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and usurpations of papal domination. The name, Chaldeans, was given to them by the Pope, on their embracing the Catholic system; an epithet which the Nestorians deny them the right thus exclusively to appropriate, claiming an equal title to it themselves in consequence of their lineal origin. Many of these Catholics continue to speak the language of the Nestorians, as well as the Arabic, and some of them speak only the former; but as family quarrels are usually the most violent, the Nestorians are separated from the Chaldeans by a hostility, even more rancorous than that which divides them from the Jacobites. It is to the Nestorians, as distinct from both Jacobites and Chaldeans, that this article has reference.
The existing remnant of the Nestorian Christians is found principally among the mountains of Koordistan, and in Ooroomiah, an adjacent district in the western part of Persia. Geographically, they are situated between 36° and 39° of north latitude, and between 43° and 46° of east longitude.
Koordistan is the ancient Assyria, embracing also a part of Armenia and of ancient Media. It consists mainly of wild ranges of mountains, which divide the Turkish and the Persian empires. Its western sections are nominally subject to Turkey, and its eastern, to Persia. The inhabitants, however, pay but a limited allegiance to either; and some of them—the Hakkary tribe, in central Koordistan, in particular-are nearly or quite independent. The Koords—the Carduchi of Xenophon, who gave him so much trouble, on his retreat with the ten thousand consist of a great number of tribes, who, from time immemorial, have been keepers of flocks—wild, fierce barbarians, given to plunder. Much of their country is exceedingly rough, and admits of but little cultivation. This, added to the fierceness of the people, renders portions of it well nigh inaccessible, and consequently but little known to civilized nations.
The Nestorians of Koordistan inhabit the wildest and most inaccessible parts of the Koordish mountains. Some of the districts are so rough, that no beast of burden, save with the utmost difficulty, can travel over them. The least populous districts of these Nestorians, as Garvar, Somai, Chara, Mamoodiah, and some others are subject to the Koordish tribes who dwell in che saine districts, and by them are sorely oppressed and often plundered. Other districts, as Diss, Jeloo, Bass, Tehoob and Tiaree, have a larger Nestorian population, and are more independent of their Koordish neighbors. Such is particularly the case of Tiaree, situated in the rugged, narrow valley of the river Zab-running into the Tigris, the ancient Zabus, or Zabiswhich is the most populous of all the Nestorian districts of the mountains. It is governed by meliks, literally kings—or chiefs, chosen from its own people, by the popular voice irregularly expressed. The office of these chiefs is usually hereditary in the same family. This district of Tiaree is not only quite independent of the Koords, but its inhabitants have such a character for bravery and ferocity, even toward their Koordish neighbors, that the latter seldom hazard the adventure of entering that country; and such as do enter it are said often to atone for their temerity, by being murdered and thrown into the river. The local situation of Tiaree,* hemmed in as it is by steep, lofty mountains, save where the river, by narrow defiles, enters and leaves the district, serves, no less than its populousness, effectually to defend its inhabitants from invasion.
The Nestorians of the mountains, like their Koordish neighbors, obtain their subsistence to a great extent from the pasturage of flocks. The principal part of their arable soil, in most places, consists of small terraced patches, on the steep declivities of the mountains. And so rough and barren is much of their territory, that the people find it almost impossible to live in their own country. Many of them are very poor. Some travel abroad and beg as a profession. Considerable numbers come down to the plain of Ooroomiah in summer, to find employment; and still more are driven down in the winter, to seek a subsistence on charity. In some of the districts which are more susceptible of cultivation and less liable to the ravages of the Koords, the inhabitants obtain a comfortable living ; though their fare is coarse, consisting chiefly of the products of their
flocks, with rice, and bread made of a species of millet. Wheat is seldom cultivated.
The Nestorians of these mountains resemble their Koordish masters and neighbors, not only in their mode of obtaining a subsistence, but also, in a degree, in their exceeding rudeness, wildness and boldness of character. The inhabitants of different districts sometimes quarrel and plunder each other; and if
* The name Tiaree, is a Syriac word which means a fold, or enclosure (as a sheepfold, John 10:16 and elsewhere), and was obviously given to this district from its striking local peculiarities.
remonstrance is offered, the pillagers justify themselves by replying, that they rob their Christian brethren to save the spoil from the Koords !
