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The Ghilzai (also Ghezali , Ghildschi / Ghilji or Childschi / Khilji ) are one of the great tribal associations of the Pashtuns . The second major tribal association are the Durrani . According to Ethnologue, the Ghilzai make up around 24% of the Afghan population. They settle in an extensive area north of Kandahar to the Suleiman Mountains in northeast Afghanistan and the Kabul River in Afghanistan.


The Ghilzai are divided into different sub-tribes:

  • Sulemankhel
  • Hotak
  • Lodhi
  • Suri
  • Kharoti
  • Andar
  • Tokhi
  • Naseri
  • Ahmadzai


There is a lot of speculation about the origin of the Ghilzai, some researchers assume that they are the descendants of the Khilji , a mixed Turkish-Indo-European tribe, who once settled the area between Oxus and Jaxartes and were made by Sebugtegin, father of Mahmud of Ghazni , in today's area, came. According to historian Barry O'Connel , the Ghilzai are "the descendants of the Wu'chi, who absorbed the remnant population of the Tocharian people after the Tarim Basin in Tibet fell to the Han Chinese ."

The traditional Pashtun genealogy brings a different view of history. According to her, Ghilzai and Lodhi are said to be the descendants of Shah Hussain Ghauri, of his second wife, Bibi Mato, the daughter of Sheikh Betnai. Because her father was not satisfied with his daughter's marriage, the children of this relationship were henceforth called "Ghal-zai" (children of thieves). In this context, too, it is astonishing that Bibi Mato is the only woman who serves as the ancestor of a recent Afghan tribe.

Modern Afghan historians, on the other hand, propose a different theory that is also scientifically and linguistically comprehensible. Accordingly, the term Ghilzai, Ghalzai should be derived from Ghar ('mountain') and zai ('son, children'). This term "Ghar", which is "Gairi" in the Avesta , also appears in other Pashtun tribal names, such as Ghoriakhel, Ghori (Ghauri), Gharschin and Gharghascht. But Pashtun settlement areas on both sides of the demarcation line from Durand also bear this word, for example Gardez, Ghor, Gharjistan (Gurjistan) and Ashaghar.

See also


  • Vladimir Minorsky , The Khalaj West of the Oxus , excerpt from "The Turkish Dialect of the Khalaj", published in Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies , University of London Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 417–437