1902 Encyclopedia > Baluchistan


BALUCHISTAN, a maritime country of Asia, whose coast is continuous with that of the north-western part of the Indian Peninsula. It is bounded on the N. by Afghanistan, on the E. by Sindh, on the 8. by the Arabian Sea, and on the W. by Persia. The frontier between Persia and Baluchistan has been drawn by an English commission, sent out in 1870 under Sir F. Goldsmid, from Qwadur Bay (about 61° 36' E. long.) northwards, to lat 26° 15' N., when it turns eastward to the Nihing River, following which N. and E. to its sources, it passes on to about 63° 12' E. long., when it resumes a northerly direc-tion to Jalk. As thus determined, Baluchistan has an area of about 106,500 sq. miles. It extends from lat. 24° 50' to 30" 20', and from long. 61° 10' to 68° 38'; its extreme length from E to W. being 500 miles, and its breadth 370.

The outline of the sea-coast is in general remarkably regular, running nearly due E. and W., a little N. of lat 24° 46' from Caps Monze, on the border of Sindh, to Cape Jew-nee, near the River Dustee. It is for the most part craggy, but not remarkably elevated, and has in some places, for considerable distance, a low sandy shore, though almost everywhere the surface becomes much higher inland. The principal headlands, proceeding from E. to W., are Cape Monse or Ras Moarree, which is the eastern headland of Sonmeanee Bay; Goorab Sing; Ras Arubah; Ras Noo, forming the western headland of Gwadel Bay; Ras Jewnee, forming the eastern point of Gwadur Bay, and Cape Zegin

Sketch Map of Baluchistan.

at its western extremity. There is no good harbour along tha coast, though it extends about 600 miles; but there use several roadsteads with good holding-ground, and sheltered on several points. Of these the best are Sonmeanee Bay, Homara, and Gwadur. On the latter are situated a small town and a fort of the same name, and also a telegraph station of the Indo-European line.

Of the early history of this portion of the Asiatic continent little or nothing is known. The poverty and natural strength of the country, combined with the ferocious habits of the natives, seem to have equally repelled the friendly visits of inquisitive strangers and the hostile incursions of invading armies. The first distinct account which we have is from Arrian, who, with his usual brevity and severe veracity, narrates the march of Alexander through this region, which he calls the country of the Oritse and GadrosiL He gives a very accurate account of this forlorn tract, its general aridity, and the necessity of obtaining water by digging in the beds of torrents ; describes the food of the inhabitants as dates and fish ; and adverts to the occasional occurrence of fertile spots, the abundance of aromatic and thorny shrubs and fragrant plants, and the violence of the monsoon in the western part of Mekran. He notices also the impossibility of subsisting a large army, and the con-sequent destruction of the greater part of the men and beasts which accompanied the expedition of Alexander. At the commencement of the 8th century this country was traversed by an army of the caliphate.

The country derives its name from the Baluches, but the Brahoes are considered the dominant race, from which the ruler of the country is always selected. From whatever quarter these may have arrived, they eventually expelled, under their leader Kumbur, the Hindu dynasty, which at that time governed the country, and conquered Baluchistan for themselves. The Baluches are a quite distinct race, and must have arrived in the country at a subsequent period, probably in small bodies, some of which may have come from Syria or from Arabia; in proof of this the Kyheree, for instance, possess a remarkably handsome breed of horses showing unmistakable Arab blood. Anyhow, so marked is the social distinction between Baluch and Brahoe, that when the khan assembles his forces for war the latter tribes demand, as their right, wheaten flour as a portion of their daily rations, while the Baluch tribes are only entitled to receive that made from a coarse grain called jowar. There is also a Persian colony known as the Dehwars; and a considerable number of Hindus, who appear to have been the first settlers in the Brahoe mountains on their expulsion from Sindh, LUH, and Mekran by the caliphs of Baghdad.

