Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1842 Afghan jailumi 
Subjectjailumi 'champion' tribal warrior
Culture: Pathan / Pashtun Afghan
Setting: tribal / border warfare, Afghanistan 19thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Allen 2000 p38
"The custodians of the Khyber were made up of three different Afghan tribes, the Afridi, Shinwari and Orakzai, each controlling their own sector.  In appearance and character they were typically Pakhtun: 'lean, muscular men, with long gaunt faces, high noses and cheekbones'.  But they were also masters of the ambush, adept at using their long-barelled [sic] jezails to bring a man down at five hundred paces and then closing with their curved tulwars and daggers to finish him off.  During his mission to Peshawar, Mountstuart Elphinstone learned that even among the Afghans themselves the Khybari had an awesome reputation as the 'greatest robbers' in the land:
Such are their habits of rapine, that they can never be entirely restrained from plundering passengers; and when there is any confusion in the state, it is impossible to pass through their country.  In quiet times, the Khyberees have stations in different parts of the pass, to collect an authorised toll on passengers, but in times of trouble, they are all on the alert: if a single traveller endeavours to make his way through, the noise of his horse's feet sounds up the long narrow valleys, and soon brings the Khyberees in troops from the hills and ravines."

* Sale/MacRory 1969 p34 (writing in 1841)
"I often hear the Affghans designated as cowards: they are a fine manly-looking set, and I can only suppose it arises from the British idea among civilised people that assassination is a cowardly act.  The Affghans never scruple to use their long knives for that purpose,ergo they are cowards; but they show no cowardice in standing as they do against guns without using any themselves, and in escalading and taking forts which we cannot re-take.  The Affghans of the capital are a little more civilised, but the country gentlemen and their retainers are, I fancy, much the same kind of people as those Alexander encountered."

* Coggins 1966 p319
"The tribesmen of the frontier lived in an almost constant state of war, their economy being based largely on plunder, and their social customs on the blood-feud and inter-tribal vendetta. Robbery, murder, and kidnapping were part of everyday life and war was considered a pastime. As many had served enlistments with one or another of the numerous volunteer detachments raised to police the frontier, they were well versed in British Army ways, and often, between skirmishes, would exchange gossip with their kinsmen in the opposing ranks. Even those whose acquaintance with the British was limited to an occasional long-range shot felt a certain affinity for the opposing forces, and after a campaign many such tribesmen, in all good faith and as subjects (if not always loyal ones) of the King, would apply to the Political Agents for the Frontier Medal, with appropriate clasp.
    "Although the Pathans considered war a sporting pastime, they carried it on with a savagery reminiscent of the Apaches at their worst. Non-Moslem wounded -- no man in his right mind would surrender to them -- were tortured and mutilated with fiendish attention to detail. The employment of all sorts of traps, trickery, and treachery was standard practice, and the North-West Frontier was no place for the careless or incompetent."

* Sale/MacRory 1969 p28 (writing in 1841)
"The Affghans have many advantages over our troops; one consists in dropping their men fresh for combat; each horseman takes a foot soldier up behind him, and drops him when he is arrived at the spot he is required to fire from.  Their horsemen are either gentlemen or yeomen (as we should denominate them), all well mounted, and their baggage ponies can manage the hills much better than our cavalry horses; in fact, the Affghan horses seem to me to climb about with as much unconcern as goats do."


* Wilkinson-Latham/McBride 1977 p38
"The clothing worn by the Pathans varied from tribe to tribe, but the basic garments were the angarka-- loose blouse -- and baggy trousers, usually of off-white cotton.  Headgear consisted of the kullah, the pointed overstitched cap, round which the lungi was tied to form a loose turban.  The lungi could also be worn as a waist-sash.  In cold weather the reversed goatskin poshteen was normally worn; its amount of embroidery depended on wealth and status.  The Waziris tended to favour a dark-red or indigo turban and a dark-red or pink waist-sash.  The Kurram Valley tribes wore an angarka of dark blue with white patches similar to the dress of Sudanese dervishes.  Khyber Pass Afridis usually wore a grey or blue angarka with off-white trousers.  Tribes often adopted a predominant but by no means uniform combination of colours."

