Yarahmadzai tribe

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Yarahmadzai - Baluch Tribe
Total population
30,000 (est.)
Regions with significant populations
Balochi, Persian

The Yarahmadzai (Shahnavazi) is a Baloch tribe from the Iranian Balochistan, the main population of the tribe is settled in an area called Sarhad in the city of Khash. The population of the Yarahmadzais are about 30,000 and they are divided into three big factions (Sohrabzai, Hossenzai and Rahmetzai).[1]


The origin of the tribe is from the hills of Sibi (located in East Balochistan) the same place where Mir Chakar Khan Rind (The great Baloch king) comes from they migrated to the Sarhad plateau somewhere during the beginning of the 18th century and since then they have expanded, increased and becoming one of the most prominent and powerful tribes of Sarhad. Before the arrival of the Yarahmadzais the area (Taftan/khash) was organized and controlled by the Kurds. The Kurds were originally sent to the Sarhad of Baluchistan by Shah Abbas the great as a part of his policy of weakening dangerous baloch tribes by removing them from their local territories. As the Yarahmadzai tribe established themselves in Sarhad the tribe grew larger, and become more powerful and more ambitious they were a big threat to the hokomats (representatives of the rulers) established in Iranian/Baluchistan as well in south (Bampur) as north (Taftan/Khash). The Yarahmadzai unlike the other tribes (particularly in southern Baluchistan) never recognized the hakoms (governed as agents of the crown they received support and encouragement from the crown) of the hokomats as leaders to whom they would serve. Instead they established their own political leader, the Sardar who was a representative for the tribe, several disputes occurred between the Yarahmadzais and the Kurds which resulted in one time that the Kurds where driven out from Sarhad and they lost the control of the area to the Yarahmadzais.[2]

According to Percy Molesworth Sykes the Yarahmadzai became the most influential tribe under the notorious Sardar Jiand Khan of Sarhad where 50 families controlled over 1,000 families; next in importance were the Rekis who aggregate over 600 families.[3] The major economic profit of the tribe was from predatory raiding of livestock, goods and slaves outside Sarhad, mostly from Kerman and Jiroft area.

The British Campaign in 1916[edit]

During World War I, the Yarahmadzais disturbed the lines of communication of the British frontier and raided their goods, this gave some concerns to the British forces and the fact that the Germans have through Turkish agents supplied the Sarhadi tribes with weapon and promised them that the Germans have converted to Islam in order to let the Sarhadi tribes show allegiance with them. The British knew that the Sarhad route was very important for their purpose and to keep the control over India.[4] The mission to prevent the tribes from raiding fell on General Reginald Dyer. The three major tribes who performed raids and disturbed the British line were the Yarahmadzais, Gamshadzais and Ismaelzais even known as Damanis.

According to Reginald Dyer he went to Sarhad with a small troop and he managed to keep the sarhadi tribes in line with account of campaign of arms and bluffs. Dyer used a lot of spies to obtain information about the movements of the Yarahmadzai tribe and their plans, one of the spies who Dyer was very proud over was Ido Khan Reki(Rigi) who contributed very well. Juma Khan the tribal chief of the Ismaelzais decided to surrender when he heard about the plans of Dyer, while Sardar Jiand Khan and Halil Khan (Chief of the Gamshadzai) decided to resist against the British forces. Several battles occurred between Dyer and the Damanis (Yarahmadzai, Gamshadzai) Jiand lost his son and Gamshadzais chief (Khalil Khan) got killed during one of the battles.

In a documentary that was made about baloch tribes and sardars, the late tribal leader Sardar Khan Mohammad recounts [1] from what he has been told about what happened during one of the last battles his tribe had against the British.

