iii. Administration and Social Organization
This article on the administration and social organization of Persian cities in the Islamic period incorporates discussion of the following terms and offices: aḥdāṯ, amīr, amīr al-sūq, beglarbegī, ʿasas, čerāḡčī, dārūḡa, dārūḡa-šāgerd, dārūḡačī, dīvānbegī, farrāš, gazma, goḏaṛčī, ḥākem, kadḵodā, kalāntar, mehmāndār-bāšī, mīr-šab, mīrāb, moḥaṣṣes, moḥtaseb, moqtaʿ, naqīb, naqīb al-ašrāf, raʾīs, ṣāḥeb al-šorṭa, šeḥna, wālī.
Information on the administrative and social organization of Persian cities before the Sasanian period is scattered and has yet to be fully interpreted. Under the Seleucids a number of cities of the polis type were founded, but on the whole they were rare in Persia (Lukonin, pp. 714-15). Seleucid and Parthian cities were self-governing and controlled considerable territories independent of the central government. Owing to the fragmentary nature of the sources, however, it is not possible to achieve any degree of precision about changes and developments that may have taken place from Achaemenid to Parthian times.
For the Sasanian period there is more information, but it is still sparse. Sasanian royal cities were first established as headquarters for the military garrisons in newly conquered territories, then developed into administrative centers. Judges (rads), tax officials (hamārkars; see āmārgar), and other city officials represented the central government and were responsible to provincial administrators (ōstāndārs; Lukonin, pp. 732-34). Immediately surrounding rural districts with their villages also came within the orbit of city administration. It seems likely that the administrative boundaries of Sasanian cities and their dependencies were taken over by the Arabs, but details are not known.
City administration in the Islamic period
Sources for the development of cities after the Islamic conquest in the 1st/7th century are scattered and variable in their coverage. Local histories are particularly useful, but information can also be found in general histories, geographical works, travel accounts, biographical dictionaries, and virtually the whole range of Persian and Arabic literature. Documents are an especially important source for the administration of towns, taxation, grants of immunity, and the functioning of local officials. Waqf-nāmas, recording religious endowments, also frequently contain information on urban economic affairs. For the 7th/13th century and later indigenous sources can be supplemented by the observations of European travelers and envoys. Memoirs by Persian writers of the 13th-14th/19th-20th centuries are becoming available, and many of them contain information on the administration and social structure of towns and cities. In recent years, too, a number of monographs have been written on modern cities (e.g., Bonine; Costello; English; Momeni).
The circumstances of the Islamic conquest varied in different provinces, and these circumstances affected the tax regime to which each city became subject. Some cities were taken by force; others capitulated by treaty. At first the collection of tribute and taxes was left in the hands of local officials under the supervision of tax officers appointed by the Muslim authorities. In towns like Qazvīn, which surrendered after a siege in 24/644-45, the entire population accepted Islam and thus gained exemption from the poll tax (jezya) that was imposed on non-Muslims (Balāḏorī, pp. 155-56). Others, like Ardabīl, submitted after resistance but accepted the imposition of the poll tax (Balāḏorī, p. 163). Many cities that had originally surrendered later broke their treaties and had to be retaken. Isfahan, for example, after accepting a treaty, withheld tribute and was then taken by the sword, and the poll tax was imposed (see further Sourdel-Thomine, “Iṣfahān,” p. 99). In Khorasan under the Sasanians there had been many thriving towns with prosperous mercantile communities and an artisan class engaged in producing gold, silver, iron, and copper goods, as well as textiles; the merchants distributed these products locally and acted as middlemen in long-distance commerce. The entire province capitulated by treaty, individual terms being negotiated by the reigning prince or chief of each territory concerned. The fact that towns were able to make arrangements to pay fixed tributes collected by their own officials suggests that many of them contained wealthy communities (see Dennett, pp. 116ff.; von Kremer, I, p. 318).
As the nature of authority in Islamic Persia was essentially personal, rather than institutional, holders of the same office exercised widely varying powers, and circumstances were continually changing. Even the terminology for local officials was not uniform. Single terms might vary in meaning in time and place; furthermore, terms that had ceased to be used at the center might linger on in provincial usage. Most officials exercised authority delegated by the central or provincial government, but some owed their authority partly to the religious institution or the local population. There must have been at times conflicts of jurisdiction, but they are seldom mentioned in the sources. All government action was subject to corruption, and it may have been intended that these various officials should act as checks upon one another, but the practical result was often stagnation, rather than control.
In discussing urban administration a distinction has to be made between capital cities, provincial capitals, and other cities and towns. Town and countryside were closely intertwined in many ways. There were no urban charters under which cities might claim civic identity, and, though the cities handled their own affairs to a considerable degree, they were not semiautonomous political or legal entities. Nor were there municipal bodies to which authority could be delegated. Cities were administrative, and especially tax-collecting, centers of what were often large regions. The surrounding villages and rural districts were not administratively distinct. Furthermore, neighboring towns might also fall within the jurisdiction of provincial capitals. On the one hand, there were officials of the central or provincial government, who resided in the city only temporarily, and, on the other, there were local officials and functionaries, who might or might not hold official diplomas and who were to some degree natural leaders of the local population. The division was not clearly drawn and varied with time and place. There was also a duality between ʿorfī (temporal) and šaṛʿī (religious) officials, which was to be found throughout the central and provincial administrations, as well as in the cities.
The central administration and provincial governors. In the early years after the Islamic conquest both “civil” governors (ʿāmels) and military governors (amīrs) were appointed over towns and districts as circumstances demanded. Under the caliphate (see caliphs and the caliphate) provincial governments incorporating cities and towns were gradually established in Persia; the governors were nominated by the caliph. In each major city there was an official known as ṣāḥeb al-šorṭa, who was in charge of public order; his subordinate, the amīr al-sūq, regulated the bāzār (cf. Spuler, Iran, pp. 315-32).
With the emergence of semi-independent dynasties in the 3rd-4th/9th-10th centuries further changes occurred (Spuler, Iran, pp. 337-40). In each capital city there was a full range of officials belonging to the central government, from the vizier and mostawfī (principal financial officer) down to lesser bureaucrats. Most were paid salaries and allowances from the government, but they also levied dues locally. In the provincial capital there was a governor, usually called the wālī; his subordinates and the governors of smaller cities had the title ḥākem (pl. ḥokkām). Oversight of all, or most, aspects of provincial government was delegated to the wālīs, who did not, however, always appoint local officials; the latter sometimes received their diplomas directly from the ruler. From at least as early as the 4th/10th century there was a tendency to choose governors from the military classes; “civil” and religious officials relied upon them and their forces for the execution of their decisions.
Under the Great Saljuqs (429-552/1038-1157) large areas of Persia, including cities, were alienated from central government control by means of eqṭāʿs, or assignments, a practice that continued under subsequent governments; from the 8th/14th century these assignments were known as soyūrḡāls or tuyuls (toyūls), and the term eqṭāʿ gradually died out. There were many gradations in the power of the moqṭaʿ, or assignee. If granted full control of his eqṭāʿ he was in effect governor of the city and its surrounding districts, and the appointment of local officials was delegated to him. In general the function of local officials in an eqṭāʿ did not differ from those of local officials serving under provincial governors.
The šeḥna. In the Saljuq period a city might be governed by a šeḥna, a kind of military governor, who was not usually found in the central or provincial capitals where there were wālīs. The šeḥna was appointed by the sultan or wālī, and his jurisdiction usually encompassed both the city and its surrounding district (cf. a diploma for the office of šeḥna of Jovayn, issued by Sultan Sanjar’s dīvān; Montajab-al-Dīn Jovaynī, pp. 60-62). He was charged with the preservation of public order and security, so that taxes could be collected and the general administration carried on, and was thus often, perhaps usually, responsible for the security of roads in the district. It was his duty to enforce, when necessary, the decisions of the qāżī’s court (see below), to assist tax collectors and other officials in the execution of their duties, and to punish evildoers (mofsedān), who transgressed against the Šarīʿa, the religious law (Lambton, Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 244-45; cf. a draft diploma for the office of šeḥna in Mayhanī, pp. 113-14). The šeḥna appears to have been paid by local dues (rosūm, rosūmāt, marsūm, marsūmāt), which, in accordance with local custom, were levied on all those who lived within his jurisdiction; he or his officials collected them directly. There are instances in the sources of the same individual, being designated variously as šeḥna, wālī, and moqṭaʿ.
The office of šeḥna in the sense of military governor of a town or district was still extant under the Il-khanids (654-63/1256-65; Spuler, Mongolen4, p. 284), but the term was not widely used thereafter, though in the 12th/18th and early 13th/19th centuries it still occurs in a debased sense in the provinces. Moḥammad-Jaʿfar Nāʾīnī records (p. 309) the appointment of the šeḥna of Yazd by Moḥammad-Taqī Khan Bāfqī, governor of the city under the Afsharid Šāhroḵ (1161-1210/1748-95), and mentions in passing (p. 558) the agents (ʿāmelān) of the šeḥna of the bāzār. Moḥammad-Walī Mīrzā, governor of Yazd in the reign of the Qajar Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah (1212-50/1797-1834), appointed Moḥammad-ʿAlī Beg Semnānī šeḥna over the bāzār and a moḥtaseb (see below) for the province; he allotted to the former the dues of the dārūḡa (see below) as his pay (abwāb jamʿ; Nāʾīnī, pp. 581-83). The offices of šeḥna, dārūḡa, and moḥtaseb had thus become confused.
The dārūḡa and his assistants. As the Mongol conquerors crushed the resistance of the Ḵᵛārazmians and moved westward in the 7th/13th century, they left small garrisons in the countryside and appointed officials known as dārūḡačīs as representatives of the great khan responsible for the administration of the towns and cities. The precise functions of the dārūḡačīs varied but generally included taxation, the maintenance of the yam/yām (postal service; see čāpār), the dispatch of revenues and tribute to the Mongol court, the compilation of population registers, the levy of corvée (see bīgār, bīgārī), the recruitment of local security forces and garrisons, leadership of these forces in the field when necessary, and the entertainment and dispatch of distinguished visitors (Lambton, 1988, pp. 50-51; Sourdel-Thomine; cf. Allsen; Buell). Unfortunately, none of the population registers compiled by the dārūḡačīs in Persia survives.
