Subject: میرزا mirza noble
Culture: Qajar Persian
Setting: Persian Revival, Iran early 19thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Holt/Lambton/Lewis eds. 1970 v1A p437-438 (Ann KS Lambton, "Persia: The breakdown of society" p430-367)
"The members of the bureaucracy at the beginning of the period held an inferior position in society to the tribal leaders and the landowning classes, who regarded them with slight contempt. They were often men of education and polish; and through them and their class the tradition of administration had been handed down over the centuries. Unlike the tribal leaders, they seldom practiced martial exercises. As the administration became more complicated, the status of the higher ranks of the bureaucracy rose relative to the rest of society; and the distinction between the tribal and landowning classes on the one hand and the bureaucracy on the other became less sharp. Many members of the bureaucracy became large landowners themselves.
"The high offices of state usually went to the great families, first among whom was the Qājār,and after them the foremost tribal families, and families who drew their power from their landed estates. Nepotism was marked; and a strong hereditary tendency, especially in the office of mustawfī (because of the skill and training required for this office), was to be seen. It was not, however, impossible, though it was difficult, for an able man irrespective of birth to obtain high office, and thus wealth. The perquisites of office were great; but so also were its dangers. A fall from favour was often followed by mulcting, exile, and sometimes death. Power which was measured by wealth gave security and so there was a general tendency to seek to accumulate wealth. This was expended by its holders to defend their interests; they also used it to enable them to live on a grand scale, both because open-handedness and hospitality were among the prized virtues of society, and because in this way they could attract clients, which meant an increase in power. Moreover, because of the fundamental insecurity of society, there was a tendency for the weak to attach themselves to some patron. The obligation to protect a dependant was generally acknowledged; and since an insult to a dependant was regarded as tantamount to an insult to his protector, attachment to the train of a powerful man was a way of achieving some degree of security."
* Racinet 1988 p114
"[L]awyers and men of letters carry a writing case instead of the dagger."