922 THE SACRED HILL OF SISTAN [Chap. XXVIII
was intended to protect the site below against attack from the height immediately above. The sun-dried bricks used in its walls measure mostly about 17"x z 2" x 4-5", and thus differ from the somewhat larger ones found in most of the older structures below.
Ruined Ascending from the previously mentioned dip along remains of a wall for about 5o yards to
mounds on the SW. one reaches a small completely decayed mound raised on a stone foundation, as seen in plateau
edge. the foreground of Fig. 474. It probably marks the position of a brick-built tower intended to guard
the road leading down through the dip. A second small mound of the same character, about 16o yards farther to the SW. (Fig. 458), occupies the top of the cliffs just above the point where the outer enceinte of Gh5.gha-shahr ends at their foot (Pl. 52).
Fort of Proceeding along the edge of the plateau westwards for about one-third of a mile one arrives
Chihil-dukh- at the ruined fort known as Chihil-dukhlardn, the ` Forty Maidens '. It occupies the southern
extremity of a plateau tongue which falls off very precipitously to the south and west. On the latter side it overlooks the small valley of Dara-i-sôkhta through which leads the easiest ascent to the hill-top. It was, no doubt, in order to guard this approach that the little fort was placed there. Its enclosing wall of well-laid solid brickwork forms an oblong about 4o yards by 30. It has loopholes along most of its length, placed only a few feet above the ground. The gate in the middle of the east face is flanked by two small round towers, one of which retains the vaulting between an upper and a lower story. Round bastions defend the corners. A long hall, once vaulted, extends along the inside of the western wall and has a foundation of large roughly squared stone slabs. Similar foundation walls found along the north and east walls mark decayed smaller quarters. The potsherds found at this small fort as well as at Kok-i-Z5.1 mostly show the same superior red clay and ribbed outer surface which is characteristic of the type of pottery prevalent at Ghâghashahr. This and the general condition of the ruin point to Chihil-dukhtarân belonging approximately to the same period as the latter. A popular legend reproduced by Mr. Tate accounts for the name.1 About 8o yards to the north there are found remains of a much-decayed square enclosure built of rough stones, which might mark a Sarai. Some 20 yards farther in the same direction a series of ruined rooms of the same construction extends for about 3o yards from east to west.
The other objects to be noticed on the top of Kbh-i-Khwâja claim antiquarian interest as visible evidence of the sanctity that attaches to the hill in present-day local worship. Close to where the old road passes through the dip of the rocky rim two round holes in a stone are pointed out to the faithful as the footprints of Rustam's famous horse, and are known as Zum-i-Duldul. A spring is believed to have once issued from them. A larger rock farther up and about 25o yards west of Kok-i-Z5.1 is supposed to retain the supernaturally long footprints left by ` Khwâja ' or holy `Ali. They are marked by two furrows nearly 2 feet long, separating natural corrugations of the rock surface. A rough stone enclosure protects the sacred spot. Here, as in so many places on the Indian North-East Frontier and in Central Asia, tenacity of local worship may have substituted the Muhammadan saint for Gautama Buddha.2
Muhammadan pilgrims from all over Sistân venerate and visit in their thousands a group of Ziârats situated towards the northern edge of the plateau (Fig. 475 ; Pl. 52). Particularly at the Naurôz or New Year's festival the whole plateau is a scene of great rejoicings, and for one night also, according to local report, of a good deal of promiscuous licence. The principal shrine appears to be that of Pir Ghaltdn near the brow of the hill-top. At three other sacred tombs on somewhat lower ground I found large stones set upright, near which the pilgrims' offerings are deposited. At the supposed last resting-place of Pir Gandum these consist of grain. Another Ziârat is that
1 See Tate, Seistan, p. 266.
2 Cf. my paper on ` Buddhist Local Worship in Muhammadan Central Asia ', J.R.A.S., 191o, pp. 839 sqq.