Gradually the function of this official changed; his office was assimilated to that of the šeḥna, and he was called simply dārūḡa, rather than dārūḡačī. In the Timurid and Safavid periods he became a kind of police chief, somewhat similar to the ṣāḥeb al-šorṭa of the early Islamic centuries, rather than a military governor (Quiring-Zoche, pp. 130ff., 139ff.). Ruy González de Clavijo, who was in Tabrīz in 807-08/1405, compared the dārūḡa to a city mayor (p. 328). Orūj Beg Bayāt, better known as Don Juan of Persia, one of four secretaries to the Persian ambassador whom Shah ʿAbbās I (996-1038/1588-1629) sent with Sir Anthony Sherley to the princes of Europe in 1007/1599, also identified dārūḡas as mayors of towns (Don Juan, p. 46). From these accounts it would seem that the dārūḡa was a kind of police officer, but Jean Chardin’s description of the post in 1080/1669 suggests that it was analogous to that of šeḥna: “[E]ach fortress or town has its own governor called darugha . . . they are appointed directly by the king and each one has a deputy also appointed by the king independently of the governor” (V, pp. 258-60; cf. Olearius, pp. 270-71). Chardin also noted that the governor of Qazvīn had the title dārūḡa and that a new one was appointed every two years, drawing an annual salary from the central government (II, p. 401; cf. III, pp. 9-10). During the Safavid period (907-1135/1501-1722) the term beglerbegī tended to supersede dārūḡa in the sense of a local governor, as distinct from a police officer; the term beglerbegī was itself debased in the 13th/19th century and came to be applied to the chief police officer of the town.
In Safavid Isfahan the dārūḡa, as a police officer, appears to have been attached to the establishment of the dīvānbegī, the chief ʿorfī judge of the empire, who could intervene in any matter under the jurisdiction of the dārūḡa; once he had done so, the latter could no longer concern himself with it (Taḏkerat al-molūk, ed. Minorsky, f. 79b; Mīrzā Rafīʿā,16/4, p. 428). Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (p. 234) compared the dārūḡa to the lieutenant criminel of France. John Fryer called him the mayor of the city or captain of the watch, whose duty was to preside over the guards at the palace gate at night and “thence to make excursions through the city, and to disperse, secure and apprehend idle and vagrant persons” (1698, p. 339; cf. Krusinski, pp. 80-82). The Dastūr al-molūk of Mīrzā Rafīʿā (16/4, pp. 428-30) and the Taḏkerat al-molūk (ed. Minorsky, ff. 77b-80a) of Mīrzā Samīʿā, both probably written during the reign of Shah Solṭān-Ḥosayn (1105-35/1694-1722; see Mīrzā Rafīʿā, XV/5-6, introd., pp. 477, 504), include detailed accounts of the functions of this official (cf. Keyvani), who was usually a member of the former Georgian royal family and one of the intimates (moqarrabān) of the court. He was charged with the preservation of order in the city and its environs and with the prevention of actions contrary to what was laid down (ḵelāf-e ḥesāb), oppression (ẓolm), and brawls (nezāʿ). He was to forbid any act contrary to the Šarīʿa, such as prostitution, drinking wine, or gambling, and was to fine the guilty according to their crimes and ability to pay. Disputes involving up to 5 tūmāns, even sometimes 10-12 tūmāns, were settled by him; those involving larger sums were referred to the dīvānbegī. The dārūḡa was especially charged with the maintenance of security at night, in which task he was assisted by officials called ʿasas and aḥdāṯ (guards) and a mīr šab (night watch). They patrolled the streets at night with men assigned to the dārūḡa from the military establishment. Apparently both the dārūḡa and the aḥdāṯ had prisons in which they incarcerated offenders. According to Mīrzā Rafīʿā (16/4, p. 429), should any friend of the shah die in one of these prisons, the matter would be reported to the dīvānbegī; the corpse would then be examined by the ḡaṣṣāl-bāšī, the chief of the washers of the dead. If there was no sign of a blow, the ḡaṣṣāl-bāšī would give permission for burial, but, if there was such a mark, whether the deceased was a friend of the shah or not, the dīvānbegī would investigate the case and, if he determined that the killing had been unjustified, would report to the shah. The guilty party would then be called to account. Raphaël du Mans had recorded several decades earlier that the dārūḡa of Isfahan was paid 400 tūmāns a year in addition to what he received from litigants (p. 39). If theft occurred in one of the quarters patrolled by the aḥdāṯ at night, they would report it to the dārūḡa on the following day. If one of them recovered the stolen property, one-third (do dāng) belonged to him by custom and the remaining two-thirds (čahār-dāng) to the owner of the property. If the thief was not caught, however, the aḥdāṯ were responsible for the payment of compensation for the stolen property. To cover this 300 tabrīzī tūmāns were allocated to the aḥdāṯ from the sums set aside for the allowance (marsūm) of the dārūḡa from the fund known as ṣāder-e mamlakat. Two scribes, one appointed on behalf of the vizier and the other on behalf of the kalāntar (see below), kept a register (sar-rešta) of fines received. If the total sum at the end of the year was less than 300 tūmāns, the difference was credited to the dārūḡa; any excess of that sum was credited to him in the drafts drawn on the revenues. This practice had apparently ceased by the time Mīrzā Rafīʿā wrote, however, for the sum of 300 tūmāns was shown in the ṣāder-e mamlakat register simply as an allowance (tanḵᵛāh) to the dārūḡa.
The dārūḡa continued to function as a police officer after the fall of the Safavids in 1135/1722. William Francklyn, who was in Shiraz in 1201-02/1786-87, noted (pp. 130-31) that drums were beaten at 8:00, 9:00, and 10:30 p.m.; anyone found in the streets after the sounding of the third drum was instantly apprehended by the dārūḡa or his assistants and held until the following morning, when he was taken before the governor. If he was unable to give a good account of himself, he was bastinadoed and fined. Francklyn also stated (pp. 146-47) that the dārūḡa fixed prices, which no shopkeeper dared to transgress, for fear of punishment (cf. Mīrzā Moḥammad Kalāntar, pp. 19 and passim).
In the 13th/19th century the functions of the dārūḡa tended to be confined to the bāzār (Floor, 1971c), though practice was not uniform in all cities. In Tabrīz, the seat of the walī ʿahd (crown prince), the beglerbegī appointed the dārūḡa, who was in charge of the bāzār; minor officials known as goḏaṛčīs (guards) or dārūḡa-šāgerd (assistant dārūḡas) patrolled at night, while he remained at a special post. In Qazvīn the dārūḡa himself patrolled the city at night with his watchmen, known as bābās or čerāḡčīs (lamp bearers). He was responsible for stolen property to the kadḵodā (see below) of the relevant ward, who was responsible in turn to the governor. In Isfahan in the 1290s/1870s the dārūḡa was still an important official. The kadḵodās of all the quarters were under his authority, and he had forty or fifty farrāšes (servants) and workmen (ʿamala) under him. Āqā Moḥammad Ṣādeq held this office for some thirty years. In the daytime he would sit in the Qayṣarīya (the enclosed market of Isfahan), inflicting the bastinado on offenders. At night watchmen (gazmas) patrolled the streets and roads (goḏar), while he himself would visit two or three quarters. He was held responsible for any thefts that took place in the city and had to pay compensation for them, and he in turn would exact payment from the kadḵodās and the chiefs of the watchmen (sar-gazma). Offenses were reported by the sar-gazmas and their aides (pākar) to the kadḵodās, who would then inform the dārūḡa; he was required to submit a written report to the governor-general via the department of justice (Taḥwīldār, p. 125). In Shiraz the office of dārūḡa seems to have disappeared by the second half of the 13th/19th century; responsibility for order and security in the quarters belonged to the kadḵodās. Afżal-al-Molk, who was in Qom in 1304-05/1886-87, states (p. 107) that Ḥājī Aṣḡar Khan Begdelū was dārūḡa, whose office, at that time, was equivalent to that of the nāʾeb al-ḥokūma (deputy governor), kalāntar, or beglerbeg.
The raʾīs, the kalāntar, and their subordinates. In addition to officials appointed by the central or provincial government, there were also some, notably the raʾīs and the kalāntar, who, though they may have received diplomas of appointment from the ruler, represented the interests of the local people in ways that the šeḥna or dārūḡa did not. The relationship between the government and the city population is difficult to define: each needed the other, and the offices of kalāntar and raʾīs provided the necessary link, though the two offices and the circumstances in which they developed were not precisely the same. Information on them is sporadic and scattered and tends to be more detailed for the capital cities. The term raʾīs means “chief” or “head” and in early Islamic Persia especially designated the head of a school of law or theology (Mottahedeh, pp. 129-35). The raʾīs of a city, with or without its surrounding districts, was, however, something rather different. Under the Ghaznavids (366-582/977-1186) he was a key figure in the towns of Khorasan, where he was responsible for internal security. He was nominated by the government and formally installed (Bosworth, Ghaznavids, pp. 184-85; Anwarī, pp. 250-53).