Taking a general view on the subject of the original inhabitants of Baluchistan, we may conclude that they have, from a very early date, been reinforced by emigration from other countries, and from stragglers dropped from the hosts of the numerous conquerors, from Alexander to Nadir Shah, who have passed and repassed through Baluchistan or its neighbourhood on their way to and from India. Thus we find the Saka tribe located on the plains of Gressia, on the borders of Mekran, the ancient Gedrosia, and still further to the west, the Dahoe. These tribes are on the direct line of Alexander's march; and we know that tribes of this name from the shores of the Caspian accompanied his army. In Sarawan we find the Sirperra, and Pliny tells us that a tribe called Saraparae resided near the Oxus. Further, on the Dushti-be-doulets, a plain at the northern entrance of the Bolan Pass, we find the Kurds, a name, again, familiar as that of a celebrated and ancient nation. The names of numerous other tribes might be cited to Bupport this view, but it would require too much space to follow up the subject. Both Brahoes and Baluches are Mahometans of the Suni persuasion.

The precise period at which the Brahoes gained the mastery cannot be accurately ascertained; but it was probably about two centuries ago. The last rajah of the Hindu dynasty found himself compelled to call for the assistance of the mountain shepherds, with their leader, Kumbur, in order to check the encroachments of a horde of depredators, headed by an Afghan chief, who infested the country, and oven threatened to attack the seat of government. Kumbur successfully performed the service for which he had been engaged; but having in a few years quelled the robbers, against whom he had been called in, and finding himself at the head of the only military tribe in the country, he formally deposed the rajah and assumed the government.

The history of the country after the accession of Kumbur is as obscure as during the Hindu dynasty. It would appear, however, that the sceptre was quietly transmitted to Abdulla Khan, the fourth in descent from Kumbur, who, being an intrepid and ambitious soldier, turned his thoughts towards the conquest of Cutch-Gundava, then held by different petty chiefs, under the authority of th* Nawabs of Sindh.

After various success, the Kumburanees at length possessed themselves of the sovereignty of a considerable por-tion of that fruitful plain,including the chief town, Gundava. It was during this contest that the famous Nadir Shah advanced from Persia to the invasion of Hindustan; and while at Kandahar, he despatched several detachments into Baluchistan, and established his authority in that province. Abdulla Khan, however, was continued in the government of the country by Nadir's orders ; but he was soon after killed in a battle with the forces of the Nawabs of Sindh. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Hajee Mohummud Khan, who abandoned himself to the most tyrannical and licentious way of life, and alienated his subjects by oppressive taxation. In these circumstances Nuaseer Khan, the second son of Abdulla Khan, who had accompanied the victorious Nadir to Delhi, and acquired the favour and confidence of that monarch, returned to Khelat, and wa» hailed by the whole population as their deliverer. Finding that expostulation had no effect upon his brother, he one day entered his apartment and stabbed him to the heart. As soon as the tyrant was dead, Nusseer Khan mounted the muanud, amidst the universal joy of his subjects ; and immediately transmitted a report of the events which had taken place to Nadir Shah, who was then encamped neau Kandahar. The shah received the intelligence with satisfac-tion, and despatched a firman, by return of the messenger, appointing Nusseer Khan beglerbey of all Baluchistan. This event took place in the year 1739.

