Between 1747 and 1834, Durrānī Afghan rulers built webs of alliance to political, economic, and religious elites in Peshawar. The village of Chamkanī serves as a useful case study of these networks. Chamkanī housed an influential Indian merchant family, Afghan landed nobility, and a powerful Sufi lineage. Reflecting the fundamental tension between the Durrānī ideal of universal sovereignty and the reality of diffuse power, these groups both cooperated and clashed with royal authority, and maintained ties between themselves. Ultimately, the most durable legacies of Durrānī rule were left by these local elites.
Central and South Asia’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century history has undergone a major shift in representation since the 1990s. Formerly characterized as an era defined by imperial decline, economic stagnation and isolation, and the inexorable conquests of the British East India Company, revisionist scholars have since attempted to emphasize the political, cultural, and economic vitality of the Central Asian khanates and the Mughal successor states.1 However, the Durrānī dynasty has found itself oft left behind. Rather than integrated political actors in their own right, C.A. Bayly conceived of the Durrānīs as part of a phenomenon he termed “tribal breakout.”2 In this formulation, the Durrānīs were described primarily as an outpouring of temporarily mobilized energy by a peripheral people. Their “breakout” was an explanatory factor, accounting for the weakening of established empires, in this case that of the Mughals, and the eventual dominance of the British.
Authors like Jos Gommans and Christine Noelle-Karimi, or A.M.K. Durrani in Pakistan, have been engaging with the Durrānīs as primary agents rather than external phenomena since the 1980s and 90s, and the study of the Durrānī empire on its own terms is still being developed.3 A relatively robust body of work has emerged on the dynasty itself, ranging from the history of the Abdālī-Durrānī confederacy prior to 1747 to the ideologies of Durrānī chronicles.4 Other studies have examined broader dynamics such as the recruitment of Iranians into the central bureaucracy, economic trends and transformations, slavery, or the circulation and characteristics of literature within the empire.5
Studies of Durrani rule east of the Indus River have also been developing, especially in recent years. This recent research has demonstrated that the Durrānīs were not an ephemeral or isolated presence in the region. Naveena Naqvi’s doctoral dissertation examines many facets of the history of Afghans in northern India, including links between the Durrānī court and Delhi.6 Jagjeet Lally explicitly counters the “tribal breakout” concept. He argues that the Durrānīs meaningfully engaged with the political and economic life of Multan.7 Waleed Ziad, similarly maintaining that Durrānī rule was not merely “ephemeral,” has fleshed out the religious and intellectual history of the Durrānī world, including the city and wider region of Peshawar, the focus of this article.8 A recent article by Neelam Khoja briefly discusses Durrānī Peshawar, focusing particularly on a building project supposedly launched there by Aḥmad Shāh according to his court chronicle, the Tārīkh-i Aḥmad Shāhī (c.1772).9
Pakistani scholarship in English has also produced works on Durrānī Peshawar, largely in the last decade. Two of Razia Sultana’s articles discuss Peshawar’s importance under the Sadōzays and Bārakzays respectively.10 A recent article by Altaf Qadir and Fatima Asghar provides some discussion of Durrānī administration in Peshawar, and the former of these authors has also produced an important volume on the ideologies and activities of the religious-military leader sayyid Aḥmad of Raebareli (d. 1831), who clashed with the Bārakzay rulers in the 1820s and 30s.11 These recent contributions are important steps in fleshing out the history of Durrānī Peshawar, but the articles especially are brief relative to the potential scope of the topic, and Qadir’s volume deals mainly with final eight to ten years of Durrānī rule.
I propose a different approach to this recent literature on Durrānī Peshawar. Qadir and Sultana generally view Durrānī rule from the perspective of the imperial state, its systems and interests. As her article is primarily concerned with analyzing a court chronicle, Khoja focuses on and repeats the assertions of the chronicler Maḥmūd al-Ḥusaynī concerning infrastructure at Peshawar, naturally replicating a top-level view of Peshawar’s Durrānī history. Ziad focuses on non-imperial actors, namely Sufis of the Naqshbandī order, and their creation of a parallel sovereignty alongside that of the Durrānī rulers. However, his work largely highlights the creation of this parallel superstructure as a result of cooperation with Durrānī rulers, in the context of “urban revival” owing to Durrānī investments and the place of Peshawar and Kabul as “burgeoning Afghan imperial capitals.” His wider view of the Naqshbandīs is also as a “trans-regional” network, an entirely valid perspective but one which leaves room for more localized studies.12 I argue that a regional study of Durrānī Peshawar should focus more on relations between imperial and local-level powerbrokers, in terms of conflict as well as alliance.
The ebb and flow of cooperation and conflict reflects a fundamental tension of the Durrānī empire: between the ideal of universal rule and the reality of highly diffuse, localized political power on the ground. As André Wink argues, the idea of universal sovereignty “postulates state-monopoly of land, a despotic king as the guardian of order, and the absence of the territorial nobility,” and claims to transcend the politics of varied and ever-shifting alliances.13 In reality, empires of the era depended on local powerbrokers.
This tension is a useful prism through which to read the history of Durrānī Peshawar, allowing us to examine its local and imperial dimensions in dialogue with one another. By focusing on these dynamics, I believe that we can develop our understanding of the Durrānīs as more than a transitory force in early modern history. In this article, I argue that it is primarily (but not exclusively) the local elites based in Peshawar, rather than the rulers themselves, who left legacies that lasted beyond the period of Durrānī rule. An excellent case study through which to examine these dynamics is the town of Chamkanī/Tsamkanī, where various imperial and local networks of power converged.14
1 Durrānī Economic Policies at Peshawar: Canals, Merchants and Moneylenders
Chamkanī lies around six miles east of the walled city of Peshawar. H.G. Raverty, writing three years after the British annexation of Peshawar in 1849, includes it in the tappa (or district) called khāliṣa, which would place it within crown lands, but Munshī Gōpal Dās’ meticulous 1870s survey of Peshawar places it in the Mohmand tappa. Both are in agreement that the political chiefs or māliks of the village are Mohmand Afghans.15 The village was likely founded by the Chamkanī/Tsamkanī tribe of Afghans. As these were cousins of the Khalīl and Mohmand tribes within the wider Ghōriya Khel confederation, they entered the region no earlier than the early sixteenth century. According to Dās, this “good town” (acchā qaṣba), was founded a second time “from scratch” (az sar-i nau) by Hājjī Daryā Khān, at an unspecified date.16 Unlike its unsure origins around the early Mughal era, there is much to say about Durrānī-era Chamkanī. It served as a focal point for a web of relationships, ever shifting from conflict to cooperation, between the Durrānīs and local military, economic, and religious elites.
As Gommans argues, the Durrānī empire’s economy took advantage of both nomadic, raiding-based and sedentary, agricultural revenues.17 Campaigns in India were essential sources of wealth, and mobile Afghan-Pakhtun trading communities functioned as “the everyday conductors of the commercial relationships among Kabul, Peshawar, and Qandahar,” on behalf of various patrons including Durrānī elites and officers.18
In the case of Chamkanī, however, we have a clearer picture of how its prosperity related to the sedentary economic dynamics of Durrānī rule. Taxes were, in principle, subject to a large, detailed system of classification and calculation overseen by state officers and taking into account local conditions. In practice, however, a wide variety of local elites were exempt from, or otherwise avoided, taxation. In the period 1793–94, Peshawar paid 2.95 lakh rupees, out of an overall tax base of 11.91 lakh, to the king: only 24.7 percent.19 As we will see more closely in section four, populous Chamkanī’s revenues were largely or wholly allotted to the family of the influential Sufi, Shaykh Miyān Muḥammad ‘Umar (d. c.1776/77).
Infrastructure may have been technically under royal jurisdiction, but its development was highly dependent on local elites. It is telling that in and around Peshawar, by far the best-known Durrānī-era garden, the Wazīr Bāgh, was built not by a Sadōzay king but by the powerful Bārakzay wazīr Fatḥ Khān (d. 1818).20 Durrānī khāns bought uncultivated lands or “wilderness” (zamīn-i vīrāna) to establish settlements, especially in the khāliṣa tappa. One Sadōzay, Zardād Khān, settled in Peshawar during Tīmūr Shāh’s reign. He exchanged his Qandahar jāgīrs for several villages in the Dāūdzay tappa, gardens, and the “qaṣba of Bagrām.” The primary monument to his presence was a canal that irrigated his possessions.21 To this day a village, Dherī Zardād, and distributary bear his name.
