The country about Edwardesabad between the Kurram and Tochi rivers, is held by the Bannuchis. The remainder of the Bannu tahsil, north-east of the Kurram and south-west of the Tochi is in the occupation of Wazirs. Marwat is held almost entirely by Marwats, Isakhel by Niazais, and Bhangikhel by Khattaks. On this side of the Indus the Salt Range tract is Awan territory; while Niazai hold the north and Jats the south of the Mianwali Thal and Kacha.
The Pathans together constitute 42.4 percent of the population, in which they are in every way the most important element. The census returns of 1881 give the following detail of tribes:
Note: Many of these men are returned twice over, under both tribe and clan; and the total is therefore too large. An enormous number of mere clans or sub-divisions had been returned as castes in the report.
This designation includes both true Bannuchis and miscellaneous Pathans now amalgamated with them. The former comprise those who belong to any of the khels or sections, the common ancestors of which were admittedly descended from Shitak and his wife Bannu. The most important of those khels are Isakki, Mandan, Surani, Miri, including Mama Khel, Nurar, and Barakzai, Mamash Khel, Amandi, and Daud Shah. The latter consists of miscellaneous groups and families scattered throughout Bannu proper. Of this class the Moghal Khels of Ghoriwal are the finest, and till show in speech and appearance their Yusufzai descent. But as a rule all Bannuchis look, speak, and act much alike, and it is not easy for an Englishman to distinguish their different clans. They have been described as the Jhuta or "leavings" of all the tribes who have contested the possession of their fruitful valley. And Edwardes says of them:
"Although forming a distinct race in themselves, easily recognizable at first sight from any other tribe along the Indus, they are not of pure descent from any common stock, and able, like the neighbouring hill people, to trace their lineage back to the founder of the family, but are descended from many different Afghan tribes, representing the ebb and flow of might and right, possession and spoliation, in a corner of the Kabul empire, whose remoteness and fertility offered to outlaws and vagabonds a sure asylum against both law and labour."
As to their character there are no two opinions, the Bannuchi being invariably represented as a compound of Pathan vices without one redeeming virtue. It would seem to be impossible to write of them with patience. Edwardes, the first Englishman brought in contact with them says, "They have all the vices of Pathans rankly luxuriant - the virtues stunted. Except in Sindh, I have never seen such a degraded people." Reynell Taylor who succeeded Edwardes in the administration of the district, is even more explicit. "Taken as a class," he writes:
"They are very inferior to their neighbours, the Waziris. Small in stature, and sallow and wizened in appearance, they always reminded me of the lives they had led in youth, of which their appearance is in fact but a natural result. When we first arrived in Bannu it was a common thing to find a man who had never in his life been more than two miles from his own village, the village possibly being at war with its neighbour, which rendered wandering in the fields in the neighbourhood a service of danger, while within the walls it is sad to think of the heat, dirt, squalor, and stagnation that must have existed. The villages, in those days walled up to the sky, so that no air could reach the houses below, must indeed have been hot-beds of all that was enervating and demoralizing, and the characteristics of the full-grown Bannuchi weed correspond but too well with the nature of its origin and training. Here and there a fine character may possibly be found, and they have no doubt some domestic virtues, which in some measure redeem their public and social immorality, but, taken as a class they certainly are the worst dis-positioned men I ever had to deal with. They are vicious, false, back-biting, treacherous, cruel, and revengeful. I have never known or heard of men so utterly regardless of truth."
To sum up all, Mr. Thorburn, reporting for the present work, describes them as "a low, vicious race, very litigious, utterly regardless of truth, ready to take any advantage, however mean, over their enemy, without any manly feelings about them, always harping on the word honour, though possessing none."