* Harrold/Legg 1978 p166 (describing Afghanistan men's clothing)
"The man has a thigh-length, long-sleeved shirt that is belted at the waist, giving a skirt effect to the lower half.  A sleeveless waistcoat is worn over the shirt, and his trousers are loose-fitting.  In colder weather, a jacket is worn, or the poustine, a coat made from sheepskin." 

* Edgerton 1995 p141
"Elphinstone describes a fight between two Afghan tribes, the Bábúzai and Nekpíkhail: 'Both sides had some horse and some hundred Jailumees (champions distinguished by a fantastic dress, and bound to conquer or die).  The rest were a mob, some in thick quilted jackets, some in coats of mail, and others in leathern cuirasses, all armed either with bows or matchlocks, and with swords, shields, long Afghan knives, and iron spears." ...

* Richards 1990 p63-64
"The clans which roamed this savage frontier had never accepted the rule of law and there was nothing in the appearance of demeanour of  their peoples to suggest that they ever would.  Beneath a dirty, loosely wound turban, commented one observer, 'were fixed the eyes of a hawk, the beak of a vulture, and the mouth of a shark'.  The Pathan's dress was simple in the extreme, consisting of a long white robe and a pair of cotton pyjamas held in place with a broad cummerbund.  He usually wore a tunic festooned with amulets of various kinds and he invariably carried an assortment of knives, flintlock pistols and a razor-sharp tulwar tucked into the cummerbund."

* Evans 1938 p275
"Persia and Turkey have left the imprint of their costumes on that of the natives of Afghanistan, who are clad in garments made of plain cotton, calico, quilted silk, and velvet with a generous quota of embroidery in gold and silver threads.  Both men and women wear cotton trousers, tom-bons, of very ample proportions about the waist and hips, tapering down gradually until they fit closely about the ankles.  Over their long, cotton shirt some men wear the bulky sash, cummerbund, a short, decorated jacket of sheepskin, others a long coat of cloth.  For head covering a man has his choice of turban, or bright colored tall but brimless hat; for foot covering, leather boots or curling-toed sandals."

​* Yarwood 1978 p10
"Afghan dress  Costume strongly influenced by neighbouring India, but also by Turkish and Persian styles. In the mountain areas in winter, sheepskin coats and mantles worn with the wool on the inside.  Legs usually covered in full trousers (chalvar) ...."


* Richardson 2015 p104
"The popular Afghan form of long gun was a long barrelled matchlock musket with a deeply curved stock, called a jaza'il.  The matchlock mechanism was introduced by the Turks in the 16th century, and became the standard form throughout India.  In the 19th century flintlocks, mostly made in Britain, and percussion locks were fitted to guns of the same type."

* Stone 1934 p322
"JEZAIL.  The long-barreled, crooked stocked Afgan gun.  Originally they were matchlocks, but many have been conveted to flintlocks by fitting European locks to them.  Many are well made and rifled and were of considerably greater range than the muskets carried by the British troops who first came in contact with the Afgans. ..."

* Tarassuk/Blair 1979 p285-286
"jezail  An old type of Afghan gun. Its original matchlock has a serpentine match holder which operated in a slit of the stock with the trigger underneath. The European flintlock was also frequently adapted to the jezail.
    "The jezail had a very long barrel, usually at least 120 cm. (47 in.), with a smooth or rifled bore which was sometimes as large as 2.5 cm. (1 in.). The length of the barrel increased the effective range of the gun, which was between 200 and 300 m. (218-328 yds.), although this depended on the quality and quantity of powder, type of bullet, and weather conditions. The wooden stock was slender with rawhide, brass, or iron bands and a small curved butt broadening at the end. The gun was quite often decorated with bands and plates in brass or silver, occasionally inset with turquoises. A leather strap was usually attached to the stock, together with an A-shaped rest pivoted to a lug at the forestock. The rest served to fix the gun on the ground to fire from the sitting position. A gun rest of the same type was used in Central Asia and Siberia (lamut guns) as well as in Tibet."

