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Editor's Note



The Baluchs who inhabit the territory of Baluchistan are divided into two groups: the Makrani in the southwest and the Sulemani in the northeast; the Kalat district, inhabited largely by the Brahui, lies in between. Some Baluchis also live in Sindh, mainly in the upper Sindh districts of Dadu, Larkana, Nawabshah, Jacobabad and Shikarpur.

The exact origin of the Baluch land is obscure, though certain historians and research scholars have traced it to as far back as the Mesolithic age. Likewise, authorities have not been able to reach any definitive conclusions about the exact origin of the Baluch people. Baluch tradition states that Aleppo was their country of origin. The word Baluch means "nomads" or "wanderers." The term Baluch is the present form of the ancient name "balus" meaning "lord", or descendants of Nimrod and of those Chaldeans who worshiped the Chaldean or Babylonian god Bel. Long before the advent of Islam, Baluchs inhabited the extreme north of Persia, adjacent to the Black Sea, namely Mazinderan, Gilan and Kurdistan.

The Baluch had taken up a position close to Makran early in the seventh century, and to this day many of their tribal names bear the impress of the localities which they occupied in Persian Baluchistan. Like the Pashtuns, the Baluchs have preserved some traces of clan organization. Except in southwestern Baluchistan, where no tribal system appears to exist, Afghans, Baluch and Brahuis are all organized into tribes each with a multitude of subdivisions, clans, sections and subsections. There is a distinction, however, between the constitution of an Afghan tribe and that of a Brahui or Baluch tribe. Among the Afghans, the feeling of kinship is a bond far stronger than among the Brahui or Baluch, with whom common blood feuds form the connecting link.

They are divided into 18 major tribes (or tribal groups), the largest of which are Marris and Bugtis. A small Dravidian speaking people, the Brahuis live in the central region of Baluchistan, the Kalat. There are settlements of Brahuis in Quetta, Pishin, Sibi, Chagi, Kharan and northern Sindh. The Meds, the Afghans and the Jats appear to have been the inhabitants of Baluchistan at the time of the Arab invasion. The Meds now live on the coast. The Afghans still cluster around their homes at the back of the Takht-i-Sulaiman. The Jats, in spite of the influx of Brahuis and Baluch, to this day compose the cultivating classes of Lasbela and Kachi; some of the Kurks, whose insolence led to the final subjugation of Sindh by the Arabs, are still to be found in the Jau valley in the Jhelawan. The indigenous race of chief importance today are the Afghans, Baluch, Brahvis, and Lasis. The Jats now form only a small minority, but many of them have undoubtedly been absorbed by the Baluchs and Brahuis. Among religion and occupational groups may be mentioned Sayyids, Dehwars and the indigenous Hindus who live under the protection of tribesmen and carry on trades.

Baluch hold the Marri and Bugti, the hills, and parts of Kachi, where they mingle with Jats. The Brahuis occupy the great mountain band between Quetta and Lasbela, and in Lasbela there are Jats called Lasis. In Makran many mixed races occur, which may be divided into two principal groups, the dominant race forming a small minority, and the race of an aboriginal type known as Baluch Darzadahs. In the northwest of the province of Baluchistan these occur again, while in the Noshki and the northeast of Kharan Brahuis are numerous.


The Bugtis are pure Baluch. The nucleus of the Bugti trace their origin to Bung, both a place and a river in Persian Baluchistan, as is the case with many other Baluch tribes such as the Domki, the Magsi, etc. Some of the Bugti clans are of foreign stock. The Masori and Maretha (Marhatta) clans are purely of Indian origin. It is certain on the other hand that the whole Marri and Bugti highland was once in the possession of Indian tribes before the settlement of the Baluchi race.

The Bugtis are brave and simple like the Marris. Both tribes exemplify the virtues and vices peculiar to the semi-civilized life. While hospitality is first of all virtues to a Bugti, they also find glory in plunder and were decidedly adroit robbers.  Not unlike their neighbours, the Marris, the Bugtis were long accustomed to test their plundering skill in devastating the neighbouring territory of upper Sindh and Kalat state.


A Marri is generally a fine, tall, and athletic highlander, whose springy steps, when traversing the paved streets of Quetta or Sibi, denote his mountain origin. Generally he is slim and muscular, with a gaunt face, aquiline nose, and long curly hair hanging loosely in the back; he dresses carelessly in a white raglan smock-frock (kurti) reaching to the heels. Almost every man carries either a rifle or a stilleto.

In the past, robbery, murder, and merciless revenge were the salt of life to a Marri. He likes fighting, and he likes to settle issues hand to hand. He is as good as his word, he is ready to support with force.  He considers the exaction of blood for blood as the foremost duty of man.


The origin of the Brahui race is an enigma. The term "Brahui" may represent a special set of tribes whose origin is still obscure and whose language (though Dravidian) has dominated and finally absorbed the language of other tribes. Today the Brahui represent a different race and have altogether a different language than the rest of Baluchistan.

The Brahuis who inhabit central Baluchistan are a small ethnic group of about 600,000 people. Most of them live in the former Kalat principality, but there are also Brahui settlements in Quetta, Pishin, Sibi, Chaghi, Kharan, and in northern Sindh, i.e. Dadu, Nawabshah, Larkana, Jacobabad and Shikarpur. There are also small groups of Brahuis in Iran and southwest Afghanistan.