He tells about when Jiand khan and his son got arrested and they (British garrison) were on their march to Quetta to bring them (the hostage) into captivity when they suddenly got ambushed by the Yarahmadzais and Gamshadzais in an area called Nalak (a narrow passage nearby Khash). They managed to free them and in the battle two of the yarahmadzais lost their life’s while the losses for Dyer was devastating. Dyer himself was not present in the battle but after what happened he never showed up in sarhad. He never mentioned the battle of Nalak in his book instead he wrote about how they have succeeded and weakened the sarhadi tribes and that an agreement was reached with the Yarahmadzais and Gamshadzai after that the two tribes sent letters to Dyer to allow them returning to their home.

The story about what happened during Dyers campaign lacks credibility in Sarhad, that was one of the reasons that Abdol Hossein Yadegari an baloch intellectual (he died in an accident 2006) decided to make a research about what really happened in Dyers Campaign. Abdol Hossein Yadegari translated Dyers book with additional comments based on his research, his work was published posthumously in Persian.

Not much record exist what Sarhad was after Dyer but from what was heard and been told among the tribesmen the raiding continued, or like Coleridge Kennard describes it "Just as we are preparing for the night a jambaz rider arrives from the desert to announce that a balochi raiding army, a very powerful one a thousand men ride in it is close to his heels, marching from Khwash under Shasavar Khan (Yarahmadzai)"[5]

Pacification of Sarhad[edit]

In 1921 Reza Khan who was a member of the Cossack Brigade performed a coup by taking the control over Teheran and establishing his own government with dissolution of the previous. This occurred during a time were Persia became a battlefield between Soviet and Britain, Britain used Persia to perform attacks on Russia to being able to reverse the Revolution (Russian Revolution).[6] With the help of Britain Reza Khan managed to establish his power and one of his first tasks were to secure the borders by starting the pacification of Persia. After a series of campaign against Azeris, Qashqais, Turkmens and the Lurs the last region remained to be pacified and brought under control of central government was Baluchistan.

The pacification of western Baluchistan started (1928) in the south were the army of Reza Khan's successfully defeated Dost Mohammad Khan’s of Bampur, but the real battle was left for Reza Khan army to defeat the Damanis. The battle with Damanis proved to be more difficult than expected, Dyer's campaign had strengthen the tribes of Damanis in warfare they were well prepared for the army of Reza Khan. The Ismaelzais led by Juma Khan resisted from Shuro( West of Zahedan ) while the Yarahmadzai led by Jiand Khan (by then aged ninety years old) resisted from Khwash area. As reported by Nigel Colett[7] Jiand khan was leading the resistance until he got arrested and was replaced by his nephew (Shaswar Khan) who became the head of the tribe and continued to lead the resistance. The war lasted for 6 years from 1928-1934. Philip Carl Salzman summarizes [8] the pacification of western Baluchistan "Reza Shah then turned his attention to the most remote region claimed to be part of Iran, Baluchistan. An army was sent in 1928 and succeeded, with the help of artillery and primitive bombing from early aircraft, in pacifying all of Baluchistan, except for the Sarhad. Led by the Yarahmadzai, who had earlier fought the British, the sarhadi tribes resisted successfully, until finally settling and accepting the suzerainty of the Persian crown in 1935". The Yarahmadzais were defeated but not forcibly settled. As result of the pacification the Yarahmadzai lost their tribal name and becoming the Shah Navazi(Shah strokers) while Ismaeilzais becoming Shah Baksh(Shahs Pardon).


  1. ^ Black Tents of Baluchistan (ISBN 978-1-56098-810-6) by Salzman Philip Carl
  2. ^ Tribe and State in Iran and Afghanistan Richard Tapper, Page 270-282
  3. ^ Ten Thousand Miles in Persia or Eight Years in Iran (ISBN 1430485973) by Percy Molesworth Sykes, page 107, 131, 230
  4. ^ The raiders of the Sarhad: being the account of a campaign of arms and bluff against the brigands of the Persian-Baluchi border during the great war, General Reginald Dyer
  5. ^ Suhail 1927 Kennard, Coleridge.
  6. ^ Reza Khan.
  7. ^ The Butcher of Amritsar by Nigel Collett.
  8. ^ The Anthropology of real life, events in Human Experience by Philip Carl Salzman.

Further reading[edit]