Kerman has never been quite the same since 1794, when a triumphant Agha Mohammed Khan, first ruler of the Qajar dynasty, extracted a bucketful of eyes to punish the city for sheltering the last of the Zand shahs.

The never-forgotten lesson of that siege is offered as one explantion of why the 150,000 inhabitants of the country's 15th largest city survived Iran's year of strife, violence and hatred with a minimum of casualties and a maximum of tolerance and cooperation.

Or it may just have been that this southern Iranian city with an easygoing reputation was too far removed from the center of things to awaken from its profound provincial slumber and take part in the revolution.

In any case, proof of the city's leisurely approach to the triumphant revolution abounds:

The hated secret policemen of SAVAK, hunted down and often assassinated elsewhere, here first turned their headquarters into a fake hospital, then were able to make good their escape with little indication of any opposition.

The shah's governor general here, Ahmad Ahmadi, was allowed to go free by the Revolutionary Committee because, in the words of one Kermani, "No one was against him."

Even the commanding general of the local garrison has been spared the humiliation -- and possible danger -- of being transferred to Tehran, where a dozen of his counterparts have been executed and many more incarcerated by the revolution.

Hadjattollah Mohammed Javad Hojati Kermani, a frail, 46-year-old Moslem cleric who runs the still powerful Revolutionary Committee here, explained, "I was more concerned with the results of the revolution and achieving them without killing. My idea was to do it with demonstrations, not attacks."

He admitted "contact with the people in the [previous] government," but huffily brushed aside suggestions of cooperation with the Army and governor.

Hamid Bahrami, 36, the revolution's choice as new governor general, reluctantly conceded Kerman may have lacked revolutionary fervor.

In an aside showing the marks of a born politician, he said Kermanis might be a bit "politically backward," adding "The revolution started at different times in different parts of the country. Here it started when it achieved its goals elsewhere."

Sleeping through the revolution had its benefits. With the year showing no more than 10 dead -- and three incidents involving attacks on mosques and a fourth in which a police colonel was wounded -- Kerman has few martyrs to invoke or forget.

Mathematics professor Mohammed Reza Bannazadeh, a Kojack-bald North Carolina State graduate now teaching at the university here, remarked:

"Tehran is an important place. Here there was no reason to make martyrs. If 200 were killed it would not have helped one way or the other. It would not have made any difference."

The merchants in the bazaar, whose counterparts in Tehran shut down for four months to back the revolution, limited their protest to closing on Mondays, as well as the traditional Moslem Friday holiday.

Islamic revolutionaries waited until the very last day to smash the local liquor shops -- and only after Kermanis were allowed to steal most of the wares.

Even the mosque seems moderate here. A special ceremony, marking the 12th anniversary of the death of the late nationalist prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh, was well attended. But many of the participants talked in small groups or read newspapers while the mullah harangued them.

Not all Kermanis are happy with the lack of zeal.

A young woman studying English at the university complained that "if the shah had wanted to come here for a holiday he could have."

Kerman, she said, is "not interesting. When there was killing elsewhere, our city was quiet. We wanted to fight like other Iranians. Here they do not like to fight."

"Yes," the math professor said, "we Kermanis got the revolution for free, but we will have to deliver in its next stage."

Many sober-sided Kermanis are quite content that theirs is one of the rare cities where the municipal police are armed and actually working in the streets.

But they realize that Kerman's economy -- like that of the rest of the country -- is in dire straits and they worry about the possible political repercussions.

An elder middle-class Kermani said:

"They tell us the dreadful things the old regime did. We know all that. What they don't tell is what they are going to offer instead.

"What I'm afraid of in the end is the left. These mullahs are so sure of themselves and so confident, but I'm awfully afraid they will be swept away."