Peshawar was bustling under this arrangement: Lieutenant Irwin, a member of Mountstuart Elphinstone’s 1809 mission to Peshawar, remarked that “no space of the same extent in the Cabul dominions is equally cultivated,” and comment ed on its fine maize and rice as well as considerable imports and exports in grain.22 Agriculture was not the sole basis of the economy either. Kohat, south of Peshawar, possessed a number of salt mines taken over in the late 1820s by the sardār Pīr Muḥammad Khān Bārakzay.23 Pīr Muḥammad’s brother Yār Muḥammad (d. 1829) sunk a well near the Kohat gate of Peshawar city, the so-called chāh-i sardār (sardār’s well).24
The gap between the universal ideal of royal power and the diffuse reality in which locals often played a greater role is evident in the sources as well. According to Aḥmad Shāh’s main chronicle, the Tārīkh-i Aḥmad Shāhī, the shāh planned a large-scale building project in Peshawar around 1752–3. ‘Azīz al-Dīn Wakīl Fūfalzay refers to this as project as the creation of “the city of Aḥmadshāhī in Peshawar,” suggesting that Aḥmad Shāh planned to build a new settlement in the area. This would have been a powerful statement of sovereignty in parallel to the creation of his capital city, Aḥmadshāhī, at Qandahar.25 A significant component of this plan was to erect a caravanserai and a “splendorous market” (bāzār-i dil-kushāī-yi rawnaq agīn).26
Fūfalzay and Khoja write as if the entire building plan was completed, but this merits scrutiny. I know of no other references to an Aḥmadshāhī in Peshawar, and its description appears more aspirational than factual. Indeed as Khoja illustrates, the relevant passage of the chronicle serves a clear rhetorical purpose. Aḥmad Shāh creating a thriving new space provides a human parallel with descriptions of his miraculous power to make nature bloom with his very presence. As he brings harmony and peace to plants and animals, so too does he improve the lot of his subjects.27 Aḥmad Shāh left Peshawar in 1753 and apparently left Tīmūr Shāh with the title of nā’ib al-salṭana and control over the construction projects, but how much he could accomplish is unclear—especially since the Marathas may have overrun Peshawar in 1758.28
Other details are difficult to corroborate. The mention of new homes, including for state officials, is somewhat better supported in Fūfalzay’s work by a specific reference to munshī bāshī (royal secretary) ‘Abd al-Hādī building one.29 British colonial sources also picked up on the idea of the Durrānī period being one in which Afghan nobles settled and built many homes.30 This does not mean that they did so as a result of the new ‘city of Aḥmadshāhī’ being built. Rather, it indicates that Durrānī elites had a proactive role in settling in the region and transforming its landscape.
Aḥmad Shāh is supposed to have ordered a magnificent mosque (masjidī-yi ‘ālī-shān) built. From the seventeenth to nineteenth century, however, it appears that the only major mosque in Peshawar was that of Mahābat Khan; this remains the primary Friday mosque in the city today. Gōpal Dās lists five major mosques in a table of holy sites in Peshawar, none of which is dated to the Durrānīs.31 al-Ḥusaynī, the chief author of Aḥmad Shāh’s glittering universal imperial image, would have us believe that the king built a range of glorious buildings to provide for his subjects. His account belies the fact that local actors had a greater impact on Peshawar’s infrastructure than the supposedly universal sovereign.
That is not to say that the shāhs had no role. Tīmūr Shāh undertook perhaps the most important royal infrastructure project in the Peshawar valley, including Chamkanī, when he built a major new canal around the 1780s. It was a new cut to an existing canal connected to the Kabul River. Tīmūr Shāh’s new Royal Canal (nahr-i shāhī) brought water towards Chamkanī and its environs. Presumably it was further cut into, locally and at a later date, to support Chamkanī itself, which was watered by at least one walled canal by the British period.32 Given the location of Chamkanī either in or on the fringe of the khāliṣa, any extension of irrigation in its direction may have implied an increase in revenue for the crown, though as discussed, taxes were often collected by non-state parties. Revenues also accrued in the form of canal maintenance fees and usage taxes, which in these fertile areas were unlikely to be at reduced rates.33
Mīrzā Mughal Beg further mentions that the canal, along with another that diverted water from the Bāra River, was under the jurisdiction of an officer (dārūgha), indicating the integration of water control into the apparatus of royal government.34 The nahr-i shāhī is a clear case of Tīmūr Shāh intervening in the province’s water supply and agriculture. Its nomenclature enforces the message that the shāh and his sovereignty were an integral part of the local geography and economy: a process of “attempting to metamorphose the rule of arms into the legitimacy of a state.”35
Even this self-styled ‘royal’ project very likely involved coopting local powerholders into state offices, given Mughal and Durrānī precedent. During Awrangzeb’s reign (1659–1707), a major canal was overseen by a local Mohmand lord, Muḥibb Khān. Indeed the Mughals “elevated and entrenched” leaders in the heavily irrigated zones “to maximize revenues from rich lands.”36 Similarly, under Aḥmad Shāh one Zain Khān Mohmand was given twelve villages “in consideration of [his tribe’s] command of the dams which turn the water of the Kábul river into the irrigation cuts of Khalíl, Daudzai and Khálsa.”37
Imperial policies, Mughal and Durrānī, reflect just how significant water was to the political and economic life of Peshawar. The 1897–8 colonial district gazetteer for Peshawar states that “rights in water assume almost as great importance in Peshawar as do the rights in land,” owing to the depth of the water table, which made wells difficult to use.38 Questions of water access could lead to violent confrontation. In the 1830s, the Sikh-employed French officer M.A. Court remarked that the Khalīl and Mohmand tribes frequently came to blows over water access, a pattern also noticed by Elphinstone in 1809.39 Tīmūr Shāh’s intervention in matters of canal-building was thus a potent expression of legitimate power not just over resources and land, but as a means of arbitrating local conflicts.
