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The Amir Yakub Khan's Highlanders [Gandamak]

The Amir Yakub Khan's Highlanders [Gandamak]

Photographer: Burke, John

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1879

Shelfmark: Photo 487/(93)

Item number: 93

Length: 21.1

Width: 28.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of a group of Afghan troops dressed in uniforms based on those worn by British Highland Regiments photographed by John Burke in May 1879, around the time that Britain and Afghanistan signed the Treaty of Gandamak. Burke accompanied British forces into Afghanistan in 1878 and covered the events of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80), becoming the first significant photographer of the country and its people in the process. The British, having taken the Khyber Pass and defeated the Amir Sher Ali's forces, wintered in Jalalabad, waiting for the new Amir Yakub Khan to accept their terms and conditions. One of the key figures in the negotiations was the military administrator Pierre Louis Napoleon Cavagnari (1841-1879), a half-Irish, half-Italian aristocrat who was appointed as emissary by the Viceroy Lord Lytton.

By signing the Treaty of Ganadamak, Yakub Khan agreed to allow a British Resident in Kabul, which his father had refused, and ceded Afghan territory, and in return received a promise of a subsidy and support against foreign attack. Cavagnari took up residence in Kabul in July 1879, but in September the same year was killed along with other European members of staff by rebelling Afghan troops. A British force avenged this attack in October when they defeated the Afghans at Kabul and took possession of the city. Yakub Khan abdicated, taking refuge in the British camp and was subsequently sent to India in December.

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