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CARMATHIANS—CARMEL

Castle (formerly known as Newtown), on the left bank of the Towy, stands Golden Grove (Gelli Aur), once the seat of the Vaughans, earls of Carbery, whose senior line and titles became extinct early in the 18th century. The famous old mansion has been replaced by a modern Gothic structure, and is now the property of Earl Cawdor. Golden Grove contains the “Hirlas Horn,” the gift of King Henry VII. to Dafydd ap Evan of Llwyndafydd, Cardiganshire, perhaps the most celebrated of Welsh historical relics. Other families of importance, extinct or existing, are Johnes, formerly of Abermarlais and now of Dolaucothi; Williams (now Drummond) of Edwinsford; Lloyd of Forest; Lloyd of Glansevin; Stepney of Llanelly and Gwynne of Taliaris.

Antiquities.—Carmarthenshire contains few memorials of the Roman occupation, but it possesses various camps and tumuli of the British period, and also a small but perfect cromlech near Llanglydwen on the banks of the Tâf. Of its many medieval castles the most important still in existence are: Kidwelly; Laugharne; Llanstephan, a fine pile of the 12th century on a hill at the mouth of the Towy; Carreg Cennen, an imposing Norman fortress crowning a cliff not far from Llandilo; and Dynevor Castle, the ancient seat of Welsh royalty, situated on a bold wooded height above the Towy. The remains of the castles at Carmarthen, Drysllwyn, Llandovery and Newcastle-Emlyn are inconsiderable. Of the monastic houses Talley Abbey (Tal-y-Llychau, a name drawn from the two small lakes in the neighbourhood of its site) was founded by Rhys ap Griffith, prince of South Wales, towards the close of the 12th century for Benedictine monks; Whitland, or Albalanda, also a Benedictine house, was probably founded by Bishop Bernard of St David’s early in the 12th century, on a site long associated with Welsh monastic life; and the celebrated Augustinian Priory of St John at Carmarthen was likewise established in the 12th century. Very slight traces of these three important religious houses now exist. The parish churches of Carmarthenshire are for the most part small and of no special architectural value. Of the more noteworthy mention may be made of St Peter’s at Carmarthen, and of the parish churches at Laugharne, Kidwelly, Llangadock, Abergwili and Llangathen, the last named of which contains a fine monument to Bishop Anthony Rudd (d. 1615). Many of these churches are distinguished by tall massive western towers, usually of the 12th or 13th centuries. Besides Golden Grove and Dynevor the county contains some fine historic houses, prominent amongst which are Abergwili Palace, the official residence of the bishops of St David’s since the Reformation, burnt down in 1902, but rebuilt on the old lines; Aberglasney, a mansion near Llangathen, erected by Bishop Rudd and once inhabited by the poet John Dyer (1700–1758); Court Henry, an ancient seat of the Herbert family; and Abermarlais, once the property of Sir Rhys ap Thomas.

Customs, &c.—The old Welsh costume, folklore and customs have survived longer in Carmarthenshire than perhaps in any other county of Wales. The steeple-crowned beaver hat, now practically extinct, was often to be seen in the neighbourhood of Carmarthen as late as 1890, and the older women often affect the pais-a-gŵn bâch, the frilled mob-cap and the small plaid shawl of a previous generation. Curious instances of old Welsh superstitions are to be found amongst the peasantry of the more remote districts, particularly in the lovely country in the valleys of the Towy and Teifi, where belief in fairies, fairy-rings, goblins and “corpse-candles” still lingers. The curious mumming, known as “Mari Lwyd” (Blessed Mary), in which one of the performers wears a horse’s skull decked with coloured ribbands, was prevalent round Carmarthen as late as 1885. At many parish churches the ancient service of the “Pylgain” (a name said to be a corruption of the Latin pulli cantus) is held at daybreak or cock-crow on Christmas morning. A species of general catechism, known as pwnc, is also common in the churches and Nonconformist chapels. The old custom of receiving New Year’s gifts of bread and cheese, or meal and money (calenig), still flourishes in the rural parishes. The “bidding” before marriage (as in Cardiganshire) was formerly universal and is not yet altogether discontinued, and bidding papers were printed at Llandilo as late as 1900. The horse weddings (priodas ceffylau) were indulged in by the farmer class in the neighbourhood of Abergwili as late as 1880.

