Online Encyclopedia

HINDU

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V01, Page 314 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
HINDU Kum), the highways of Afghanistan may be classed under two heads: (1) Foreign trade routes, and (2) Internal communications. (I) Of the many routes which cross the frontiers of Afghanistan the most important commercially are those which connect the Oxus regions and the Central Asian khanates with Kabul, and those which lead from Kabul, Ghazni and Kandahar to the plains of India. Kabul is linked with Afghan Turkestan and Badakshan by three main lines of communication across the Koh-i-Baba and the Hindu Kush. One of these routes follows the Balkh river to its head from Tashkurghan, and then, preserving a high general level of 8000 to 9000 ft., it passes over the water-divides separating the upper tributaries of the Kunduz river, and drops into the valley formed by an-other tributary at Bamian. From Bamian it passes over the central mountain chain to Kabul either by the well-known passes of Irak (marking the water-divide of the Koh-i-Baba) and of Unai (marking the summit of the Sanglakh, a branch of the Hindu Kush), or else, turning eastwards, it crosses into the Ghorband valley by the Shibar, a pass which is considerably lower than the Irak and is very seldom snowbound. From the foot of the Unai pass it follows the Kabul river, and from the foot of the Shibar it follows the circuitous route which is offered by the drainage of the Ghorband valley to Charikar, and thence southwards to Kabul. The main points on this route are Haibak, Bajgah and Bamian. It is full of awkward grades and minor passes, but it does not maintain a high level generally, no pass (if the Shibar route be adopted) much exceeding 1o,000 ft. That this has for centuries been regarded as the main route northward from Kabul, the Buddhist relics of Bamian and Haibak bear silent witness; but it may be doubted whether Abdur Rahman's talent for roadmaking has not opened out better alternative lines. One of his roads connects Haibak with the Ghorband valley by the Chahardar pass across the Hindu Kush. The pass is high (nearly 14,000 ft.), but the road is excellently well laid out, and the route, which, south of Haibak, traverses a corner of the Ghori and Baghlan districts of Badakshan, is more direct. A third route also passes through Badakshan, and connects Kunduz with Charikar by the Khawak pass and Panjshir river. The latter joins the Ghorband close to Charikar. The Khawak (11,600 ft.) is not a high pass; the grades are easy and the snowfall usually light. This high road is stated (on Afghan authority) to be kept open for khafila traffic all the year round by the employment of forced labour for clearing snow. It is a recently developed route and one of great importance to Kabul, both strategically and commercially. Routes that pass through the mountain barriers of the frontier between Peshawarand the Gomaloccur at intervals along the western border, and in the northern section of the Indian frontier they are all well marked. The Khyber, Kurram and Tochi are the best known, inasmuch as all these lines of advance into Afghanistan are held by British troops or Indian levies. But the Bara valley route into the heart of the Afridi Tirah is not to be altogether overlooked, although it is not a trade route of any importance. Between Kabul and Jalalabad there are two roads, one by the Lataband pass, and the other and more difficult by the Khurd-Kabul and Jagdalak passes, the latter being the scene of the massacre of a British brigade in 1842. Between Jalalabad and Peshawar is the Khyber pass (q.v.). The Khyber was not in ancient times the main route of advance from Kabul to Peshawar. From Kabul the old route followed the Kabul river through the valley of Laghman (or Lamghan, as the Afghans call it) over a gentle water-parting into the Kunar valley, leaving Ningrahar and Jalalabad to the south. From the Kunar it crossed into Bajour by one of several open and comparatively easy passes, and from Bajour descended into India either by the Malakand or some other contiguous frontier gateway to the plains of Peshawar. The Kurram route involves the Peiwar and Shutargardan passes (8600 and 10,800 ft. respectively) across the southern extensions of the Safed Koh range, and has never been a great trade route, however suitable as an alternative military line of advance. Trade does not extend largely between Afghanistan and India by the Tochi route, being locally confined to the valley and the dis• tracts at its head, yet this is the shortest and most direct route between Ghazni and the frontier, and in the palmy days of Ghazni raiding was the road by which the great robber Mahmud occasionally descended on to the Indus plains. Traces of his raiding and road-making are still visible, but it is certain that he made use of the more direct route to Peshawar far more frequently than he did of the Tochi. The exact nature of the connexion between the head of the Tochi and the Ghazni plain is still unknown to us. The Gomal is the great central trade route between Afghanistan and India; and the position, which is held by a tribal post at Wana, will do much to ensure its continued popularity. The Gomal involves no passes of any great difficulty, although it is impossible to follow the actual course of the river on account of the narrow defiles which have been cut through the recent conglomerate beds which flank the plains of the Indus. It has been carefully surveyed for a possible railway alignment; and an excellent road now connects Omitting the group of northern routes to India from Central Asia, which pass between Kashmir and Afghanistan Tank (at its foot) with the Zhob line of communications to Quetta, and with Wana on the southern flank of Waziristan. The Gomal route is of immense importance, both as a commercial and strategic line, and in both particulars is of far greater significance than either the Kurram or the Tochi. (2) Of the interior lines of communication ,those which connect the great cities of Afghanistan, Herat, Kabul and Kandahar, are obviously the most important. Between Kabul and Herat there is no " royal " road, the existing route passing over the frequently snow-bound wastes that lie below the southern flank of the great Koh-i-Baba into the upper valleys of the Hari Rud tributaries. It is a waste, elevated, desolate region that the route traverses, and the road itself is only open at certain seasons of the year. Between Kabul and Kandahar exists the well-known and oft-traversed route by Ghazni and Kalat-i-Ghilzai. There is but one insignificant waterparting—or kotal—a little to the north of Ghazni; and the road, although unmade, may be considered equal to any road of its length in Europe for military purposes. Between Kandahar and Herat there is the recognized trade route which crosses the Helmund at Girishk and passes through Farah and Sabzawar. It includes about 36o miles of easy road, with spaces where wateris scarce. There is not a pass of any great importance, nor a river of any great difficulty, to be encountered from end to end, but the route is flanked on the north between Kandahar and Girishk by the Zamindawar hills, containing the most truculent and fanatical clans of all the Southern Afghan tribes. Little need be said of the 65 m. of route between Kandahar and the Baluchistan frontier at New Chaman. It is on the whole a route across open plains and hard, stony " dasht"—a route which would offer no great difficulties to that railway extension from Chaman which has so long been contemplated. A very considerable trade,now passes along this route to India, in spite of almost prohibitive imposts; but the trade does not follow the railway from New Chaman to the eastern foot of the Khojak. Long strings of camels may still be seen from the train windows patiently treading their slow way over the Khojak pass to Kila Abdullah, whilst the train alongside them rapidly twists through the mountain tunnel into the Peshin valley. The variety of climate is immense, as might be expected. Taking the highlands of the country as a whole, there is no climate. great difference between the mean temperature of Afghanistan and that of the lower Himalayas. Each may be placed at a point between 5o° and 60° F. But the remark-able feature of Afghan climate (as also of that of Baluchistan) is its extreme range of temperature within limited periods. The least daily range in the north is during the cold weather, the greatest in the hot. For seven months of the year (from May to November) this range exceeds 30° F. daily. Waves of intense cold occur, lasting for several days, and one may have to endure a cold of 120 below zero, rising to a maximum of 17° below freezing-point. On the other hand the summer temperature is exceedingly high, especially in the Oxus regions, where a shade maximum of r ro° to 120° is not uncommon. At Kabul, and over all the northern part of the country to the descent at Gandamak, winter is rigorous, but especially so on the high Arachosian plateau. In Kabul the snow lies for two or three months; the people seldom leave their houses, and sleep close to stoves. At Ghazni the snow has been known to lie long beyond the vernal equinox; the thermometer sinks to ro° and 15° below zero (Fahr.) ; and tradition relates the entire destruction of the population of Ghazni by snowstorms more than once. At Jalalabad the winter and the climate generally assume an Indian character. The summer heat is great everywhere in Afghanistan, but most of all in the districts bordering on the Indus, especially Sewi, on the lower Helmund and in Seistan. All over Kandahar province the summer heat is intense, and the simoon is not unknown. The hot season throughout this part of the country is rendered more trying by frequent dust storms and fiery winds; whilst the bare rocky ridges that traverse the country, absorbing heat by day and radiating it by night, render the summer nights most oppressive. At Kabul the summer sun has great power, though the heat is tempered occasionally by cool breezes from the Hindu Kush, and the nights are usually cool. At Kandahar snow seldom falls on the plains or lower hills; when it does, it melts at once. At Herat, though 800 ft. lower than Kandahar, the summer climate is more temperate; and, in fact, the climate altogether is far from disagreeable. From May to September the wind blows from the N.W. with great violence, and this extends across the country to Kandahar. The winter is tolerably mild;snow melts as it falls, and even on the mountains does not lie long. Three years out of four at Herat it does not freeze hard enough for the people to store ice; yet it was not very far from Herat, and could not have been at a greatly higher level (at Kafir Kala, near Kassan) that, in 175o, Ahmad Shah's army, retreating from Persia, is said to have lost 18,000 men from cold in a single night. In the northern Herat districts, too, records of the coldest month (February) show the mean minimum as 17° F., and the maximum 38°. The eastern reaches of the Hari Rud river are frozen hard in the winter, rapids and all, and the people travel on it as on a road. The summer rains that accompany the S.W. monsoon in India, beating along the southern slopes of the Himalaya, travel up the Kabul valley as far as Laghman, though they are more clearly felt in Bajour and Panjkora, under the high spurs of the Hindu Kush, and in the eastern branches of Safed Koh. Rain also falls at this season at the head of Kurram valley. South of this the Suliman mountains may be taken as the western limit of the monsoon's action. It is quite unfelt in the rest of Afghanistan, in which, as in all the west of Asia, the winter rains are the most considerable. The spring rain, though less copious, is more important to agriculture than the winter rain, unless where the latter falls in the form of snow. In the absence of monsoon influences there are steadier weather indications than in India. The north-west blizzards which occur in winter