Arbitration and cooption were essential to maintaining systems of local alliance; not just with military elites like the Mohmand khāns, but also with traders and bankers. That is not to say that the Durrānī empire’s mercantile allies were always well treated. Elphinstone reports that from cities, one shop representing its particular trade (out of thirty-two trades) was obliged to furnish Durrānī army camps with services. In smaller towns this duty apparently did not apply, but for the large cities, including Peshawar, it lasted as long as the army was on the march. While the artisans or shopkeepers enlisted in this way were in principle salaried as “servants of the King” for this service, pay tended to be inconstant and paid in one sum at the end of the service period. Prices in the camp also favored the Durrānī or other chiefs.40
Nevertheless, relations between traders and the Durrānī rulers and nobles were often good. Armenians and even a small Jewish community were active in Peshawar commerce, as they were further west in Afghan and Uzbek territories.41 However, some of the most influential and well-known traders in the Durrānī context were Indian. Numerous Hindu traders and moneylenders settled in and around Peshawar, providing crucial (if at times resented) financial services, which the state could also appreciate. Through loans and investments, they could improve agricultural productivity by providing cultivators capital to purchase better tools and technologies, while also easing taxation through monetization of rural areas. They also acted as tax farmers on behalf of the state.42 Even shopkeepers could rise in the political ranks of the Durrānī world. Ātmā Rām (given as “Atmaran” in the sources), a Hindu shopkeeper from Peshawar, became a high-ranking minister (diwān begī) to Muḥammad Murād Beg of Kundūz around the early 1820s. Not forgetting his economic skills, he was noted by British traveler William Moorcroft to control the regional trade with Yarkand entirely.43
Not all Indian traders and financiers were Hindu. The label ‘Hindki,’ often applied to Indians in Peshawar and other Afghan-ruled lands, is complex and need not denote a Hindu religious identity.44 Perhaps the most famous of the Indian financial elites under the Durrānīs were the Shikarpūrī and Multānī firms; many of these traders were Khatri Hindus, but others were Muslim. Their significance to the Durrānī state has been addressed on several occasions, and some authors ascribe to them the near-total financing of Aḥmad Shāh’s Indian adventures.45 By bankrolling these military campaigns, the Indian firms allowed the Durrānīs to expand their territories. More crucially, they enabled the Durrānīs to plunder northern India and redistribute this wealth to their allies. As discussed in Lally’s work, these campaigns were an essential source of wealth and an exercise of legitimate royal power.46 Echoing the experience of Ātmā Rām, one merchant, Mullā Ja‘far Sistānī, was high in Shāh Shujāʿ’s (r. 1803–1809, 1839–1842) favor and thus was of a similar standing to “ministers of state.”47
In Peshawar, Chamkanī was host to a number of Hindu traders. Mohan Lal asserts based on a visit in 1833 that Khatri Hindus ran the town bāzār. Dās puts this market at fifty shops and one dharamsāla or serai, though Raverty claims there were 150 shops at time of writing around a decade before. Dās further mentions a longstanding community of cobblers, for whose high-quality shoes Afghan traders were willing to pay five to seven hundred, or even a thousand, rupees.48
Along with these groups, Chamkanī hosted one of the region’s most important trading families, the Sethīs. These Punjabi financiers pledged their allegiance to the Durrānīs early. When Aḥmad Shāh first took Peshawar in 1747, they met and presented gifts to him. Initially based in Chamkanī, the Sethīs established themselves more firmly in Peshawar city from the end of the eighteenth century, and by the nineteenth had created their well-known houses in the Sethī muḥalla (neighborhood), which are prominent heritage sites today. As they settled in the town proper, the Sethīs also extended their import and export activities to Iran, Central Asia and northern India. One Miyān Shahāb al-Dīn set up the first Sethī office at Kabul in 1779. By the Bārakzay period they had bought up numerous valuable properties, and forged good relationships with the Durrānī nobility.49
Sethī ties to the Durrānīs lasted well beyond the end of Afghan rule at Peshawar, into the reign of amīr ‘Abd al-Raḥmān (r. 1880–1900) of Afghanistan. The amīr allowed them to lease a forest in Paktia (today in eastern Afghanistan), out of which they exported wood back into British India. The Sethī representative would visit ‘Abd al-Raḥmān at the public baths, and the family patriarch had direct correspondence with the amīr. However, they also tried to avoid ‘Abd al-Raḥmān’s heavy taxes and fees, for instance by cooperating with Hindu and Jewish financiers in Bukhara and Moscow to totally circumvent Afghanistan in the trade of Chinese tea.50
When ‘Abd al-Raḥmān sought to strong-arm the Sethīs and other Peshawaris into providing him with a “share of their capital and profits” in this trade, the Sethīs leveraged contacts with Durrānī officials to disperse the bill-collectors sent against them.51 This blend of amicability and confrontation echoes that core tension between the ostensible powers of Durrānī rulers and the actual power of their local allies. However, this later history also indicates that the ties between the Durrānīs and Peshawar’s economic elites were not easily undone, even decades after Durrānī rule ended.
For the Sethīs, Chamkanī had been an important stepping-stone. The so-called Sethī Bridge, located just west of the village, probably gained its name after renovations done by either Hājjī Karīm Bakhsh Sethī (1861–1930) or Ilahī Bakhsh Sethī (fl. c. early-to-mid nineteenth century), but the association points to continued economic involvement with the village.52 Chamkanī was therefore an important site not only for the economy of Durrānī Peshawar, but for the political economy of local alliances on which the Durrānīs built their rule. Once again, these local allies often left clearer marks on the region than the imperial sovereign did.
2 Peshawar and Chamkanī’s Afghan Military-Administrative Elites
Afghan military-administrative elites were yet another crucial link in the system of alliances that sustained Durrānī rule in Peshawar. Nobility from the Durrānī confederation were an important extension of imperial rule in Peshawar. As settlers, they could embed themselves in the region, develop the land, and provide military support. Some were given lands around Peshawar in exchange for military service. Zardād Khan, noted at an earlier juncture, was governor of Peshawar under Zamān Shāh, and all his sons were in royal service.53
Durrānī officers were not merely agents of imperial control, though: again reflecting the tension between universal and diffuse power, they were building their own networks of patronage and alliance in Peshawar. When the Bārakzays’ localized rule took the place of imperial control, they possessed potent legitimacy. East India Company agent Alexander Burnes noted in 1837 that the Khaṭaks of Terī still acknowledged Sulṭān Muḥammad Khān Bārakzay as their overlord, despite the annexation of the region into the Sikh kingdom three years prior. At some point before Burnes’ arrival, a Sikh officer assigned to Kohat and the wider Bangash country had been forced out, prompting Lahore to leave regional administration to Sulṭān Muḥammad, who evidently held greater sway. On one occasion, when the Sikh authorities were moving ships for a bridge-building project, the sardār had to intervene and dissuade locals from blocking their path. In the north, Sulṭān Muḥammad was an intermediary for exchanges of gifts between Ranjit Singh and the Yūsufzay.54
Looking beyond British annexation in 1849 further indicates the longevity of these localized Durrānī networks. A few hundred people in the districts of Kohat and Peshawar were recorded as Sadōzays and Pōpalzays (both subtribes of the Durrānīs) in the 1868 census.55 Their small numbers may reflect their status as elite landowning families, of which there are some prominent examples. One is the ‘princely’ Sadōzay family of Kohat, which flourished in the second half of the nineteenth century, building gardens and mausoleums which still stand.56 Another clan with illustrious genealogy was the Wazīr Khayl, descendants of Fatḥ Allāh Khan, known as ‘Wafādār Khān,’ an influential Pōpalzay chief under Aḥmad and Tīmūr Shāh. After fighting on the British-Sadōzay side in the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42), they settled first in Ludhiana, then Peshawar.57 Durrānī elites apparently considered Peshawar a secure, familiar place to settle: the end of Afghan rule there did not prevent them from taking advantage of their own, localized support networks.
