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108                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA            LETTER xx

which are written on parchment in very small characters,
and are enclosed in, cases of silver or leather.

At night they merely take off the outer garment
where they have two. The scanty ablutions are very
curious. Each family possesses a metal jug of rather
graceful form, with a long spout curiously curved, and
the mode of washing, which points to an accustomed
scarcity of water, is to pour a little into the palm of the
right hand, and bathe the face, arms, and hands with it,
soap not being used. They conclude by rinsing the
mouth and rubbing the teeth either with the forefinger
or with the aromatic leaf of a small pink salvia.

I called by appointment on the Khan's wives, sixteen
in number. An ordinary tribesman marries as many
wives as he can afford to house and keep. Poverty and
monogamy are not allied here. "Women do nearly all the
work, large flocks create much female employment, and
as it is " contrary to Bakhtiari custom " to employ female
servants who are not wives, polygamy is very largely
practised. On questioning the guides, who are usually
very poor men, I find that they have two, three, and
even four wives, the reverse of what is customary among
the peasants of Turkey and Persia proper. The influence
of a chief increases with the number of his wives,
as it enlarges his own family connections, and those
made by the marriages of his many sons and daughters.
Large families are the rule. Six children is the average
in a monogamous household, and the rate of infant
mortality is very low.

The " fort" is really picturesque, though forlorn and
dirty. It is built on the steep slope of a hill, and on one
side is three stories in height. It has a long gallery in
front, with fretwork above the posts which support the
roof, round towers at two of the corners, and many
irregular roofs, and steep zigzags cut in the rock lead up