and spring are the most noticeable feature, and their influence is clearly felt on the Indian frontier. The cold is then intense and the force of the wind cyclonic. Speaking generally, the Afghanistan climate is a dry one. The sun shines with splendour for three-fourths of the year, and the nights are even more clear than the days. Marked characteristics are the great differences of summer and winter temperature and of day and night temperature, as well as the extent to which change of climate can be attained by slight change of place. As the emperor Baber said of Kabul, at one day's journey from it you may find a place where snow never falls, and at two hours' journey a place where snow almost never melts! The Afghans vaunt the salubrity and charm of some local climates, as of the Toba hills above the Kakar country, and of some of the high valleys of the Safed Koh. The people have by no means that immunity from disease which the bright, dry character of the climate and the fine physical aspect of a large proportion of them might lead us to expect. Intermittent and remittent fevers are very prevalent; bowel complaints are common, and often fatal in the autumn. The universal custom of sleeping on the house-top in summer promotes rheumatic and neuralgic affections; and in the Koh Daman of Kabul, which the natives regard as having the finest of climates, the mortality from fever and bowel complaint, between July and October, is great, the immoderate use of fruit predisposing to such ailments. The term Afghan really applies to one section only of the mixed conglomeration of nationalities which forms the people of Afghanistan, but this is the dominant section known as the Durani. The Ghilzai (who is almost as powerful as the Durani) claims to be of Turkish origin; the Hazaras, the Chahar-Aimak, Tajiks, Uzbegs, Kafirs and others are more or less subject races. Popularly any inhabitant of Afghanistan is known as Afghan on the Indian frontier without distinction of origin or language; but the language division between the Parsiwan (or Persian-speaking Afghan) and the Pathan is a very distinct one. The predominance of the Afghan in Afghanistan dates from the middle of the 18th century, when Ahmad Shah carved out Afghanistan from the previous con-quests of Nadir Shah and called it the Durani empire. The Durani Afghans claim to be Ben-i-Israel, and insist on their descent from the tribes who were carried away captive from Palestine to Media by Nebuchadrezzar. Yet they also claim to be Pukhtun (or Pathan) in common with all other Pushtu-speaking tribes, whom they do not admit to be Afghan. The bond of affinity between the various peoples who compose the Pathan community is simply the bond of a common language. Population. All of them recognize a common code or unwritten law called Pukhtunwali, which appears to be similar in general character to the old Hebraic law, though modified by Mahommedan ordinances, and strangely similar in certain particulars to Rajput custom. Besides their division into clans and tribes, the whole Afghan people may be divided into dwellers in tents and dwellers in houses; and this division is apparently not coincident with tribal divisions, for of several of the great clans at least a part is nomad and a part settled. Such, e.g., is the case with the Durani and with the Ghilzai. The settled Afghans form the village communities, and in part the population of the few towns. Their chief occupation is with the soil. They form the core of the nation and the main part of the army. Nearly all own the land on which they live, and which they cultivate with their own hands or by hired labour. Roundly speaking, agriculture and soldiering are their sole occupations. No Afghan will pursue a handicraft or keep a shop, though the Ghilzai Povindahs engage largely in travelling trade and transport of goods. As a race the Afghans are very handsome and athletic, often with fair complexion and flowing beard, generally black or brown, sometimes, though rarely, red; the features highly aquiline. The hair is shaved off from the forehead to the top of the head, the remainder at the sides being allowed to fall in large curls over the shoulders. Their step is full of resolution; their bearing proud and apt to be rough. The women have handsome features of Jewish cast (the last trait often true also of the men); fair complexions, sometimes rosy, though usually a pale sallow; hair braided and plaited behind in two long tresses terminating in silken tassels. They are rigidly secluded, but intrigue is frequent. The Afghans, inured to bloodshed from childhood, are familiar with death, and audacious in attack, but easily discouraged by failure; excessively turbulent and unsubmissive to law or discipline; apparently frank and affable in manner, especially when they hope to gain some object, but capable of the grossest brutality when that hope ceases. They are unscrupulous in perjury, treacherous, vain and insatiable, passionate in vindictiveness, which they will satisfy at the cost of their own lives and in the most cruel manner. Nowhere is crime committed on such trifling grounds, or with such general impunity, though when it is punished the punishment is atrocious. Among themselves the Afghans are quarrelsome, intriguing and distrustful; estrangements and affrays are of constant occurrence; the traveller conceals and misrepresents the time and direction of his journey. The Afghan is by breed and nature a bird of prey. If from habit and tradition he respects a stranger within his threshold, he yet considers it legitimate to warn a neighbour of the prey that is afoot, or even to overtake and plunder his guest after he has quitted his roof. The repression of crime and the demand of taxation he regards alike as tyranny. The Afghans are eternally boasting of their lineage, their independence and their prowess. They look on the Afghans as the first of nations, and each man looks on himself as the equal of any Afghan. They are capable of enduring great privation, and make