* Richards 1990 p64
"The tribesman's most prized possession ... was a long-barrelled jezail always primed and ready to fire, and cradled over the crook of his arm."

* Sale ed. MacRory 1969 p28 (writing in 1841)
"As regards pistols, we are on a par, as most of theirs have been presents from the Posha Khana [the armoury]; but their juzails carry much further than our muskets, and, whilst they are out of range of our fire, theirs tells murderously on us."

* Meyer/Brysac 1999 Photo 8
"Afghan irregulars['] ... lethal jezails outdistanced the British musket, the Brown Bess."

* Edgerton 1995 p141
"The wild races on the N.W. Frontier Afrídís,Wazírís and Mahsúds, &c., who are subdivided into various clans, use the same arms, and fight with great gallantry in their almost inaccessible country.  Their matchlocks were, till the introduction of the rifled weapons, much superior to our old 'brown bess,' and carried up to 800 yards with accuracy."

* Bull 1991 p181
"[Thejezail] was associated principally with Afghanistan and northern India.  It has a crooked stock and a long barrel and may be either a matchlock or a flintlock.  The best examples are well made and quite accurate, being sometimes rifled and fitted with English locks and a hinged bi-pod at the front."


* Stone 1934 p354-355
"KHYBER KNIFE, AFGAN KNIFE, CHARAS, CHARAY, CHURRA, SALAWAR YATAGAN.  The national sword of the Afridis and other tribes living in and near the Khyber Pass between India and Afganistan.  It has a straight, heavy, single-edged blade tapering gradually from the hilt to the point; and has a wide rib at the back.  The hilt is without a guard and has a slight projection on one side by way of pommel.  The hilt is usually formed of two flat pieces of horn, bone or ivory riveted to the flat tang.  The scabbards are covered with leather and are long enough to take in the entire handle.  They are worn thrust through the belt and are not fastened to it in any way.  The blades are from 14 to 30 inches long."

* Richardson 2015 p102
"Many infantry from region carried a form of yataghan rather than a curved sword.  These short swords have straight, single-edged blades with a flat, T-shaped back, and a hilt formed of plates of walrus ivory riveted to the tang, guardless with a hooked pommel.  Their scabbards are designed like those of the shasqa to enclose part of the hilt.  These are called either salawar yataghan or chura (or by collectors, 'Khyber knife')."

* Edgerton 1995 p141
"The Ghilzais, the Khyberies, and some other tribes use a knife about 3 feet long, which drops into a large sheath and hangs on the thigh.  They are made at Jellalabad."

* Calizzano 1989 p25
"Autre grand couteau de guerre, celui des Afridi qui peuplent le territoire entourant le col de Khyber, entre l'Inde et l'Afghanistan, dont il porte le nom.  La lame de ce coutelas, mesurant environ 70 cm, a la forme d'un grand triangle isocèle très large au talon.  Le dos présente une forte arête sur toute la longueur de la lame, deux courtes gouttières décoratives marquant le centre du plat à partir du talon, des deux côtés.  La poignée est en corne: la moitié inférieure est recouverte d'une feuille métallique enveloppant également le talon sur environ 1 cm, se prolongeant sur l'arête du dos selon un motif ornemental de quelques centimètres, remontant vers le pommeau en bec d'aigle et redescendant sur le côté du trancant de larme pour former un large arrêt pour le main.  La soie, aplatie, part de la moitié dorsale de la lame et s'amincit à son extrémité, constituant un petit élément arrondi qui traverse la feuille métallique entourant la poignée dans le sens dos-tranchant.  Les plaquettes latérales sont fixées par des rivets et par la demi-coquille métallique placée dans la partie basse de la poignée.  Le soin apporté au reinforcement de la poignée est justifie par la necessité d'offrir un seul point de prise, conçu de la manière à pouvoir supporter l'impact de coups portés avec le tranchant d'une lame longue et lourde.  La position du manche, situé dans le prolongement de l'arête sans démarcation, garantit en outre une très grande solidité, même dans le cas de contraintes résultant de coups d'estoc.  Le fourreau du Khyber, en cuir, recouvre presque entièrement la poignée et ne laisse apparaître que le bec d'aigle servant de prise pour l'extraction.  S'agissant d'une arme de ceinture, la gaine dest dépourvue de systèmes de suspension."