Nusseer Khan proved anactive, politic, and warlike princ*. He took great pains tore-establish the internal government of all the provinces in his dominions, and improved and forti-fied the city of Khelat. On the death of Nadir Shah in 1747,„ he acknowledged the title of the king of Cabul, Ahmed Shah Abdulla. In 1758 he declared himself entirely independent; upon which Ahmed Shah despatched a force against him, under one of his ministers. The khan, however, raised an army and totally routed the Afghan army. On receiving intelligence of this discomfiture, the king himself marched with strong reinforcements, and a pitched battle was fought, in which Nusseer Khan was worsted. He retired in good order to Khelat, whither he was followed by the victor, who invested the place with his whole army. The khan made a vigorous defence; and, after the royal troops had been foiled in their attempt* to take the city by stoma or surprise, a negotiation was pro-posed by the king, which terminated in a treaty of peace By this treaty it was stipulated that the king was to receive the cousin of Nusseer Khan in marriage ; and that the khan was to pay no tribute, but only, when called upon, to furnish troops to assist the armies, for which he was to receive an allowance in cash equal to half their pay The khan frequently distinguished himself in the subsequent wars of Cabul; and, as a reward for his services, the king bestowed upon him several districts in perpetual and entire sovereignty. Having succeeded in quelling a dangerous rebellion, headed by his cousin Beheram Khaii, this able prince at length died in extreme old age, in the month of June 1795, leaving three sons and five daughters. He was succeeded by his eldest son Muhmood Khan, then a boy of about fourteen years. During the reign of this prince, who has been described as a very humane and indolent man, the country was distracted by sanguinary broils ; the governors of several provinces and districts withdrew their allegiance; and the dominions of the khans of Khelat gradually so diminished, that they now comprehend only a small portion of the provinces formerly aubject to Nusseer Khan.

In 1839, when the British army advanced through the Bolan Pass towards Afghanistan, the conduct of Mehrab Khan, the ruler of Baluchistan, was considered so treacher-ous and dangerous, as to require " the exaction of retri-bution from that chieftain," and " the execution of such arrangements as would establish future security in that quarter," General Willshire was accordingly detached from the army of the Indus with 1050 men to assault Khelat. A gate was knocked in by the field-pieces, and the town and citadel were stormed in a few minutes. Above 400 Baluches were slain, among them Mehrab Khan himself; and 2000 prisoners were taken. Subsequent inquiries have, however, proved that the treachery towards the British was not on the part of Mehrab Khan, but on that of his vizier, Mahomed Hassein, and certain chiefs with whom he was in league, and at whose instigation the British convoys were plundered in their passage through Cutch-Gundava and in the Bolan Pass. The treacherous vizier, however, made our too credulous political officers believe that Mehrab Khan was to blame,—his object being to bring his master to ruin and to obtain for himself all power in the state, knowing that Mehrab's successor was only a child. How far he succeeded in his object history has shown. In the following year Khelat changed hands, the governor established by the British, together with a feeble garrison, being overpowered. At the close of the same year it was reoccupied by the British under General Nott. In 1841, Nusseer Khan, the youthful son of the slain Mehrab Khan, was recognized by the British, who soon after evacuated the country.

From the conquest of Sindh by the British troops under the command of the late General Sir Charles Napier in 1843 up to 1854, no diplomatic intercourse occurred worthy of note between the British and Balcch states. In the latter year, however, under the governor-generalship of the late marquis of Dalhousie, the late General John Jacob, C.B., at the time political superintendent and commandant on the Sindh frontier, was deputed to arrange and conclude a treaty between the Khelat state, then under the chieftain-ship of Meer Nusseer Khan, and the British Government. This treaty was executed on the 14th of May 1854, and was to the following effect:—

" That the former offensive and defensive treaty, concluded in 1841 by Major Outram between the British Government and Meer Nusseer Khan, chief of Khelat, was to be annulled.

"That Meer Nusseer Khan, his heirs and successors, bound themselves to oppose to the utmost all the enemies of the British Government, and in all cases to act in subor-dinate co-operation with that Government, and to enter into no negotiations with other states without its consent.

" That should it be deemed necessary to station British troops in any part of the territory of Khelat, they shall occupy such positions as may be thought advisable by the British authorities.

" That the Baluch chief was to preveut all plundering on the part of his subjects within, or in the neighbourhood of. British territory.

