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.
EtymologyThe 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.
CouncilThe 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.
TitleDuring 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 titlesDiwan Deo was the hereditary title borne by the Chief Minister of Cooch, held by a junior branch of the ruling Narayan dynasty
Abstract useThe term Diwani is sometimes used to refer to British sovereignty or suzerainty over India, either just before or during the British Raj.
French IndiaIn French India, one of its colonies Yanaon has Zamindar and Diwan. They much active in its local and municipal administration during french reign. The Zamindar of Yanam was given a 4 gun salute by the French counterparts.
Sources and references(incomplete)
dewan in Swedish: Divan (titel)