The originally Persian title of dewan (also quite commonly known as Diwan; also spelled -van) has, at various points in Islamic history, designated a government official.
The word is Persian in origin, and was loaned into Arabic. The original meaning was "bundle (of written sheets)", hence "book", especially "book of accounts," and hence "office of accounts," "custom house," "council chamber". The meaning divan "long, cushioned seat" is due to such seats having been found along the walls in Middle Eastern council chambers.
The divan of the Sublime Porte was the council or Cabinet of the state. In the Ottoman Empire, it consisted of the usually (except in the Sultan's presence) presiding Grand Vizier and other viziers, and occasionally the Janissary Ağa.
In Javanese and related languages, the cognate Dewan is the standard word for council, as in the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat or (Indonesia's Council of People's Representatives) and Dewan Negara (Senate of Malaysia).
Later, when most vassal states gained various degrees of self-determination, the finance — and/or chief minister and leader of many princely states (especially Muslim, but also many Hindu, including Baroda, Hyderabad, kot Fateh khan state, Mysore, Kochi, Travancore — referred as Dalawa until 1811) became known as a dewan.
Exceptionally, a ruler was himself titled Dewan or Nawab notably
- in Jaso (Jassu) and in Bandhora (which was split from it circa 1750)
- in Khilchipur till 1873, then Rai Bahadur
- in Attock, where Gheba Khan, having married the foster sister of Mughal Emperor Akbar and was granted the hereditary title of Diwan in 1551 for his services in command of the force that took Attock from the Afghans, till the dynasty was promoted in 1910 to the rank of Nawab, with the full style Zubdat ul-Mulk Diwan Mahakhan, Sardar ul-Mulk and latter Nawab of kot
- in Junagadh, where Shah Nawaz Bhutto was the prime-minister of the former princley state.
Nowadays, the title is used amongst certain upper-middle-class families in the South Asia; several landlords in villages and provinces across the subcontinent have names prefixed with this title. The title, in its variant form "Dewan", is especially common amongst Muslim land-owners in Bengal and the Punjab.
Derived and compound titles
In French India, one of its colonies, Yanaon, had Zamindar and Diwan. They were active in its local and municipal administration during French rule. The Zamindar of Yanam was given a 4 gun salute by French counterparts.
- Zamindar — Manion Canacaya
- Diwan — Bouloussou Soubramaniam Sastroulou
- Sovereignty — French Colonial Empire
Sources and references
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- RoyalArk- see each princely state mentioned above
- WorldStatesmen- India