For the Afghans hailing from the Peshawar valley, Durrānī rule involved a large-scale reclassification of tribal identity, at least in principle. Aḥmad Shāh renamed all Afghans east of the Khyber Pass ‘Bar-Durrānī,’ an appellation which may mean ‘upper Durrānī’ or may be a contraction of ‘brother (barādar) Durrānī.’ ‘Durrānī’ was Aḥmad Shāh’s own neologism, based on his kingly title durr-i durrān (pearl of pearls): his tribe was originally known as the ‘Abdālīs.’ The use of the Durrānī name in ‘Bar-Durrānī’ indicates a further attempt to organize tribal power networks around himself as the universal ruler.58
Further emphasizing how the Bar-Durrānī category incorporated eastern Afghans into imperial orbit is a diagram representing both the Durrānī camp and court (Figure 3 below). Various Durrānī subtribes, and some larger Bar-Durrānī tribes such as the Khaṭaks, Tarīn, Bangash and Tarkalānī, are individually named or arranged in places of honor near and around the shāh. The Bar-Durrānīs of Peshawar are lumped together, relatively far from the pavilion. The organization of tribes around the king projects an ideal image of universal rule onto which the Afghan tribes are grafted. Outside these idealized representations, the Bar-Durrānī label appears to have found some use in the west of the empire, as indicated by records from Herat which identify them as a distinct group with a district in the city, and by the existence of a Bar-Durrānī gate in Qandahar.59
These imperially-conceived divisions were also enshrined in text. Perhaps the clearest example is the Aḥwāl-i aqwām-i chahārgāna-i Afghān (c.1809) of Maḥmūd al-Musāwī, likely a Durrānī courtier at Delhi.60 al-Musāwī’s division of the Afghans into four confederations, namely the Durrānīs, Ghilzays, Sūrs (in this case referring to the Yūsufzay) and Bar-Durrānīs, is a noteworthy simplification, seemingly reflecting Durrānī administrative divisions more than self-identification. A notable parallel example of tribal, military and administrative divisions eliding under the Sadōzays is that of the “four tribes” (chahār ūymāq) of Herat, a designation which applied to districts, military units, and tribes.61
al-Musāwī praises Bar-Durrānīs for their bravery, chivalry, and devotion to the faith, comparing them favorably to Indians, whom he considers “unmanly” (nā-mard). Still, apart from differences in character he maintains that the condition of the Bar-Durrānīs is much like that of the Indians. He further makes clear their separate status compared to the Durrānī tribe: the latter, he notes, consider themselves Afghans of Iran, and consider the Bar-Durrānīs Afghans of India. In fact, according to him it is the Bar-Durrānīs who consider themselves part of the Abdālī-Durrānī tribe.62
Furthermore, al-Musāwī frames the Bar-Durrānīs and “Sūr”/Yūsufzay largely in terms of their relationship to the Durrānī empire. When discussing the latter, he complains that they live in mountainous regions and are difficult to tax.63 One of his first comments on the Bar-Durrānīs concerns Aḥmad Shāh’s relocation of various clans to Qandahar and Herat, itself a potent display of control over imperial subjects. When praising Bar-Durrānī zeal, al-Musāwī states they are willing to give their lives for “faith and state” (īmān u dawlat), and approvingly calls them “soldiers” (sipāhī). In his accounts of the different Bar-Durrānī leaders, he emphasizes their role within the state, for instance as elephant handlers (fīl-nashīn), kettledrummers (ṣāhib-i nawbat u naqqāra) or recruits for the royal slave corps (ghulām khāna).64 This is the case for the Mohmands, whose tappa abutted Chamkanī: al-Musawi states they are known for military service (sipāh-garī), and that some enter the slave corps. He also provides some data which very roughly prefigures later surveys, numbering the overall Mohmand families at ten to twelve thousand and outlining the geographic location of a prominent Peshawari Mohmand chief’s territory.65
In ʿAbd al-Karīm Bukhārī’s early nineteenth-century history of the region, one ‘Bar-Durrān’ is named as a son of the Durrānī progenitor Abdāl.66 On the one hand, this suggests that Aḥmad Shāh’s tribal classification was being rationalized in genealogical terms, further tying the two tribes together. However, using ‘Bar-Durrān’ as an ancestral name disassociates the moniker ‘Bar-Durrānī’ from Aḥmad Shāh as durr-i durrān, suggesting that new understandings of tribal divisions were escaping the confines of imperial ideology. As usual, the universal ideal of reordering entire populations was belied by a reality in which people reinterpreted these labels on their terms.
We should not, therefore, overstate the power of this tribal reclassification. Probably of greater immediate importance to Peshawar’s Afghan elites were the favors and status they received from the Durrānī shāhs. Cultivating local leaders was partly accomplished through the granting of titles. A prominent example is Sa‘ādat Khān Khaṭak of Terī, who was named Sarafrāz Khān by Tīmūr Shāh in honor of his services, both to Tīmūr and Aḥmad Shāh. A late eighteenth-century route map marks “the home (maskan) of Sarafrāz Khān Khaṭak” as a prominent rest stop on the highway from Delhi to Qandahar via the Khyber Pass, suggesting how these royally-bestowed titles could become established in general use; indeed Charles Massy notes that he was “generally known” by the name Sarafrāz.67 Titles both ennobled the recipient, and acknowledged that the Durrānī ruler had the legitimacy to grant them. This was much as it had been under the Mughals: the leading Khalīl chiefs were given the title arbāb under Shāh Jahān, and the powerful Khaṭaks were often beneficiaries of Mughal patronage.68
Along with titles, stipends were often paid to local elites. Often these were given for particular services, such as tax collection, providing road security, or providing a bodyguard for the king.69 Durrānī rulers were engaged in a longstanding process by which states empowered local elites, partly by demanding they accept an imperial political culture and participate formally in it. As mentioned above, al-Mūsawī details that eastern tribesmen found roles as elephant handlers, kettledrummers, or royal slaves. Bar-Durrānī khāns were given powerful positions in major Durrānī provinces, from Balkh to Kashmir and Sirhind. Predictably though, these governors could often become enemies of the crown, refusing to deliver revenues and battling royal armies, again demonstrating the tension at the heart of ostensibly universal rule.70
A core feature of Durrānī statecraft among local elites was the jāgīr. Jāgīrs, land grants entitling the holder to revenue collection and usually held on condition of military service, had been essential to royal power in the wider region for centuries. Nichols notes the typical pattern in which land rights were established when a new power entered the Peshawar valley. Afghan khāns mounted armed resistance, and then entered into negotiation and compromise. Nichols refers to this as an “elite political etiquette” through which the prevailing order was perhaps internally reconfigured, but maintained overall. For a conquering empire, forging these ties, after a requisite show of strength, allowed them to “link a nascent central authority to the established legitimacy of dominant regional lineage chiefs.”71
Aḥmad Shāh’s conquest of Peshawar likely entailed similar clashes, but its retelling in chronicles or Durrānī-sponsored histories paints a very different picture: that of a bloodless takeover in cooperation with Peshawar’s Afghan chiefs. Such rhetoric forms a potent expression of Durrānī claims to universal dominion in the region. When discussing Aḥmad Shāh’s imminent conquest of Peshawar, the Tārīkh-i Ḥusayn Shāhī (c.1798) describes the Mughal governor Nāṣir Khān worrying: “now that sovereignty (bādshāhī) has come to the Afghans, the Afghans from around Peshawar will plunder me […]”72 This portrays Afghans from regions like Peshawar as natural parts of the Durrānī imperial project, who would naturally join it by ousting the Mughal governor.
Beyond the moment of conquest, there are examples of the Durrānī monarchy altering the makeup of jāgīrs through intervention in local conflicts. Once again, the state could assert its power by reorganizing the particulars of the political scene without disrupting its core structures. For instance, around 1782 Tīmūr Shāh supported the son of a murdered chief of the Katī Khel Afghans in Tank, near Ḍera Ismā’īl Khān, in taking back his lands. In doing so the shāh secured an eight-to-twelve thousand rupee tributary.73 Changes to local power networks could also be affected in the aftermath of rebellion against the state. When Fayż Allāh Khān Khalīl and his son were executed for rebellion by Tīmūr Shāh in 1779, another Khalīl noble, Nūr Muḥammad Khān, was able to take the reins of leadership (an episode discussed further in the following section).
Returning to Chamkanī, the experiences of its zamīndārī families reveal a relatively underexplored aspect of jāgīr politics: apparently nonviolent disempowerment of one party in service to another. Gōpal Dās relates that the Chamkanī family, a Mohmand clan, held Chamkanī, Kachōṛī and Bābī/Bāpī (the latter a khāliṣa village) as jāgīr since the Mughal period. When Aḥmad Shāh took power in the region, he confiscated these lands from Ẓābaṭ Khān, the mālik at the time, and gave Chamkanī and Kachōṛī over to Shaykh Miyān Muḥammad ‘Umar, “in whose seniority Aḥmad Shāh was a believer” (un kī buzurgī par Aḥmad Shāh mu‘taqid thā). Another related mālik, Khān Gul Khān, was similarly deprived of a jāgīr.74
This act aligns with Ziad’s wider discussion of the Durrānī empowerment of religious elites at the expense of other landowners.75 Still, the Afghan zamīndārs did attempt to reassert themselves, not by resisting the state but by leveraging other alliance networks within it. Khān Gul Khān was still alive when one of his children, Qamar al-Dīn Khān, aligned himself with the powerful Bārakzay wazīr Pāyinda Khān (d. 1799) in the hopes of taking Bāpī and two other villages. Despite this, the Chamkanī Mohmands do not seem to have ever regained their old status, instead being allotted new lands and positions under the Sikhs.76 Mīrzā Mughal Beg in c.1790 noted that the revenue of Chamkanī and some villages around were assigned for maintenance of ‘Umar’s famous shrine, and while some landlords did hold jāgīrs in the village under the British, their value seems negligible given the size of the settlement, and it is unclear if they are of the same family.77
These episodes indicate that, in the process of exerting control through a network of subordinated jāgīrdārs, the Durrānīs did more than reconfirm older, Mughal patterns of landholding. Nor did they reconfigure these patterns only in the event of armed conflict, either between local parties or between the state and a local party. Furthermore, the Durranis were not always acting in the interests of Afghan landowning nobility.
