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For the Afghan singer, see Abdul Rahim Sarban. For the British author, see Sarban (author).
Sarbans / Sarbani
Portrait of Ahmad Shah Durrani.jpg
Ahmad Shah Durrani, who established the Durrani Empire in 1747. The name of Durrani tribe originates from that period
Ameer Hamza Shinwari, a famous Pashtun poet, from the Shinwari tribe
Hamid Karzai 2004-06-14 140x190.jpg
Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, from Popalzai Durrani tribe
Total population
several millions
Regions with significant populations
Afghanistan, Pakistan
Pashto, Urdu, Dari
Related ethnic groups
other Pashtun tribes, other Iranian peoples

Sarbans or Sarbani are the largest[1] tribal group of Pashtuns. They are situated in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Sarbans include many Pashtun tribes, among whom the most numerous are the Durrani, Shinwari, Yusufzai, Mohmand, Kasi, Khalil, Tareen, Miani and Ormur tribes. The Pashtun nation class themselves as the descendants of Saraban through his two sons, Sharjyun and Khrishyun. From Sharjyun there sprung five clans, the principal of which is called Sheordni. From Khrishyun there sprung three clans, namely, Kand, Zcamand, and Kansi.[2]

Name origin[edit]

According to the research of Henry Walter Bellew[3] and Ibbetson Denzil,[4] the Pashtun genealogist took the term Saraban for their ancestors from Suryabans which was the distinctive race title of the solar clans of Kshatriya people among whom the Pashtuns had become absorbed, and it was also a title held in high respect among the people of the country at that time. Further, as it included a large and important population, it was a convenient term to adopt as an ancestral title.[5]

The name Sarban is evidently a corrupted, or perhaps a natural variant form of Suryabans the solar or royal race now represented in India by some solar clans of the Rajput. Similarly the names of the Saraban's sons Khrishyiin and Sharjyun, and of his grandson Sheorani, are clearly changed forms of the common Rajput and Brahman proper names Krishan, Surjan, and Shivaram or Sheoram [6]

The name itself is similar (or identical) with the name of an historical tribe on Caucasus that was also named Sarbani (the Caucasian tribe was recorded under this name in the 10th century). According to some opinions, these Caucasian Sarbani are identified with Serbs .[7][8][9][10] Pashtuns are believed to be of Scythian descent[11] and their language is classified as East Scythian[12] (Sarmatian language is also grouped within Scythian branch).


The origin of the Sarbans, might be connected with Hephthalites,[13] who had a large nomadic confederation that included present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 5th-6th centuries AD, as well as with Scythians,[14] who are known to have settled where most of Pashtuns live today.

The Durrani Empire that existed in the 18th-19th centuries and that was centered in the territory of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan was founded by the Ahmad Shah Durrani, a Pashtun military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief of the Abdali Sarban tribe. Since that time, the Abdali tribe is known as Durrani.

Theory of Eastern Iranian origin of South Slavs[edit]

It's possible for the name Serbia to have originated from the name Sarban and for the Serbians to have originated from the Sarban tribes before coming to ancient White Serbia in Poland or the Caucasus region. Alternatively, both the Sarbans and the Serbs could have originated from the same Eastern Iranian Sarmatian tribe of Serboi, who could have split into two groups taking opposite paths, where one group went east and the other west.

Similarly, a theory also traces the origin of the Croats, another South Slavic ethnic group, to ancient Arachosia, a region in present-day Afghanistan where various Sarban tribes are settled.[15][16] Since Croatia became an independent state in 1991, the Iranian theory gained more popularity, and many scientific papers and books have been published.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24] Some researches state there are linguistic, cultural, agrobiological and genetic ties between the Eastern Iranian inhabitants of Arachosia and the South Slavic Serbians and Croats.[25][26]

Geographic distribution[edit]


In Afghanistan, Sarbans mainly inhabit the provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Helmand, Nimroz, Farah, Herat, Badghis, Balkh, and Kunduz, as well as the provinces Nangarhar and Kunar in the eastern part of the country.


In Pakistan, Sarbans are situated in the northern parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas regions, as well as in the northern part of Balochistan.[27]


Some Balochi-speaking tribes of Iran trace their origin to the Sarbans, including the Sadozai and the Barakzai of Sistan and Baluchestan Province.