" That he was further to protect all merchants passing through his territory, and only to exact from them a transit duty, fixed by schedule attached to the treaty; and that, on condition of a faithful performance of these duties, he was to receive from the British Government an annual subsidy of 50,000 rupees (£5000). "

The provisions of the above treaty were most loyally performed by Meer Nusseer Khan up to the time of his death in 1856. He was succeeded by his brother, Meer Khodadad Khan, the present ruler, a youth of twelve years of age, who, however, did not obtain his position before he had put down by force a rebellion on the part of his turbulent chiefs, who had first elected him, but, not receiving what they considered an adequate reward from his treasury, sought to depose him in favour of his cousin Shere dil Khan. In the latter part of 1857, the Indian rebellion being at its height, and the city of Delhi still in the hands of the rebels, a British officer (Major Henry Green) was deputed, on the part of the British Government, to reside, as political agent, with the khan at Khelat, and to assist him by his advice in maintaining control over his turbulent tribes. This duty was successfully performed until 1863, when, during the temporary absence of Major Malcolm Green, the then political agent, Khodadad Khan was, at the instigation of some of his principal chiefs, attacked, while out riding, by his cousin, Shere dil Khan, and severely wounded. Khodadad fled in safety to a residence close to the British border, and Shere dil Khan was elected and proclaimed khan. His rule was, however, a short one, for, early in 1864, when proceeding to Khelat, he was murdered in the Gundava Pass ; and Khodadad was again elected chief by the very men who had only the previous year caused his overthrow, and who had lately been accom-plices to the murder of his cousin. Since the above events Khodadad has maintained his precarious position with great difficulty; but owing to his inability to govern his unruly subjects without material assistance from the British Government, which they are not disposed to give, his country has gradually fallen into the greatest anarchy; and, consequently, some of the provisions of the treaty of 1854 having been broken, diplomatic relations have been discontinued with the Khelat state since the end of 1874.

The territories of Baluchistan are now comprised under the following divisions—Jalawan, Sarawan, Khelat, Mekran, Bus, Cutch-Gundava, and Kohistan.

The most remarkable features of this extensive country are its rugged and elevated surface, its barrenness, and its deficiency of water. The mass of mountains which forms the eastern boundary of that division of Baluchistan called the Kohistan, or mountain territory, lying between the capital, Khelat (lat. 29° 1' 38' N., long, about 66° 39' E.), and the plain country to the east of it, designated Cutchee, or Cutch-Gundava, is composed of several parallel ranges of limestone rock, in close proximity to each other, having a general strike of N.N.E. to S.S. W. and a breadth of about 55 miles. This range originates in Afghanistan, and enters Baluchistan north of the Bolan Pass in about 30" N. lat. and about 60° 30' E. long, under the name Herbooe; and, after throwing out a branch to the eastward, which touches the River Indus at Sehwan, terminates under the designa-tion of the Hala Mountains, at Cape Monze on the coast of the Arabian Sea, W. of Kurrachee, in about 25° N. lat and 66° 68' E. long., thus having a total length of upwards of 300 miles. The highest mountain of this range is tho Chehil Tan, bearing about N. by E., 85 miles from Khelat, and attaining an altitude of 12,000 feet above the sea. The western range of the Herbooe Mountains in this portion of Baluchistan are barren and without timber, and scantily peopled with pastoral tribes of Brahoes, who emigrate to the plains of Cutchee on the approach of the winter months.

North of the Bolan River and Pass tne Herbooe Mountains are met, in about lat. N. 30°, by confused ranges of rough precipitous mountains, which extend to the eastward with a strike nearly E. and W. to the Sooliman range, in about 29° 5' N. lat. and about 69° 30' E. long. This tract is almost entirely inhabited by Murrees, Boogtees, and other tribes of Baluch plunderers, and is bounded on the N. by the province of Sewestan. South of these ranges lies the desert country, which touches the Smdh frontier in 28° 27' N. lat.