Authorities.—T. Nicholas, Annals and Antiquities of the Counties of Wales (London, 1872); W. Spurrell, Carmarthen and its Neighbourhood (Carmarthen, 1879); J. B. D. Tyssen and Alcwyn C. Evans, Royal Charters, &c., relating to the Town and County of Carmarthen (Carmarthen, 1878).


CARMATHIANS (Qarmathians, Karmathians), a Mahommedan sect named after Hamdān Qarmat, who accepted the teaching of the Isma‘īlites (see Mahommedan Religion: Sects) from Ḥosain ul-Ahwāzī, a missionary of Ahmed, son of the Persian Abdallah ibn Maimūn, toward the close of the 9th century. This was in the Sawād of Irak, which was inhabited by a people little attached to Islam. The object of Abdallah ibn Maimūn had been to undermine Islam and the Arabian power by a secret society with various degrees, which offered inducements to all classes and creeds and led men on from an interpretation of Islam to a total rejection of its teaching and a strict personal submission to the head of the society. For the political history of the Carmathians, their conquests and their decay, see Arabia: History; Caliphate (sect. C. §§ 16, 17, 18, 23); and Egypt: History (Mahommedan period).

In their religious teaching they claimed to be Shi‘ites; i.e. they asserted that the imamate belonged by right to the descendants of Ali. Further, they were of the Isma‘īlite branch of these, i.e. they acknowledged the claim to the imamate of Isma‘īl the eldest son of the sixth imam. The claim of Isma‘īl had been passed over by his father and many Shi‘ites because he had been guilty of drinking wine. The Isma‘īlites said that as the imam could do no wrong, his action only showed that wine-drinking was not sinful. Abdallah taught that from the creation of man there had always been an imam sometimes known, sometimes hidden. Isma‘īl was the last known; a new one was to be looked for. But while the imam was hidden, his doctrines were to be taught by his missionaries (dā‘īs). Hamdān Qarmat was one of these, Ahmed ibn Abdallah being nominally the chief. The adherents of this party were initiated by degrees into the secrets of its doctrines and were divided into seven (afterwards nine) classes. In the first stage the convert was taught the existence of mystery in the Koran and made to feel the necessity of a teacher who could explain it. He took an oath of complete submission and paid a sum of money. In the second stage the earlier teachers of Islam were shown to be wrong in doctrine and the imams alone were proved to be infallible. In the third it was taught that there were only seven imams and that the other sects of the Shi’ites were in error. In the fourth the disciple learnt that each of the seven imams had a prophet, who was to be obeyed in all things. The prophet of the last imam was Abdallah. The doctrine of Islam was that Mahomet was the last of the prophets. In the fifth stage the uselessness of tradition and the temporary nature of the precepts and practices of Mahomet were taught, while in the sixth the believer was induced to give up these practices (prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, &c.). At this point the Carmathian had completely ceased to be a Moslem. In the remaining degrees there was more liberty of opinion allowed and much variety of belief and teaching existed.

The last contemporary mention of the Carmathians is that of Nāsir ibn Khosrau, who visited them in A.D. 1050. In Arabia they ceased to exercise influence. In Persia and Syria their work was taken up by the Assassins (q.v.). Their doctrines are said, however, to exist still in parts of Syria, Persia, Arabia and India, and to be still propagated in Zanzibar.

See Journal asiatique (1877), vol. i. pp. 377-386.  (G. W. T.) 


CARMAUX, a town of southern France, in the department of Tarn, on the left bank of the Cérou, 10 m. N. of Albi by rail. Pop. (1906) 8618. The town gives its name to an important coal-basin, and carries on the manufacture of glass.


CARMEL, the mountain promontory by which the seacoast of Palestine is interrupted south of the Bay of Acre, 32° 50′ N., 35° E. It continues as a ridge of oolitic limestone, broken by ravines and honeycombed by caves, running for about 20 m.