1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pathan

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PATHAN, the name applied throughout India to the Afghans, especially to those permanently settled in the country and to those dwelling on the borderland. It is apparently derived from the Afghan name for their own language, Pushtu or Pukhtu, and may be traced back to the Paktues of Herodotus. In 1901 the total number of Pathans in all India was nearly 31/2 millions, but the speakers of Pushtu numbered less than 11/4 millions. The name is frequently, but incorrectly, applied to the Mahommedan dynasties that preceded the Moguls at Delhi, and also to the style of architecture employed by them; but of these dynasties only the Lodis were Afghans.

The Pathans of the Indian borderland inhabit the mountainous country on the Punjab frontier, stretching northwards from a line drawn roughly across the southern border of the Dera Ismail Khan district. South of this line are the Baluchis. The Pathans include all the strongest and most warlike tribes of the North-West frontier of India, such as the Afridis, Orakzais, Waziris, Mohmands, Swatis and many other clans. Those in the settled districts of the North-West Frontier Province (in 1901) numbered 883,779, or more than two-fifths of the population. Each of the principal divisions is dealt with separately in this work under its tribal name. The Pathans are split up into different tribes, each tribe into clans, and each clan into sections, so that the nomenclature is often very puzzling. The tribe, clan and section are alike distinguished by patronymics formed from the name of the common ancestor by the addition of the word zai or khel; zai being a corruption of the Pushtu word zoe, meaning son, while khel is an Arabic word meaning an association or company. Both terms are used indifferently for both the larger and smaller divisions. Pathans enlist largely in the native army of India; and since the frontier risings of 1897 they have been formed with increasing frequency into class-regiments and regiments of native militia. They make excellent soldiers. The greater part of the Pathan country was placed under British political control by the Durand agreement made with the Amir of Afghanistan in 1893.