History of the Storyani or Ustrana tribe

Ustrana tribesmen, 1861. From Watson and Kaye’s collection


Snippets of the description given along with the photograph;

“The Oosteranees are Soonnee Mahomedans, and display no peculiarities to distinguish them from other frontier Mahomedan tribes and clans. They have, however, a high local reputation for valour, and, armed with sword and shield, are considered a match for double the number of any other frontier tribe. Although the sword and shield alone are preferred by them, a proportion of their number are armed with very long matchlocks, which carry a great distance, and are formidable weapons. Well skilled in the use of arms, and with their desperate bravery, the Oosteranees could furnish a powerful contingent in case of any frontier war. ” …

“Their costume, well displayed in the Photograph, is a turban, tunic, and loose trousers of strong white cotton cloth; round then waists a scarf, usually blue or red, with ends of crimson silk, is used to bind on their powder horns and bullet bags, as well as to confine the leather sword belt, and holds a knife or dagger. The clan is composed, for the most part, of strong, tall, athletic men, not so fair in colour as many others of the mountaineers, but a ruddy brown. ” 

….”The territory of the Oosteranees lies south of that of the Sheoranees, on the border between the Dehra Ismael Khan and Dehra Ghazee Khan districts. They are not a numerous tribe, and cannot muster more than a thousand fighting men. Some portions of the tribe reside in the hills, other on the plains; the latter being British subjects. “[“The People of India” by John Forbes Watson and John William Kaye]

1890’s description of Ustaranis ;

“They are descendants of Hammar, one of the sons of Ushtaryani , a Sayyid, who settled among and married into the Shirani section of Afghans. They were settled with the Shiranis to the south of the Takht-i-Sulaiman and till about a century ago were wholly pastoral and engaged in the carrying trade. But a quarrel with their neighbours, the Musa Khel, put a stop to their annual westward migration, and they were forced to take to agriculture. They still own a large tract of country, in which indeed most of them live, cultivating land immediately under the hills and pasturing their flocks beyond the border. Their territory only includes the eastern slopes of the Sulaimans, the crest of the range being held by the Musa Khel and Zmari. They are divided into two main clans, the Ahmadzai and Gagalzai, and these again into numerous septs. They are a fine, manly race, many of them in our army and police, and they are quiet and well behaved, cultivating largely with their own hands. A few of them are still carriers. They are much harassed by the independent Bozdar Balochs. They are all Sunnis.” [“The Tribes and Castes of the North-western Provinces and Oudh”, Vol.4, pp.166-167]

“The nomadic Ushturyani live entirely in the black-hair tents called kizhdi, which they pitch in small clusters —from two or three to a score or more—in the form of a camp, called kirl ; but the settled sections of the tribe live in small movable huts of mud-plastered wicker work made from the tamarisk, which they build in the form of a village called jhok , and kiri indifferently, both being terms of Indian origin, signifying “circle,” or “cluster.” The Ushturyani are reckoned at live thousand families, and about half the number is settled as agriculturists and cattle dealers; they are a free, brave, and manly people, rough in manners, and of predatory inclinations.” [An Inquiry Into the Ethnography of Afghanistan By Henry Walter Bellew, 1891, page-127]

Ustarani tribesman, 1930s. Source








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