A similar pattern played out in Kohat, where the Durrānī government stripped Baīzay Bangash landowners of proprietary land rights in the most productive zones. The three main landowning clans who seem to have replaced them, and were later confirmed by the British, included an Iranian Sistānī and a sayyid family.78 Nevertheless, the sovereign was not the primary beneficiary of these edicts from above. It was the sovereign’s local allies: in Chamkanī’s case the Shaykh, whose descendants would continue to live there and whose shrine stands today.
3 Shaykh Miyān Muḥammad ‘Umar of Chamkanī and the Durrānīs
Shaykh Miyān Muḥammad ‘Umar represents the final elite group whose alliance bulwarked Durrānī rule over Peshawar: religious authorities. A number of different categories of spiritual leaders existed in Durrānī Peshawar, from sayyids to legal scholars and heads of Sufi orders. Lines between these categories were often blurred, and as Ziad has pointed out, their affairs were deeply entwined with politics and trade. A good example from Peshawar is Shaykh Muḥammad Shayb (d. 1816), whose father and grandfather were Durrānīs who settled in the region after serving in Aḥmad Shāh’s army.79
Many prominent Sufis of the era were Mujaddidīs, members of a seventeenth- century reformist movement within the Naqshbandī order. In the mid-eighteenth century, the major Mujaddidī center of Sirhind was often conquered and re-conquered as Mughal authority lapsed. This process culminated in a violent sack and takeover by Sikh troops in 1763. During this time, Naqshbandī Sufis were able to form a reciprocal relationship with the Durrānī rulers, who provided them patronage and security and thereby gained legitimacy as sponsors or disciples of revered holy men.80
Miyān ‘Umar of Chamkanī was a close ally of Aḥmad Shāh, who became his disciple during the initial march through Peshawar in late 1747. Alongside him, a large entourage of Durrānī chiefs accepted the Shaykh as their pīr (spiritual guide). Aḥmad Shāh revered ‘Umar, granted him substantial landholdings in the vicinity of Chamkanī as religious endowments (awqāf), and visited him regularly when staying in Peshawar. There is even one account of Miyān ‘Umar giving Aḥmad Shāh the epithet durr-i durrān, though this appears to be an isolated reference.81 ‘Umar was said to have assured the shāh that wherever the latter went, his pīr would be with him in spirit: to that end the Shaykh gave his blessings to the shāh’s invasions of India, and possibly prior to the climactic Battle of Panipat (1761).82
Miyān ‘Umar’s contributions to Durrānī rule were not just spiritual: he was actively involved in Aḥmad Shāh’s expansion and governance. One of ‘Umar’s sons accompanied another prominent Sufi ally of the king, Ṣābir Shāh, who went to Lahore to demand its surrender to the Durrānīs in 1748. When Ṣābir Shāh was killed by the Mughal governor, Shāh Nawāz Khān, this son of Miyān ‘Umar was imprisoned, and subsequently killed while trying to escape. Ṣābir Shāh’s killing became a new casus belli for Aḥmad Shāh, and he soon attacked Lahore.83
Further obfuscating the distinctions between spiritual and military-administrative elites, the Shaykh undertook armed expeditions to support Durrānī rule in the region. Around 1748, ‘Umar and his disciples (murīdān o mu‘taqadān) helped a Durrānī officer, Khān Jān Khān, defeat and arrest Khān Bahādur, the son of the former Mughal governor of Peshawar, Nāṣir Khān. When the Durrānī commander Sarbuland Khān was besieged by Sikh troops at Rohtās in Punjab in c.1769, the governor (ḥākim) of Peshawar marched to his aid along with a disciple (shāgird) of Miyān ‘Umar, called Muḥammad Akram. To send troops into Punjab was a demonstration of considerable power and commitment on the Shaykh’s part. Furthermore, ‘Umar advised the shāh on matters of state, and was appointed the qāżī (judge) for the Kamalzay branch of the Yūsufzay.84
Among Peshawar’s people, the Shaykh was also a powerful figure with an enduring legacy. In the later nineteenth century, his ziyārat (shrine) drew pilgrims from Peshawar, Bajaur, and the Bangash country every Thursday.85 In his lifetime, he mentored a number of other prominent Sufis, and was pīr to various chiefs. These included the powerful head of the main branch of the Khaṭak tribe based in Akōra, Shahbāz Khān (d. after 1772).86 Another of his followers was Āzād Khān Mohmand, son of the leading Mohmand lord, Moḥsin Khān Arbāb. Moḥsin Khān bore “enmity and hatred” (‘adāvat u ‘inād) for ‘Umar according to Muḥammad Ḥanīf, author of probably the most comprehensive study of the Shaykh. Unfortunately, Ḥanīf does not explain the cause of this bitterness, but it does temper the idea that the Shaykh was universally loved in Peshawar. Still, his son Āzād Khān became a devotee, and was highly impressed by the strength of ‘Umar’s miraculous powers (taṣarruf).87 A number of miracles were ascribed to the Shaykh, detailed in a volume gifted by ‘Umar’s son to Elphinstone during the latter’s time in Peshawar.88
Along with his close ties to Aḥmad Shāh, Afghan chiefs and the religious elite, Miyān ‘Umar had a foot in economic affairs. The community of cobblers mentioned by Gōpal Dās maintained that the Shaykh had always prayed that so long as they lived in Chamkanī, their wares would be prized, suggesting a spiritual, if not financial, guardianship of such artisanal groups.89 The Sethī family also settled in Chamkanī under his auspices. It is entirely possible that they were able to make obeisance to Aḥmad Shāh in 1747 due to their association with Miyān ‘Umar, since the shāh visited Chamkanī at the time of conquest.90
Shaykh Miyān Muḥammad ‘Umar was thus an invaluable asset to Aḥmad Shāh’s rule over the province, and one of Durrānī Peshawar’s leading men in his own right. For an emperor, such powerful friends could later make powerful enemies. An episode during the reign of Tīmūr Shāh demonstrates vividly the limits of universal dominion against local networks. ‘Umar’s son, generally known in Persian sources Pīrzāda Miyān Muḥammad and in Pakhtu as Muḥammadī Ṣāḥib-zāda (d. 1805/06), was implicated in an assassination attempt on the shāh in 1779. The plot was spearheaded by the Khalīl chief Fayż Allāh Khān. Different authors take different approaches to the Pīrzāda’s involvement. Some British sources like the 1897–8 gazetteer or Raverty are direct in accusing him; indeed the former names him as the principal conspirator, “joined” by Fayż Allāh.91 Maḥmūd al-Mūsawī states disapprovingly that the Shaykh had emerged as part of a “movement that was unworthy of him” (ḥarkatī ke shāyān-ishān na-būd).92
Gōpal Dās is more cautious, stating only that Tīmūr Shāh reacted to the suspicion of sedition (ba-gumān-i fitna angīzī), and Fayż Muḥammad Kātib likewise states that is was “believed” he was among the rebels. The late-nineteenth-century Tārīkh-i Sulṭānī is rather noncommittal, stating that the king “heard that he too was an accomplice of the rebels” (shinīd ke nīz ham- dāstān-i baghāvatiyān būd).93 Whatever the case, Tīmūr Shāh’s attempt at retribution made clear the restrictions on royal power. The shāh was able to execute Fayż Allāh Khān and his son, along with a prominent khwāja sarā in royal service, Yāqūt Khān. However, when he gave the order to raid Chamkanī, the Durrānī sardārs intervened to prevent the violence from continuing. This detail of the sardārs’ intercession is echoed in the Tārīkh-i Ḥusayn Shāhī and Tārīkh-i Sulṭānī.94 Pīrzāda Miyān Muḥammad himself fled to Amānkōṭ, between Swat and Buner, but was soon allowed to return to Chamkanī, where he remained until his death.95
The Pīrzāda’s prestige secured his comparatively easy return to Chamkanī. Thus the alliance, forged to good effect in Aḥmad Shāh’s time, had exposed Tīmūr Shāh’s weakness. The intercession of the Durrānī nobles in particular lays bare how royal power could be held in check by the subjects who otherwise sustained it. Indeed Tīmūr Shāh’s relocation of the capital from Qandahar to Kabul is usually ascribed to his frustration with the Durrānī nobility and desire to build power away from their influence.96 Even the senior Miyān ‘Umar may have subverted state power in association with Afghan military elites. We know of one occasion on which a noble of the Tarīn tribe, whose father had fought alongside Aḥmad Shāh, settled in the khāliṣa with the Shaykh’s permission. It is possible he also obtained state permission, but Gōpal Dās’ silence on that front, and foregrounding of Miyān ‘Umar, suggest the holy man’s acquiescence was more important.97
One advantage Tīmūr Shāh gained from the affair was a solution to a leadership crisis among the Khalīl, securing dominance for Fayż Allāh Khān’s rival Nūr Muḥammad Khān.98 However this again demonstrates that the Durrānī rulers’ pretensions of universal sovereignty were belied by the reality of diffuse power vested in their local allies. Well into and beyond the end of Durrānī rule, the khānqā at Chamkanī was still drawing pilgrims. Once again, it was often local powerbrokers of the Durrānī era that could claim lasting legacies in Peshawar.
