Total population
1,593,418 (2021)
4% of the Afghan population[a][2][3][4]
Aimaq dialect of Persian, Pashto[5]
Mainly Sunni Islam (Hanafi)[6]
Related ethnic groups
Hazaras, Moghols, Tajiks, and Pashtuns[5]

The Aimaq (Persian: ایماق, romanizedAimāq) or Chahar Aimaq (چهار ایماق), also transliterated as Aimagh, Aimak and Aymaq, are a collection of Sunni and mostly Persian-speaking[7] nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes.[8] They live mostly in the central and western highlands of Afghanistan, especially in Ghor, Badghis. Aimaqs were originally known as chahar ("four") Aymaqs: the Taymani (the main element in the population of Ghor), the Firozkohi (mostly in Badghis), the Jamshidi and the Timuri.[9] Other sources state that the Aimaq Hazara are one of the Chahar, with the Timuri instead being of the "lesser Aimaqs" or Aimaq-e digar[10] ("other Aimaqs").

The Aimaq speak several subdialects of the Aimaq dialect of Persian language, but some southern groups of Taymani, Firozkohi, and northeastern Timuri Aimaqs have adopted the Pashto language.[11]

Origin and culture

The Aimaqs claim different origins based on their tribal background. Some claim to be descended from the troops of Genghis Khan.[12] Other tribes such as the Taymani (Aimaq tribe) and Firozkohi claim descent from other Pashtun tribes.[13]

Aimaq is a Mongolic word that means "tribe" or "grazing territory". Of all Aimaqs, Aimaq Hazara and Timuri are closest to the Turco-Mongol tradition since they are semi-nomadic tribes and some of them live in yurts, whereas other Aimaqs live in traditional Afghan black tents.[14] The Aimaq are largely nomadic to semi-nomadic goat and sheep herders. They also trade with villages and farmers during migrations for pastures for their livestock. The material culture and foodstuffs of the Aimaq include skins, carpets, milk, dairy products and more. They trade these products to settled peoples in return for vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, and other types of foods and goods.[12]

Classification of tribes

Aimaq tribes

Name Tribal kind Note
Aimaq Hazara Aimaq-e digar "Sunni subtribe of Hazara origin"
Chagatai Aimaq-e digar "Turco-Mongols of the Chagatai Khanate"
Changezi Aimaq-e digar "Descendant of Genghis Khan"
Firozkohi Chahar Aimaq
Jamshidi Chahar Aimaq "The Jamshidi, forcibly moved from one exile to the other, became indistinguishable from Turkmen in their way of life. During this period, small groups of Aimaq Hazara and Jamshidi settled in Persian Khorasan and Turkmenistan."[5]
Kipchak Aimaq-e digar "Descendant of Kipchaks"
Timuri Chahar Aimaq "Descendant of Timur"
Taymani Chahar Aimaq
Zuri Aimaq-e digar


Further information: Demographics of Afghanistan and Ethnic groups in Afghanistan

CIA map showing the territory of the settlement of ethnic groups and subgroups in Afghanistan (2005)
CIA map showing the territory of the settlement of ethnic groups and subgroups in Afghanistan (2005)

Estimates of the Aimaq population vary between 250,000 and 500,000. They are largely Sunni Muslims—except for the Jamshidi who are mainly Ismaili Shia in the main—and in contrast to the Hazara, who are mostly Shia Muslims.[15]

See also


  1. ^ The last census in Afghanistan was conducted in 1979, and was itself incomplete. Due to the ongoing conflict in the country, no official census has been conducted since.[1]


  1. ^ "Population Matters". 3 March 2016.
  2. ^ World Population Review (19 September 2021). ""Afghanistan Population 2021"".
  3. ^ "Distribution of Afghan population by ethnic group 2020". 20 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Afghan Ethnic Groups: A Brief Investigation". 14 August 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Janata, A. "AYMĀQ". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica (Online ed.). United States: Columbia University.
  6. ^ "Aimaq". Minority Rights Group. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  7. ^ "AYMĀQ – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  8. ^ Tom Lansford -A bitter harvest: US foreign policy and Afghanistan 2003 Page 25 "The term Aimaq means "tribe" but the Aimaq people actually include several different ethnic groups. The classification has come to be used for a variety of nonaligned nomadic tribes"
  9. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aimak". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 439.
  10. ^ Vogelsang, Willem (2002). The Afghans. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 37–. ISBN 9780631198413. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  11. ^ Vogelsang, Willem (2002). The Afghans. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 18. ISBN 0631198415. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  12. ^ a b Winston, Robert, ed. (2004). Human: The Definitive Visual Guide. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 432. ISBN 0-7566-0520-2.
  13. ^ Janata, A. "Aymāq". Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2021. A Kākaṛ Pashtun from Baluchistan, Tayman, formed a coalition in Ḡūr around 1650. The traditional chiefs of the northern Fīrūzkūhī, Zay Ḥākem, claim descent from Ačakzay Pashtun ancestors.
  14. ^ "A Sociological Study of the Hazara Tribe in Baluchistan (An Analysis of Socio-Cultural Change)" (PDF).
  15. ^ "Afghanistan". Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.

Further reading