Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Residency, Ziarat district, 1895

The Residency, Ziarat district, Baluchistan, 1895. Photo by Fred Bremner.

Monday, October 15, 2018

History of Kalabagh

Kalabagh is chiefly peopled by Awans. Tarikh-i-Murassa calls it "Bagh of Awans". The place was formerly known as Kara-Bagh, and betokens Turkish occupation. The Hindi translation for Kara, the Turkish for black, etc, is Kala. Kalabagh as well as great part of western Punjab was held by Turks before the period of accession of Lodi dynasty, as Babur badshah likewise mentions. As the Turks became weak, the Afghan tribes and Hindkis began to wax strong ; and they, especially the former, began to appropriate large tracts of country towards the Indus. When Niazi Afghans had been nearly annihilated (in mid 16th century), the Hindkis around began to raise their heads , and to follow the example of Afghans.

After Dhankot of the Niazis had been swept away by river Indus, one of the head men of the Awan tribe of Hindkis, who appear to have been vassals of the Niazis, took up his residence and built for himself a dwelling on the spot where Kalabagh now stands, which site must, evidently, have previously borne the same name. By a degrees, a town sprung up around , which on account of its favorable position , and nearness to the salt mines, went on increasing. . [Ref. Raverty, "Notes on Afghanistan", p-371]

Railway station, Kalabagh (Mianwali district, Punjab), c.1930. From Auchinleck album.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Ahmad Shah Abdali hiding his face behind a bejeweled mask in 1761 : response to William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple

In his fresh book William Dalrymple is making a claim that Ahmad Shah Abdali's face was getting eaten away by disease from "early on in his reign" [while i have read that he suffered from the disease in the last years of his reign]. He further says that his nose was already consumed by the disease when he was fighting at the battle of Panipat (1761) and had replaced it with a diamond-studded substitute. Following is the excerpt from the relevant chapter of his book ;
"Few possessors of the Koh-i-Noor have led happy lives, and while Ahmad Shah rarely lost a battle, he was eventually defeated by a foe more intractable than any army. From early on in his reign, his face began to be eaten away by what the Afghan sources call a ‘gangrenous ulcer’, possibly leprosy, syphilis or some form of tumour. Even as he was winning his greatest victory at Panipat, Ahmad Shah’s disease had already consumed his nose, and a diamond-studded substitute was attached in its place". ["Koh-I-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond ", p-67] .

Its interesting to note that William Dalrymple has shared two paintings of Ahmad Shah Abdali in his book (circa 1755) which does not show him with any indication of destruction of his face by disease. All the sources say that Ahmad Shah suffered from tumor in the last years of his reign, just few years before his death in 1773. He may have worn face mask at the advanced state of his tumor but William Dalrymple is claiming that he contracted disease "early on in his reign" (circa 1747-1755). The claim that Abdali's face was suppurating, hidden behind a silver mask,  on the occasion of the battle of Panipat in 1761 , is very ridiculous as we have actually eyewitness accounts of that battle (Jafar Shamlu and Kashi Raj) and none reports Abdali in that condition with rotting face and missing nose hidden behind a silver mask.

Friday, September 28, 2018

A Lohani chieftain, 1836

Ameer Khan, a Lohani Cheiftain', 1836. By Godfrey Thomas Vigne.

He befriended Vigne on the journey from Multan to Ghazni. [A Personal Narrative of a Visit to Ghuzni, Kabul, And Afghanistan",1840, p.26]

During Summer, most of the Lohani/Nuhani men used to go to Bukhara and Samarkand for trading or for buying and selling at Kabul. The women and children , along with some guards, lived in the tents. In Autumn, the tents were stowed away in a friendly fort and men, women , children and animals used to go down the Gomal pass to the Derajat, bivouacking all the way. They then pitched their second set of tents, kept in the Derajat. The men used to go to upper provinces of Hind to be back by April; some men used to stay back to guard the families and the camels. In April, they used to track back through the same pass to their old camps/villages in Ghazni-Katawaz.They were fond of Pomp and show, and exhibited their wealth by braiding the hair of their children with Gold coins, ornamenting their women with massive ear-ings and covering their horses with expensive trappings. Young brides were carried on cushions of silk on the backs of camels, most gorgeously hung with tassels, coins and bells.

Emperor Babur also mentions the Lohani powindahs in his Babur-nama. After his raid upon Kohat and the Isa khel Niazis, he moved down to Derajat and returned to Kabul by the Sakhi Sarwar pass. After leaving Bannu and Thal territory and entering the present Tank area, he got entangled with a caravan of Lohanis. He writes;
"During our stay there, the foragers brought in from villages in the plain, masses of sheep and cattle, and , from Afghan traders met on the roads, white cloths, aromatic roots, sugar, tipuchaqa and horses bred for trade. Hindi Mughal unhorsed Khwaja Khizr Nuhani, a well known and respectable merchant , cutting off and bringing in his head."

Afghan and Qizalbash ladies, 1843-1843

Cabul : Affghan and Kuzzilbash ladies (Kabul: Afghan and Qizalbash ladies), 1843-1843.

Creator: Atkinson, James ; Haghe, Charles ; Hart, Lockyer Willis.

Qizalbash means "Red heads" in Turkish and they wore red caps. The Qizilbash grew out of the heterogeneous mixture of Turkish Shia groups living in northwest Persia. They were backbone of Ahmad Shah Abdali's army (one third of elite ghulam corps of Ahmad Shah consisted of Qizalbashes). Timur Shah Durrani gave them residential quarters in Kabul (in Chinduwal and Murad Khani sections of Kabul)

1968 Press Photo: "Pathan chiefs greet McNamara" .

1968 Press Photo: "Pathan chiefs greet McNamara" .

Caption: World Bank President Robert S. McNamara, right, is covered with garlands as he is greeted by Pathan chiefs of Torkham, Pakistan. McNamara, former US secretary of defense, drove into Pakistan from Afghanistan Friday on a four day aid assessment visit. (November 18)

A band of Yousafzais made an attempt to conquer Chitral in 1593

When Yousafzais were being exterminated every where by the Mughals , a band of resolute men among them under Muhammad Khan decided to force their way through to Kashkar (Chitral) through Panjkora and settling therein. Akhund Darweza himself was part of that band. They at first drove before them the Kafiris (Spin Kafiris) who held the banks of the river Panjkora, but afterwards met with reverses and lost their original leader and also his successor Ghazi Khan Malezai. Worn out and hopeless, the company of Yousafzais abandoned the enterprise and returned. Subsequently they fell into the hands of Zain Khan Koka (the Mughal general).

Reference: "Afghanistan and its inhabitants" [Hayat-i-Afghani], p-105