Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/55

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42
PERSIA.

on which the king sat in the fashion of his country, while his back was supported by a large cushion, encased in a net-work of pearls.

"On the right of the king, on occasions of extraordinary state, stand several of his sons magnificently dressed, in respectful attitudes. At some distance in front are ranged the great officers of the crown, according to their dignities. Five young pages, habited in velvet and silk, bear different articles. One holds a crown similar to that worn by the king; the second, a superb sword; the third, a buckler and a mace of gold and pearls; the fourth, a bow and arrow enriched with precious stones; and the fifth, a spitting-pot, adorned in the same manner.

"Nothing can equal this magnificence, but the humble looks of the assembly. The presence of the king fills all with fear and respect; and Jupiter making heaven tremble at his nod is not more awful than a Persian monarch amidst his court. Whoever approaches the throne, must previously put off his shoes, and make frequent obeisances. None is allowed to sit excepting poets, persons of extraordinary sanctity, and ambassadors: the king's ministers never enjoy this privilege. The monarch, in fact, seems a being secluded from society, whom all are fearful of approaching: whether he speaks or is addressed, every thing demonstrates the influence of despotism or the meanness of servitude."

SECTION IX.

OF THE KING'S GUARDS.

In the first rank of the troops composing the military household of the king must be placed the Gholamee-shah or Gholamshahee, the king's slaves,—a very numerous corps formed of the sons of nobles and of young Georgians. The name of Gholam, slave, denotes not so much a state of servitude, as a blind devotedness to the service of the prince. According to Mr. Scott Waring, the Gholam-shaees, who are considered as the choicest troops in Persia, amount to about 20,000. They have charge of the king's person, receive greater pay and are clothed in a more expensive manner than the regular cavalry. The flower of this corps is formed into a body of about four thousand, who are distinguished by the excessive richness of their dress and the insolence of their behaviour. Messrs. Morier and Kinnier, however, state the number of Gholams as being much lower: according to them it does not exceed three thousand.

Besides these troops, who may be called the life-guards, there are four regiments of kechikdjee, each composed of three thousand men, and commanded by a ser-kechikdjee. These are