The Sun of the Day, Volume 1, Number 7, December 1873


Shams al-nahār (The day’s sun) is the earliest printed periodical published in Afghanistan. The Afghan ruler Sher ʻAlī Khān (reigned 1863−66 and 1868−79) introduced the printing press to Afghanistan following a trip to India, where he appears to have been impressed by technological advances under the British Raj. At least three lithographic presses are known to have been operating in Kabul during the second period of Sher ʻAlī Khān’s rule: the Shams al-nahār, the Murtaḍāwī, and the Muṣṭafawī. The first issues of  Shams al-nahār were printed at the Murtaḍāwī press. The publication moved to the Shams al-nahār press by the seventh issue at the latest. The first page of Shams al-nahār contains an emblem with a circular medallion enclosing the name Shams al-nahār-i Kābul and flanked by two sword-wielding lions. The lions allude to Sher ʻAlī Khān. Sher denotes lion in Persian, and ʻAlī, the revered son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, is often denoted by the epithet Shīr-i Ḥaqq (Lion of God). The entire composition is framed by devotional verses asking God for success. The present copy is the seventh issue dating to the 15th of Shawwāl, 1290, or December 6, 1873. The issue opens with a discussion of the various ways to subscribe to the periodical and gives a list of rates. The publisher also states that, in return for the delivery of free copies of Shams al-nahār to other printing shops, the managers of these shops should “kindly send the news [publications] of their print shops weekly” and include a summary of the news in Shams al-nahār in their publications “for two entire months.” A notable feature of this issue is an almost complete absence of news. The bulk of the issue is composed of an advertisement for a four-volume English−Persian−Urdu−Arabic dictionary. The issue also contains an editorial that praises Shīr ʻAlī Khān and offers advice regarding his just and prosperous reign.

Last updated: April 21, 2017