Gool Mahommed Khaun, King of the Ghiljyes
Artist: Rattray, James (1818-1854)
Medium: Lithograph, coloured
This lithograph is taken from plate 25 of 'Afghaunistan' by Lieutenant James Rattray.
On 29 September 1841, Sir Alexander Burnes allowed Rattray to meet a prisoner of state, Gul Muhammad Khan, the Ghilzai chief who had long fought the British. The Ghilzais had once been the most celebrated of the ancient Afghan tribes, and had constantly competed for the throne of Kabul with their rivals the Durranis, the latter winning in the end. Since 1802 the Ghilzais had lived in peace, but in 1839 they joined the common Afghan cause of fending off the British. The Ghilzai forces were vanquished at the battle of their stronghold Kalat-e-Ghilzai, where Gul Mohammed was "always a conspicuous object in the fight, his broad banner accompanying him".
Rattray wrote: "How surprised was I, on being ushered into his presence without ceremony to find him a simple-mannered person of unassuming appearance, without the least show of importance!" Pleased by the courtesy with which the British treated him, Gul Mohammed later retired to his own mountains, taking no part in the comprehensive destruction and massacre of British forces that ensued.