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LETTER xxv         THE SHIAH CONFESSION                     191

by the Seyyid, rang out upon the still night air. At
midnight, and again at four, a solitary bell-like voice
proclaimed over the sleeping village, " There is but one
God, and Mohammed is His prophet, and Ali is His
lieutenant"; and 200 voices repeated grandly in unison,
" There is but one God, holy and true, and Mohammed is
His prophet, and Ali is His lieutenant." The addition
of the words " holy and true " to the ordinary formula is
very striking, and is, I believe, quite unusual. The
Seyyid preached in Persian, and the pilgrims speak it.

In such caravans a strictly democratic feeling prevails.
All yield honour to the Seyyid, but otherwise all are
equal. No matter what the social differences are, the
pilgrims eat the same food, lodge in the same rooms, sit
round the same bivouac fire, and use towards each other
perfect freedom of speech—a like errand and a like creed
constituting a simple bond of brotherhood.

Geokahaz is the first Kurdish village in which I
have really mixed with the people. I found them cordial,
hospitable, and in every way pleasant. The ketchuda's
wife called on me, and later I returned the visit.
Each house or establishment has much the same externals,
being walled round, and having between the wall and
house an irregular yard, to which access is gained by a
gate of plaited osiers. Within are very low and devious
buildings, with thick mud walls. The atrium, an alcove
with plastered walls, decorated with circles and other
figures in red, is the gathering-place of the men, with
their guns and pipes.

It is necessary to stoop very low to enter the house
proper, for the doorway is only three feet high, and is
protected by a heavy wooden door strengthened by iron
clamps. The interior resembles a cavern, owing to the
absence of windows, the labyrinth of rooms not six feet
high, the gnarled, unbarked trees which support the roofs,