Afghan Key


Kalīd-i Afghānī (Afghan key) is a Pushto textbook that was originally published in 1872 in Lahore. It was produced for the use of British Indian military personnel and missionaries stationed in the Northwest Frontier Province of British India and living among the Pushtuns. Its purpose was to acquaint English speakers with colloquial and standard forms of Pushto as well as with Pushtun history. The compiler was Thomas Patrick Hughes, priest at the Peshawar Mission in 1865‒84. The textbook is dedicated to the lieutenant governor of Punjab, Sir Robert Henry Davies (1824‒1902). Presented here is the second edition of the work dating from 1893. The contents are a compilation of eight works of prose and verse from Pushto literature, language, and history. Ganj-i Puṣhto (Treasury of Pushto) written by Mawlawi Ahmad of Tangi, an Afghan poet, discusses 49 literary tales in pure colloquial Pushto that is lacking Persian and Arabic words (pages 5‒130). Tārīkh da Sult̤ān Maḥmūd Ghaznavī by Mawlawi Ahmad (a translation of the Persian Tārīkh-i Firishtah) deals with the life and career of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (971‒1030; pages 131‒204). Tārīkh-i Muraṣṣaʻ (Gem-studded history) by Afzal Khan (died 1748), a local writer, is a miscellaneous local history that starts with a discussion of the creation of the world through biblical and Qur’anic lenses and proceeds to the migration and ancestral origin of some of the Pushtun tribes, such as the Khattaks, Ghurids, and others living between Afghanistan and the Peshawar Valley (pages 205‒40). Shahzādah Bahrām wa Gulandām (Story of Prince Bahram and Gul Andam) by Fayyaz is a mystical love story that was originally Persian (pages 241‒96). Da Dīwān d ʻAbd al-Raḥman (Collection of poetry by ʻAbd al-Rahman) is a selection of poems by the famous Pushto mystic-poet, Rahman Baba (1651‒1709; pages 297‒328). Da Dīwān da Khūshḥāl Khān Khaṭak is also a selection of poems of the Pushtun poet-warrior, Khushal Khan Khatak (also called Khwushhal, 1613‒89; pages 329‒60). Chaman-i Bīnaẓīr (Unique garden) is a selection of poetic sonnets from 35 Pushtun poets, most of whose works are no longer extant (pages 361‒402). Inshaʼ da Puṣhto (Writing in Pushto) is a compilation of 19 Pushto letters that supplements the textbook.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Munshī Gulāb Singh, Lahore


Title in Original Language

كليد افغاني

Type of Item

Physical Description

418 pages ; 28 centimeters


  1. Elizabeth Hughes Clark, “Thomas Patrick Hughes, Missionary to British India: The Class Ceiling,” (Project Canterbury, 2002).

Last updated: September 30, 2016