Socially, the normal state of the Bannuchis is one of
feud. There is hardly a village in the valley that is not broken up into
factions. Many families even are similarly distracted by intestine quarrels. The
former violence of inter-tribal warfare, when village was at war with village
through the length and breadth of the valley, has subsided under the firm hand
of British rulers, but the spirit which prompted it is still untamed, and finds
free vent in the use of the dagger and the poisoned cup. So little have they
learned in this respect, that there can be but little doubt that, if British
rule were removed from Bannu, not a month would pass here and they would relapse
into the state in which Major Edwardes found them in 1848. With all their
faults, the Bannuchis are quiet and submissive subjects, and as agriculturists
are industrious, above the average of Pathans. Mr. Thorburn writes of them,
"On the whole they are an inoffensive people; of little political
importance; and however much we may be inclined to despise them as men,
we should remember that they are excellent revenue-payers, and that to
their prolificness and to the climate in which they live are to be
ascribed most of their bad qualities, whether mental or physical." They
are also not inhospitable. In religious matters they are extremely bigoted. They are strict observers of the
Koran, pray at all hours of the day and in any place, and blindly obey the
directions of their priests. Their women, strictly and jealously guarded, are
treated by their husbands as little better than slaves. They are great home-stayers, being seldom met with beyond their
In stature, the Bannuchi is wizened, spare, and fleshless, having little muscular development - results which probably are attributable to the use of the unwholesome water of the Kurram for drinking purposes, and to the malarious state of the atmosphere, caused by incessant irrigation from the same source. Their women are often fair-skinned, but always sallow. In habits they are extremely dirty. Water flows past their doors, but they rarely use it to wash either their persons or their clothes. Their villages are built of mud, the houses closely packed together, and, like their inmates, very dirty. Formerly every village had a high mud wall, but to procure the demolition of these was among the first achievements of British rule. The villages and hamlets are very numerous; there are upwards of 583 on an area of 102 square miles, and, were the order prohibiting the erection of new villages removed, this number would probably be quickly doubled. In 1867 the District Officer did for a short time remove the restriction, and at once, in a few months, 229 new hamlets sprung up. Most of these, however, were subsequently demolished by order of the Commissioner of the Division.
Their clothes are of strong homespun cotton, none, but the headmen, or maliks, indulging in cloth of finer texture. Woollen clothing is eschewed in the coldest weather by all classes, and this, not, it is believed, from poverty or any prejudice of caste or religion, but simply in obedience to immemorial custom. The chapli or sandal is worn by the men, but the women use the ordinary slipper. Many of the head-men, or maliks, now wear slippers instead of sandals.
Most of the Waziris settled in this district occupy grants of land in and upon the borders of the thal, which intervenes between the hills and the fertile centre of the Bannu valley. Before the establishment of British rule, the tribe was entirely nomadic in its habits, depending chiefly for support upon its flocks and herds. They had indeed begun in an intermittent way to encroach upon the Bannuchi lands, but none of them, prior to the annexation, had permanently settled below the hills. It has always, however, from the very first, been the policy of the English Government to allow them unchecked intercourse with the plains, and by grants of land to induce them to settle within the border. By such means, large numbers of the tribe have been weaned from a life of plunder, and are beginning to learn some of the lessons of civilization. It has been found that the inter-position of colonies of Waziris between the more settled portion of the plains and the hills has, more than any other measure, tended to secure the peace of the frontier. Experience has shown, too, that these rough mountaineers are capable of being tamed and converted into peaceful agriculturists.
The settlers in the plains have, on the one hand, lost none of the characteristic virtues of their tribe. In person they are tall and robust, they are united among themselves, possessed of many manly virtues, having a true regard for honour, and are comparatively truthful - a complete contrast in all these particulars to their Bannuchi neighbours; on the other hand, they are fair cultivators, industrious and thrifty and regular tax-payers. Most of them migrate to their own hills for the hot weather, returning in October and November in time for the sowings for the spring harvest. There are besides the cultivators, large numbers of the tribe who find active and lucrative employment within the border as carriers of salt and fuel. The houses, even in their permanent villages, are constructed of nothing more solid than grass and reeds, and large numbers of them live in small gipsy-like tents (kijdis), consisting simply of a camel-hair blanket stretched over two sticks.
Being such a troublesome and important element in the population of the district, it will be well to give some particulars regarding each of their clans or Khels. This can best be done in the form of a statement such as is given below, which is taken from the Settlement Census of 1873 at which only resident population was enumerated. The first six Khels belong to the Ahmadzai branch of the Darweshkhel Wazirs, the last two to the Utmanzai branch. The order in which the different clans are entered follows that of their settlements along the border from near Latammar in the north to the skirt of the Gabar mountain to the south:
Compared with the figures of the 1868 Census, the increase in the numbers of the Waziris is considerable. There can be no doubt that in the last few years the number of Wazirs who have settled in the plain for the spring crops at least has largely increased.
