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

342                   JOURNEYS IN KURDISTAN     LETTER sxsn

and partly crossing high steep promontories which jut
out into the lake. A few villages, where strips of level
ground and water for irrigation can be obtained, are
passed, and among them the village of Vastan, the " Seat
of Government" for the district, and a Turkish telegraph
station, but in the eleventh century the residence of the
Armenian royal family of Ardzrauni.

Art aids nature, and there are grand old monasteries
on promontories, and Kurdish castles on heights, and
flashing streams and booming torrents are bridged by
picturesque pointed arches. There are 150 monasteries
in this region, and the towers of St. George at the
mountain village of Narek, high on a rocky spur above
one of the most beautiful of the many wooded valleys
which descend upon the lake of Van, lend an air of
medieval romance to a scene as fair as nature can make
it. Nearly all the romantic valleys opening on the lake
are adorned with one or more -villages, with houses tier
above tier in their rocky clefts, and terrace below terrace
of exquisite cultivation below, of the vivid velvety green
of winter wheat. These terraces often "hang" above
green sward and noble walnut trees. Occasionally the
villages are built at the feet of the mountains, on small
plateaux above steep-sided bays, and are embosomed in
trees glowing with colour, from canary-yellow to crimson
and madder-red, and mountains, snow-crested and forest-
skirted tower over all. Lake Van, bluer than the blue
heavens, with its huge volcanic heights—Sipan Dagh,
Nimrud Dagh, and Varak Dagh, and their outlying
ranges—its deep green bays and quiet wooded inlets;
its islets, some like the Bass Rock, others monastery-
covered ; its pure green shadows and violet depths; its
heavy boats with their V-shaped sails; and its auburn
oak-covered slopes, adds its own enchantment, and all is
as fair as fair can be.