The Cradle of Mankind; Life in Eastern Kurdistan

The Cradle of Mankind; Life in Eastern Kurdistan

Author:
W. A. Wigram
Author:
W. A. Wigram
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Wigram, Edgar Thomas Ainger, 1864-1935
Kurds
Kurdistan — Description and travel
The Cradle of Mankind; Life in Eastern Kurdistan


Every attempt has been made to replicate the original as printed.
No attempt has been made to correct or normalize the spelling of non-English words.
Some typographical errors have been corrected; a list follows the text.
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Contents
List of Illustrations
Glossary
Index: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z
(etext transcriber’s note)

THE CRADLE OF MANKIND

AGENTS
America The Macmillan Company
  64 & 66 Fifth Avenue, New York
Australasia The Oxford University Press
  205 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Canada The Macmillan Company of Canada, Ltd.
  St. Martin’s House, 70 Bond Street, Toronto
India Macmillan & Company, Ltd.
  Macmillan Building, Bombay
  309 Bow Bazaar Street, Calcutta
  Indian Bank Buildings, Madras

THE RIVER OF EDEN.
(The Zab entering the Tyari Gorges).
The view down stream from the mouth of the Ori valley, a little above Tal. The distant snow peak is Ghara Dagh on the southern side of Tkhuma.
No. 1

THE CRADLE OF
MANKIND

LIFE IN EASTERN KURDISTAN

BY
THE REV. W. A. WIGRAM. B.D. (Camb.) D.D. (Lambeth)
AUTHOR OF “THE HISTORY OF THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH”

AND

SIR EDGAR T. A. WIGRAM
AUTHOR OF “NORTHERN SPAIN”

ILLUSTRATED FROM SKETCHES AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY
SIR EDGAR T. A. WIGRAM

SECOND EDITION.

A. & C. BLACK, Ltd.,
4, 5 & 6, SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.1.
1922

First Edition published May, 1914.
Second Edition, with two additional Chapters,
published Autumn, 1922.

The truth is, that ye ken naething about our hill country, or Hielands as we ca’ them. They’re a kind of wild world by themselves, full of heights and howes, caverns, lochs, rivers and mountains, that it would tire the very deevil’s wings to flee to the tap of them. And the folk are clean anither set frae the likes of huz; there’s nae bailie-courts amang them—nae magistrates that dinna bear the sword in vain. Never another law hae they but the length of their dirks; the broad-sword’s pursuer, and the target is defender, and the stoutest head bears langest out.
Sir Walter Scott (“Rob Roy”)

NOTE TO SECOND EDITION

THE first sixteen chapters of this book were given to the public in the spring of the year 1914. Since that date the country has acquired an additional interest for Englishmen, owing to the British acceptance of a “mandate” for its supervision and also to the picturesque and heroic part played in the Great War by the “Assyrian” mountaineers.
While no attempt has been made to tell the full tale of “England in Irak,” it has been thought well to take the opportunity given by the appearance of a second edition, and to bring the story of the Assyrian nation up to the date of writing; and the facts which the two concluding chapters record have been collected and verified during a prolonged personal intercourse with the principal actors on the spot.
1922.

PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION.

