Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/85

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68
PER8IA.

When the new officer resides near the court, he puts on khilaut, and repairs in it to the palace, at the first audience given by the king. An Itchic Agasee, or master of the ceremonies, conducts him to the foot of the throne. When he is at some distance from it, he falls on his knees prostrate himself thrice on the ground, rises and takes his seat according to his new dignity. If he resides in another province, the reception of the royal letter and the khilaut takes place with great pomp: and this is one of the occasions on which the Persian grandees make the greatest display of magnificence. When the person on whom this honour is conferred is apprised of the time at which the bearer of the royal favour is expected to arrive, he goes out two or three miles to wait for him, either in a building erected for the purpose, and called khilaut-kaneh, house of khilauts, or in a tent. The magistrates of the city, the ministers of religion, the looties or buffoons, the dancing-girls, and a great concourse of people, accompanying him. Mr. Scott Waring estimated the number who attended a ceremony of the kind at 8hiraz, either from necessity or curiosity, at twenty thousand. When the astrologer have fixed the lucky moment, the bearer of the letter and khilaut is introduced: each of them is placed on a richly ornamented tray. The whole assembly rises. The new officer makes a low obeisance, falls on his knees, and afar a short prayer for the prosperity of the king, he rises, strips off his clothes and puts on the khilaut: after which, he respectfully raises the king's letter to his forehead before he opens it, and then reads it aloud. This ceremony being finished, he sits down, and receives the congratulations of all present. The cavalcade then sets out on its return to the city, The people throng the mad, expressing their joy by obstreperous acclamations; the trumpets sound, and the musicians perform military marches. When the officer is of high dignity, the people break small glass tubes filled with sugar, and scatter them on the ground. When the king makes his public entry into a town, bullocks are killed by the way, and their heads being cut off, are thrown down before him as he approaches.

This is not the only occasion on which the khilaut is conferred: it is given by the king, in token of his approbation or favour, to such of his own subjects as are deemed deserving of the honour, and to ambassadors or other foreigners who visit his court. Its quality, and the number of articles of which it is composed, differ with the rank and favour of the receiver.

A common khilaut consists of a caba or coat; a kemerbund or zone; a gouchpeesh, or shawl for the head: when it is intended to be more distinguishing, a sword or a dagger is added. To persons of distinction rich furs are given, such as a catabee or