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We'd like to thank Adolph Koeppel for giving us permission to reproduce this glossary from The Court Fee and Revenue Stamps of the Princely States of India: Volume 1, the Adhesives (1983). Koeppel, Raymond Manners and their assistants spent a great deal of time preparing a glossary of Indian States terms, and we're greatful for the opportunity to use their list as a starting point. We will extend this list and add useful features, such as pronunciation keys and translations in Hindi and Urdu.

The terms in this glossary are associated with the judicial system, postal and fiscal administration, royalty, caste, weights and measures, trade, geography, etc. and are commonly encountered in philatelic studies. Many of these words had their place in princely India but are no longer in common use. If you find any terms in this list to be in error, or you know of additional terms that should be listed, please drop us a message at glossary@princelystates.com.

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Abkari Excise duties on liquors and drugs.
Adadi Land settlement.
Adalat Diwani Civil Court.
Adhipati King, ruler.
Agni Fire, fire god.
Amani Collection of revenue directly by government servants.
Amil Contract revenue collector. Also known as Nazim, Chaklader, and Mustajir.
Amir Title of an independent ruler of a Moslem state, a nobleman.
Amiran-i-sadak Officer with jurisdiction over a hundred revenue officials.
Anna Coin, one sixteenth of a rupee.


Badmash Bad character, ruffian.
Bajra Type of millet.
Bakshi Paymaster, treasurer.
Balahar Village sweeper who originally served as watchman.
Band (Bund, Bundh) Earthern dam or wall.
Bania Subdivision of the Vaish caste; trader, shopkeeper.
Bankar Profit derived from the produce of the forest.
Barhais Carpenters.
Batai Division of crop between zammdar and the cultivator.
Batta Allowance for soldiers or public servants on active duty.
Bazaar A street lined with shops.
Begam (Begum) Lady of rank (Moslem).
Begar Forced or "slave" labor.
Berra, Bejhar Mixed grains.
Betal Green chewing leaf.
Bhaiyachara Form of joint land holding in which members hold land by equal division. Each member held parts of good and bad land, the division being such that the value of each shareholding was equal.
Bhang Indian hemp, a narcotic.
Bhisti Water carrier.
Bhum A class of tenure in Rajputana.
Bhumiat Land held on the bhum tenure.
Bhumiyan Local chief.
Bhunga Individual residence (Gujarat).
Bigha Land measurement. Western Provinces: 3025 square yards or 5/8 acre.> Bengal: 1600 square yards or 1/3 acre. Mewar: 4/7 acre.
Bustees Hamlets.


Cadjan Palm leaves.
Camvisdar Subordinate native revenue officer.
Cantonment Military station.
Carcoon Servant.
Chadar Cloth worn over head and shoulders; sheet.
Chakrana Lands granted to Rajputs and officials for work performed which are held on the usual tenure of service and tribute.
Chaks Land holding.
Chapati Flat cake of unleavened bread.
Chaprasi Servant, who conveys official messages.
Chaudhri A subordinate revenue official.
Chauk, Chowk Central market.
Chaukidar, Chowkidar Village or night watchman.
Chaupal Public meeting place.
Chauth One fourth part of land revenue exacted by the Marathas from subject or semi-subject territories.
Chela Messenger, assistant, disciple, pupil.
Cher Attendant.
Chhang Country liquor.
Chhani or Bhunda Summer residences.
Chhatund quit rent.
Chowar Unit of area, approximately 120 acres.
Chowri Municipal hall in a village.
Coss Measure of distance, equal to 1.7 miles.
Cowl Contract or engagement.
Crore Ten million rupees or one hundred lakhs.
Cusbah Substantial village or township.
Cutcherry Court house, office.


Dacoit A thief or robber.
Dafter Office or secretariat.
Daftardar Ranking native officer in a district office.
Dahdiji Grandmother.
Dak Mails, post.
Dal Pulse (a grain).
Dargah Moslem shrine or tomb of a saint.
Darogha Police officer at the royal palace.
Darshan Audience; interview.
Darzis Tailors.
Dastkhat Signature, passport.
Deoghar Deity room.
Des Musahib Important minister of the state who controlled the revenue and police departments.
Dharmada Lands which are granted to Brahmans, temples. Charans or Bhats. These are held rent free, but neither these nor Chakrana lands can be sold or mortgaged.
Dhingia A copper piece, 16 to the anna.
Dhobi Washerman.
Dhoti Loin cloth or lower garment worn mostly by men.
Diwan Royal court; chief revenue officer of the province; chief minister.
Diwani Civil court.
Diwani-i-am Hall of public audience.
Diwani-i-khas Hall of private audience.
Doab Land between two rivers, (especially between the Ganges and the Jumna).
Durbar Audience chamber, reception, royal court; state government.



