History

Badakshan, part of the Greek Bactria, was visited by Hsüan Tsang in 630 and 644. The Arabian geographers of the 10th century speak of its mines of ruby and lapis lazuli, and give notices of the flourishing commerce and large towns of Waksh and Khotl, regions which appear to have in part corresponded with Badakshan. In 1272-1273 Marco Polo and his companions stayed for a time in Badakshan. During this and the following centuries the country was governed by kings who claimed to be descendants of Alexander the Great. The last of these kings was Shah Mahommed, who died in the middle of the 15th century, leaving only his married daughters to represent the royal line. Early in the middle of the 16th century the Usbegs obtained possession of Badakshan, but were soon expelled, and then the country was generally governed by descendants of the old royal dynasty by the female line. About the middle of the 18th century the present dynasty of Mirs established its footing in the place of the old one which had become extinct.

In 1765 the country was invaded and ravaged by the ruler of Kabul. During the first three decades of the 19th century it was overrun and depopulated by Kohan Beg and his son Murad Beg, chiefs of the Kataghan Usbegs of Kunduz. When Murad Beg died, the power passed into the hands of another Usbeg, Mahommed Amir Khan. In 1859 the Kataghan Usbegs were expelled; and Mir Jahander Shah, the representative of the modern royal line, was reinstated at Faizabad under the supremacy of the Afghans. In 1867 he was expelled by Abdur Rahman and replaced by Mir Mahommed Shah, and other representatives of the same family.

(T. H. H.*)