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


The word is Indian/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 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 dewan 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 and leader of many princely states...
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