vakhan in 1896 there was an interregnum, in which there was really no established government. The Afghans had been driven out, at any rate formally by diplomatic negotiations, by the Russians; but the Russians had not yet occupied the province, so that the inhabitants really had no ruler. Being questioned by me with regard to their religion, they said that they were not Mussulmans, Shiites, nor Sunnites, and they had no Mashits (mosques or houses of prayer) like the Mahometans of the northern valleys of Pamir. They asserted most pointedly that they did not say daily prayers ("namas") like the Mussulmans, but that they were only united with the direction of Providence through their altars with the holy lights and their sanctuaries. Though they all in 1898 professed to be Sunnites, on account of the orders of the Bokbara authorities, we learnt a great deal about their religious point of view through our Kasi, Khoda Da, whose statements seemed to confirm our estimate that their religion consists of partly corrupted remains handed down from the old Iranian faith.
Their chief god is called Allah, as in Islamitic religion, or Khoda, but they also have one Almasde, which is probably a corruption of Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda), who is not, as in the old Iranian faith, the creator of the world, but has here degenerated into an evil spirit, who lives in the rivers, into the eddies of which he tries to draw bathing or swimming men. Sometimes he will go into the stables at night and amuse himself by disturbing the horses and donkeys or by pulling hairs out of their tails and manes.
The whole world was created by Allah or Khoda-the heavens in 45 days, the water in 60 ; the earth in 75 ; the trees in 30 ; the cattle in 80 ; and, at last, man in 75 days. This corresponds exactly with the time that Ahura Mazda took for the creation.
The world is made of fire, earth, water, and wind, and these four elements are given to man to make use of. The Mazdak sect of the old Iranian religion held that everything had developed itself out of fire, earth, and water, and to this later on was added wind.
The sky is of silver, and the stars of cut glass ; each man has his own star ("zothroog"), and when a person dies a shooting star is seen. (In the Iranian faith the sky is of bright steel or silver, and both good and evil stars are found.) There are several skies, one above another-the uppermost sky ("asman") is of silver and there Khoda (God) lives. In the earth lives the devil ("Shaitan") with all his brood ; but there is besides a kind of between-world, the air, which is full of spirits, whereof some seem to be quite useless for man, and, the rest to be evil spirits. In the mean features this is the old Iranian faith also. The spirits of the air are male and female, and it is one of the female spirits that tries to contract the throats of sleeping people and so produces snoring. Another rides on human beings and so produces nightmare. The natives told me that they often in their dreams at night saw these evil female spirits, who were a mixture of the beautiful and the dreadful.
In the old Iranian faith, the Avesta religion, (we give it this name for convenience sake, well knowing that the Avesta must be much younger than the religion whose doctrines it comprises), both good and bad spirits, whether male or female ("Yazatas"), which fill the air, have in time all become evil spirits.
The Vakhans hold that the evil spirits, which they imagine to fill the air, now and again visit the earth and take up their abode in dark ravines, amongst mystical-looking mountains and rocks, or in old trees, and by graves. It is possible that this is why they have lights burning in bowls or lamps in such places, to keep these evil spirits away by the aid of the good spirit, the fire-or at any rate to paralyse their effect.
The Vakhans, however, consider the spirits who produce thunder ("tundur") and lightning ("atashak") as an exception to the evil spirits of the air, for though they do not see any use in these things, they do not see that they do any harm. The Vakhans hold that thunder and lightning, which, by the way, are very rare here, are produced by the clouds drawing up water from the rivers, and as the spirits who rest on the clouds do not like the wetness, they beat the clouds, and thunder and lightning are the result. Others said that thunder was produced by the clouds fighting amongst themselves, and that the consequent storm was very injurious to the corn.
In the Avesta religion we find the lightning explained as a weapon against the demons, and the thunder to be the cry of the demons when they are hit by the lighting-an explanation which, in the main, resembles that of the Vakhans. Moreover, the Avesta religion states that the spirits of the air often suffer very much from the cold, just as the Vakhans say that they suffer from the moisture which the clouds draw up from the rivers.
As the Vakhans hold that the clouds fight amongst themselves, they must imagine them to be living beings, mighty spirits. The only thing that they attribute to them, however, is that the rain ("wur") and the snow ("zumm") are made by them.
