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LETTEB xxvm     QASHA ISHAI'S DWELLING                   271

Many a strange house I have seen, but never any-
thing so striking as the dwelling of Qasha Ishai. Passing
through the rude verandah, and through a lofty room
nearly dark, with a rough stone dais, on which were
some mattresses, and berths one above another, I stumbled
in total darkness into a room seventy feet by forty, and
twenty feet or more high in its highest part. It has no
particular shape, and wanders away from this lofty centre
into low irregular caverns and recesses excavated in the
mountain side. Parts of the floor are of naked rock,
parts of damp earth. In one rocky recess is a powerful
spring of pure water. The roofs are supported on barked
stems of trees, black, like the walls, wherever it was
possible to see them, with the smoke of two centuries.
Ancient oil lamps on posts or in recesses rendered dark-
ness visible. Goat-skins, with the legs sticking out,
containing butter, hanging from the blackened cross-
beams, and wheat, apples, potatoes, and onions in heaps
and sacks, piles of wool, spinning-wheels, great wooden
cradles here and there, huge oil and water jars, wooden
stools, piles of bedding, ploughs, threshing instruments,
long guns, swords, spears, and gear encumbered the floor,
while much more was stowed away in the dim caverns
of the rock.

I asked the number of families under the roof. " Seven
ovens," was the reply. This meant seven families, and
it is true that three generations, seventy-two persons,
live, cook, sleep, and pursue their avocations under that
patriarchal roof.

The road is a bad one for laden beasts, and very dangerous
besides, and the few travellers who visit Kochanes usually
take the caravan route from Urmi wid Diza, and the fact
of an English person passing through Marbishu with a
letter to the Turkish authorities was soon " noised abroad,"
and I was invited to spend the evening in this most