It requires at least four persons to compound a salad sauce, say the Spaniards. The requisite incompatibilities can never co-exist in one. A spendthrift should squander the oil, and a miser dole out the vinegar. A wise man should dispense the salt, and a madman should do the stirring.
Similarly, it has been stated that it takes two people at least to write a book of travel; a newcomer to give the first impressions and an old resident to reveal the true inwardness of things.
Though the quality of the ingredients must remain of more importance than the proportions, the authors of the present volume hope that at least the latter are correct. One of the writers has spent but three months in the country, the other has lived there for ten years. One was quite ignorant of the East, and spoke no word of any Oriental language; the other had become so intimate with the tribesmen of his own locality, that they had even begun to tell him of their superstitions—the last secret that they ever disclose.
And the country itself possesses most intense and varied interest. It contains some of the grandest scenery, and some of the most venerable monuments in the world. It is the very fons et origo of our Indo-European ancestors. Its traditions connect it with the Garden of Eden, with Noah, and with Abraham. Its folk-lore preserves the old Nature-worship which originated in the brains of the Ape-man. Its history records the very dawn of civilization, and the rise and fall of the earliest of the great empires. The every-day life of its present inhabitants is to this hour the life of the Patriarchs, the life of Europe in the Dark Ages, the life of the Highlands of Scotland in the days of Stewart Kings.
It is not an accessible country, even when judged by half-civilized standards. It is visited on sufferance only, even by its nominal rulers themselves. Fortune has given to the authors the opportunity of travelling through it, and of residing in it, and they have ventured to set down in these chapters the impressions it has left upon their minds.
The opportunity of residence in this country, it may be stated, came to one of the authors through his membership of the “Archbishop of Canterbury’s Assyrian Mission.” This Mission (which consists of five or six clergy of the Church of England) has been maintained in the district in question, by successive Archbishops, for a period of about twenty-five years. It exists at the request of the Patriarch and other authorities of the “Nestorian” or “Assyrian” Church, and it works with the object of educating the clergy and laity of that body, without disturbing them in their membership of their own ancient and interesting communion.

CONTENTS

CHAP.     PAGE
I. BEYOND THE PALE OF THE RAILWAY 1
      (Aleppo and Urfa)
II. A LAND OF DUST AND ASHES 24
      (Diarbekr and Mardin)
III. THE MARCHES OF ANCIENT ROME 47
      (Dara and Nisibin)
IV. THE BURDEN OF NEWER NINEVEH 69
      (Mosul)
V. THE TEMPLE OF THE DEVIL 87
      (Sheikh Adi)
VI. THE SKIRTS OF THE MOUNTAINS 111
      (Rabban Hormizd, Bavian, and Akra)
VII. AN ORIENTAL VICH IAN VOHR 134
      (The Sheikh of Barzan)
VIII. A MASTER OF MISRULE 158
      (Neri and Jilu)
IX. THE DEBATABLE LAND 176
      (Gawar, Mergawar, and Tergawar)
X. TWIGS OF A WITHERED EMPIRE 196
      (URMI)
XI. A LAND OF TROUBLE AND ANGUISH 221
      (Urmi to Van)
XII. A SLOUGH OF DISCONTENT 235
      (Van)
XIII. THE LAND OF PRESTER JOHN 262
      (Qudshanis)
XIV. THE GREAT CAÑONS 284
      (Tyari and Tkhuma)
XV. INTRUDERS IN A PANDEMONIUM 311
      (Amadia and Bohtan)
XVI. GRAVES OF DEAD EMPIRES 339
      (Mosul to Baghdad)
XVII. OUR SMALLEST ALLY 359
XVIII. DEAD SEA FRUIT 392
GLOSSARY 417
  INDEX 421

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PRINTED SEPARATELY
1. The River of Eden Frontispiece
Facing page
2. Mosul 33
3. Sheikh Adi 48
4. The “Picture Rocks” Of Bavian 81
5. Akra 96
6. Oramar 129
7. The Heriki Valley 144
8. The Mountains of Tkhuma and Jilu 176
9. The Citadel Rock, Van 209
10. The Qudshanis Mountains 224
11. Church of Mar Shalitha, Qudshanis 257
12. A Mountain Bridge 272
13. The Gorge of the Zab, Tyari 305
14. Travelling in Lower Tkhuma 320
15. Chal 353
16. Entrance to Amadia 368
IN THE TEXT
17. The Mountains of Diz and Tal, from the Pass above Qudshanis 366
18. A Bit of the Road between Tal and Julamerk 372
PLANS IN THE TEXT
Great Granary of Daras 51
Church of St. James at Nisibis 59
The Yezidi Temple at Sheikh Adi 95
Church of Mar B’ishu 185
Qudshanis: Church of Mar Shalitha 273
Temple of Ishtar’i Babylon 355
MAP of EASTERN KURDISTAN with inset of mesopotamia