Many of the spirits which float in the air play a great part in the imagination of the natives, and must be regarded as hobgoblins who, by all kinds of ill-natured devices, tease men. The people, however, could give no explanation as to what they imagine them to be like, or of the purpose of their existence.
The people of the Pandsh valley imagine the rivers and lakes to be inhabited by beings who, if they be not real gods, are at least supernatural beings, like the water-gods of the Avesta religion. The same superstition is found amongst the Kirghiz of High Pamir. In the rivers we have the evil spirit Almasde, demon lord of the whirlpool ; and in the lakes especially we find hairy mermen immensely rich in gold and precious stones. Amongst other tales it was said of the Emir of Kabul, Abdurrahman Khan, that he had an interview with such a merman, to whom he sold his soul for gold and power.
The lakes are believed to be full of sea-horses, especially lake Shiva in Badakhshan and lake Yashilkul in High Pamir. During the night these sea-horses come out of the water to graze, and they then pair with the horses in the fields, and this crossing is said to be very good for the breed. To venture out on these lakes is death, as the sea-monsters would immediately pull one down into the deep.
It is interesting to compare this myth with the Vourukasha myth in the Avesta religion.
The people believe that there are great realms down in the earth, but no human being knows anything with regard to them, except that they are the abode of Shaitan and all his inferior devils. This Shaitan was in the beginning a good spirit, an angel, who lived in heaven. He was very wise and very haughty. One day in his arrogance he spat on the sky ("asman"), and this remained on the sky as a crescent. Then the angel Djabrail (Gabriel)-in Islam God always speaks to the prophet through the angel Djabrail or Gabriel--descended to the earth and formed a man out of earth, and God gave it soul and ordered that all the angels should bow down before this creature. (See second Sur in the Koran.) All the angels obeyed but Shaitan, who held himself too mighty an angel to bow down before man. Asa punishment, Shaitan was chained on the sky to the half moon, which he had himself produced in his arrogance. Later on he was thrown down on the earth and his body covered with hair. He took up his abode inside the earth, but is at the same time omnipresent on earth-nobody sees him or knows him.
In the Avesta faith opinions are divided as to how the devil ("Angro-mainyus") was created but, amongst others, is the tradition that he is a fallen angel, and that seven demons were chained to the sky. This doctrine was held by the Zervanit sect.
The halo round the moon, which Shaitan produced by spitting on the sky (the allusion to the crescent being, of course, the moon in its first quarter), makes it become an evil star. In the Avesta faith good and evil stars are also found, and this is a strange fact, as all lights are considered by them the most effective adversaries of evil spirits.
The waxing and waning of the moon ("zjomak"), say this people, is due to its eatliig the stars until it becomes quite round, after which it vomits them again and becomes thin.
When there is a solar or lunar eclipse, the Vakhans kill sheep and goats at their altars and sanctuaries, and the meat is distributed among the poor. When, during winter, the sun can only shine a short while into the narrow mountain valleys, the people say that God ("Khoda") is wrathful on account of the sins of the people-therefore the sun hides behind the mountains, and so, to appease God, they make sacrifices of cattle and light the lamps in the sanctuaries.
Others told us that the sun and moon occasionally themselves sin, and are punished by God by being obscured, as, for instance, after an eclipse; they then have very heavy toil in chasing away the demons who have obtained great power over them during the time of darkness.
The rainbow ("Kyaman-i-Rustam") is the bow of Rustam or Rustem. Concerning this mvth#039;cal hero, who, according to the Iranian legends, rode across Hara Berezaiti (The High Mountain, by which is meant Pamir, or, perhaps, the Elburz range) on his horse Alborj, they tell that he was a great prophet, who, at his death, left his bow in the sky.
Earthquakes, which are very frequent in these parts, are thus explained by the Vakhans : The earth rests on the horns of a gigantic ox; the ox ("dorukhs") stands on a fish; the fish rests on a street of water ; and the water rests on the air. Now and again the ox is troubled by a fly or mosquito, and shakes its head, making the earth to quake.
Another story was told that the ox carried the earth on one horn, and when he got tired he shifted it on to the other horn, making the earthquake. (The ox was probably a holy animal even earlier than the time of the Avesta religion. The Persians attributed a sanctifying power to its urine, in spite of urine being considered polluting in the Avesta religion.)
