National Geographic : 1921 Jan
EVERY-DAY LIFE IN AFGHANISTAN Photograph courtesy Air Commodore L. E. O. Charlton AN AIRPLANE VIEW OF TIllE AMIR'S PALACE AT KABUL: AFGHANISTAN The Amir has neither airplanes nor radio stations in his military establishment, but he knows a flying-machine when he sees it, for the British flew up from India during the Anglo-Afghan "unpleasantness" in 1919 and dropped a few persuasive bombs in the vicinity of the city. sion and classic aloofness of the pious lamas at Lhasa. Amir Amanullah Khan, through his agents in India and else where, is in close touch with the world's current events; and, as the last remain ing independent ruler of a Moslem coun try, now that the power of the Caliph at Stamboul is broken, he wields a far reaching influence throughout the Mo hammedan world; also, because his land happens to lie just as it does on the map of the world, it is plain that for a long time to come he will be an active force in the political destinies of middle Asia. Like Menelik of Abyssinia, Queen Lil of the Hawaiian Islands, or the last of the Fiji kings, this Amir, remote and obscure as his kingdom is, stands out in his time as a picturesque world figure. The Amir's word, his veriest whim, is law to his millions of subjects. He is, in truth, the last of the despots, a sort of modern Oriental patriarch on a grand scale. His judgments are, of course, based primarily on the Koran, or on the common law of the land; for there is no statute book, no penal code, and no court. HIIS WORD MEANS LIFE OR DEATH To keep the wires of politics, of mili tary and economic control, in his own hands, the Amir vests subordinate au thority only in his relatives and close friends; and woe betide the incautious underling who dares think for himself or act contrary to the Amir's wishes; for in this primitive, secluded region there still survive many unique and startling methods of "rendering a culprit innocu ous."