Ormur or Burki tribe

The Ormur (Aor-marr اورمړ ) or War-mur, also known as Baraki (or Burki), is an ancient tribe of Afghans. The name Ormuṛ literally means “fire extinguished” in Pashto. ‘According to the genealogies, the Urmar Afghans are descended from Amar-ud-Din or Amar Din, son of Sharkabun, and are near kinsmen of the Duranis. Raverty cites the Afghan tradition as follow:

“The derivation of the name Aor-Mar is as follows, for it is but a by-name. His mother, who was his father’s first wife, was the daughter of a blacksmith, or, rather, one who worked in iron; and his step-mother sometimes, in anger, when he did not do something or other to her satisfaction, would say, by way of reproach, “The blacksmith’s “fire (اور—aor) is gone out ( مړ شه — mar shah)”; and by degrees the name of “Aor-Mar clung to him.” [1]

According to Khulasatul-Ansab of Hafiz Rahmat Khan (1710-1774) ;

“Amerdin had one son, called Ormar: from Ormar, Amerdin’s son, numerous issue sprang, which they call Ormar. The name of Amerdin, Ormar’s father, has fallen into oblivion.’The Ormars have also khails among them; but they have not been mentioned, because they are but little known. They all reside in the town of Kanigoram, contiguous to the Lohanis. Both the Bokies and Ziracks are descendants from him.” [2]

Although Karni-Gram (South Waziristan) is within the Mahsud territory, it is inhabited by Ormur Afghans, who formerly possessed the country round, were ousted from all else besides by the Waziris. Kani-guram still contains representatives of five Ormur branches, viz., the Khaikani, Kharin Jani, Malatani, Bekani and Jerani. The remainder of the Ormurs, pressed by want and the encroachments of Mahsuds, left their early homes centuries ago and settled in Logar, 80 km south of Kabul, where they still hold the village of Burki-Barak, and elsewhere [3]. They also have their three villages named after them in Peshawar district near Nowhsera and Budbair.

The earliest information about Ormur or Baraki people comes from Babur (1483-1530). In his memoirs he writes:

“There are many different tribes in Kabul country; in its dales and plains are Turks and clansmen and Arabs; in its towns and in many villages, Sarts ; out in the districts and also in the villages are the Pashai, Parachi, Tajik, Baraki and Afghan tribes.” [4]

The author of Hayat-i-Afghani (completed in 1865) remarks:

“Being widely scattered and without cohesion, they are lightly esteemed in Afghanistan, where their peaceableness and orderly industrious habits, win for them only contempt. Those of Logar are wholly engaged in tillage, to which those of Peshawar add trade. The Ormurs of Kani-guram are both agriculturalists and artisans (chiefly spearmakers) but are very poor and much down-trodden by the Wazirs (i.e Mahsuds) among whom they live.”  [5]

Mountstuart Elphinstone who visited kingdom of Kabul in 1808, erroneously identified Barakis of Logar as Tajiks. He writes:

“The next class of Taujiks are the Burrukees, who inhabit Logur and part of Boot-Khauk. Though mixed with the Ghiljees, they differ from the other Taujiks, in as much as they form a tribe under chiefs of their own and have a high reputation as soldiers. They have separate lands and castles of their own, furnish a good many troops to government, closely resemble the Afghauns in their manners, and are more respected than any other Taujiks. Their numbers are now about eight thousand families.” [6]

In 1837 Agha Mahmud of Sheraz visited Kaniguram and described it as follow: –

“26th Shawal— Arrived at Kaneeguram, which is the capital of the Wuzeeree country. The cultivation is carried on running streams. The inhabitants are Sayads (i.e Ormurs), who are the spiritual fathers of the Wuzeerees. The houses are upper storied, and amount to four hundred. There are two large towers for the protection of the town. There are thirty-two shops, as follow; viz. sixteen of Hindoos, seven blacksmiths and cutlers, three goldsmiths, two scabbard makers, and four dyers. The headmen are Durvesh Khan, Sarwar Khan, Mulook Khan, Abdukahman Khan, Raim Khan, and Noor Khan. The amount of fighting men is five hundred. The Sayads are farmers; the Wazeerees are independent and are mostly herdsmen.” [7]

Ormuri is also known as Baraki, the endonym of its speakers. The native designation Bargista seems no longer used for the language [8]. Muhammad Hayat Khan described their language as “a peculiar Pashto which is mixture of Persian, Pashto and Hindi”[9]. Ormuṛi together with Parachi constitutes the Southeast Iranian language group [10]. The Ormur men of Kanigram are all bilingual or trilingual, speaking Ormuri, Pashto, and Hindko [11].

See also

1- History of Pir Roshan and his successor

2- “The approaching end of the relict southeast Iranian language Ormuri and Paraci in Afghanistan” by Charles Kieffer


1- “Notes on Afghanistan”, Raverty, p-383
2- “History of Afghans”, B.Dorn, Vol-II, p-122
3- “Afghanistan and its inhabitants”, p-82
4- “Babur-nama”, English translation by A.S.Beveridge, p-207
5- Ibid, p-82
6- “An account of the kingdom of Caubul”, p-315
7- “Journal of a tour through parts of the Panjab and Affghanistan”, translated by Major.R.Leech
8-  Ormuri — Encyclopædia Iranica
9- “Afghanistan and its inhabitants”, p-82
10-  Baraki Barak— Encyclopædia Iranica
11- “Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan: Pashto, Waneci, Ormuri”, p-59

Jirgah of Mahsuds and British , Kaniguram, Waziristan, 1919 (c). Photo by R.B.Holmes






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