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Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

176                     JOURNEYS IN PERSIA            LETTER xxv

After leaving ELooltapa, treeless country becomes
bushless, and nothing combustible is to be got but
animal fuel. Manure is far too precious for this pur-
pose to be wasted on the fields. Men with asses follow
caravans and collect it in bags. The yards into which
the flocks and herds are driven at night have now been
cleaned out, and in every village all the women are
occupied in moulding the manure into TciziJcs or cakes
fully a foot long and four inches thick. These, after
being dried in the sun, are built up into conical stacks,
often exceeding twenty feet in height, and are plastered
with a layer of the same material. The making of this
artificial fuel is one of the most important industries of
Persia, and is exclusively in the hands of women. The
preparation of the winter stock takes from six to fourteen
weeks, and is very hard wet work. The fuel gives out
a good deal of heat, but burns fast. Its combustible
qualities are increased by an admixture of cut straw.
At this season, between the colossal black stacks of fuel
and the conical piles of winter " keep " upon the roofs,
the villages are almost invisible.

The march to Gaukhaud was over twenty miles »of
rolling scorched table-lands—baked mud, without in-
habitants. Gaukhaud and the villages for fifty miles
farther are unwalled, but each house, with its cattle-yard
and upper and underground folds, has a massive mud
wall sloping slightly inwards, with an entrance closed
by a heavy wooden gate, strengthened with iron. The
upper sheep-folds have thick stone doors three feet
square. Each house is a fortress, and nothing is to
be seen above its walls but a quantity of beehive roofs
and a number of truncated cones of winter fodder on a
central platform.

The female costume is also different. The women,
unveiled, bold-faced, and handsome in the Meg Merrilees