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288                   JOURNEYS IN KURDISTAN       LETTER xxis


KOCHANES, Oct. 87.

AFTER two days the Patriarch arrived from Gahgorap/
with nearly forty persons. To realise what this houf
is like, one must go back four centuries, to the mode of
living of the medieval barons of England. Mar Shimun
is not only a spiritual prince, but the temporal ruler of
the Syrians of the plains and valleys, and of the Ashirets
or tribal Syrians of the mountains of Central Kurdistan,
as well as a judge and a salaried official of the Turkish
Government. He appoints the maleks or lay rulers of
each district, where the office is not hereditary, and
possesses ecclesiastical patronage. For over four cen-
turies the Patriarch has been of the family of Shimun,
which is regarded as the royal family; and he is assisted
in managing affairs by a " family council." Eochanes is
thus the ecclesiastical and political metropolis of the
Syrian nation, and the innumerable disputes which arise
among the people of this region are brought here for
judgment and arbitration.

It is a crowded life. From sunrise to sunset the
pavement outside the rude hall of entrance, the great
room, like that at Marbishu, where Sulti presides, and
the guest-chambers, are always thronged with men wait-
ing to be received by the Patriarch, sleeping on the
big settle in the hall, or cleaning swords and guns, or
wrestling, performing feats of horsemanship, playing chess,