BĀḎḠĪS, also BĀDḠĪS, region in eastern Khorasan, between Herat and the middle course of the Harīrūd in the south, and Marv al-Rūḏ and the headwaters of the Morḡāb in the north; the southern part now falls administratively into the Herat and Bādḡīsāt provinces of northwestern Afghanistan, and the northern part into the southernmost part of Turkmenistan.

i. General and the early period.

ii. Modern province.


i. General and the Early Period

The region of Bāḏḡīs is bisected in an east-west direction by the Paropamisus mountains, which rise towards the east to 11,791 ft/5,535 m; the southern slopes drain towards the Harīrūd, and the rather gentler northern ones into the Morḡāb basin via such streams as the Kūšk and Kāšān. The medieval geographers describe Bāḏḡīs as being considerably wooded and a noted source for pistachios (see, e.g., Nozhat al-qolūb, ed. p. 153, tr. p. 151); some of the woodland still survives, with extensive pistachio, juniper, and mulberry trees. It also comprised much pasture land, where sheep in particular were raised (see below). The present population of the region includes a substantial proportion of the Iranian Jamšīdīs of the Čahār Aymāq group, with Iranized Turco-Mongol Qaḷʿa-ye Now Hazāras in the eastern part (see J. Humlum et al., La géographie de l’Afghanistan. Ētude d’un pays aride, Copenhagen, 1959, pp. 67-68, 85-86, 147-48, 185).

Yāqūt (Moʿjam al-boldān, Beirut, 1374-76/1955-57, I, p. 318) gives a popular etymology for the name, bād-ḵīz “place where the wind arises,” from the region’s windiness. In fact, the name Bāḏḡīs goes back to Avestan Vāitigaēsa, later appearing in Armenian geographical sources as Watagēs, Watgēs, according to Markwart (Marquart), Ērānšahr, p. 77.

History. During Sasanian times, Bāḏḡīs was substantially held by the Hephthalite people of the Kadisheans (the name surviving into early Islamic times as a place name Qādes). There was a Nestorian Christian population here; in the Synod of Išōʿyab in 588, a bishop of Bāḏḡīs and Qadīšastān, suffragan of the Metropolitan of Herat, is mentioned (Markwart, op. cit., pp. 64, 77-78).

During the first century of Islam, Bāḏḡīs passed into Arab hands, together with Herat and Pūšang, around 32/652-53, under the caliph ʿOṯmān, for already in that year there is mentioned a rebellion against the Arabs by an Iranian noble Qāren (Ebn al-Aṯīr, Beirut, 1385-87/1965-67, III, p. 135), followed by further unrest in these regions in 41/661-62. The main references to Bāḏḡīs in the sources over the next three centuries are indeed largely in connection with various revolts against Arab-Islamic domination, often with sectarian religious elements prominent. In the mid-Omayyad period, Bāḏḡīs was a stronghold of the Arabs’ most strenuous opponent in the East, the northern Hephthalite ruler Ṭarḵān Nīzak, finally subdued by the governor Qotayba b. Moslem al-Bāhelī in 91/710; Yāqūt, loc. cit., calls Bāḏḡīs “the headquarters of the Hephthalites,” dār mamlakat al-Hayāṭela, and it was here that his principal fortress had lain, captured in 84/703 by Yazīd b. Mohallab (Ṭabarī, II, pp. 1129-31). It was a center for the would-be prophet Behāfarīd, and he was captured in Bāḏḡīs by Abū Moslem in 131/749. Shortly afterwards, during al-Manṣūr’s caliphate, Ostāḏsīs appeared there (Gh. H. Sadighi, Les mouvements religieux iraniens au IIe et au IIIe siècle de l’hégire, Paris, 1938, pp. 128, 157-58; B. Scarcia Amoretti, in Camb. Hist. Iran IV, pp. 489-90, 497-98). The town of Karūḵ, on the southern fringes of Bāḏḡīs and lying to the northeast of Herat, was in the 3rd/9th century a major center of the Kharijites, who survived in Khorasan and Sīstān after their suppression in the west; the Saffarid amir Yaʿqūb. b. Layṯ had to cope with a rising of them under their own “Commander of the Faithful,” immediately after his capture in 259/873 of Khorasan from the Taherids (see C. E. Bosworth, “The Armies of the Ṣaffārids,” BSOAS 31, 1978, pp. 543-44). A century later, Moqaddasī (Maqdesī), p. 323, still describes Kharijites as surviving there, but the geographers state that by then, Bāḏḡīs was substantially orthodox, and Samʿānī, Ansāb, Hyderabad, 1382-1402/1962-82, II, pp. 21-22, mentions some ʿolamāʾ from there. On the cultural plane, mention should be made of a local poet in New Persian of the Taherid period, Hanẓala of Bāḏḡīs, a few of whose verses survive (G. Lazard, Les premiers poètes persans (IXe-Xe siècles), Paris and Tehran, 1964, I, pp. 17-18, 53, II, p. 12).