Like the old Iranians, the inhabitants of the Upper Pandsh valley believe that all living creatures possess a soul ("djan"). They also believe in a life after death. When a man dies, an angel ("Azrail") comes and tears the soul out of him, puts it in a small pot, and ascends with it to heaven, where he gives it to the angel Ishrafil, who places it in a large trumpet. (This same tradition holds amongst the Arabs.) When once all living creatures on earth are dead, the angel will blow his trumpet, and all souls, both good and bad, will fly out to begin a new life. Meanwhile the souls lie dominant in the trumpet.
Thus, as in the Avesta faith, there is here a state of transition between life on earth and life after death, though explained in a somewhat different way. With respect to the further development of the soul until the day of judgment, the Vakhans know nothing. The reception of the souls in heaven by the angel reminds one of the tenets of the Avesta faith, which teaches that Vohumanu, as the president for the Ameshaspentas, receives the souls in heaven, welcomes them, and shows them to their places. Like the Avesta people, the Vakhans have their monthly, their New Year#039;s and their spring festivals, which consist of banquets and the lighting of the holy lamps.
The custom in Vakhan of ornamenting the pillars of the houses with wreaths of ears of corn, as soon as the corn ears, may possibly be a relic of the Anahita cult drawn from the Avesta religion. The Armenians used to celebrate every year a rose festival for the goddess Anahita, when the temples were adorned with wreaths. This custom still exists among the Christian Armenians, but is now celebrated in memory of the transfiguration of Christ.
The Parthians, who probably were of the Zoroastrian faith (not the form found in Zend Avesta, but a mixture of it and Magianism) have left behind them a bas-relief of a Magi consecrating a holy column adorned with wreaths ; and as the Parthian realm embraced Bactria to Parapamissos (Hindu Kush) it does not seem impossible that the custom should date so far back.
Thus we see that the religion of this people in many ways resembles the old Avesta faith, which, in the course of time, has been much corrupted by being handed down froi-n generation to generation. The original old Iranian religion, which is written down in Zend Avesta, was already much corrupted at the time of the Achaemenides.
The fact that the Vakhans never blow out a light, so as not to pollute it with their breath, and that they never approach a fire without covering their faces with their hands, must also be a remnant of fire and light worship.
The Ishatis and the title of Sait (Descendant of the Prophet) are, of course, a part of the Shiite faith ; but these things, together with the written prayers against disease, which the people buy from the wandering Dervishes and Calenders, have really no connection with their proper religion.
Of superstitions, the Vakhans have the ticking of the death-watch ("tik-tik-i-deval") in a wall to prognosticate death for some one present in the room. To stride over a man who is lying on the ground is a very bad omen for the man over whom one walks. Everywhere in the sand a fish ("Mahi Sakhankhu") is found. When this fish is boiled it becomes hard, like a stone. If one grinds one#039;s knife on this stone and cuts meat with this knife, the men will be hearty and strong and the women beautiful.
How was the valley of the Upper Pandsh populated?
How the valley of the Pandsh became populated lay Iranian tribes is a question that cannot be answered directly. The history of Central Asia is very difficult to trace, even on a large scale, as far back as the appearance of Islam ; and of the period before Islam, even from what we gather from the centres of learning in Central Asia, by the Oxus and Jaxartes in Khiva, Bokhara, Turkestan, and Afghanistan, our knowledge is very small.
If we take it for granted that the main part of the population of Central Asia or Transoxania and Turkestan were Iranians at least as far back as we can go, and that these people had their principal residence in these more eastern parts rather than in the Persia of our day, this population has apparently sent its offshoots along the rivers into the mountainous regions, just as the water of a spring oozes down into all the clefts and crevices of the rocks.
From the fertile banks of Amu Darya#039;s and of Syr Darya#039;s lower course, the Iranian people wandered along the rivers into the narrowest valleys of Pamir and of the neighbouring mountains, where the majestic Hindu Kush partly stopped their further advance towards the south. No one can say for certain what caused the Iranians to leave the fertile parts and go into these poor, distant mountainous regions. We can only conjecture. Even if these mountain valleys had formerly a more flourishing agriculture than now-indeed, they have of late suffered considerably from Afghan mismanagement and plundering-even if the masses of gravel and rocks and sand which the rivers and glaciers and snowmelting during the spring and the winds bring into the valleys, have done much to diminish the agriculture; and even if the Iranian myths are correct in calling the Pamir valleys a paradise and the cradle of humanity ; yet they must have been from time immemorial narrow mountain valleys with scanty vegetation, and without any material resources which might have tempted the Iranians to a voluntary immigration.
