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Caste system in Iran

"Around the king, the social order stratified into rigid classes. First came the clergy, incorporating priests, judges, temple guardians, teachers and ascetics; second, the military; third, the scribes, including the writers of official communications and chronicles as well as physicians, astronomers, oets, and accountants; and fourth, the artisans, embracing farmers, herdsmen, merchants, and skilled craftsmen. A writer of the period likened the social system to a man. The priests were the head; the warriors the hands; the agriculturists the stomach and the artisans the feet. And each class represented an aspect of man's character. the first the virtue; the second, manliness; the third, steadfastness; and the fourth, diligence. Between these classes, privileges on one side and interdiction on the other built almost insurmountable barriers. The position of the priests and the aristocratic landholders was hereditary. Neither class was allowed to intermarry with then lower classes, who in turn were forbidden to acquire property. Basically, society cleaved between the few highly privileged and the rest. It was the beginning of the social-political oppression that would mould the Iranian culture and political behavior for centuries. Still existing in a modified form populated by different families at the time of Muhammad Reza Shah, the call to level this hierarchical system was one of the most forceful elements in the Iranian revolution on1979."

"The Iranians" by Sandra McKey, Penguin Group, 1996, pp. 34 - 35