The mysterious death of a commercial agent and the kārguzār of Mashhad, 1890

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On the night between the 21st and 22nd of April 1890 Gregory Karikoor, known as "Suleiman", was found dead in his home in Mashhad. Suleiman was the commercial agent of one of the most enterprising British firms in Iran, Messers Ziegler & Co., for some twenty years. A few days before his sudden death, the firm had transferred a large sum of money (about 2000 tūmāns, i.e. £46,600 in 2009 retail prices) to him. Not a single shāhī (penny) of this amount was found at his home or office. Rumours spread in Mashhad that Suleiman had been murdered. Ziegler's head office in Tehran was also of the opinion that a serious crime was committed in Mashhad. The firm was anxious to discover what had happened to its agent and to recover the money transferred to him. Against this background the kārguzār of Mashhad opened an inquiry into the Suleiman case. Seven Iranian subjects were summoned to the kārguzār's majlis and were interrogated. A copy of the proceedings of the inquiry, found in the files of the British consulate general in Mashhad deposited in the National Archives of the United Kingdom, give the historian a rare glimpse of the details of how the kārguzār and his court functioned. The nature of the inquiry and the broader historical significance of the process are discussed in this article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-98
Number of pages20
JournalIran and the Caucasus
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2011


  • Karguzar's majlis
  • armenian commercial agents
  • foreign firms
  • mashhad
  • qajar economic policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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