The two principal water-courses which drain the Kohistan portion of Baluchistan E. of Khelat are the rivers Bolan and Moola, the former rising about 60 miles N.E. of Khelat, the latter at Anjeera, lat. 28° 19' N., long, about 66° 29' E., about 45 miles south of that city. They both discharge themselves into the plains of Cutchee, the former at Dadur, lat. about 29° 28' 51* N., long, about 67° 26' E., and the latter at Kotra near Gundava, lat. 28s 33' 47" N., long, about 67° 26' E. There is at all seasons a plentiful supply of clear running water in these streams, which is entirely used up for irrigational purposes on issuing into the plains. They are subject to dangerous floods from sudden storms in the neighbouring mountains during the rainy season. The two easiest and safest passes from Central Asia into India take their names from these streams. South of the Moola the Gaj River issues into the plains, and its waters are also absorbed in cultivation. The Nara iasues into the plains near Kujjuk, N.W. corner of Cutch-Gundava, in lat. about 29° 36' N., and long, about 68° 2' E.; ordinarily its water is utilized entirely for cultivation in its course through the Afghan province of Seebee; but at periods of heavy rains in the mountains it is liable to burst its banks, and then inundates immense tracts in the Cutches desert to the south.
West of Khelat, as far as about 65° 30' E. long., the mountain ranges have much the same strike, and are of the same nature as those to the eastward, but the ranges are much narrower, more defined, and of a lower altitude. The valleys between them vary from 5 to 15 miles in breadth; they are quite devoid of trees. The water-courses generally follow the direction of the hills from N. to S. and in some instances during heavy rains their waters reach the Arabian Sea; but as a general rule they are absorbed long before they reach the coast, partly in cultivation, but principally by the sandy arid nature of the soil and excessive dryness of the atmosphere,—due, probably, to the proximity of the great desert west of Kharan, which extends to the confines of Persia. The most important of these water-courses is the Dustee or Mooleanee.
The climate of Baluchistan is extremely various in the different provinces. The soil in general is exceedingly stony. In the province of Cutch-Gundavs, however, it is rich and loamy, and so very productive, that, it is said, were it all properly cultivated, the crops would bo more than sufficient for the supply of the whole of Baluchistan. Gold, silver, lead, iron, tin, antimony, brimstone, alum, sal-ammoniac, and many kinds of mineral salts, and saltpetre, are fonnd in various parts of the country. The precious metals have only been discovered in working for iron and lead, in mines near the town of NaL about 150 miles S.S.W. of Khelat. The different other minerals above enumerated are very plentiful. The gardens of Khelat produce many sorts of fruit, which are sold at a very moderate rate, such as apricots, peaches, grapes, almonds, pistachio-nuts, apples, pears, plums, currants, cherries, quinces, figs, pomegranates, mulberries, plantains, melons, guavas, &e. All kinds of grain known in India are cultivated in the different provinces of Baluchistan, and there is abundance of vegetables. Madder, cotton, and indigo are also produced; and the latter is considered superior to that of Bengal. Great attention ia given to the culture of the date fruit in the province of Mekran.

The domestic animals of Baluchistan are horses, mules, asses, camels, buffaloes, black-cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and cats, besides fowls and pigeons ; but there are neither geese, turkeys, nor ducks. The wild animals are tigers, kupurus. hyenas, wolves, jackals, tiger-cats, wild doge, foxes, hares, mangooses, mountain goats, antelopes, elks, red and moose deer, wild asses, <fcc. Of birds they have almost every species to be met with either in Europe or India,

The principal towns in Baluchistan are as follows:— KHELAT is the capital of the whole country ; Mitstoortg, of the province of Sarawan; Kozdar, of Jala wan ; Beyix, of Beyla; Eej, of Mekran; Bagh, of Cutch-Gundava; and Dadur and Gundava are towns in the last-mentioned province.