In the Saljuq period the raʾīs occasionally had jurisdiction over a wider region than the city (cf. a document for the appointment of Tāj-al-Dīn Abu’l-Makārem b. ʿAbbās as raʾīs of Māzandarān; Montajab-al-Dīn Jovaynī, pp. 21-26, 26-39). He was essentially the link between the government and the taxpayers, and his duty was to reconcile, as far as possible, the interests of the two parties; cases involving taxation were referred to his dīvān. He thus needed the authority of the government behind him, but it was equally necessary that he be a man of local standing. The raʾīs of a large city usually received a deed of investiture from the sultan, but there is no record of any formal procedure by which the people might designate their choice; probably the most influential and suitable person simply emerged to act on their behalf. There was also a strong tendency for the office to become hereditary, and those who served were often rich and powerful, such as Abū Hāšem (d. 502/1108-09), raʾīs of Hamadān for forty-seven years (Ebn al-Aṯīr, X, p. 332; Rāvandī, pp. 162-65; cf. Lambton, 1988, pp. 317-18; idem, Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 251-52), and Zarqān, raʾīs of Tabrīz under Ṭoḡrel b. Moḥammad (526-29/1132-34), who was fined 70,000 gold dīnārs by the vizier Dargazīnī (Bondārī, p. 148). The precise nature and scope of the office are difficult to define (cf. Lambton, 1957, pp. 383-87; idem, Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 279-81). Richard Bulliet, who has examined the backgrounds of those who held the office of raʾīs in Nīšāpūr in the 4th-6th/10th-12th centuries, has shown that they were drawn mainly from prominent local families with religious, landowning, and mercantile interests. He concludes that, though rulers viewed the raʾīs of the city as an instrument for the execution of their policy, his functions and influence were intangible (pp. 66-68).
In the course of time the term raʾīs ceased to designate a city official, but the kalāntar is mentioned in 10th/16th-century sources as performing some of the same functions as the raʾīs and may have done so even earlier. Like šeḥna and raʾīs the term kalāntar was used in several senses. It basically means “bigger” or “greater,” and in the 8th-9th/14th-15th centuries it came to mean “leader” (or “head”), especially when applied to tribal or military groups. From the 9th/15th century onward it also designated an official of the “civil” hierarchy, in charge of a town or a ward. If the town was large, the kalāntar appointed kadḵodās over the wards. The dārūḡas, kalāntars, and kadḵodās of Naṭanz are mentioned in a document dated 903/1497-98 (Aubin, 1955, pp. 6-7), but it is not clear whether they were town or village officials (cf. documents dated 902/1496-97 and 905/1499-1500; Aubin, 1955, pp. 6, 7-8).
Much information on the Safavid kalāntar is included in the Taḏkerat al-molūk (ed. Minorsky, ff. 76b-77a) and the Dastūr al-molūk (Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/4, pp. 421-22, 427, 433). But it must be borne in mind that those accounts represent the ideal rather than the actuality, as do the surviving documents of appointment to the office. However, the accounts of European travelers bear out the evidence of the manuals in many respects. As the head of a town or ward the kalāntar was, like the raʾīs, a link between the central government and the taxpayers; it was his task to reconcile the interests of the two parties. The analogy must not, however, be pressed too far. Under the Safavids the kalāntar was integrated into a highly centralized and complex bureaucratic system, whereas the Saljuq raʾīs had operated to a large extent independently. Eskandar Beg, referring to the appointment of Adham Beg as kalāntar of Tabrīz in 1015/1616-17, considered the office (which he did not in fact take up) “an important affair” (az moʿaẓẓamāt-e omūr; II, p. 725). Moḥammad Mofīd also calls it “a high office” (az manāseb-e ʿālīya; III, p. 244), and Mīrzā Rafīʿā states that the kalāntar of Isfahan was reckoned among the nobles and notables (ašrāf wa aʿyān; Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/4, p. 421). In Isfahan and some major towns the kalāntar received a diploma of appointment from the ruler, but the appointment appears to have depended in some measure upon the satisfaction of the local people. According to a document of Rabīʿ I 1107/October 1695, in which a certain Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad-Taqī was dismissed as kalāntar of Gīlān-e Bīa Pas (Rašt and its dependencies) and a former kalāntar, Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad-Saʿīd, appointed as his successor, the vizier, deputy vizier, and mostawfī of Gīlān-e Bīa Pas, the local šayḵ al-Eslām (see below), and the vizier of the boyūtāt-e ḵāṣṣa (who was involved, perhaps, because part of the region was crown land; see boyūtāt-e salṭanatī) had investigated the dissatisfaction with Moḥammad-Taqī among the kadḵodās, taxpayers (arbāb-e bonīča), and people (raʿāyā) of the province and their wish that Moḥammad-Saʿīd be reappointed. Of 2,127 men who had expressed a desire for the reappointment of Moḥammad-Saʿīd, 983 had accordingly complained of Moḥammad-Taqī. Moḥammad-Saʿīd was accordingly reappointed (published in Barrasīhā-ye tārīḵī III/2, 1346 Š./1967, pp. 80-82, and Qāʾemmaqāmī, pp. 54-56; cf. Lambton, “Kalāntar,” p. 475).
The kalāntar of Isfahan oversaw the bāzār and the wards of the city and was concerned especially with the assessment and collection of taxes. He and the vizier of Isfahan were authorized jointly to designate the kadḵodās of the wards and the heads of the guilds. The inhabitants of each ward or the members of each guild would choose one of their number whom they considered trustworthy, draw up a document (reżā-nāmča) in his name, and fix his wages. Once the document had been sealed by the naqīb (an official whose functions included the supervision of guild affairs; see below), they would take it to the kalāntar, who would endorse the document with a marginal note (taʿlīqa). The designated representative would then receive a robe of honor signifying his appointment (Taḏkerat al-molūk, ed. Minorsky, f. 77a; Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/4, p. 421). The kalāntar also had special responsibilities in connection with the assessment and collection of taxes from the guilds and wards of the city. In the first three months of the year he would assemble the heads of these groups and send them to the naqīb, who would inform them of their tax quotas (bonīča). After the quotas had been allocated among the individual members of the guilds and inhabitants of the wards, with the approval of the kadḵodās, the naqīb signed the relevant documents. They were then brought to the kalāntar for his signature, after which they were registered by the moḥaṣṣeṣ-e mamlakat, who was, in effect, the kalāntar’s clerk and appointed with his approval. The next step was for drafts and appropriations drawn on the bonīča of the guilds to be distributed by the moḥaṣṣeṣ among individual members so that payment orders sealed by the kalāntar could be collected by the draft holders (Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/4, pp. 421-22). The primary purpose of this complex procedure was, no doubt, to strengthen government control and to ensure that drafts could be collected; but, by making the guilds themselves responsible for allocating the tax quotas among their members, it may also have been intended to prevent unfair demands being made on individual members.
Cornelius de Bruyn, who was in Persia in 1115/1703, states that the kalāntars were in charge of both ordinary and extraordinary taxes, which they adjusted according to the means and capacities of the inhabitants, and that their authority “only extends over the lower classes of the large towns, especially Isfahan” (I, p. 209; on the functions of the kalāntar in the late Safavid period, cf. Keyvani, index). A few years earlier, in about 1088/1677, Fryer calls the kalāntar the “clerk” of the market and states that he fixed the price of corn and supervised bakers, cooks, and such like (III, p. 24). Tavernier compared him to the prévôt des marchands in France (p. 250). To the extent that he fixed prices his duties impinged upon those of the moḥtaseb (see below). That the kalāntar of Isfahan also had some responsibility for overseeing the city as a whole is suggested by the fact that he was to be consulted by the mehmāndār-bāšī (chief of protocol) and the vizier of Isfahan on arrangements for lodging foreign envoys (Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/4, p. 427; cf. Tavernier, p. 116). This is borne out by a document issued by Shah Solṭān-Ḥosayn instructing the dīvānbegī, vizier, kalāntar, and other officials of Isfahan to hand over to a certain Frenchman a house in which he was to stay (Busse, p. 229). In some respects the functions of the kalāntar extended beyond the confines of the city. He and the vizier were jointly empowered to appoint the heads (roʾasāʾ) of the maḥāll, that is, the districts around Isfahan, with the agreement of two-thirds of the residents of each district (Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/4, p. 421). How this agreement was to be ascertained was apparently not formally established; it probably emerged by consensus, if at all. Several attendants were detached from the dīvān to assist the kalāntar in the performance of his various tasks. In addition to wages, he collected dues from the guilds (Taḏkerat al-molūk, ed. Minorsky, f. 77a; Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/4, p. 422).
From a decree (ḥokm) issued by Shah Solṭān-Ḥosayn in 1124/1712 appointing Mīrzā Moḥammad-Taqī Jāberī Anṣārī, grandson of a kalāntar of Isfahan, to the office of kalāntar of Yazd, it seems that the functions of the kalāntar in the major provincial towns were similar in many respects to those of his counterpart in Isfahan. Sometimes, however, the scope of his duties was broader, probably because there were fewer central-government officials in the provinces than in the capital. Mīrzā Moḥammad-Taqī’s duties included the appointment of master craftsmen (ostādān) and elders (rīš-safīdān) of the guilds and the roʾasāʾ and kadḵodās of the villages and hamlets of the bolūkāt (administrative subdivisions), as well as the administration of their affairs. He was also charged with making sure that goods were abundant and cheap. Not a single dīnār or man of produce was to be apportioned among the taxpayers without his written authorization and seal (Afšār, 1361 Š./1983, p. 398). Sometimes the kalāntar held another office simultaneously or was transferred to another office. This underscored his part in the official hierarchy. In the year following his appointment to Yazd Mīrzā Moḥammad-Taqī also served as deputy vizier of the city during the absence of the vizier in India (Afšār, 1361 Š./1983, p. 400). Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Jahānšāhī, who had been kalāntar of Tabrīz at some time during the reign of Ṭahmāsb I (930-84/1524-76), later became moḥtaseb al-mamālek, an office that he held until his death during the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I (Eskandar Beg, I, p. 150). Amīr Ḵalīl Rowḡanī, so called because he invented a machine for pressing oil from cotton seeds, was moḥtaseb of Yazd before becoming kalāntar; he remained in office for twenty years under Shah ʿAbbās and Shah Ṣafī (1038-52/1629-42), during which time he amassed many estates and much property. He was dismissed by Shah Ṣafī as the result of intrigues against him and was taken to Isfahan in chains; he obtained his freedom, apparently by the payment of money to the dīvān, and was subsequently reappointed as kalāntar of Yazd. He was dismissed once again, and all his possessions—money, precious books and objets d’art, porcelain vessels, estates, and villages—were seized (Mofīd, I, pp. 78-79, III, pp. 245ff.). Moḥammad-Ṣāleḥ Beg, a Tabrīzī who died in 1031/1621-22, had at one time been vizier of Šīrvān and later vizier and kalāntar of Qom (Eskandar Beg, II, p. 991).