For centuries the Brahuis were surrounded on all sides by the Baluchis and consequently were gradually assimilated. Their cultural and economic backwardness and lack of a written language own prevented the formation of clear-cut ethnic consciousness. The assimilation of the Brahuis by the Baluchis is attested by the Brahuis' active participation in the Baluchi national movement. Besides the historically close relations between the two nationalities, the two groups have been close due to the domination by Brahui feudal landlords since the mid-seventeenth century. Had the Brahuis alienated the Baluchis by declaring Brahui-inhabited territory an autonomous administrative entity, they would have been working against their own interests. In addition, in Baluchistan proper, the interests of the Brahuis and Baluchis have never clashed.

The ethnic development of the Brahuis in recent decades proves that their ethnic consolidation is under way. They now have a written language, and periodicals and books are published in the Brahui language. The Brahuis' ethnic consciousness has acquired a more clear cut form. Over the past decades they have gained an idea their own ethnicity against the background of the mass of the Baluchi population.


The Brahui and Baluch are strictly endogamous; outsiders whose services are considered worth having are admitted into the tribe by the gift of a wife or perhaps one should rather say the loan. Every tribesmen marries as soon as he possibly can, but the payment of a bride price frequently makes bachelor-hood compulsory until middle age. Polygamy is desired by all but attained by few.

Among the Baluch and Brahui, a distinct tendency towards endogamy results from the practice of marrying a woman of the same group, a near kinswoman, or, if possible, a first cousin. This seems to be due partly to the feeling that a woman's marriage to an outsider deprives the tribe of the strength that would accrue to it from her offspring. It is argued that there is a more hope of the stock remaining pure if a man marries a woman who is closely related to him. Among Brahuis, the widow passes to the deceased husband's brother. Divorce, though a simple process, is infrequent. Adultery is punished among Brahuis and Baluchis by death. 

In marked contrast to the Baluch and Brahui, the business instincts of the Afghan led him to regard woman as a marketable commodity, and under the system of walwar, or payment for wives, girls are sold to the highest bidder, no matter what his social status. It is possible, however, that in a tribe of comparatively homogenous descent the sentiments in favour of priority of blood may operate less strongly than in the tribe of admittedly composite structure.


The tribal territory is a belt of land stretching from the extreme Derajat mountains up to the Jacobabad border. The famous tribes who inhabit this territory are Bozdar, Leghari, Darishak, Gurchani, Lund, Mazari, Khetran, Marri and Bugti. Some of the above tribes have left their mountain abodes and settled in the Derajat plain, i.e. the Darishak, Gurchani and Lund.

Prior to the establishment of British authority the eastern tribal groups enjoyed independence. The khanate government claimed the allegiance of these tribes, but failed to ever win it. In the middle of the nineteenth century, through "shirt sleeves" diplomacy, the British annexed all tribes to Punjab with Dera Ghazi Khan as the centre. In a similar way the eastern group of Baluchis was subdued not by the British guns but by the employment of some of the indigenous chiefs who set their shoulders to the British war wheels. The Leghari and Mazari chiefs, who employed the worthy agents of the conquering British, succeeded in creating a mortal wound on the tribal body politic.

Corresponding with the nature of the land, the people of the tribal territory fall into two groups: nomadic and settled folk. Baluch history substantiates the claim that the eastern group--i.e. the tribal territory--always functioned as the body and the western group served as the brain. The former are brave and the latter are robbers--but sagacious.


The majority of the indigenous population are dependent for their livelihood on agriculture and animal husbandry. The Afghan and Baluch, as a rule, cultivate their own land, while the Brahuis prefer a pastoral life. Their lands are, therefore, cultivated by tenants who belong to a professional agricultural group. Women take a large part in all occupations. Not only have they ordinary household duties to perform, but they also take the flock to graze and assist in cultivation. When a husband dies, his widow is looked upon as a valuable asset in the division of his property, owing to the custom of bride price.


Meals are generally eaten twice, at midday and in the evening. Meat, milk, which is highly prized, cheese in various forms, and wheat or jawar bread are the chief foods. In the highlands, a dish is prepared in the winter from well fattened sheep and is much relished. Onions and garlic are the most common vegetables. On the coast, rice and fish are eaten, while in Makran dates and dried fish form the staple diet. The Baluch never condescend to eat with women.


The Afghans wear a loose tunic, baggy dress, a sheet or blanket, sandals, and an overcoat with loose sleeves. Afghan women wear a loose scarlet or dark blue shirt, with or without wide drawers, and a wrapper over the head.

The Baluch wear a heel-length smock tied at the waist, loose drawers, and a long cloth scarf. Generally they also wear a small skull cap. Baluch women dress like Afghan women, but their shiftsk are either red or white.


Mat huts and black blanket tents stretched on poles are the characteristic dwellings. Of various dimensions, they average about ten feet wide and four feet high. The walls are of matting, home spun blankets or stone laid in mud. The dwelling is partitioned in the centre, on one side of which lives the family and on the other animals. At the back of the human dwelling are piled the felts and quilt used for bedding. The remainder of the furniture consists of a wooden bowl, an earthen pot, a flat stone griddle for baking and a few skins for water and grain. Permanent dwellings are numerous only in those parts where they are required for protection from the climate, or where there is much cultivation. The house of a well-to-do person generally consists of a courtyard with three doors in a line. They always face east or south and consist of a store house, a winter room and a summer room.

