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238                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA          LETTER xxvn

my information, a system much like the Scotch feuing
system (though without feu charters) is in force. If a
man wishes to build a house he takes a present of a
few sugar-loaves or a few Jcrans with him, and applies to
an Agha for a site. After it is granted he pays an annual
ground rent of 4s. 9d., but he can build his house as he
pleases, and it cannot be taken from him so long as he
pays his ground rent. Moreover, he can sell the house
and give a title-deed to the purchaser, with the sole
restriction that the new possessor must become a vassal
of the Agha.

In addition to the payment of the ground rent, the
tenant is taxed annually by the Agha for every female
buffalo 2s., for every cow Is., and for every ewe and she-
goat 6d., after they have begun to bear young. The Agha
also receives from each householder annually two fowls,
a load of kiziks, some eggs, three days' labour or the price
of it, and a fee on every occasion of a marriage. Each
house pays also a tax of Sd. a year and gives a present
of firewood to the Serperast of Urmi, the Mussulman
governor of the Christians. In his turn the Agha pays to
the Shah from a third to a half of the total taxation.

A village -house, even when built of sun-dried bricks,
rarely costs more than 35, and often not the half of that
sum.1 The great feature of a Syrian dwelling is what is
called emphatically " the house"; the combined living-
room, bedroom, smoking-room, kitchen, bakery, and work-
room of one or more families. This room cannot possess
a lalaMana, as its openings for light and air are in the
roof. A stable, store-rooms, and granary are attached to it.

Vineyards are the chief reliance of the Syrians of the
Urmi Plain, their produce, whether as grapes, raisins, or
wine, being always marketable. They are held on the

1 The mode of building mud houses was described in Letter VI. vol. i
p. 149.