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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/492

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

wild and indomitable, addicted to highway robbery, in constant antagonism with the Government, and often compelling the officers to use force in the collection of the taxes.

The great national sanctuary of the Yezidees is "Sheik Adi," the supposed burial-place of the founder and prophet of the religion. It was formerly a Chaldaic cloister, called Lalish, but was captured by the adherents of Sheik Adi, about the middle of the tenth century. It is in a beautiful valley, shaded with a rich vegetation, through which flows the sacred brook Semsen, coming down underground from Jerusalem, and here leaping from terrace to terrace. Every Yezidee is baptized and has his winding-sheet dipped into its holy waters, in order that he may be more sure of entering the paradise which Sheik Adi has promised him. Here resides the great sheik, who is next to the Myr, and whose blessing is good for the healing of diseases and for the assurance of a large posterity. The next place in the hierarchy is held by Mullah Haidar, a descendant of the learned Hassan el Bassri, and keeper of the book with the seven seals.

In one of the apartments of the temple are preserved the six sacred brazen images. They are roughly cast figures, in the shape of plumply developed cocks, one of which weighs more than seven hundred pounds, while the others are smaller. They are a gift from the dying prophet. There were originally seven of them, but one has been unaccountably lost. The holy book was also concealed for a time in Sheik Adi. This book was probably written in fairly good Arabic, at about the end of the tenth century, by Hassan el Bassri, Sheik Adi's disciple. It has existed since then in only a single copy, and is divided into two parts, of which the first contains the history of the creation, in occasional agreement with the Biblical narrative; and some account of the origin of the Yezidees and their subsequent fortunes, not always accurate, and containing many anachronisms. The second part—which is evidently to a considerable extent of later origin, for it shows various handwritings—explains the doctrines, precepts, and rites. The occurrence of Chaldaic words indicates that some Christian or ex-Christian priest or monk had something to do with its construction. According to this curious book, darkness prevailed before God created the heavens and the earth. He became tired of hovering over the water, and made a parrot, with which he amused himself for forty years. Then he became angry with the bird, and trampled it to death. The mountains and valleys arose out of its plumage, and the sky from its breath. God then went up, made the dry sky, and hung it to a hair of his head. In the same way hell was made. God then created six other gods out of his own essence, in the same way that a fire divides itself into several flames. These six gods are the sun, the moon, morn-