This clan is divided into two main branches, Kaimal and Edal. The former has three chief sections, viz., Ali or Khaidar Khan, Musa and Purba, and the latter four, viz., Bai, Bakkar, Isa and Kaimal. The Kaimal Khels outnumber the Edal Khels by about four to one. With the exception of the Patol Khels, who are a branch of the Ali Khels, and mostly live in the hills, the whole clan is now settled in the plain, and is rapidly assimilating to the Marwats. In the Settlement enumeration, only from 150 to 250 souls, then in the hills, were not counted. Of the different hamlets Chauki Azim is the largest. Hamlets and separate homesteads are very numerous, because each group of families is settled at pleasure on its own land. About 200 of the houses are mud-built and flat-roofed. All the rest are still temporary thatch structures as are seen in the sandy parts of' Marwat. The special hill home of the Hati Khels is immediately behind their plain possessions, and is surrounded by Umarzais, Kabul Khels, and Khataks. The Hatikhels have always been well behaved, and are now the most loyal, orderly and wealthy Waziri clan settled within British territory in the district. Not more than one-fifth of the clan now retires to the hills in the hot weather. Though they own little or no land in the Shawal direction, those who choose withdraw for the summer to that locality.
This is a poor little clan, and is either a branch of or nearly related to the Hati Khels. From first, to last it has been unfortunate. For some years after annexation it was not amenable to rule, in consequence of which some of its Thal area was given to, and otherwise absorbed by, its two powerful neighbours; the Hati Khels and Spirkais. Then it has never had any strong sensible chief or chiefs to push its interests. It has three main sections, Tobla, Bobla and Shuni, all of which hold land in the Thal. Nearly half of its numbers were in the hills at the settlement enumeration, and so omitted.
The main divisions are Muhammad Khel, Sudan Khel, and Sada Khel, but the first has long ranked as a distinct clan, and the collective name now applies to the two latter. Of them the Sudan Khel division has four main sections of pretty equal strength, viz., Baghban, Bokal, Kundi and Bharrat. The Sada Khel division is small in numbers, and has no section worth naming. Besides the above there are about thirty families of a people called Dhir affiliated in the clan, who seem originally to have been hamsayahs or dependants derived from some other stock. The Spirkai still largely go to their ancestral hills about Shawal for the summer. About 250 of them neither own nor cultivate land in the plain. The well known Sohan Khan was the chief of this clan at annexation. He belonged to the Baghban section. His son Mani and grandson Jalandar Shah are the present headmen. The clan is strong, well off, and does not give much trouble. It is the rival of the Hati khels, of whose prosperity and independence its leading men are jealous. Some twenty-five families of Badin Khel, who are either a distinct Ahmadzai clan, or are closely, related to the Bizan Khels, hold land with the Spirkais.
This is on the whole a well conducted clan. Its main divisions are Doulat, Iso and Umar Khan. The fourth called Moghal Khel is still mainly resident in the hills. The other three have long been settled in the plain. In all some 170 souls belonging to the clan find no place in the Settlement Census. The Payindah Khels require mention here. They are a cognate clan, but not apparently descended from Bizan, the common ancestor of the sections named above. These Payindah Khels maintain themselves more by carrying salt and trailing than by agriculture. They hold some land within Spirkai limits.
Their main divisions are Manzar, Tappai, Boza, all holding lands in our territory, and lastly Sayad, which last is only now beginning to settle down in the plain in any numbers. The clan owns part of the hilly country between the Kurram and their own plain possessions. They still go largely to the hills in the hot weather. Many of their members hold land in the Surani and other Bannuchi tappas north of the Kurram, and cultivate such land directly or through Bannuchi tenants. The Umarzais are great wood-carriers, and supply the cantonments with half the wood fuel there consumed, bringing it in by the Gumatti Pass. Collectively the clan is rude, thriftless and kept little in hand by its grey-beards, but amongst its members are a sprinkling of shrewd acquisitive men. During the 1870-71 border disturbances the Umarzais sympathised with their kinsmen, the rebellious Muhammad Khels, and some of their young men fought on the rebel side. The whole clan probably numbers twice as many as the portion counted in the Settlement Census. For some years after annexation the Umarzais gave much trouble, and were treated as outlaws until in 1852-53. Major Nicholson punished them, and after a time re-admitted them into our territory.