excellent soldiers under British discipline, though there are but few in the Indian army. Sobriety and hardiness characterize the bulk of the people, though the higher classes are too often stained with deep and degrading debauchery. The first impression made by the Afghan is favourable. The European, especially if he come from India, is charmed by their apparently frank, open-hearted, hospitable and manly manners; but the charm is not of long duration, and he finds that the Afghan is as cruel and crafty as he is independent. No trustworthy statistics exist showing either present numbers or fluctuations in the population of Afghanistan. Within the amir's dominions there are probably from four to five millions of people, and of these the vast majority are agriculturists. The cultivators, including landowners, tenants, hired labourers and slaves, represent the working population of the country, and as industrious and successful agriculturists they are unsurpassed in Asia. They have carried the art of irrigation to great per-fection, and they utilize every acre of profitable soil. Certain Ghilzai clans are specially famous for their skill in the construction of the karez or underground water-channel. The religion of the country throughout is Mahommedan. Next to Turkey, Afghanistan is the most powerful Mahommedan kingdom in existence. The vast majority of Afghans Religion. are of the Sunni sect; but there are, in their midst, such powerful communities of Shiahs as the Hazaras of the central districts, the Kizilbashes of Kabul and the Turis of the Kurram border, nor is there between them that bitterness of sectarian animosity which is so marked a feature in India. The Kafirs of the mountainous region of Kafiristan alone are non-Mahommedan. They are sunk in a paganism which seems to embrace some faint reflexion of Greek mythology, Zoroastrian principles and the tenets of Buddhism, originally gathered, no doubt, from the varied elements of their mixed extraction. Those contiguous Afghan tribes, who have not so long ago been converted to the faith of Islam, are naturally the most fanatical and the most virulent upholders of the faith around them. In and about the. centre of civilization at Kabul, instances of Ghazism are comparatively rare. In the western provinces about Kandahar (amongst the Durani Afghans—the people who claim to be Beni-Israel), and especially in Zamindawar, the spirit of fanaticism runs high, and every other Afghan is a possible Ghazi—a man who has devoted his life to the extinction of other creeds. Persian is the vernacular of a large part of the non-Afghan population, and is familiar to all educated Afghans; it is the language of the court and of literature. Pushtu, how-ever, is the prevailing language, though it does not anage Ladngu seem to be spoken in Herat, or, roughly speaking, west literature. of the Helmund. Turki is spoken in Afghan Turkestan. There is a respectable amount of Afghan literature. The oldest work in Pushtu is a history of the conquest of Swat by Shaikh Mali, a chief of the Yusafzais, and leader in the conquest (A.D. 1413-24). In 1494 Kaju Khan became chief of the same clan; during his rule Buner and Panjkora were completely conquered, and he wrote a history of the events. In the reign of Akbar, Bayazid Ansari, called Pir-i-Roshan, " the Saint of Light," the founder of an heretical sect, wrote in Pushtu; as did his chief antagonist, a famous Afghan saint called Akhund Darweza. The literature is richest in poetry. Abdur Rahman (17th ceniury) is the best known poet. Another very popular poet is Khushal Khan, the warlike chief of the Khattaks in the time of Aurangzeb. Many other members of his family were poets also. Ahmad Shah, the founder of the monarchy, likewise wrote poetry. Ballads are numerous. Education is confined to most elementary principles in Afghanistan. Of schools or colleges for the purposes of a higher education befitted to the sons of noblemen and the more Education. wealthy merchants there are absolutely none; but the village school is an ever-present and very open spectacle to the passer-by. Here the younger boys are collected and instructed in the rudiments of reading, writing and religious creed by the village mullah, or priest, who thereby acquires an early influence over the Afghan mind. The method of teaching is confined to that wearisome system of loud-voiced repetition which is so annoying a feature in Indian schools; and the Koran is, of course, the text-book in all forms of education. Every Afghan gentleman can read and speak Persian, but beyond this acquirement education seems to be limited to the physical development of the youth by instruction in horsemanship and feats of skill. Such advanced education as exists in Afghanistan is centred in the priests and physicians; but the ignorance of both is extreme. The government of Afghanistan is an absolute monarchy under the amir, and succession to the throne is hereditary. There are five chief political divisions in the country—namely, Kabul, Turkestan, Herat, Kandahar and Badakshan, constitu- tion and each of which is ruled by a " naib "-or governor, who laws. is directly responsible to the amir. Under the governors of provinces the nobles and kazis (or district judges) dispense justice much in the feudal fashion. There are three classes of chiefs who form the council or durbar of the king. These are the sirdars, the khans and the mullahs. The sirdars are hereditary nobles, the khans are representatives of the people, and the mullahs of Mahommedan religion. The khan is elected by the clan or tribe. The clannish attachment of the Afghans is rather to the community than to the chief. These three classes of representatives are divided into two assemblies, the Durbar Shahi or royal assembly, and the Kharwanin Mulkhi or commons. The mullahs take their place in one or the other according to their individual rank. The executive officials of the amir have a selected body, called the Khilwat, which acts as a cabinet council, but no member can give advice