Outside in the courtyard is a kitchen and a stable for cattle. Sometimes, the houses are double storeyed, the lower part being used as a store-room. Cultivators of the poor class merely have two rooms without a courtyard. In the plains an open shelter, roofed with brush wood and supported on posts, is used in summer. In Lasbela a peculiarity of the houses is the wooden framework, generally of tamarisk; there are no windows, but light and air are admitted through a windsail in the roof.


Field sports are the usual amusement, including racing, shooting, and tent-pegging. Indoor recreations among the Baluchis include singing, dancing, and a kind of draughts. The Afghans are fond of marbles, quoits played with a circular stone, and a game like hunt the slipper. Ram and cock fighting are much admired, but their chief delight is in dancing. Ten, twenty, or even more stand in a circle, with a musician in the centre, and the dancers execute a number of figures shouting, clapping their hands and snapping their fingers. Wrestling after the European fashion is common among the Afghans and Jat, while the Brahuis are fond of trying their strength by lifting weights.


Fairs are held on the Muslim festivals of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha, when general rejoicing takes place. Shrines are common and are constantly visited. The best known places of pilgrimage are Hinglaj and Shah Bilawal in Lasbela and Pir Lakha Lahrani in Kachi.


Kashmir, including the valley of the Kishen Ganga river and the districts of Kishtwar, Badrawar, Jamu, Naoshera and Punch, lies between 32 degrees 20 minutes and 35 degrees 5 minutes north latitude and 73 degrees 30 minutes and 76 degrees 30 minutes east longitude. It is bounded on the north by Chilas and Astor of Hazara; on the east by Dras, Suru, Zanskar, and the district of Lahaul; on the south by the hill state of Chamba and the districts of Gurdaspur, Sialkot and Gujrat, and on the west by the districts of Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Hazara and Kaghan.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir, bounded by Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and, over a thirty-mile strip of land in the southeast by India, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is a territory of 86,023 square miles. The etymology of the name of this celebrated region has singularly perplexed antiquarians. Walford derives the name from Chadsas, a very ancient and powerful tribe, who inhabited the Himalaya and Hindu Kush from the eastern limits of India to the confines of Persia. Babur mentions them under the name of Kas and is of the opinion that Kashmir may have taken its name from them. According to others it is derived by the Brahmins from kas, "height," and mira, "sex."

Attempts have been made to relate the name Kashmir to a quasi-historical figure named Kashyapa or to a Semitic tribe called Kash, who are supposed to have also populated Kashghar in China and Kashan in Iran.

The general aspect of the valley of Kashmir is that of a basin, bounded on every side by high mountains. In the middle is an extensive level alluvial tract intersected by the Jhelum and its numerous tributaries, which flow down from the mountains and are fed by the abundant snow and rain falling in those elevated regions. All these streams find their way by the sole channel of the Jhelum through the Baramula Pass to the plains of the Punjab in their course to the ocean.

The valley of Kashmir is an irregular oblong, enclosed on all sides by lofty mountains which in some places include large glaciers between their spurs. The mountains remain covered with snow for nearly eight months in a year. The highest ascertained peaks in the Panjal Range are Muli (14,952 feet) and Ahertatopa (13,042 feet), and in the north of Kashmir, Haramuk (16,015 feet). Captain Montgomerie in his account states, "On the Pir Panjal peaks the electricity was so troublesome even when there was no storm that it was found necessary to carry a portable lightning conductor for the protection of the theodolite. Beyond the limits of Kashmir, the great snowy mountain Nanga Parbat, or Dayamur, forms, in its isolation from all peaks of anything like equal altitude, a noble object in whatever aspect it is viewed. The enclosing range bears different names in different parts; the snowy Panjal on the east, the Futi Panjal and Panjal of Banihal on the south, the Pir Panjal on the West, the Prawar Mountains on the north, and Haramuk and Sonamary Mountains on the northeast."


There are about 20 different tribes or clans among the Muslims of Kashmir. Of these, the Chaks, the warriors of Kashmir who bravely resisted the invasion of Akbar, are the oldest and most distinguished. Others are the Maleks, who were called Singhs, or lions; the Bandesh, and others.

The Rishis, who seem to be peculiar to Kashmir, do not marry and thus resemble European monks more markedly than any other of the Muslim ascetics. The Rishis do not eat meat. Originally, they were wanderers in the jungle, living upon wild herbs, particularly one called wopulhak. The lands and convents which belong to them were given to them originally by the Mongol emperors, since that time it is said that no real Rishi has existed in Kashmir.

The Sunnis, or orthodox Muslims, far outnumber the Shias. They are found chiefly in Zadibal, Nandapur, and Hassanabdal, near the City Lake. Though few in number, the Shias are active, industrious, and well-to-do. Srinagar's finest papier-mache workers and shawl makers are Shias, and some of the wealthiest citizens of the city belong to that sect.


The Hindus of Kashmir are mostly Brahmins and are commonly known as Pandits. They fall into three classes: astrologers (Jyotishi), priests (Gurus or Backabutti), and writers or clerks (Karkun). The astrologers are learned in the Shastras and expound them. They draw up calendars in which prophesies are made as to the events of the coming year. The priests perform the rites and ceremonies of the Hindu religion, but the vast majority of the Brahmins belong to the Karkun class. Occupations forbidden to a Pandit are those of the cobbler, potter, corn-fairer, porter, boatman, carpenter, mason, and fruit-seller. Many Pandits have taken to agriculture, but the city Brahmins look down upon any profession and would never consider marrying a daughter to a Pandit cultivator.

