1514 - 1914, Ottoman Control of Mesopotamia

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Conquest, 1514


Ottoman Conquest


The Ottoman conquest of العراق Iraq began as an outgrowth of a religious war between the Sunni Ottoman sultan and the shi'a Safavid shah. The territory making up most of contemporary العراق Iraq came under permanent Ottoman rule. Mesopotamia was split into three provinces based on the towns of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. The Ottoman Empire was at the peak of its power when it conquered العراق Iraq, and was able to give العراق Iraq stable government and a uniform administration.


17th Cent

The Ottoman Empire lost direct control over the Iraqi provinces. Tension between the Sunni Ottomans and Shi'i Safavid shahs of Persia led to fragmentation and diminished control from the central Ottoman government in Istanbul. Initiative and power lay with those who could command forces.

Re-Conquest, early 19th century


Ottoman Re-Conquest

Early 19th century

Direct Ottoman rule was reimposed, and reforms were instated, spearheaded by Midhat Pasha. Under the rule of Sultan Mahmud II (1808-39) the central Ottoman government began to implement the Nizam-i Cedid (New Order) which reclaimed power from semi-autonomous provincial governors into the hands of the sultan

Taking Baghdad


Da'ud Pasha, the mamluk governor of Baghdad, refused to comply with the New Order and relinquish his office. An Ottoman army led by 'Ali Rida Pasha, governor of Aleppo, invaded Baghdad. Da'ud Pasha was captured along with his city, ending mamluk rule in Baghdad.

Taking Basra

'Ali Rida Pasha went on to occupy Basra and end mamluk rule in that city.

Taking Mosul


Central Ottoman rule was restored in Mosul, ending the hold of the Jalili family on the governorship. The three provinces were now under direct rule from Istanbul.

Tanzimat Reforms

Sultan Abdulmecid implemented the Tanzimat Reforms, which transformed landholding, administration, conscription, law and public education. However, these reforms were implemented at different rates, depending on the initiative, energy and tenure of the Ottoman governors appointed by authorities in Istanbul. However, the norms and methods of the mamluk era endured; furthermore, Ottoman power over major cities did not necessarily increase hegemony over semi-autonomous tribes and tribal confederations of the countryside. Ottoman reforms nonetheless brought a new way of politics to Mesopotamia, one largely built on the European model.

Land Law of 1858


The Land Law of 1858 sought to formalize land tenure, creating security of tenure (whilst reasserting state ownership) in hopes of encouraging productive and settled agriculture, attracting investment and generating tax revenues. The land reform involved the granting of title deeds (tapu sanad) to anyone who possessed or occupied land. The land remained state property, but the registered owner of the title deed had nearly complete rights of ownership.

Collective ownership of land was expressly prohibited and registration could only be in the name of an individual. Thus, areas of tribal cultivation were registered under the powerful shaikh. Due to ignorance, superstition and/or misplaced trust in the shaikh, tribal cultivators failed to register and thus become tenant farmers. On lands belonging to the sultant (saniyya lands), tax-farming continued and tax-farming rights were periodically auctioned, thus denying the inhabitants a long enough tenancy to apply for title deeds.

The Land Law of 1858 brought about conflicts. Namely, cultivators were oft stripped of their land rights. Registered owners were sometimes wholly unconnected with the cultivators, instead gathering title deeds via influence or capital. Gaining rights to land did not only confer power over the newly-privatized land, but also conferred power over those who cultivated it. This restructured social power, as agricultural land was now private property.

Vilayet Law of 1864


The Vilayet Law of 1864 mapped the boundaries of Iraq's three provinces a new structure of administration from the provincial to the village levels. The Vilayet Law sought to bring the central administration systematically down to people hitherto outside the state apparatus. More radically, the Vilayet Law intended to involve even previously uninvolved Muslims and non-Muslims from the general population into various administrative councils alongside Ottoman officials.

مدحت پاشا Midhat Pasha


مدحت پاشا Midhat Pasha attained the Baghdad governorship and made concerted efforts to build for the future. مدحت پاشا MIdhat Pasha energetically and forcefully implement the Land Law and Vilayet Law. The Vilayet Law was relatively easy, as Istanbul was eager to assert its centralized authority and the populace was receptive. The Land Law was not fully implemented by the time Midhat Pasha was recalled to Istanbul in 1872.

Young Turk Revolution


The Young Turk revolution occurs in Istanbul.

Abdulhamid II Deposed


Sultan Abdulhamid II is deposed.

British Occupy Basra

November 1914

British occupation of Basra.

British Occupy Baghdad

March 1917

British occupation of Baghdad.

British Occupy Mosul

November 1918

British occupation of Mosul.

Marr, Phoebe. The Modern History of Iraq, 2nd Edition. 2004. Westview Press. Boulder, Colorado.

Constantinople, June 3. They write from Bassora, that a Battle has been fought between between the Troops of Kerim Kan, Regent of Persia, and those of Omar, Pacha of Bagdad, who totally defeated the Persians, and took their Commander Prisoner. They add that the Pacha of Baghdad, being desirous of preventing a War from breaking out between the Persians and the Ottoman Porte, had set at Liberty the Persian General, and had sent magnificent Presents to the Regent of Persia, at the same Time making Excuses for the Necessity he was under of defending the Territories under his Government. It is pretended, that notwithstanding the Presents and Submissions of the Pacha of Bagdad, the Regent of Persia still retained a strong Resentment against him for the Check his Troops received in the Kurdistan, and that in Consequence, as the Port either absolutely could not or would not depose the Pacha of Bagdad, the Persians had attacked the Turks, and has beaten them in their Turn, but this last News merits Confirmation. In the mean Time the Porte fearing the Consequences of this Affair, which may become of the greatest Importance, has sent Orders to Abdi Pacha Oglou, who commands in Asia Minor, to march towards Bagdad, to reinforce the Pacha of that Town.

The Cheik Daher had promised to give an Account to the Porte of the Miry which he has not paid for these seven Year past, on Condition that the Grand Seignior would grant him the Dignity of Pacha of Three Tails, to be enjoyed after this death by his e'dest Son; but finding that the Porte hesitated to accept of these Conditions, that old Warrior took Offense at it, and seizing an Opportunity of attacking the Egyptian Army, entirely defeated it. After the Victory the Cheik Daher imprisoned the Deputy of the Porte, who was at Buruth.

The Public Advertiser (London), 1775 Jul 17

Vienna, July 20. It is assured, that the Cheik Daher of Syria has been stripped of all his possessions, and even driven from his residence; but that Aboudaab, his conqueror, did not profit long by his advantages, having died in a little time afterwards of a very short sickness. This unexpected event has occasioned the total dissolution of the Egyptian army; in consequence of which the Porte has been obliged to send the Captain Pacha with a part of his fleet into Syria, in order to collect there the shattered remains of the said army. The Divan is seriously employed in taking proper measures for keeping Persia in respect, ever since Zends Kerim Kan has drawn near to Soherizur and Kerzuol, places belonging to the Turks, situated in the Kurdistan.

The Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh), 1775 Aug 16


They write from Bassora, that there has been a batle between the troops of Kerim Kahn [sic], Regent of Persia, and those of Omar, Pacha of Bagdad, who hath totally defeated the Persians, and made their commander prisoner. It is added, that the Pacha of Bagdad, desirous of preventing an open war from breaking out between the Persians and the Ottoman Porte, had set the Persian General at liberty, and sent some magnificent presents to the Regent of Persia, making an apology to him for the necessity he was under to defend the territories of his government. It is pretended, that notwithstanding the presents and submissions of the Pacha of Bagdad, the Regent of Persia still harboured a strong resentment, on account of the check which his troops met with in the Kurdistan; and in consequence, as the Ottoman Porte absolutely could not or would not dismiss the Pacha of Bagdad, the Persians had attacked the Turks in their turn and beaten them; but this last news stands in need of confirmation.

Mr. Murray, Ambassador of Great-Britain, having had his audience of leave of the Porte on the 20th ultimate. and having presented to the Grand Visir, Mr. Hayes, inequality of Charges des Affairs of the King his master, departed from hence on the 25th on board a Venetian ship.

The Chiek Daher promised to render an account to the Porte of the Miry which had not paid during the war with Russia, for the estates under his command, on condition, that the Grand Signor would grant him the dignity of Pacha of Three Tails, which his eldest descendant should enjoy after his decease; but we are informed, that his Highness having hesitated about accepting and confirming this condition, that old warrior took umbrage at it, and immediately prepared for fighting the Egyptian army, which merged against him; in effect, he seized the opportunity of attacking it to advantage, and entirely defeated it. After his victory, the Chiek Daher imprisoned the Deputy of the Porte, who was at Baruth.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, 1775 Sep 20

It is reported that the Persians have at last made themselves Masters of Bassora, and that the Muslim of Curdistan had declared in Favour of the Regent of Persia. It is added, that the Porte is silent about all this News, for Fear of some popular Tumult.

Jackson's Oxford Journal (Oxford), 1776 Jul 13

Selim the IIId. as Grand Calif, has published a plenary indulgence, or a remission of all sins to every faithful Mussulman that joins the army; he has also published an edict for all his subjects, from the age of 16 to 60 to enlist, unless on the allegation of some particular circumstance. The troops that are continually crowding into Constantinople rom the continent of Asia, commit so much outrage in the city, that all the shops of the Jews, the Greeks, and the Franks, are shut up, and even the native merchants dare not stir out for fear of being pillaged by these hordes.

The current news at Constantinople is, that Karon Mirsa, the Sultan of Persia, the declared enemy to Mahometan sectaries, having over-run all Kurdistan, and taken twelve thousand saves, has laid siege to Bagdat; while another Persian army has blockaded the city of Bassora, one of the richest ports in the Turkish dominions: – To these storms from the East, the Gran Signor appears indifferent, all his attention being directed towards Europe.

The Leeds Intelligencer, 1789 Jul 14; copied into The Pennsylvania Packet (Philadelphia), 1789 Sep 22

The following details are taken from an authentic source: – Buonaparte did not make himself master of Egypt before the end of the summer. He found at Suez but a few vessels, and these in bad condition. The Monsoon being against him at the Autumnal Equinox, he found that he had not time to caulk those vessels, or to put to sea. He immediately abandoned his plan of going to Indian, and his army began to consider itself as fixed in Egypt. The loss of our fleet ensued, and this was followed by the Declaration of War not he part of Turkey, their threats of invasion, &c. The French funding themselves thus shut up, immediately turned their thoughts to defending themselves and their conquests.

The month of Fructidor was rather severe, on account of the extreme heat, the calms, and exhalations which followed the retreat of the Nile; but in the month of Vendemiaire, the land was covered with trefoil. Milk, beer, flesh, fish, and vegetables were all abundant. The army recovered from its fatigues. It is about to pass the winter, and inure itself to the climate.

In the mean time Buonaparte is ever vigilant. Devoting himself to the administration of this important conquest, he descends to Damietta and Rosetta, and puts the coast in a state of defence at every point. He orders the necessary forts on the confines of the Desert near Suez, and in the higher Egypt. He keeps the troops in exercise, raises recruits in the country, and makes use rather of art than of force to form a party amongst the natives. He avails himself of the distinctions, civil and religious, to attach to him the Coptics, the Bedouins, and the peasantry. He flatters their self-love by adopting several of their customs, in order that they may more easily accommodate themselves to ours. He found them melancholy, choleric, and fretful, thro' the influence of tyranny. He has rendered them gay, good, and amiable, by the means of games, feats and music. He turns he most useful labours into amusement, and repairs the highways, the bridges, and the canals. He found the peasants slaves, and he has endowed them with property.

The Grand Signor inherited every succession. Buonaparte has consecrated the right of inheritance in every family; he bestows on every child an equal share, and suddenly, but without a shock, he has ameliorated the condition of the women, by giving them an equal portion of the descending property, with a right to dispose of it at will. He marries his soldiers to the women of the country, prohibits all premature marriages, lays restraints on polygamy, and, in a word, is founding in Asia a new civil code.

By his economy and foresight he is reviving the manufactures of the country. He has prohibited the ruinous and absurd luxury of Russian troops, and of Cocheminian shawls [spelling?]. He has called upon the neutral provinces, and procured front hem by the way exchange, the iron, the copper, and the wood of which he had occasion. He is not likely to be in any want of powder.

He has appointed schools of instruction for the people, and military colleges, where the young French, the Copts, and the Arabs instruct each other in the Arabic, the French, in geography, the mathematics, and other sciences. He has, in one word, created a nation; and, by managing the powerful resources of enthusiasm, he has recalled to the Arabs the glory of their ancestors. He has shown them, in the French Army, the miraculous instrument of the decrees of Providence, as wishing to revive the empire of the ancient Arabs, to deliver them from a barbarous yoke, to purify the laws of their Prophet, which had been altered by ignorant or impious men, and to open in Asia a new age of grandeur, of science, and of glory.

The answer made by the French Legation to the Prussian Ministers respecting their last note has been very laconic. They merely say, the they have sent dispatches tot heir Government on the subject, and that they shall hasten to communicate the result as soon as it arrives.

