Saturday, June 9, 2018


A man with the mule over the bridge, Chagha Sarai / Asadabad, Kunar (Afghanistan), 1935.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Afghanistan in 1915-1916. Photographs from Oskar von Niedermayer collection



Amir Habib Ullah Khan and his sons.. Left - Inayatullah, right - King Amanullah,

An Afghan caravan-bashi. Head, chief of the merchant caravan

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ushtarani tribe

Ushtarani tribesmen, 1868. From Watson and Kaye's collection

Description given with the photograph;

"The Ushtarani clan is composed, for the most part, of strong, tall, athletic men, not so fair in colour as many others of the mountaineers, but a ruddy brown. In then diet and religious observances they do not differ from other Afghan frontier tribes. The territory of the Ushtarani lies south of that of the Sheranis, on the border between the Dera Ismael Khan and Dera Ghazi Khan districts. They are not a numerous tribe, and cannot muster more than a thousand fighting men. Some portions of the tribe reside in the hills, other on the plains, as cultivators; the latter being British subjects. Formerly the Ushtaranis were noted for their turbulence, and for feuds with their neighbours; but since the annexation, they have refrained from malpractices, and are now friendly and peaceable subjects." ["The People of India" by John Forbes Watson and John William Kaye]

1890's description of Ushtaranis ;

"They are descendants of Hammar , one of the sons of Ushtaryani , a Sayyid, who settled among and married into the Shirani section of Afghans. They were settled with the Shiranis to the south of the Takht-i-Sulaiman, and till about a century ago were wholly pastoral and engaged in the carrying trade. But a quarrel with their neighbours, the Musa Khel, put a stop to their annual westward migration, and they were forced to take to agriculture. They still own a large tract of country, in which indeed most of them live, cultivating land immediately under the hills and pasturing their flocks beyond the border. Theirterritory only includes the eastern slopes of the Sulaimans, the crest of the range being held by the Musa Khel and Zmari. They are divided into two main clans, the Ahmadzai and Gagalzai, and these again into numerous septs. They are a fine, manly race, many of them in our army and police, and they are quiet and well behaved, cultivating largely with their own hands. A few of them are still carriers. They are much harassed by the independent Bozdar Balochs. They are all Sunnis." ["The Tribes and Castes of the North-western Provinces and Oudh", Vol.4, pp.166-167]

"The nomadic Ushturyani live entirely in the black-hair tents called kizhdi, which they pitch in small clusters —from two or three to a score or more—in the form of a camp, called kirl ; but the settled sections of the tribe live in small movable huts of mud-plastered wicker work made from the tamarisk, which they build in the form of a village called jhok , and kiri indifferently, both being terms of Indian origin, signifying "circle," or "cluster." The Ushturyani are reckoned at live thousand families, and about half the number is settled as agriculturists and cattle dealers; they are a free, brave, and manly people, rough in manners, and of predatory inclinations." [An Inquiry Into the Ethnography of Afghanistan By Henry Walter Bellew, 1891, page-127]

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Historical photographs of Ghazni

Mughal badhsha Babur in 1505 writes , "Ghazni is a poor and insignificant place, and I have always wondered how its Badshahs, who possessed also Hindustan and Khorasan, could have chosen such a wretched place for the seat of their government, in preference to Khorasan".

Tarikh-i-Pakhtunkhwa : From these remarks Babur does not appear to be aware that Ghazni was in its glory before Alauddin Hussain of Ghor ruined and destroyed it. Ghazni was sacked and destroyed by Alauddin Husain Suri of Ghor (nicknamed Jahansoz — 'the world burner') in 1152 AD, from which it never recovered. Ghurid army put to sword 60,000 inhabitants of Ghazni , and they destroyed all the tombs and mausoleums of Ghaznavid royal family other than of Mahmud, Masud and Ibrahim. Great buildings of Ghazni were destroyed and the royal library was partially burned while the library of Ibn-i-Sina was burned down fully. It is certain that Ghazni never recovered the splendour that perished then. [See Tabaqat-i-Nasiri for details]. Ghazni, which had not recovered from Ghurid devastation, was again destroyed by Mongols, the ancestors of Babur, in 13th century. Uktai Khan, son of Chingiz Khan, sacked and destroyed Ghazni and the country round and massacred its inhabitants. Babur, himself a Barlas Mongol/Mughal, is silent about Mongol treatment of Ghazni in 1221 but does talk about its destruction at the hands of Allaudin Hussain Jahansoz of Ghor.

View of the city wall and citadel of Ghazni seen from the east, c.1916 . From Werner Otto von Hentig collection

Ghazni city , 1915. Photo by Oskar von Niedermayer.


Historical photographs of Nowshera

Flooded street, Nowshera, 1929

Grand Trunk Road near Nowshera, North West Frontier Province , c.1910. Photographed by R.B.Holmes


Chahar Chata bazaar, Kabul

Entrance to the Chahar Chata bazaar, Kabul, c.1937. 

"The western portion of the New Bridge was the site of the Char Chata (Four Arcades), at one time the most significant bazar in Afghanistan. The bazar, ascribed to 'Ali Mardan Khan, the Mughal governor of the Kabul province (Soba) during the reign of Shah Jahan (1628–1657), was handsomely laid out and greatly embellished with paintings. Four covered arcades were separated from each other by open squares, originally provided with wells and fountains. The structure was destroyed by the British when they demolished almost the whole city in revenge for annihilation of their entire army in the First Anglo-Afghan War." [Government and Society in Afghanistan: The Reign of Amir ‘Abd Al-Rahman Khan By Hasan Kawun Kakar, p-136]


Historical photographs of Kabul

Duck hunting , Qol-e-Hashmat Khan, Kabul, 1915.