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ART. III.-REMARKS ON THE PEARL OYSTER, BEDS IN

THE PERSIAN GULF. By Lieut. Col. LEWIS PELLY, Her Britannic Majesty's Political Resident, Persian Gulf. Contributed by Government.

Read before the Society, February 16th, 1866.

While recently on leave of absence in England several gentlemen in the scientific world requested information from me concerning the Pearl Oysters, and concerning the shells in general of the Persian Gulf.

2. I gathered from Mr. Gwyn Jeffreys (an eminent Conchologist, and author of the best standard works on the mollusca of the British seas) that in a conchological point of view the Persian Gulf is wholly unexplored.

3. I am collecting, to the best of my ability, the shells of the Gulf, and in the mean time I have the honour to submit a few remarks concerning the Pearl Oyster Beds. These beds extend at intervals almost along the entire length of the Arabian Coast of the Gulf from a little below the port of Koweit to the northward, down to the neighbourhood of Rass-ool-Khaimah, southward. There are also some beds near Karrack and at other points on the Persian Coast line, but these latter are of comparatively little account as being far less extensive, less prolific, and less lucrative.

4. The beds along the Arabian Coast are held to be the property of the Arabs in common; for instance, an Arab of Koweit may dive along the Bahrein or Rass-ool-Khaimah Coast and vice versa. But no person other than the Coast Arabs is considered to have any right of diving. And it is probable that any intrusion on the part of foreigners would create a general ferment along the Coast line.

5. The richest banks are those of the islands of Bahrein. They are found at all depths from a little below high water mark down to 3, 7, 12, 17, and 18 fathoms. It is probable that there are beds at a much greater depth, for instance, if, as is supposed, it be the fact that there are beds in the inlets of the Mussendum promontory, these beds must have a depth of 22 or 25 fathoms. It is held as a rule that the lustre

of the pearl depends on the depth of the water, the greater the depth the fines the lustre. There does not seem to be any known law governing the more or less perfect sphericity of the pearl. The best Oyster beds are said to be level, and formed of fine whitish sand overlying the coral in clear water. A mixture of mud or earthy substance with the sand is considered to be detrimental to the pearl ; and the beds having this defect are liable to exhaustion. It is to this cause that the Arabs of Bahrein attribute the exhaustion of the pearl beds on the Coast of Sind and Ceylon; while the beds of the Persian Gulf, although annually fished, from the earliest historic periods, continue prolific as ever : one or two of the most recent past years having given a more thau usually abundant return. The notion that the Arabs feed their Oyster beds at particular seasons of the year, seems to be erroneous. No care whatever is taken of the beds. The Oysters swill about over the sand or slightly attach themselves by the hinge to bits of sea-weeds or coral, and are discerned by the divers from their boats in groups below the clear water. The diving period is from the warm spring in April to the end of the hot summer months of August and September.

6. There may be from four to five thousand fishing boats along the entire Coast, each boat containing from 10, 20, to 32 men. Of the above number of boats some fifteen hundred may belong to Bahrein.

7. As regards profits, each boat is a partnership : the profits being divided into ten shares, of which

The Owner and Captain get.......... is
The Divers ......................
The Rope-holders ................... 1

And the rest is laid out for provisions... Po A few of these boat-men may reap independently the fruits of their own labours. But the great majority are in the hands of agents of Pearl merchants, whether Hindoo or other, who reside in the towns of the littoral. These agents make advances of money to the divers during the non-diving season, and when the spring comes on, the boats are supplied with so many days' dates, rice, and other provisions and start away for the banks, returning as provisions fail or weather compels.

8. Hundreds of boats may be seen anchored at a time on the banks. As a rule the diving may be in water of four to seven fathoms

in depth. Fifteen fathoms a diving is considered to be extremely prejudicial to longevity, and occasionally proves fatal. In any case the crew is told off into divers and ropeholders, the former diving while the latter keep the boat and stand by to haul the diver up. Each diver has his comrade for this purpose. The diver strips, closes his nostrils with horned-pincers, has a rope attached to his girdle, and a stone or other weight to his foot. He then drops over-board feet foremost, and on reaching the bottom collects his Oysters until he can no longer remain below, when he pulls at the string, lets go the stone weight and is hauled on board by his comrade. The stone weight is attached to a second rope, by which it is afterwards hauled up. The Oysters are collected into a bag or other receptacle attached to the diver's chest and waist.

