A pasha could belong to the upper or lower classes, depending on the amount of power held and the importance of the guild or house over which the pasha had leadership. The least important pashas were still treated as belonging to the upper end of the merchant middle class and given the respect of the upper class.
Nothing prevented a pasha from also holding another government or military role. Because of the Calishite convention of placing one's least important title first in his list of titles and the use of the annuv, to most outsiders, it would be hard to know the true power or class of a pasha from his[note 1] name alone, unless all of his titles were listed.
For example, the caleph of Calimshan, its king, was referred to as pasha, since he was indeed the guildmaster of all guildmasters of Calimport and all Calimshan. To avoid insult, most Calishites would use the term "syl-pasha" (chief of pashas), but outsiders to Calimshan often did not know any better.
Because pashas controlled the businesses and the flow of money through Calimshan, they wielded a great deal of control over the country, even beyond the official rulers.
Pashas were often rich enough to maintain their own small armies of mercenaries to enforce their desires. It was also not rare for them to have connections to the underworld or even run criminal organizations themselves.
As of 1492 DR, a Calishite gang based in Little Calimshan in Baldur's Gate called themselves the Right Pashas. They saw the Guild as an outsider group, and fought to force the Guild out of what they saw as their territory.
"Pasha" was a Turkish title used in the Ottoman Empire, and from there spreading to the Arabic language and to Egypt. It was used for generals, governors, and dignitaries, and meant roughly "sir".
The character of Pasha Abon Duum was originally called "Baron" in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons comics series, suggesting this is an equivalent title. Alternatively, one could argue that Pasha Abon Duum was both a pasha and a massatyr, the Alzhedo term for "baron", a lesser Calishite noble, as pashas very often had multiple titles.
- While not stated explicitly, it is strongly implied on p. 60 of Empires of the Shining Sea that a female pasha would violate Calimshan's rigid patriarchal society. This is confirmed by the use of only masculine pronouns throughout the "Titles and Sovereignty" section beginning on p. 63. Note, however, that there were two qysaras (empresses) in the Shoon Imperium.
- Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 59. ISBN 978-0786912377.
- Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 57. ISBN 978-0786912377.
- Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 66. ISBN 978-0786912377.
- Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 58. ISBN 978-0786912377.
- Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 64. ISBN 978-0786912377.
- Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins (September 17, 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 198. ISBN 0786966769.