Fakir Religious mendicant (Moslem).
Farman or Firman Edict or grant.
Faujdar First-class magistrate.
Faujdari Criminal court.
Faujdari Adalat Court of the chief magistrate.
Fauj Musahib Minister in charge of the army department.


Gaddi Throne.
Gaekwar, Gaekwad Ruling family of Baroda state.
Gair Bapidar Tenant at will.
Galla-Mandi Grain market.
Ganja Hashish.
Gaura Herdsmen.
Gaz Standard of measurement (introduced by British) 1 yard.
Ghanis Oil presses.
Ghar House.
Gharet Water mill.
Ghat Bathing place; mountain range.
Ghazi Devoted; one who has taken a vow to fight infidels (Moslem).
Ghee Clarified butter.
Goalas Milkmen.
Godown Warehouse, storage shed.
Goind Fertile land near settlements.
Gojai Wheat and barley mixed.
Gompa Person who owns most of village land.
Gosain, Goswami A Hindu devotee.
Gram Pulse or grain, a kind of pea, also used as horse fodder; also, a village.
Gumashta Agent.
Guru Religious teacher.


Hackeny Bullock cart.
Hakim Chief local officer; physician of native medicines.
Hanjis Boatsmen (Kashmir).
Harem Secluded women's quarters of a house; women of a family.
Harijan Beloved of God; name given by Gandhi to the depressed class; untouchables.
Hartal Closing of business establishment as a protest.
Hat Moveable market or market held only on certain days of the week.
Havaldar Holder of a charge; commander of a fort (Maratha); in the Indian army, a sergeant. Police rank, between inspector and constable.
Haveli Fortress-type residence.
Holkar Ruling family of Indore state.
Huggar Measurement of length.
Hun Equivalent to 3 rupees.
Hundies Bills of exchange.
Huzoor Cutcherry (literally, principal office) A term which refers to the office of a district or settlement officer.


Ilaka Territory; a subdivision.
Inam Rent-free grant for services rendered.
Inamdar Holder of a rent-free land grant.
Istmrari The right to pay a fixed amount of revenue, generally during the life of the grantee.
Ittila Nama Letter of warning.


Jaggery Unrefined sugar.
Jajir Assignment of land or of land revenue held by a-Jagirdar.
Jama Land revenue.
Jamabandi Statement of amount paid by raiyats to intermediaries in a village or the village rent rolls.
Jamadar Senior orderly.
Jarib Chain or rope for measurement of land, 60 gaz in length.
Jathas Group of families.
Jats General term for the people of Northwest India.
Jemadar Indian officer, equivalent to lieutenant.
Jharoka Window.
Jhils Lakes; marshlands.
Jihad Holy war against infidels by Moslems.
Jirak Official.
Jivak Land grant to the younger son of a chief or Thakur.
Jiziya Tax imposed on non-Muslems.
Jowar Maize.


Kafila A roving group of traders and their merchandise.
Kalima Declaration of faith, creed (Moslem).
Kamasdar A subordinate revenue official, under Maratha rule.
Kamdar A princely state administrative officer.
Kanungo Land record keeper.
Karkhana Factory.
Karma Fate; predestined lot.
Karoris Collectors of revenue.
Katar Dagger.
Kathia Variety of wheat.
Katil Land on forest margins.
Katra Market.
Kazi Moslem judge administrating Islamic law.
Kefeyut Memorandum.
Kel Milestone mark.
Khalsa In this type of tenure, the land is owned by the state and is generally leased on the ryotwar system there being few intermediate zammdars. The lessees can neither sell nor mortage, but they are never, without legal cause, deprived of their holdings, which usually descend from father to son.
Khan Moslem ruler of a small Indian state.
Karbhari A manager.
Kharif Autumn crop.
Kharita Special letter addressed by the head of one state to another.
Khas Collection of revenue by subordinate revenue servants from individual raiyat.
Khasra Fieldbook, result of survey showing fields and raiyats' possession and their relation to the zammdars.
Khas Ruqua Special communication addressed by the ruler to a subordinate official.
Khassadars Local levies.
Khatika Laborer.
Kher Thatch grass.
Kisan Cultivator or tenant farmer.
Kos Variable measure of distance, usually estimated at two miles.
Kotwal Chief of police.
Kotwali Police station.
Koyas Traditional land class.
Krishak Peasant.
Kshatriya Warrior caste; Rajputs.
Kukri Curved knife, used by Ghurkhas.
Kulkarni Record keeper; the village accountant (Maratha).
Kumhars Potters.
Kund Tank.


