Page:EB1911 - Volume 03.djvu/211

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well farmed and managed, in conspicuous contrast with the surrounding territory. Canals and dikes have been constructed to control and distribute the much-needed water, and the officials are housed in new buildings of substantial appearance. Indeed, wherever one finds a new and prosperous-looking village, it may be assumed to belong to the sultan. These senniehs are an advantage to the country in that they give security to their immediate region and certain employment to some part of its population. On the other hand, they withdrew large tracts of fertile and productive land from taxation (one-half of the cultivated land of the vilayet was said to be administered for the sultan's privy purse), and thus greatly reduced the revenue of the vilayet.

The chief city of the vilayet is its capital, Bagdad. Between the Euphrates and the Arabian plateau lie the sacred cities of Kerbela or Meshed-Hosain, and Nejef or Meshed Ali, with a population of 20,000 to 60,000 each, while a number of towns, varying in population from 3000 to 10,000, are found along the Euphrates (Anah, Hit, Ramadieh, Musseyib, Hilla, Diwanieh and Samawa) and the Tigris (Tekrit, Samarra and Kut el-Amara). The settled population lies entirely along the banks of these streams and the canals and lagoons westward of the Euphrates, between Kerbela and Nejef. Away from the banks of the rivers, between the Euphrates and the Tigris and between the latter and the Persian mountains, are tribes of wandering Arabs, some of whom possess great herds of horses, sheep, goats, asses and camels, while in and by the marshes other tribes, in the transition stage from the nomadic to the settled life, own great herds of buffaloes. Of the wandering Arab tribes, the most powerful is the great tribe of Shammar, which ranges over all Mesopotamia. In January and February they descend as low as the neighbourhood of Diwanieh in such numbers that even Bagdad is afraid. Here and there are regions occupied by a semi-sedentary population, called Madan, occupying reed huts huddled around mud castles, called meftul. These, like the Bedouin Arabs, are practically independent, waging constant warfare among themselves and paying an uncertain tribute to the Turkish government. In general, Turkish rule is confined to the villages, towns and cities along the river banks, in and by which garrisons are located. Since the time (1868-1872) of Midhat Pasha, who did much to bring the independent Arab tribes under control, the Turkish government has been, however, gradually strengthening its grip on the country and extending the area of conscription and taxation. But from both the racial and religious standpoint, the Arab and Persian Shi‛as, who constitute the vast bulk of the population, regard the Turks as foreigners and tyrants.

Of crops the vilayet produces wheat (which is indigenous), rice, barley (which takes the place of oats as food for horses), durra (a coarse, maize-like grain), sesame, cotton and tobacco; of fruits, the date, orange, lemon, fig, banana and pomegranate. The country is naturally treeless, except for the tamarisk, which grows by the swamps and along the river-beds. Here and there one sees a solitary sifsaf tree, or a small plantation of poplars or white mulberries, which trees, with the date-palm, constitute the only timber of the country. The willows reported by some travellers are in reality a narrow-leaved variety of poplar.

Besides the buffaloes and a few humped Indian oxen, there are no cattle in the country. Of wild animals, the pig, hyena, jackal, antelope and hare are extremely numerous; lions are still found, and wolves and foxes are not uncommon. Snipe and various species of wild fowl are found in the marshes, and pelicans and storks abound along the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris. Fish are caught in great numbers in the rivers and marshes, chiefly barbel and carp, and the latter attain so great a size that one is a sufficient load for an ass. The principal exports of the province are coarse wool, hides, dates and horses. At various points, especially at Hit, and from Hit southward along the edge of the Arabian plateau occur bitumen, naphtha and white petroleum springs, all of which remain undeveloped. The climate is very hot in summer, with a mean temperature of 97° F. From April to November no rain falls; in November the rains commence, and during the winter the thermometer falls to 46° F.

Cholera is endemic in some parts of the vilayet, and before 1875 the same was true of the bubonic plague. At that date this disease was stamped out by energetic measures on the part of the government, but it has reappeared again in recent years, introduced apparently from India or Persia by pilgrims. There are four great centres of pilgrimage for Shi‛ite Moslems in the vilayet, Samarra, Kazemain, a suburb of Bagdad, Kerbela and Nejef. These are visited annually by tens of thousands of pilgrims, not only from the surrounding regions, but also from Persia and India; many of whom bring their dead to be buried in the neighbourhood of the sacred tombs.

Unpleasant, but not dangerous, is another disease, the so-called “Bagdad date-mark,” known elsewhere as the “Aleppo button,” &c. This disease extends along the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, and the country adjacent from Aleppo and Diarbekr to the Persian Gulf, although there are individual towns and regions in this territory which seem to be exempt. It shows itself as a boil, attacking the face and extremities. It appears in two forms, known to the natives as male and female respectively. The former is a dry scaly sore, and the latter a running, open boil. It is not painful but leaves ugly scars. The natives all carry somewhere on their face, neck, hands, arms or feet the scars of these boils which they have had as children. European children born in the country are apt to be seriously disfigured, as in their case the boils almost invariably appear on the face, and whereas native children have as a rule but one boil, those born of European parents will have several. Adult foreigners visiting the country are also liable to be attacked, and women, especially, rarely escape disfigurement if they stay in the country for any length of time. The boils last for about a year, after which there is no more likelihood of a recurrence of the trouble than in the case of smallpox.

The area of the vilayet is 54,480 sq. m. The population is estimated at 852,000; Christians, 8000, principally Nestorians or Chaldaeans; Jews, 54,000; Moslems, 790,000, of whom the larger part are Shi‛as.

See G. le Strange, Baghdad under the Abbasid Caliphate (1901); The Lands of the Eastern Caliphate (Cambridge, 1905); V. Cuinet, La Turquie d'Asie (Paris, 1890); J. P. Peters, Nippur (New York and London, 1897); Ed. Sachau, Am Euphrat und Tigris (Leipzig, 1900); A. V. Geere, By Nile and Euphrates (Edinburgh, 1904).

 (J. P. Pe.) 

BAGDAD, or Baghdad, the capital of the Turkish vilayet of the same name. It is the headquarters of the VI. Army Corps, which garrisons also the Basra and Mosul vilayets. It lies on both sides of the river Tigris, in an extensive desert plain which has scarcely a tree or village throughout its whole extent, in latitude 33° 20′ N., longitude 44° 24′ E. At this point the Tigris and the Euphrates approach each other most nearly, the distance between them being little more than 25 m. At this point also the two rivers are connected by a canal, the northernmost of a series of canals which formerly united the two great waterways, and at the same time irrigated the intervening plain. This canal, the Sakhlawieh (formerly Isa), leaves the Euphrates a few miles above Feluja and the bridge of boats, near the ruins of the ancient Anbar. As it approaches Bagdad it spreads out in a great marsh, and finally, through the Masudi canal, which encircles western Bagdad, enters the Tigris below the town. At the time of Chesney's survey of the Euphrates in 1838 this canal was still navigable for craft of some size. At present it serves no other purpose than to increase the floods which periodically turn Bagdad into an island city, and sometimes threaten to overwhelm the dikes which protect it and to submerge it entirely.

The original city of Bagdad was built on the western bank of the Tigris, but this is now, and has been for centuries, little more than a suburb of the larger and more important city on the eastern shore, the former containing an area of only 146 acres within the walls, while the latter extends over 591 acres. Both the eastern and the western part of the city were formerly enclosed by brick walls, with large round towers at the principal angles and smaller towers intervening at shorter distances, the whole surrounded by a deep fosse. There were three gates in the