to the crown without being asked to do so, or beyond the jurisdiction of his own department. The amir, in addition to being chief executive officer, is chief judge and supreme court of appeal. Any one has the right to appeal to the amir for trial, and the great amirs, Dost Mahommed and Abdur Rahman, were accessible at all times to the petitions of their subjects. Next to the amir comes the court of the kazi, the chief centre of justice, and beneath the kazi comes the kotwal, who performs, as in India, the ordinary functions of a magistrate. In large provincial towns there is a punchait, or council, for the trial of commercial cases. There are government departments for the administration of revenue, customs, post-office, military affairs, &c. The general law administered in all the courts of Afghanistan is,that of Islam and of the customs of the country, with developments introduced by the Amir Abdur Rahman. The Afghan army probably numbers 50,000 regulars distributed between the military centres of Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, Mazar-Defence. i-Sharif, Jalalabad and Asmar, with detachments at frontier outposts on the side of India. Abdur Rahman claimed that he could put roo,000 men into the field within a week for the defence of Herat. In 1896 he introduced a system of semi-enforced service whereby one man in every eight between the ages of sixteen and seventy takes his turn at military training. In this way he calculated that he could have raised 1,000,000 men armed with modern weapons, but his chief difficulty would be money and transport. The pay of the army is apt to be irregular. The amir's factories at Kabul for arms and ammunition are said to turn out about, 20,000 cartridges and 15 rifles daily, with 2 guns per week; but: the armj thus produced are very heterogeneous, and the different varieties of cartridge used would cause endless complications. The two chief fastnesses of Northern Afghanistan are Herat and Dehdadi near Balkh. The latter fort took twelve years to build, and commands all the roads leading from the Oxus into Afghan Turkestan. It is armed with naval quick-firing guns, Krupp,Hotchkiss, Nordenfeld and Maxim. The chief cantonment for the same district is at Mazar-i-Sharif, 12 M. from Balkh. Financially, Afghanistan has never, since it first became a kingdom, been able to pay for its own government, public works Finance and army. There appears to be no inherent reason why this should be so. Whilst it can never (in the absence of any great mineral wealth) develop into a wealthy country, it can at least support its own population; and it would, but for the short-sighted trade policy of Abdur Rahman, certainly have risen to a position of respectable solvency. Its revenues (about which no trustworthy information is available) are subject to great fluctuations, and probably never exceed the value of one million sterling per annum. They fell in Shere Ali's time to 700,000. The original subsidy to the amir from the Indian government was fixed at 12 lakhs of rupees (8o,000) per annum, but in 1893, in connexion with the boundary settlement, it was increased to L120,000. Few minerals are wrought in Afghanistan, though Abdur Rahman claims in his autobiography that the country is rich Minerals. in mines. Some small quantity of gold is taken from the streams in Laghman and the adjoining districts. Famous silver mines were formerly worked near the head of the Panjshir valley in Hindu Kush. Kabul is chiefly supplied with iron from the Permuli (or Farmuli) district, between the Upper Kurram and Gomal, where it is said to be abundant. Iron ore is most abundant near the passes leading to Bamian, and in other parts of Hindu Kush. Copper ore from various parts of Afghanistan has been seen, but it is nowhere worked. Lead is found in Upper Bangash (Kurram district), and in the Shinwari country (also among the branches of Safed Koh), and in the Kakar country. There are reported to be rich lead mines near Herat scarcely worked. Lead, with antimony, is found near the Arghand-ab, 32 M. north-west of Ghazni, and in the Ghorband valley, north of Kabul. Most of the lead used, how-ever, comes from the Hazara country, where the ore is described as being gathered on the surface. An ancient mine of great extent and elaborate character exists at Feringal, in the Ghorband valley. Antimony is obtained in considerable quantities at Shah-Maksud, about 3o M. north of Kandahar. Sulphur is said to be found at Herat, dug from the soil in small fragments, but the chief supply comes from the Hazara country and from Pirkisri, on the confines of Seistan, where there would seem to be a crater, or fumarole. Sal-ammoniac is brought from the same place. Gypsum is found in large quantities in the plain of Kandahar, being dug out in fragile coralline masses from near the surface. Coal (perhaps lignite) is said to be found in Zurmat (between the Upper Kurram and the Gomal) and near Ghazni. Nitre abounds in the soil over all the south-west of Afghanistan, and often affects the water of the karez or subterranean canals. The characteristic distribution of vegetation on the mountains of Afghanistan is worthy of attention. The great mass of it is confined to the main ranges and their immediate off-shoots, whilst on the more distant and terminal prolongations it is almost entirely absent; in fact, these are naked rock and stone. Take, for example, the Safed Koh. On the alpine range itself and its immediate branches, at a height of 600o to 10,000 ft., we have abundant growth of large forest trees, among which conifers are the most noble and prominent, such as Cedrus Deodara, Abies excelsa, Pinus longijolia, P. Pinaster, P. Pinea (the edible pine) and the larch. We have also the yew, the hazel, juniper, walnut, wild peach and almond. Growing under the shade of these are several varieties of rose, honeysuckle, currant, gooseberry, hawthorn, rhododendron and a luxuriant herbage, among which the ranunculus family is important for frequency and number of genera. The