—The military tribes and the royal guard —Men of the people as great monarchs —Persian sense of humour —Nightingales and poetry —Legendary origin of the royal emblem —Lion and Sun —Ancient Golden Eagle emblem —The Blacksmith’s Apron the royal standard.
The warlike nomads form a most important part of the military strength of Persia, and it has always been the policy of the Sovereign to secure their personal attachment to him as the direct paramount chief of each martial clan. In pursuance of this policy, the royal guard, known as Gholam-i-Shah, or Slaves of the King, which protects and escorts the Shah in camp and quarters, is mainly composed of bodies of horse furnished from the best and most powerful of the military tribes. These come from all quarters of the empire, and are headed and officered by members of the most influential families, so that they may be regarded as hostages for the loyalty and fidelity of the chiefs. All are changed from time to time, and thus a system of short service prevails, to give as many as possible a term of duty with the royal guard.
The term gholam, or slave, has always been given as a title to the personal guards, and everyone who is admitted to the corps claims the envied distinction of Gholam-i-Shah. This guard has a very ancient origin, and service in it is highly prized as giving opportunities of attracting the attention and gaining the favour of the King. The great Sovereign Sabuktagin, who reigned in the tenth century, was said to have risen from the ranks of the royal guard. All the couriers of the foreign legations at Tehran are styled Gholam, and the title is accepted as an honourable one, meaning a mounted servant of courage and trust, who is ready to defend to the death all interests committed to his charge.