Duties performed on behalf of the government constituted the main functions of the kalāntar, but, like the earlier raʾīs, he also represented the interests of the people. Perhaps for this reason his office was linked with those of the vizier and dārūḡa, so that he might provide a kind of check on their activities; in view of his integration into the official hierarchy, however, the effectiveness of this arrangement was likely to be limited. In the words of Mīrzā Rafīʿā (16/4, p. 422) he was the representative of the people (wakīl-e raʿāyā). This differentiates his office from that of the provincial vizier, who was an official of the central government, charged primarily with the collection and disbursement of revenues from the province and the city. Whereas his duty was to consider the interests of the dīvān (Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/3, p. 319), the kalāntar’s responsibility was to bring the interests of the subjects before the shah and others in authority and to remove from them tyranny and oppression and to see that the orders and regulations of the guilds were carried out. The author of Dastūr al-molūk, however, qualifies the extent to which the kalāntar might allow himself to be influenced by the people: “The kadḵodās of the districts and the ostādān of the guilds are appointed by him and dismissed by him: no one can interfere in this in any way” (Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/4, p. 422). It may be that these words were intended to prevent interference in such appointments by government officials or others. In the Taḏkerat al-molūk it is stated merely that it was the kalāntar’s duty “constantly to strive to improve the condition of the subjects (raʿāyā) in order to secure their prayers for the sacred person [of the king]” (ed., Minorsky, f. 78a), further evidence that the fundamental purpose of government was the well-being of the ruler, rather than the ruled.
Presumably because of his function as representative of the people, the kalāntar was required to be present when measures directly affecting their interests were taken, such as the examination of claims for a reduction of taxes after some natural calamity or the investigation of disputes over the water of the Zāyandarūd (Mīrzā Rafīʿā,16/5-6, pp. 551-52; cf. Tavernier, p. 250; de Bruyn, I, p. 209). Similarly, the vizier, kalāntar, rayyāʿ (crop estimator), massāḥ (surveyor), and other officials of Isfahan would go together to examine the summer and winter crops of each district; when they considered it advantageous to the dīvān to collect the crops, they would conclude a contract with the peasants for a fixed amount and record this in the inspection inventory (nosḵa-ye bāzdīd; Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/3, p. 320). The presence of the kalāntar was also required when the vizier of the department of endowments (sarkār-e fayż āṯār, i.e., awqāf) inspected the crops of the maḥāll that were under his care and made arrangements for their collection (Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/3, p. 321).
Two diplomas for the appointment of Abū Moḥammad Šahrīār-al-Molk as kalāntar of Tabrīz, issued by Karīm Khan Zand in 1177/1763-64 and 1187/1773 respectively, describe his office as extending to the bolūkāt and districts dependent upon the city (Nāder Mīrzā, pp. 291-92); they affirm that the wishes of the inhabitants had been considered in the matter of his appointment. Both documents start with the phrase “As the [accomplishment] of the affairs of the office of kalāntar are dependent upon the satisfaction of the subjects . . . ” (Nāder Mīrzā, pp. 291, 292). According to the first, petitions (ʿarīża) mentioning the excellent conduct of the former kalāntar Abū Moḥammad and requesting his reappointment had been received from the šayḵ al-Eslām, notables, kadḵodās, and residents of Tabrīz. According to the second, as the general population and the notables of Tabrīz had signified their satisfaction with Abū Moḥammad’s conduct, he was reappointed kalāntar of Tabrīz. It is unlikely that any formal procedures for consultation existed; rather, it was simply in the government’s interest to appoint a man who could carry the local population with him. In the provinces the relationship between the local governors, on the one hand, and the kalāntars and kadḵodās, on the other, was a delicate one. To the extent that the latter enjoyed local support, the governor had to treat them with circumspection, but a modicum of deference was expected in return, for, if the governor allowed them to flout his authority, his own position would be weakened, particularly if they had the support of the lūṭīs (see below) and pahlavāns (champion wrestlers; see below) of the town (see Nāʾīnī, pp. 303-04). Because the kalāntar was simultaneously spokesman for the people and a member of the official hierarchy he was sometimes able, when the control of the government weakened, to use his power and influence to assert his independence. Sir John Malcolm mentions an occasion in 1135/1722, during the Afghan occupation of Qazvīn, when the kalāntars instigated an uprising against the invaders and forced them to retreat to Isfahan (I, pp. 443-44; cf. Golrīz, p. 384). Ḥājī Ebrāhīm, who succeeded ʿAlī-Morād Khan Zand as kalāntar of Shiraz and continued to hold office under Loṭf-ʿAlī Khan (1203-09/1789-94), took possession of the city in 1205/1791 while the latter was absent on an abortive attempt to seize Isfahan. Eventually Ḥājī Ebrāhīm surrendered Shiraz to Āqā Moḥammad Khan Qājār, whose first minister (ṣadr-e aʿẓam) he later became.
At the beginning of the 13th/19th century James Morier wrote that the kalāntar was an official of the crown and the medium through which the wishes and needs of the people were made known to the king: “He is their chief and representative on all occasions, and brings forward the complaints of the Rayats, whenever they feel oppressed. He also knows the riches of every Rayat, and his means of rendering the annual tribute; he therefore regulates the quota that every man must pay; and if his seal be not affixed to the document which the Rayat brings forward in the time of the levy the assessment is not valid, and the sum cannot be received” (pp. 235-36). Malcolm similarly notes: “The Kalāntar, or chief magistrate of the city, and the Kutkhodahs, or magistrates of the different wards, though nominated by the king, must be selected from the most respectable inhabitants . . . . Although these officers are not formally elected, the voice of the people always points them out: and if the king should appoint a magistrate disagreeable to the citizens, he could not perform his duties, which require all the insight he derives from personal consideration to aid the authority of office . . . in small towns or villages the voice of the inhabitants in nominating their Kutkhodah, or head, is still more decided [than in the case of the kalāntar]: if one is named of whom they do not approve, their clamour produces either his resignation or removal” (II, pp. 324-25). Morier states that the kalāntar received wages from the king’s treasury and once a year appeared before the royal presence (p. 235); presumably he was referring only to the kalāntars of major cities.
Although there was usually a kalāntar in a large town or city, occasionally there was no intermediary between the kadḵodās of the wards and the provincial governor, as, for example, in Shiraz at the beginning of the 13th/19th century, though there had been a kalāntar there at the end of the preceding century (see above). In 1217/1802 E. S. Waring writes that in Shiraz the most respectable man in a ward was usually given the office of kadḵodā. His duties were to acquaint himself with the trades and occupations of those who resided in the ward and their means of subsistence, to arrange for the billeting of troops and the allocation among the inhabitants of any contribution laid upon the ward by the governor, and to settle minor disputes amicably. He was to serve as peacemaker and to exert himself for the good of the community over which he presided. The kadḵodās were thus also mediators between the government and the people. Often a degree of weight attached to their representations that served as a strong restraint on oppression by the governor (pp. 64-65). At that time the office of kadḵodā in Shiraz was unpaid, but Fasāʾī records that in 1298/1880-81 Fatḥ-ʿAlī Khan Ṣāḥeb Dīvān, pīškār (governor) of Fārs, increased the wages of the kadḵodās of Shiraz from 12 to 50 tūmāns (I, pp. 345-46).
The kalāntar, like the earlier raʾīs, was usually a local man. There was a strong tendency for his office to become hereditary, especially in the provincial cities (cf. Nāder Mīrzā, pp. 287ff.). Occasionally the kalāntar of one city might be transferred to another, but such a move was probably rare. When Solṭān Morād Mīrzā Ḥosām-al-Salṭana was transferred from the governorship of Fārs to that of Khorasan in 1277/1860-61, he took with him Ḥājī Moḥammad-Kāẓem Āšofta, kalāntar of the district (ḥawma) of Shiraz, and made him kalāntar of Mašhad (Fasāʾī, II, p. 53).
Dr. Willem Floor, in a study of the functions of the kalāntar and his subordinates under the Qajars, draws attention to the continuity between 13th/19th- and early 14th/20th-century practice (1973; 1971a). Nevertheless, change had already begun in the reign of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah (1264-1313/1848-96), possibly because of his desire to strengthen the position of the central government vis-à-vis local administration. In 1268/1852 the shah ordered the construction in all the big cities of guardhouses (qarāvol-ḵānas), where recruits from the regimental garrisons were to be stationed. Whatever his intention, this step contributed little to the establishment of a regular police force. In 1296/1879, after his second European journey, Nāṣer-al-Dīn founded a modern police force (naẓmīya, polīs; Maḥbūbī Ardakānī, II, pp. 139-41, 146; Sayfī, pp. 53 ff.; cf. Floor, 1973); the guards and traditional security officials were incorporated into this force or subordinated to it. In the following year the crown prince, Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Mīrzā, whose seat was Tabrīz, announced the formation of a uniformed police force in that city.
The mīrāb. The mīrāb, with his subordinates, was found in most major towns; he was responsible primarily for the distribution of water for agriculture (see ābyārī), rather than within the city, though he also supervised the latter (cf. a diploma of the Ḵᵛārazmšāh Il-Arslān [551-67/1156-72] for the mīrāb of Bukhara; Majmūʿa, fols. 80b-81 b; Horst, p. 137; Lambton, 1988, pp. 163-64). In cities like Isfahan, Herat, and Marv, which are situated on large rivers, the mīrāb was part of the official hierarchy and was appointed by the central government.
