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0414 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 414 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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thoroughly examined and described by a competent student of Near-Eastern art, Dr. E. Diez, a mere reference will here suffice.'

Memories of   All the way to Farfimân and over much of the country beyond, it was easy to recognize traces

Turkoman of the ravages to which the peaceful Persian cultivators of this portion of Khorasan had long been subject, owing to the slave-raiding and plundering inroads of their Turkomân neighbours in the north, before the Russian conquest of Trans-Caspia. The effects of this ancient scourge were plainly visible, on the one hand in the limited extent to which the available fertile land, here largely independent of irrigation, was actually under cultivation, and on the other in the many towers still standing in the villages or scattered among the fields. They had served as places of refuge to be hurriedly sought when Turkomân raiders, sweeping across hills and valleys, would make their sudden appearance. I t was accordingly with considerable interest that I welcomed, as a quasi-historical relic of those raiding times, sturdy old Mir Muhammad, a Tekke Turkomân (Fig. 469), who under orders from the Consulate joined me at Farimân for a couple of marches. He was one of some two dozen fellow tribesmen who, after the Panjdeh fighting of 1885, had thrown in their lot with the British and left what became Russian territory. Along with six others among these exiles, he was now employed as Dâk-rider to carry from Herat the weekly Consular mail, which was being sent there for Meshed through Afghan territory from the Indian railhead at Chaman. He had taken part when young in many a chap or raid, and would readily talk of the ` bags ' of slaves he had helped to carry off and the long night rides that preceded such exploits.

Methods of   The details I learned from him of the methods of carrying out these raids explained both the

Turkoman extraordinarily great distances over which the raiders travelled and the secrecy upon which their raiding.

success depended. Rations for men and horses used to be carried by these raiding parties only for the first three or four days required for the passage of that belt of hills on the border which owing to its vicinity to the Turkomân grazing grounds was altogether uninhabited. Subsequently supplies were obtained at prearranged points from Persian villages, which were spared on condition of maintaining absolute secrecy as to the raiders' movements, complete surprise being an essential condition of success. This careful planning, combined with the exceptional fleetness and staying power of the Turkomân breed of horses, makes it possible to understand such remarkable feats as the famous raid that extended as far south as Sfistân and was rewarded with abundant booty. It interested me to see, manifested in Mir Muhammad's quiet air of superiority, his pride in belonging to a race which, for centuries, had inspired dread in the Irani's. At the same time his fine, wholly non-Mongolian, features illustrated clearly enough that thorough infusion of Iranian blood which the whole Turkomân race has undergone, as have so many other Turkish invaders of Western Asia. In my Turkomân's pleasant company I found it easy to realize that the ` Turanians ' of Persian epic tradition, the Tùiryas of Zoroastrian religious texts, may well have been essentially of the same stock and speech as their settled neighbours cultivating the fertile oases of Iran, who hated and feared them as their hereditary foes.

Semi-   The next two marches took me by the pass of Kalla-mfinâr (` the tower of skulls ') across the hill

nomadic life range to the south. Its opposite slopes are occupied by Mongolian Hazâras and Balûch tribesmen, of Hazâras

and Balûch. respectively. Their ways, still partly those of herdsmen, served to illustrate the slow process by

which the Persian population of settled cultivators has again and again managed to digest and absorb invaders of originally nomadic character. The large valley of Bakhârz, through which we then passed, receives plentiful water from the range to the south. The villages of Himmatâbâd, Kala-i-nau, Abnia, which our route traversed on November 15th, lay all ensconced among orchards, and looked more attractive than any that we saw on the way to Sistân.

1 See Diez, Churasanische Baudenkmäler, 1918, pp. 52 sqq.