July 29, 2012 6 Comments
The export crops passed through Shiraz on their way to the Gulf. Iranian long-distance merchants from Fars developed marketing networks for these commodities, establishing trading houses in Bombay, Calcutta, Port Said, Istanbul and even Hong Kong. The encounter with European colonial institutions, and with local reformist and independence movements, made these Iranian expatriates more cosmopolitan than the majority of their compatriots.
Within Iran, those merchants who proved successful in the opium trade grew fabulously wealthy and politically influential, as did the government officials, such a Qavam al-Mulk, who sponsored it and taxed it. As we shall see below, one of the important Iranian export houses (with an outpost in Hong Kong) was operated by the Afnan clan, Baha’is and relatives of the Bab.