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A defter (plural: defterler) was a type of tax register and land cadastre in the Ottoman Empire.
The information collected could vary, but tahrir defterleri typically included details of villages, dwellings, household heads (adult males and widows), ethnicity/religion (because these could affect tax liabilities/exemptions), and land use.The defter-i hakâni was a land registry, also used for tax purposes. Each town had a defter and typically an officiator or someone in an administrative role to determine whether the information should be recorded. The officiator was usually some kind of learned man who had knowledge of state regulations. The defter was used to record family interactions such as marriage and inheritance. These records are useful for historians because such information allows for a more in-depth understanding of land ownership among Ottomans. This is particularly helpful when attempting to study the daily affairs of Ottoman citizens.
Some Ottoman officials responsible for these tax registries were known as defterdars .
Records of this kind are known as daftars in Northern India as well, for instance the Peshwa's daftar of Pune.
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Avarız was a property tax in the Ottoman Empire, an annual cash tax paid by households registered in a defter.
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The Cadastre Bureau (Ottoman Turkish: Defter-Khané, Turkish: Tahrir-i Emlak Nezareti, French: Bureau de Cadastre was an Ottoman Empire agency. The bureau served as a registry of real estate, but did not classify any land themselves. George Young, author of Corps de droit ottoman, wrote that the common French translation was "Bureau de Cadastre", but he labeled it as the Ministry of the Cadastre.