Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/69

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PERSIA.

the petitions of the people are presented, and their wants made known to the king: he is on all occasions the representative of the rayas or subjects. He is obliged by his office to ascertain the amount of the property possessed by persons under his jurisdiction, for he has to prepare the list of assessments; and if the paper fixing the sum at which each is assessed were not furnished with his seal, the individual would pay no attention to it at the time of collecting the imposts. The kelaunter, more-ever, acts as judge in cases of theft or quarrels: his decisions, which are, or ought to be, agreeable to the established usage, are given on the spot. On this account he is styled hakim-ourf, judge of the common law. It is his duty also to carry into execution the sentences of the civil magistrate.

The cities of Persia are usually divided into mahals, or quarters. Each is under the superintendence of a ket-khoda, who is accountable to the kelaunter. There is no salary attached to this office, which is merely honorary, and is filled by the most reputable person in the quarter. The duties imposed by it consist in rendering an accurate account even of the most trifling circumstances, such as births, marriages, natural deaths, robberies, quarrels, &c.; and in ascertaining the occupations and means of subsistence of all the inhabitants of the quarter. When troops arrive in a town, the governor assembles the ket-khodas, and informs them of the number for whom lodging and subsistence are required: and it is their business to quarter the troops and levy the rations in such a manner that the charge shall fall equally on every inhabitant. This division of towns into mahals, and the establishment of ket-khodas, are of infinite service to the rebel who makes himself master of a city: it furnishes him with a systematic plan of pillage, which favours the lower classes of the people, but bears so much the harder upon the rich.

It is a custom that has been followed ever since the most ancient times, not to commit the custody of the citadel of a town to the governor, but to an officer called kutwall, who is appointed by the king or the beylerbey, and wholly independent of the kelaunter.

Besides the kelaunter, the ket-khoda, and the kutwall there are in every town other officers for the maintenance of order, such as the darogha, the meer-usus, and the mohtusib. The darogha, or superintendent of the bazars or markets, holds his office from the government. He settles the disputes that occur in the markets, hears complaints, and decides without appeal. If a shopkeeper refuses to execute, or violates his agreement, and complaint is made to the darogha, he obliges him to perform it: or if a debtor should prove that he is totally unable to