KĀFIRISTĀN (the country of the unbelievers, the pagans) is that little-known part of Afghanistan which is bounded on the north by the Badakshan, on the south by the valley of Laghman (the ancient Lampāka) and Bajaur, on the east by the country of Dīr, on the west by Kohistān.
The inhabitants of Kāfiristān, whom certain writers regard as the descendants of the Greek settlers established in the country by Darius Hystaspes, belong racially and linguistically to the Indo-European family.
Thanks to its geographical position, Kāfiristān long remained isolated from the rest of the world; only at the end of the nineteenth century did a few travellers, mostly English, penetrate to the interior of the country and explore it. According to them, the Kāfirs, about 200,000 in number, are divided into three great tribes living in the most perfect harmony with one another. Commerce and industry are unknown in this region. The chief, and in a manner of speaking the only, occupation of the natives is cattle-breeding. They own enormous flocks of goats, eating the flesh and drinking the milk. The same animals' skin serves them for garments, the dark colour of which has caused them to be called by the Muslims round them the Simposh, which means "clad in black."
Down to recent years the Kāfirs practised a religion with mysterious rites that the Muslim conquest ( 1898) caused to disappear almost completely.
"Their religion," reports Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone,
does not resemble any other with which I am acquainted. They believe in one God, whom the Caufirs of Caumdaish call Imra and those of Tsokooee Dagun; but they also worship numerous idols, which they say represent great men of former days, who intercede with God in favour of their worshippers.
These idols are of stone or wood, and always represent men or women, sometimes mounted and