The Arabian geographers knew Pamir and the Oxus with its five sources. Aristotle in 322 B.C. had likewise heard of these gigantic mountains. But Pamir is mentioned still earlier in the Iranian myths and in the Avesta. As the appearance of Zarathustra (Zoroaster) and the main details of the Avesta faith must date back as far as the time before the Achaemenidian dynasty, before the sixth century, B.C., or, as some think, 2000 years before Christ, it is probable that the Pandsh valley was populated at any rate before the time of Zoroaster. The Iranian myths from that time mention both the main rivers of Turkestan, Syr and Amu Darya, under the names of Rangha and Ardvi-sura; and relate that they came from Hara Berezalti (The High Mountain), whereby Pamir and the neighbouring mountains were probably meant. Here is the cradle of mankind, the Airyana Vaeja, say the Iranian myths. This Eden was destroyed by God by means of snakes, snow, and sandstorms, when the wickedness of man grew great. Possibly the Iranian myths make this statement because the valleys of Pamir were already inhabited by people who would not adopt the Zoroastrian faith, as we know that this religion met with great resistance in many places in Central Asia, amongst other places in the very country which is supposed to be the native place of Zoroaster-namely, Azerbeidjan, or Adarbaijan. There were several sects of the Zoroastrian faith who lived at strife amongst themselves. Zoroaster can only really be considered as a reviser of the old Iranian faith. Now it may be that one of these sects may, for religious reasons, have withdrawn into the valleys of Pamir to live its own life, or may have had to flee thither to live in seclusion from the world, and so in Vakhan have preserved their old faith right up to the middle of the nineteenth century, when the Shiite religion (which at the time of Wood#039;s travels in 1837 was forced upon Shugiian and Roshan by the Islamitic rulers in Balkh, Khulm, Kundus and Faisabad) was proclaimed the official religion of Vakhan without really gaining any foothold upon the people. So that in 1896, when the Vakhans were without a ruler, they declared themselves not to be Mussulmans. Wood states the Shiite religion to be the official religion, without further comment; but in this way we could also state the religion of the Vakhans in 1896 to be the Sunna, as they were then, by the Sunnite Bokhara government officials, compelled to profess that creed without knowing in the least what Sunna and Shiah really meant.
It seems most likely that the southern valleys of Pamir were peopled from Balkh (Bactria), which played the same part for the Avesta people as Mecca for the Mahometans. From Balkh they went through the valleys of Kokcha and the Wardodjh river by way of Sebak and the pass of Ishkashim, where was the easiest access, to south Pamir, to which region they brought the Iranian faith.
As to the way in which Shugnan became peopled, the legend in this province runs as follows : In Balkh there was a large realm governed by a mighty Khan. A terrible disease befell this Khan, so that two worms grew out of his shoulders, only their heads projecting, whilst their bodies remained in his body. To cure this disease and to get rid of the worms two holy men were called in, who advised him to feed the worms on human brains. This being done, the worms disappeared for a time, but returned again. A third holy man was now called in, who advised that the worms should be fed partly on dog#039;s and partly on sheep#039;s brains. The worms disappeared for ever. The two holy men who were first called in were now afraid they would be beheaded owing to their unsuccessful treatment, and fled into the mountains to Shugnan. The mountain Tadjiks are said to be the descendants of these two men.
It is said that Islam reached the borders of Pamir in the eighth century. Yet, according to the tradition, the Parsee faith remained in Shugnan until the thirteenth century, when the Shiite sect, which was formed between 714 and 874, succeeded the old Iranian religion.
It might be supposed that the Vakhans, in the narrow pass of Darband which formed the only entrance to Vakhan from the north and where, according to the legends, innumerable fights were fought, were able to stop the advancing Shiah, so that Islam was kept out of Vakhan for a longer period than from the northern provinces, which were, moreover, attacked by the Sunnites, who by the last Trater invasion into Badakshan spread themselves all over Darvas and the provinces further north.
