Afghanistan Ethnography

By | December 16, 2021

The territory included in the borders of the Afghan state was occupied in ancient times by īrānic peoples; but subsequent immigrations have constituted a very complex ethnic framework, in which the îrānic elements properly called are alongside Indo-Aryan and Turkish-Mongolian elements. The Tāgīk (Tajiks), the Qizilbāsh and the Afghāni proper belong to the ī r ā nico group.

The T ā g ī k are the primitive īrānic population, spread throughout the country before the expansion of the Afghāni, who pushed them away from the more fertile valleys. The Tāgīks of the Pamir, shepherds and farmers, live at the foot of the northern Hindū Kush and in the highlands of the eastern Pāmir; they form tribes, while the Tāgīk farmers and artisans of Badakhshān and central Afghānistān are organized in village communities. The Qizilb ā sh are Turkmen, passed into Afghānistān in the century. XVIII; they belong to the urban bourgeoisie. The Afgh ā ni, of which we speak for the first time in the century. XI, then lived in the region of M. Suleimānī, where the tribe of Wazīrī still lives today and the purest Pashtō is spoken. They have extended more and more to N. and to O., while retaining the main seat in S. The dominant tribe of the Durrānī claims for itself the name of Afghān and a mythical Hebrew origin (it would descend from Saul, through Qais ‛Abd ar- Rashīd, companion of Muhammad), while recognizing his own identity of race and language with the other tribes that speak Pashtō and are therefore called pakht ū n (plur. Pakht ā na, a word that in India has become path ā n, and designates the Afghāni across the border). This distinction is recent and arbitrary.

Here is a list of the main Afghan tribes, with their seats: Durr ā n ī, divided into numerous sub-tribes, inhabit the Qandahār region, up to Sīstān and the Herāt valley. Ghilz ā ‘ ī, numerically superior to the Durrānī and of little less importance, are found in Kābul, Ghaznī, and in the region that goes from the plateau to N. of Qandahār up to M. Suleimānī, on the Indian border. K ā kar, to S. of the Ghilzā’ī, in the British Belūcistān. Afr ī d ī, Tirāh and Khaibar pass. Ō rakz ā ‘ ī and Zaimuht, to S. del Khaibar. Bangash, Gi ā g ī and T ū r ī, on the Kuram pass. Sh ī nw ā r ī, W of the Khaibai and on the northern slopes of Sefīd K ō h. Mohmand, to N. of the Khaibar; Y ū sufz ā ‘ ī, on the Indian border mountains at N. of Peshāwar. Darw ī sh Kh ē l, in the northern and western Wazīristān. Ma ḥ s ū d, in the central Wazīristān. Daur on the Tōcī pass. Batan ī, in eastern Wazīristān. Sher ā n ī a Takht-i Suleimān. For Afghanistan travel information, please check

Tribes have inherited leaders, but supremacy passes from one family to another. Hereditary revenge is observed as a sacred obligation, between tribes and in families even of the same tribe. The Afghāni are devoted to arms, agriculture, banditry and pastoralism, refractory to crafts and trade; have recently shown remarkable mechanical aptitudes. They have the qualities and defects of mountaineers, warriors, and poor, fanatical and primitive populations. Our sources, mostly English, especially insist on the flaws.

The IndoAryan group includes the Kāfiri, the Citrāli, the Darts (v.).

The TurkishMongolian group consists of the Ciahār Aimāq (or four tribes) Hazāra (v.) And Uzbeki (v.). The territory limited to E. from the 68th meridian and to the West from the 64th parallel, to N. by the southern slopes of Bend-i Turkestān and to S. by the meridian of Ghaznī, is occupied by the Hazāra in the E part, by the Aimāq in that O. and NO. When the Uzbeks settled in northern Afghānistān is not known.

Only in the mountainous regions has the population been preserved pure; in the plains and valleys, and especially in the cities, it is very mixed. In Herāt the Persian element prevails, in Qandahār the Afghan one, in Kābul, since ancient times, there is a mixture of disparate elements.

Afghanistan Ethnography