Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/68

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

common in Persia: but it would be wrong to suppose that all who assume it are of high birth. It is applied alike to the lawyer, the physician, and the son of the king: its position before or after the name constitutes its value. The princes alone can subjoin it to their proper names, as Abbas Mirza, Hussain Mirza: but as a prefix to the name, it may be assumed by, or conferred on any person. It is right, however, to observe, that none but well-educated men, or such as follow respectable professions, or hold honourable posts, take the title of mirza.

The tide of khan was formerly given to the governors of provinces only. It is of Tartar origin, and very ancient. Quintus Curtius mentions several princes conquered by Alexander, who bore it, as Portican, Oxican, Musican; which shows that it was subjoined to the name in those times, as at present. The number of Persians now honoured with the tide of khan, is very great. It is conferred by the king either on his own subjects to reward their services, or on foreigners as a mark of honour and esteem. Feth Ali bestowed it by letters patent on some of the members of the French embassy sent to Persia under General Gardanne. So much is certain, that it ought to be borne exclusively by military men, and that those who have obtained it by martial achievements despise others who are indebted for it solely to the favour of the prince.

The ceremony attending the creation of a khan, is very simple. The king sends khilaut, or robe of honour, which will hereafter be more particularly described, to the person whom he honours with this title, accompanied with firman, or two letters, the one relating to the present of the khilaut, and the other conferring the title. This firman the receiver must wear three days, attached to the top of his turban.



The empire, as has just been observed, is divided into several beylerbeylik. These are subdivided into districts called balook, under officers bearing the title of khan, zabit, or hakim, according to the extent of their jurisdiction.

Each considerable town has, besides its governor, a kelaunter or mayor, whose business it is to collect the taxes. He is a magistrate of high rank, who holds his office of the crown, and appears once a year before the king, an honour not granted to magistrates of an inferior class. His salary is paid out of the royal exchequer. The kelaunter is the channel through which