Katoor dynasty

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House of Katoor
Entrance of the Royal Fort of Chitral.
Entrance of the Royal Fort of Chitral.
Parent houseTimurid dynasty
CountryKingdom of Chitral
Place of originChitral
Founded1560 CE
FounderMohtaram Shah Katoor I
Final rulerMohtaram Shah Katoor I
Final headFateh-ul-Mulk Ali Nasir (current)
  • Mehter
  • His Highness
TraditionsSunni Islam
Dissolution1969 CE

The Katoor dynasty or the House of Katoor was a dynasty of rulers who ruled the sovereign Kingdom and later the Princely state of Chitral in Central Asia (Now Pakistan). It was founded by Mohtaram Shah I, the grandson of Baba Ayub.[1] The dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Chitral for over 400 years from 1560 to 1969 CE.[2] The royal family traces their descent to the Central Asian Timurid ruler Tamerlane and holds the title 'Mehtar'.[3]

The Katoor dynasty succeeded the Raees dynasty (1320–1590) and the Sumaleki Pagan Princes' rule (1005-1300s) in Chitral.[4] In 1590, Baba Ayub, the patriarch of Katoor's grandson Muhtaram Shah (1590–1630), later known as Katoor I, ascended the seat of power in Chitral after ousting the Raees family and its supporters.[4][5]

Name and Origin[change | change source]

The name Katoor has ancient origins and existed even before the Katoor ancestors settled in Chitral in 1520. One theory suggests that Katoor was a noble title among the Kushans.[6] In the old Bashgali dialect of Kohistani, Katoor also means dragon. According to the royal history of the Katoor dynasty, their ancestor Mirza Ayub Baba, arriving in Chitral in 1520, was the grandson of Sultan Hussain Bayqara, a descendant of the Timurid ruler Tamerlane.[7] The title of Katoor was bestowed upon Mohtaram Shah I, the dynasty's first ruler, by a local holy man who believed in his bravery and integrity, reminiscent of the rulers before the Katoors.[8]

According to the Kalash folklore, the Katoors are the descendants of an ancient tribe of Chitral who had powerful Shamans on excellent terms with the local mountain spirits. In Chitral, the title for King is 'Mehter', meaning elder in the Khowar language.[9]

Territorial Expansion and History[change | change source]

The Chitral Kingdom, established by Shah Katoor I, covered a vast area from Wakhan and Nuristan in the west to Yasin and Nagar in the east.[10] Initially, Shah Katoor's domains included lower Chitral, Kunar Valley, Lot-Kuh, Torkhow, and Mulkhow regions of upper Chitral. Under Shah Katoor II, Mastuj and the Yasin Valley also came under Katoor control. The Kati and Kom tribes of Kafiristan, as well as tribes from Dir Kohistan, Swat Kohistan, and Kalam, paid a yearly tribute to the Mehtar.[11] Shah Katoor III invaded Wakhan in response to a raid on Chitral from Wakhan, compelling the ruler of Wakhan to pay tribute.[10][12] In 1876, Mehtar Aman ul-Mulk conquered Ghizer and Puniyal and besieged the Dogra Garrison in the Gilgit fort. During this period, the tribes of Darel, Tangir, Kandia, and the state of Nagar also paid tribute to the Mehtar.[13] The Katoor dynasty's influence peaked under Mehtar Aman ul-Mulk, who expanded the territories to include Ghizer, Yasin, and Ishkoman in 1880.[7]

Accesion to Pakistan[change | change source]

Pakistan became independent from British rule on August 14, 1947. At that time, His Highness Muzaffar ul-Mulk was the Mehtar of Chitral, ruling from 1943 to 1949. In 1947, he made the significant decision for Chitral to join Pakistan. Additionally, he sent his army to Gilgit in August 1947 to assist in securing that territory for Pakistan. Chitral was officially designated as a region of Pakistan in 1969.

Katoor dynasty
Preceded by
Raees dynasty
1560–1969 CE
Succeeded by

Rulers[change | change source]

Mehtar Aman ul-Mulk (1857-1892)[change | change source]

The Katoor dynasty, led by Mehtar Aman ul-Mulk, reached its peak influence during his reign. Aman ul-Mulk, the younger son of Shah Afzal, took over in 1857 after his brother. In 1877, after a brief conflict with Kashmir, where he besieged the Gilgit garrison and briefly held the Punial valley, he agreed to a treaty with the Maharaja of Kashmir.

Aman ul-Mulk was a powerful ruler, and no significant challenges to his authority arose during his reign. He united all of Chitral and expanded its territories to its greatest extent[14] During the course of his rule Aman ul-Mulk met encountered many British officers some of whom have noted him in the following words:

His bearing was royal, his courtesy simple and perfect, he had naturally the courtly Spanish grace of a great heredity noble

— Algernon Durand

Aman-ul- Mulk succeeded in 1857 and ruled over a unified Chitral. Robertson later briefly described Aman-ul-Mulk and his rise to power:

In 1857, a remarkable man climbed to the throne of Chitral, by steps slippery with the blood he had shed. His name was Aman-ul-Mulk, 'the Great Mehtar.' He was a man of sturdy frame, commanding features, and adroit tongue. Far in the future, he saw clearly the objects of his ambition. Scarcely less distinctly, the intervening difficulties, with the paths over or the burrows beneath them, were before him also. With this strong mental vision. Nature gave him a relentless heart, and inexhaustible vitality. She made him a scourge to a people who deserved no mild ruler. When he died in 1892, from being merely a younger son of the Mehtar of Lower Chitral, he had gained possession of the whole of the hill country, bordering the south of the Hindu-Kush from the limits of Gilgit to Kafiristan, the Kunar valley as far as the Asmar frontier, and he also held real, if somewhat undefined, authority in Darel, Tangir, and Eastern Kafiristan. With nothing approaching to a standing army, or the resources to support it, he was obliged to fight most of his battles vicariously, while his turbulent nobles and relatives were disciplined by secret assassins, or set to kill one another by false promises of lands or rulership. Cupidity always smothered their reason, as it quenched all natural affection, and after thirty years' experience.

— Robertson[15]

Following is what George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston said about Chitral:

Chitral, in fact, had its parliament and democratic constitution. For just as the British House of Commons is an assembly, so in Chitral, the Mehtar, seated on a platform and hedged about with a certain dignity, dispensed justice or law in sight of some hundreds of his subjects, who heard the arguments, watched the process of debate, and by their attitude in the main decided the issue. Such 'durbars' were held on most days of the week in Chitral, very often twice in the day, in the morning and again at night. Justice compels me to add that the speeches in the Mahraka were less long and the general demeanour more decorous than in some western assemblies.

Katoor Rulers[change | change source]

Following is the list of Kings and Heads of the House of Katoor.[17]

Name Reign
Sangeen Ali I 1560 – 1584 CE
Muhtarram Shah Kator I 1585 – 1655 CE
Sangeen Ali II 1655 – 1691 CE
Muhammad Ghulam 1691 – 1694 CE
Shah Alam 1694 – 1696 CE
Shah Muhammad Shafi 1696 – 1717 CE
Shah Faramurd 1717 – 1724 CE
Shah Afzal I 1724 – 1754 CE
Shah Fazil 1754 – 1757 CE
Shah Nawaz Khan 1757 – 1761 CE
Shah Khairullah 1761 – 1788 CE
Shah Muhtarram Shah Kator II 1788 – 1838 CE
Shah Afzal II 1838 – 1854 CE
Muhtarram Shah Kator III 1854 – 1856 CE
Aman ul-Mulk 1856 – 1892 CE
Afzal ul-Mulk 1892 – 1892 CE (two months)
Sher Afzal 1892 – 1892 CE (one month)
Nizam ul-Mulk 1892 – 1895 CE
Amir ul-Mulk 1895 – 1895 CE (two months)
Shuja ul-Mulk 1895 – 1936 CE
Nasir ul-Mulk 1936 – 1943 CE
Muzaffar ul-Mulk 1943 – 1949 CE
Saif-ur-Rehman 1949 – 1954 CE
Muhammad Saif-ul-Mulk Nasir 1954 – 1949 CE
Fateh-ul-Mulk Ali Nasir 2011 – present

References[change | change source]

  1. Simner, Mark (2017-08-18). Chitral 1895: An Episode of the Great Game. Fonthill Media.
  2. Osimī, Muḩammad, ed. (1999). History of civilizations of Central Asia: A.D. 750 to the end of the fifteenth century. 1: 4, The age of achievement The historical, social and economic setting / editors: M. S. Asimov (1. Indian ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1595-7.
  3. Central Asia. Area Study Centre (Central Asia), University of Peshawar. 1979.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Firuza Pastakia (2004). Chitral: A Study in Statecraft (1320–1969). IUCN Pakistan, Sarhad Programme. ISBN 969-8141-69-3.
  5. Maggi, Wynne (2001). Our Women are Free: Gender and Ethnicity in the Hindukush. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-06783-1.
  6. Khan, Hussain (1996) Proceedings of the Second International Hindukush Cultural conference p. 135
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Tareekh-e-Chitral by mohammad azizuddiin aziz". Rekhta. Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  8. Khan, F. M. (2002). The story of Gilgit, Baltistan and Chitral: a short history of two millenniums AD 7-1999. Eejaz.
  9. admin (2020-06-03). "Bashgal and the Kalasha under Katoor rule". Chitral Today. Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Faiz̤ī, ʻInāyatullāh (1996). Wakhan: A Window Into Central Asia. al-Qalam. ISBN 978-969-493-020-6.
  11. Lines, Maureen (1996). The Kalasha People of North-Western Pakistan. Emjay Books International.
  12. "IN AFGHAN WAKHAN", Ruins of Desert Cathay, Cambridge University Press, pp. 63–75, 2014-10-02, doi:10.1017/cbo9781139923422.008, retrieved 2023-12-02
  13. Cacopardo, Alberto M.; Cacopardo, Augusto S. (2001). Gates of Peristan: History, Religion and Society in the Hindu Kush. IsIAO. ISBN 978-88-6323-149-6.
  14. Gurdon, Lieut.-Colonel B.E.M. "Chitral Memories". The Himalayan Club. Archived from the original on 2016-03-08. Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  15. "Chitral 1895: An Episode of the Great Game". Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  16. "Democratic to the Core". Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  17. Chitral: A Study in Statecraft, 1320–1969. IUCN Pakistan, Sahrhad Programme. 2004-01-01. ISBN 9789698141691.

Other websites[change | change source]