The following are the speculations of Volney as the destination of Buonaparte, which the thus puts into the mouth of that General:

"Let us leave to Zemaun Shah, and to Tippoo Sultan, the care of driving the English from Bengal. Zemaun Shah alone can do this with his 120,000 Knights. Besides, why should I go to the other end of the world to employ fruitless and inglorious efforts on an obscure and barbarous theatre? When I shall have driven the English from India, will their power be shaken? Will they be the less on that account the matters of the Ocean, or the matters of the Mediterranean, in which hey dare to say that I am a prisoner? Does not their alliance with the Russians, for the purpose of deceiving the Turks, open to them a new world, for the purpose of glutting their avarice? No, it is not to the factories of Madras or Calcutta that I am to look for glory. It is not there that France, of which my army is a precious portion, can be useful. It is Europe that must be made the Theatre of the War, and since the Turk has been so imprudent as to rear the standard of it, it is in Constantinople that I will tear it from his hands. I will put Egypt in a state sufficient for its defence and preservation. I shall pave the way for my expedition, by gaining over to my side the Arabs, the Druses, and the Maronites. When master of Syria, I shall there form my magazines, and shall protect, by the mountains, my rapid march on the skirts of the desert. When arrived at the Mountains of Cilica, my position will be strengthened: my left wing will be supported by the sea, my right by the Euphrates. I shall be able to keep open my communications with the Dearbekir and Armenia, corn countries, and which are disaffected to the Grand Turk. I will call on the assistance of the Bedouins, Turcomans, Kurds, Armenians, and Persians, to the ruin of their common enemy: and, forming a great body of cavalry, I shall soon cross the six or seven hundred miles which separate me from the Bosphorus, which I may perhaps cross on rafts, and I will then enter Constantinople.

"There a new course is opened to me. I enter on the Theatre of Europe, and form a counterpoise to all the Powers. I shall be able either to establish or to strengthen the Republic of all Greece by Albania and Corfu. I shall be able to keep open the communication with Italy and France. I shall be able to raise Poland from its ruins, and to form a state there which may maintain the ancient balance fo the North. Russia will be kept in check, and will be apprehensive of internal disturbances. Austria, placed between two enemies, will have still greater cause to be alarmed, and will be apprehensive for the enfranchisement of Hungary. Prussia will resume her state of natural alliance with France and the new Empire of Byzantium. Denmark and Sweden, relieved from the pressure of Russia, will increase both in their means and their influence. Moscow, jealous of Petersburgh, will reclaim its independence. England, driven from he Archipelago, will quit the Mediterranean, and Governments, tired at length with so much war, battles, fire, massacre, crime, and follies, will then in a mass be ready to listen to peace. May I be able to see that happy day, and to see an obelisk in Constantinople bear this inscription: "To the French Army, the Conquerors of Italy, of Africa, and of Asia. To Buonaparte, Member of the National Institute, the Pacificator of Europe."


The Evening Mail (London), 1798 Nov 28

Saturday afternoon, Lieutenant-Colonel McQUARRIE, of the 73rd Regiment, arrived at the India-House, with overland dispatches from the Governments in India, for the Court of Directors. Colonel McQUARRIE left Bombay on the 19th of March, at which time the British possessions in India were in a state of perfect peace and tranquility, and improving prosperity.

On account of the war with the Turks, Col. McQUARRIE was under the necessity of adopting a long and circuitous route from Bussora: traveling thence through Arabia, Curdistan, Persia, and by the Caspian, from Anzeley to Astracan, and thence through Russia, and by the Baltic to England. The plague having made its appearance lately in the city of Astracan, he was obliged to perform thirty-five days quarantine at different places between the mouth of the river Wolga and the city of Moscow, before he was permitted to approach the latter, and finally prosecute his journey.

Colonel McQUARRIE came to Yarmouth in the Calypso sloop of war, and is the bearer of dispatches from the Emperor of PERSIA.

The Persian Government has appointed an Ambassador to Bombay, to convey to the India Company assurances of its friendship. The Minister, MIRZA RIZA COOLY, has been nominated to this mission, for which great preparations have been made.

The Morning Chronicle (London), 1807 Oct 19; also mentioned in The Observer (London), 1807 Oct 18, The Times (London), 1810 Oct 19, Jackson's Oxford Journal (Oxford), 1807 Oct 24.

The King of Persia is extremely desirous that his subjects should be instructed in the European discipline, and the operations of the armies superintended by the English officers. It is said, that when Gen. Malcolm was about to depart, the King offered, upon condition he would remain and conduct the campaign against the Russians, to give him his daughter in marriage, create him a Prince, with remainder to the throne should Prince Abbas Mirza leave no issue. The prince is said to have joined his father in these solicitations. An army of observation, comprising of 25,000 men, was forming in Kurdistan, at having been discovered, from intercepted letters, that the Leaders of the Wachabees maintained a correspondence with the Russian Commanders, and had even proffered, upon certain conditions, to make a diversion in their favour.

Jackson's Oxford Journal (Oxford), 1811 Jul 20

Letters from Constantinople, of the 2nd January, state that official intelligence had been received in that capital, of the overthrow of the Wechabites, in several engagements, by the Egyptian forces commanded by one of the sons of Mahomed Aly Pacha; and that the latter, elated by his successes, and depending upon the favourable disposition of the Sheriff and inhabitants of Mecca, who had declared for the Grand Seignior, had marched straight to that holy city, with the intention of chasing from thence the implacable enemies of the Faith and of the State. This intelligence had diffused general joy at Constantinople – prayers were ordered in the mosques, and the Imans [sic] and Doctors of the Law had publicly declared, that the expulsion of the Wechabites from Mecca, coupled with he birth of an heir to the Ottoman Throne, must be considered as indications that the Divine wrath was removed, that Providence would again bless with success the arms of the Faithful when employed against Infidels, and restore the Empire to its pristine splendour and its former limits. So anxious were all classes in Constantinople for the receipt of advices announcing the re-occupation of Mecca, and so certain were they of that event taking place, that thousands had imposed upon themselves vows of abstaining from all animal food, of sleeping in the open streets, &c. until they were received. However ridiculous this fanaticism may appear, there is no doubt that the success of the enterprise would decide the Turkish Government against accepting the terms of peace offers by Russia; and equally certain is ti that a first appeal to arms, under such circumstances, would be answered by crowds of men rushing from the Asiatic provinces, to enlist under the banners of the Sultan, and swelling the Ottoman force to an incredible amount.

From the above letters we learn that the troubles in Kurdistan have terminated; and that Nahal and Jumbo, strong forts in the Peninsula of the Arabs, have been conquered from he Wechabites.

The Observer, 1812 Mar 01

Letters from Constantinople, of the 2nd January, state, that official intelligence had been received in that capital, of the overthrow of the Wechabites, in several engagements, by the Egyptian forces commanded by one of the sons of Mahomed Aly-Pacha; who had marched straight to Mecca with the intention of chasing them from thence. It is also stated that the troubles in Kurdistan had terminated; and that Nahal and Jumbo, strong forts in the Peninsula of the Arabs, had been conquered from the Wechabites.

