Nobility and Royalty of Afghanistan

Dec 21, 2017 | Noble Titles, Royal Titles

Nobility and Royalty of Afghanistan.

History and Genealogy of the Afghan Nobility

The Afghan Nobility has ethnic Indo-European origins and a strong link with Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire. The land called Afghanistan today has a long history. In the prehistory, the Palaeolithic people in the form of clans and tribes were living in this area as early as 100,000BC. In the cave of Darae Kur in the northeast, the archaeologists found the fragments of a Neanderthal skull, dated about 30,000 years ago. There are some evidences that show that there was an early Neolithic culture based on domestic animals. The Bronze Age remnants show a civilization before and after the Indus Valley civilization in Harappa in the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC.

The Persian and Macedonian Relations of the Nobility of Afghanistan:

The Nobility of Afghanistan can boast of having important relations to the Empire of Persia and Alexander the Great. According to historical evidences, Achaemenid Emperor Cyrus II the Great (559-529BC) ruled these areas. His successor Darius I the Great captured the provinces of Aria (today Herat), of Bacteria (today Balkh), of Sattagydia (today Ghazni), of Arachosia (today Kandahar) and of Drangian (today Sistan in Iran).

King Alexander III the Great of Macedonia went through Afghanistan before entering to India in 327BC. This is one of the most important factors that differentiate the Nobility of Afghanistan.

Then the area felt to the first Seleucid ruler Seleucus I Nicator (305?-281BC ?), as the ruins of an outpost Greek city built around 325BC show, in the bank of the Amu Daria and the Kowkcha rivers in the north.

They were succeeded by the Maurya dynasty of the north of India (320BC-?), by the Bacterian Greek kings of Afghanistan and northern India (c256BC-c55BC), by the Indo-Parthian kings (1st century AD), by the Kushan kings (c25BC or 30AD-c222 or 244AD), by the Sasanid emperors of Persia and others. For centuries, Afghanistan has been the meeting place of 4 cultural areas: the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and the Far East.

Islamic and Babylonian Origins of the Nobility of Afghanistan

Both the Nobility and the Afghan people have a genealogy that starts from Myth and goes to the Reality. After the spreading of Islam, Afghans tried to connect themselves to some king of religion.

The legend of the Babylonian link is based on the belief, faith and idea that Afghans are the descendants of King Saul (Malek Talut) who had a grandson named Afghan. Afghan was a very strong warrior and his descendants lived in a state of independence. Another version is that the Afghans are the descendants of the Bani Israël who were deported by King Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon (604-562BC) when he destroyed Jerusalem in 586BC. However, there is no serious historical evidence of this affirmation.

The best known legendary leader of the Bani Israël is Qais also named Qais ul Laik or Kayse (later Abdol Rashid) who is said to be the 31st generation descendant of King Saul (Malek Talut).

In the Islamic link, Qais went to Arabia and became a Muslim in the hand of Prophet Mohammad, renamed then Abdol Rashid. According to this legend, Khalid bin Walid conquered Syria under the command of Abdol Rashid.

The word Afghan in the old texts come from Sasanid Abgan and Indian Avagana in the 6th century AD. Arabs have substituted F to V and Gh to G, hence the word Afghan.

Modern scholars trace the Afghans to Indo-Europeans, with some mixture of Turkic, Mongol and other groups. The people in Afghanistan are ethnically different: Indo-European language of Mediterranean stock of the greater Caucasoid stock and north of Hindu Kosh mountains physically Mongoloid.

Tribal Organisation of the Afghan Nobility

Nobility in Afganistan is organised into tribal clans. There are several Afghan tribes: each tribe is related in the male line to a common ancestor. Tribes are divided into clans, sub-clans and patriarchal families.

The most important tribe is Abdali, a confederation of tribes mostly in the west of Afghanistan. The ancestor is the noble Abdalor Awdal, son of Tarin, son of Karashbun, himself son of Abdol Rashid. A branch of the Abdali tribe is the Popolzaï clan, the clan of 1st Emir Ahmad Khan who took the name of Dorre Dorrani (=pearl of pearls i.e. primus inter pares), referring to the distinctive custom of Abdali tribes of wearing a small pearl studded ring in the right ear, hence the name of the Durrani Afghan dynasty (1747-1819, 1839-1842). Many members of the Abdali Tribe belong to the ancient nobility of Afghanistan.

