See also:ancient Sacastane ("
See also:land of the Sacae ") and the Nimruz or " Meridies of the Vendidad, a
See also:district of
See also:Persia and
See also:Afghanistan, situated generally between 3o° o' and 310 35' N., and between 61° o' and (including Rudbar) 62° 4o' E . Its extreme length is about zoo and its breadth varies from 70 to over zoo m., but the exact limits are vague, and the
See also:modern signification of the name practically comprehends the peninsula formed by the
See also:Helmund and its embouchure on the one side and the Hamun (lake) on the other . Its
See also:area is 7006 sq. m.; 2847 sq. m. are Persian territory, while 4159 sq. m. belong to Afghanistan . When
See also:British arbitration was brought to bear upon the disputed claims of Persia over this
See also:country in 1872, it was found necessary to suppose two territories—one compact and concentrated, which was called "
See also:Seistan Proper," the other detached and irregular, called "
See also:Outer Seistan." z . Seistan Proper is bounded on the
See also:north by the Naizar, or
See also:bed which fringes the Hamun; west by the Hamun itself, of which the
See also:hill called Kuh-i-Khwajah marks the central point; south by a
See also:line shutting in Sikuha and all villages and lands watered by the
See also:main Seistan canal; and east by the old bed of the Helmund, from z m. above the
See also:dam at Kohak to the mouth . Kal'ab: i-nau and Rindan are among the more northerly inhabited villages . The Kuh-i-Khwajah is a sufficient indication of the western side . Burj-i-'Alam Khan should be included within the
See also:southern boundary as well as Sikuha . Khwajah Ahmad and
See also:Jahanabad, villages on the
See also:bank, or west of the true bed of the Helmund, denote the eastern line . The whole area. is estimated at 947 sq. m . The fixed population may be roughly stated at 35,000—some 20,000 Seistanis and 15,000 settlers—the greater
See also:part of whom are Parsiwans, or rather, perhaps, a Persian-speaking
See also:people . To the above numbers may be added zo,000 Baluch nomads .
Taking the aggregate at 45,000, we find nearly 48 persons to the square mile . These figures are eight times in excess of the proportional result found for the whole of Persia . It should be explained that the designation Seistan Proper is not arbitrarily given . The territory comprehended in it is spoken of as Seistan by the dwellers on the right bank of the Helmund, in contradistinction to their own lands, At the same
See also:time it could only be but a fractional part—as indeed the whole country under
See also:consideration could only be—of the Seistan of Persian
See also:history . Seistan Proper is an extensive
See also:tract of sand and
See also:alluvium, generally fiat, but irregular in detail . It has heaps, but no hills; bushes, but no trees, unless indeed three or four tamarisks of aspiring height deserve the name; many old ruins and vestiges of
See also:civilization, but few monuments or
See also:relics of antiquity . It is well watered by
See also:rivers and canals, and its
See also:soil is of proved fertility . Wheat or
See also:barley is perhaps the
See also:staple cultivation; but
See also:pease, beans, oil-seeds and
See also:cotton are also grown . Among fruits, grapes and mulberries are rare, but melons and
See also:water-melons, especially the latter, are abundant . Grazing and
See also:fodder are not wanting, and besides the reeds
See also:peculiar to Seistan there are two
See also:grasses which merit notice—that called
See also:bannu, with which the bed of the Hamun abounds on the south and the taller and less
See also:salt kirta on the higher ground . - 2 . Outer Seistan, the country on the right bank of the Helmund, and east of its embouchure in the Hamun, extends more than
See also:ioo m. in length, or from a point between the Charboli and Khuspas rivers north to Rudbar south .
