Yusuf Khan and Sherbano

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Yusuf Khan and Sherbano is a famous Pashtun amorous folktale. Its format is an extended narrative described as qissa or dastan, and is listed along with Adam Khan and Durkhanai, Ramadad Khan and Ajab Khan as important Pashto dastan which are available as chapbooks or in audio formats.[1][2]

The story of Yusuf Khan and Sherbano was put to verse by poet Ali Haidar Joshi (Joshi was a pen name) in the 1960s and was turned into a film, Yousuf Khan Sher Bano, released in 1969. The poem was translated into French by Benedict Johnson (in 1982) and into English by Heston and Nasir (in 1988). The story is transmitted by qissa-khwans, a term usually translated as "storytellers" who "say" or "sing" (Wayel) the verses. Joshi's account of the origin of the material is that he found a manuscript containing the story written in Persian at a local fair wrapped around some medicine. He returned to the seller and got more of the manuscript.[3] Joshi's account is given in a Lok Virsa tape recorded by Mumtaz Nasir in 1982.[4]

The story has supernatural elements, such as five holy men (pirs) who give the heroine the ability to travel large distance in thirty steps, jinns who bring a woman and a bed to a mosque at night for the pleasure of a yogi. These elements suggest an influence to the story from outside Pathan culture. However, the social structures in the story, particularly the use as villains of paternal male cousins is typical to Pathan stories, and many Pathans of various social classes identify the story as one of their own, according to ethnologist Wilma L. Heston.[3]


A film version of Yousuf Khan Sher Bano was produced by Nazir Hussain.1st Evergreen Pashto Movie Yousaf khan sherbano. Aziz Tabussam was the director of the film as shown in the film title but it is said he was basically hired as Pakhtoon translator where as the film actually directed by the Nazir hussain the producer of the film.[clarification needed]


  • Benedicte Johnson, Les contes legendaires pashtun: Analyse et traduction de cassettes commercialisees [Legendary tales in Pashto: Analysis and translation of commercial cassettes]. (1982) Memoire presente pour une maitrise d'etudes iraniennes [MA thesis], University of Paris[3]
  • Wilma Heston and Mumtaz Nasir. "The Bazaar of the Storytellers." (1988) Lok Virsa Publishing House, Islamabad, Pakistan[3]
  • Bibi Jaan, Yousaf Khan aw Sher Bano, Sahar, The Voice of Pashtuns, January 2011 [2]


  1. ^ Hanaway, William L. "Dastan" in Claus, Peter J., Sarah Diamond, and Margaret Ann Mills. South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. Taylor & Francis, 2003. p143
  2. ^ a b Bibi Jaan, Yousaf Khan aw Sher Bano, Sahar, The Voice of Pashtuns, January 2011, p19-24 accessed February 17, 2017 at http: www.khyberwatch.com/Sahar/2011/Sahar-Jan-2011.pdf
  3. ^ a b c d Heston, Wilma L. Footpath Poets of Peshawar. in Appadurai, Arjun, Frank J. Korom, and Margaret Ann Mills. Gender, genre, and power in South Asian expressive traditions. Motilal Banarsidass Publishe, 1994. p310-311, 326-327
  4. ^ Heston, W. L. "Verse Narrative from the Bazaar of the Storytellers." Asian folklore studies (1986): 79-99.