Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/192

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A small number of Courds dwell in the towns and in fortified villages, under chiefs whose services are purchased in time of war by the king of Persia.

Kerim Khan, the predecessor of Aga Mohammed Khan on the throne of Persia, sprung from the Courdish tribe of Zends. This barbarous nation boasts of having produced several other great men, among whom they reckon Sultan Saladin, who belonged to the tribe of the Ravadieh.



Gypsies are found scattered in small bands over most of the provinces of Persia, where they are called Kara-Shee, or the black race. The complexions of both sexes are indeed much darker than those of the native Persians: and their physiognomy agrees with that of most of their brethren and sisters, who wander about in various parts of Europe. Sir R. Porter fell in, near the lake of Ouroumia, with an encampment composed of two tribes, both Mahometans, but of the rival sects. They have their own mollahs or priests. He inquired if they, like the Eelauts of the country, had any marked place or district in Persia, whence they originally came. They replied—"No, nor did they know to what country they had originally belonged, but were certain it was not Persia." They lead there the same vagabond life as their brethren do with us. The men steal, make sieves, hair-ropes and other trifling articles, from the produce of which they pay a yearly tribute to the government of two toomauns per family or tent. The women, when occupied in domestic affairs, beg and tell fortunes; the latter being generally muttered over a few torn leaves from a Frangy (European) book, or the blade-bone of a sheep, and accompanied with the thread of your life, which mysterious gift consists of a piece of worsted, knotted more or less, according to the mishaps and obstacles that are to occur in the real line of the destiny to which it is attached. Though living apparently unshackled by human law, and frequently without the visible profession of any religion, the men are seldom found engaged in very atrocious acts of depredation, nor are the women accused of want of personal virtue.

The traveller is of opinion that these outcasts are descendants from the captive tribes of Israel.