In breadth the district of Chakhansur, measuring from the old bed of the Helmund, inclusive of Nad
See also:Ali, to Kadah, may be estimated at some 30 M . It produces wheat and barley, melons, and perhaps a few vegetables and oil seeds . Beyond the Chakhansur limits, southward or up to the Helmund, there is probably no cultivation save that obtained on the
See also:river bank, and ordinarily illustrated by patches of wheat and barley with
See also:melon beds . On the opposite side of the river, in addition to the cultivated portions of the bank, there is a large tract extending from south of Kuhak, or the Seistan dam (
See also:band), to the gravelly soil below the
See also:mountain ranges which
See also:separate Seistan from
See also:Baluchistan and Narmashir . The distance from north to south of this plain may be computed at 40 m., and from east to west at 8o or 90 M . Lands north of the Naizar not belonging to the Afghan district of Lash Juwain may also be included in Outer Seistan; but it is unnecessary to make any distinction of the kind for the tract marked Hamun on the west, where it merges into the Persian frontier . The in-habitants are Seistanis or Parsiwans, Baluch nomads and Afghans . Between the Kuhak band and Rudbar they are mainly Baluch . Most of the less nomad tribesmen are Sanjurani and Toki, the sardars jealously claiming the former appellation . The most remarkable
See also:geographical feature of Seistan generally, in the modern acceptation of the
See also:term, is the Hamun, which stretches far and wide on the north, west and south, but is for a
See also:great part of the
See also:year dry or a mere swamp . It is a curious feature in the
See also:physical conformation of
See also:northern and western Afghanistan that none of the rivers flow to the
See also:sea, but that the
See also:Helmond and all the other rivers of western Afghanistan empty themselves into these lagoons, which spread over thousands of square
See also:miles . A noteworthy feature of the Seistan lagoon is that in times of excessive
See also:flood it overspreads a vast area of country, both to the north and south, shutting off the capital of Seistan (
See also:Nusretabad) from surrounding districts, and spreading through a channel southwards, known as Shelag, to another great depression, called the Gaud-i-Zirreh .
This great salt swamp is about moo ft. lower in
See also:elevation and is situated so close to the Helmund as to leave but a few miles of broken
See also:ridge between . By that ridge all communication with Seistan must pass in time of flood . Seistan becomes a promontory connected with the
See also:desert south of the Helmund by that
See also:isthmus alone . In the early
See also:spring the existence of a lake could only be certified by pools or hollows of water formed at the mouths of the
See also:principal feeders, such as the Khash Rud on the north-east, the
See also:Farah Rud on the north-west, and the Helmund, where its old bed terminates at no great distance from the Khash Rud . Bellew describes the aspect of that portion of Seistan limited to the actual
See also:basin of the Helmund as indicating the former existence of a lake which covered with its
See also:waters a considerable area . On the north this tract has been raised to a higher level than the
See also:remainder by the deposit at the mouths of rivers of the solid
See also:matter brought down . It is still, however, from 200 to 500 ft. below the level of the desert cliffs that bound it, and at some former
See also:period formed the shores of the lake; and it is from 50 or 6o to 200 ft. above the level of the beds of the rivers now flowing into the existing Hamun . The water-supply of Seistan is about as uncertain as that of
See also:Sind, though the general inclination to one bank, the left, is more marked in the Helmund than in the
See also:Indus . Therefore the boundary lines given must be received with slight reservation . It is easy to see that a
See also:good year of inundation extends the
See also:borders of the so-called lake to within the Naizar; and there are well-defined beds of dry canals intersecting the country, which prove the existence formerly of an extensive water-
See also:system no longer prevailing . The main canal of Seistan, confounded by some writers with the
See also:parent river, bears the waters of the Helmund westward into the heart of the country . They are diverted by means of a large band or dam, known indifferently as the " Amir's," the Seistan '' or the " Kuhak " band, It is constructed of horizontally laid
See also:tamarisk branches,
See also:earth and perpendicular stakes, and protected from damage by a fort on the left and a tower on the right bank of the river .
Although this diversion of the stream may be an artificial development of a natural channel, and undoubtedly
See also:dates from a period long
See also:prior to
See also:recent Persian occupation, it appears that the later arrangements have been more maturely and better organized than those carried on by the predecessors of the amir of Kaian . The towns of Deshtak, Chelling, Burj-i-'Alam Khan, Bahramabad, Kimmak and others of less note are actually on the
See also:banks of this main canal . Moreover, it is the indirect means of supplying water to almost every
See also:town and
See also:village in Seistan Proper, feeding as it does a network of minor canals, by which a system of profuse irrigation is put in force . The yearly rainfall is only 2 to 3 in . The Seistan depression receives the drainage of a tract of country over 125,000 sq. m. in area . Provisions in Seistan are as a
See also:rule sufficient, though
See also:sheep and oxen are somewhat poor .
