Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sayyids of Kunar


Sayyid Mahmood, the Badshah of Kunar, 1879.



For centuries the long and narrow valley of Kunar with Pashat as its main town had been ruled by a Pashtunized Sayyid family of Arab descent. Sayyid Ali Tirmizi, known as the Pir Baba, who had accompanied  Zahir al-Din Babur from Tirmiz, was the founder of the family. His shrine in the village of Paucha in Buner is venerated to the present day. Emperor Humayun, who was the son and successor of Babur, had granted him Kunar free of revenue. His descendants known locally as de Konarr pachayaun (kings of Kunar) as well as de Konarr sayyedaun (Sayyids of Kunar) gradually became secular. They took the revenue at the rate of one-third of the production of the land and in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries their annual income fluctuated between sixty thousand and eighty thousand rupees. ["A Political and Diplomatic History of Afghanistan, 1863-1901" , p-69, M. Hasan Kakar ]

Kunar was able to remain more or less independent until the early nineteenth century. Muhammadzai interference began in the 1820s, taking the form of annexation of regions close to Jalalabad (Shewa), occasional plundering raids against the Sayyids and interposition in rivalries among the members of the ruling family. Nevertheless, the Sayyids continued to control their core possessions until the 1880s. During Amir Sher 'Ali Khan's reign, the ruling Sayyid enjoyed a certain allowance and acted as a middleman for the Amir in all dealings with the even remoter regions of Bajaur and Dir.["State and Tribe in Nineteenth-Century Afghanistan", Christine Noelle, p-205]



Syed Mahmud, 1879.


Sayyid Mahmud with Major Cavagnari


...................