Durrānī rule in Peshawar was rooted in networks of local alliance. While these alliances were instrumental to maintaining control of the region, the balance between cooperation and conflict with local parties was ever-changing. This reflects the core tension between the ideal of universal rule that the Durrānīs projected, and the reality of diffuse power on the ground. By focusing on Chamkanī, we have seen how the Durrānīs ruled over and patronized Peshawar’s economic, military-administrative, and religious elites. We have also seen how these groups pursued their own interests, often in conflict with imperial authority and in cooperation with other regional players.
It was largely these elites who left durable legacies in Peshawar, which outlasted Durrānī rule. Villages, tombs, canals, heritage sites, shrines, and the communities attached to them can all be tied back to Peshawar’s Durrānī-era local elites, from Zardād Khān to the Sethīs and Miyān ‘Umar. Thus it was through their patronage of these local allies that the Durrānī rulers left their mark on Peshawar, more than by their own presence.
Future regional studies of the Durrānī period, including studies of Peshawar, can bring this localized focus to greater fruition by delving into more primary materials originating from the different elite groups discussed here. In particular for Peshawar, the lineage of Miyān ‘Umar merits a great deal more study in English-speaking scholarship than it has been afforded thus far. Texts from the khānqā itself would provide a great deal more insight into the history of this order, from its intellectual traditions to its political connections, than I have been able to provide here. There are a wealth of approaches and methods waiting to be used in the study of Durrānī Peshawar; I hope that this article has gone some way to opening up the topic.
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. Ziad, Waleed . 2017 Transporting Knowledge in the Durrani Empire: Two Manuals of Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufi Practice. In Afghanistan’s Islam: From Conversion to the Taliban. Edited by . Nile Green Berkeley: University of California Press: 105– 126. doi: 10.1525/9780520967373-011.
Ziad, Waleed. 2017. Traversing the Indus and the Oxus: Trans-regional Islamic Revival in the Age of Political Fragmentation and the ‘Great Game’ 1747–1880. PhD diss., Yale University.
Ziad, Waleed. 2018. Ḥażrat Jīo Ṣāḥib: How Durrānī Peshawar Helped Revive Bukhara’s Sanctity. In Sufism in Central Asia. Edited by Devin DeWeese and Jo-Ann Gross. Leiden: Brill: 119–161. doi: 10.1163/9789004373075_006.
For a concise outline of this revisionist school of thought from the 1990s, see J. Gommans, The Rise of the Indo-Afghan Empire c. 1710–1780 (Leiden: Brill, 1995): 1–8. For a more recent example, see S.C. Levi, The Bukharan Crisis: a Connected History of 18th-Century Central Asia (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press, 2020): for discussion of the literature see especially Introduction, 26–35, & ch. 2–3.
C.A. Bayly, Imperial Meridian. The British Empire and the World 1780–1830 (London: Routledge, 1989): 35–44.
See Gommans, The Rise, C. Noelle, State and Tribe in Nineteenth-Century Afghanistan: The Reign of Amir Dost Muhammad Khan (1826–1863) (London: Routledge, 1997), and A.M.K. Durrani, Multān Under the Afg̲h̲āns, 3rd ed. (Multan: Bazm-e-Saqafat, 2008).
E.g. S. Nejatie, “The Pearl of Pearls: The Abdālī-Durrānī Confederacy and Its Transformation under Aḥmad Shāh, Durr-i Durrān” (PhD diss., University of Toronto, 2017), C. Noelle-Karimi, “Afghan Polities and the Indo-Persian Literary Realm: The Durrānī Rulers and Their Portrayal in Eighteenth-Century Historiography.” In Afghan History Through Afghan Eyes, ed. N. Green (London: C. Hurst & Co., 2015).
See e.g. S. Nejatie, “Iranian Migrations in the Durrani Empire, 1747–93.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 37 (2017): 494–509, B.D. Hopkins, The Making of Modern Afghanistan (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008): ch. 5 & 6, K.L. Schwartz, Remapping Persian Literary History, 1700–1900 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020): 50–8.
N. Naqvi, “Writing the Inter-Imperial World in Afghan North India ca. 1774–1857” (PhD diss., University of California, 2018): see ch. 2 section II for the role of a Rohilla Afghan from Rampur in mediating between Mughal Delhi and the Durrānī court.
J. Lally, “Beyond ‘Tribal Breakout’: Afghans in the History of Empire, ca. 1747–1818.” Journal of World History 29 (2018): 369–97.
See especially W. Ziad, “Ḥażrat Jīo Ṣāḥib: How Durrānī Peshawar Helped Revive Bukhara’s Sanctity.” In Sufism in Central Asia, ed. D. DeWeese and J. Gross (Leiden: Brill, 2018): 119–61 and W. Ziad, “Transporting Knowledge in the Durrani Empire: Two Manuals of Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufi Practice.” In Afghanistan’s Islam: From Conversion to the Taliban, ed. N. Green (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017): 105–26.
N. Khoja, “Competing Sovereignties in Eighteenth-Century South Asia: Afghan Claims to Kingship.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 63 (2020): 572–4.
See R. Sultana, “The Rule of the Durranis at Peshawar (1747–1818).” Journal of Asian Civilizations 33 (2010): 162–85, R. Sultana, “Sikh-Durrani Entanglement for the Possession of Peshawar (1818–1823).” Pakistan Perspectives 15 (2010): 63–80.
A. Qadir and F. Asghar, “Peshawar Valley Under Durrānīs with Focus on its Administration, 1747–1818.” Quarterly Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society 64 (2016): 57–66, A. Qadir, Sayyid Aḥmad Barailvi: His Movement and Legacy from the Pukhtun Perspective (New Delhi: Sage, 2015).
Ziad, “Ḥażrat”: 120, 134, “Transporting”: 105, and “Traversing the Indus and the Oxus: Trans- regional Islamic Revival in the Age of Political Fragmentation and the ‘Great Game’ 1747–1880” (PhD diss., Yale University, 2017): 15–18.
A. Wink, “Land and Sovereignty in India under the Eighteenth-century Maratha Svarājya” (PhD Diss., Leiden University, 1984): ix, 15–24. Wink refers to these shifts in alliance as fitna (literally, ‘sedition’).
Ziad similarly argues that the trans-regional institutions built up by Sufi orders were more resilient and lasting than military-state structures, see “Traversing”: 16. Once again, I aim to look more towards the local, rather than the trans-regional, and open the topic to non-Sufi powerbrokers.
Since it is a widely-used spelling and transliteration in today’s Pakistan, I will adhere to the Persianized form ‘Chamkanī,’ rather than the formal Pakhtu ‘Tsamkanī’ or the local vernacular ‘Tsawkanay/Sawkanay.’
H.G. Raverty, “Account of the City and Province of Peshawur.” Bombay Geographic Society Transactions 5 (1852): 29, Munshī Gōpal Dās, Tārīkh-i Pishāwar (Lahore: Koh-e-Noor Press, 1878): 178.
Dās, Tārīkh, 178.