During the journey of Marco Polo in South Pamir (1272 to 1273) the valleys were much troubled by the raids of the Siaposh, and it is most likely that after Marco Polo#039;s time these raids led to the entire conquest of Vakhan, which they were forced to leave later on. It is impossible to discover exactly the duration of the Siaposh occupation of Vakhan ; but as there are no remains of their domination north of Darband, it goes without further proof that they were checked in their northward advance by the Shiahs living north of Darband. The Siaposh occupation must have been of short duration ; indeed the Vakhans only mention one Siaposh commander, Ka#039;a-Ka, and his two lieutenants, Zengi-bar and Rondh, who built the large fortresses in Vakhan, whence they themselves were all driven by Hazreti Ali and his men, the Shiites. The Shiites of Shugnan and Roshan, who seem always to have been dependent on the larger westerly provinces of Badakhshan and the realms of the present Afghanic Turkestan (Balkh, c.), went out eagerly to fight against the Siaposh in Vakhan, perhaps aided by the Vakhans themselves. To the most prominent man, Hazreti Ali, in memory of whom the altar Hazreti Ali was built beside the Siaposh fortress of Ka#039;a-Ka, the honour was then ascribed by the Shiites coming from the north of having driven the Siaposh out of Vakhan, and for this reason the Vakhans still honour this altar, as the Siaposh must have been a terrible scourge to them.
The people of quality in Vakhan, who have introduced the Shugnan language, were most likely some of Hazreti Ali#039;s men, and they have naturally, as the new conquerors, kept their old religion (Shiah) as the official religion ; but it has never gained any hold upon this old Iranian people, though they had now got for masters a people of their own stock who had adopted Islam. Their supremacy has lasted right into our day, and princes, Mirs or Shahs, were chosen from the families of the highest rank in Vakhan and Garan, which, though partly independent, were in some part tributary states to the larger states west of the Pandsh in Afghanic Turkestan.
This quasi-independence of the small realms in the Pamir valleys was possible partly on account of their distance from the centres of culture in Asia, and partly on account of the incessant wars waged during the Islamitic period amongst all the peoples of Central Asia from Tian-sban and the lake of Aral, along Amu and Syr Darya, across the countries west cf Pamir to India-which fierce disturbances would naturally divert attention from these small states; but about their history little is really known.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the Mir Rahim reigned in Vakhan, who paid a yearly tribute of slaves to Khundus, but was in reality quite independent. Khundus was again tributary to the Emir of Kabul.
At about the same time, Shugnan was a realm under the Shah Yusuf Ali, whilst Garan was under the sway of the Khan of Faisabad. The realm of Shugnan embraced the valley of the Pandsh from Kalal Wamar to Khorok, and the valleys of the rivers Gund and Shakdarra ; the residence of the Shah was in the then still existing mountain fortress Kalai-bar-Pandsh (The Castle above the Pandsh). Shugnan was conquered by the Emir Abdurrahman Khan from Kabul, who died in 1901. He first conquered Badakhshan, where the Shah, Djahandar Shah, was killed in 1867.
Terrified at this, Yusuf Ali Khan fled to Darvas, which was then under the sway of the Emir of Bokhara. The Afghans occupied his residence, Kalai-hai-Pandsh, and sent him a letter to Darvas, assuring him that he might safely return. On his return to Shugnan he was taken to Kabul, where he was killed by Abdurrahman. Then the Afghans turned towards the south to Vakhan, whence the Regent Ali Mardhan Shah had already fled to Chitral, and the Emir of Kabul took possession of Vakhan and South Pamir as far as the neighbourhood of Yashlikul until 1893, when Russia formally took them over, though she took little notice of them until 1896, when they were given to Bokhara, under Russian protectorate.
History-List of literature referred to in these pages
To what extent the great historical events, such as the Greek invasion, the domination of the Parthians and Sassanides, the religious wars between the Parsee and the Buddhist, the victory of Islam over Parsee and Buddhism, the wars between the Islamitic sects, the Nigurian and Tartar and Mongolian invasions into the valleys of Amu and Syr Darya, have influenced these distant lands of Pamir it is impossible to determine.