The medieval geographers of the 3rd-4th/9th-10th centuries describe Bāḏḡīs as essentially rural and agricultural, with no large cities. According to the Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, pars. 23-24 = tr. Minorsky, p. 104, comm., p. 327, Bāḏḡīs had 300 villages. The northern part of the region was known as Ganj Rostāq, with three main settlements lying on the road connecting Herat with Marv al-Rūḏ: Baban (q.v.) or Babna (the most populous of the three, and residence of the local governor), Baḡšūr (a flourishing town, of fair size, on the desert fringes of the Morḡāb, and apparently near the modern Qaḷʿat Mawr on the railway branch from Marv to Kūška, a site marked by a mound and considerable ruins; it relied on wells for its drinking water), and Kīf. In southern Bāḏḡīs, Moqaddasī and Ebn Ḥawqal mention eight settlements: Kūḡānābāḏ or Kūh Ḡūnābāḏ (where the residence of the local governor was), Dehestān (larger and more prosperous than the former, with houses built of mud brick and its water supply from qanāts; this probably corresponds to the modern shrine of Ḵᵛāja Dehestān to the northeast of Herat, and must of course be distinguished from the Dehestān to the east of the Caspian Sea), Kūfā, Bost, Jāḏāvā, Kābarūn, Kālavūn, and Jabal al-Feżża “the mountain of silver,” Ḥodūd al-ʿālam’s Kūh-e Sīm (where silver-mining had, however, ceased, through lack of fuel for smelting, by the 4th/10th century). Most of these settlements of Bāḏḡīs depended on rainwater for their agricultural lands and wells for drinking water, the streams flowing down to the Morḡāb providing too little water for extensive irrigation. See Ebn Ḥawqal, ed. Kramers, II, pp. 440-41, tr. Wiet, II, pp. 426-27; Moqaddasī, pp. 298, 308; Mostawfī, loc. cit.; Barbier de Meynard, Dictionnaire géographique, historique et littéraire de la Perse, Paris, 1861, p. 75; Le Strange, Lands, pp. 412-15; Barthold, An Historical Geography of Iran, Princeton, 1984, pp. 47-49.

In later times, there is little specific mention of Bāḏḡīs under that name, but its pastures were naturally sought after by the various nomadic powers of the eastern Islamic world, and the war of 668/1270 between the Chaghatayid Mongol ruler of Central Asia, Baraq, and the Il-khanid ruler of Iran, Abāqā, arose from quarrels over these pasture grounds. Their lushness remained famous over the ensuing centuries, and a nineteenth-century traveler like J. P. Ferrier (1845-46) describes those of the Hazāras of Qaḷʿa-ye Now, with their flocks of sheep, goats, camels, and buffaloes, as the best in all Asia (Caravan Journeys and Wanderings in Persia, Afghanistan, Turkistan, and Beloochistan, London, 1856, p. 192).

Bibliography: Given in the text.

(C. E. Bosworth)


ii. Modern Province

Bādḡīs is a province (welāyat) of northwestern Afghanistan created in 1343 Š./1964 out of the former province of Herat (q.v.). Since the recent loss of the Košk-e Kohna ʿalāqadārī, transferred back to Herat province, Bādḡīs province covers 20,066 km2 and is presently (1363 Š./1984) divided into four districts (woloswālī). The only locality with urban status is the provincial center, Qaḷʿa-ye Now (q.v.).

See Table 8 and Table 9 for compilation of main available data about present population and land use in the province and districts.

(D. Balland)

Search terms:

 بادغیس badghis baadghis badghes


(C. E. Bosworth, D. Balland)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: August 19, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 4, pp. 370-372