Lakh Hundred thousand (rupees).
Lakhbaksh Giver of lakhs; generous.
Lambardar Village headman or Mukaddam representing the sharers in a Zamindanvillage.
Lascar Originally a gunner, later a sailor.
Loo Hot winds.
Lungi Lower garment worn by men.


Mahajans Native bankers.
Mahakma Khas Final appellate authority.
Mahal House, palace; a village for which a separate agreement is taken for the payment of land revenue; a department of revenue.
Mahapatha Highways.
Mahar A caste of untouchables which provides watchmen in the villages.
Maharajah Hindu ruler of an Indian state (also Maharana', Maharao; Maharawal).
Maharani Hindu woman ruler; or wife of a maharajah.
Mahout Elephant driver or keeper.
Maidan An open space of level ground.
Majghar Central room.
Malguzar Person who pays revenue for himself or on behalf of others to the government or to a "proprietor."
Malguzari Revenue.
Mali Gardener.
Malikana The allowance from land revenue taken by the land owner.
Mamlatdar, tasildar Revenue officer who was in charge of a taluka under the Marathas; a native officer responsible for the collection of tax in a taluka under the British government.
Mandalas Divisions.
Mantra Sacred Sanskrit text used as an incantation.
Maratha Warlike Hindu race; gave their name to Maharashtra.
Marumakhatayam A female succession.
Maund Measure of weight, about 82.3 pounds.
Maurusi Cultivating proprietary right in land.
Mauzawar Term which refers to a village or a revenue estate.
Meeras Form of tenure which confers "proprietary" rights upon a cultivator.
Meerasdar Cultivator who holds land on the me eras tenure.
Mir Leader, used especially for the chiefs of Sind.
Mistree Generic term for an artisan.
Miechchas Foreigners or infidels from Hindu point of view.
Mohalla Section or ward of a town.
Mohtarfa Tax levied on professions, trades, and sometimes on houses.
Mohur Gold coin, worth about 16 rupees in the mid-nineteenth century.
Muafi Rent-free land granted to relations, favorites, or religious institutions, usually in perpetuity.
Mufassal, mofussil Interior or countryside; a subordinate or separate district.
Muhtasib Public censor of morals.
Mukarraridar An individual granted the right to collect revenue of a tract of land and to pay a fixed sum to the state. It was generally a life tenure.
Mukhtar Prime minister of the state, who enjoys certain special customary distinctions during the minority of the ruler.
Mulla Moslem religious leader.
Munga Golden-color silk.
Munjrik Cultivators.
Munsif Small cause judge or court.
Mutsadi Official in the revenue department.


Naib Deputy.
Naik Indian noncommissioned officer.
Nais Barber.
Nambal Peat.
Nautch Dance.
Nawab Moslem ruler of an Indian state.
Nazar Gift.
Nazarana Fee payable by land holders on the succession of a new ruler.
Nazim Chief officer empowered to decide criminal cases.
Nazir Court official.
Nizamat Large estate or district.


Osari Front verandah.


Padishah Emperor.
Pagoda Small gold coin valued at about 7 shillings.
Pagri Cloth headdress wound around the head, a turban.
Paisa Coin, 1/4 anna (now 1/100 rupee).
Pal Village.
Palanquin or Paiki A litter.
Pan Betel leaves.
Panchayat Village committee or meeting.
Pandit Teacher; learned man; title of Brahmans.
Pargannah Subdivision of a zillah (district) for administrative and revenue purposes.
Parwana Permit.
Patel Village headman (Maratha).
Patta Lease.
Patti Land division or area generally located in the hills.
Pattidari A form of joint landholding in which the sharers hold land according to their ancestral shares.
Patwari Village accountant and record keeper.
Patwas Weavers.
Phadnavis Controller of accounts (Maratha).
Phalkar Profits derived from the produce of orchards.
Pice, Paisa Bronze coin of small value; generic term for money.
Pie Coin, 1/12 anna.
Pleader Lawyer or advocate licensed to particular courts.
Pul Bridge.
Pur, Pura or Purwa Hamlet.
Purdah Practice of keeping women in seclusion.
Puttah Title deed.
Prant An administrative subdivision.