In Safavid Isfahan he was an official of some consequence. Beside overseeing the distribution of water from the river to all districts according to custom, he appointed mādī-sālārs over the main canals (mādīs) and saw to it that both main and subsidiary irrigation canals (anhār wa jadāvel), many of which flowed through the city, were cleaned at the end of each year. He also settled disputes over water. In some cases the grand vizier (wazīr-e dīvān-e aʿlā) and the vizier, kalāntar, and mostawfī of Isfahan joined with him in investigations on the spot. He collected customary dues from the users of the water and also received an annual salary from the ḵāṣṣa administration (sarkār-e ḵāṣṣa-ye šarīfa; Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/4, pp. 432-33; Taḏkerat al-molūk, ed. Minorsky, f. 81b). Chardin (IV, p. 100) states that the mīrāb received 4,000 tūmāns a year, apart from the dues that his subordinates collected for him. According to a treatise (ṭūmār) attributed to Shaikh Bahāʾī (see bahāʾ-al-dīn ʿāmelī), the mīrāb of Isfahan was by custom one of the kadḵodās of the Jay district (cf. Lambton, 1938, pp. 663-73). In towns watered by lesser streams and qanāts (underground conduits) there were also officials, who might or might not have the title mīrāb, in charge of the distribution of water and the upkeep of the channels through which it flowed. They were appointed by the government, by the owners of the stream or qanāt, or by those with rights to the water and normally collected dues from the users. Water, whether inside or outside the towns, was distributed by rotation on a time basis and was usually subject to sale.
Drinking water in the towns came under the general supervision of the moḥtaseb (see below). If conduits were in disrepair, it was his duty to repair them or, if there was no money in the public treasury, to order the townspeople to do so. Similarly, if the source of drinking water was fouled, he could order the townspeople to rectify the matter. In practice, these duties were often carried out by the dārūḡa, the kalāntar, or the kadḵodā. There is no evidence that sewage systems existed in the towns. Night soil was collected by sweepers (kannās) and sold for agricultural purposes. In the 13th/19th century the sweepers in Isfahan were paid by the government (Taḥwīldār, p. 121).
The qāżī. The qāżī, or judge, exercised jurisdiction under the Šarīʿa. In the early centuries after the Islamic conquest he was appointed by the caliph, but, once semi-independent governments emerged in Persia, he was usually nominated by the prince or provincial governor, who probably took into consideration his local standing. In the capital and provincial centers there was normally a chief qāżī (qāżī al-qożāt), who usually received his diploma of appointment from the ruler. Although he and the other qāżīs were as a rule local men, instances of a qāżī al-qożāt’s moving from one city to another were not infrequent. The relation between ʿorf and šaṛʿ was close. Executive power was in the hands of temporal officials, but they were expected to consult and seek the approval of religious officials. The qāżī al-qożāt, or sometimes simply the qāżī, often sat with officials of the temporal government in the court of appeals (maẓālem court; Lambton, “Maḥkama 3. Iran”). The extent to which the qāżī al-qożāt in the capital appointed provincial qāżīs, or influenced their appointment, varied. In the smaller towns the qāżīs played an important part in local affairs. In the Safavid period the appointment of provincial qāżīs was the responsibility of the ṣadr, the chief religious official of the empire and an official of the central government; with the proliferation of centrally appointed religious officials, such as the emām jomʿa and the šayḵ-al-Eslām, the importance of the qāżī tended to decrease, though, as his court continued to hold undisputed sway in matters of personal law, his influence in the local community was ensured. Title deeds and documents for the sale and transfer of land were drawn up and registered in his court, and tenure disputes, especially those involving waqf land, were referred there.
Among the duties of the qāżī was supervision of the ḥesba, which especially in the early centuries was under the immediate charge of the moḥtaseb and was to be found inmost large towns. However, the jurisdictions of the two officials were not identical in scope. Māwardī states that the jurisdiction of the ḥesba lay midway between that of the qāżī and that of the maẓālem court. On the one hand, the authority of the moḥtaseb was less than that of the qāżī, in that he was not permitted to deal with cases in which the wrong was not immediately obvious; on the other hand, it was greater, for, if he suspected illegality, he did not have to wait for a complaint to investigate, whereas the qāżī could proceed only when there was a complaint (Ebn al-Oḵowwa, text p. 11).
The moḥtaseb. Like the qāżī the moḥtaseb was normally a member of the religious classes and owed his appointment to the government, but Neẓām-al-Molk (d. 485/1092), the Saljuq vizier, permits the appointment of a member of the military classes to the office of moḥtaseb, provided he was of mature age and a eunuch (ed. Schefer, p. 41; ed. Darke, p. 60). Although the moḥtaseb might be appointed over a province or a city and its surrounding districts, he was almost exclusively concerned with the proper ordering of religious and social life within the city, for it was there that communal life was centered. He was, as it were, in charge of the public conscience, with oversight of public morality, public amenities, and the proper conduct of commercial affairs. It was his duty to ensure the performance of religious obligations; the upkeep of mosques; proper behavior between sexes in the streets; the application of discretionary measures against ḏemmīs (q.v.; Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians); and the prevention of drinking, gambling, prostitution, and other offenses against the Šarīʿa. He also supervised the provision of drinking water, street cleaning, and free passage in the streets, which involved preventing the encroachment of buildings into thoroughfares. He was to see that slaves were not ill-treated or animals overburdened. As part of his supervision of the markets, he was charged with preventing dishonest dealing by merchants and artisans, supervising weights and measures, and fixing prices (Neẓām-al-Molk, ed. Schefer, p. 41; ed. Darke, p. 60). The activities of the moḥtaseb thus impinged, at least potentially, upon the lives of the townspeople in a number of ways. Neẓām-al-Molk, though noting that the moḥtaseb’s duty was to enjoin the good and forbid evil (see ʿamr be maʿrūf), concentrates on those of his functions related to commercial affairs. In particular, he was to exercise care that no fraud or adulteration took place in connection with goods brought from surrounding districts for sale in the bāzār (ed. Schefer, p. 41; ed. Darke, p. 60; cf. Lambton, 1988, pp. 77-78). Bread was the staple food of the population, and a regular supply was essential to the well-being and good order of the city; no government could face the prospect of bread riots with equanimity. The moḥtaseb was thus concerned to ensure that flour merchants did not hoard grain or adulterate flour. He was also to inspect the conditions under which bread was made, to see that ovens were swept and kneading troughs washed down (Ebn Oḵowwa, text pp. 89, 91; cf. Waines, pp. 284-85). The weakness of the moḥtaseb’s position was that he had to rely upon temporal officials to execute his decrees and decisions. He was probably paid mainly by dues levied on shops in the bāzār.
In Safavid Isfahan there was a moḥtaseb al-māmalek, who exercised the functions of the ḥesba in the capital and appointed the provincial moḥtasebs. His salary consisted partly of levies on various provincial towns. He supervised guilds and cookshops, but his main function seems to have been fixing the prices of foodstuffs (du Mans, pp. 36-37; Taḏkerat al-molūk, ed. Minorsky, ff. 80a-81a; Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/4, p. 418). There appears to have been some overlap between his jurisdiction and those of the kalāntar and dārūḡa, and there were instances in which the same man successively held the offices of moḥtaseb and kalāntar (see above). According to Mīrzā Rafīʿā (16/4, p. 418), many matters formerly referred to the moḥtaseb al-mamālek fell, in his time, within the jurisdiction of the šayḵ al-Eslām, qāżīs, and ṣodūr. The position of the moḥtaseb was probably weakened by changes taking place in the religious institution. By the middle of the 13th/19th century the office had virtually disappeared; responsibility for the guilds and public amenities had largely been taken over by other officials, and oversight of the public conscience had been assumed by the ʿolamāʾ (see below; cf. Lambton, “Ḥisba iii. Persia,” pp. 490-91; Keyvani, s.v. moḥtaseb; Floor, 1971c).
The financial administration of the city cannot be neatly separated from that of the province or district. Something has already been said of the assessment and collection of taxes in the city, but strictly speaking there was no city financial administration as such. The revenue of the city formed part of the provincial revenue, and the city does not appear to have had its own budget. Under the caliphs tax was assessed at the center and collected by officials (ʿāmels) of the central government. We know very little of the details of the provincial tax administration or what taxes were levied specifically on the city population. Under the Ghaznavids revenue was collected by local tax collectors under the direction of the “civil” governor of the province (Bosworth, Ghaznavids, p. 84). In the empires which arose later provincial taxes on the whole continued to be assessed at the center. The assessment was sent annually to the local governor, who, unless the revenue was farmed, collected it by means of tax collectors, known variously as ʿāmels, żābeṭs, or moḥaṣṣels; these deducted their dues from the revenue or levied a commission for themselves.
The most important taxes were those levied on the land; these affected the townspeople only so far as they owned gardens or agricultural land within the confines of the city or in the surrounding district. Secondly there were taxes levied on ḏemmīs, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, at varying rates. They were not, however, found in all towns. Thirdly there were taxes on shops, bāzārs, merchants, tradesmen, and artisans, and on houses, baths (see bathhouses), and caravansaries, and other noncanonical or “illegal” taxes. Their levy was capricious and varied from place to place. Edicts remitting noncanonical taxes were from time to time issued, but were for the most part only temporarily effective. In 479/1086 Malekšāh ordered the abolition of mokūs levied on merchants for all kinds of merchandise in Iraq and Khorasan (Ebn al-Aṯīr, X, p. 105). Māfarrūḵī states that Malekšāh, at the instigation of Neẓām-al-Molk, exempted Isfahan and its district from all extra levies and “illegal” taxes, but gives no date for this. It was to be announced in all congregational mosques throughout the empire, and tablets recording the abolition of extra levies (māl al-qesma wa’l-taqsīṭ) were to be put up at the gates and on the walls of all bāzārs (pp. 103-04; tr. pp. 140-41). The terms māl al-qesma and taqsīṭ usually refer to cesses added to the land taxes. If this is their meaning, the exemption would only have affected those townspeople who owned or rented agricultural property, but it may be that exemptions of a more general nature were intended. There are numerous examples in later centuries of inscriptions recording exemptions from taxation on the walls of mosques and at the gates of bāzārs. Fourthly there were ground rents and rents paid for crown property. Found at all times in the cities to a varying extent, crown property derived from inheritance, purchase, escheat, or confiscation. It was probably extensive under the Safavids, especially in the capital, Isfahan. Under the Qajars revenue from real estate (mostaḡallāt) belonging to the crown in towns was included in the “fixed” taxes. Malcolm states that there had been a great increase in such property after the fall of the Safavids and Karīm Khan. Whole streets in the principal cities, which before had belonged to individuals, had become the property of the government and were rented by individuals. In the early Qajar period ground rents were usually 20 percent of the estimated annual profit (II, p. 340).
