'Khaffiristan slaves', Kabul, 1880

John Burke

'Khaffiristan slaves', Kabul, 1880
3 1 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm

'Khaffiristan slaves', Kabul, 1880.

Photograph by John Burke, 2nd Afghan War, 1880.

Kafiristan (now Nuristan) was a region on the border between Afghanistan and the North West Frontier. The inhabitants of this mountainous area were pagan and practised a form of shamanism that worshipped several deities and had some similarities with Zoroastrianism. Their Moslem neighbours called them 'Kaffirs' (infidels) and many were persecuted and enslaved, including this group photographed by Burke in Kabul when he was accompanying Major-General Frederick Roberts' Kabul Field Force. Kafiristan itself was the Persian term for 'land of infidels'. The Kaffirs' religious and cultural practises were almost indistinguishable from the Kalash people of Chitral in British India (now Pakistan). They were not formally separated from their cousins until the drawing up of the Durand Line in 1893. The Kaffirs on the Afghan side of the new border were forcibly converted to Islam in the years that followed, whereas the Chitrali Kalash are still pagans today.

Image Details

Negative No.
Accession No.
NAM. 1957-07-14-29

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