lemon and wild vine are also here met with, but are more common on the northern mountains. The walnut and oak (evergreen, holly-leaved and kermes) descend to the secondary heights, where they become mixed with alder, ash, khinjak, Arbor-vitae, juniper, with species of Astragalus, &c. Here also are Indigoferae and dwarf laburnum. Lower again, and down to 3000 ft. we have wild olive, species of rock-rose, wild privet, acacias and mimosas, barberry and Zizyphus; and in the eastern ramifications of the chain, Chamaerops humilis (which is applied to a variety of useful purposes), Bignonia or trumpet flower, sissu, Salvadora persica, verbena, acanthus, varieties of Gesnerae. The lowest terminal ridges, especially towards the west, are, as has been said, naked in aspect. Their scanty vegetation is almost wholly herbal; shrubs are only occasional; trees almost non-existent. Labiate, composite and umbelliferous plants are most common. Ferns and mosses are almost confined to the higher ranges. In the low brushwood scattered over portions of the dreary plains of the Kandahar table-lands, we find leguminous thorny plants of the papilionaceous sub-order, such as camel-thorn (Hedysar'um Alhagi), Astragalus in several varieties, spiny rest-harrow (Ononis spinosa), the fibrous roots of which often serve as a tooth-brush; plants of the sub-order Mirnosae, as the sensitive mimosa; a plant of the rue family, called by the natives lipdd; the common worm-wood; also certain orchids, and several species of Salsola. The rue and wormwood are in general use as domestic medicines—the former for rheumatism and neuralgia; the latter in fever, debility and dyspepsia, as well as for a vermifuge. The lipad, owing to its heavy nauseous odour, is believed to keep off evil spirits. In some places, occupying the sides and hollows of ravines, are found the rose bay (Nerium Oleander), called in Persian khar-zarah, or ass-bane, the wild laburnum and various Indigoferae. In cultivated districts the chief trees seen are mulberry, willow, poplar, ash, and occasionally the plane ; but these are due to man's planting. One of the most important of these is the gum-resin of Narthex asafetida, which grows abundantly in the high and dry plains of Western Afghanistan, especially between Kandahar and Uncuki-Herat. The depot for it is Kandahar, whence it finds its rated pro-way to India, where it is much used as a condiment. It ducts of is not so used in Afghanistan, but the Seistan people eat value. the green stalks of the plant preserved in brine. The collection of the gum-resin is almost entirely in the hands of the Kakar clan of Afghans. Vegetation. In the highlands of Kabul edible rhubarb is an important local luxury. The plants grow wild in the mountains. The bleached rhubarb, which has a very delicate flavour, is altered by covering the young leaves, as they sprout from the soil, with loose stones or an empty jar. The leaf-stalks are gathered by the neighbouring hill people, and carried down for sale. Bleached and unbleached rhubarb are both largely consumed, both raw and cooked. The walnut and edible pine-nut are both wild growths, which are exported. The sanjit (Elaeaguns orientalis), common on the banks of water-courses, furnishes an edible fruit. An orchis found in the mountain yields the dried tuber which affords the nutritious mucilage called salep; a good deal of this goes to India. Pistacia khinjak affords a mastic. The fruit, mixed with its resin, is used for food by the Achakzais in Southern Afghanistan. The true pistachio is found only on the northern frontier; the nuts are imported from Badakshan and Kunduz. Mushrooms and other fungi are largely used as food, especially by the Hindus of the towns, to whom they supply a substitute for meat. Manna, of at least two kinds, is sold in the bazaars. One, called turanjbin, appears to exude, in small round tears, from the camel-thorn, and also from the dwarf tamarisk; the other, sir-kasht, in large grains and irregular masses or cakes with bits of twig imbedded, is obtained from a tree which the natives call siah chob (black wood), thought by Bellew to be a Fraxinus or Ornus. In most parts of the country there are two harvests, as generally in India. One of these, called by the Afghans bandrak, or ate. the spring crop, is sown in the end of autumn and culture. reaped in summer. It consists of wheat, barley and a variety of lentils. The other, called pdizah or tirmdi, the autumnal, is sown in the end of spring, and reaped in autumn. It consists of rice, varieties of millet and sorghum, of maize, Phaseolus Mungo, tobacco, beet, turnips, &c. The loftier regions have but one harvest. Wheat is the staple food over the greater part of the country. Rice is not largely distributed. In much of the eastern mountainous country b¢jra (Holcus spicatus) is the chief grain. Most English and Indian garden-stuffs are cultivated; turnips in some places very largely, as cattle food. The growth of melons, water-melons and other cucurbitaceous plants is reckoned very important, especially near towns; and this crop counts for a distinct harvest. Sugar-cane is grown only in the rich plains; and though cotton is grown in the warmer tracts, most of the cotton cloth is imported. Madder is an important item of the spring crop in Ghazni and Kandahar districts, and generally over the west, and supplies the Indian demand. It is said to be very profitable, though it takes three years to mature. Saffron is grown and exported. The castor-oil plant is everywhere common, and furnishes most of the oil of the country. Tobacco is grown very generally; that of Kandahar has much repute, and is exported to India and Bokhara. Two crops of leaves are taken. Lucerne and a trefoil called shaftal form important fodder crops in the western parts of the country, and, when irrigated; are said to afford ten or twelve cuttings in the season. The komal (Prangos pabularia) is abundant in the hill country of Ghazni, and is said to extend through the Hazara country to Herat. It is stored for