No documents describing the financial administration of the provinces have come down to us from the Saljuq period, and we can only guess at the details so far as the towns are concerned. For the 8th/14th century we have three accounting manuals, the Saʿādat-nāma and the Qānūn al-saʿāda of ʿAbd-Allāh Falak ʿAlā-ye Tabrīzī (Nabipour) and the Resāla-ye falakīya of ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moḥammad b. Kīā Māzandarānī, which contain useful details on the financial administration as it existed in theory. The precise relationship of the Mongol tax system, which was “occasional,” to the traditional system prevailing in Persia is not entirely clear and in any case was probably constantly changing and subject to many local variations. Both seem to have existed together, and the former, since it was partly at least assessed as a poll tax, bore heavily on the population generally, whether urban or rural.
In the early Il-khanid period the townspeople, as well as the inhabitants of rural districts, were subject to a tax called qobčūr (qūbčūr; Lambton, 1986). It was levied as a poll tax, whatever had been the original practice under the Mongols. It was arbitrary and “occasional” and might be demanded several times a year. It caused much distress (Rašīd-al-Dīn, Tārīḵ-e ḡazānī, pp. 243-48). Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī states that Ṣadr-al-Dīn Ḵāledī, when vizier to Ḡāzān Khan, removed qobčūr from the towns and subjected them instead to tamḡā (ṭamḡā), which was, he alleges, to the advantage of both the people and the treasury (p. 604; for a discussion of qobčūr see Lambton, 1986, pp. 84ff.). Rašīd-al-Dīn, however, is more critical of the effect of Ṣadr-al-Dīn’s reform (Tārīḵ-e ḡāzānī, p. 247). It seems that tamḡā (a term that also means a seal or brand on cattle) was levied first as a poll tax at varying rates (see Spuler, Mongolen4, pp. 258-59). It may be that Ṣadr-al-Dīn’s reform consisted in the levying of a poll tax at varying rates as a “regular” tax, as opposed to qobčūr, which was an “occasional” tax and its rate unpredictable. According to Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī’s geographical work, the Nozhat al-qolūb, many towns paid their taxes as tamḡās, but whether this was only after Ṣadr-al-Dīn’s reform is not stated (see Nozhat al-qolūb, ed. Le Strange, passim; see also Spuler, Mongolen4, pp. 274-75).
The term tamḡā also designated a tax or toll on merchandise and a tax on markets and guilds or crafts, though precisely when it began to have this meaning is not certain. Such taxes had been levied sporadically since early Islamic times. Under the Il-khanids they became ubiquitous and their incidence heavy. In the draft accounts for Kāšān given in the Saʿādat-nāma of Falak ʿAlā-ye Tabrīzī, it seems that taxes for the town (balada) were separately assessed and broken down into taxes on artisans (al-mutaḥarrefa), taxes on those included under the tamḡā (taxes) and on ḏemmīs who were outside the tamḡā (fol. 67a). From this it is to be concluded that tamḡā still meant a kind of poll tax when Falak ʿAlā-ye Tabrīzī was writing. The town taxes also included taxes on certain markets (cf. Saʿādat-nāma, fols. 68a-b).
The term tamḡā in the plural (tamḡāvāt) covered a wide spectrum of taxes and dues, some of which had been formerly included under the term mokūs. The tendency in the Il-khanid period and after was for the dues and taxes both in the town and the country to multiply. The officials in charge of the various tamḡāvāt were paid by dues (rosūmāt; ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moḥammad b. Kīā Māzandarānī, fols. 64a, 77b; Falak ʿAlā-ye Tabrīzī, Saʿādat-nāma, fol. 68b). Many of the tamḡāvāt were farmed under żamān or moqāṭaʿa contracts, in which case the dues of the officials who collected them were not a charge on the revenue, the farmer being responsible for the expenses of collection (Resāla-ye falakīya, fols. 102aff.; cf. Saʿādat-nāma, fol. 39a; Qānūn al-saʿāda, fols. 20a, 20b, 21b). Drafts were frequently made on tamḡā revenues, even when they were farmed (cf. Qānūn al-saʿāda, fol. 23a; Saʿādat-nāma, fol. 56a; and cf. Rašīd-al-Dīn, Tārīḵ-e ḡāzānī, p. 273). From the accounting manuals it would seem that the farming contracts were usually for one year. In practice they were, probably, sometimes for longer and in any case renewable. According to examples of draft contracts given in the Saʿādat-nāma, the farmer was not to increase the taxes or to impose new ones, while the dīvān was not to demand from the farmer more than the installments laid down in the contract. In the event of natural disasters remissions were to be given (fol. 56a). The terms of moqāṭaʿa contracts for districts and provinces were frequently violated by both sides; and this is likely to have been the case also in farms and contracts for town taxes.
The broad pattern of urban taxation set by the Il-khanids was followed by later governments. Taxes on guilds continued to be levied in cash and kind on the basis of a group assessment (see below). Attempts to reduce the number and level of dues are recorded in various firmans which have survived, and in inscriptions on mosque walls and elsewhere, but were for the most part abortive. For the Safavid period the Dastūr-al-molūk and the Taḏkerat al-molūk (cited above) provide much information. Provincial taxes generally continued to be assessed at the center. Taxes on shops, bāzārs, merchants, tradespeople, and artisans, as well as houses, baths, and caravansaries, were levied (see above under kalāntar). Carpenters and masons were exempt from taxation but were required to perform services for the shah; seventeen other corporations, most of them not craft guilds, were also exempt on the grounds that they served as informers and propaganda agents for the government.
The ways in which tax quotas for the guilds were fixed and paid in the 13th/19th century varied considerably. In Isfahan at the beginning of the year the kalāntar would inform each guild under his jurisdiction of its assessment for the coming year, and one or two of the leading men from each guild would sign a document confirming their liability. The assessment was paid in twelve monthly installments. As in Safavid times, the kalāntar supervised the apportionment of the assessment among the guild members and the amount of business each was permitted during the year. In those guilds not under the immediate supervision of the kalāntar the division of the tax quota (bonīča-bandī) among the guild members was usually made by the head of the guild and the elders (rīs-safīd). As under the Safavids, certain guilds, including those of the carpenters, stonecutters, and sword makers, were exempt from taxation (cf. Keyvani; Floor, 1975; Lambton,1970a).
Poll taxes, sarāna and ḵānašomār, the latter levied on the basis of the household, were still found, mainly in country districts but also in some towns, in the 13th/19th century at different times and in different places. So far as provincial taxes were collected directly there was, perhaps, a growing tendency to separate town taxes from the taxes of the surrounding districts in the assessments, but this is not well documented. Rather, and this was a major difference, since the levy of troops was closely associated with the tenure of the land and the land tax, country districts furnished troops, whereas the towns in general did not. This had probably been the case from Saljuq times onward, though there may have been a temporary break in practice in the early Il-khanate. In the Qajar period Kāšān, Yazd, and Rašt in particular were exempt from the provision of soldiers (Mostawfī, Šarḥ-e zendagānī I, p. 92; Gīlānšāh, p. 23; Afżal-al-Molk, p. 223; Żarrābī, p. 171).
In addition to “fixed” or “regular” taxes, the townspeople were also subject to extraordinary demands. In all periods, requisitions might be made upon them in times of crisis, and especially upon the merchants who were the obvious target for such requisitions. In or about 566/1170-71, when Bahrāmšāh b. Ṭoḡrelšāh, the Saljuq ruler of Kermān, faced by troubles with the Ḡozz, sent a šeḥna to Bardsīr and ordered 100,000 kermānī dinars to be levied on the city and the subjects (bar šahr va raʿīyat qesmat konand) for the expenses (naʿl bahā) of the army. It was apparently collected on the basis of households (Moḥammad [b.] Ebrāhīm, pp. 48, 49). There are also references to forced loans in Isfahan in 495/1102. Moḥammad b. Malekšāh, when besieged by the forces of Berk-yaruq (Barkīāroq), twice asked loans of the prominent people of the city to satisfy the demands of the militia (jond; Ebn al-Aṯīr, X, p. 228).
The quartering of troops (nozūl, nozūla), or a levy in lieu of this, was another imposition from which the population in general suffered, especially in the capital and provincial capitals. There are references at various times to this practice and its prohibition. An inscription in the Friday mosque of Isfahan, which Honarfar attributes to the reign of Shah Ṭahmāsb, forbids the quartering of soldiers in Isfahan and states that none of the great amirs or members of the royal cortege were to billet themselves in anyone’s house (Eṣfahān, pp. 85-86). The military, no doubt, often acted in a high-handed way. An inscription in the congregational mosque of Yazd, dated 1115/1703-04, states that the vizier of Yazd, Mīrzā Moḥammad Moḥsen, had reported the miserable condition of the weavers (šaʿrbāfān) of Yazd and that ruffians (owbāš va ajāmera) had joined the riflemen of the mīnbāšīs (commanders of a thousand men) and daily laid all kinds of impositions on the weavers. Accordingly the mīnbāšīs and yūzbāšīs were forbidden to force any of the residents of Yazd to enter their service (taklīf-e molāzamaṭ . . . nanamāyand) or to place any impositions on the people (Afšār, 1348-54 Š./1970-75, II, pp. 131-32). Armies as they marched through the countryside also made frequent demands both on the towns and the countryside. In Safavid and Qajar times royal “progresses” were another imposition, though not peculiar to the towns. Officials and prominent townspeople were expected to provide presents and entertainment for the shah, royal princes and their entourage, and governors whenever they passed through or visited a town.
