Natives of Ziarat-e-Hazratji


This image of a group of people at a Muslim shrine is from an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Ziarat generally means “visit” in Arabic, but here it refers specifically to religious pilgrimage sites found across the Middle East and North Africa and visited by Muslims of all persuasions. The remains of great religious teachers or members of bāyt ʻAlī (the family of ʻAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib, the fourth Muslim caliph) are buried in such shrines. This monument to Hazratji, a famous Kandahari saint, is located north of the center of the city and is surrounded by the tombs of 19th-century Afghan rulers. 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 John Burke (circa 1843–1900), 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.

Last updated: September 30, 2016