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lit. “keeper, bearer of [the royal] inkwell or inkstand”; title of various officials in medieval Islamic states.

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Volume VII, Fascicle 2, pp. 136

DAWĀ(T)DĀR (lit., “keeper, bearer of [the royal] inkwell or inkstand”), title of various officials in medieval Islamic states.

At an early stage in the development of the vizierate under the ʿAbbasid caliphs the vizier bore an inkstand (dawāt) as emblem of his office; it was usually suspended from the wrist on a chain and carried in a sleeve or, in a slimmer version (dawāt laṭīfa), in his boot (Helāl Ṣābeʾ, pp. 66-68; tr. pp. 55-56; cf. Mez,pp. 91-92). The dawāt-e wezārat was still one of the insignia of the viziers of the Saljuq sultan of Anatolia (Ebn Bībī, apudUzunçarşılı, pp. 96, 98-99).

From the ʿAbbasids the emblem and associated functions must have passed to the provincial successor dynasties of the Iranian world, though the process is barely documented. Sīmjūr, the prominent Turkish slave commander of the Samanid Esmāʿīl b. Aḥmad (279-95/892-907), is designated in the sources dawātī (Gardīzī,ed. Ḥabībī, p. 149: davītdār/divītdār), probably because of some civil function that he exercised as a tax collector in the Herat region (Merçil, p. 73). In the Ghaznavid administration one of the responsibilities of the dawātdār, an official of the Dīvān-e wezārat, seems to have been keeping records of important official documents (Nāẓim, p. 131).

Under the Great Saljuqs the dawātdār was at first a civilian official, but, as with many household and some nominally administrative posts (e.g., custodianship of the royal wardrobe, the washing bowls, etc.), it tended to fall into the hands of the Turkish military. Hence Żīāʾ-al-Dīn Qara Arslān is mentioned as amīr-e dawāt for the Saljuq sultan ʿEzz-al-Dīn Keykāvūs I (607-16/1210-19; Ebn Bībī, apud Uzunçarşılı, p. 91). When the office was developed to its full extent under the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, the dawādār was invariably a Turkish and later a Circassian mamlūk and one of the principal commanders of the state, functioning, inter alia, as master of ceremonies at court(Maqrīzī, I/1, p. 118; Ebn Ḵaldūn, II, pp. 12, 24; tr., II, pp. 15-16, 28).

The title was continued under the Ottomans; in Safavid Persia, however, the dawātdārs were officials of only moderate rank and emoluments. According to Taḏkerat al-molūk (tr. Minorsky, pp. 63, 89, 133), there were both a dawātdār-e mohr-e angoštar (or dawātdār-e aḥkām) and a dawātdār-e arqām, whose duties included affixing seals to official documents.


Ḥ. Anwārī, Eṣṭelāḥāt-e dīvānī-e dawra-ye ḡaznavī wa saljūqī, Tehran, 2535=1355 Š./1976, pp. 37-38.

D. Ayalon, “Dawādār,” in EI2 II, p. 172.

W. Björkman, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Staatskanzlei im islamischen Ägypten, Hamburg, 1928, index, s.v. dawādār. Ebn Ḵaldūn, Moqaddema, ed. E. Quatremère, Paris, 1858; tr. F. Rosenthal as The Muqaddimah. An Introduction to History, 3 vols., New York, 1958.

Helāl Ṣābeʾ, Rosūm dār al-ḵelāfa, ed. M. ʿAwwād, Baghdad, 1383/1964; tr. E. A. Salem as The Rules and Regulations of the ʿAbbāsid Court, Beirut, 1977.

Maqrīzī, al-Solūk le-maʿrefat al-molūk, ed. E. Quatremère as Histoire des Sultans Mamlouks de l’Egypte, 2 vols., Paris, 1837-45.

E. Merçil, “Sîmcûrîler. I. Sîmcûr ed-Devâtî,” Tarih Dergisi 32, 1979, pp. 71-88.

A. Mez, The Renaissance of Islam, tr. S. Khuda Bukhsh, Patna, 1937.

M. Nāẓim, The Life and Times of Sulṭan Maḥmūd of Ghazna, Cambridge, 1931.

İ. H. Uzunçarşılı, Osmanlı devleti teşkilâtına medhal, Istanbul, 1941, p. 49 and index, s.v. Devâdar.

Cite this page
C. Edmund Bosworth, “DAWĀ(T)DĀR”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 22 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_8177>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 19941215

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