As before said this clan is lineally a branch of the Sperkai, but has long ranked as a separate clan. It is divided into four tarafs, viz., Muhammad Khel Khas, Sudan Khel, Shudakai, and what may be called miscellaneous. The first is the most numerous, and has no fewer than five recognized sections, of which Ro, Kuda and Kauzi are the most important. The Shudakai taraf is an affiliated Khel from the remnant of some old hill tribe, which cannot trace descent from Spirki. In the Settlement Census not more than fifty souls escaped enumeration through absence in the hills. The clan has several strong men in it of a turbulent disposition. In 1870-71 it rebelled, and gave much trouble before it was re-admitted into our territory. On the whole the Muhammad Khels are the least lightly assessed of all our Waziri clans; but they are rightly so, as, owing to most of their lands being irrigated, a crop of some sort is always assured to them. Their poorer members eke out a subsistence by selling fire-wood and mats in the town and cantonments.
The main divisions are Takhti, Narmi and Sardi. The first are both the most numerous and wealthy. Though very independent in manner, the clan is generally well conducted, and has shrewd, able representatives to support its interests. It is pretty comfortably off. Its hamlets and homesteads are strong and well built. It is the most numerous Waziri clan settled within our border. All its members come down to the plain for the cold weather. Few families escaped enumeration in the Settlement Census. The Masauds are annually encroaching more and more on the hill territory remaining to the Bakka Khels, and thus compelling them to become plain-dwellers.
The case of the Jani Khels closely resembles that of the Bakka Khels, the Masauds gradually supplanting them in the hills, and so, nolens volens, the clan is becoming more and more permanent settlers in our territory. It has three chief branches, Edia; the most numerous, Tor and Malik Shahi. The latter are comparatively few and poor. The clan has never given much trouble, though at times if thwarted it threatens to withdraw to the hills. Such a threat has hitherto been for this and for most other clans a brutum fulmen, and now that cultivation has so enormously increased, and that the Masauds are year by year absorbing more and more of the hill lands of their Darwesh Khel kinsmen, it is unlikely that any clan will ever be so foolish as to seriously go off to the hills in a body. Both Jani Khels, and Bakka Khels bring quantities of fire-wood into Edwardesabad in the cold weather.
The Bitannis are a rude people just emerging from barbarism. But those who have taken to civilized ways show themselves to be keen-witted, and perhaps more energetic and desirous of making 'money than their Marwat neighbours. A portion of the tribe was located in British territory in 1866. Prior to that time they had been great raiders and cattle-lifters, and had acted as guides to Waziri marauders, who could only gain access to the southern portion of the district through the Bitanni passes; but of late years they have been very orderly. They do not take service yet under Government. They occupy the lower hills just beyond the border of Marwat from the southern slopes of the Gabar mountain to the Gomal valley. Since the transfer of Mulazai to Dera Ismail Khan in 1875 the Bain Pass terminates the connection of this district with them. We have now mostly to do with Danna and Wurgara Bitannis. The latter are often termed a fakir kaum, and are the descendants of the clan which held the Bitanni hills before the conquering influx of the Danna Bitannis. The Dannas are divided into two clans, Boba and Bobak. Their united number inside, and immediately beyond the Bannu border is small, probably under 1,700 souls. The Wurgaras may number 150 souls. About seven-eighths of their whole numbers visit the plains in the cold weather.