For mention of the Chamkanī tribe within the Ghōriya Khel, see Niʿmat Allāh ibn Khwāja Ḥabīb Allāh al-Haravī, Tārīkh-i Khān Jahānī wa Makhzan-i Afghānī, ed. Sayyid Muḥammad Imām al-Dīn (Dacca: Asiatic Society of Pakistan, 1962): vol. 2, 567. He refers to the tribe’s namesake and ancestor as “Jawkan.”
Gommans, The Rise: 7–8.
Lally, “Beyond”: 372–3, S.M. Hanifi, Connecting Histories in Afghanistan: Market Relations and State Formation on a Colonial Frontier (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008): Introduction, 39 (eBook).
G. Singh, Ahmad Shah Durrani: Father of Modern Afghanistan (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1959): 348–49, Y. Gankovsky, “The Durrani Empire.” Oriental Studies in the USSR 3 (1981): 76–89. Gankovsky’s figures come from the work of Ghulām Sarwar, an Indian East India Company agent who compiled data on the Durrānī empire in both Kabul and Peshawar from 1793–95. See J.L. Lee, The ‘Ancient Supremacy’: Bukhara, Afghanistan and the Battle for Balkh, 1731–1901 (Leiden: Brill, 1996): 102–4.
Raverty, “Account”: 24.
Dās, Tārīkh: 435–37, 698.
Lieutenant Irwin, “Memoir on the Climate, Soil, Produce and Husbandry of Afghanistan and the Neighbouring Countries.” Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 9 (1840): 59.
C.M. MacGregor, Central Asia. Part I. A Contribution Towards the Better Knowledge of the Topography, Ethnography, Statistics, & History of the North-West Frontier of British India (Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, 1873): vol. 2, 179–183, 581–585, M. Lal, Travels in the Panjab, Afghanistan, and Turkistan, to Balk, Bokhara and Herat; and a Visit to Great Britain and Germany (Patiala: Language Department Punjab, 1971): 355.
Raverty, “Account”: 21.
‘Azīz al-Dīn Wakīl Fūfalzay, Aḥmad Shāh: Wāris wa mujaddid-i impirātūrī-i Afghānistān (Kabul: Wizārat-i Iṭṭilāʿāt wa Kultūr, 1980): vol. 1, 260–3.
Translation from Khoja, “Competing”: 574; see Maḥmūd al-Ḥusaynī al-Munshī ibn Ibrāhīm al-Jāmī, Tārīkh-i Aḥmad Shāhī. Facsimile by Dōstmurād Sayyid Murādōf (Moscow: Nauka, 1974): vol. 1, 168a–170a.
See analysis of this passage and comparison with similar passages in Khoja, “Competing”: 272–4.
Fūfalzay, Aḥmad Shāh: vol. 1, 262. The extent of the Maratha advance has been the subject of debate, but their taking of Peshawar is taken seriously by some, see e.g. Om Prakash, ed., Marathas and Ahmad Shah Abdali (New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 2002): 85–7.
Fūfalzay, Aḥmad Shāh: vol. 1: 262–3.
See e.g. Government of the Punjab, Gazetteer of the Peshawar District, 1897–8 (Lahore: no publisher, 1898): 63. This idea probably owed something to Elphinstone’s report of “splendid palaces” of nobles at Peshawar, see M. Elphinstone, An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul (London: John Murray, 1815): 56. For an example of a yet more positive depiction, seemingly informed by modern nationalist sentiment, see Allāh Bakhsh Yūsufī, Yūsufzay (Karachi: Muḥammad ‘Alī Education Centre, 1960): 286, who mentions the building of new houses, settlement of noble families, and the general “development” (taraqqī) of the region under Aḥmad Shāh.
Dās, Tārīkh: 148. For a discussion of the mosque’s likely provenance, and the confusion around the name Mahābat rather than Muḥabbat Khan, see I. Shah, “Jāmi‘ Masjid Andarshahr Commonly Known as “Masjid Mahābat Khān”: The Question of Attribution.” Islamic Studies 33 (1994): 497–500.
H.G. Raverty, Notes on Afghanistan and Part of Baluchistan (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1888): 35. Raverty draws from the work of Mīrzā Mughal Beg: see Charles E.A.W. Oldham, “SAIR AL-BILAD,” in The Indian Antiquary: a Journal of Oriental Research, 58 (1929): 98 for background on the text.
For Chamkanī, see Dās, Tārīkh: 179. Whereas Dās mentions a single walled canal, Raverty describes two “rivulets,” see Raverty, “Account”: 29.
Gankovsky, “The Durrani Empire”: 78–9: unirrigated lands, or newly built settlements irrigated by canals not built by the state, were often taxed less (between 1/10 and 1/5 of produce) than the usual rate (1/3). By the end of Tīmūr Shāh’s reign Peshawar’s irrigated lands were apparently taxed at between ¼ and 1/3.
Raverty, Notes: 35.
R. Nichols, Settling the Frontier: Land, Law and Society in the Peshawar Valley, 1500–1900, 2nd ed. (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2017): 117.
Government of the Punjab, Gazetteer: 135–6.
Government of the Punjab, Gazetteer: 173.
M.A. Court, “Extracts translated from a Memoir on a map of Peshawar.” The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 5 (1836): 478 and Elphinstone, An Account (1839): vol. 2, 47.
Elphinstone, An Account (1815): 257–8.
A. Kaganovitch, “The Jewish Communities of Central Asia in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods.” Iranian Studies 52 (2019): 940; Gommans, The Rise: 39. Jews in Central Asia tended to be more involved in silk production, but were not absent from banking. For an eyewitness account of Peshawar’s Jewish community, see G. Forster, A Journey from Bengal to England (London: R. Faulder & Son, 1808): vol. 2, 56–7.
S. Levi, “The Indian Merchant Diaspora in Early Modern Central Asia and Iran.” Iranian Studies 32 (1999): 502; Gankovsky, “The Durrani Empire”: 84–5.
W. Moorcroft & G. Trebeck, Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Panjab, ed. Horace Hayman Wilson (London: John Murray, 1841): vol. 2, 408, 459.
See discussion of the Hindki label in Hanifi, Connecting: ch. 1, 30–31 (eBook) and O. Caroe, The Pathans (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1958): 303. For mentions of Hindkis in Peshawar see e.g. Raverty, “Account”: 29, C. Masson, Narrative of Various Journeys in Balochistan, Afghanistan, the Panjab, & Kalat, during a Residence in those Countries: To which is Added an Account of the Insurrection at Kalat, and a Memoir on Eastern Balochistan (London: Richard Bentley, 1844): vol. 1, 131–2.
For discussion of the claim about Aḥmad Shāh’s campaigns see C. Markovits, The Global World of Indian Merchants, 1750–1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000): 60–62. For the role of banking in further South Asian eighteenth century state-building see L. Subramanian, “Banias and the British: The Role of Indigenous Credit in the Process of Imperial Expansion in Western India in the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century.” Modern Asian Studies 21 (1987): 473–510.
Lally, “Beyond”: 372–3.
Elphinstone, An Account (1815): 257–8.
Lal, Travels: 359, Dās, Tārīkh: 178–180, and Raverty, “Account”: 29.
S.M. Khan, “The Sethi merchants’ havelis in Peshawar, 1800–1910: form, identity and status” (PhD diss., University of Westminster, 2016): 131–5. It is worth noting that in Hanifi’s interview with an elder Sethī, the latter placed their move to Chamkanī in the Sikh period (see Hanifi, Connecting: ch. 6, p. 1 (eBook)). However, Khan’s research, making use of a family history produced by the Sethī family, roundly disagrees; the later ties between Sethīs and Afghan authorities also suggest a long relationship.
Hanifi, Connecting: ch. 6, 1–2, 15–18 (eBook).
A. Zareef, “Romancing the Glorious Mughal Bridge in Peshawar,” Sarhad Conservation Network (2004), and A. Zareef, “Conservationists voice concern over poor upkeep of historic Sethi Bridge,” Dawn (2019).
Dās, Tārīkh: 698.
A. Burnes, Cabool: a Personal Narrative of a Journey to, and Residence in that City, in the years 1836, 7 and 8 (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1843): 41–2, and H.G. Raverty, “An Account of Upper Ḳásh-ḳár, and Chitrál, or Lower Ḳásh-ḳár, together with the Independent Afghán State of Panj-korah, including Tál-ásh.” Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 33 (1864): 148.