{page 1}

THE CRADLE OF MANKIND

CHAPTER I

BEYOND THE PALE OF THE RAILWAY (ALEPPO AND URFA)

THE belated Jinn who emerged out of Suleiman’s Brass Bottle into twentieth-century London found there, amid much that was strange to him, some beings of his own kin. These were the railway locomotives, obviously Jann like himself, but yet more oppressively treated; bound by spells of appalling potency to labours more arduous and wearisome than Suleiman had ever conceived.
And truly his blunder was plausible: for if Jann be extinct nowadays (which one doubts after visiting Asia), then assuredly cylinders and boilers are charged with the might of the Jann. They are set to work regularly now instead of rarely and spasmodically; and though they raise less dust and clamour their net output is considerably more. The slaves of the Lamp and the Ring developed intense explosive energy, but their effective radius was limited. They could rear Aladdin’s palace in a night, or transport him to Africa in a twinkling; but these more domesticated Titans are capable of transmogrifying whole communities, and advancing the clock of progress five hundred years at a span.
And now the modern Magrabis, the busy Western magicians, have let slip these formidable Efrits against the City of Al Raschid himself: and one fine morning his descendants will awake from the slumber of centuries to find themselves environed by a new heaven and a new earth.
The Baghdad railway has started. It has penetrated inland to Aleppo. “That great river, the river Euphrates,” is bitted with its girders and caissons. One more stride{2} will carry it to Mosul across a country so open and even that it needs but the bedding of the sleepers; and a journey which now takes a fortnight will be accomplished in a ten-hour run. What is now a mere stagnant backwater will thus be suddenly scoured out by one of the main channels of the world’s commerce; and who can venture to calculate the changes which will follow? Western reform will not convert the East any more than Alexander’s conquests converted it; but it may evolve unintentionally some new sort of Frankenstein’s Man.
But meanwhile the East waits unconscious. It takes no thought for the morrow. The shadow of coming events is perceived indeed, but not understood. As it was in the days of Noë, so in most things, it still continues: and the traveller of this generation may still find east of Aleppo those manners and customs unaltered, which the next may find clean swept away. Thus it is possible that some interest may attach to a desultory description of life as it is for the moment still enjoyed, or endured, in those regions; and which better ordered communities may perhaps find rather bizarre.
Aleppo, the present railhead, is a large Oriental city, lying pooled in a shallow depression round the great castle which dominates its roofs. It is beginning to show signs of Westernization; and the quarter nearest the railway station is blossoming with boulevards and hotels. But it is the returning, and not the outgoing, traveller who will be most struck by these symptoms. The latter will only be consumed with wonder that such a crude and guileless imitation should be thought to pass muster as the real thing. Outwardly the place is being refurbished, and the new “Frank” houses flaunt themselves as bravely as their compeers around the Soko at Tangier; but within they are full of all Oriental uncleanness and discomfort, for the Turk is quite satisfied as soon as he gets veneered.
The major part of the town consists of narrow crooked and ill-paved streets, overhung on each side by toppling wooden oriels, which almost engage with each other like cogs across the road; and amid this maze of grimy alleys{3} lurk the mosques, the only noteworthy buildings, whose minarets show up prominently from a distance, but afford little guidance near at hand.
The great castle which dominates Aleppo occupies the flat summit of an immense mound, not much smaller than that of Corfe Castle, which is piled conspicuously upon a gentle eminence just within the confines of the city. The core of this mound may be natural, but the bulk of it is artificial; for it was originally one of the great High Places of that Baal worship which flourished pre-eminently in Northern Syria, and which has left us similar monuments of its dominion in the neighbouring mounds at

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