See also:Bread is cheap and good, being procurable to natives at less than a
See also:halfpenny the pound . Vegetables are scarce, and
See also:rice is chiefly obtained from
See also:Herat . The inundated lands abound with water-
See also:fowl . Partridges and sand-
See also:grouse are occasionally seen . River
See also:fish are plentiful enough, but confined to one
See also:species, the
See also:barbel . The population is about 205,000, but the country, even with the lazy methods of the
See also:day, furnishes a very large amount of
See also:grain and
See also:food-supplies in excess of
See also:local requirements, and it could, of course, be made to furnish very much more .
See also:government Seistan could with but little trouble be made into a second
See also:Egypt . The inhabitants of Seistan are mainly composed of Kaianis, descendants of the ancient rulers of the land; Sarbandis and Shahrakis, tribes supposed to have consisted originally of immigrants from western Persia; and Baluchis of the Nharui and Sanjurani (Toki) clans . Bellew separates the " Seistanis "; but it is a question whether this term is not in a large measure applied to fixed inhabitants of the country, whatever their descent and
See also:nationality . The dense reed-beds (Naizar) skirting the Hamun, often several miles in width and composed of reeds io ft. or more in height, look impenetrable, but narrow winding lanes exist in them, known only to the Sayads (Arab. for "
See also:hunter "), a
See also:strange aboriginal
See also:race of Seistan, who live by netting fish and water-fowl . These people live all the year
See also:round at the water's edge, in huts made of reeds, and
See also:change their abodes as the waters advance or recede . They have a language of their own, and are an unsociable people, suspicious of strangers, ever ready to decamp if they think a tax-
See also:collector is near . History.—The ancient Drangiana (Zaraya, Daranka, " lake land ") received the name of " land of the Sacae " after this country was permanently occupied by the " Scythians " or Sacae, who overran
See also:Iran in 128 B.C . It was included in the
See also:empire, and then in the empire of the caliphs . About A.D . 86o, when it had undergone many changes of government under lieutenants of the
See also:Bagdad caliphs, or bold adventurers acting on their own account, Yakub b . Laith al-Saffar made it the seat of his power . In 901 it fell under the power of the
See also:Samanids, and a century layer into that of the Ghaznevids .
An invasion of Jagatais and the irruption of Timur are salient points in the history of Seistan prior to the Sefavid
See also:conquest (15o8) . Up to 1722 Seistan remained more or less a Persian dependency . At the time of the Afghan invasion of Mir Mahmud (1722), Malik Mahommed Kaiani was the
See also:resident ruler in Seistan, and by
See also:league with the invader or other intrigue he secured for himself that particular principality and a great part of Khorasan also . He was slain . by
See also:Nadir Kull Khan, the general of Shah Tahmasp, who afterwards, as Nadir Shah, became possessor of Seistan as part of his Persian dominions . Shortly after the
See also:death of Nadir (1751) Seistan passed, together with other provinces, into the hands of Ahmad Shah Abdali, the first
See also:sovereign in a
See also:united Afghanistan . On the death of Ahmad Shah in 1773 the country became a recognized
See also:bone of contention, not so much between Persians and Afghans as between Herat and
See also:Kandahar; but eventually the
See also:internal dissensions of Afghanistan gave Persia the desired opportunity; and by a steady course of intrigue and encroachment she managed to get within her grasp the better lands on the left bank of the lower Helmund and some-thing on the right bank besides . When the British arbitrator appeared on the scene in the beginning of 1872, though compelled to admit the shah's possession of what has been called " Seistan Proper," he could in fairness insist on the evacuation of Nad Ali, Kala Fath, and all places occupied on the right bank by Persian troops; and furthermore he left to the Afghans both sides of the river Helmund from the dam of Kuhak to its
See also:elbow west of Rudbar . A part of the
See also:work of General
See also:Frederic J .
See also:Goldsmid, K.C.S.I., who conducted the first Seistan demarcation commission in 1872, was left undone and completed only in 1903-1905 by Col Sir
See also:Henry McMahon, K.C.I.E . See Eastern Persia, vol. i . ; Bellew's " Record of Seistan
See also:Mission," Journal of R . Geog Society, vol. xliii .
(1873) ; Col Sir H . McMahon'spaper in Geographical Journal (
See also:September to
See also:October, 1906); also - PERSIA . (F . J . G ; A .
SEISMOMETER (from Gr. veurp6s, earthquake, and µfp...
LUCIUS AELIUS SEJANUS
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