No municipal framework existed within which urban social life could organize itself. There is, therefore, a certain intangibility about the ways in which civil traditions were handed down, civic responsibilities carried out, and civic virtues expressed. Not that the city did not have a personality or that local patriotism and civic responsibility did not exist; rather they were revealed in subtle and almost imperceptible ways. Many factors contributed to molding the identity of a city: geographical location, historical circumstances, ethnic composition, and cultural traditions. Urban loyalty was often strong; to the extent that loyalties transcended the city, they were accorded not to governments but to Islam. Civic responsibilities were to some extent exercised through corporate structures, which meant that government organs, though necessary for the maintenance of security, were irrelevant to the expression of social purpose (Lambton, 1970a). Leadership was, however, seldom open or unambiguous. Each city has its own story to tell, but not all are recorded, and what is true of one city at one period is not necessarily true of all periods or of other cities. Dr. Leila Fawaz has questioned the view that Middle Eastern cities are melting pots in which traditional loyalties and bonds are gradually weakened and eventually disappear (p. 6). Persian cities were certainly not crucibles in which people of widely disparate origins “melted” into an integrated society; each group retained its own identity and ethos.
The dominant factor in both urban and rural life was insecurity, not only from sudden crises like civil war, nomadic raids, and military attacks but also from arbitrary governmental power. There were periods of peace and prosperity in different cities at different times and good government—that is, strong and efficient government—by individual rulers and their governors, but the line between security and disorder was at all times narrow. The protection of Koranic legislation against injustice was largely illusory, and appeals to the sultan or shah were often impractical because of the distances involved. For most of the population the only effective defense was to form mutual-assistance groups based on religious, ethnic, and professional affinities. But this, too, was often largely illusory and offset by a perennial tendency toward factionalism, a marked feature of life in both cities and towns throughout the centuries.
Composition and distribution of the urban population
Little is known of population movements and size before recent times, though there were both immigration and emigration from different towns and sometimes forcible removals by governments from one region to another. Mortality rates, moreover, were not uniform in all parts of the country or at all periods. The sources reveal something of the expansion of cities at the height of their prosperity and of their decline but little of the daily life of those who lived in them—of poverty, destitution, overcrowding, child mortality, and diseases, apart from outbreaks of pest and cholera; and little of the circumstances of crime, prostitution, gambling, drinking, and the use of narcotics, though there are references to them in the sources, in travelers’ accounts and in the ḥesba literature.
In the 1st/7th century Hamadān, Isfahan, and Fārs began to attract Arab immigrants, followed by Qom, Kāšān, Ray, Qazvīn, and the province of Azerbaijan and later by Qūmes, Khorasan, and Sīstān. Not all these immigrants stayed in the cities (Zarrīnkūb, p. 27). How sharply Arabs and non-Arabs (ʿajam) were separated in the towns is difficult to say. There was almost certainly intermarriage from an early period. The distinction between them was marked by the Šoʿūbīya movement. With the seepage of Turks into the Islamic world from the 3rd/9th century and the import of Turkish slaves, a Turkish element was introduced into the cities. Permanent slave markets were established in Šāš (Čāč), Asfījāb, and other frontier towns. Under the Saljuqs the Turkish military component of the city population probably increased. Although the military forces of the moqṭeʿs were mainly recruited from the rural districts (which seems to be borne out by the fact that armies tended to disperse in the harvest and sowing seasons), the moqṭeʿs and their households tended to live in the towns.
The city wall afforded protection to all inhabitants, regardless of ethnic, social, and religious differences, though often the town spread beyond the walls in suburbs that were sometimes more like villages. The city itself was divided into wards or quarters. In large cities the wards were self-contained and sometimes enclosed within their own walls, with their own mosques, bāzārs for primary necessities, public baths, and other amenities. Nāṣer-e Ḵosrow, who visited Isfahan in 444/1052, mentioned that all the streets (kūčahā) and quarters (maḥallahā) had strong bars (darbandhā) and gates (p. 92). Sometimes wards were differentiated by the religion, ethnic origin, or occupation of their inhabitants. Immigrants from rural districts and lesser towns often tended to settle in the same quarters and to retain their identity and links with their original homes. In the early centuries, and perhaps later as well, the different Islamic rites also tended to be grouped topographically. Furthermore, in a religious society divisions naturally took on a religious character. In 5th/11th-century Nīšāpūr there was factional strife between Hanafites and Shafiʿites (Bulliet), and similar factionalism existed in Ray, Isfahan, and other cities. Some cities were inhabited from early times mainly by Shiʿites. Where there were substantial numbers of Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, they were segregated in their own quarters, though there were few Zoroastrians in most large cities after the 4th/10th century. Christians, on the other hand, were widely dispersed in the early centuries. Jewish communities were also numerous in the Middle Ages. Some, like those in Hamadān and Isfahan, had roots in ancient times (cf. Fischel, 1950; idem, 1960).
The bāzār was usually, though not always, divided into a number of sūqs (markets) in which different crafts and occupations had separate quarters. At night, after members of the crafts and shopkeepers had shut their premises and retired to their homes, the gates of the bāzārs were locked and barred. Whether or not bāzārs were closed on Fridays and public holidays appears to have varied. Bricklayers, plasterers, and similar craftsmen had their ovens and kilns on the outskirts of the city. Caravansaries, where goods were unloaded on arrival and where merchants could take rooms, were to be found both in or close to the bāzārs and on the outskirts of the city. Nāṣer-e Ḵosrow states that on one street in Isfahan there were fifty good caravansaries (ed. Schefer, p. 92).
Under the Il-Khanids in the 7th-8th/13th-14th centuries, if not earlier, the Turkish element was dominant in many of the towns in northwestern Persia; Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī mentions a number of families of Arab, Turkish, and Mongol origin in Qazvīn (Tārīḵ-e gozīda I, pp. 797ff.). Although the Mongol ordūs camped outside the towns, it seems nevertheless that townspeople suffered considerable molestation by their followers (cf. Rašīd-al-Dīn, Tārīḵ-e ḡāzānī, pp. 361ff.; Naḵjavānī, I, pp. 204ff.). Once the Il-khanids had converted to Islam at the beginning of the 8th/14th century, they also began to persecute Christians, whose numbers were in consequence greatly diminished.
In the late 10th/16th century Shah ʿAbbās I settled Armenian Christians from Azerbaijan in New Julfa, a suburb of Isfahan, and in the same period large numbers of Indians (banīāns), occupied mainly in money lending, were established in Isfahan (Thévenot, II, p. 111; see below). In contrast to the 5th/11th century (see above), in the 11th/17th century there were only some thirty well-established caravansaries in Isfahan, each belonging to a particular group of merchants (Keyvani, p. 71). In some cities factional strife centered on two artificial groups, whose organization and recruitment were based on the quarter. They were at times fostered by the government (Mollā Jalāl-al-Dīn, pp. 131, 198; Fasāʾī, II, p. 22; Malcolm, II, p. 429; for a study of conflict between Ḥaydarīs and Neʿmatīs, see Mirjafari). The two groups were particularly strong in Isfahan, Shiraz, and Qazvīn. In some cities factions continued to be centered on different rites and quarters (cf. [Chick], I, p. 51).
Under the Qajars substantial Armenian communities were still to be found in Isfahan, Urmia, and other towns in Azerbaijan. There were also some small Nestorian communities in western and northwestern Persia. Zoroastrians were to be found mainly in Yazd and Kermān; in Kerman there was also a small community of immigrants from Shikarpur in Sind (Stack, I, p. 215; cf. Curzon, Persian Question II, p. 244).
Broadly speaking the city population was divided between the aʿyān (notables), among whom were the leading ʿolamāʾ, large landowners, and big merchants, and the ʿāmma (the “common people”), which included the lesser ʿolamāʾ, shopkeepers, and artisans. Mobility between the two groups was constant, with members of the aʿyān sinking into the ʿāmma and members of the ʿāmma rising into the aʿyān. In addition, there were government and military officials and their followers, who, though not part of the permanent city population, were not absolutely distinct from it. On the one hand, members of the aʿyān often performed government duties and civil and military officials were frequently drawn from the local inhabitants, while, on the other, government officials sometimes settled locally and, in the course of time, became assimilated to the local aʿyān through marriage alliances and the acquisition of land. The interests of the urban population and the government thus met at many points, and there was a certain ambiguity in their relationship.
The ruler or the governor and his officials—the ṣāḥeb-e šorṭa, the šeḥna, the vizier, the mostawfī, the qāżī, the moḥtaseb, and other functionaries (see above)—were responsible for maintaining public order, assessing and collecting taxes, and the organization of public worship. They were, however, subject to pressures from those they ruled; without the support, or at least the acquiescence, of the aʿyān they could not carry the common people with them, and so the aʿyān were able to exercise a certain influence and social power independently of the ruler and his officials. As Mr. Albert Hourani wrote of the medieval city, “The "notables," the leaders of the bourgeoisie and the "ulama," obeyed the government not only from fear or self-interest, but from concern for peace and security, from that preference for social peace at almost any price which was the principle of later Islamic society, and from the final need of the city for political power and authority, to bring in the food-supply from the rural hinterland and to keep the trade-routes open. But they were also "leaders" responsible to the urban population. At times they could use their independent power over it to mobilize urban forces and put pressure on the ruler” (p. 19; cf. Mottahedeh).
