Diwan (title)

Diwan (title)

The originally Persian title of "diwan" (also quite commonly known as Dewan; also spelled "-van") has at various points in the Islamic history, designated various differing though similar functions.


The title diwan is derived from the name of a particular sofa-like piece of sitting furniture known as a "divan", which is the common shape of thrones in the Indian subcontinent, either a Hindu "Gadi" or a Muslim "Musnaid".


The word first appears under the Caliphate of Omar I (A.D. 634–644). As the Caliphate state became more complicated, the term was extended over all the government bureaus. 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 Council of People's Representatives.


During the effective rule of the Mughal empire, the "diwan" served as the chief revenue officer of a province.

Later, when most vassal states gained various degrees of self-determination, the finance — and/or chief minister of many princely states (especially Muslim, but also many Hindu, including Baroda, Hyderabad, Mysore, Kochi, Travancore — referred as "Dalawa" until 1811) became known as a "diwan".

Exceptionally, a ruler was himself titled Dewan, notably
*in Jaso (Jassu) and in Bandhora (which was split from it circa 1750)
*in Khilchipur till 1873, then Rao Bahadur
*in Palanpur, where Malik Ghazni Khan II, having married the foster sister of Mughal Emperor Akbar and received Palanpur, Deesa and Dantiwada in dowry, 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 Nawab" (personal name) "Khan, Nawab of Palanpur"

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

Diwan Deo was the hereditary title borne by the Chief Minister of Cooch, held by a junior branch of the ruling Narayan dynasty

Abstract use

The term "Diwani" is sometimes used to refer to British sovereignty or suzerainty over India, either just before or during the British Raj.

French India

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

ources and references

* [http://www.4dw.net/royalark/India/salute.htm RoyalArk- see each princely state mentioned above]
* [http://www.worldstatesmen.org/India_princes_A-J.html WorldStatesmen- India]

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