FARḴĀR, river, valley, and administrative district (woloswālī), in Taḵār province, northeastern Afghanistan. The river, which drains the central western slope of the Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad range of the Hindu Kush, has different names over its course of 261 km: Āb-e Wār, Daryā-ye Qondoz, Rōd-e Warsaj, Rōd-e Orsajāb, Daryā-ye Farḵār, Daryā-ye Ṭālaqān, and Daryā-ye Ḵānābād. The district comprises the main valley from the Tang-e Warsaj gorge (elev. ca. 1,650 m) to the foot of the mountains (elev. 900 m), with its side valleys. The latter are short and steep, except for the well-populated Ḵormāb valley, which opens to the east 2 km above the main town, Farḵār Bāzār, located near the old village of Farḵār in the widest part of the lower valley. The upper valley constitutes Warsaj subdistrict (ʿalāqa-dārī); north of it lies Kalafgān subdistrict, on the fringe of the mountains. The highest point in Farḵār is Kōh-e Fergardī (5,107 m) in the southwest.
The Farḵār valley opens without barrier onto the plain of Ṭālaqān, but it has never been important for transit traffic, as passes across the Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad range are high and difficult. Although a branch of the old route from Qondoz and Ṭālaqān to Badaḵšān passes through the lower tip of the Farḵār valley (the route of the present motor road), this valley was not mentioned by Arab geographers, who noted only that the river Ḵottalāb waters the Ṭālāqān plain (Le Strange, Lands, p. 428). Farḵār usually belonged to Ṭālaqān but in the 1860s was temporarily annexed to Badaḵšān (Yule, p. 441; “Central Asian Material,” p. 175). In 1302 Š./1923 Borhān-al-Dīn Kuškakī (pp. 81-83, tr., I, pp. 76-79) described it as a district of about five thousand people (probably an underestimate), all Tajik peasants or weavers. In 1357 Š./1978 it was still a center of traditional cotton weaving specialized in alača fabrics, of cotton and silk or rayan, for long-sleeved coats (čapan; Grötzbach, 1990, p. 253). Beside irrigated cultivation of wheat, barley, maize, some rice, and rich fruit orchards in the valley bottom and on alluvial fans, the lower slopes of the mountains, still covered with the scant remnants of former pistachio and almond groves, are used for dry farming or pasturage.
The district of Farḵār proper (1,450 km2) had a population of 27,355 in 1357 Š./1978. Some archeological sites in the vicinity of Farḵār village date from the Achaemenid or Hellenistic period (Ball and Gardin, I, pp. 97-98, 256).
Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):
W. Ball and J.-C. Gardin, Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanistan, 2 vols., Paris, 1982.
“Central Asian Material in Explanation of the Granville-Gortchakoff Convention of 1872,” Imperial and Asiatic Quarterly Review, N.S. 8, 1894, pp. 173-81, 407-20; 9, 1895, pp. 191-96, 434-45.
Gazetteer of Afghanistan I, p. 68.
E. Grötzbach, “Kulturgeographische Beobachtungen im Farkhar-Tal (Afghanischer Hindukusch),” Die Erde 96, 1965, pp. 279-300.
Idem, Afghanistan, eine geographische Landeskunde, Wissenschaftlische Länderkunden, 37, Darmstadt, 1990.
Borhān-al-Dīn Khan Koškakī, Rāhnemā-ye Qaṭaḡan o Badaḵšān, Kabul, 1302 Š./1923; ed. M. Sotūda, Tehran, 1367 Š./1988; tr. M. Reut as Qataghan et Badakhshân.Description du pays d’après l’inspection d’un ministre afghan en 1922, Paris, 1979.
H. Yule, “Papers Connected with the Upper Oxus Regions,” JRGS 42, 1872, pp. 438-81.
(Erwin F. Grötzbach)
Originally Published: December 15, 1999
Last Updated: December 15, 1999