Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/191

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Most of the Courds live in tents like the Arabs, subsisting on the produce of the soil and of their flocks, and by plunder, for they are a nation of robbers. They have a particular language, which partakes more of the Persian than of the Turkish. Each of their tribes is governed by a khan, in whom the chief civil and military power is vested.

The dress of the Courds differs more in hue than shape from the ordinary Persian. Instead of the black skin cap, the Courd has one of whitish felt, pointed at the top, but varying in height. It has flaps falling over the ears, to shelter them from the mountain cold. In winter, and in the keen higher regions, an additional garment is worn, called a kadack: its form is that of a short jacket, and its fabric and colour the same as the cap. They seldom stir without a heavy pear-headed stick in their hands, and frequently are armed besides with a sword. Whether they live in villages or towns, their hearts yearn after all that belongs to the open field; the boldest spirits long for the fray and the spoil; and they gladly seize whatever plunder fortune may throw into their hands.

The women of the Courdish race are generally of a pale mahogany hue, with very fine features; their nose is usually aquiline, with eyes bright as the antelope's, and the whole countenance expressive of a frank and amiable disposition. The men have nothing of that suspicion regarding their women, which distinguishes the Turks and Persians; hence their wives and daughters walk abroad in the security of innocence, without the great veil of chadre. Their only appendage which at all resembles such a covering, is a handkerchief, hanging loose from the back of the head, which they can pull at will quite over the face, or allow it merely to shade the cheek. Their persons are enveloped in a long blue garment shaped like a shift, and opening low down the bosom, where it is partly closed with loops fastened to buttons, usually formed of pieces of money, an ornament which they affect in profusion. Their ears too are decorated with large silver rings running through strings of the same. In the cottages or at the tent-doors, these women appear without restraint, and are as ready as any peasant girl in England to pay to a stranger the simple duties of hospitality. Modest when maidens and chaste as wives, they cultivate those vigorous habits in themselves which produce an athletic race of children, and set them a fearless example. "Our boys are to be soldiers," they say, "and they must learn to bear and to dare every thing. We show them the way."

The religion of the Courds is Islamism, corrupted by ignorance and superstition; they are either Sunnites or Shiites, according as they reside in Turkey or Persia.