For the Afghan singer, see Abdul Rahim Sarban. For the British author, see Sarban (author).
Total population
(several millions)
Regions with significant populations
Afghanistan, Pakistan
Pashto, Urdu, Dari
Related ethnic groups
other Pashtun tribes, other Iranian peoples

Sarbaṇī (Pashto: سربڼي) are the largest[1] tribal group of Pashtuns. They are situated in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Sarbani include many Pashtun tribes, among whom the most numerous are the Tareen, Durrani historically Abdali, Barakzai, Alakozai, Achakzai, Gigyani, Yusufzai, Mohmand, Khalil, Ghoryakhel, Shinwari, Kasi, and Muhammadzai (Hashtnagar).[2] According to the Pashtun legend of origins, the members of the Sarbani group all descend from Sarban, who was the first son of the legendary founding father of the Pashtun people, Qais Abdur Rashid.


The name Sarbani is similar or identical to the name of an historical tribe on Caucasus that was also named Sarbani (the Caucasian tribe was recorded under this name in the 10th century). Pashtuns are believed to be of Scythian descent[3] and their language is classified as East Scythian (Sarmatian language is also grouped within Scythian branch).[4]

According to the research of Henry Walter Bellew[5] and Ibbetson Denzil,[6] the Pashtun genealogist took the term Saraban for their ancestors from Suryabans which was the distinctive race title of the solar clans of Kshatriya people among whom the Pashtuns had become absorbed, and it was also a title held in high respect among the people of the country at that time. Further, as it included a large and important population, it was a convenient term to adopt as an ancestral title.[7]

The name Sarban is evidently a corrupted, or perhaps a natural variant form of Suryabans the solar or royal race now represented in India by some solar clans of the Rajput. Similarly the names of the Saraban's sons Karshabun/Khrishyiin and Sharkabun/Sharjyun, and of his grandson Sheorani, are clearly changed forms of the common Rajput and Brahman proper names Krishan, Surjan, and Shivaram or Sheoram [8]


The origin of the Sarbani, might be connected with Hephthalites,[9] who had a large nomadic confederation that included present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 5th-6th centuries AD, as well as with Scythians,[10] who are known to have settled where most of Pashtuns live today.

The Durrani Empire that existed in the 18th-19th centuries and that was centered in the territory of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan was founded by the Ahmad Shah Durrani, a Pashtun military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief of the Abdali Sarban tribe. Since that time, the Abdali tribe is known as Durrani.

Geographic distribution


In Afghanistan, Sarbani mainly inhabit the provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Helmand, Nimroz, Farah, Herat, Badghis, Balkh, and Kunduz, as well as the provinces Nangarhar and Kunar in the eastern part of the country.


In Pakistan, Sarbani are living throughout the city of Peshawar, northern and eastern parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas regions. Additional large settlements are found in Multan, Quetta and in the northern parts of Balochistan.[11]

Sarbani tribes

Abubakar Siddique writes that "Under the prevailing classifications, Pashtuns are divided into four main tribal groupings: the Sarbani, Bhittani, Ghurghust and Karlani... The Sarbanis are divided into two branches: the Sharkbun and the Kharshbun. The most significant tribes of this branch today are the Sherani, Tareen, Urmer (an adopted tribe), Durranis, Khalils, Mohmands, Daudzai, Chamkanis, Yousafzai, Shinwari and Tarkalani."[12]

See also


  2. The races of Afghanistan : being a brief account of the principal nations inhabiting that country (1880),
  3. A brief history of Afghanistan, Shaista Wahab, Barry Youngerman, Infobase Publishing, 2007, page 14.
  4. The history and geography of human genes, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, Princeton University Press, 1994, page 242.
  7. A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West frontier province by Ibbetson Denzil,
  8. Afghanistan and Afghans (1879),
  9. The Hephthalites: Archaeological and Historical Analysis, Aydogdu Kurbanov, Berlin, 2010, page 242.
  10. A brief history of Afghanistan, Shaista Wahab, Barry Youngerman, Infobase Publishing, 2007, page 14.
  12. Siddique, Abubakar (2014). The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key to the Future of Pakistan and Afghanistan. C Hurst & Co. p. 13. ISBN 978-1849042925. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
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