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Report on The Sulaimania District of Kurdistan (1910)

THE following report, insomuch as it touches upon the life, language, and tribal history of the Kurds and the geographical features of the district, is the result of information gained during a stay of six months there. During this period the writer was disguised as a Persian for various reasons, mainly that of insuring easy access to every class of Kurd and unhampered passage through their country. In addition, the close intercourse, which alone confers familiarity with a people's language, all of which were essential to the completion of knowledge of southern Kurdish, and the acquisition of several more dialects, which were my principal aims.

The greater part of my stay in Kurdistān, was in Sulaimānia, but before settling there, I went to Halabja, where 'Adela Khānum Jāf was staying, and being accepted at my own valuation of a Persian "mirza and merchant," was entertained by her, for some four weeks. During which I became acquainted with Othman Pasha, Mahmud Pasha, Tahir Beg and Majid Beg of the ruling families. In addition, I had nearly arranged to remain there as a writer of Persian to Uthman Pasha when the sudden arrival of an individual from Biāra - a refugee from Sina of Persian Kurdistān, whom I had seen in Constantinople (Istanbul) and who was evilly disposed towards me, rendered (made) my departure advisable.

I therefore, made a journey to Aorāmān, Merivān, and Panjwin, taking with me the small merchandize of the country as a reasonable excuse for making a tour. I also went into partnership with a Kurd of the Mukrĩ who taught me his language very completely besides assisting in the innumerable and harassing pettiness (small details) that go to make up the life of a trader in Kurdistān.

During this tour, I made the acquaintance of the two chiefs of Turkish and Persian Aorāmān - Ja'far Sultan and 'Ali Shāh - and was involved in a fight between the latter and the Beg of Merivān, with whom he is at feud. By a long detour, we came to Sulaimānia, where for a short time I stayed, to make an excursion to Bāna for gum tragacanth, coming back by Marga, Keui Sanjāq and Sardasht to Sulaimānia. Here I settled, making friends with people of every class, including the Turkish officials.

When, in August, I left Sulaimānia, I stayed one week at Kirkūk - having passed through the deserted country of the Hamāvand, where, some months before, I had stayed three days with their chief. In approaching Sulaimānia in the early spring, I had already stayed three weeks in Kirkūk. From there I now went to Altūn Keuprĩ, where I took raft down the lower Zāb and so to the Tigris and to Baghdad.

In the compilation of the historical matter relating to the frontier, I have consulted the treaties between Persia and Turkey, Lynch's Armenia, Sir John Malcolm's History, Curzon, and for the recent events (since 1907), notes made by myself when in Persia, and Tehrān newspapers of the time. Since then, 1909, I have been on the spot, and have confirmed the accuracy of notes and papers alike, besides gleaning more information. Tribal history (except for that of the Hasanānlū) which was one of the objects of my visit, is compiled from my own notes and certain documents of which I was able to obtain a view in Halabja and Panjwin. When it was possible to check it, I have used the Gazetteer of Persia (Part III) for geographical matter outside the scope of the report, and for the Kirmānshāh province, the Kirmānshāh Gazetteer, which covers some ground mentioned in the frontier chapter. If the report is lacking in certain particulars it is because I went to Kurdistān with no ideas of writing a report; my sole object being linguistic, ethnological and historical information. I have to acknowledge the very kind assistance of Lieutenant A. T. Wilson, J.A. his Britannic Majesty's Consul at Mohammerah who arranged the report in a coherent form, and assisted greatly in the correction of the typescript.

MOHAMMARAH: The 4th June 1910, E.B.SOANE

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Report on The Sulaimānia District of Kurdistān (1910)

By E.B. Soane

Kurdology Center, Sulaimani, 2008

Please view the full report as attached, in particular in language section on page 17.

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