Like other Pathans the Marwats are divided into numerous Khels, the most important of which are:
To the above may be added the Abba Khel Sayads, who are affiliated to the Dreplara Tappa, also the Michan Khels and other Sarhang Niazais scattered throughout Marwat. Though all such are now to all intents and purposes Marwats, they have been shown under their proper ancestral headings in the Settlement report. The tribe thus made up occupies the whole of the Marwat tahsil which is territorially divided into three great tappas, viz., Dreplara, Musa Khel-cum-Tappi, and Bahram. The latter is subdivided into two minor tappas, viz., Umar Khan Khel and Totazai. For administrative purposes a knowledge of the position and limits of each Tappa is not necessary. Taken as a whole the Marwats are as fine and law-abiding a race as any to be found on our border. They are a simple, slow-witted people, and contrast, in all that is manly, most favourably with the Bannuchis. They are strongly attached to their homes, and very averse to travel or to service out of their own country. As the climatic influence due to canal irrigation and marshes has effected the Bannuchis to their detriment, so here, a sandy soil and dry air has had an opposite result on the Marwats, for hard fare and poverty notwithstanding, they are healthy, happy and light hearted. They are Pathans of very pure descent, and as such are naturally proud and fiery. Their passions when once aroused are not easily soothed, but feuds among them are said to be now of rare occurrence. They are tall and muscular, and have almost ruddy complexions, and, specially the women, are fair and handsome. In manners they are frank and open, simple and yet manly. For natives, they are remarkably truthful. Their women enjoy great social freedom; they seldom conceal their faces, and converse readily with strangers, even with Europeans. Upon them, however, falls the labour of water-carrying, which is by no means light. Accompanied generally by a man as an escort, they go in troops of ten or twenty to fetch water from the Gambila, often a distance of ten or twelve miles. The Marwats were, at annexation, nomad graziers, wandering about with their herds and camels, and living chiefly in temporary huts of branches of trees, with a wall of thorns and a roof of straw. Even now that they have very largely settled down in permanent villages, the houses are constructed of reeds, twigs, and the branches of trees, the whole village being encircled by a hedge of thorns. This fact they assign, and probably with truth, to the scarcity of water rendering the construction of mud huts impossible. In dress, the only noticeable peculiarity is among the poorest classes, whose sole garment consists of a single large woollen blanket, half of which is worn round the legs like a petticoat, while the other half is thrown over the shoulders, a hole being slit in the blanket for the head to pass through. Chocolate-coloured turbans are also largely affected by the Marwat peasantry.
The following clans are also commonly known as Marwats and live in the Marwat tract; and though not Marwat by origin, have by association and inter-marriage become so assimilated as to be practically identical with them.
The Niazais consist of many sections which are settled about the Indus, both kacha and uplands, in the Isakhel and Mianwali tahsil. In the former tahsil, are the Isa khel, Mushwani, Sultan Khel, Sarhang, and other sub-sections; in the latter the main divisions are Adris, comprising Watta Khels, Ballu Khels, Yaru Khels, &c., and Taja Khels, Musa Khels, Pai Khels, Buri Khels, &c. As a tribe the Niazais are indifferent cultivators, and have still a good deal of Pathan-like pride of race about them. They make good soldiers, and are not averse to taking service. Those on the Mianwali side of the river are better husbandmen, and altogether a more orderly people than their Isakhel kinsmen. Of all sections of the Niazais, the Isakhels and Taja Khels are the two who retain most of the quantities of a fighting race accustomed to rule over others weaker than themselves.
The Khataks are mostly confined to the Isakhel tahsil. There are besides a good number settled amongst the Ahmadzai Wazirs, and a sprinkling between Mari and Niki in Mianwali, and elsewhere throughout the district. Except in Isakhel they are mostly tenants only. Those in Isakhel are divided into two classes, viz., the Bangi Khels, who number 6,816, and inhabit the hilly country of that name, and several villages in the plain immediately south of Kalabagh; and the Gudi Khels, who are settled in villages all along the skirt of the Maidani Range. There are also some Kabul Khels. The Khataks are a hardy laborious tribe, and make excellent cultivators. They take service in the army freely. Individually they are poor. They have not a single wealthy man, not even a chair-sitter amongst them. In disposition they are simple, faithful and orderly. Physically they are strongly built, but as a rule shorter in stature than any other of the Pathan peoples in the district, the Bannuchis perhaps alone excepted. The Bangi Khel Khataks, who occupy the tract known by their name in the north of the Isakhel tahsil, are esteemed the swiftest footmen and best mountaineers in British territory.
