Durbar Maidan and Logar Chiefs [Sherpur Cantonment, Kabul].
Photographer: Burke, John
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph taken by John Burke in 1879, showing the Maidan or open space at the cantonment at Sherpur, situated a mile north of the city of Kabul, and the gathering of chieftains from Logar in Afghanistan for a durbar or meeting with the British. Following the killing of the British Resident Sir Louis Cavagnari and his mission at Kabul in September 1879, General Roberts and his forces entered the city and occupied the cantonment in October. Roberts was tasked with launching punitive action against the Afghans, securing his force at Kabul and establishing a line of communication with British forces via the Khyber Pass. The cantonment, set up by the Amir Sher Ali as winter quarters for his troops, offered a secure and easily defendable position close to the city; it was large enough to accommodate the troops and provided easy access eastwards through the Khyber Pass towards Peshawar, northwards towards Kohistan and westwards into the Chardeh Plain.
Burke accompanied the British army into Afghanistan in 1878 and worked steadily in the hostile environment of Afghanistan and the North West Frontier Province,
recording military and topographical scenes as well as the peoples of the country during the Second Afghan War (1878-80). Burke also photographed many darbars or meetings that took place between British combat leaders and Afghan chiefs which led to the uneasy peace treaties characteristic of the campaign. His two-year Afghan expedition produced a visual document which resulted in his achieving significance as the photographer of the region of the Great Game (the Anglo-Russian territorial rivalry).