Other Abdali tribes are the Ghalzaï, the Saduzaï and the Barakzaï. The Barakzaï became Emirs then Kings of Afghanistan from 1819, and many friends and relatives of these clans became the most influential members of the Aristocracy of Afghanistan.

In recent times , HE the former President Hamid Karzai belongs to the oldest afghan nobility through the Popolzaï clan of the Abdali tribe and is therefore distantly related to HM King Mohammad Zahir Shah, last King of Afghanistan.

HE Seddiq Rahpoe Tarzi, from an aristocratic afghan family, used to be the Editor in Chief of Rowshani (Light, the quartely of EAA) since the year 1999, as well as founder and President of the “ Enlighteners Association of Afghanistan (EAA)” 16/9/1995. He held various responsibilities in Afghanistan before the Taliban including the one of Ambassador of
Afghanistan to Sofia, Bulgaria.

Nowadays, many important civil servants and politicians belong to the Afghan historical nobility.

The Two Royal Dynasties of Afghanistan:

The Durrani dynasty:

On the assassination of Afshar Shah Nadir of Iran in 1747, his general Ahmad Shah Durrani founded a state including present Afghanistan and Punjab. The Durrani lost their throne to the Barakzai in 1819. They were briefly restored by the British between 1839 and 1842.

The Barakzai dynasty:

Afghanistan became independent in the early 18th century when Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan general of the Persian Emperor Nadir Shah Afshar, succeeded in creating today’s Afghanistan and established a Royal Dynasty.

In the early 19th century, the British managed to impose a protectorate and during this period, another dynasty, the Barakzai, displaced the Durrani. In 1973, the kingdom was replaced by a republic, when the last king of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zahir Sha, was dethroned in a coup organised by his cousin. Then in 1978 was inaugurated a Soviet supported regime until the US backed Talibans took power in most of the country and proclaimed an Islamic Emirate. In the aftermath of the attack of 11/9/2001 on New York and Washington by a terrorist hosted by the Taliban, HM King Muhammed Zahir Shah, former monarch of Afghanistan, who was at the moment living in exile in Rome, was officially recognized as the Father of the Nation by the 2003 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.


Protocol 1912 SALUTE: 31-gun

Dynasty Head (when ruling): HM The King of Afghanistan

Children of a King: HRH Prince, HRH Princess …. of Afghanistan

Children of an Emir: Prince, Princess..

Other male members of the Family: Sardar ….

Other female members of the Family: …. Khanum


These are some of the main surnames of the nobility of Afghanistan: Akoglu, Amir, Aref, Atesdagli, Azizi, Cengiç, Etemadi, Gailani, Gençoguz, Güven, Han, Kuran, Nawabi, Öcal, Osman, Pashtunyar, Pineiro, Rafiq, Saltik, Seraj, Siddiq, Sunguroglu, Tarzi, Wali, Walli, Yunusi, Zakria, Zayi, Zekrya, Zikria, Ziya.


HRH Prince Ahmad Zahir Shah Khan, Crown Pce of Afghanistan since 26/11/1942, Hon Pres of the Afghan Red Crescent Soc (ARCS), °Kabul 23/9/1934, X 1961 Khatul Begum, daughter of Sultan Muhammed Umar Zakria (Kabul, Afghanistan).


1 HRH Prince Muhammed Zaher Khan, °1962

2 HRH Prince Muhammed Hemil Khan

3 HRH Princess Hawa Begum


The Nobility of Afghanistan also had imperial links with the British Empire. Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Roberts, Baronet, was created in 1892 Bon Roberts, of Kandahar in Afghanistan and of the City of Waterford (in Ireland) and, then Field Marshall, was created Earl Roberts, of Kandahar in Afghanistan, Pretoria in the Transvaal Colony and of the City of Waterford (in Ireland) and Viscount Saint Pierre. All titles are extinct.


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