The Morning Chronicle (London), 1812 Mar 02


The Ministers of the Porte, during the last fortnight, have had meetings extraordinarily frequent; sometimes at the house of the Mufti, sometimes at the house of the Caimacan, to deliberate upon the situation of the empire. Hitherto nothing has transpired to the public respecting these deliberations; it is, however, presumed, that these conferences have had for their principal object, the affairs of Servia and Widdin, as well as the troubles of the Government of Bagdad, where Abdurahman Pacha, who has lately been driven from Kurdistan, has, in concert with the Persians, renewed hostilities. The Grand Vizier, to judge by what had passed, does not intend quickly to quit Schumla. It is true, that it would be difficult for him to quit the capital, before the negotiations with the Servians are terminated, and order and tranquility restored in some way or other in the neighbourhood of Widdin.

The Times (London), 1813 Jan 15

Important intelligence from Constantinople is said to have arrived. Advices from Aleppo, of the 17th of February, had been received there, stating that an express had arrived from Bagdad of a battle having been fought between the deposed Governor, Essoad Pacha, and the new Governor Daud Pacha, in which the first obtained a complete victory, and possessed himself of the important town of Solimanich, in the province of Curdistan; and the latter totally defeated, found safety only in precipitate retreat. The same accounts inform us, that important changes have taken place in the Turkish Ministry. The Reis Effendi, Mahomed Seida, has been dismissed from office, and is succeeded by the Marshal of the Empire, Mahomed Salyhd Dachanjb. [spellings double-checked]

The Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh), 1817 May 12; also mentioned in The Morning Post (London), 1817 May 06; The Royal Cornwall Gazette, 1817 May 10; The Hull Packet, 1817 May 13; and The Leeds Mercury, 1817 May 10


In the course of November last, Mr. Rich, accompanied by Sir Robert Kenporter and Mr. Bellien, made an excursion to Hilla, and the remains of ancient Babylon, from which they returned to Bagdad on the 24th of November. All the heaps of ruins and bricks were examined with the greatest care. Besides the very detailed drawings, Sir Robert drew in the presence of Mr. Rich, a plan of the whole extensive plain, upon a plan much larger than it had been previously taken by Mr. Rich. The ruin of Al Haima and Namrud, were also marked upon it, by which the learned will be able to judge whether these two ruins were within the city walls of ancient Babylon, or not; and to see whether Major Bennet or Mr. Rich is in the right. Sir Robert has doubtless left Bagdad, without stopped there, and proceeded by war of Kurdistan to Tabris, whence he returns to St. Petersburg.

Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, 1819 Nov 23

Extract of a letter from Odessa, dated the 21st of September, O.S., 1822, received in Glasgow on Saturday, via Marseilles.

"Great consternation reigns among the Turks, in consequence of advices just received that the Persians had exterminated the Turkish army in Kurdistan, and that the inhabitants of that province had joined the enemy. From other quarters, news equally unfavourable had been received – that the Wechabites, having again collected a considerable force, were threatening Mecca itself; while, at the same time, the Greeks were obtaining fresh advantages over the Turkish and Egyptian armies in the Morea. It appears the former have got possession of the pass of Thermopylae, which prevents all egress in that direction. The Greek fleet, in the number of 100 sail, and thirty fire-ships, have also burned some more Turkish men of war in the Gulf of Calamata.

"By accounts from Syria we learn that the western provinces are at present a scene of desolation, in consequence of an earthquake which continued from the 2d to the 4th of August, during which period the flourishing cities of Aleppo, Antioch, Seyd, and Alexandretta, have been almost entirely laid in ruins, destroying a great number of inhabitants. These different events following each other rapidly, have led the Turks to believe themselves the immediate objects of divine vengeance. The Sultan Mahmud has issued a firman prohibiting the use of all expensive garments, of all Cachmere shawls, fine pelisses, gold and silver buttons, &c. By this firman the subjects of the Porte are required to bring without delay all there silver plate to the mint, where the proprietors will be paid for it at the rate of 22 to 23 Paras per drachm, for what can at present fetch 45 Paras. In the meantime the Greeks are again endeavouring to escape from Constantinople, by offering large sums of money to the masters of such vessels as they are able to communicate with, who occasionally succeed in concealing them, in spite of three rigorous visits from the Turks, to which they are obliged to submit, before receiving permission to enter the Black Sea.

The Caledonian Mercury, 1822 Nov 28; and in The Morning Post (London), 1822 Nov 29; The Royal Cornwall Gazette, 1822 Dec 07

Letters from Bagdad, dated June 10, say – "The Tigris this year has considerably overflowed, and the city of Bagdad is, as it were, in the midst of a vast morass. While I write, the waters are diminishing, but we are not yet in security. The city was much in danger of being inundated. Many houses have fallen dow, among others a part of the palace of the Pacha. The rains which have fallen in Upper Mesopotamia, and the melting of the snows on the mountains of the Medea and Kurdistan, occasioned this little deluge. Numerous Arab families, who live in Lower Mesopotamia, narrowly escaped being buried in the waters; and it is said that the mass of the nation were only saved by a sacrifice of individuals. In the midst of the confusion and despair, human bodies were sought for to oppose a barrier to the waters, and men, women, children, and animals, were thrown on it. Provisions have tripled in price, and the Arabs and Kurds are everywhere in a statue of insurrection. French paper.

Aberdeen Journal, 1825 Oct 19; also mentioned in The Times (London), 1825 Aug 26

A letter from Bagdad, dated October 8th relates the history of one of those rebellions which are so common in the Turkish Empire. Meemet Riaya, a Georgian who had been in the service of Daut Pacha, of Bagdad, and was formerly defeated in an action with the Persians being afraid to return to his master, put himself in a state of rebellion, and after wandering sometime in Persia, sometimes in Kurdistan, and sometimes among the Arab tribes, at length declared that he had been appointed by a firman from Constantinople Pacha of Bagdad, and took possession of the city of Hilla, the ancient Babylon, and there fortified himself, with an army of six thousand men. A state of hostilities ensued. Philip Doria, an Italian, who held a hand in the army of the constitutionalists of Spain, happening to pass on his way to Persia offered his services to Daut Pacha, which were accepted and he was placed at the head of the troops of Bagdad. The false Pacha gave him battle in the suburbs of Hills, and was defeated. He retired to the city, which Doria bombarded with such success, directing the pieces with his own skilful [sic] hand, that the rebels abandoned it, and Doria entered it in triumph, and found there a rich booty. The rebels lost a thousand men in killed and wounded, and a family of ten persons were killed by the explosion of a single bomb. The town of Mamuzein, which had also revolted a few months before, and had caused the death of three governors which Daut had sent them, was so much alarmed that it immediately offered to capitulate. Doria had acquired great credit by these successes, had been rewarded by rich presents and had been received into the service of the Pacha, with a fixed pay of a thousand Piasters per month.

