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By: M. Jamil Hanifi


Gandapur, one of two Šêrânî Pashtun/Paxtun tribal segments (the other being the Bakhtîâr), who claim origin in southwestern Afghanistan and acknowledge descent from a male, non-Pashtun ancestor. 


They numbered about 8,000 in the early 20th century, occupying an area of approximately 460 square miles in the western foothills of the Solaymân mountains and concentrating at the town of Kûlâchî in the Dêra Esmâ´îl Khân District, the Northwest Frontier Province. They have now been absorbed in local populations; presently no groups of any significant size identify themselves as Gandâpûr. The Mašwânî from the Kakar tribe and the Wardak and Hanî from the Karlânrî tribal confederation, all located in southeastern Afghanistan, are the other Pashtun groups who claim a common ancestry with the Gandâpûr. According to the standard genealogical accounts of all these groups but the Bakhtîâr, the Sufi Sayyed Mohammad Gîsû-darâz (q.v.) wandered in from Khorasan or Turkistan, offered "prayers and intercessions" on behalf of the local people, and, in return, each host community gave him one of its daughters in marriage. Gîsû-darâz, however, left without his Pashtun wives and children, who were raised by their maternal grandfathers. His descendants claim Pashtun ethnic identity and forbid their children, "on pain of disinheritance" (Mohammad-Hayât Khan, tr., p. 279), to reveal their non-Pashtun patrilineage. It is, however, very doubtful that Gîsû-darâz had any relationship to any Pashtun tribe, including the Gandâpûr. The Gandâpûr consider themselves Pashtun by virtue of important Pashtun features of their culture and social organization, such as adherence to paštûnwâlî (Pashtun charter for appropriate social behavior), the Pashtu language, and tribal tsalweštay (the institution of forty local adult males designated to implement decisions of tribal councils, or a person or an office representing these forty men). Mohammad-Hayât Khan (p. 279) considers the Gandâpûr as a people who live "among the Afghans [Pashtuns], but not being of them," an assertion rejected by Šêr-Mohammad Khan (pp. 275-80).


 The Gandâpûr, like many other nomadic Pashtun groups in the region, regularly moved between Afghanistan and the Dâmân plains stretching from the Indus to the eastern slopes of the Solaymân mountains. They combined pastoral nomadism with transporting and peddling of goods between Central and South Asia. The pattern of these nomadic movements and the transformations of their society fluctuated with the rhythms of trade and the nature of their contacts with the surrounding political economies throughout their history. During the 17th century, most of the Gandâpûr had settled in Dêra Esmâ´îl Khân, with large numbers engaged in the trade between India and Khorasan, which intensified in the next two centuries (Elphinstone, p. 373).


 The origin of the name Gandâpûr is not clear. It is unlikely that it has etymological roots in the terms Qandahâr or Gandhara. The literal meaning of the term in Persian (fetid son) might be interpreted to indicate the descendant(s) of a person who incurred a stigmatized social identity due to an illicit relationship in violation of local norms or custom. Popular Pashtun genealogical accounts relate that Târî, the putative ancestor of the Gandâpûr, a grandson of Gîsû-darâz by one of his Šêrânî Pashtun wives, violated the local tradition by marrying a girl without her father's permission and against the wishes of his own father. Thereupon, he was banished by his people, forcing the couple into neolocal post-marital residence.




O. Caroe, The Pathans: 550 B. C.-A. D. 1957, New York, 1958. 

R. M. Eaton, Sufis of Bijapur, 1300-1700: Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India, Princeton, 1978. 

M. Elphinstone, An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul and Its Dependencies in Persia, Tartary, and India, Graz, 1969. 

R. Frye, "Gandâpûr," in EI2, p. 975. Šêr-Mohammad Khan Gandâpûr, Tawârîkh-e khoršîd-e jahân, Lahore, 1894. 

Gazetteer of the Dera Ismail Khan District, 1883-84, Lahore, 1884. 

Mohammad-Hayât Khan, Hayât-e afghânî, tr. H. Priestly as Afghanistan and its Inhabitants, Lahore, 1981. 

Ne´mat-Allâh Heravî, Makhzan-e afghânî, ed. and tr. B. Dorn as The History of the Afghans, 2 vols., London, 1965.

H. G. Raverty, Notes on Afghanistan and Part of Baluchistan: Geographical, Ethnographical and Historical, London, 1888. 

I. M. Reisner, Razvitie feodalisma i obrazovanie gosudarstva u Afgantsev, Moscow, 1954. 

R. T. I. Ridgway, Pathans, Calcutta, 1910. M. S. Siddiqi, "Sayed Muhammad al-Husaini Gesudaraz (721-825/1321-1422)," Islamic Culture 52/3, 1978, pp. 173-84.




Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica


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