The origin of the Tanaolis is uncertain. Wikely and Watson are of the opinion that a genealogical table shows them to be connected with the janjuas. Another theory is brought forward by Sardar Mohammad Ayub Khan retired session Judge of Azad Kashmir who says the Tanaolis are Abbassis. The Tanaolis themselves claim that they are Barlas Mughals. They trace their lineage to Amir Khan. Syed Murad Ali Shah, the writer of “Tarikh-i-tanaolian”, supports their claim saying that the forefathers of the Tanaolis lived in the Tanal Pass, the then famous pass in Afghanistan. He further says that Sultan Sabuktageen, after defeating a Hindu Mahraja Jaipala conquering the area up to Attock, brought five thousand people from the Tanal Pass who were a mixture of the Mughals, Syeds and Afghans and settled them in Swat where Anawar Din Khan Mughal was appointed the ruler. For a long time they ruled Swat and gradually settled in Mahaban. The ancestor of Tanaolis was Amir Khan Beerdewa who had six sons namely Pall Khan, Hind Khan, Thakar Khan, Arjin Khan and Kul Khan. After the names of Beerdewa’s sons there are six main clans of the Tanaolis. They are also split up into numerous smaller sections, whose names all end in at.
The Tanaolis came from across the Indus, being pushed out of the Mahaban country by the Yousafzais when they increased in numbers and power. Their pressure compelled the Tanaolis to cross the Indus in search of new land for their dwelling. So they, under the command of Maulvi Mohammad Ibrahim, Crossed the river Indus and after defeating the Turks’s lashkar settled there. Their settlement took place in 1472 when Chara and Mamara were their prominent leaders. The area was divided by the brothers into two parts – the upper and the lower Tanawal. The former occupied by Hindwal and latter by Palal. Haibat Khan and Suba Khan, after eleven generations, became prominent Khans of whom former founded Amb state. His grandson, Painda Khan, became independent master of the area and he not only fought with Sikhs but also with Mujahidin who were under Syed Ahmad Shaheed’s command. the Amb state remained up to 1969. The Tanaolis are an industrious and peaceful race of cultivators. They are settled only in tehsil Mansehra and make up 11% of the total population.