The district of Ooroomiah is in the western part of Azerbijan-ancient Atropotene, the northern portion of Media—the northwestern province of Persia. It consists of a magnificent plain, situated at the eastern base of the Koordish mountains, and extending from them to the beautiful lake of the same name. This lake is about eighty miles in length and thirty in breadth, lying a little to the west of north and east of south. Its waters are very salt, perhaps as much so as the Dead Sea. No fish are found in it; but fowl, particularly the duck and flamingo,* frequent it in immense numbers. The plain of Ooroomiah is about forty miles in length, lying upon the central section of the lake, and in its broadest part is about twenty miles wide. Imposing branches of the Koordish mountains sweep down quite to the waters of the lake, at the extremities of the plain, enclosing it like a vast amphitheatre. With the adjacent declivities of the mountains, it comprises an area of about six hundred square miles, and contains at least three hundred and thirty villages. It is amply watered by three considerable rivers, besides many smaller streams. Its soil is extremely fertile, and is all under high cultivation. Its staple productions are wheat, rice, cotton, tobacco and the vine; and it abounds in a great variety of fruits. Besides ten or twelve species of the grape, it yields cherries, apricots, apples, plums, melons, nuts, etc. etc., in the most ample profusion. And the number of orchards and trees
* The flamingo frequents this lake in such numbers, that I have seen miles of the shore whitened by one continuous flock. Their bodies are about the size of a goose; but their slender legs and small flexible neck are of such enormous length, that one fully grown measures six feet from the bill to the toes; and it stretches its wings to even a greater length. Their color is white, save the wings, the front half of which is covered with inimitably delicate and beautiful red feathers, and the back part with black quills. The flesh is reckoned delicious by the inhabitants, who take them in great numbers by means of snares made of hair, and placed in the shallow parts of the lake, where they walk about in search of decayed vegetable matter carried into the lake by the streams.
planted on “ the water-courses,” is such as to give much of it the appearance of American forests.
About twelve miles back from the lake, and about two miles from the mountains, is the city of Ooroomiah. It is the ancient Thebarma, the birth-place, as tradition says, of Zoroaster. It contains about twenty-five thousand inhabitants, and is four miles in circumference. Like other cities of Persia, it is surrounded by a mud-wall and a ditch; and most of its houses are built of unburnt brick. Its markets are good for this country; its streets are wider than is common in the East; and it has quite an air of comfort, from the great number of shade-trees interspersed among the dwellings.
From elevations back of the city, the beholder, as he looks down upon the smiling gardens directly below him—then on the city, half buried in shrubbery–next on the vast plain, studded with its hundreds of villages, and its thousands of orchards and hedges of poplars, willows and sycamores, and gleaming with its almost illimitable fields, waving a golden harvest,—and farther still on the azure bosom of the placid lake, beaming and sparkling like a mighty mirror, under the brilliancy of a Persian sky,--and finally, on the blue mountains, away in the distance has before him one of the loveliest and grandest specimens of natural scenery that was ever presented to the eye And forgetting for the moment the moral night that broods over so bright a scene, it is easy for him to conceive that he is surveying the garden of Eden.
The climate of Ooroomiah is naturally one of the finest in the world. It resembles, in its temperature, that of our middle States. Unhappily, however, artificial causes are at work which render this climate unhealthy, particularly to foreigners;such as the constant irrigation* in summer of the almost numberless fields and gardens; and, still worse, the extensive pools of stagnant water, that stand most of the time in different places, particularly in the ditch which surrounds the city. The reforming hand of a good government, controlled by the redeeming spirit of Christianity, is all that is needed to drain and dry up these pools and remove other nuisances, and soon restore the climate to its native salubrity.
* There are few showers in Persia during the warm season. The gardens and fields are therefore watered by small canals, which conduct water from the streams.
The Nestorians of Ooroomiah have a tradition that their immediate ancestors came down from the mountains, at a period rather indefinitely known, but about five or six hundred years ago; and that this plain was then but very little inhabited. It is quite probable that the Nestorians were entirely swept away from this province for a season, during the devastations of Tamerlane. But there are some monuments of their earlier residence here. The largest and oldest mosque in this city, for instance, was once a Christian church. In repairing it a few years ago, a vault was found under it containing ancient relics, and
among them a manuscript in a state of tolerable preservation, purporting to have been written in that church about eight hundred years ago. Not more than six hundred Nestorians reside in the city of Ooroomiah. These are principally in a compact position, adjacent to which the premises of our mission are situated. There are about two thousand Jews in the city, and the remaining part of the population are Mohammedans. The Nestorians are numerous in the surrounding villages, in some cases living by themselves, and in others, intermingled with Mohammedans. Most of them are employed in the cultivation of the soil, of which they are sometimes, though rarely, the proprietors. A few are mechanics, as masons, joiners, etc. Their common relation to the Mohammedan nobility in the tenure of the soil, is that of serfs to lords. The Mohammedan peasantry sustain nominally the same relation to the higher classes, though their rights are better respected than those of the Christians. The Nestorians often suffer lawless extortion and oppression from their Mohammedan masters. But their circumstances on the whole are quite tolerable for a people in bondage. Their fertile country yields such overflowing abundance, that, so far from being pinched with want, they are always surrounded with plenty.
The Nestorians of Ooroomiah partake in their manners of the suavity and urbanity of the Persian character. By the side of their rude countrymen from the mountains, they appear like antipodes. This difference in the appearance and character of the two classes is owing entirely to their local circumstances. And we may regard it as a felicity, that the mountaineers are impelled by interest or necessity frequently to visit the plain, where they cannot avoid a sostening, humanizing influence. And as, in the progress of our work, the people of this province shall become yet more enlightened and elevated by the revival of the spirit of Christianity among them, their intercourse will