A

Agency

An office of the British Government and, earlier, of the East India Company. Agencies were headed by Agents. The rank and purpose of agents changed over time, but since the early nineteenth-century they were subordinate to Residents and played an overtly political role. 

Albumen

Invented in 1850, this was the first way of printing a photograph on a paper base from negative by coating the paper with an emulsion of salt and egg white. 

astrolabe

An ancient instrument that allows users to make astronomical observations and calculate from them such information as their precise location on earth, the date and precise time. 

B

Bania

An Indian Hindu merchant working in the Gulf.

binkām

Refers here to water clock, though historically the same word has been used to refer to sand clocks.

Board of Control

Also known as the 'Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India' (formal title) or the India Board, established by Act of Parliament in 1784 to 'superintend, direct and control' the East India Company's civil and military government and the business connected with its Indian revenues. By the Government of India Act of 1858, the powers of the Board and the Company were transferred to the Secretary of State for India in Council.

Board of Control

Formally titled the 'Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India', this body, also known as the India Board, was established by Act of Parliament in 1784 to 'superintend, direct and control' the East India Company's civil and military government and business connected with its Indian revenues.  The powers of the Board and the Company were transferred to the Secretary of State for India in Council by the Government of India Act of 1858.

Bombay Marine

The navy of the East India Company. 

Broker

Often a local commercial agent in the Gulf who regularly performed duties of intelligence gathering and political representation.

C

Chalgi Baghdad

A musical performance group and genre of Iraq.

clepsydra

A greek word for a water clock, literally meaning 'water thief'.

codex

A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. Modern books are codices, as opposed to scrolls, rotula, tablets or other ways of preserving and presenting portable written material.

colophon

Section at the end of a manuscript text in which the author, or more often the scribe, signs off usually expressing gratitude to God for the successful completion of the task, and sometimes including information about himself, the date and place at which the text was finished. 

cultured pearls

Pearls created artifically by pearl farmers under controled conditions.

cymbal

A percussion instrument consisting of thin round plates.

E

eastern Anatolia

South-east Turkey today.

F

Firman

A Persian word meaning a royal order or decree issued by a sovereign, used notably in the Ottoman Empire (sometimes written ‘phirmaund’).

H

HMG

Her or His Majesty’s Government in London.

I

India Office

The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the East India Company Court of Directors.

M

munshi

A secretary or political assistant working in the British administration in the Gulf, often also providing linguistic interpretation. Munshis were usually of Arab or Persian origin in the Gulf.

N

Nakhuda

The (usually Arab) captain or master of a local boat.

Native Agent

A commercial agent, news agent, or political agent. The term ‘native’ was used by the British to indicate that such agents were indigenous to the general region (i.e. not British).

O

Order in Council

A regulation issued by the sovereign of Great Britain on the advice of the Privy Council (in modern practice, upon the advice of government ministers). In the context of the India Office Records files, this most often refers to agreements made between the British Government and others states in the region that regulated their relationship and delineated their respective jurisdictions and responsibilities, particularly in regards to judicial and military matters. 

P

Persian Gulf

Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as the Gulf or the Arabian Gulf.  

Pesta

Also pesteh or peste; in Iraqi music a short metred vocal piece sung after a long maqam performance. 

Political Agent

A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency (equivalent to a Consulate).  The title was used in Princely India, Eastern Arabia, and the Aden Protectorate.  After Britain's responsibility for Eastern Arabia and the Aden Protectorate was transferred from India to London, use of the title continued up to independence.

Political Resident

A senior ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul General) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Residency (equivalent to a Consulate General).  The title was used in Princely India, Eastern Arabia, and the Aden Protectorate.  After Britain's responsibility for Eastern Arabia and the Aden Protectorate was transferred from India to London, use of the title continued up to independence. 

Q

quire

Collection of papers folded in half and stitched together to form a gathering of folios.

R

recto

Recto and verso mean the front and back of a sheet of paper (or parchment in manuscripts). In languages that are written from left to right, 'recto' usually refers to the right-hand page and 'verso' to the left-hand page of a bound volume. However, in languages like Arabic, with a right-to-left text direction, 'recto' refers to the left-hand page and 'verso' to the right-hand page. 

Residency

A diplomatic office of the British Government established in the provinces and regions considered part of, or under the influence of, British India. Many grew out of commercial factories, but by the nineteenth-century they were overtly political in nature. The head of a residency was known as a resident, who ranked below an ambassador and minister respectively. Working under and reporting to the resident was a network of agents and officers. The resident would have answered to a provincial government in India (Bombay, for example) and later the Government of India. Before the 1810s a resident ranked below an agent.

Rifi

A collective term for several sub-genres of either rhythmic or non-rhythmic music styles. Its origin can be traced to southern Iraq.

S

seib

Transliteration of the word 'سيب', which in divers' communities referred to the person whose role it was to pull the diver up, using a rope, as well as occasionally steer the boat between diving spots. 

Silver gelatin

Also gelatin silver. A photographic process introduced in 1871 and used as the main process for black and white photography until colour photography eclipsed the medium in the 1960s.

T

Trucial Coast

The historic term used by the British to refer to the Gulf coast of Trucial Oman, now called United Arab Emirates. Trucial refers to the Perpetual Maritime Truce of 1853, which the local rulers signed with the British Government. Referred to by the British as the ‘Pirate Coast’ before 1853.

U

Utabi

Bani Utbah is a federation of Arab clans thought have been formed when a group of clans migrated from Najd to the Gulf. 

Utubi

Bani Utbah is a federation of Arab clans thought have been formed when a group of clans migrated from Najd to the Gulf. 

V

verso

Recto and verso mean the front and back of a sheet of paper (or parchment in manuscripts). In languages that are written from left to right, 'recto' usually refers to the right-hand page and 'verso' to the left-hand page of a bound volume. However, in languages like Arabic, with a right-to-left text direction, 'recto' refers to the left-hand page and 'verso' to the right-hand page. 

W

World Heritage site

The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The programme catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity.

Z

Zubarah

Also Al-Zubarah, once a successful center of global trade and pearling.