Rabi Spring crop.
Rai-bandi Document or schedule showing the rates at which different descriptions of land are assessed in a particular district.
Raj Kingdom; royal authority.
Raja Title given to Hindus of rank, or by heredity when descended from a prince.
Rajmata Mother of a Hindu ruler of a state.
Rajput Hindu soldier caste claiming descent from the Kshatriyas.
Ramzan, Ramadan The ninth month of the Moslem calendar kept as a fast between dawn and dark.
Rani Queen or princess (Hindu).
Rao Title of distinction conferred by the ruler on one of his nobles (Rajput).
Rawal Title of distinction, as Rao.
Regars Tanners.
Rekh Gross rental value of an estate.
Risaldar Officer of cavalry; troop commander.
Rijav Term which refers to the traditional rates of assessment; literally: custom.
Raiyat, Ryot, Ryat A peasant.
Ryotwari Form of land tenure in which the peasant pays his land tax directly to the state.
Rupee Basic monetary unit, 16 annas, now 100 paise.


Sabha Association; assembly; conference.
Sabzimandi Vegetable market.
Sadar Adalat Principal court.
Sadr amin Headquarters magistrate.
Sal Useful timber tree in North India.
Salim Shahi A silver coin current in western Rajputana.
Samvat, sambat Year according to Vikrama era.
Sanad, sunnud Title deed, letters patent, charter, formal agreement.
Sanyasi Hindu religious mendicant.
Sarai Rest house.
Sardesmukhi One-tenth share of the land revenue levied by the Marathas in subject territory.
Sarf-i-khas Personal lands or wealth of the ruler (Hyderabad).
Sarkar Government or ruling power.
Sasam Land granted in charity; cannot be sold.
Sati, suttee Custom by which a Hindu widow immolated herself on her husband's funeral pyre.
Satyagrahi Vow to maintain truth, a form of nonviolent political strike.
Sawar, sowar Horseman; cavalry soldier.
Sayer Internal or transit duties on goods.
Seer Measure of weight, between 2 and 2-1/2 pounds.
Sepoy Private infantry soldier.
Shikar Big-game hunting party.
Shikari Hunter.
Shroff Money lender; banker.
Siladar Cavalry troop in which the men supply their own horses and equipment.
Sinhasan Throne supported by lions.
Sipahsalar Provincial governor.
Sirdar Chief; officer.
Sitar A string instrument used in Indian classical music.
Siwai Any tax collection besides land revenue, such as revenue derived from forestry, or fishing.
Suba Province.
Subadar Governor of a province; Indian officer platoon commander.
Swadeshi Of Indian manufacture.
Swaraj Home rule, independence.


Tahsil Subdivision of a district, itself further divided into pargannahs.
Tahsildar Magistrate of a tahsil.
Takavi Advances of money or grain to cultivators in hard times or famine.
Talaiyardi Deputy policeman.
Talbana Fees for service of legal process or summons.
Taluka, taluq Revenue subdivision comprising several villages; an estate.
Talukdar Holder of a taluka.
Tank Water storage pond an artificial lake.
Thagi, Thugs Secret society which engaged in robbery with murder by strangulation with a rumal (handkerchief), afterwards burying their victims.
Thakur Chief; a Rajput landlord (Rajputana).
Thana Police station.
Thanadar Police officer in charge of a ward.
Thikanas Centers of princely states; districts.
Thulwakeeks Cultivators descended from the founding families of a village.
Toda Manual labor.
Toddy Palm liquor.
Tola Measure of weight, less than 1/2 ounce.
Topas Artillerymen.
Tukseem A branch of a family; literally a fraction.
Tulwar Sword.
Tun Valuable timber tree.
Tush Kind of wool.


Uprees Cultivators who possess no prescriptive rights in the land.


Vadi, Vasti Temporary dwellings (Maharashtra).
Vakil Lawyer; agent for court proceedings.
Vadh Cluster of houses in a village (Gujarat).
Vani Village moneylender.
Vedic A type of medical practice peculiar to India. Also: Ayurvedic.


Wali Ruler; governor.
Watan Grant in land or a right in office.
Watandar One who holds a watan.
Wazir Chief minister at a Moslem court.



Yogi Hindu ascetic.
Yuvarajah Heir apparent to a Hindu state.


Zabit Rules for assessment as developed under Akbar. Later, to assess the value of crops for tax purposes.
Zaid Summer crop.
Zaildar Headman of a group of villages (Punjab).
Zamindar One who holds land under the zamindan system of collecting land revenue.
Zat Personal allowance.
Ziladar Third-class magistrate.
Zilla (Zillah) Administrative division of a province; district.

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