Four sons of Nowroz Khan of Lalpura.
Photographer: Burke, John
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the sons of the Khan of Lalpura, Afghanistan, taken by John Burke in 1878. Coming to India as apothecary with the Royal Engineers, Burke had turned professional photographer, forming a pioneering partnership at first with William Baker. Burke accompanied the Peshawar Valley Field Force, one of three British Anglo-Indian army columns deployed in the Second Afghan War (1878-80), despite being rejected for the role of official photographer. He financed his trip by advance sales of his photographs 'illustrating the advance from Attock to Jellalabad'. Best known for capturing military scenes, he also made use of the opportunity to become the first significant photographer of the people of Afghanistan. Burke is also credited with photographing a number of the major durbars that took place with Afghan rulers which led to the uneasy peace treaties characteristic of the campaign.
With the spread of Russia's sphere of influence in Central Asia, British foreign policy in the 19th century was motivated by fears of their Indian Empire being vulnerable to Russian moves southwards. The Anglo-Russian rivalry in Asia, termed the Great Game, precipitated the Second Afghan War. The British were trying to establish a permanent mission at Kabul which the Amir Sher Ali, trying to keep a balance between the Russians and British, would not permit. The arrival of a Russian diplomatic mission in Kabul in 1878 increased British suspicions of Russian influence and ultimately led to them invading Afghanistan.
The Mohmands are a tribe of Pashtuns who inhabit the hilly country north-west of Peshawar. They were one of the strongest tribes on the border separating Afghanistan and the North West Frontier Province (Pakistan), after the Afridis and Waziris, and owed allegiance to the Amir of Afghanistan. In the 19th century, the Khan of Lalpura was the most important of the Mohmand chiefs. Lalpura is presently a district in the eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.