Religious leaders. Much has been written about the position and functions of the ʿolamāʾ, who played at all times an immensely important role in Persian society. Only a few general remarks about their position in the cities will be made here; their changing relation to the government will not be discussed. The ʿolamāʾ included both high-ranking religious leaders and lesser figures. Members of this group belonged to one or another of the accepted schools of law and usually to one of the theological schools as well; until modern times they also dominated the educational system (Makdisi, p. 80). Before the Safavid period most of them were Sunnite; only in the 10th/16th century did the majority shift to Shiʿism. The ʿolamāʾ included both šaṛʿī officials (see above) appointed by the government and those who refused any connection with the government and maintained their independence. Because religious leaders generally received the allegiance of the common people, both the aʿyān and the government needed their support. The ruler required their acknowledgment of his legitimacy; merchants and others needed them to witness contracts and other documents. But the ʿolamāʾ also required the support of the government to carry out their public functions and of both the government and the aʿyān because it was they primarily who built mosques, madrasas (religious schools), ḵānaqāhs (Sufi convents), and zāwīas (retreats, shrines), and provided funds for their upkeep. The ʿolamāʾ also had ties with the bāzār, and merchants and artisans often moved into the ʿolamāʾ. Calls by the latter to close the bāzār in protest or to take sanctuary (bast) in a mosque or shrine were effective means of putting pressure on the government. Together the ʿolamāʾ and the merchants could resist the government, but the long-term interest of both was in security, and so there was a general reluctance to oppose the government and a tendency to compromise. However, when larger governmental structures broke down, it was often religious figures who emerged as local leaders (see, e.g., constitutional movement; Keddie, 1962; idem, 1969; Algar; Amir Arjomand; Lambton, 1970b). Some leading members of the ʿolamāʾ were also allied by marriage or in other ways to the landowning classes, with whom they had common interests; they themselves often administered large properties that had been constituted as waqfs, particularly in the Safavid period and later. This connection, like their connection with the government, in some measure compromised their position in the eyes of the common people.
In the early centuries especially the ʿolamāʾ helped to link cities with the outside world, for they traveled extensively to hear traditions and study with well-known masters. After Persia had been converted to Shiʿsm, students of the religious sciences were drawn particularly to Karbalāʾ and Najaf in Iraq and to Qom; but, wherever a learned religious figure had settled, students would assemble around him, and many towns and cities became centers of learning. Sufi sheikhs usually lived with their disciples in rural convents (rebāṭs, ḵānaqāhs), but some were also to be found in the cities. In the 13th/19th century the Ḏahabī (see ḏahabīa, ḏahabīān), Neʿmat-Allāhī, and Ḵāksārī orders appear to have flourished mainly among the urban population (on the affiliation of the orders see Gramlich, I).
Sayyeds (pl. sādāt), who traced their descent from the Prophet Moḥammad, formed a special group, with the right to share in the revenue from ṣadaqa (alms). Sayyeds were found at all levels of urban and rural society and among the ʿolamāʾ. They were organized in a corporation under a naqīb al-ašrāf or naqīb al-noqabāʾ appointed by the government; he was required to verify the genealogy of anyone claiming to be a sayyed. By virtue of their descent, sayyeds were respected by the populace and enjoyed a privileged position. Governments were wary of acting against them for fear of provoking riots. Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī states that the sādāt of Qazvīn were distinguished by abstinence, humility, learning, piety, courtesy, and lack of covetousness. There was no question of their asking for pensions: They lived from their own trades (kasb; Tārīḵ-e gozīda I, p. 842). From early times sayyeds were concentrated in certain towns, notably Qom
(Ḥasan b. Moḥammad, pp. 191ff.). In the course of time they became extremely numerous, and their corporate structure weakened or disappeared altogether.
Merchants. The merchants, like the ʿolamāʾ, were a varied group. There were those engaged in long-distance trade, those who did business in both cash and kind, those who specialized in urban-rural trade, and tradesmen and shopkeepers in the bāzārs. Home and cottage industry was largely financed by merchants. Wealthy merchants were in a somewhat ambiguous position in that they, like the ʿolamāʾ, performed certain services for the government, though of a different and more sporadic nature; they were frequently forced to make loans in times of crisis. In the early centuries some merchants also functioned as bankers of a kind. They were known as jahābeḏa (sg. jahbaḏ) and played an important part in providing and transmitting funds for the government; most of them were Jews (Fischel, 1937). Nāṣer-e Ḵosrow reported that there were 200 ṣarrāfs (money changers) in one of the bāzārs of the city of Isfahan in 444/1052 (cf. Lambton, 1988, pp. 328ff.). In later periods both wealthy merchants and ṣarrāfs performed similar functions, and dallāls (brokers) sometimes made small loans. The ṣarrāfs were also agents for the payment of softajas (drafts) and checks; in the 13th/19th century they were still conducting business on behalf of the treasury.
Trade partnerships between merchants and government officials or others probably existed at all times. In the Il-khanid period trading and money-lending associations, known as ortaqs, were widespread and highly profitable. Rich merchants also engaged in long-distance trade outside the ortaqs (Lambton, 1988, pp. 333ff.). Writing in the second half of the 11th/17th century Fryer states that the Armenians of Isfahan traded with money from benefactors, keeping a quarter of the gain, and “from such beginnings do they raise sometimes great fortunes for themselves and masters” (1912, p. 249; cf. Calmard; on merchants in the 13th/19th century see Lambton, 1971; Gilbar; Floor, 1976).
From time to time the government appointed a malek al-tojjār (chief of merchants) for the empire or a given city, but merchants do not appear to have been organized as a merchant guild. The Dastūr al-kāteb by Moḥammad b. Hendūšāh Naḵjavānī includes a draft diploma for the office of malek al-tojjār under the Il-khanids (II, pp. 158ff.). In the Safavid period the malek al-tojjār for Isfahan was appointed by the government, and there were similar officials in other major cities (cf. Keyvani, pp. 71ff.). They were also to be found in the capital and many provincial cities in the 13th/19th century. In a firman issued by Moḥammad Shah to the governor of Azerbaijan, Bahman Mīrzā, in 1259/1843 it was decreed that a malek al-tojjār should be established by the government wherever commerce flourished (U.K. Public Record Office, F.O. 60:99, Sheil to Aberdeen, no. 99, Tehran, 1 December 1843).
Craft guilds. Artisans in the bāzār appear to have had some sort of corporate existence from an early period, though there are conflicting views on when it developed and its exact nature (cf. Boer, 1970; idem, 1964, pp. 1-2; Cahen, pp. 64, 67 n. 6, 69-70). Originally the term ṣenf was used in the general sense of “social category” (Mottahedeh, pp. 105ff.). The plural aṣnāf came to designate craft guilds or corporations. From at least as early as the 5th/11th century there were spontaneous groupings among the crafts in Persia. They were somewhat similar to the popular associations known as fotowwa, which were not, strictly speaking, professional associations (on the relation between the fotowwas and the guilds, see Taeschner, 1956; idem, “Akhi,” pp. 321-23). A certain solidarity among different guilds was manifest at religious festivals and on public holidays and also, though more rarely, in political protest.
Royal workshops for the production of ṭerāz (embroidered textiles) existed in various cities under the caliphate, in Fārs under the Buyids (Eṣṭaḵrī, 2nd ed., p. 153), and in the Samanid and Ghaznavid kingdoms (Bosworth, Ghaznavids, p. 137). In the Il-khanid period craftsmen and artisans were brought under state control and mobilized for the benefit of the Mongols. Royal workshops for the manufacture of textiles and arms were established. Money was allocated to the crafts concerned with the manufacture of arms and an overseer (amīn) appointed over each (cf. Lambton, 1988, pp. 343ff.). Ebn Baṭṭūṭa (tr. Gibb, II, p. 295), who passed through Isfahan in the reign of Abū Saʿīd (717-36/1317-35), states that each handicraft in Isfahan used to select one of their number as headman (kolū).
By the 11th/17th century, and perhaps earlier, the guilds appear to have had some sort of professional basis. It is probable that the transition from free associations to professional guilds was encouraged by the government, which treated the crafts as units for tax purposes, as it treated villages (see above), and their leaders, whether imposed or not, as organs for the transmission of government orders, the collection and payment of taxes, and the settlement of minor disputes between members of the craft. The guilds were not thus simply professional organizations but also links between the government and the urban population and instruments of control (see above, on taxation). At the same time they retained some traditions of the earlier free associations, particularly those related to social and charitable functions. In Qajar times the guilds, though still largely under government control, apparently exercised some freedom in their internal affairs, which were in the hands of guild chiefs (kadḵodā, raʾīs, -bāšī) and elders (rīš-safīd).
Popular groups. In addition to craft guilds and factions, there were various other groupings among the ʿāmma. In the early centuries the ʿayyārān (see ʿayyār), popular associations linked to the fotowwa movements, darvish orders, and the people of the bāzār, were active. Although they were perhaps originally formed to embody the idea of justice in an unjust world, to preserve the honor of the quarter (or the city), and to protect the weak, they tended to degenerate into mobs of hooligans, and the term ʿayyār came also to be used as a synonym for robbers and seditious persons. The lūṭīs and dāšes were the 13th/19th-century descendants of the ʿayyārān; they, too, tended to degenerate into bands of hooligans (awbāš, ajāmera). The lūṭīs were often connected with the zūr-ḵānas, institutions in which a certain type of wrestling and gymnastic exercise were practiced, through the pahlavāns, or champion wrestlers. These associations of lūṭīs were distinct from those of acrobats, buffoons, and dancers, who were also called lūṭīs (cf. Floor, 1971b).
The largest component of the urban ʿāmma consisted of manual laborers, about whose lives and conditions almost nothing is known. Peasants living in the towns and suburbs and cultivating land between the inner and the outer walls and immediately outside the city were another component. There was also widespread part-time employment of rural labor in the towns. The sources provide information about the aʿyān, who controlled the cities’ wealth and exercised power locally, but few authors describe the concerns of the common people. In the absence of records it is difficult to see them as they saw themselves. Popular protests are seldom described in detail, and only occasionally is it possible to glimpse in the grievances expressed and the demands put forward perceptions of a social reality different from those of the aʿyān.
See also class system.
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(Ann K. S. Lambton)
Originally Published: December 15, 1991
Last Updated: October 21, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. V, Fasc. 6, pp. 607-623