MacGregor, Central Asia: vol. 2, 181, 561, 585.
Sultana and Shakirullah, “Durranis’ Tombs in Kiyani Graveyard at Shahpur, Kohat, Pakistan.” Journal of Asian Civilizations 35 (2012): 93–102.
Dās, Tārīkh: 652. For discussion of Fatḥ Allāh and his son Raḥmat Allāh (d. 1801), who was also named ‘Wafādār Khan’ and served as wazīr under Zamān Shāh, see Fayż Muḥammad Kātib Hazāra, The History of Afghanistan: Fayż Muḥammad Kātib Hazārah’s Sirāj al-tawārīkh, ed. and trans. R.D. McChesney and M.M. Khorrami (Leiden: Brill): vol. 1, 88, and Noelle, State and Tribe: 5.
Aḥmad Shāh’s title and renaming of the Abdālī tribe is a complex topic. C. Noelle-Karimi, The Pearl in Its Midst: Herat and the Mapping of Khurasan (15th–19th Centuries) (Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 2014): 104, and Tarzi, “Tarikh”: 92–93 frame the new title as an expression of imperial pretensions. An important dimension is Aḥmad Shāh’s attempt to balance a tribal-genealogical basis for his authority, and one rooted in his exemplary personal qualities. See discussion of this in Khoja, “Competing”: 566–7, Noelle-Karimi, “Afghan Polities”: 61, and especially Nejatie, “Pearl of Pearls”: 355–63.
For an overview of the term Bar-Durrānī and its possible meanings, see Nejatie, “The Pearl of Pearls”: 378–9.
Noelle-Karimi, The Pearl: 128. Their headman under Tīmūr Shāh was Khanjar Khān, see Fūfalzay, Tīmūr Shāh Durrānī, (Kabul: Anjuman-i Tārīkh-i Afghānistān): vol. 2, 416. For the gate see Hazāra, The History: vol. 1, 179, transliterated by McChesney and Khorrami as “Bardarani,” see also vol. 2, 49 for mention of a “Bardarani” politician at Herat in 1855. W.B. Trousdale, in Kandahar in the Nineteenth Century (Leiden: Brill, 2021): 67 states they were Durrānī-Abdālī Pakhtuns relocated from the Attock area, but this does not gel easily with the use of Bar-Durrānī as a separate term for distinct eastern tribes, not referring to Durrānīs who lived in the east.
Maḥmūd al-Mūsawī, Aḥwāl-i aqwām-i chahārgāna-i Afghān, MS, British Library, Or. 1861. Discussion of the manuscript’s origins can be found in Nejatie, “The Pearl”: 48–49 and C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum (London, 1879–83): vol. 3, 1032b–33a.
Noelle-Karimi, The Pearl: 118–19.
al-Mūsawī, Aḥwāl: 32b–33a, 43a.
ʿAbd al-Karīm Bukhārī, Histoire de l’Asie Centrale (Afghanistan, Boukhara, Khiva, Khoqand) depuis les dernières années du règne de Nadir Chah (1153), jusqu’en 1233 de l’Hégire (1740–1818), ed. and trans. C. Schefer (Paris: no publisher, 1876): 12–13.
S. Gole, Indian Maps and Plans: from earliest times to the advent of European surveys (New Delhi: Manohar, 1989): 90, 101; C.F. Massy, Chiefs and Families of Note in the Delhi, Jalandhar, Peshawar and Derajat Divisions of the Panjab (Allahabad: Pioneer Press, 1890): 499. Massy was a major in the Bengal Staff Corps who derived his information from both colonial documents and from the “Darbaris themselves,” see Chiefs: Preface.
Massy, Chiefs: 464, see Nichols, Settling: 72–3 for Akbar’s grant of jāgīr to “The first great Khattak, Malik Ako” and some discussion of the tribe’s lucrative Indus ferry toll-collecting privilege prior to the 1680s.
Massy, Chiefs: 535–45.
al-Mūsawī, Aḥwāl: 33b, 35b, 37b, 39a, see also Hazāra, The History: vol. 1, 19–27, 43–4 for examples of regional governors from the eastern tribes rebelling.
Nichols, Settling: 111–13.
Imām al-Dīn Ḥusaynī, Tārīkh-i Ḥusayn Shāhī, ed. ‘Abd al-Khāliq La‘alzād (London, 2018): 21. This chronicle was written by a courtier of Zamān Shāh.
Massy, Chiefs: 574–5.
Dās, Tārīkh: 661.
For example, in the case of Shikarpur in Sindh, where Durrānī land distribution favored “pīrs, Makhdums, and members of the Durrani nobility” as opposed to contemporary Hyderabad, whose landlords were largely local Baluch “tribal elites,” see Ziad, “Traversing”: 452–3.
Dās, Tārīkh: 661.
Raverty, Notes: 34, Government of the Punjab, Gazetteer: 386–7.
G. Tucker, Report on the Settlement of the Kohat District in the Panjáb (Calcutta: Calcutta Central Press Company, 1884): 87.
ʿIjāz al-Ḥaqq Quddūsī, Taẕkira-yi ṣūfiyya-yi Sarḥad (Lahore: Markazī Urdu Board, 1966): 461–5.
Ziad, “Transporting”: 109–12.
ʿAbd al-Shakūr Rashād, Da Chamkanō Miyā ʿUmar (Kabul: Da Afghānistān da ʿUlūmō Akādimī, da Ijtimāʿī ʿUlūmō ʿIlmī aw Taḥqīqī Markaz, 1981): 23, 27. Some of the Durrānī leaders included nobles of the powerful Bāmīzay and Pōpalzay clans, including the chief wazīr Shāh Walī Khān Bāmīzay (also entitled ashraf al-wazarā’).
Singh, in Ahmad: 28, states that the reference to the coronation is from Shayr Muḥammad Khān’s Ansāb-i Ru’asā’-yi Ḍera Ismā’īl Khān, a manuscript in his collection.
Quddūsī, Taẕkira: 454; Ziad, “Ḥażrat”: 133–4.
J. Darmesteter, in Chants populaires des afghans (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1888–1890): 1–5 translates a Pakhtu poem, apparently penned by a young poet, Burhān, who recited it for him: the poem describes the shāh’s visit to Miyān ‘Umar prior to invading India in early 1761.
Fūfalzay, Aḥmad Shāh: 100–1.
Maḥmūd al-Ḥusaynī, Tārīkh: vol. 1, 62b–3a, vol. 2, 604b–5a, Quddūsī, Taẕkira: 450–5.
Dās, Tārīkh: 180.
Muḥammad Ḥanīf, “Ḥayāt wa āsār-i Ḥażrat Miyān Muḥammad ʿUmar Chamkanī,” (PhD diss., Peshawar University, 1979): 567–75. The Khaṭaks as a whole fielded thirty thousand foot soldiers with guns according to al-Mūsawī, Aḥwāl, 37b.
Ḥanīf, “Ḥayāt”: 532–5.
Elphinstone, An Account (1839): vol. 1, 289.
Dās, Tārīkh: 179.
Khan, “The Sethi merchants’ havelis”: 131, 151 no. 22. The family history cited by Khan states that the Sethīs were present at a meeting between the shāh and Shaykh.
Government of the Punjab, Gazetteer, 63; Raverty, “Account of the City”: 8.
al-Mūsawī, Aḥwāl: 36b.
Dās, Tārīkh-i Pishāwar: 179; Hazāra, The History: vol. 1, 60, and Sulṭān Muḥammad Khān Bārakzay, Tārīkh-i Sulṭānī (Bombay: no publisher, 1881): 153.
Sulṭān Muḥammad, Tārīkh: 153–4; al-Mūsawī, Aḥwāl: 37a refers to the town as the qaṣba of “Jamkan,” and Imām al-Dīn, Tārīkh: 147 refers to it as “Jamkanā.”
Yūsufī, Yūsufzay: 287.
M. Schinasi, Kabul: A History 1773–1948, trans. R.D. McChesney (Leiden: Brill, 2017): 23–4.
Dās, Tārīkh: 436–7.
Massy, Chiefs: 465.