Sarbani tribes[edit]

There are 105[28] Sarbani tribes, including:

  1. Babar
  2. Durrani
  3. Kasi
  4. Khalil
  5. Miani
  6. Mohmand
  7. Ormur
  8. Sherani
  9. Shilmani
  10. Shinwari
  11. Tareen
  12. Yusufzai

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ The races of Afghanistan : being a brief account of the principal nations inhabiting that country (1880),
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West frontier province by Ibbetson Denzil,
  6. ^ Afghanistan and Afghans (1879),
  7. ^ De administrando imperio, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (Emperor of the East), Pázmány Péter Tudományegyetemi Görög Filológiai Intézet, 1949, page 115.
  8. ^ India in Kurdistan, Parameśa Caudhurī, Qwality Book Company, 2005, page 79.
  9. ^ The early medieval Balkans: a critical survey from the sixth to the late twelfth century, John Van Antwerp Fine, University of Michigan Press, 1991, page 56.
  10. ^ Constantini Porphyrogenneti... libri duo De ceremoniis aulæ Byzantinæ. Prodeunt nunc primum Græce, cum Latina interpretatione et commentariis. Curarunt Io. Henricus Leichius et Io. Iacobus Reiskius..., VII Constantin, Gleditschius, 1754, page 397.
  11. ^ A brief history of Afghanistan, Shaista Wahab, Barry Youngerman, Infobase Publishing, 2007, page 14.
  12. ^ The history and geography of human genes, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, Princeton University Press, 1994, page 242.
  13. ^ The Hephthalites: Archaeological and Historical Analysis, Aydogdu Kurbanov, Berlin, 2010, page 242.
  14. ^ A brief history of Afghanistan, Shaista Wahab, Barry Youngerman, Infobase Publishing, 2007, page 14.
  15. ^ "Identity of Croatians in Ancient Afghanistan". .
  16. ^ Kalyanaraman, Srinivasan. Sarasvati Civilization Volume 1. Bangalore: Babasaheb (Umakanta Keshav) Apte Smarak Samiti .
  17. ^ Beshevliev 1967: "Iranian elements in the Proto-Bulgarians" by V. Beshevliev (in Bulgarian)(Antichnoe Obschestvo, Trudy Konferencii po izucheniyu problem antichnosti, str. 237-247, Izdatel'stvo "Nauka", Moskva 1967, AN SSSR, Otdelenie Istorii)
  18. ^ Dvornik 1956: "The Slavs. Their Early History and Civilization." by F. Dvornik, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston, USA., 1956.
  19. ^ Hina 2000: "Scholars assert Croats are Descendants of Iranian Tribes", Hina News Agency, Zagreb, Oct 15, 2000 (
  20. ^ Sakac 1949: "Iranisehe Herkunft des kroatischen Volksnamens", ("Iranian origin of the Croatian Ethnonym") S. Sakac, Orientalia Christiana Periodica. XV (1949), 813-340.
  21. ^ Sakac 1955: "The Iranian origin of the Croatians according to Constantine Porphyrogenitus", by S. Sakac, in "The Croatian nation in its struggle for freedom and independence" (Chicago, 1955); for other works by Sakac, cf. "Prof. Dr. Stjepan Krizin Sakac - In memoriam" by Milan Blazekovic,
  22. ^ Schmitt 1985: "Iranica Proto-Bulgarica" (in German), Academie Bulgare des Sciences, Linguistique Balkanique, XXVIII (1985), l, p.13-38;
  23. ^ Tomicic 1998: "The old-Iranian origin of Croats", Symposium proceedings, Zagreb 24.6.1998, ed. Prof. Zlatko Tomicic & Andrija-Zeljko Lovric, Cultural center of I.R. of Iran in Croatia, Zagreb, 1999, ISBN 953-6301-07-5,
  24. ^ Vernadsky 1952: "Der sarmatische Hintergrund der germanischen Voelkerwanderung," (Sarmatian background of the Germanic Migrations), G. Vernadsky, Saeculum, II (1952), 340-347.
  25. ^ Budimir/Rac, Stipan/Mladen. Anthropogenic and agrobiological arguments of the scientific origin of Croats. Zagreb: Staroiransko podrijetlo Hrvata : zbornik simpozija / Lovrić, Andrija-Željko (ed). - Teheran : Iranian Cultural Center .
  26. ^ Abbas, Samar. "Common Origin of Croats, Serbs and Jats". Bhubaneshwar: .
  27. ^
  28. ^

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