Alexander the Great is known by all the peoples of Central Asia as Iskandar, and all the changing rulers of the valleys of Pamir professed themselves descendants of Iskandar. The Parthian and Sassanidian realms embraced Bactria and Arakhosia to Parapamissos, at all events to the borders of Pamir.
In the year 334 A.D. Christian congregations were found in the neighbouring Bactria. From 666 to 714 A.D. took place the invasion of the Arabs and the propagation of Islam in Transoxania. During the ninth and tenth centuries the Sassanides of Bokhara had their viceroys in Balkh. About the year 1000 the mighty Turkish prince Ilik Khan from
Kashgar overran Turkestan and the Transoxanian countries. During the thirteenth century Jenghis Khan, with his Mongols, pushed on to Balkh and further on to India, to which country he pursued the prince of Charezm Dshelaled-din. During the reign of the grandson of Jenghis Khan, Kublai Khan, Marco Polo passed Pamir on his travels. In the fourteenth century the Turkish prince Timur conquered Afghanistan. From 1500 to 1510 Sheibani Mehemed Khan was engaged in the conquest of Balk and Badakshan. In 1533 the greatest of the Sheibanides, Abdullah Khan, was born in Transoxania (Bokhara). In High and North Pamir are found several of the so-called Gumbas, or mudchambered tombs, with a cubical lower part and a conical top, such as are built over the Kirghiz of high rank. Several of these, as at Yashllkul and the Alitshur river and other places, are called Abdullah Khan Mazar, and are said to have been built in commemoration of the famous Shelbanide, whose fame is widespread amongst all the Kirghiz. The Kirghiz tell that in all there were a thousand and one mazars consecrated to him. As we know from history, Abdullah Khan adorned Bokhara and several other towns with numbers of magnificent buildings, and one of his builders, being asked when Abdullah meant to be done with his building, answered : Not until he had finished his thousand and first splendid edifice. It is possibly this story that the Kirghiz tell in a different way.
In the seventeenth century the Ashtarkhanides in Transoxania fought with Abbas the Great for the possession of Balkh. These wars continued all through the eighteenth century, as the viceroys were constantly trying to form an independent realm there. In I76o the Kirghiz are said to have advanced across Pamir to Badakhshan. Chinese ruins of fortresses were found by the second Danish Pamir Expedition in the year 1898 at Yashilkul.
From these general details of the sequence of political events in Central Asia we have to gather what little we can as to the culture and development of these small realms of Pamir, as to which history is silent .....
THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE MOUNTAIN TADJIKS
By SOREN HANSEN
DURING the stay of the second Danish Pamir Expedition in the provinces of Shugnan and Vakhan, the botanist of the expedition, Mr. Paulsen, had the opportunity of making a series of anthropological examinations of the people, concerning whom, up till then, we had no positive details as to physique, build, and racial characteristics. It was taken for granted, of course, that there was a certain likeness to the rest of the mountain Tadjiks ; but the mountains of Central Asia have already afforded many ethnographic surprises, and every positive contribution to our knowledge of the distinctive characteristics of the races of these parts is of great significance with regard to the origin and descent of the human races, even if it should not bring us the final solution.
The people of Shugnan and Vakhan must be regarded as Tadjiks, with distinctive peculiarities of race, and without any noteworthy intermixture of foreign elements, whilst the greater number of the Tadjiks in the lowlands west of Pamir are more or less strongly intermixed, especially with Turkish elements. In strong contrast to these Tadjiks of the lowlands, the type of the mountain Tadjiks is so pure that we are able to form a very clear conception of that type through the brief descriptions handed down to us by former travellers, inasmuch as the type is identical today with the widely dispersed Celtic race of Europe. The fact that "the Celtic race" is a disputed definition is not sufficient cause to consign to oblivion this good and well known name; but it must be distinctly understood that under this name I include all the peoples whose appearance corresponds with the Celtic type set up by Broca, their origin and mutual relationship being quite left out of the question.
It has even been supposed that this is the race mentioned in the descriptions of the Ussunes (Wu-sun) by the very ancient Chinese authors. These Ussunes were a people in these parts who had long "horse-like" faces, protruding noses, and deep-set, blue eyes. It is not improbable that the Ussunes were really mountain Tadjiks, though it is said that they spoke Turkish.
