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LETTER xvii             THE UPPER KAEUN                           29

which, as if from a shaft, the most powerful of them
wells up, and uniting with the others in a sort of grotto
of ferns and mosses pours over a ledge in a sheet of
foam, a powerful waterfall, and slides away, a vigorous
river of a wonderful blue-green colour, under a snow-
bridge, starting full fledged on its course. The surround-
ings of this spring are wild and magnificent. A few
Bakhtiaris crept across the lower part of the face of rock,
and perched themselves above it. The roar of the water,
now loud, now subdued, made wild music, and the snow-
bridges added to the impressiveness of the scene.

Of course the geographical interest of this region is
engrossing.1 This remarkable spring, called by the Bakh-
tiaris Sar-i-Cheshmeh-i-Kurang (" the head source of the
Kurang"), and until this journey held to be the real
source, is not, however, the actual birthplace of the Karuii
or Kurang, which was afterwards traced up to its head-
waters in the magnificent Kuh-i-Eang.2

A few words on this, the one real river of which
Persia can boast, and which seems destined to play an
important part in her commercial future, will not be out
of place. From its source it is a powerful and important
stream, full, deep, and flowing with great velocity for
much of its upper course between precipices varying in
height from 1000 to 3000 feet. It is a perennial stream,
fordable in very few places, and then only in its upper-
waters. Varying in width usually from fifty to a hundred
yards, it is compressed at the Pul-i-Ali-kuh into a breadth
of about nine feet.

The steepness and height of its banks make it in

1  A few geographical paragraphs which follow here and on p. 35 are
later additions to the letter.

2  Although the correct name of this river is undoubtedly Kurang, I
have throughout adopted the ordinary spelling Karun, under which it is
commercially and politically known.