* Fryer 1969 p86-87
"Khyber knife  The Afghan knife with straight-backed, tapered, single-edged blade and guardless hilt.  The grips are of horn or ivory and when sheathed the hilt partly enters the mouth of the sheath.  They are found in varying lengths from dagger to sword size."

* Tarassuk/Blair 1979 p296
"Khyber knife  An Afghan knife, the national weapon of the Afridis and other tribes, who live near the Khyber Pass, between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Khyber knife shows an affinity to the kard. Its blade is straight and single-edged, and tapers gradually from the hilt to the point, with a wide rib at the back; its length varies from about 35 to 70 cm. (13-28 in.). The hilt normally has no guard, but in some examples there is a kind of knuckle guard. The grip consists of two pieces of horn, bone, or ivory riveted to the tang. The leather sheath is long enough to conceal the entire weapon, including the handle, and it is worn thrust into the belt."

* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/Larocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson 1993 p198  (Frederick Wilkinson, "India and Southeast Asia" p186-203)
"One of the things Mr Bramley warned troopers to watch out for was 'the Afghan who approaches with leaps and bounds and suddenly unwinds his turban to shake it and so startles the horse and upsets his opponent.' [CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS: Wouldn't all that leaping, bounding, and unwinding give the trooper time to counterattack?  Why wouldn't the Afghan simply shoot with his gun from a safe distance?]  Such an attacker would almost certainly have been armed with the Khyber knife, which had a short simple hilt and a long murderous tapering blade.  One slightly unusual feature of the Khyber knife was that it sat very deeply in the scabbard, with only the very tip of the hilt visible above the lip."


* Richardson 2015 p102
"The Persian shamshir is one of two main forms of sword found in Afghanistan under the Durranis.  Afghan made shamshir hilts have a Central Asian form, with forward curved quillons ending in dragon heads.  The second is the pulouar, which has an Indo-Muslim hilt usually all of steel, with a deep, domed pommel and the same forward curved dragon-ended quillons."


* Stone 1934 p419
"LOHAR.  A small pick used in place of a sword by the Banochie, a Khyber tribe.  Each man makes his own and decorates the handle with inlays of silver and brass.  Each individual has his own patterns which differ from those used by others, though all are similar."

* Fryer 1969 p87
"Lohar  A pick weapon used by an Indian [SIC] Khyber tribe.  The bill-shaped blade is at right angles to the decorated metal haft."


* Richardson 2015 p102
"A smaller version of the chura is used as a dagger and called a pushqabz ('hidden hilt').  Though most of these have straight blades, often thinned towards the point to stiletto-like proportions, some have double curved blades.  All are usually quite plain."

* Fryer 1969 p88
"Pesh-kabz  An Indo-Persian dagger with slender pointed blade of T section.  The heavy guardless hilt often has ivory grips."

* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/Larocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson 1993 p197 (Frederick Wilkinson, "India and Southeast Asia" p186-203)
"A larger knife not dissimilar in shape [to the kard] is the pesh-kabz, but on this weapon the blade tapers very abruptly to a narrow point.  The hilt is similar to that of the kard but much chunkier."