Tawash .. Pearl merchant

مجلة مدارات ونقوش – العدد 7

 338 عدد المشاهدات

I ask a lot about the meaning of “Tawash” and about his craft called “tuwashah”. Tawash, in our dialect, is the merchant who sells pearls, and this name is not given to any other profession, except this one, as it is common in all Arabian Gulf countries.
Consequently, if you ask old men about the word origin, they cannot tell you anything save it was inherited from the old generations. They cannot be blamed for most of them do not know how to read and write. How can they be asked about the derivation of a word that was very famous at that time, such as Tawash, whom fishermen used to wait for to sell him what they had obtained from diving deep in the Arabian Gulf.
I say: at some point in time, vocabularies, idioms and proverbs spread, thereafter they become prevalent and understood by their users. Some vocabularies are very ancient; it is not known who coined them. A term or vocabulary that did not exist before, must be uttered by one person to spread, or it must be agreed upon by the courts of the caliphs, sultans or people of trades, commerce and science. After that it spreads and becomes well known. In this way, vocabulary and terms increase among people in any language around the world.

Among strange vocabularies that do not exist in the old dictionaries is the word Tawash. In Arabic, the plural form is Tawaweesh, and the verb form is Yatoosh. It means pearl merchant, and it took me a long time to search for its origin and I believe this vocabulary is derived from the following: 

First: watsh

In watsh (small donations), a reversal between the sounds “wa” and “t” occurred. In Arabic many letters are reversed, for instance, jabz and jazb. Consequently, watsh became tawsh and thereafter tawash. Tawash (pearl merchant) used to pay less when he bought pearls, and ask for higher price when selling them. Arabs called him tawash, then this trade was called tuwashah. I appreciate this derivation and it can be true. 

Second: tawsh
According to old dictionaries, tawsh means “imprudence” and “debt delaying and procrastination”. A pearl merchant might be called “imprudent” due to his frequent travels by sea in search for rare pearls. And he might be called “procrastinator” for procrastinating and not paying money to people who sold him pearls. However, one can object this interpretation asking “how can a merchant be imprudent?”.

How an imprudent person becomes a merchant? This objection contradicts with the first meaning of the vocabulary: “imprudence”. As for the meaning “debt delaying and procrastination”, a merchant has always had plenty of money to buy and compete with other tawaweesh “merchants”, which weakens this interpretation and even abolishes it.

Third: Tawashi
Tawashi is a Turkish vocabulary that means a castrate servant; a common title in the time of the Turks and Mamluks in Egypt, that was given to close servants. Tawashi were carrying out many of the special tasks of kings and princes and some may become emir, the most famous of which was the famous Qaraqosh who was working in the service of the conqueror Salahuddin Ayubi .
Those tawashi used to control the money of the sultans, and enter their palaces; they were also close to palace women and had authority and money. This title may have spread over this region due to their travels to the Arabian Gulf, during the Mamluks era, to buy pearls for princesses. Then, when tawashi left and pearl trade was over in Egypt and other cities, the title was given to everyone who worked in the pearl trade.
The house of Ibn Luqman is the same….
Restriction remains and tawashi shouts..
Ibn Khaldun explains this verse saying: “in orient counties tawashi means castrate, and is often called servant”.

I do not wish the last derivation to be the right one, because it is derived from a non-Arabic language that has a repugnant meaning. There are other derivations but I did not find them valid. 

Snapchat Jamal Bin Huwaireb