DAFTAR (Mid. Pers. daftar (dptl) “register, account book” < Gk. diphthéra “(prepared) hide, piece of leather, especially as a writing material”), an administrative office, as well as a notebook or booklet, more especially an account book or correspondence register, used in such an office. In Greek sources the term diphthéra was sometimes used to refer to the Persian royal archives (haì basilikaì diphthérai); the keeping of such records had been the custom since the Achaemenid period (cf. Esther 2:23, 6:1,10:2). Ctesias (4th century b.c.e.) claimed to have used them in preparing his work on Persia (cf. Diodorus 2.32.4). In about 100 b.c.e. Chinese traders reported that the people of An-hsi (Parthia) wrote their books on hides (von Gutschmid, p. 65). In the 6th century c.e. the historian Agathias used material from the Sasanian archives supplied to him by his friend Sergius, a leading interpreter who had transcribed and translated excerpts from them on a visit to Persia (Agathias, 2.27.2, 4.30.2-3, 4.30.5). Theophylact Simocatta also mentioned the Persian royal annals.
In the Sasanian administration a daily register of royal decrees was kept, and each month these records were collected in a book and deposited in the archives. Following the Arab conquest daftars, patterned after those of the Sasanians, were adopted by the second caliph, ʿOmar b. Ḵaṭṭāb (13-23/634-44). The terms daftar and dīvān were generally synonymous in the first Islamic centuries (cf. Masʿūdī, Tanbīh p. 264; Ebn Ḵaldūn, I, p. 529; Ebn Ṭeqṭaqā, pp. 112-14; Māwardī, p. 191).
Daftar-dārī (record keeping), an important function of every administrative department, was briefly interrupted by the Mongol invasion in the mid-13th century, until Ṣāḥeb(-e) Dīvān Ḵᵛāja Šams-al-Dīn Jovaynī appointed a daftardār-e dīvān-e mamālek (chief state archivist). The office was enlarged under Ḡāzān Khan (694-703/1295-1304), but after his reign centralized record keeping was discontinued (Naḵjavānī, II, pp. 125-32; cf. Rajabzāda, pp. 201-03).
In the Safavid administration (907-1145/1501-1732) the duties of the archivist of the supreme royal secretariat (daftardār-e daftar-ḵāna-ye homāyūn-e aʿlā) were “to endorse the raqams [letters] and orders of vazirs and mustaufis [accountants], as well as the soyūrghāls [lands immune from tax], exemptions (muʿāfī) and [orders for] salary in cash (tankhwāh-i mavājib) of the aides-de-camp (yasāvulān-i ṣuḥbat), ushers (eshīk-āqāsī), and Āqāyāṇ . . . . The files (dafātir) of the previous years, which were consulted only occasionally, were kept in the stores (anbār) of the Secretariat. The Archivist was in charge (taḥvīl) of them and kept them in order (ḍabṭ)” (Taḏkerat al-molūk, tr. Minorsky, p. 77).
Under the Qajars (1193-1342/1779-1924) the office of daftardār seems to have been replaced by the ministry of accounting (wezārat-e daftar-e estīfāʾ; Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, Montaẓam-e nāṣerī, ed. Reżwānī, I, p. 503). In contemporary usage the term daftar-dārī refers to accounting and bookkeeping.
Dastūr al-molūk, ed. M.-T. Dānešpažūh, MDAT, supp., 1347 Š./1968.
Ebn Ḵaldūn, Tārīḵ, tr. ʿA. Āyatī, Tehran, 1363 Š./1984.
Ebn Ṭeqṭaqā, Tārīḵ-efaḵrī, tr. M. W. Golpāyagānī, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971.
A. von Gutschmid, Geschichte Irans und seiner Nachbarländer von Alexander dem Grossen bis zum Untergang der Arsaciden, Tübingen, 1888.
B. Lewis, “Daftar,” in EI2, II, 1965, pp. 77-81.
Masʿūdī, Tanbīh, tr. A. Pāyanda, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970.
Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Moḥammad Māwardī, al-Aḥkām al-solṭānīya wa’l-welāyat al-dīnīya, Cairo, 1380/1960.
M.-Ḥ. Naḵjavānī, Dastūr al-kāteb fī taʿyīn al-marāteb, ed. ʿA.-A. ʿAlīzāda, Moscow, 1964.
H. Rajabzāda, Āʾīn-e kešvar-dārī dar ʿahd-e Rašīd-al-Dīn Fażl-Allāh, Tehran, 1355 Š./1976.
Originally Published: December 15, 1993
Last Updated: November 11, 2011
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Vol. VI, Fasc. 6. p. 563