The Tuscumbian, 1826 Apr 17

The following account of the high character which our countrymen bear generally throughout Persia, is extracted from the Hon. George Keppel's narrative of Travels in 1824 through Curdistan to Tehraun, just published:–

"Mr. Lamb wishing to draw a bill upon Bagdad for the sum of 100 tomauns, for our common expenditure, sent a servant into the town to know whether any of the shraufs (merchants) would be willing to give him money for it. After a short time, a miserable half-starved looking wretch made his appearance, and said he would be willing to advance any sum we might require: at first we were inclined to laugh at his proposal, thinking from his appearance and garb, that he was more like an object of charity than a lender of money. He soon undeceived us: for disencumbering himself of a few of his rags, he unstrapped from his body a black leathern belt, and having cut it open, counted out the 100 tomauns in gold. Mr. Lamb wrote a drat in English, upon a merchant in Bagdad, which this man took in lien of his money, contenting himself with merely asking the name of the merchant on whom the bill was drawn, and declaring himself to be the party obliged: for, said he, "If I am robbed, I shall at least be spared this piece of paper." While we were wondering, both at his ability to serve us, and his confidence in our honesty (for we could easily have deceived him) he said he had had too many proofs of English probity to entertain any alarm on that head. "The Feringhees (Franks) are not so worthy of being trusted, but the Ingreez (Englishmen) have never been known to deceive."

The Ipswich Journal, 1827 Feb 10

Banditti of Kurdistan Assisting Georgians in Surprising and Carrying off Circassian Women by Sir George Hayter in 1827 Image courtesy of Yale Center for British Art
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No. 509. "Banditti of Kurdistan assisting Georgians in surprising and carrying off Circassian Women." – (Vide the History of Persia, by Sir John Malcolm, Vol. II.) – By Mr. GEORGE HAYTER, Member of the Academies of Rome, Florence, Bologna, Venice, and Parma.

Among the most interesting works of modern art which have been produced for many years, this picture must hold a very high rank, from the circumstances of its representing a scene frequent in a distant part of the world, and with which the civilised state of Europe prevents our being acquainted, except when exhibited by painting or in history. The Artist, from his intimacy with Gentlemen who have travelled and resided in the East, has been enabled to convey, with the utmost truth of costume, the barbarous subject which he has chosen for the pencil which so ably represented the pathetic countenance of "Lady RUSSEL assisting at the Trial of her noble and oppressed Husband." We cannot conceal our surprise at seeing the same Artist delineating the Horses and Landscape Scenery with the same success with which he represented the Interior of the Old Bailey of 1683. The subject of the present Picture originated from a party of Circassians committing depredations on a Georgian village; the Georgians, unable to retaliate unassisted, engaged a party of Kurdistan soldiers (who are always willing to fight for any of the neighbouring Powers who pay them.) Thus increased in strength, they attacked the Circassian hamlet, and carried off the female inhabitants as hostages, until due reparation should be made for the injury they had sustained. The Picture represents the moment when the few Circassian men who were left guarding of the village had been overcome, and the women are being torn from their native homes, some in the utmost despair, preferring death to the brutal violence they dread; but one in the centre of the Picture, who appears willingly to accompany her sister, lead broken-hearted by the Georgian Chief, seems to plead and implore that more gentle means may be employed; while he assures her that they are taken as hostages, and not as slaves, but with firmness pursues his path. They are followed by a girl about twelve years old, whose fear induces her to rush towards rather than to avoid the danger which has fallen on her relations.

We find this Picture full of action and expression, the highest difficulties an Historical Painter has to cope with in his art. The only embarrassment of the spectator arises perhaps from the richness and force fo invention. We are left to hesitate which of the three principal groups is the better in composition, or which would singly have made the most pleasing centre for the whole – the Kurdish chieftain bearing away his struggling prize on the white horse, who bears with ease his double load; the tender affliction and supplication of the females in the centre group; or the violent despair of the third and leading group.

In point of composition, it may be considered as one of the most successful efforts of modern art; and the expression and action of the figures, varying from the graceful female from int he centre, to the brutal severity and coolness of their enemies, which, with the aged parents who are leaving the scene of the action, embrace almost every feeling the painter could have had exhibited in a single picture; while the second group, in the encore of the three horsemen, by the skill of the Artist relieve, but do not interfere with the principal interest of the Picture. The extraordinary richness and harmony of the coloring of the whole of the Picture exhibits the deepest knowledge of the art, and the beautiful drawing of every part evinces the greatest advantages to be derived from studying in Italy, where Mr. GEORGE HAYTER painted this Picture. It was, we understand, painted for the late Early of CARYSFORT. At his Sale, by order of the Executors of that Nobleman, it was purchased by a friend for the Artist, then in Italy, and subsequently sent to the Artist at Paris, where, after a year's absence from his Picture, he had the advantage of working many weeks on it, before its present to its present station in the British Gallery, where, with all its improvements, it is now exposed to public criticism, and perhaps, without meaning offence to this justly-celebrated Artist, for the purpose of sale.

When we recollect the remunerative compliments paid to this Artist by the Duke of BEDFORD for his splendid historical effort, the Trial of Lord RUSSELL; and by AGAR ELLIS, Esq. for his laborious production, the Trial of Queen CAROLINE, equalling in amount three thousand pounds, it will not excite surprise to learn, that the picture we have noticed has also found its way into another collection of celebrity.

The Morning Post (London), 1829 Mar 05


Banditti of Kurdistan Assisting Georgians in Surprising and Carrying off Circassian Women

by Sir George Hayter in 1827

Image courtesy of Yale Center for British Art


DEATH OF DR SCHULZ. – A letter from Tiflis, of the date of the 1st of January last, gives the melancholy intelligence of the death of this intrepid and intelligent traveller. It appears that he was murdered in Kurdistan, at the frontiers of Inal-Huerile, between the villages of Bash-Kullah and Perihad-Nechin; the details are not yet known, only that his two domestics, and a Persian serjeant and soldier, who accompanied him, shared the same fate. Colonel Macdonald, the English envoy, at whose house the traveller had resided during his stay at Tauris, had immediately dispatched a confidential person to the spot, in order to collect, if possible, the papers and effects of Dr Schulz, and take the necessary steps for the discovery and punishment of the murderers. The Russian envoy has also been very active on the occasion. The loss which literature and science have sustained by this lamentable catastrophe are almost irreparable. Dr Schulz was a Professor in the German University of Giessen, and had been selected on account of his extensive knowledge of the Oriental tongues (being equally well acquainted with the Turkish, Arabic, and Persian languages and literature) to go on a scientific and literary tour through the less known parts of Turkey in Asia, and Persia, at the expence of the King of France. One of his special objects was to repair to Yezd, in the centre of Persia, the great seat of the followers of the religion of Zoroaster, and reside there as long as was necessary, in order to study the ancient languages of Persia, and collect such works of Zoroaster as might still be in existence. He set out in the autumn of 1826, furnished with ample instructions from the Baron de Damas, then Minister of Foreign Affairs; but the war which broke out shortly after between Russia and Persia threw great difficulties in his way, but did not slacken his zeal. He collected a great mass of information during his residence at Constantinople and in the Asiatic provinces of Russia, in he Caucasus, and on the Caspian sea; he traversed the whole of Asia Minor and the most barbarous and difficult portions of Armenia and Kurdistan. He explored in the greatest detail the hitherto unknown ruins of the city of Semiramis in Armenia, where he copied forty-two inscriptions of the most remote antiquity, the greater part of them of great length. A portion of his observations and discoveries have been noticed or detailed in the Paris Journal Asiatique or in the Journal des Savans. It was anticipated that his residence in Persia would have supplied an ample harvest of most important observations. Besides his Oriental acquirements, he was deeply imbued with classical knowledge, and possessed a sound and well cultivated understanding; no traveller was ever better fitted or prepared to travel with advantage over the countries which it was his mission to visit.

