Hazarajat

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Hazarajat (Persian: هزاره ‌جات‎, Hazaragi: آزره ‌جات, also referred to as Hazaristan) is the homeland of the Hazara people, and lies in the central highlands of Afghanistan, among the Koh-i-Baba mountains and the western extremities of the Hindu Kush.

Location

Its physical boundaries, however, are roughly marked by the Bamiyan Basin to the north, the headwaters of the Helmand River to the south, Firuzkuh (Turquoise Mountain) to the west, and the Unai Pass to the east. Its boundaries have historically been inexact and shifting due to regular invasions by Pashtun tribes. It is made up of the three central provinces of Bamyan and Daykundi and includes large areas of Maidan Wardak, Helmand, Ghazni, Orūzgān, Sar-e Pol, Samangan, Ghowr and Parvan provinces. The region has also been known as Paropamizan.

History

Little information exists on the history of the region; however, at different times it has remained under Persian, Greek, Mongol and Timurid dynasty rule. Archaeological finds can be traced back to the Greek empire of Bactria and Buddhist civilization. The region has been identified by Witzel as the location of the Avestan Airyanəm Vaējah.[1]

Subsequent rulers of the region include the Ghorids, Persians, Ghaznavids and Mongols. They were followed by Genghis Khan in 1220. Some contend Genghis's grandson was killed in Bamian. Enraged, Genghis Khan then ordered his forces total annihilation of the town and surrounding region, with the Mongols formally laying a curse on the site. Later the region remained a colony of the Ilkhanids, Chughtais, and others.

The subjugation of the Hazarajat, the mountain fortresses of Ghor in particular, proved difficult for the Mongols after their conquest of the region, and ultimately Mongol military detachments left behind in the region “adopted the language of the vanquished”.[2] In late 14th century, Timur's armies made expeditions into Hazarajat, but Hazarajat was once again free after his death.[3] During Mongolian era, majority of Hazara were pastoralists dwelling in yurts and spoke Moghol. They started inhabiting the fortified villages, adopted a Persian dialect, and farming in the high steppes in the early 16th century. However, they kept flocks and some, on the norther slopes of Koh-i-Baba, remained nomadic and continued migrating between highland summer pastures and lowland winter pastures.


H W Bellew [4] writes The rest of western Afghanistan is occupied in its southern half by the sandy desert of Sistan and the low hills of Makran, a tract which, inclusive of modern Sistan, was called Nimroz by early Muhammadan writers from a tradition, it is supposed, of its having anciently belonged to the empire of Nimrod, king of Babylon. In its northern half the greater portion of western Afghanistan is occupied by the mountainous country of Ghor, the Paropamisus of Alexander's historians, a word supposed to be derived from the Hindi parva-bama, " flat-topped mountain," and the modern Hazarah. By Muhammadan writers the country is usually mentioned by the tautological term Kohistani Ghor, that is, " the mountainous country of the mountains " ; for Ghor is a form of the Pukhto ghar = Sanskrit gir, " mountain," and is found in this form in Gharistan (Gharjistan of our maps), the name of one of its districts. The name dates apparently from a period subsequent to the Makedonian conquest, and was given to the country probably by the Indians, who then took possession of the country. The modern name Hazarah dates only from the period of the Mughal invasion of Changiz Khan in the first half of the thirteenth century, and is explained as being of Persian origin, from the word hazarah, " a division a thousand strong," being used to designate the military divisions, or banners, into which the country was parcelled out under the Mughal rule. But there is another country, or district, on the east bank of the Indus, now


[Page-201]: called by the same name Hazarah, to which this explanation does not apply ; for the Indus Hazarah is evidently the modern form of the Sanskrit Abhisara (the country of the Abisares of Alexander's historians) mentioned in the Rajataringini as a dependency of Kashmir under the name of Dorvabisara, "the Dor valley Abhisara." There is, however, apart from any historical record, a decisive point in favour of the accuracy of the above explanation of the name of the Hazarah of Ghir, and that is its common use in the plural form of Hazarajat, which indicates the former division of the country into military districts, each of which was distinguished as the hazarah, or division of troops nominally a thousand strong, of a particular district under its own proper banner ; and at the present day each of the four Aymak tribes previously described, and several of the Dahi also, is called an hazarah, both as regards the tribe itself and the district belonging to it ; as Tymani hazarah, Tymuri hazarah, Dahi Zangi hazarah, Dahi Chopan hazarah, etc. At the present the name Hazarah or Hazarajat supersedes any other for the entire Ghor country. It is only the hill districts to the east and west of Herat that are now sometimes spoken of as Kohistan ; but their inhabitants are not called Kohistani, being too well known by their proper names.

The Aymak and Hazarah inhabitants of Ghor are never called Afghan by the people of the country in the heart of which they dwell ; they are indeed entirely different races, as we have seen, and have nothing in common with the Afghans so called.

North of the Ghor country is the Turkistan province of modern Afghanistan. It is the country of Turk and Uzbak tribes, and contains no territorial tribes of Afghans. We need not therefore tarry in this part of the country.

Etymology

The name Hazarajat is rarely used by the Hazara people.[5] The term might be linguistically compounded Hazara and the suffix jat; jat is a suffix that otherwise is used to make root words associated with food and inanimate objects plural as is the case with sabzijat (سبزىجات) vegetables or herbs. The association with inanimate objects may be the reason that Hazaras rarely use the term.

Maqdesi, an Arab geographer, named Hazarajat as Gharj Al-Shar-Gharj meaning “mountain” area ruled by chiefs. The region was known as Gharjistan in the late Middle Ages, though the exact locations of main cities still remain unidentified.

External links

References

  1. Witzel, Michael (PDF), Aryan Home, Harvard
  2. W. Barthold, An Historical Geography of Iran, Princeton, 1984, p. 82
  3. J. P. Ferrier, Caravan Journeys and Wanderings in Persia, Afghanistan, Turkestan, and Beloochistan, London, 1856, p. 221
  4. An Inquiry Into the Ethnography of Afghanistan, By H. W. Bellew, pp.200-201
  5. Bellew, H.W. (1880). The Races of Afghanistan: Being a Brief Account of the Principal Nations Inhabiting that Country. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co. p. 114.