1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pasha

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PASHA, also written "pacha" and formerly "pashaw," &c., a Turkish title, superior to that of bey (q.v.), borne by persons of high rank and placed after the name. It is in the gift of the sultan of Turkey and, by delegation, of the khedive of Egypt. The title appears, originally, to have been bestowed exclusively upon military commanders, but it is now given to any high official, and also to unofficial persons whom it is desired to honour. It is conferred indifferently upon Moslems and Christians, and is frequently given to foreigners in the service of the Turks or Egyptians. Pashas are of three grades, formerly distinguished by the number of horse-tails (three, two and one respectively) which they were entitled to display as symbols of authority when on campaign. A pashalik is a province governed by or under the jurisdiction of a pasha.

The word is variously derived from the Persian pādshah, Turkish pādishah, equivalent to king or emperor, and from the Turkish bash, in some dialects pash, a head, chief, &c. In old Turkish there was no fixed distinction between b and p. As first used in western Europe the title was written with the initial b. The English forms bashaw, bassaw, bucha, &c., general in the 16th and 17th centuries, were derived through the med. Lat. and Ital. bassa.