DEWAUN, s. The chief meanings of this word in Anglo-Indian usage are:
(1) Under the Mahommedan
Governments which preceded us, the head financial minister, whether of the state or a province
in the latter, with the collection of the revenue, the remittance of it to the imperial treasury, and invested
with extensive judicial powers in all civil and financial causes (Wilson). It was in this sense that the
grant of the Dewauny (q.v.) to the E. I. Company in 1765 became the foundation of the British Empire
in India. (2) The prime minister of a native State. (3) The chief native officer of certain Government
establishments, such as the Mint; or the native manager of a Zemindary. (4) (In Bengal) a native servant
in confidential charge of the dealings of a house of business with natives, or of the affairs of a large
domestic establishment. These meanings are perhaps all reducible to one conception, of which Steward
would be an appropriate expression. But the word has had many other ramifications of meaning,
and has travelled far.
The Arabian diwan is, according to Lane, an diwin Arabicized word of Persian
origin (though some hold it for pure Arabic), and is in original meaning nearly equivalent to Persian daftar
(see DUFTER), i.e. a collection of written leaves or sheets (forming a book for registration); hence a
register of accounts; a register of soldiers or pensioners; a register of the rights or dues of the State, or
relating to the acts of government, the finances and the administration; also any book, and especially a
collection of the poems of some particular poet. It was also applied to signify an account; then a writer
of accounts; a place of such writers of accounts; also a council, court, or tribunal; and in the present
day, a long seat formed of a mattress laid along the wall of a room, with cushions, raised or on the
floor; or two or more of such seats. Thus far (in this paragraph) we abstract from Lane.
historian Biladuri (c. 860) relates as to the first introduction of the diwan that,
when Omar was discussing
with the people how to divide the enormous wealth derived from the conquests in his time, Walid bin Hisham bin Moghaira said to the caliph, I have been in Syria, and saw that its kings make a diwan; do
thou the like. So Omar accepted his advice, and sent for two men of the Persian tongue, and said to
them: Write down the people according to their rank (and corresponding pensions).1
We must observe
that in the Mahommedan States of the Mediterranean the word diwan became especially applied to
the Custom-house, and thus passed into the Romance languages as aduana, douane, dogana, &c.
Littré indeed avoids any decision as to the etymology of douane, &c. And Hyde (Note on Abr. Peritsol,
in Syntagma Dissertt. i. 101) derives dogana from docân (i.e. P. dukan, officina, a shop). But such
passages as that below from Ibn Jubair, and the fact that, in the medieval Florentine treaties with the
Mahommedan powers of Barbary and Egypt, the word diwan in the Arabic texts constantly represents
the dogana of the Italian, seem sufficient to settle the question (see Amari, Diplomi Arabi del Real
Archivio, &c.; e.g. p. 104, and (Latin) p. 305, and in many other places).2 The Spanish Dict. of Cobarruvias
(1611) quotes Urrea as saying that from the Arabic noun Diuanum, which signifies the house where
the duties are collected, we form diuana, and thence adiuana, and lastly aduana.
At a later date the
word was reimported into Europe in the sense of a hall furnished with Turkish couches and cushions,
as well as of a couch of this kind. Hence we get cigar-divans, et hoc genus omne. The application
to certain collections of poems is noticed above. It seems to be especially applied to assemblages of
short poems of homogeneous character. Thus the Odes of Horace, the Sonnets of Petrarch, the In
Memoriam of Tennyson, answer to the character of Diwan so used. Hence also Goethe took the title of
his West-Östliche Diwan.
c. A. D. 636.
in the Caliphate of Omar the spoil of Syria and Persia began in ever-increasing volume
to pour into the treasury of Medina, where it was distributed almost as soon as received. What was
easy in small beginnings by equal sharing or discretionary preference, became now a heavy task
length, in the 2nd or 3rd year of his Caliphate, Omar determined that the distribution should be regulated
on a fixed and systematic scale
. To carry out this vast design, a Register had to be drawn and kept
up of every man, woman, and child, entitled to a stipend from the State
. The Register itself, as well
as the office for its maintenance and for pensionary account, was called the Dewân or Department of
the Exchequer.Muirs Annals, &c., pp. 2259.
As Minister, &c. [1610.We propose to send you the
copy hereof by the old scrivano of the Aduano.Danvers, Letters, i. 51.
[1616.Sheak Isuph Dyvon
of Amadavaz.Foster, Letters, iv. 311.]
1690.Fearing miscarriage of ye Originall ffarcuttee [farigh-
khatti, Ar. a deed of release, variously corrupted in Indian technical use] we have herewith Sent you
a Coppy Attested by Hugly Cazee, hoping ye Duan may be Sattisfied therewith.MS. Letter in India