DAWLATĀBĀD, name of several localities in Afghanistan that have grown up around civil or military government buildings. Some have never developed into large settlements. For example, a former Nūrzay encampment 72 km northeast of Farāh, formerly a fording place across the Farāhrūd and a toll station on the caravan road between Qandahār and Herat, remains only a village, with a population of about 400 adult males (Central Statistics Office [C.S.O.], p. 1171; Imām Sharīf, p. 220; repr. in Gazetteer of Afghanistan II, p. 62). Another village 25 km southeast of Tāšqorḡān (Ḵolm) contained 200 Arab families in the 1880s and a population of some 300 adult men in the 1970s (C.S.O., p. 882; Maitland, II, pp. 46, 465; repr. in Gazetteer of Afghanistan IV, pp. 195, 564). Two other settlements, however, expanded into small towns, both now famous for carpet production.

Dawlatābād(-e Balḵ). This Dawlatābād, a former stage on the great caravan route between Afghanistan and Bukhara via Keleft (Maitland, II, p. 199), is now a district seat in Balḵ province and the only town in the northern part of the large Balḵāb oasis. The population (6,111 inhabitants in 1358 Š./1979) includes a mixture of Turkmen, Uzbeks, and Hazāra (Nāheż, p. 271). Owing to its close proximity to Mazār-e Šarīf (26 km) and its distance from the modern road network, the town has recently entered a period of decay: The cotton gin built in 1316 Š./1937 has closed down, and the once prosperous biweekly bāzār (397 shops, mostly specializing in cloth or food and open on Mondays and Thursdays) was reported to be partly inactive in 1357 Š./1978 (Jebens, p. 223), though it remains an important center of trade in embroidered cotton caps of various styles, including a cheap local type (Jebens, pp. 225-26,409).

Dawlatābād is the center of a densely populated and highly productive district (woloswālī) of 864 km2, with 65,397 inhabitants in 1358 Š./1979 (for further statistical information, see BALḴ v). Since the settlement there of Teke Turkmen refugees from the U.S.S.R. in the 1930s (see list of villages in Franz, p. 207), the district has become the most prominent carpet-weaving center in the whole region of Mazār-e Šarīf (Parsons, pp. 78-79); merchants from Mazār-e Šarīf entirely control production.

The district is rich in protohistoric, Achaemenid, Kushan, and Kushano-Sasanian mounds, for example, the unexcavated Dawlatābād Tepe (Ball, p. 87) and the more important mounds near Delbarjīn, 28 km west of Dawlatābād, which were excavated in 1969-77 by a joint Soviet-Afghan team (Kruglikova, 1974-77; idem, 1986; idem and Sarianidi, p. 16 map; erroneously located in Jawzjān province by Ball, p. 91). The so-called “Dawlatābād minaret” of the 12th century is actually located in the village of Zādīān, 14 km northeast of Dawlatābād, where it is known by the name zīārat-e Kᵛāja (or Ḥażrat-e) Ṣāleḥ (Sourdel-Thomine, pp. 122 ff.; Nāheż, p. 272).

Dawlatābād(-e Maymana). This Dawlatābād is a district seat in Fāryāb province. It evolved from the Turkmen village of Qōzī Bāy Qalʿa, founded soon after 1293/1876 on the right bank of the Šīrīn Tagāw (Tagāb) river by Ersārī immigrants from Panjdeh (Maitland, II, p. 159, partly repr. in Gazetteer of Afghanistan IV, p. 68; cf. Peacocke, pp. 289, 293). As the village was exposed to raids by the Sāreq Turkmen, a fort was built there in 1301/1884 and garrisoned with 100 Afghan soldiers (Maitland, II, pp. 156, 159; Peacocke, p. 91, with two plates). This small military post has burgeoned into a thriving new town, owing to three main factors. First was the general rural recolonization of this once depopulated area. Second was the situation of the village at the junction of the main road linking Maymana to Andḵūy (asphalted only between Andkūy and Dawlatābād) with the direct road to Šeberḡān through the Dašt-e Laylī. Third was elevation to the rank of an administrative center first of a subdistrict (ʿalāqadārī), then, in 1343 Š./1964, of a district (woloswālī). It has a large biweekly bāzār of perhaps 400 shops (Grötzbach, p. 121: only 180 shops and 14 sarāy), most open only on Sundays and Wednesdays; there are also four mosques, a military camp, a secondary school for boys and one for girls, and various other administrative facilities (Radojicic, p. 15). Residential quarters (šahr-e now) were under construction in 1355 Š./1976, in order to house the growing population of civil servants. According to the preliminary returns of the census of 1358 Š./1979, however, the municipal population amounted to only 2,434 inhabitants; most of the shopkeepers and their employees lived in the surrounding villages.

