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

LETTER xxv             PERSIA IN AUTUMN                         195

into a yellow-ochre hillside, above which rises a high hill
of red mud. It is not possible to give an idea of the
aspect of the country at this season. Sheep and goats
certainly find pickings among the rocks, but the visible
herbage has all been eaten down. The thistles and other
fodder plants have been cut and stacked in the villages.
Most of the streams are dry, and the supplies of drink-
ing water are only pools, much fouled by cattle. The
snows which supply the sources of the irrigation channels
have all melted, and these channels are either dry or
stopped. There has scarcely been a shower since early
April, and for nearly six months the untempered rays of
the Persian sun have been blazing upon the soil. The
arable land, ploughed in deep furrows, has every furrow
hardened into sun-dried brick. Villages of yellow or
whitish baked mud, supporting on their dusty roofs buff
stacks of baked fodder, are hardly distinguishable from
the baked hillsides. The roads are a few inches deep in
glaring white dust. Over the plains a brown dust haze
hangs.

This rainless and sun - scorched land lives by the
winter snows, and the snowfall of the Zagros ranges is
the most interesting of all subjects to the cultivator of
Western Persia. If the country were more populous,
and the profits of labour were secure, storage for the
snow-water would be an easy task, and barren wastes
might sustain a prosperous people; for the soil, when
irrigated, is prolific, and the sun can always be relied
upon to do his part. The waste of water is great, as
considerably more than half the drainage of the empire
passes into famrs and other depressions. The average
rainfall on the central plateau is estimated by Sir Oliver
St. John at five inches only in the year.

My arrival at Sanjud was not welcome. The Jcetchuda
sent word that he was not prepared to obey the orders of