9. Of course numerous disputes occur among so many boats jostling together in a comparatively small area. In former times these disputes were frequently serious and attended with bloodshed ; but more recently the several Arab Chiefs of the littoral have entered into a maritime truce, binding them to refer all their disputes at sea to the arbitrament of the English Resident in the Persian Gulf.

10. The annual outturn of the pearl fisheries is assumed to be as follows :-

Outturn of the Bahrein Pearl Divers, 20 lacs
of Rupees or ....

.... .... £200,000
Outturn of the Divers from the Arab littoral

of the Persian Gulf other than Bahrein, 20
lacs of Rupees or .................... £200,000

Total......£400,000 11. The revenue levied by the Chiefs themselves on the Pearl fisheries consists in a poll-tax of one dollar per annum on every diver, and on every diver's attendant rope-holder. The revenue so derived by the Bahrein (hief may be about 50,000 dollars, thus representing 25,000 divers and 25,000 rope-holders, and amounting to 5 per cent. upon the total outturn.

12. The great bulk of the best pearls is sent to the Bombay market, where, during the late share mania, fancy prices were given for good pearls. A large number of pearls is sent towards Baghdad. As a rule the Bombay market prefers the pearl of yellowish hue and perfect sphericity, while the Baghdad market prefers the white pearl. The small seed pearls go principally to Baghdad also.

13. I have collected specimens of the Pearl Oyster from the beds of Bahrein, together with some of the sand coral, and sea-weed picked up near the Oysters. These I propose to send to England.

14. It has occurred to me that it might possibly be of use if a few hundreds of Oysters from the Persian Gulf beds were to be sent to Ceylon, in view to ascertaining whether any defined locality, in which they might be bedded, could be developed and remain exempt from exhaustion.

15. If Government should deem fit to cause this letter to be printed, I would respectfully request that printed copies might be sent to Gwyn Jeffreys, Esquire, 25, Devonshire-place, Portland-place, London; and Clement Markham, Esquire, India Office, London,

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ART. IV.-MEMORANDUM OF NOTES ON MEKRAN:

TOGETHER WITH A REPORT ON A VISIT TO KEJ, AND ROUTE THROUGH MEKRAN FROM GWADUR TO KURRACHEE. By Lieut. E. C. Ross, Assistant Political Agent at Khelat. Contributed by Government.

Read before the Society, February 16th, 1866.

MEKRAN is that portion of Beloochistan which extends from Persia, east to the frontier of Beyla ; bounded on the south by the sea ; the Much or Wuhushtee mountains, and Seistan deserts mark its natural limits to the north.

In early times, it is not unlikely that Mekran formed one of the satrapies of the great Persian empire ; and though the distinct nationality acquired by the inhabitants is marked at the present day under the name of Belooch, some traces appear in their language of an early affinity to the Persians.

That the Mekran Beloochees of the present time are a mixture of very many different tribes, who have, at various times settled in the country, is not only in accord with their own traditions, but evidenced by marked variations in shade of colour, and physiognomy. This fact tends somewhat to complicate inquiry into their origin. But one language, with slight variations of patois, is current throughout the whole region, and this may reasonably be supposed to be that of the first inhabitants, subjected, as it would be, to after changes. Assuming this, the simplest plan would appear to be, to trace this language to its source, to arrive at an approximate conclusion as to the origin of the root-race. A few passing suggestions may not be useless on this subject, with a view to further inquiry, the object being to propose the theory that the Beloochee of Mekran, is, in point of fact, Persian, not the Persian of this era, nor a corruption of it, but a branch from an ancient stem, carried by the first settlers from Iran into Mekran, where it has not flourished, but become much changed, and still more rough, by the adoption of barbarous words contributed by subsequent arrivals from other regions. In support of this theory the following points are noticeable :

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