[Refers to Başkale in modern Turkey.]

The Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh), 1830 Mar 11

Braving Death in Kurdistan Disguised As A Native

How an Englishman Penetrated One of the Most Savage and Least Known Parts of the World by Passing Himself Off as One of Its Inhabitants — His Exciting Adventures

Memories of Sir Richard Burton's famous pilgrimage to Mecca, when, disguised as a Mohammedan, he risked his life to see the Sacred City of the Prophet, are brought to mind now by the narrative of another fearless Englishman, who is back among his fellow countrymen after nonchalantly living in the shadow of death for months. He is E. B. Soon, and in his book "To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in Disguise" (Small, Maynard & Co., Boston,) he recounts how he ventured into the unknown mountain homes of the savage Kurds, passing himself off as a Persian returning to his native town of Shiraz from a sojourn in Europe. So remarkably good was Soane's knowledge of the Persian and Kurd languages and so convincing his "bluff" that he was everywhere taken at his word and suffered to go on his way unmolested. In fact, like Sir Richard Burton, he was accounted by many a Hadji, or Mohammedan pilgrim returning from Mecca, and treated with great politeness.

But in spite of everything he suffered, rough handling at the hands of Turkish soldiers and wild Kurdish bandits, he brought back with him to civilization, in addition to his wealth of remarkable experiences, a wound inflicted by a dagger in the hands of a mountain robber.

Soane's way led him far beyond the railway terminus at Aleppo in Asia Minor, down the swiftly flowing Tigris, past the ruins of Nineveh and other renowned cities of thousands of years ago, past battlefields where Hittites, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Romans, Turks, and Tartars struggled and bled, straight through the dreaded haunts of the Hamavand bandits to the hidden mountain home of the Lady of Justice, revered throughout the district of Kurdistan in which she lives. Everywhere the Englishman met with evidences of Turkish misrule. So glaring were they that they made him yearn for Persia, where he had previously spent several years, and of which he speaks with deep affection. It was while he was in the Shah's domain that he mastered the Persian tongue and – ostensibly – embraced Mohammedanism, thus arming himself with a twofold knowledge that enabled him to return alive from his perilous Kurdistan adventure.

Soane started from Constantinople, a city of which he has little good to say. He took a steamer to Beirut, in Syria, and, for the time being, only added a fez to his regular costume, to make people think he was a Persian. But that simple headgear worked wonders. His fellow-passengers, largely English tourists, were completely taken in. Even after he confessed to a knowledge of their language and discoursed with them about England, which, he said casually, he had visited, they never thought him other than a Persian.

It was not without sadness that he bade these people good-bye at Beirut. They were about to travel through the Holy Island [sic?] in style, to put-up at the best hotels and know nothing but the best fare, while he was to turns back on civilization for many months, to strike into unknown parts in the guise of a humble wayfarer, to brave death at every step. Small wonder that he looked wistfully after his companions!

But his depression did not last. Completing his Persian disguise by donning outer garments more in army with his fez than had been the ordinary coat and trousers of the voyage from Constantinople, he took a second-class railway ticket to Aleppo, and, wedged in between all sorts of Oriental nondescripts, fairly launched himself upon his perilous wanderings.

Through Urfa, the ancient Edessa, he went, across the Euphrates, passing at every step places renowned in ancient history, ruins of forgotten cities, battlefields where armies of forgotten empires had won and lost. By the time he reached Diarbekr his coachman had set him down as a Hadji or pilgrim returning from Mecca, and not only treated him with due reverence but exacted it from others along the route. Soon did not judge it expedient to disillusion them; he knew that his trip was bound to be difficult enough anyhow without borrowing trouble.

At Diarbekr, in the midst of memories of thousands of years ago, he found a traveling companion in the person of a devout Kurd returning from his seventeenth pilgrimage to Mecca, with whom Soane, apparently, made a great hit – nor did the bona fide pilgrim suspect the "Persian" of deceit. The two bargained with a river skipper, "a gaunt Kurd, pretty well seven feet tall, with an impediment in his speech and a single fierce-looking eye," for passage on his raft down the Tigris.

That was a thrilling voyage. The raft, made of inflated goat kins and overlaid with planks, was swept down the swift river current at an alarming rate. Before starting Soane knew well the perils of voyaging on the Tigris; he also knew that some tribesmen on its banks had just raised against their Turkish masters and were murdering travelers. Nevertheless he boarded the raft undaunted. Of the journey the Englishman writes,

We had two fellow passengers – one an Arab merchant of Mosul, a man of tremendous piety, who spent his whole time smoking cigarettes and calling on the Lord. The other was as diametrically opposite to him in character as possible – a time-expired soldier, a youth of 23, who was returning from the Hejaz Railway, where he had formed part of the military police guard going to Kirkuk, his native town. Foul-mouthed, blasphemous, a thief, possessing no money and expecting us to keep him, he was a type of what the Turk becomes when the army has molded him to its standard of ruffianism.

The crew of the raft was composed of two Kurds, little men of the Zaza, a tribe that lives in the high mountains around the upper Tigris valleys and headwaters. * * * They are short men, of a shy, quick temperament, very sharp, and excellent workers, speaking a dialect which, while Kurdish, denotes by its form a very high antiquity. It is possible that these are lineal descendants of the hill tribes that the Assyrians had so much trouble in controlling, and whom the Parthians and Romans of a later age never subdued. In the high, pointed felt cap and long-toed felt shoes they still preserve part of a dress familiar from the sculptures of the southern Armenian mountains.

The skipper of our craft was known as one of the most skillful of all the river men, and in the dreadful weather that followed he showed by his ability to claim to that reputation.

We cast off from the bank at 10 o'clock this sunny morning, a light breeze from the north both assisting our progress and keeping the temperatures at a degree of perfect comfort. Under such conditions, find weather and a broad river that runs at a steady pace without too many shallows and rapids, there is probably no more pleasant method of travelling than by kalak (raft). As it proceeds, the raft turns round and round slowly, giving view of every side.