Of the 12,614 Sayads in the district, Bannu proper contains over one-half and Marwat about one-quarter. Those in Bannu proper are found in every village, but those in Marwat are mostly confined to two, viz., Abba Khel and Gorakka. As a rule the Sayads are land-owners not tenants, and bad, lazy land-owners they make too. In learning, general intelligence, and even in speech and appearance they are hardly distinguishable from the Pathans or Jats amongst whom they live. Here and there certainly honourable exceptions are to be found. The way the lands now held by them were originally acquired was in most cases by gift. Though many of them still exercise considerable influence, their hold as a class on the people at large is much weaker than it was thirty years ago. The struggle for existence caused by the increase of population since annexation has knocked much of the awful reverence the Pathan zamindar used to feel towards holy men in general out of him. He now views most matters from rather a hard worldly than a superstitious stand-point. Many a family or community would now cancel the ancestral deed of gift under which some Sayad's brood enjoys a fat inheritance. But for the criminal consequences which would ensue from turning them out neck and crop, the spiritual consequences would be risked willingly enough.
The term Jat is commonly used in Bannu to apply to all Musalman cultivators who are not Pathans, Biloches, Sayads, or Koreshis, and often includes Awans and Rajputs, so that the figures cannot be taken separately. More than 9,000 persons entered themselves as "Jat, Awan" in the Census of 1881, and are included under the head of Jats. There are in round numbers 4,000 Musalman Jats in Bannu proper, 7,000 in Marwat, and 43,000 in Isakhel and Mianwali. Those in the two frontier tahsils have assimilated in speech and appearance to the Pathans amongst whom they live. The Marwat Jats are fine fellows; those in Bannu are much as the Bannuchis are, and with the Awans they make up the mass of the hamsayah "Hindkais" of the tahsil. Those in Isakhel and Mianwali resident in parts in which the Niazai element is strong have always been rather kept down by that dominant tribe. The Jats on the whole are an energetic thrifty race. They are split up into numerous sections or gots. They are darker coloured, and not so tall or well made as the Niazais, but still they are, when properly nurtured, strong men. Those in the Kacha, being more subject to autumnal fever, and leading almost amphibious lives, have a weaker physique than their upland brethren. There is little marked individuality of appearance whereby to distinguish between the different gots. Throughout the Kacha and in the neighbouring parts where the Niazais are predominant, the terms "Jat" and hali (ploughman) are used indiscriminately. The Bannuchis and Waziris speak of all Jats and Awans loosely as "Hindkais." In many cases it is impossible to say whether a certain got should be classed as Awan or Jat. None of the different Jat gots claim descent from one common ancestor; indeed few of them seem to know or care much about their past tribal histories, and many of them speak of themselves simply as log (people).
Of the Jats in Bannu proper, whether strictly or only popularly so called, the greater part are said to have migrated from the east of the Indus, chiefly from Mianwali and from Pindigheb in Rawalpindi, early in the present century, having been driven from their homes in those parts by famine. They are most numerous in the neighbourhood of Ghoriwal and Shamshi Khel. The majority of them are tenants cultivating for Bannuchi landholders. There are a few in every village. They have now identified themselves in all respects with the Bannuchis, and are keen partisans of the chief (malik) under whose protection they may be living. The same remarks hold good with regard to the Marwat tahsil. It is only, however, in the more fertile parts of this tahsil that Jats are found. In Isakhel it is stated that several clans of Jats settled in the country together with the Niazais, who gave them the lands they now occupy. In Mianwali, Jats are found scattered throughout the country, but especially in the kachi.
There were at the Settlement Census of 1873, in round numbers 13,000 Awans in the cis-Indus portion of the district, all of whom were residents of the Mianwali tahsil, about 2,500 west of the Salt Range, and the remaining 10,500 east of it in the Pakhar ilaka. In the three trans-Indus tahsils, Mr. Thorburn found it impossible to separate Awans from Jats, and thought it best therefore to class all Awans resident trans-Indus as Musalman Jats. He estimated the number so classed at from 3,000 to 4,000. It has just been shown that the same confusion affects the figures of the Census of 1881. There is only one Awan village east of the Indus, that of Jalapur in Isakhel.
The Hindus are pretty equally scattered throughout all parts of the district except the Waziri tracts and Bhangi Khel, in both of which there are very few. Of the 30,000 in the district, fully two-thirds are engaged in trade, the rest gaining a living as agriculturists. The majority are Aroras (Kirars), the rest being Brahmins and Khatris. They are a cowardly, secretive, acquisitive race, very necessary and useful it may be in their places, but possessed of few manly qualities and both despised and envied by the great Musalman tribes of the district. Of the Aroras 11,275 returned their tribe as Uttaradhi and 10,580 as Dakhana at the Census of 1881.