The priestly class does not intermarry among the others, but the Jyotishi and Karkun classes intermarry. Marriage within the Gotra is forbidden. Among the leading Kram may be mentioned the following: Tiku, Razdan, Kak, Munshi, Mathu, Kallru Pandit, Sapru, Bhan, Zitohu, Raina, Dar, Fotadar, Aladan, Thusu, Wangnu, Alujju, Hokhu and Dulu. There are a few Khattris, known as Bohras in Srinagar, engaged in trade and shopkeeping. They enjoy no caste fellowship with the Pandits, though in times past a few instances are known of a Khattri being admitted to the caste by the Brahmins.

The Sikhs of Kashmir were probably Punjabi Brahmins who embraced Sikhism when the valley passed into the hands of Ranjit Singh, but the Sikhs of Trahal declare that their ancestors came to Kashmir in the time of the Afghan rule. They look to service as their chief means of livelihood.


The Muslims of Kashmir may be divided into four divisions: Sheikhs, Saiyids, Mughals and Pashtuns. The Sheikhs, who are the most numerous, are the descendants of Hindus but have retained none of the caste rules of their forefathers. They have clan names known as Kram. Some hold that the Krams, known as Pandit, Kot, Bat, Aitu, Rishi, Mantu, and Ganai are descended from the Brahmins, and that the Magres, Tantres, Dars, Dangers, Rainas, Rathores, Thakurs, and Naiks spring from a Kashattriya origin. The Lon Kram is assigned a Vaisya descent, and the Damars are connected with Sutras.

There may be some foundation for these theories, but the Krams are now mixed, and confusion is increasing owing to the fashion of the lower castes, who assume the Krams of respectable families. Thus the Dums (gardeners and butchers) have begun to call themselves Ganais, much to the annoyance of the true Ganais, and the boatmen, a most disreputable community, have appropriated the Kram name of Dar.

The social system is very elastic, and prosperity and a very little wealth soon obliterate a humble origin. In the marriage system, a man of the Tantore Kram may marry a girl of the same Kram or some other Kram as long as she comes from an agricultural family, but a man of the Sheikh Kram may not marry a Sayed girl, nor contract an alliance with the daughter of a market gardener or a menial.


The Saiyids may be divided into those who follow the profession of religion and those who have taken to agriculture and other pursuits. In appearance, manner, and language, there is nothing to distinguish them from other Kashmiri Muslims. Their Kram name is Mir. While a Sayyid retains his saintly profession, "Mir" becomes a prefix to his name if he has taken to agriculture.

The Mughals are not numerous. Their Kram names are Mir (a corruption of Mirza). The Pashtuns are more numerous than the Mughals and are found chiefly in the southwest of the valley, where Pathan colonies have from time to time been founded. The most interesting are the Kukikhel Afridis of Dramghaihama, who retain all the old customs and speak Pashto. They wear a picturesque dress and carry swords and shields. They pride themselves on their bravery, and in the absence of a nobler foe, engage the bear on foot with the sword, or spear him from their plucky little ponnies. The Afridis and the Machipurians, who belong to the Yusufzai tribe, are liable to military service, in return for which they hold certain villages free of revenue. The Pashtuns chiefly came in under the Durranis, but many were brought by Maharajah Gulab Singh for service on the frontier.

The Galawans, or horse-keepers, are also credited with a descent from the Chaks, and their violent, restless character may be hereditary. Originally, they earned their living by grazing ponies but found it more lucrative to steal them. Besides these, the Gaddis, Batals, Bhands, and Hanz also live in Kashmir.


The Dogras attribute the origin of their name to the fact that the cradle of their race lies between the Sarion Sar and Man Sar Lakes near Jammu. Drigartdesh, or "the country of the two hollows," was corrupted into Dugra, and Dugra became Dogra. The area stretching from Jammu eastward along the plains of the Punjab is known as Dogra, and all who live in that tract, whether Hindus, Muslims, or Sikhs, whether high-born Rajputs or low-born menials, are known as Dogras. They share certain national characteristics and a common language which differentiate them from all the other peoples of India.

Some authorities doubt this derivation and say that Dogra is a corruption of the Rajasthani world for "hills" (dungar), and that when the Rajputs forced their way north they gave this name to the hilly country.

The Dogras hold the lowland tract along the outer ranges of the hills from the Manawar or Malikani Tawi on the west to the Ravi River on the southeast. The tract is bounded towards the higher mountains by a line drawn along the hills to the south of the Budil Illaqa through Batoi, and thence to the Ravi northeast of Basoli.


The Guluwans are said to be the descendants of the old warlike Chak tribe, who resisted the invasion of Akbar. Afterwards, they were remarkable only for their predatory habits. They rarely intermarried with any other caste and resided in the jungle, changing their place of abode whenever pursued. In the time of the Pashtuns, it was dangerous to travel alone. The Chak could leave a few of their number in charge of their harem while the rest sallied forth on a marauding expedition.


