The Crown of Histories


Shown here is volume one of the two-volume Tāj al-Tavārīkh (The crown of histories), which is the autobiography of 'Abd al-Raḥmān Khān, ruler of Afghanistan between 1880 and 1901. After long years in exile in Central Asia, Rahman came to power in Afghanistan with the support of the British, by whom he was later patronized financially, politically, and militarily. He began to suppress various social groups who opposed and threatened his rule, such as the Hazarah and Ghilzai tribes of central and eastern Afghanistan. He also exiled rival individuals and families, including that of Barakzai Khan, Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi. Amir 'Abd al-Raḥmān Khān is famous for creating and centralizing modern state administration in Afghanistan. A note in the volume states that it was translated from English into Persian by Ghulam Murtza Khan Qandahari, the British deputy consul general in Mashhad, Iran, and published in Bombay by Matb-e Gulzar Husaini on July 2, 1904. In fact, this is a reverse translation, as the book was originally published in Persian in Kabul in 1883. Qandahari says in the preface that he translated it “because its absence in Persian was felt and unfortunate.” According to scholar Amin Tarzi, the actual translator from English into Persian was Mirza Husain Ali Shirazi, who published his work in Mashhad in 1903; thus, Qandahari’s contribution to the 1904 edition was less than he implied. The volume is arranged as a preface and 12 chapters. The preface seems to have been written by Qandahari, who praises the supremacy of God and the integrity of Rahman as a restorer of order in Afghanistan and builder of the modern country. Chapter one discusses Rahman’s youth from 1853 to 1863, growing up as a child of royal lineage. Chapter two is about Rahman’s flight from Balkh to Bukhara in 1863, after he was challenged by his uncle, Emir Sher Ali Khan (1825−79). Chapters three and four are about Rahman’s wars with Sher Ali Khan. Chapter five covers his life in exile in Samarqand in 1870−78. Chapter six deals with his year in Badakhshan, in 1879. Later chapters cover his enthronement, his organization of Afghan state affairs, the  annexation of Herat, an overview of Afghanistan during the 1880s, battles with various opposition groups, and the Afghan individuals and families whom he exiled.  A family tree and a photograph of Rahman precede chapter one.

Date Created

Publication Information

Matb-e Gulzar Husaini, Bombay


Title in Original Language

تاج التواریخ

Type of Item

Physical Description

26 centimeters


  1. “Introduction,” in History of Afghanistan, translated and edited by R.D. McChesney and M.M. Khorrami (from Fayż Muḥammad Kātib Hazārah, Sirāj al-tavārīkh), (Brill: Leiden and Boston, 2013).

Last updated: September 30, 2016