The capital stands on an elevated site 7000 feet above the sea, on the western side of a well-cultivated plain or valley, about eight miles long and two or three broad, a great part of which is laid out in gardens and other enclosures. The town is built in an oblong form, and on three sides is defended by a mud wall, 18 or 20 feet high, flanked, at intervals of 250 yards, by bastions, which, as well as the wall itself, are pierced with numerous loopholes for matchlock-men. The defence of the fourth side of the city has been formed by cutting away perpendicularly the western face of the hill on which it is partly built. On the summit of this eminence stands the palace, command-ing a distinct view of the town and adjacent country. That quarter of the hill on which the khan's residence is erected has been enclosed by a mud wall, with bastions; the entrance to it is on the south-western side ; and here, as well as at the city gates, which are three in number, there is constantly a guard of matchlock-men. Both town and citadel are, however, completely commanded by the surrounding hills, and are incapable of offering any resist-ance against artillery. Within the walls there are upwards of 2500 houses, and the number of these in the suburbs probably exceeds one-half of that amount. The houses are mostly built of half-burnt brick or wooden frames, and plastered over with mud or mortar. In general, the streets are broader than those of native towns, and most of them have a raised pathway on each side for foot-passengers, and have also an uncovered kennel in the centre, which is a nuisance, from the quantity of filth thrown into it, and the stagnant rain-water that lodges there. The upper stories of the houses frequently project across the street, and thereby render the part beneath them gloomy and damp. Thiis seems a very rude attempt to imitate the bazaars of Persia, and Cabul. The bazaar of Khelat is extensive, well fur-nished with every kind of goods ; all the necessaries of life may be purchased there at a moderate price. The town is supplied with delicious water from a spring in the face of a hill on the opposite side of a plain, whence it meanders nearly through ite centre, having the town and suburbs on one side, and on the other the gardens. It may be remarked of this spring, that the waters, at their immediate issue from the smaller channels, possess a considerable degree of tepidity until after sunrise, when they suddenly become exceedingly cold, and remain, so during the day.

We have no data from which we can form an accurate computation of the population of Baluchistan, but it may be estimated at about 400,000. The two great races of Baluch and Brahoe, each subdivided into an infinite number of tribes, are clearly diBtinguished from each other by their language and appearance. The Baluch, or Baluchekee, language partakes considerably of the idiom of the modern Persian, although greatly disguised under a singularly corrupt proimnciation. The Brahoekee, on the other hand, has nothing analogous to Persian, but appears to contain a great number ef ancient Hinduwee words; and, as it strikes the ear, bears a strong resemblance to the dialect spoken in the Panjaub. The Baluches in general have tall figures, long visages, and raised features; the Brahoes, on the contrary, have short, thick bones, with round faces and flat lineaments.

The Baluches are a handsome, active race of men, not possessing great physical strength, but inured to changes of climate and season, and capable of enduring every species of fatigue. In their habits they are pastoral and much addicted to predatory warfare, in the course of which they do not hesitate to commit every kind of outrage and cruelty. Notwithstanding their predatory habits, how-ever, they are considered to be a hospitable people. After the fashion of other barbarous tribes in that part of the world, they will protect and kindly entertain a stranger while their guest, but feel no scruple in robbing and murdering him as soon as he has left their precincts. They are indolent, and unless excited by amusement or war, or compelled to action by some urgent motive, spend their time in idleness, rude dissipation, and the enjoyment of such coarse luxuries as they can procure—in lounging, gambling, smoking tobacco or hemp, and chewing opium The teneta of their religion,—and still more, perhaps, then-poverty,—preserve them from the abuse of fermented liquors. Their principal articles of food are milk in all its forms, the flesh of domestic animals, not excepting that of the camel, and game, including wild asses, the flesh of which is considered a delicacy. Their appetites are voracious ; they consume incredible quantities of flesh when it can be obtained, and prefer it in a half-cooked state. They also use grain in the form of bread, and prepared variously otherwise; but they enjoy most such articles of food or condiment as possess a strong and stimulating flavour, as capsicum, onions, and garlic. Their indolence prompts them to keep as many slaves as they can obtain and support. Polygamy is universal. Some of the lower orders have as many as eight women, either as wives or mistresses, and the number is increased in proportion to the rank and means of the man. Wives are obtained by purchase, pay-ment being made in cattle or other articles of pastoral wealth The ceremony of marriage is performed by the moollah or priest; and on this occasion, as well as on some others affecting females, practices similar to those of the Levitical law are observed For instance, in this country, as also among the Afghans, a man is expected to marry the widow of a deceased brother. When a death takes place, the body is watched for three successive nights by assembled friends and neighbours, who spend their time in feasting, so that the ceremony stem* intended rather to furnish enjoyment to the living than to render honour to the dead.