The district of Dawlatābād has an area of 2,599 km2. In incorporates two former subdistricts, Dawlatābād proper in the north (originally attached to Āqča and Ḵayrābād in the south (administered from Maymana). Their combined populations were put at 650-850 families in 1886, including Turkmen newcomers in Dawlatābād and long-established Uzbek peasants in Ḵayrābād (Yate, p. 234; Maitland, II, pp. 531, 544; repr. in Gazetteer of Afghanistan IV, pp. 69, 392). By 1358 Š./1979 the total population had grown to 26,812 sedentary inhabitants, nearly all concentrated in the Šīrīn Tagāw valley. This tremendous increase can be accounted for by both natural growth and immigration of Pashtun settlers from southern Afghanistan and Turkmen refugees from the neighboring U.S.S.R. (Radojicic, p. 15).

Carpet weaving, originally a specialty of the Turkmen settlements of the district (see Franz, p. 211), has recently been introduced in the more numerous Uzbek villages, where work of lesser quality is produced. It does not seem to have penetrated the remaining Pashtun and Arab villages. Production is now controlled by dealers from Kabul and Andḵūy, and the Dawlatābād bāzār plays no significant part in the trade (Parsons, pp. 123-24; cf. Klieber, p. 149). That it was once more important is clear from the fact that the typical modern red Turkmen carpet with large blue or black octagonal designs (fīl-pāy) is still usually called Dawlatābād (O’Bannon, p. 115). Cotton weaving (alāča, karbās) was also formerly widespread in the area (Nāheż, p. 274).

For further statistical information on the district, see FARYĀB.



W. Ball, Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanistan, 2 vols., Paris, 1982.

Central Statistics Office, Aṭlas-e qarīahā-ye Afḡānestān, Demographic Research Report Series 1, 3 vols., Kabul, 1353 Š./1975.

E. Franz, “Zur gegenwärtigen Verbreitung und Gruppierung der Turkmenen in Afghanistan,” Baessler-Archiv, N.F. 20/1, 1972, pp. 191-238.

E. Grötzbach, Städte und Basare in Afghanistan, TAVO B16, Wiesbaden, 1979.

Imām Sharīf, “Second Journey in the Taimanī Country, September and October 1885,” in P. J. Maitland, Reports on Tribes, Namely, Sārik Turkomans, Chahār Aimāk Tribes, and Hazāras, Afghan Boundary Commission, Records of Intelligence Party IV, Simla, 1891, pp. 212-20.

A. Jebens, Wirtschafts- und sozialgeographische Untersuchung über das Heimgewerbe in Nordafghanistan, Tübinger Geographische Studien 87, Tübingen, 1983.

H. Klieber, Afghanistan. Geschichte, Kultur, Volkskunst, Teppiche, Landsberg am Lech, Germany, 1989.

I. T. Kruglikova, Dil’berdzhin (Delbarjīn), 2 vols., Moscow, 1974-77.

Idem, Dil’berdzhin. Khram dioskurov (Delbarjīn. Temple of the Dioscuri), Moscow, 1986.

Idem and V. I. Sarianidi, “Pyat’ let raboty sovetsko-afghanskoi arkheologicheskoi ekspeditsii” (Five years of work of the Soviet-Afghan archeological expedition), in Drevnyaya Baktriya (Ancient Bactria), Moscow, 1976, pp. 3-20.

P. J. Maitland, Diary of Intelligence Party, Afghan Boundary Commission, Records of Intelligence Party I-II, Simla, 1888.

M.-Ḥ. Nāheż, ed., Qāmūs-e joḡrāfīāʾī-e Afḡānestān II, Kabul, 1336 Š./1957.

G. W. O’Bannon, The Turkoman Carpet, London, 1974.

R. D. Parsons, The Carpets of Afghanistan, 3rd rev. ed., Woodbridge (Suffolk), U.K., 1990.

W. Peacocke, Diary between September 1884 and October 1886, Afghan Boundary Commission, Records of Intelligence Party III, Simla, 1887.

S. Radojicic, Report on Hydrogeological Survey of Certain Settlements along the Afghanistan Ring Road, UNICEF Assisted Rural Water Supply Project, Kabul, 1976 (roneo).

J. Sourdel-Thomine, “Deux minarets d’époque seldjoukide en Afghanistan,” Syria 30/1-2, 1953, pp. 108-36.

C. E. Yate, Northern Afghanistan, or Letters from the Afghan Boundary Commission, Edinburgh and London, 1888; repr. Lahore, 1976.

(Daniel Balland)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 18, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 2, pp. 140-141