A jagir (Devanagari: जागीर, Persian: جاگیر, ja- meaning "place", -gir meaning "keeping, holding") was a type of feudal land grant in South Asia bestowed by a monarch to a feudal superior in recognition of his administrative and/or military service. The word jagir is a distorted form of the more formal Sanskrit term jehagiri.
A jagir was technically a feudal life estate, as the grant lawfully reverted to the monarch upon the feudal superior's death. However, in practice, jagirs became hereditary by primogeniture. The recipient of the jagir (termed a jagirdar) was the de facto ruler of the territory and was able to earn income from tax revenues and had magisterial authority . The jagirdar would typically reside at the capital to serve as a Minister, typically appearing twice a day before the monarch.
This feudal system of land ownership is referred to as the jagirdar system. It was first established in the 13th century by the Sultans of Delhi, was later adopted by the Maratha Empire in the early 17th century, and continued under the British East India Company. Shortly following independence from the British Crown in 1947, the jagirdar system was abolished by the Indian government in 1951.
The grants were of several kinds and were known under different expressions, including:
- Jagir, an area of neighboring towns or villages with an administrative Paigah (depending on the extent of the estate, equivalent to a European county or duchy with an administrative seat)
- Samasthan, Sanskrit equivalent for a Persian jagir
- Agrahar, equivalent to a European town or village
- Umli, equivalent to a European town or village
- Mukasa, equivalent to a European town or village
- Inam, portion of a town or village
- Maktha, portion of a town or village
- Staff (2000). Merriam-Webster's collegiate encyclopedia. Merriam-Webster. p. 834. ISBN 0-87779-017-5.
- Singh, Kumar Suresh; Lal, Rajendra Behari (2003). Gujarat, Part 3. People of India, Kumar Suresh Singh Gujarat, Anthropological Survey of India 22. Popular Prakashan. p. 1350. ISBN 81-7991-106-3.
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