winter use, and forms an excellent fodder. Others are derived from the Holcus sorghum, and from two kinds of panick. It is common to cut down the green wheat and barley before the ear forms, for fodder, and the repetition of this, with barley at least, is said not to injure the grain crop. Bellew gives the following statement of the manner in which the soil is sometimes worked in the Kandahar district: Barley is sown in November; in March and April it is twice cut for fodder; in June the grain is reaped, the ground is ploughed and manured and sown with tobacco, which yields two cuttings. The ground is then prepared for carrots and turnips, which are gathered in November or December. Of great moment are the fruit crops. All European fruits are produced profusely, in many varieties and of excellent quality. Fresh or preserved, they form a principal food of a large class of the people, and the dry fruit is largely exported. In the valleys of Kabul mulberries are dried, and packed in skins for winter use, This mulberry cake is often reduced toflour, and used as such, forming in some valleys the main food of the people. Grapes are grown very extensively, and the varieties are very numerous. The vines are sometimes trained on trellises, but most frequently over ridges of earth 8 or lo ft. high. The principal part of the garden lands in villages round Kandahar is vineyard, and the produce must be enormous. Open canals are usual in the Kabul valley, and in eastern Afghanistan generally; but over all the western parts of the country much use is made of the karez, which is a subterranean aqueduct uniting the waters of several springs, and conducting their combined volume to the surface at a lower level. As regards vertebrate zoology, Afghanistan lies on the frontier of three regions, viz. the Eurasian, the Ethiopian (to which region Baluchistan seems to belong) and the Indo-Malayan. Hence it naturally partakes somewhat of the forms of each, but is in the main Eurasian. Felidae.—F. catus, F. chaus (both Eurasian) ; F. caracal (Eur., Ind., Eth.), about Kandahar; a small leopard, stated to be found almost all over the country, perhaps rather the cheetah (F. jubatus, Ind. and Eth.) ; F. pardus, the common leopard (Eth. and Ind.). The tiger exists in Afghan Turkestan. Canidae.—The jackal (C. aureus, Eur., Ind., Eth.) abounds on the Helmund and Argand-ab, and probably elsewhere. Wolves (C. Bengalensis) are formidable in the wilder tracts, and assemble in troops on the snow, destroying cattle and sometimes attacking single horsemen. The hyena (H. striata, Africa to India) is common. These do not hunt in packs, but will sometimes singly attack a bullock; they and the wolves make havoc among sheep. A favourite feat of the boldest of the young men of southern Afghanistan is to enter the hyena's den, single-handed, muffle and tie him. There are wild dogs, according to Elphinstone and Conolly. The small Indian fox (Vulpes Bengalensis) is found; also V. flavescens, common to India and Persia, the skin of which is much used as a fur. Musielidae.—Species of mungoose (Herpestes), species of otter, Mustela erminea, and two ferrets, one of them with tortoise-shell marks, tamed by the Afghans to keep down vermin; a marten (M. flavigula, Indian). Bears are two: a black one, probably Ursus torquatus; and one of a dirty yellow, U. Isabellinus, both Himalayan species. Ruminants.—Capra aegagrus and C. megaceros; a wild sheep (Ovis cycloceros or Vignei) ; Gazella subguiturosa—these are often netted in batches when they descend to drink at a stream; G. dorcas perhaps; Cervus Wallichii, the Indian barasingha, and probably some other Indian deer, in the north-eastern mountains. The wild hog (Sus scrofa) is found on the lower Helmund. The wild ass, Gorkhar of Persia (Equus onager), is frequent on the sandy tracts in the south-west. The Himalayan varieties of the markhor and ibex are abundant in Kafiristan. Talpidae.—A mole, probably Talpa Europaea; Sorex Indicus; Erinaceus collaris (Indian), and Er. auritus (Eurasian). Bats believed to be Phyllorhinus cineraceus (Punjab species), Scotophilus Bellii (W. India), Vesp. auritus and V. barhastellus, both found from England to India. Rodentia.—A squirrel (Sciurus Syriacus?) ; Mus Indicus and M. Gerbellinus; a jerboa (Dipus telum?); Alactaga Bactriana; Gerbillus Indicus, and G. erythrinus (Persian and Indian); Lagomys Nepalensis, a Central Asian species. A hare, probably L. ruficaudatus. aBIRDS.—The largest list of Afghan birds that we know of is given by Captain Hutton in the J. As. Soc. Bengal, vol. xvi. pp. 775 seq. ; but it is confessedly far from complete. Of 124 species in that list, 95 are pronounced to be Eurasian, 17 Indian, lo both Eurasian and Indian, i (Turlur risorius) Eur., Ind. and Eth.; and I only, Carpodacus (Bucanetes) crassirostris, peculiar to the country. Afghanistan appears to be, during the breeding season, the retreat of a variety of Indian and some African (desert) forms, whilst in winter the vifauna becomes overwhelmingly Eurasian. EPTILEs.—The following particulars are from Gray:—Lizards —Pseudopus gracilis (Eur.), Argyrophis Horsfieldii, Salea Horsfieldii, Calotes Maria, C. versicolor, C. minor, C. Emma, Phrynocephalus Tickelii—all Indian forms. A tortoise (Testudo Horsfieldii) appears to be peculiar to Kabul. There are apparently no salamanders or tailed Amphibia. The frogs are partly Eurasian, partly Indian; and the same may be said of the fish, but they are as yet most imperfectly known. The camel is of a more robust and compact breed than the tall beast used in India, and is more carefully tended. The two-humped Bactrian camel is commonly used in the Oxus regions, but is seldom seen near the Indian frontier. Horses form a staple export to India. The best of these, however, are reserved for the Afghan cavalry. Those exported to India are usually bred in Maimana and other places in Afghan Fauna. Turkestan. The indigenous horse is the yabu, a stout, heavy-shouldered animal, of about 14 hands high, used chiefly for