The common dress of the Brahoes is a coarse white 01 blue calico shirt, buttoned round the neck, and reaching below the knee; their trousers are made of the same cloth, or of a kind of striped stuff called soosee, and puckered round the ankles. On their heads they wear a small silk or cotton quilted cap, fitted to the shape of the skull, and a kutnmurbund or sash, of the same colour, round their waists. The Baluches wear a similar dress, but a turban on ths head and wide trousers unconfined at the ankle. In winter the chiefs and their relatives appear in a tunic of chintz, lined and stuffed with cotton; and the poorer classes, when out of doors, wrap themselves up in a Burtout made of cloth, manufactured from a mixture of goats' hair and sheep's wool. The woman's dress is very similar to that of the men; their trousers are preposterously wide, and made of silk, or a mixture of silk and cotton.

The fluctuation of power renders it difficult to define precisely the nature of the government of Khelat. During the reign of Nusseer Khan the whole kingdom might be said to have been governed by a complete despotism; yet that ruler so tempered the supreme authority by the privileges granted to the feudal chiefs within their own tribes, that, to a casual observer, it bore the appearance of a military confederation. The tribes all exercise the right of selecting their own rirdar, or head; and the khan has the power of confirming or disapproving of their nomination; but this power is never exercised, and appears to be merely nominal The khan of Khelat declares war and makes treaties connected with the whole of Baluchistan, and can order the sirdar of each tribe to attend in person with his quota of troops. Agreeably to a code of regulation* framed by one of the earliest princes of the Kumburanee dynasty, the entire ajdministnition of justice was vested in the person at the head of the government. The sirdar, however, has the power of adjusting petty quarrels, thefts, and disputed points of every description, among the inhabitants of a kheil or society; but, in all cases of importance, an appeal lies in the last instance to the khan at Khelat.

The amount of revenue enjoyed by the khan of Khelat is inconsiderable, as the ruling races, Baluch and Brahoe, pay no direct taxes, and their poverty and simple habits prevent them from contributing much indirectly. Hi* income is therefore derived from his resources as a proprietor of lands or towns; from a proportion of the produce paid in kind by the Afghan, Dehwar, and Jet cultivators; from dues on direct and transit trade; and from arbitrary exactions, a never-failing mode with Eastern potentates of recruiting an exhausted treasury. Pottinger estimated the amount at 350,000 rupees; Masson, who had ample means of acquiring information through colloquial channels, at 300,000. At the present date (1875) it is 300,000 rupees or £30,000 at the utmost. With such a revenue it is obvious that no standing army can be main-tained ; and Masson, certainly very competent to the task of acquiring information on this subject, states that Mehrab Khan, " nearly destitute of troops in his own pay, was com-pelled, on the slightest cause for alarm, to appeal to the tribes, who attended or otherwise as suited their whims ov convenience." Pottinger computed the number of available fighting men at 60,000. Mehrab Khan could on no occasion assemble more than 12,000; and in his final struggle for property, power, and life, the number of his troops did not amount to 3000. At the present time (1875) about 40,000 would probably be available if all attended the summons, but the utmost number the khan could collect would be about 10,000. All depends upon the state of the treasury, the cause of the war, and the power the khan may be able to exert over his chiefs. The Baluch soldier is heavily encumbered with arms, carrying a matchlock, a sword, a dagger, and a shield. Pottinger considered them good marksmen, and states that in action they trust principally to their skill in this respect, avoiding close combat; but their readiness in general to close with the British troops shows that he is in this instance mistaken. There were no Brahoes opposed to our forces at the battle of Meanee, nor were there any Baluches from Baluchistan. The levies of the Ameer of Sindh were principally composed of Sindee and Baluch tribes, who had long beei settled in Sindh. The greater part serve on foot; but a number, not inconsiderable, have horses. Camels are only used by tribes on the western borders of Baluchistan in their predatory excursions.

Search the Encyclopedia:

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-16 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries