286 JOURNEYS IN KURDISTAN LETTER xxvm
of the Zab, here known as " the Pison, the river of Eden."
The Zab, only fordable at certain seasons, is there a fast-
Howing dark green river, fully sixty yards wide, deep
enough to take the footmen up to their waists, and strong
enough to make them stagger, with a lawn bright with
autumnal foliage below the savage and lofty mountains
on its right bank.
From the Zab we ascended the gorge of the Kochanes
water by a wild mountain path, at times cut into steps
or scaffolded, and at other times merely a glistening track
over shelving rock, terminating in a steep and difficult
ascent to the fair green alp on which Kochanes stands at
the feet of three imposing peaks of naked rock—Quhai-
balak, Qwarah, and Barchallah.
Thus I beheld at last the goal of my journey from
Luristan, and was not disappointed. Glorious indeed is
this Kurdistan world of mountains, piled up in masses of
peaks and precipices, cleft by ravines in which the Ashirets
and Yezidis find shelter, every peak snow-crested, every
ravine flaming with autumn tints; and here, where the
ridges are the sharpest, and the rock spires are the most
imposing, on a spur between the full-watered torrents of
the Terpai and the Yezidi, surrounded on three sides
by gorges and precipices, is this little mountain village,
the latest refuge of the Head of a Church once the most
powerful in the East.
Koehanes consists of a church built on the verge of a
precipice, many tombs, a grove of poplars, a sloping lawn,
scattered village houses and barley-fields extending up
the alp, and nearly on the edge of a precipitous cliff the
Patriarch's residence, a plain low collection of stone
buildings, having an arched entrance and a tower for
refuge or defence. The houses of his numerous relations
are grouped near it. Everything is singularly picturesque.
The people, being afraid of an attack from the Kurds,