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Was the title of pasha often bestowed or used in the Indian subcontinent before, say, 1914? If so, which authority bestowed these titles? Are there any well-known examples of pre-1914 pashas?


The title of pasha was of course primarily an Ottoman Turkish innovation. What is less well-known, but common knowledge nevertheless, is that the title continued to be bestowed in the Kingdom of Egypt even after the Ottoman Empire collapsed. I used to believe that paşalar were created only by these two states - until I made a recent discovery.

It seems like Pasha is actually a fairly common surname in Pakistan and Iran, the Pakistani general Ahmad Shuja Pasha being a prominent example. Is there a connection - other than the sound of the word - between these pashas and those created by the Ottoman sultans? If so, how? The etymology of paşa is unclear: some suggest a corruption of the Persian padishah, while others suggest a variety of purely Turkish origins; in either case, it's not really a Persian word, and certainly not a title coined in the Indian subcontinent. The Ottoman Empire never extended to Iran or Pakistan, so why would an Ottoman title crop up here?

I'm aware that the title bey, widely used in the Ottoman Empire, is used in the subcontinent to this day. But this dual occurrence makes more sense to me than that of pasha. Bey is older, and is firmly rooted in the Iranian-Central Asian heritage which the Ottomans and Mughals shared; the same cannot be said of pasha.

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    I've been looking into this, and haven't found any connections. Also, Indonesian pasha's were all bestowed in Istanbul, e.g. Sentot Ali Pasha and this guy though information is lacking overall. Meanwhile, my Iranian history of Nader Shah only mentions pashas wrt Ottomans (possible route of title migration) while...
    – gktscrk
    Jun 25 '20 at 12:59
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    ...this book notes the title only once and again for an Ottoman. Pity the WP link for the surname origin is so poor. Overall, I didn't uncover anything else that would be relevant.
    – gktscrk
    Jun 25 '20 at 12:59

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