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In the Gujarat and Rajasthan region, the name 'Shah' may be derived from Gujarati sah meaning "merchant" (from Sanskrit sadhu meaning "honest, good") and Prakrit Sahu, while the actual spelling "Shah" was popularized by the Persian word for King. As a result, especially in Western culture, use of the spelling "Shah" has become far more pronounced than the other variants. The word Sadhu/Sahu is also separately used to indicate a holy man, such as a Jain monk (see Namokar Mantra). The Indian surnames "Shah" and "Sahu" are variants of one another which have evolved from the word "sah" over time. Another variant is Sheth.
- A 12th century Jain altarpiece in Los Angeles County Museum of Art mentions Grahapati Sadhu Kundha
- Vibudh Shridhar mentions his patron Nattal Sahu, a 12th-century merchant prince in Delhi.
- From Gwalior: Here both Sah and Sadhu have been used in the 1510 inscription.
- From Ahar, Madhya Pradesh: " Samvat 1210 vaishakha sudi 13 grahpatyanvayae sahu shrisadhu bharya mana tayoh .. ete paNamanti nityam."
Here the word Sahu is equivalent to the Sanskrit word "sadhu". Some inscriptions use "sadhu" itself :
- From Bahuriband (Katni, MP): "Svasti shri samvat 1070 phalgunavadi ...
madhavannandinugrahitah sadhu-shri sarvadharah .."
The word Sadhu here does not mean a monk but a "gentleman". Some inscriptions abbreviate sahu by just "sa" just like the abbreviation in English, "Mr." In some business communities, genealogies are recited during marriages, where all ancestors would be respectfully called "sahu". The term "sahukari" means the profession of banking/trading, and is derived from Sahu (Sanskrit "Sadhu") and kar (Sanskrit for doer). In the Bundelkhand Jain community, the father-in-law (or son's/daughter's father-in-law) used to be called "sahaji". Thus the words "Shah" etc. all indicate a respected member of the mercantile community. Today it is used by Gujarati business communities.
People with the surname
This list includes people with both the Indian surname Shah and the surname of Persian origin meaning king. Having the name, also in the Persian meaning, does not necessarily indicate a royal status or origin of the person so names. like the surname "King" in English is borne by various people not connected to any Royal dynasty. Notable people with the surname include:
- Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, India
- Arvind Victor Shah, (born 1940), Swiss engineer, educator and scientist
- Bahadur Shah, Nepalese states unifier and Prince Regent
- Birendra Bir Bikram Shah, Nepalese monarch from the house of Shah dynasty
- Bulleh Shah alias Syed Abdullah Shah (c. 1680 – c. 1758), Punjabi Sufi poet
- Eddy Shah, Manchester-based businessman and writer
- Farah Shah, Pakistani actress and host
- Fatima Shah (1914-2002), Pakistani physician and disability activist
- Hetul Shah (born 1999), Indian chess player
- Jawahar Shah (born 1955), Indian homeopath
- Jigar Shah (born 1974), Indian business tycoon
- Kiran Shah (born 1956), Kenyan-born actor and stuntman
- Khushdil Shah, Pakistani cricketer
- Gyanendra of Nepal, Nepalese monarch from the house of Shah dynasty
- Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah, Nepalese nationalist monarch
- Nagambal Shah, Indian-American mathematician and statistician
- Naseem Shah, Pakistani cricketer
- Naz Shah (born (1973), British Labour Party politician
- Neel Shah, American physician
- Owais Shah, English cricketer
- Pooja Shah (born 1979), British Asian actress
- Prithivi Narayan Shah, Nepalese unifier monarch from the house of Shah dynasty
- Rahil Shah, Indian cricketer
- Raj Shah, American politician
- Rajendra Keshavlal Shah (1913-2010), lyrical poet who wrote in Gujarati
- Raline Shah (born 1985), Indonesian actress
- Rajiv Shah (born 1973), administrator of the United States Agency for International Development
- Ravindu Shah (born 1972), Kenyan cricketer
- Ray Shah (born 1978), contestant on the fourth series of the British Big Brother
- Rishi Shah (born 1985/86), American billionaire, founder of Outcome Health
- Roger Shah, German electronic music producer
- Safia Shah, author
- Saira Shah, English author, reporter and documentary filmmaker
- Saleem Shah, Indian-American psychologist
- Sanjay Shah, Dubai-based businessman
- Satish Beri-Shah, Indian film and television actorq
- Yasir Shah, Pakistani cricketer
- Sam Manekshaw (1914 – 2008), Field Marshal of the Indian Army
- Kumar, R. (2006). Costumes and textiles of royal india. ISBN 1851495096
- Yarshater, Ehsan Persia or Iran, Persian or Farsi Archived 2010-10-24 at the Wayback Machine, Iranian Studies, vol. XXII no. 1 (1989)
- "Shah Name Meaning and History". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 2010-12-28.
- Akota Bronzes, Umakant P.Shah, 1959, p. 52-53
- Kasturchand Jain Suman, Bharatiya Digambar Jain Abhilekh aur Tirth Parichay, Madhya-Pradesh: 13 vi shati tak, Delhi, 2001
- Gopachal ke Jinamandir Archived October 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Indian Sculpture: 700-1800, Volume 2 of Indian Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection, Pratapaditya Pal, University of California Press, 1988, p. 306
- John Shakespear. A dictionary, Hindustani and English, 1834, p.1035