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| Babori |

D. Balland

Encyclopaedia Iranica

BABORI (or Babor, Babar; sing. Baboray), a Pakhtun tribe originally from the Suleiman mountains, now widely dispersed. Its principal territory lies in Pakistan on the border between the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan, extending over the Suleiman mountains into the Derajat foothills around Chaudhwan, where certain lineages are said to have been domiciled since the fourteenth century (1). Estimates of the tribe's strength at the end of the nineteenth century differ greatly; H. Raverty suggested a total of 6-7,000 families (2), which seems excessive, whereas the British Indian General Staff reckoned 700 fighting men, a figure implying a much lower total of only about 4-5,000 persons (3).

Reports from the late eighteenth century onward give evidence of the tribe's participation in long-range trade between Central Asia and India (4). Commercial incentives stimulated an influx of Babori's into the Peshawar district (5) and above all into certain parts of Afghanistan, where they found openings in the annual gathering of asafetida gum (heng) and the trade in sheep and sheepskin jackets (pustin) (6). In this connection, there is a reference in Mohammad Hayat Khan's work (7) to the presence of some 500 Babori families scattered over the country, in the Argandab, Logar, and Konar valleys, at Qandahar, and around Kabul.

What happened to these settlements in later times is not known. There is a village named Babori in the province of Nangrahar (8), but the name does not necessarily prove a connection. The nomadic survey of 1357 S/1978 recorded fewer than one thousand Babori families (280 nomadic, 695 semi-nomadic), all in other parts of Afghanistan. Most of them live north of Qaysar (Faryab province) and around Sheberghan (Jawzjan province) during the winter and in the upper Morgab region during the summer. Smaller groups live in the Dasht-e-Arci in the district of Qatagan, around Balkh, along the middle course of the Harirud, and in the Helmand valley (9).

On the Babori of Faryab, see also Gazetteer of Afghanistan IV, Graz, 1979, p. 291. There are mentions of the following Babori lineages in Afghanistan: Gorkal (also Gorezi, which may be a variant form), Ebrahim Khel, Mullah Khel, & Omran Khel. Only the first and second of these (the first in the forms Ghauria Khel or Goria Khel) have been recorded as also present in Pakistan (10).

The Babori are treated by genealogists as a section of the Sherani Tribe. They are in fact the latter's neighbours in Pakistan, but so distinct that neither has any sense of common tribal solidarity; the Babori even collaborated with a British punitive expedition against the Sherani in 1853 (11). The Babori of Afghanistan never speak of such a kinship. They simply describe themselves as Pashtoon.


  1. H. A. Rose, A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province, Lahore, 1919, repr. Lahore, 1978,11, p. 31
  2. Notes on Afghanistan and Part of Baluchistan, London, 1880-88, repr. Lahore, 1976, p.328
  3. A Dictionary of the Pathan Tribes on the North-West Frontier of India, Calcutta, 1899, p. 25
  4. H. Raverty, op. cit., p. 329
    M. Elphinstone, An Account of the Kingdom of Cabul, London, 1815, repr. Graz, 1969, p. 377
  5. D. Ibbetson, Punjab Castes, Lahore, 1916, repr. New Delhi, 1981, Lahore, 1982, p. 73
  6. Baluchistan through the Ages, 1906, repr. Quetta, 1979, II, p. 49
  7. Afghanistan and its Inhabitants, tr. from the "Hayat-i-Afghan" by H. Priestley, Lahore, 1874, repr. Lahore, 1981, p. 80
  8. M. H. Nahez, ed., Qamus-e Jografia-e Afghanistan I, Kabul, 1335 S/1956, p. 189
  9. D. Balland and A. de Benoist, Nomades et semi-nomades d' Afghanistan (forthcoming)
  10. Hayat Khan, op. cit., p.77. Sher Mohammad Khan, Tawarikh-e Khorshid-e Jahan, Lahore, 1311/1894, p.180. H. A. Rose, Glossary II, p.31
  11. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India, 1910, repr. Quetta, 1979, III, p. 179