Durrani State

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Durrani State


an early feudal Afghan state (1747-1818), created after the disintegration of Nadir Shah Afshar’s empire in 1747.

An important factor in the unification of Afghan lands into a single state was the need to struggle against the Mogul and Iranian feudal lords. The dominant positions in the Durrani State were occupied by khans of the Abdali tribe, whose leader Ahmad Shah became the head of the new state. The Abdali tribe itself was renamed Durrani—hence the name of the state. All the other Afghan tribes recognized Ahmad Shah Durrani as their supreme ruler. The collapse of the united Iranian state, the disintegration of the Great Moguls’ empire, and feudal internecine wars in Central Asia created favorable external-political conditions not only for the unification of the Afghan lands into a single independent state but also for the spread of the power of Afghan feudal lords to the territory of neighboring states (northwestern India, eastern Iran, and southern Turkestan). By 1761, after a number of successful campaigns by Ahmad Shah, the Durrani State had become a large empire. The formation of the Durrani State, the center of which was the Afghan regions, facilitated an upsurge in the economy, the blossoming of culture, and the growth of the cities of Afghanistan. A lively transit trade and the flow of captive craftsmen from India and Iran into Afghanistan also aided the growth of the cities. The city of Kandahar was the capital of the Durrani State until 1773-74, when it was moved to Kabul during the reign of Timur Shah (reigned 1773-93).

The growth of large feudal landholdings among the khans of Afghan tribes and the plundering by them of state lands and lands of the shah’s domain led to the decline of the Durrani State in the early 19th century and its ultimate fall in 1818. Several principalities were formed from the fragments of the Durrani State—Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Peshawar, and others. The national liberation struggles of peoples who were under the yoke of Afghan feudal lords (including the uprisings of the Sikhs of Punjab in the 1750’s and 1760’s and the rebellions of the Uzbeks of southern Turkestan in 1768, 1779, and 1789) and the creation by them of a number of independent states in the process also contributed to the disintegration of the Durrani State.


Reisner, I. M. Razvitie feodalizma i obrazovanie gosudarstva u afgantsev. Moscow, 1954.
Gankovskii, Iu. V. Imperiia Durrani. Moscow, 1958.
Masson, V. M., and V. A. Romodin. Istoriia Afganistana, vol. 2. Moscow, 1965.
Ganda Singh. Ahmad Shah Durrani. Bombay, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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