The first perfectly trustworthy characteristic is, however, due to the French missionary Benedict Goes, who explored Pamir in the begining of the seventeenth century, and states that the Mountain Tadjiks had fair hair and "beards like the Belgians." This direct comparison with a pure Celtic nation is of special interest because it originates from a period where any influence of scientific theories was out of the question.
In accordance with this a much later explorer, the Englishman Wood, emphasizes the fact that the Vakhans have no characteristic marks in their features or the colour of their hair and eyes, but at the same time he designates them Greeks (true or pseudo Greeks), and in this there is the sign that Wood was influenced by the current view of his time, according to which these tribes were descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great. Another English explorer of quite late years, Younghusband, seems to be somewhat influenced by their contrast to the Mongols when he terms the Mountain Tadjiks "very fair" with handsome regular features. (Younghusband, The Heart of A Continent.) Indeed, the same evidence is given by Biddulph, Robert Shaw, and others, if not so markedly given ; but all these observers have found well-known features amongst the mountain Tadjiks, and, together with what we already know of the races of Central Asia, their short remarks about the general habits of the Mountain Tadjiks leave no doubt that they are quite in accordance with those of the Celtic race. The only difference is that their skin is "much tanned by sun and wind and all weathers," (Wood, Journey to the Source of the Oxus) and in the fact that their eyes seem more deep set-perhaps for the same reason. Otherwise the affinity is as perfect as possible between the Mountain Tadjiks and the European peoples of the Celtic race as we find them in the south of Zealand.
These observations were, of course, founded on no scientfic methods of the present day, but on merely the general impression left on the traveller.
For the scientific treatment we must go to Charles de Ujfalvy, to whom we chiefly owe our knowledge of the anthropology of the Mountain Tadjiks, as he has, through a thorough study of many years of the characteristics of the races of Central Asia, procured large and valuable material which throws a much clearer light over this subject. Ujfalvy#039;s principal work is "Les Aryens au Nord et au Sud de I#039;Hindou Kouch," in which he has collected the contents of numerous large and small treatises.
Ujfalvy has had the opportunity, in repeated journeys, of studying part of the western groups of mountain Tadjlks and, though he never met with either Shugnans or Vakhans, the measurements show that there is no difference worth mentioning, though they are far removed from the peoples Ujfalvy visited-his subject covering the country just east of Samarkhand, and embracing in all some 58 specimens, whilst Paulsen examined 98. Ujfalvy had, moreover, an extensive range for the purposes of comparison with almost all the surrounding tribes, and we therefore adopted his method in working out the material before us, though objections could be raised against it in more ways than one. That he is, on the whole, too apt to draw more extensive conclusions from his examinations than he is justified in doing, does not lessen the value of his positive information ; but it must be emphasised that the numerous works of Ujfavy can only be used under the most watchful criticisms fact which is clearly laid bare when we go through the great number of notes and emendations at the end of his principal work. He attributes a greater significance to the newest, often very hazardous, theories than is their due ; but he has a manifold and comprehensive knowledge of the subject, and the sharp eye for the inconsistencies between the physical and linguistic definition of race, which is so very necessary for the study of the ethnography of these peoples.
What has formerly so greatly impeded the study of the very intricate distinctions of race in Central Asia is the definition of the race-names, more especially the much-disputed trm "Aryan." To Ujfalvy is due the honour of having settled that the term "Aryan race" is a mere linguistic definition which must neither be attached to the fair, short-skulled Celtic race to which the mountain Tadjiks belong, nor to the long-skulled Gothic-Teutonic race ; but there is nothing to prevent its being used as a common designation for all the races which belong to the Aryan group of languages. There are certainly several prominent men of science who still retain the notion of a very ancient race, characterised by certain peculiarities of appearance, which has formed and propagated the original Aryan language and the Aryan culture, and, indeed, this may have been so, but we know nothing of the appearance of this hypothetical race, and its language and culture has, at any rate, propagated itself to other races at so early a junture that nothing known about the original race.
The theories as to the origin of the Celts are too many and too incompatible for us to undertake a closer account of them.
With regard to the mountain Tadjiks, it is only known that they had already, at least a couple of thousand years ago, found their way into the narrow and almost inaccessible valleys where they have since preserved their racial character, unaffected by the violent warfare which has raged again and again in their neighbourhood and strangely unaffected by all culture.