The Dam may be called a kindred tribe; they claim a descent from the Pandits, whom tradition has represented as being of giant strength and stature. They seem to be identical with the Damaras of the Rajat Taringini, wherein it is related that King Lalataditya lost his life in an expedition against this fierce and intractable race. They were also the murderers of King Chacra Verma. Vigne states that the Dumbs, the informers, belong to this family.

Vigne states that the numerous tribal and family divisions of the Hindus of Kashmir all fall into two great division of Hindus, the Malamasis and Baruhmasis. The most important castes are the Brahmins, the Rajputs, the Khattris, and the Thakkars. Each caste is subdivided into many sub-castes, but for practical purposes, the Dogra Rajputs do not regard the finer divisions of the ethnologist, but draw a broad distinction between the Main Rajputs, who engage in neither trade nor agriculture, and the other Rajputs, who have condescended to work for a living. The Mains will marry the daughters of the latter class but will not give their own daughters in marriage to them.


From the Manawar Tawi to the Jhelum is the area known as Chibhal, the home of the Chibs. The chibs are mostly Muslims, but there are Hindus Chibs as well. Both trace their origin to a Rajput chief named Jassu. Dharam Chand, a descendant of Jassu, was versed in medicine, and was summoned to Delhi to attend Jahangir. The fee in case of success was the emperor's daughter. Dharam Chand was successful: he married the Mughal princess and was henceforth known as Shadi Khan. But he longed for his country and left his bride, and the next year, the Mughals invaded his country and slew Shadi Khan.

The Hindu Chibs have descended from Shadi Khan by his Hindu wife, while the Muslim Chibs are the progeny of his family subsequent to their acceptance of Islam. Both Hindu and Muslim Chibs repair annually to the tomb of Shadi Khan in the Kali Dnar hills in Nowshera Tehsil.

Like the Dogra Rajputs, the Chibs look upon service as the sole career for a man, but both Hindus and Muslims till the soil. They are a fighting people, and the spirit of adventure takes them out of their own area. They follow the caste rules of the Hindu Rajputs but are perhaps stronger and more muscular then the Dogras to the east.

Besides the Chibs, there are Muslim Rajputs to the west of the Chenab, the Jarals, the Bhaos (unfavorably known as Akhnur), the Ghakkars, and many others.


Drew, in his book Jammu and Kashmir Territories, suggests that the Bambas and Khakhas of Jhelum Valley might be classed under the head of Chibhali. Very little is known as to when these people migrated into Muzaffarabad and Uri Districts, or whence then came; however, it is generally admitted that they had a foreign origin.

It is probable that the Khakhas have occupied the territory on the left bank of the Jhelum for 300 years more, and that the Bambas, who live on the right bank of river, came in yet earlier. The Khakhas, who enjoy the proud title of Raja, are, like the Chibs, Muslim. Rajputs trace their descent to Raja Mal Rathor. They regard themselves as belonging to the Janjua tribe. The Bambas, who are styled Sultans, deprecate a Hindu origin. They claim to belong to the Kureshi tribe, and say that the name Bamba is a corruption of Bani-Hashim, and that they are descended from Ali, the son-in-law of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).


The Gujars are not Kashmiris and are not a very numerous tribe. They are said to have come originally from Gujrat in the Punjab. In the springtime they collect herds of cattle belonging to others and drive them away to the mountain valleys to graze. They take their wives and families with them and live in long huts in the woods and recesses at the foot of the Panjal Range.

Numerically, the Gujars are of some importance. Some have settled down to agriculture, but the great majority are herdsman. In the summer months they move up to the splendid grazing grounds above the forests with their buffaloes and goats.

They are Muslims by religion, and many speak a language of their own known as Parium. They are tall, with large, prominent teeth. They sacrifice every consideration for their buffaloes, and even in their cultivation, which is chiefly maize, their first thought is for their animals. They are pleasant and simple, and their good faith is proverbial. Kashmir and its mountains have a special attractions for the Gujars.


These are shepherds who watch over the flocks and herds of others upon the remote mountain pasture lands. They receive their charge around the month of May and then repair to the mountains, spending the summer there until the advent of winter. They receive small cash payments or an allowance of rice for the care of each sheep or goat during the season, as well as the milk.


The houses throughout Kashmir Valley are built on a similar pattern. First, there is a ground floor with two chambers and a small hall. The second floor contains three rooms. The floor under the roof usually consists of one long chamber which is used as a loft for storing firewood, kitchen utensils, and lumber. Here the household spends the summer months. The part of the house occupied by the women is called bats. Children are often housed on the ground floor.

The wood used for houses may be leader (Himalayan cedar), kayur (pine or fir), or sungal (Himalayan spruce). The poor use the less durable poplar or plane, but plane is scarce, and no one is allowed to fell a plane tree without the permission of the government. The builders use stones for a foundation, wood for the framework, bricks and mortar to fill up the divisions of the framework, and earth and the bark of the birch tree, called bog pathar, for the roof, which is slanting. There are two kinds of bricks manufactured in Kashmir, baked and unbaked. Unbaked bricks are most frequently used. They are made of earth and dried in the sun. Baked bricks are made of clay and baked in a furnace. The baked brick is called pak sir; the unbaked brick, om sir.

