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0451 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 451 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Sec. iv]   THE SACRED HILL   925

enumerated in proper sequence from east to west seems to favour such an assumption, and so also does in a sense the conclusion of the list with the name of the Helmand. But I am unable to support this suggestion by any direct evidence drawn from modern names of those streams, and must leave the question for future local investigation 11

Before concluding the account of what I observed during my stay near the eastern shore of the Tribe of Haman, I may briefly refer to the interest presented by the small quasi-amphibious tribe of the SayâdfisherSayad or fisher-folk with whom I came in contact there. There are strong reasons, both historical folk. and traditional, justifying the belief that the present settled population of Sistan is composed of very varied racial elements, for the most part brought there by successive waves of conquest and immigration.12 The element which is likely to have preserved most of its original racial character unmixed is the Sayad tribe, whom their peculiar and distinctly primitive mode of life as fishers and hunters by the reed-covered lagoons of the Hâmfin keeps widely separated from the agricultural population. As their livelihood obliges them to follow the seasonal fluctuations of the lake their life is bound to be essentially nomadic. This fact is strikingly reflected by the temporary character of the reed huts (Fig. 452) which shelter them in their changing habitats. The fact that distinct sections of the lake and marshes are apportioned by tribal custom to particular family groups among them is, of course, also in keeping with the peculiar conditions of their nomadic existence."

It is likewise easy to understand that these conditions should have developed in the Sayads Anthropo-

a very marked exclusiveness as regards interrelation with their settled neighbours, as well as a metrical

record of

curious mixture of shyness and independence. Of the latter traits I had a characteristic experience Sayâds.

on a later occasion, when I managed, not without difficulty, to secure the anthropometrical data relating to this tribe analysed in Mr. Joyce's Appendix C. They were obtained from Sayads who were camping at the time not far from the route leading across the ` Naizar ' towards Bandan (Fig. 454)14 Comparison of these with the more abundant data that I obtained from Sistânis and Bali-lch levies enlisted in Sistan makes it appear far more probable that the Sayads represent the remains of a submerged aboriginal population, as suggested by Mr. Joyce, than that they are of Arab descent, as has been conjectured elsewhere.

11 The maps at present accessible to me either leave such ordinary dry river-beds nameless (as e. g. in the case of the one descending past Bandan) or note for them such general descriptive designations as Shôr Rind or Tursh-iib, which indicate the saltiness of their water.

We have undoubtedly a reference to the Zarenumati in a passage of the Bûndahish (see Dr. West's translation in Sacred Books of the East, v. p. 82) which mentions of Afrâsiâb that ` he conducted the spring Zarinmand which is the Hetûmand river they say ' into the sea Kyânsih (the Zrayô Kâçaoya of the Avesta, i. e. the Haman). Is it possible that by it is meant the old branch of the Helmand, known as Rûd-i-biyàban and dry since over a century, which at different periods since prehistoric times carried water into the desert east and south of Râmrûd, or else that still older branch, the Rûd-i-khushk', once flowing into the Gaud-iZirrah ? Cf. below, ii. pp. 943 sq.

12 Much useful local information on present tribal divisions in Sistân is collected in Tate, Seistan, section iv, ` The People of Seistan '. It is mixed, however, with a good deal of speculative matter of an ethnological nature. This stands

in need of more critical treatment both as regards the use made of extraneous sources and the assumptions based upon them. No anthropometrical data were collected.

For an account of the Sayads, estimated to form a community of only about 1,500 souls in the whole of Sistân, cf. loc. cit., pp. 297 sq.

13 See ibid., pp. 124 sq.

14 Towards the close of January, when I found time for collecting anthropometrical materials, the dispatch of Indian troops towards Birjand had necessitated the employment of Sayads on the construction of a large number of those Tûtins' or reed rafts which were required for crossing the tract on the Bandan route already inundated by the rising waters of the Hamlin. Though abundantly paid for this ferrying, the methods of which they alone understand and practise, the Sayads had got frightened and taken to the marshy reed-beds with their families and few belongings. There they were hiding like wildfowl, near enough to be heard from the shore and yet completely beyond approach for less aquatic humans. How they were induced in the end to come out from this safe retreat to submit to measuring is another story.