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Daniel Balland

Encyclopaedia Iranica

BAREQ(I), a Pashtun tribe in southern Afghanistan. Like neighboring Tarin and Dorrani, the Bareq are part of the Sharkhbun branch of the Sarbani Pashtun. Genealogists divide the tribe into two distinct sections, Daudzi and Hussainzi:, which are further subdivided respectively into five and six senior lineages, although only three are still represented today: the Badalzi among the Daudzi; and the Zakozi and the Mandozi among the Hussainzi (Khwaja Niamatullah, II, pp. 43 and 123f., n. 40; and Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, p. 89). The missing lineages might have taken part in the large migration of the Kharshban branch of the Pashtun toward the northeast where they lost their individuality (Khwaja Niamatullah, II, p. 124, n. 40). What is certain but not conclusive, however, is that several lineage names (for instance, Malizi and Dawlatzi) are found among both the Bareq and the Yusofzi. The Bareq have assimilated three Sherani lineages, which are still recognized as such (Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, pp.89, 451). At the end of the nineteenth century, the tribal chieftaincy was held by the Mandozi, who had taken it back from the Badalzi at the time of Nader Shah.

The Bareq are a small tribe. Converging population estimates from the past (2500-3000 families according to Elphinstone, p.426; 4000 according to Hayat Khan, p.81; and 15,000 souls according to O. Duke in Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, p. 88) do not fit well with contemporary estimates which, though uncertain, can justifiably be made at from ten to twenty thousand persons.

The Bareq are geographically concentrated in Shorabak (Shorawak) district where, on the eastern edge of the Regestan desert and along the middle course of the Lora river, they make up the majority of the population. According to their own traditions, they moved there during the 10th/16th century from the opposite edge of the desert (Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, pp. 92, 448f.). This is consistent with written sources (Hotak, English tr., p. 39; Russian tr., p.41). Vestiges of the tribe's previous settlements, three Bareq villages survive to this day in the lower Helmand valley: one near the Bost ruins and the other two (Palalak and Landay, both occupied by Zakozi) below Deshu. Over the centuries the rest of the tribe has kept up close contacts with these villages. On the other hand, gradual movements, reportedly during the 12th/18th century, took place from Shorabak toward the lower Lora where, around and below Nushki in Pakistani Baluchistan, one finds three Mandozi lineages (Hughes-Bullet, pp. 288f.) numbering about 5,000 persons in 1951 (Scholz, p. 36).

Location of the Bareq at the southern extremity of Pashtun territory and at the limits of the Baluch has allowed multiple contacts with the latter and Brahui, including intermarriages, as well as linguistic or even genealogical assimilation, especially in the isolated sections of the lower Helmand and lower Lora valleys. In the 13th/19th century, Bareq mercenaries served in the army of the Khan of Kalat. Traditional relations with neighbouring Pashtun tribes frequently involved conflict; Bareq territory was often raided by the Achakzi, and they competed with the Pishin Tarin for the waters of the Lora (Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, pp. 90f.).

The Bareq are, nowadays, the only Pashtun tribe in southern Afghanistan without a nomadic component. However, they used to practice, as is typical of people living on the fringes of deserts, a form of short-distance semi-nomadism during the spring (Elphinstone, p. 427); and in some cases there were short summertime migrations toward the heights of Sarlat (Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, p. 443). More recent information is lacking since the Shorawak district was not covered by the Afghan Nomad Survey of 1357/1978, but pastoralism has probably not vanished. The Bareq still rear large herds of camels. They used to breed dromedaries both for themselves and for travellers in caravans plying the route between Qandahar and Sindh province. Their major activity is irrigated farming, especially to produce staple cereals.

Pastures and fields are collective, hence in-alienable, property. Wesh, the annual redistribution of fields among tribesmen, is still practiced. Though among the Zakozi and Mandozi every male regardless of age has the right to a share (khola wesh), the Badalzi reserve this right (mlatarh wesh) for males who are old enough to fight, traditionally twelve years old, the age at which Pashtun boys receive their first rifles (Reshad, pp. 24ff.). The wesh practiced nowadays has been considerably modified: in Bareq villages in the lower Helmand, each family's share has been fixed and hereditary for several generations (Snoy, pp. 129f.), while, in the more conservative Shorawak district, shares (as wesh) are no longer granted to horse owners as used to be done because of the strategic usefulness of their mounts during tribal hostilities (Reshad, pp. 25ff.).

The traditional abode of the Bareq is a kind of twig hut (kodala), which is described in Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, p.91.


  1. M. ELPHINSTONE, An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul, London, 1815; repr. Graz, 1969.
  2. M. HOTAK, Pata khazana, Eng. tr. H. G. KOSHAN, Kabul, 1358/1979; Russ. tr. D. M. LUDIN, Kabul, 1361/1982.
  3. R. HUGHES-BULLET, Baluchistan District Gazetteer Series IV: Bolan and Chagai, Karachi, 1906, reproduced in Baluchistan through the Ages, n.p., 1906, repr. Quetta, 1979, II.
  4. M. HAYAT KHAN, Hayat-e Afghan, tr. H. PRIESTLEY, Afghanistan and Its Inhabitants, Lahore, 1874; repr. 1981.
  5. KHWAJA NIAMATULLAH, Makhzan-e Afghani, tr. B. DORN, History of the Afghans, London, 1836, repr. London, 1965, and Karachi, 1976.
  6. P. RESHAD, Bareki aw Shorawak, in Shaykh Bostan Bareq, Kabul, 1360/1981, pp. 9-26.
  7. F. SCHOLZ, Belutschistan (Pakistan). Eine sozialgeographische Studie des Wandels in einem Nomadenland seit Beginn der Kolonialzeit, Gottinger Geographische Abhandlungen 63, Gottingen, 1974, p.36.
  8. P. SNOY, Ethnologische Feldforschung in Afghanistan, Jahrbuch des Sudasien-Instituts der Universitat Heidelberg 3, 1968-69, pp, 127-30.