At times, instead of the fine inner bark of the birch, a reed called tshai is used for roofing. Roofs of this description may be noticed on the houses in Srinagar, Sopur, and the adjacent villages, because they are near to the Dal, Vilullar, and Anchar lakes, where the reed grows abundantly. In some villages the houses are thatched with straw, and in Baramula, Shupian, and Tsrar, the roofs are made of thick wood board, nailed firmly on account of the very strong winds to which these places are exposed. Only a few houses have indoor fireplaces. Fires are used only for cooking, and the smoke finds its way out by doors and windows. Wood is burned as fuel, or cow dung cakes mixed with straw.

In Srinagar and other large towns, houses are frequently two or three stories high and are usually lighted by windows (panjara) formed of trellis-work, which takes the place of glass. When the weather becomes cold and rainy, coloured paper is pasted over the inside of the trellis work. Here and there in the houses of the rich, glass windows may be seen. The glass is imported from the Punjab. Mica is sometimes used for the same purpose.

In some parts of the valley, especially in the forests near the foot of the mountains, the houses are laid longitudinally and dovetailed at the corners. The interstices are plastered with mud cement. The Gujars invariably inhabit long huts with flat mud roofs, and throughout the valley of the Kishen Gange, most dwellings, except for those of modern construction, are built on a similar plan.


The dress of both men and women is very similar; it consists of a long garment called a pheran, like a nightgown with very wide sleeves. Sometimes red or blue, it is made of either cotton or wool according to the season. The sleeves of the woman's pheran are wider than those of the men's, as are the skirts, which descend nearly to the ankles. When it is manufactured of wool, it is called loch, when of cotton pots. "Pheran" is a contraction of the Persian word "pairahan," garment, and tradition says it was introduced by the emperor Akbar, who made the Kashmiris doff their traditional dress in order to subdue their warlike spirit.

The men wear in addition a pair of very loose drawers, and their headdress is a pagri or turban, all in white, which the Hindus smooth over the right temple and the Muslims over the left. The women wear a skull-cap with a band of red cloth on the front of it; some call the long narrow piece of red woolen cloth which they bind around their heads a sarpech.

The ordinary veil worn by the Kashmiri woman is called a puts; it consists of a long piece of cotton cloth thrown over the head and allowed to hang down the back. Its use is confined to Muslim women, while the panditanis, or Hindu women, wear a spotted veil called a tikiput. With the exception of the higher classes, the women do not affect to conceal their features. A long piece of cotton, a lungi, is worn around the waist over the pheran. A panditani never goes outside without this girdle. For the winter, and when it rains, the woman wear khras, which are shoes made of wood with thongs of straw called del.

On weddings, with other finery, they wear shoes of horse's or mules's skin, which are adorned with silk work. The men in the mountains wear grass shoes called pulahor. When procurable, rice straw preferred for the construction of these shoes due to its elasticity, but bark is frequently used. The Hindus wear sectorial decorations on the forehead. Saffron is the coloring ingredient in the mixture with which the work is painted.

The Muslims generally wear charms or amulets (tawiz) inscribed with the names of God, the name of Muhammad, the names of Muslim saints, or verses from the Holy Quran. The paper on which these are written is often sewed into a piece of cloth, usually of a red color, and then tied round the arm or attached to the wearer's dress.

The woman tend to be profusely ornamented with elegant earrings, nose rings, ankles, and bracelets. Their mode of dressing the hair is peculiar; the hair is drawn to the back of the head and finely braided; the braids are then gathered together, and being mixed with coarse woollen thread, they are worked into a very long plait, which is terminated by a thick tassel (gandapan), which reaches down below the waist. This peculiar arrangement of the hair is called wankapan.


There are more than seven million Pashtuns living in the Pakistan. All of them are Muslims. More than half live in or on the fringes of the Indus plain. These constitute the "settled districts" of Peshawar, Mardan, Kohat, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat, Dir and Hazara. The other three million or so Pushto-speakers inhabit tribal territory in the hills and mountains to the north and west of the Indus. The political agencies from south to north are South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Kurram, Orakzai, Khyber, Mohmand and Bajaur. Further north and east, and with only a minority Pathan population is the Gilgit Agency, of which Hunza, Nagar and Baltistan are parts, now called the Northern Areas.

The Pushto speaking area begins at the western end of the Himalayas. On the other side of Durand Line are Afghanistan's Pashtuns, perhaps five million in number.

The Pathan tribal structure is far more complex than the mere division of their residences into tribal territory and settled districts would indicate. All Pashtuns belong to one of the three great branches of the race. Each branch, the Sarbani, the Bhitanni (with Ghilzai as its descendant) and the Ghurghushti, traces its descent from a son of their common ancestor, Qais. Each branch has dozens of tribes; to name only a few of the best known, the Shinwari and the Yusufzai are Sarbanis, the great semi-nomad sects of Sulaiman Khel and Aka Khel are Ghilzai, and the Afridis and Wazirs are Ghurghushti. All of the tribes named have members in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan.

The tribal system of the Pashtuns is complex. Each tribe has several khels, or clans; the khels break up into extended family systems of varying degrees of magnitude. Some of these subdivisions are also known as khels while some are called kors or kahols. However, an individual khel may have lost all connection with its parent tribe and may be larger than other tribes which have several khels, and two unconnected groups may have the same name. There is a Sepah clan among both the Afridis and Shinwaris, and Usman Khel among both Mohmands and Mahsud.

Despite the awareness of all Pashtuns of their common religion, language and history, customs, dress, and even physical appearance may vary from family to family, khel to khel and tribe to tribe.


