BAṚĒC(Ī), a Pashtun tribe in southern Afghanistan. Like neighboring Tarīn and Dorrānī, the Baṛēc are part of the Šarḵbūn branch of the Saṛbanī Pashtun. Genealogists divide the tribe into two distinct sections, Dāʾūdzī and Ḥosaynzī, which are further subdivided respectively into five and six senior lineages, although only three are still represented today: the Badalzī among the Dāʾūdzī; and the Zakōzī and the Mandōzī among the Ḥosaynzī (Ḵᵛāja Neʿmat-Allāh, II, pp. 43 and 123f., n. 40; and Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, p.89). The missing lineages might have taken part in the large migration of the Ḵaršbūn branch of the Pashtun toward the northeast where they lost their individuality (Ḵᵛāja Neʿmat-Allāh, II, p. 124, n. 40). What is certain but not conclusive, however, is that several lineage names (for instance, Malīzī and Dawlatzī) are found among both the Baṛēc and the Yūsofzī. The Baṛēc have assimilated three Šērānī (q.v,) lineages, which are still recognized as such (Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, pp. 89, 451). At the end of the nineteenth century, the tribal chieftaincy was held by the Mandōzī, who had taken it back from the Badalzī at the time of Nāder Shah.
The Baṛēc are a small tribe. Converging population estimates from the past (2,500-3,000 families according to Elphinstone, p. 426; 4,000 according to Ḥayāt Khan, p. 81; and 15,000 souls according to O. Duke in Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, p.88) do not fit well with contemporary estimates which, though uncertain, can justifiably be made at from ten to twenty thousand persons.
The Baṛēc are geographically concentrated in Šōrābak (Šōrāwak) district (q.v.) where, on the eastern edge of the Rēgestān desert and along the middle course of the Lōṛa river, they make up the majority of the population. According to their own traditions, they moved there during the 10th/16th century from the opposite edge of the desert (Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, pp. 92, 448f.). This is consistent with written sources (Hotak, English tr., p. 39; Russian tr., p. 41). Vestiges of the tribe’s previous settlements, three Baṛēc villages survive to this day in the lower Helmand valley: one near the Bost ruins and the other two (Palālak and Lanḍay, both occupied by Zakōzī) below Dēšū. Over the centuries the rest of the tribe has kept up close contacts with these villages. On the other hand, gradual movements, reportedly during the 12th/18th century, took place from Šōrābak toward the lower Lōṛa where, around and below Nūškī in Pakistani Baluchistan, one finds three Mandōzī lineages (Hughes-Bullet, pp. 288f.) numbering about 5,000 persons in 1951 (Scholz, p. 36).
Location of the Baṛēc at the southern extremity of Pashtun territory and at the limits of the Baluch has allowed multiple contacts with the latter and Brahui, including intermarriages, as well as linguistic or even genealogical assimilation, especially in the isolated sections of the lower Helmand and lower Lōṛa valleys. In the l3th/19th century, Baṛēc mercenaries served in the army of the khan of Kalāt. Traditional relations with neighboring Pashtun tribes frequently involved conflict; Baṛēc territory was often raided by the Acəkzī (q.v.), and they competed with the Pīšīn Tarīn for the waters of the Lōṛa (Gazetteer of Afghanistan V,pp. 90f.).
The Baṛēc are, nowadays, the only Pashtun tribe in southern Afghanistan without a nomadic component. However, they used to practice, as is typical of people living on the fringes of deserts, a form of short-distance seminomadism during the spring (Elphinstone, p. 427); and in some cases there were short summertime migrations toward the heights of Sarlat (Gazetteer of Afghanistan V,p.443). More recent information is lacking since the Šōrāwak district was not covered by the Afghan Nomad Survey of 1357 Š./1978, but pastoralism has probably not vanished. The Baṛēc still rear large herds of camels. They used to breed dromedaries both for themselves and for travelers in caravans plying the route between Qandahār and Sind province. Their major activity is irrigated farming, especially to produce staple cereals.
Pastures and fields are collective, hence inalienable, property. Wēš, the annual redistribution of fields among tribesmen, is still practiced. Though among the Zakōzī and Mandōzī every male regardless of age has the right to a share (ḵōla wēš), the Badalzī reserve this right (mlātaṛ wēš)for males who are old enough to fight, traditionally twelve years old, the age at which Pashtun boys receive their first rifles (Rešād, pp. 24ff.). The wēš practiced nowadays has been considerably modified: in Baṛēc villages in the lower Helmand, each family’s share has been fixed and hereditary for several generations (Snoy, pp. 129f.), while, in the more conservative Šōrāwak district, shares (ās wēš)are no longer granted to horse owners as used to be done because of the strategic usefulness of their mounts during tribal hostilities (Rešād, pp. 25ff.).
The traditional abode of the Baṛēc is a kind of twig hut (koḍəla),which is described in Gazetteer of Afghanistan V, p. 91.
M. Elphinstone, An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul, London, 1815; repr. Graz, 1969.
M. Hotak, Pəṭa ḵazāna, Eng. tr. H. G. Koshan, Kabul, 1358 Š./1979; Russ. tr. D. M. Ludin, Kabul, 1361 Š./1982.
R. Hughes-Bullet, Baluchistan District Gazetteer Series IV: Bolan and Chagai, Karachi, 1906, reproduced in Baluchistan through the Ages,n.p., 1906, repr. Quetta, 1979, II. M. Ḥayāt Khan, Ḥayāt-e Afḡān,tr. H. Priestley, Afghanistan and Its Inhabitants,Lahore, 1874; repr. 1981.
Ḵᵛāja Neʿmat-Allāh, Maḵzan-e afḡānī, tr. B. Dorn, History of the Afghans, London, 1836, repr. London, 1965, and Karachi, 1976.
P. Rešād, “Baṛēcī aw Šōrāwak,” in Šayḵ Bostān Baṛēc,Kabul, 1360 Š./1981, pp. 9-26.
F. Scholz, Belutschistan (Pakistan). Eine sozialgeographische Studie des Wandels in einem Nomadenland seit Beginn der Kolonialzeit,Göttinger Geographische Abhandlungen 63, Göttingen, 1974, p. 36.
P. Snoy, “Ethnologische Feldforschung in Afghanistan,” Jahrbuch des Südasien-Instituts der Universität Heidelberg 3, 1968-69, pp. 127-30.
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: December 15, 1988
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Vol. III, Fasc. 8, pp. 786-787