There is an ease and comfort about it all that only the traveler fresh from the road can appreciate. The abundance of cool, clean water is the chief delight of the journey, contrasting with he ever-present trouble of the road, with its water often enough scarce, and always obtained only at the expense of considerable manual labor. The dust and filth, the long, wearying stages, the trouble of loading and unloading and of seeking food in obscure bazaars when one is dead tired, the awakening from a sleep all too short in the dark before dawn, all these are past, and all there is to do is to lie at full length upon the bales and give one's self up to the luxury of pure laziness and enjoyment of the view.

For two days we floated down between flat banks, passing a few villages, all Kurdish. At night we tied up, gathered some sticks, made a fire, and cooked rice. Haji and myself are regarded as the first-class passengers, possessing as we did a tent and living upon cooked food. The others had but dry bread and cheese, of which they had brought a sufficient supply to last.

As the custom of Islam generally, and of the Kurd particularly, demands a fraternal fellowship among all travelers, we entertained the passengers and crew at our evening meals every night. The class distinction that asserts itself in every land on earth, whether it be the difference made by breeding, position, or hard cash, became apparent on the first evening.

I had cleaned and washed the rice, boiled it, and produced a pilau, turning it out into our one dish, which was but a big copper saucepan lid. We invited the company to partake, refusing to eat under any other conditions.

The crew, however, were too shy, and, asserting their own unworthiness, said they would eat afterward. The Arab merchant, too, hung off with polite phrases, but was eventually forced to join. The soldier needed no encouragement, and would have sat down and begun without waiting for us to put out our hands to the dish, a terrible gaucherie; but for some reason both Arab and Kurd, who had conceived a strong dislike to him, fairly beat him off, saying that he was not of our class and rank and might wait and eat afterward. So, with very bad grace, he retired to sulkiness and cigarettes.

A hearty appetite, helped by the pity-to-waste-it kind of sentiment, assures the total disappearance of a cooked meal among all the people of road and river in the East, so there were never any leavings and the washing-up of the one dish was always undertaken by the crew. * * *

After suffering severely from torrential rains, which reduced passengers and cargo (consisting largely of dried apricots) to a wretched state, the raft was swept through a gorge at a terrific speed by the current, and, as if there was not excitement enough for all concerned in keeping from getting drowned, Kurdish bandits on the banks took pot-shots at the party, fortunately without effect, as the raft's speed was altogether too great to admit of accurate aim. However, the fusillade was such as to compel all on board to take refuge behind bales and pray for rescue, especially the Turkish soldier, who actually wedged himself in among the apricot bags, whence he emerged wet and muddy long after the danger was past.

After all sorts of hardships, both from the vicious Tigris and from Turkish officials along the banks, the party reached Mosul, on the river bank. Not last among the discomforts of the trip were the constant inquiries to which the English adventurer was subjected. He was obliged to produce his Constantinople passport, a matter of no small embarrassment, since it described him as an Englishman, not a Persian. Nevertheless, he emerged triumphant from all his difficulties. On Turkish police officer gravely held the document upside down while perusing it, thus proving conclusively that he didn't know how to read at all, and another was so thoroughly convinced that Soane was a Persian that he refused to allow his conviction to be shaken by any number of suspicious circumstances.

At Mosul, Soane learned that the Hamavand, a belligerent tribe of the neighborhood, were robbing and murdering travelers along the route which he meant to traverse to reach Kurdistan. At first it was impossible to find anybody willing to undertake the dangerous journey to Sulaimania, but eventually a small caravan was formed – including the masquerading Englishman – and a start was made, not without considerable trepidation. as a measure of precaution, Soane discarded his red fez, it having been pointed out to him that this conspicuous scarlet headgear would e most useful as a target to the marauding Kurds.

Off the caravan went, past the site of ancient Nineveh and Arbela, to Kirkuk, where many others joined the caravan, which, to the great relief of all, was placed in charge of an escort of Turkish soldiers armed with Mausers, for rumors concerning the Hamavand tribesman were constantly becoming more hair-raising.

And although the "effendi," or officer commanding the escort, cautiously tried to give a wide berth to the Hamavand haunts, he was unsuccessful. The caravan was creeping round the base of some cliffs when a scout reported that he had descried a body of hamvand horsemen. The latter, drawing nearer, kept parallel with the caravan's course, while reinforcements constantly swelled their numbers. Says Soane:

Handsome men these Hamavands. As they rushed along the silk head handkerchiefs of many colors streamed behind them, their long tunics, covering even their feet, rose and fell with the horses' action.

The stirrups of many were inlaid with silver, contrasting with the scarlet upturned shoes. Their zouave [?] jackets they had ornamented to the highest degree. Weird designs in gold braid and thread covered the pale blue cloth. Most were armed with Mauser repeating rifles taken from he Turkish soldiers by force. * * *

Altogether there were about fifty of them, and notwithstanding the attitude of the soldiers, who had intrenched themselves behind bales, covering the oncomers, they rode straight up to the encampment, heedless of the disconcerted army that arose from behind its cover, looking foolish. As they approached near each one ostentatiously opened the breech of his rifle and emptied it of cartridges, then slung it on his back, thereby announcing at once their friendly intentions, and their scorn for the soldiers.

The Turkish Effendi went out to parley with the brigands, and it was arranged that the caravan should proceed to where the Hamavand chieftain was. He explained the nomads must decide whether the travelers were to be put to the sword or suffered to proceed.

Feeling very uncomfortable, as was natural, Soane and his companions were led away by the Kurdish horsemen. The Turkish soldiers especially were quite demoralized by fear, seemingly feeling no hope at al that they would ever get out of their predicament alive.

On reaching the Hamavand chief's camp all were ordered to squat down on the ground, and were given to understand that if they stood up or moved they would be shot at. Nobody stood up or moved about – except one reckless Turk, who promptly sat down again when a bullet grazed his ear.

The hours [illegible, but likely "passed, and"] daylight changed to night. "I [illegible] think many of us slept that night," says the English traveler. All night long the Kurds could be heard discussing as to the fate of the prisoners, their cigarette ends glowing in the darkness.

At last, when morning came, the suspense was ended. The Hamavand chief announced that he would let the caravan proceed on its way to Sulaimania. So on they went, delighted to have escaped the terrible fate of many other caravans. Not long before, they recalled with shuddering, no less than 200 Persian pilgrims had been murdered by Hamavands in that very neighborhood. It was with thankful hearts that they plodded into Sulaimania, in the heart of the mysterious Kurdish mountains.

According to Soane, this place is a stronghold of moss-backed Oriental conservatism. He says:

Among other customs strange and stupid, is the one which forbids a woman to appear in the bazaars at the risk of the loss of her good name; why seems hard to say, for there never was a more moral town than Sulaimania. Possibly it is for the same reason that it is reckoned improper for a man to wear ornamented socks, or bows on his slippers, or to remain in his house by day, or treat his wife as a woman, and a hundred other pranks and caprices which are hard-and-fast rules of Sulaimania society and life.