The Yusufzai are perhaps the largest, oldest, and most sophisticated of Pashtuns. They live both in the mountains of Dir and Swat and in the fertile plains of Mardan district in the North West Frontier, which is a settled district. They are tall, hard-working agriculturalists, aristocratic in bearing, traditionally individual free holders.


The Mohmands have two district sections. One, the Kuz (Lower) Mohmands are vigorous, land hungry farmers living in and around the settled districts north of the Kabul River. The Bar (Hill) Mohmands occupy a patch of barren, inaccessible hills abutting on the Durand Line in a separate tribal agency. Their khans, maliks, and mullahs have more influence than is the case among the more individualistic Yusafzai. They tend to be somewhat shorter, sturdier and more quick-tempered than many of the other tribes.


The Afridis are archetypal Pashtuns, having collected a whole catalogue of contradictory adjectives from those who have studied them: brave, cautious, honourable, treacherous, cruel, gallant, superstitious, courteous, suspicious, and proud. Pleasant looking, light-skinned, often with blue eyes, they are graceful. A Semitic cast of features and a partiality for full beards is added to the dignity with which the older men wear their flowing garments and light blue turbans. Their heartland centres on the Khyber and Dara Passes.


The Turis of the Kurram valley are Shia Muslims. They have definite well developed social, religious and legal systems with various khels following four different families of Sayyids who have long dwelt among them. Though living in tribal territory, they have generally been cooperative with government administrators, perhaps in part to protect their relatively fertile lands and in part because of their quarrels with their Sunni neighbours.


Of the hill tribes, the Wazirs and the Mahsuds, though often at enmity with each other, dominate the entire southern part of tribal territory. Their land is particularly barren and their history and reputation especially fierce. In contrast to their northern neighbours, the Wazirs and Mahsuds speak the soft Pushto of the south and dress largely in black and darker colours. They are a vigorous and dynamic people.


The Khattaks, whose lands run along the east bank of the Indus from above Attock to just north of Kalabagh, historically have come closer to being a nation than any of the other tribes. The Khattaks are sturdy, light-skinned lot, noted for their cleanliness, restraint, straightforwardness and industry, as well as for their bravery and initiative.

Many of the hill tribes have members living in the plains. Some tribes and groups, however, dwell exclusively in the NWFP. Their tribal structure has broken down somewhat but they maintain their Pathan heritage and customs. The Daudzai, Muhammadzai, and Khalils constitute the hard-working yeomanry of the Peshawar valley. The Bannuchis who occupy Bannu city and the area around it are very active economically. Their bazars are clearing houses for goods from all over the Frontier. Their fields and orchards provide much of the food for the people of the nearby hills. There are, of course, other and important groups which are not properly Pathan, some functional, some racial, e.g. Sayyids and Mians, Gujars and Awans, Peshawaris (as mixed and cosmopolitan but also as integrated a city population as any in the world), Mongols and Qizilbash. In the far north live the Kohistanis (the people of the mountain). Among them are many different dialects and racial groups.

The Pashtuns are the result of centuries of mingling of Mongol, Chinese, Iranian, Turkish and Pathan blood with that of the original invaders of the subcontinent. Some of them, such as the ruling family of Hunza and the Kafirs of Chitral, claim to be direct descendants of Alexander's Greeks. All of these other peoples, to varying degrees, have today come under the influence of the dominant Pathan society and culture.

At the heart of the Pathan way of life for hundreds of years and until today is Pukhtunwali, "the Pathan code", or, colloquially, "the way of the Pashtuns." Its three main requirements are in accord with the Pashtuns' history and land: badal (revenge, regardless of consequence), melmastia (hospitality and protection to anyone who seeks shelter under a Pathan roof), and nanawati (the right of anyone, even an enemy, to sanctuary and support).


The Pathans have a rich cultural heritage in which they take great pride. There are important traditional and social factors which guide community life and in many cases influence or even determine the actions of individuals. Foremost of these is Pukhtunwali.


The demands of honour are set forth in Pukhtunwali, sometimes called “Nang-i-Pukhtun”, which may be translated as "the Pukhtun code" or "the way of the Pathans." Throughout the Pushto-speaking area, it is virtually impossible to find even a child who is not keenly aware of the main elements of Pukhtunwali. The first and greatest commandment of Pukhtunwali is badal, revenge.


The obligation to take revenge for a wrong, real or fancied, falls not only upon the man who suffered it but also upon his family and his tribe. This has given rise to the blood feuds which dominate many inter-tribal relationships and has resulted in the wiping out of whole families and small tribes. Badal permits no limitation in time or space, and the obligation remains as long as a single member of the clan survives.


The second greatest demand of Pukhtunwali is melmastia (hospitality and protection to every guest). In this regard melmastia takes precedence over badal, and even the enemy who comes seeking refuge must be granted, and defended against his pursuers.


Nanawati is the right to seek asylum. It is the third main tenet of Pukhtunwali. Anyone who can make his way into the presence, and most especially the home, of a Pakhtun can claim the protection of the host regardless of the previous relationship between them.


A jirga is simply an assembly. Practically all community business, both public and private, is subject to its jurisdication. More properly a jirga is a group of members of a particular sub-group of Pathans considering a matter of common interest. There is seldom any formal selection of representatives. Among some tribes virtually every adult male may attend. Among others tradition clearly indicates those who are entitled to participate.