Their distribution cannot be stated with exactness, as they get lost towards the west amongst the chief mass of the Tadjiks, and towards the east in the strongly mixed populations of Kashgaria, while towards the north they are separated from their allied races in Siberia by a broad belt of Turkish tribes, and towards the south of Hindu Kush their occurrence is extremely doubtful.
Robert Shaw, in a very intelligible way, has represented this by a diagram, in an article "On the Ghalchah Languages," in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, xiv., 1876, page 140. He draws a line from north-west to southeast alone, the eastern border or ridge of hills of the Pamir plateau, and to the middle of this line another one from west to east along the Hindu Kush. Innermost in the acute angle thereby produced is then the home of the Mountain Tadjiks. But even if this be correct in the main, it must be remembered that Sliaw#039;s representation of the distribution of these tribes is founded exclusively on linguistic examination. But if, as we are now doing, we abide by the characteristics of their personal appearance, the boundary for their distribution must be moved considerably further towards the west. The tribes herein called Mountain Tadjiks to emphasise the difference between the anthropological and linguistic point of view, are ordinarily called Ghalchahs, a name which was used by Goes, but which is not even mentioned by a prominent judge of the ethnology of Central Asia like Bellew. Paulsen has, in all, examined 98 or 97 individuals, whereof 36 or 37 were resident in Vakhan, 62 in Shugnan ; they were all adult men, and the collected notes are thus under the same disadvantage as most of the examinations of primitive tribes-not even Ujfalvy was able to collect information about the women.
The stature of both tribes, taken conjointly, was, on the average, 168.6 centimetres, or almost exactly the same as the height of the population of Denmark. The tribes further towards the west, which were examined by Ujfalvy, were not quite so tall, only 166-7 centimetres ; but this difference is of no importance when we consider the very small number of individuals measured. Nor were the Vakhans and Shugnans equally tall, for whilst the Vakhans had an average height of 166.8 centimetres, the Shugnans were taller by quite 2.8 centimetres, or almost an inch, and in the single individuals the heights varied from 154 to 182 centimetres.
According to the ordinary anthropological usage of language, the Mountain Tadjiks must be termed somewhat above the middle height, and, as may be seen from the above table of height classification, more than two-thirds of the individuals were 165 centimetres high, the limit ordinarily adopted for in middle height. According to the examinations of Ujfalvy, the Tadjlks of the lowlands are a little taller--on the average a little above 170 centimetres. Thus then the Mountain Tadjiks are comparatively tall when compared to the rest of the Celtic tribes, whose height is generally accepted as 164 centimetres; but we find similar deviations from standards and from the general rule in Europe also.
All travellers agree that in this people a sturdy and well-proportioned frame is combined with this considerable height ; but we have no actual measurements in proof of this fact.
As regards the shape and size of the head, .... This characteristic of race, which has held its own as the most important of all, unaffected by all modern criticism, separates the Mountain Tadjiks in so effective a manner from the Dardus and all other Hindu tribes, that no linguistic affinity can conjoin them into one race ; at the same time it unites the Mountain Tadjiks closely with the Tadjiks of the lowlands and with the other Celtic tribes.
The statements we have hitherto had with regard to the colour of the skin, of the hair, and of the eyes of the Mountain Tadjiks are doubtful, and more or less influenced by the contrast to the black-haired neighbouring tribes of Turkish, Mongolian and Hindoo race. It is undoubtedly this contrast which has made several of the travellers of former days term these tribes "fair," or even "very fair" ; but it is pretty certain that they are generally much fairer than all the neighbouring tribes. As to the colour of their skin, it must be termed fair or white if it be understood that it is devoid of the yellow tinge which is found in all Mongolian tribes : and even when tanned by sun and weather it does not attain the peculiar dark tinge which characterises the Hindoos as well as all other Oriental races.
The hair is fine and wavy, generally not very dark; and the eyes are generally brown. Paulsen, however, finds blue eyes in three Vakhans, and grey eyes in one Vakhan; and in six Shugnans he notes greenish eyes. On the whole, the colour corresponds exactly with the colour of other Celtic tribes, with the same numerous shades that exist in such tribes.