Four Sons of Nawrūz Khan of Lalpoora


This photograph of four sons of Nowruz Khān, ruler of Lalpura, Afghanistan, is from an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The young men are wearing handsome traditional Afghan garments and pointed shoes called paizaar, usually adorned with gold-thread embroidery. The photographer, John Burke (circa 1843–1900), accompanied the Peshawar Valley Field Force during part of the war, and became one of the first photographers to take pictures of Afghanistan’s people, rather than simply of military personnel. The khan was the most important chief of the Pashtun Mohmand tribe living in the hill country northwest of Peshawar and a rival of Amir ʻAbd al-Raḥmān Khān. The Second Anglo-Afghan War began in November 1878 when Great Britain, fearful of what it saw as growing Russian influence in Afghanistan, invaded the country from British India. The first phase of the war ended in May 1879 with the Treaty of Gandamak, which permitted the Afghans to maintain internal sovereignty but forced them to cede control over their foreign policy to the British. Fighting resumed in September 1879, after an anti-British uprising in Kabul, and finally concluded in September 1880 with the decisive Battle of Kandahar. The album includes portraits of British and Afghan leaders and military personnel, portraits of ordinary Afghan people, and depictions of British military camps and activities, structures, landscapes, and cities and towns. The sites shown are all located within the borders of present-day Afghanistan or Pakistan (a part of British India at the time). About a third of the photographs were taken by Burke, another third by Sir Benjamin Simpson (1831–1923), and the remainder by several other photographers. Some of the photographs are unattributed. The album possibly was compiled by a member of the British Indian government, but this has not been confirmed. How it came to the Library of Congress is not known.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Four sons of Nowroz Khan of Lalpoora

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print in an album : albumen


  1. "Four Sons of Nowruz Khan of Lalpura,” British Library Online Gallery, March 2009.

Last updated: September 30, 2016