And the infringement of any one of these little rules is met by a horrified look and the hackneyed old expression, "Aiba Bokum," (It is a fault, little father.) * * *

If I would speak to my own wife in the street, if I would bare my head to a cool breeze in a public place. If I would be too friendly with a Christian, or speak civil to a Jew, these are all "Aiba bokum," and but the least of them. But would I in rash moments of philanthropy and idealism suggest killing the flies on the putrid meat of the shops, or ridding the town of fraudulent beggars, or building a sanitary house, or cleaning a street, or doing anything of any benefit to myself or others, then I should become a raving lunatic from hearing day and night the pained protest of "Aiba bokum"; If, indeed, I were allowed to remain in the town.

In this, Sulaimania is only too like the rest of the Mohammedan East, particularly those parts further removed from the West, whose creed is, "That I do as did my fathers, and leave undone that which they did not, and curse the innovator."

Nor is this creed to be set aside lightly, even thought it mean inconvenience to the people themselves. Some years ago a doctor of some skill came here, hoping – as he was the first arrival in a town full of dirt-diseases – to make a speedy fortune, as others have done among the Kurds. Two months after he had established himself he left for Persian Kurdistan, carting his implements upon his back, his heading riding with the phrase, "Aiba bokum."

From this hide-bound town Soane journeyed ever deeper into Kurdistan, until he came to the objective point of his toilsome journey – the hidden settlement of Halabja, where lives the famed Lady of Justice. In the rural regions of Kurdistan, be it known, women, unlike those at Sulaimania and elsewhere in the Orient, enjoy a freedom second only to that of their European and American sisters, and among them the Lady of Halabja is the most independent. It was largely for the sake of making her acquaintance that the Englishman braved so many dangers and suffered so much hardship. This remarkable woman, who hails from Sina, in Persian Kurdistan, and has married into the Kurdish tribe of the Jaff, is, as the Englishman puts it, "a woman unique in Islam, in the power she possesses, and the efficacy with which she uses the weapons in her hands."

Her name is Adela, and she is the wife of Uthman Pasha, the great Jaff potentate. Of her Soane writes:

Once installed at Halabja, Lady Adela proceeded, aided by the prestige of her family, to assert her position, as a procedure not opposed by Uthman Pasha. She built two fine houses, finer than any edifice in Sulaimania, upon the Sina model, importing Persian masons and artificers to do the work. Her servants were all Persian subjects, and in Halabja she instituted in her new house a little colony of Persian Kurds, and opened her doors to all travelers fro and to that country. * * *

Gradually the official power came into her hands. Uthman Pasha was often called away to attend to affairs, and occasionally had to perform journeys to Sulaimania, Kirkuk, and Mosul on matters of government. So Lady Adela, governing for him in his absence, built a new prison and instituted a court of justice, of which she was President, and so consolidated her own power that the Pasha, when he was at Halabja, spent his time smoking a water pipe, building new baths, and carrying out local improvements, while his wife ruled. * * *

In and around Halabja, Lady Adela has instituted the Persian fashion of making gardens, apart from the gardens around the houses, and now outside the little town are several of the graceful and thickly treed gardens which are only seen in Persia, gardens which are wildernesses of large shady trees, with unsuspected bowers and flower beds in their shady depths.

So here, in a remote corner of the Turkish Empire, which decays and retrogrades, is one little spot which, under the rule of a Kurdish woman, has risen from a village to be a town, and one hillside, once barren, now sprinkled with gardens, and these are in a measure renovations ancient state of these parts.

Lady Adela received the English traveler most graciously – nor did she, a native of Persia, succeed in penetrating his disguise. She spoke to him in Persian throughout, and never for an instant detected a flaw in his language, appearance, or actions.

At Halabja the Englishman met one who was almost his undoing. This was a Mohammedan priest, whom he had encountered in Constantinople, and who now roundly denounced him as an English impostor. Yet so extraordinarily good was Soane's Oriental make-up and so cool his demeanor that even this peril was averted. The priest, who a moment before had been treating imprisonment and execution, was brought round to believe that the man before him was simply a Persian who had lived in England. And when, shortly after, Soane quitted Halabja, he went without being exposed by this peppery individual.

But his exciting adventures were by no means over. On a lonely road he and his companions, a Kurd called Hama, and an old pilgrim, encountered a group of Turkomans who sent a bullet whistling after them. The Englishman and his comrades were unarmed and could do little when one of the Turkoman party came up on the run, seized Soane's bridle and started to go through his pockets. When some coins and a watch had been extracted, Soane and Hama began to put up a stiff fight, whereupon the robber, in a fury, drew a long dagger and plunged it into Soane's arm, inflicting a nasty wound. Turning then to Hama, he struck him on the nose with his riflebutt, and made off with his booty, Hama close at his heels. The Kurd overtook the robber, leaped on him and threw him, but not without getting a stab in the shoulder from the Turkoman's dagger. In spite of this, he recovered the watch and money and started back toward Soane, but the brigand, taking careful aim, sent a bullet after him which almost did [?] for the Kurd – in fact, it passed so close to his head that it carried away the tassel on the peak of his cap. Unperturbed by this little incident, he continued his journey with his companions, while the Turkoman watched them sullenly from the other side of the valley.

Back in Sulaimania, Soane was made much of by some of the inhabitants and, feeling himself safe, confided to them who and what he was. Their amazement was unbounded. But they had so sincere a liking for their strange acquaintance that none sought to do him harm and one joyfully exclaimed that it mattered not whether a friend was English or Russian, Turk or Kurd.

Taking leave of these hospitable fellows, Soane continued his homeward journey and after many days of ardor traveling, beset by sufferings of various sorts, reached the renowned city of Bagdad. Remote as that place is to us, it was to him within the bounds of everyday travel – has not Bagdad hotels and is it not visited by ever-increasing bands of European and American tourists? So, once there, Soane looked upon his perilous adventure as terminated. Says he:

In the dark and shadow I slipped the European hat upon my head, threw the dressing gown over my arm like an overcoat, and stood, a European in appearance, though somewhat shabby. * * *

I spent most of the day trying to get use to sitting upon a chair, but it was horribly uncomfortable, and my legs would gather under me in spite of myself.

I felt stranger and more lonely than I had ever done before. Gone was the coffee house and the bazaar, of the multitudes of which I was one and equal, with whom I spoke and laughed and fought and wrangled.

They were far away, and I must learn to look upon them as strange and inferior beings, if such were now possible, and, taking place again on the platform of Western birth, once more go on my way affecting to ignore their joys and sorrows – which had so lately been my own.

NY Times, 1913 Mar 19