KURDISTAN, the country of the Kurd, is a district in the east of Persia, though the Kurd are also found in the west of Persia, in Asia Minor and Syria. Its limits comprise the greatest part of the territory of the Kurd or Carduchi. This extensive tract is divided into four districts, two of which are Kermanshah and Ardelan. Lower Kurdistan is the name given to that part of the pashalik of Baghdad which lies to the N.E. of the Tigris, and which comprised the chief part of Assyria, and seems to be the land of Kir spoken of in the Second Book of Kings and in the prophet Amos. The people consist of two distinct races, the one consisting of the Kurd tribes, who are Sunni Muhammadans pastoral and shepherd nomades; the other, termed Gowan, who are villagers, and among whom are the Kuldi and Nestorian Christians and Jews, There are some within the Persian, others within the Turkish boundary. The Sekkir, Nur -mid-Din, Shiuki, Bulbassi, Mikri, Bandinian, and other tribes are under the prince of Amadiyah and Rowanduz. The Lak Feili and Bakhtiari tribes dwell south of Kermanshah. Kurdistan is a high table - land, surmounted by rugged and lofty mountains. Lake Van, situated on the northern edge of the region which contains the larger pro portion of the Kurdish race, is 5200 feet above the level of the Mediterranean. Sir Henry Layard, in passing from Mosul to Van in the month of August, found snow on several of the passes which he crossed, 10,000 feet in height above the sea. The Toura Jelu he estimated to be not under, if not above, 15,000 feet high. Near Lake Van and to the south of that lake several peaks rise much above the line of perpetual snow. Kurdistan air is pure and bracing; the winters are severe, as snow falls to a great depth, and in some districts remains on the ground undisturbed for from four to five months of the year. The mountains of Kurdistan lie along the eastern edge and across the northern end of Mesopotamia. To have full and firm possession of these mountains is to command that immense plain from the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates to the Persian Gulf ; nor could the conquest of the interior of Asiatic Turkey be accomplished so long as an enemy held possession of those mountains. While the military expeditions of the Medes and Persians, the Greeks and Romans, the Saracens, Russians, and Turks, have swept around or over those mountains, the Kurds have still clung to them as the Swiss have clung to their native Alps.
Mr. George Rawlinson, M.A., after mentioning the different tribes that have occupied the high table-land mentioned above, says : Of these various tribes, the one of greatest name and note —which may be traced uninterruptedly from the time of Xenophon to the present day, and which has apparently absorbed almost all the others— is that which ancient writers designate under the slightly-varied appellations of Carduchi, Gor diari, and Cyrtii, and which still holds the greater portion of the region between Armenia and Luristan, under the well-known name of Kurds. The country assigned to ,,this race in ancient times is usually the rugged tract east of the Tigris, extending from the neighbourhood of Sert and Bittis (in long. 42°) to the vicinity of Rowanduz (in long. 42° 50').' At the present time, however, the Kurds extend over and are scattered through a far wider region than that assigned to them by the ancient writers ; tens of thousands of them are now found even west of the Euphrates, and as far south as the southern slopes of the Taurus mountains in the region of Adiaman ; the streets of Erzerum, far to the north, are often crowded by these semi-savage freebooters. Millingen (p. 152) estimated the number of the whole Kurdish nation at five millions. The Persian Kurds are estimated at 600,000 souls. The Shadilu, KarCherchulu, and Yezidi clans in Khorasan are des of 4000 families whom Shah Ismail brought from Kurdistan to check the inroads of the Turkomans. They have increased to over 50,000, and are formidable alike for their numbers and for their bravery. They are predatory. Kurds have spread into the kbanate of Bokhara, and eastwards into Afghanistan and Cutch Gandava, The Kurd are distributed over the western part of Asia much after the manner of the Armenians ; and there are whole tracts of country where the Kurd and Armenian villages alternate. The nucleus, how ever, of the Kurd family lies south of Armenia, along the mountain ridge which separates Asiatic Turkey from Persia. There are also a few of the Kurd within the Russian frontier. Some pay allegiance to both Persia and Turkey, but there are more which are independent of both. Some are well within the Turkish, others as well within the Persian, frontier. They all speak the Persian language, but their feelings of nationality are local and tribal rather than general. Their habits are rude and predatory. They are hardy, brave, rapacious.