burden, but also for riding. It gets over incredible distances at an ambling shuffle, but is unfit for fast work and cannot stand excessive heat. The breed of horses was much improved under the amir Abdur Rahman, who took much interest in it. Generally, colts are sold and worked too young. The cows of Kandahar and Seistan give very large quantities of milk. They seem to be of the humped variety, but with the hump evanescent. Dairy produce is important in Afghan diet, especially the pressed and dried curd called knit (an article and name perhaps introduced by the Mongols). There are two varieties of sheep, both having the fat tail. One bears a white fleece, the other a russet or black one. Much of the white wool is exported to Persia, and now largely to Europe by Bombay. Flocks of sheep are the main wealth of the nomad population, and mutton is the chief animal food of the nation. In autumn large numbers are slaughtered, their carcases cut up, rubbed with salt and dried in the sun. The same is done with beef and camel's flesh. The goats, generally black or parti-coloured, seem to be a degenerate variety of the shawl-goat. The climate is found. to be favourable to dog-breeding. Pointers are bred in the Kohistan of Kabul and above Jalalabad—large, heavy, slow-hunting, but fine-nosed and staunch; very like the old'double-nosed Spanish pointer. There are grey-hounds also, but inferior in speed to second-rate English dogs. The manufactures of the country have not developed much during recent years. Poshtins (sheepskin clothing) and the many varieties of camel and goat's hair-cloth which, Trade and commerce. under the name of " barak," " karak," &c., are manu- factured in the northern districts, are still the chief local products of that part of Afghanistan. Herat and Kandahar are famous for their silks, although a large proportion of the manufactured silk found on the Herat market, as well as many of the felts, carpets and embroideries, are brought from the Central Asian khanates. The district of Herat produces many of the smaller sorts of carpets (" galichas " or prayer-carpets), of excellent design and colour, the little town of Adraskand being especially famous for this industry; but they are not to be compared with the best products of eastern Persia or of the Turkman districts about Panjdeh. The nomadic Afghan tribes of the west are chiefly pastoral, and the wool of the southern Herat and Kandahar provinces is famous for its quality. In this direction, the late boundary settlements have undoubtedly led to a considerable development of local resources. A large quantity of wool, together with silk, dried fruit, madder and asafetida, finds its way to India by the Kandahar route. It is impossible to give accurate trade statistics, there being no trustworthy system of registration. The value of the imports from Kabul to India in 1892-1893 was estimated at 221,000 Rx(or tens of rupees). In 1899 it was little over 217,000 Rx, the period of lowest intermediate depression being in 1897. These imports include horses, cattle, fruits, grain, wool, silk, hides, tobacco, drugs and provisions (ghi, &c.). All this trade emanates from Kabul, there being no transit trade with Bokhara owing to the heavy dues levied by the amir. The value of the exports from India to Kabul also shows great fluctuation. In the year 1892-1893 it was registered at nearly 611,000 Rx. In 1894-1895 it had sunk to 274,000 Rx, and in 1899 it figured at 294,600 Rx. The chief items are cotton goods, sugar and tea. In 1898-1899 the imports from Kandahar to India were valued at 330,000 Rx, and the exports from India to Kandahar at about 264,000 Rx. Three-fourths of the exports consist of cotton goods, and three-eighths of the imports were raw wool. The balance of the imports was chiefly made up of dried fruits. Comparison with trade statistics of previous years on this side Afghanistan is difficult, owing to the inclusion of a large section of Baluchistan and Persia within the official " Kandahar " returns; but it does not appear that the value of the western Afghanistan trade is much on the increase. The opening up of the route between Quetta and Seistan has doubtless affected a trade which was already seriously hampered by restrictions. In the year after the mission of Sir Louis Dane to Kabul in 1905 it was authoritatively stated that the trade between Afghanistan and India had nearly doubled in value. The basin of.the Kabul river especially abounds in remains of the period when Buddhism flourished. Bamian is famous for its wall-cut figures, and at Haibak (on the route between Tashkurghan and Kabul) there are some most tiA ti es. ens.qu t interesting Buddhist remains. In the Koh-Daman, north of Kabul, are the sites of several ancient cities, the greatest of which, called Beghram, has furnished coins in scores of thousands, and has been supposed to represent Alexander's Nicaea. Nearer Kabul, and especially on the hills some miles south of the city, are numerous topes. In the valley of Jalalabad are many remains of the same character. In the valley of the Tarnak are the ruins of a great city (Ulan Robat) supposed to be the ancient Arachosia. About Girishk, on the Helmund, are extensive mounds and other traces of buildings; and the remains of several great cities exist in the plain of Seistan, as at Pulki, Peshawaran and Lakh, relics of ancient Drangiana. An ancient stone vessel preserved in a mosque at Kandahar is almost certainly the same that was treasured at Peshawar in the 5th century as the begging pot of Sakya-Muni. In architectural relics of a later date than the Graeco-Buddhist period Afghanistan is remarkably deficient. Of the city of Ghazni, the vast capital of Mahmud and his race, no substantial relics survive, except the tomb of Mahmud and two remarkable brick minarets. A vast and fruitful harvest of coins has been gathered in Afghanistan and the adjoining regions.
End of Article: HINDU
[back]
HINDOSTANT LITERATURE
[next]
HINDU CHRONOLOGY

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.