The jirga as it operates today has three main functions. In its broadest and purest form, it regulates life at all levels within tribal society requiring community attention, e.g, the choice of a site for a new mosque, punishment for domestic infidelity, settlement of a blood feud or a decision to take up arms against a neighboring tribe. Secondly, the jirga provides a mechanism by which the decisions or opinions of the tribe are communicated to the government and the decisions of the government passed to the tribe. In this sense, the jirga handles the foreign relations of the tribe and has the authority to commit it to a course of action. A third form, the so-called official jirga composed of men appointed by an officer of the government of Pakistan, has little to do with Pukhtunwali in the traditional sense. It acts as an advisory jury to the officer in trying crimes under the Frontier Crimes Regulations.

There is seldom any voting in a jirga. Decisions are unanimous and are arrived at by taking the sense of the meeting (which is usually abundantly apparent). The sanctity accorded the jirga is indicated by the fact that it very rarely breaks down into a fight. The traditional penalty for defiance of a jirga is the burning of the culprit's house. A subtle point, which is frequently obscured by the semi-judicial role of the jirga, is that the body's function is to settle peacefully an existing situation more than to judge right and wrong, determine guilt, or pass sentence.

They lavish their ornamentation almost exclusively on their weapons, and their swords, daggers and guns are often works of art. Their songs and dances are those of warriors, stirring and sometimes complex in execution but simple in theme.


Barring speculative assertions that the original inhabitants of Sindh were Mohanas, Chuttas, or if the people of Mohenjo Daro were Jats, Jats or Chubras, it seems certain that ethnic groups in Sindh changed significantly between the Maurayan and Muslim periods. During this time, successive migrations of Sakas, Yuchchis, and Huns from the north and west blended with the local inhabitants resulting in the evolution of the Rajput people. The majority of modern Sindhis belong to these groups.

With the muslim conquest began the Arab settlements. Banu Tamim, known in Sindh as Thamim, is once such group of settlers. Then, a large number of Syeds (Sufis) from Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia migrated to Sindh. As a result of missionary activities Islam spread in Sindh. Another important element in Sindh's population is the Baloch. A number of these tribes settled in Kachhi, and from there, they spread along the hills northward to Dera Jat and southward to Sehwan and beyond, but mostly in the foothills to the west. During the period the Balochis were establishing themselves in Sindh, Other small groups also came to the province. They were Mughals associated with the officers and soldiers of the Arghun and Turkan dynasties. Especially important were the Pathans of Garhi Yasin and Shikarpur. They came when that part of upper Sindh was under the rule of Durranis of Afghanistan in the later half of the 18th century.

A number of other peoples came to Sindh from neighboring northern, eastern and southern regions. Memons came to Sindh from Kutch (India) during the rule of Arghuns and Tarkhans. The most numerous groups are Jats from the Punjab, such as Sials, Joyos, and Khuhawars, for whom a general term of "Siraiki" is used. Other notable groups not related to Rajputs or Balochs are Brohis, Parsis, Caste-Hindus, and Punjabis.

The most substantial effect on Sindhi's ethnic structure occurred soon after independence in 1947, when large number of Mohajirs (immigrants) came to Sindh from India. As early as 1951, more than one in every 10 in the rest of Sindh were Mohajirs from India. Earlier since the opening of irrigation barrages on the Indus in the 1930s there had also been a regular flow of settlers from the other provinces of Pakistan. Thus, the ethnographic pattern of Sindh continues to undergo a change that is marked and visible.


Mohajirs meaning "immigrants", is the name given to the Muslims who arrived in Pakistan at the time of independence from India. In 1947, many mohajir families loaded their belongings and left India because they owned small businesses and felt that their livelihoods would be threatened in a predominantly Hindu State. Being commercially minded many of them settled in Karachi, the Country's industrial center, and re-established their enterprises in the form of family businesses there. Many Mohajirs also settled in the other large cities of Pakistan: Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Hyderabad.


The majority of the people in Sindh speak the `Sindhi' language, which has regional variations on dialects. Sindhi, Scirocco and Baluchi are the main indigenous languages. With the entry of numerous linguistic groups from India, varieties of languages have come to be spoken in the urban areas, of these the most important are Urdu, followed by Punjabi, Gujrati, Rajasthani and Pashto.

The Sindhi language is both spoken and written, the Sindhi script being based on the Arabic alphabet with additional letters.

Education is imparted through English, Urdu and Sindhi and these three languages are compulsory for all students from class III to class XII.


The `Sindis' are the most colorfully and exotically dressed of Pakistan's people. Shocking pink is a favorite colour for men's turbans in central Sindh. The men also wear little embroidered caps speckled with tiny mirrors, brightly coloured long shirts and `Lunghis' (piece of cloth wrapped around the lower half of the body instead of trousers). Sindhi men use `Ajrak', a block - printed cotton cloth usually dyed with indigo blue, square or rectangular cloth used as a bed cover or worn over the head and shoulders as a shawl and `Bokhani', small embroidered Sindhi Scarf traditionally worn on the shoulders by a bridegroom. Men wear traditional embroidered slippers with long, pointed, upturned toes.

A Sindhi Muslim women's costume differs according to her marital status. If she is married and her husband is alive, she would wear colourful costumes, with rich embroidery, mostly of red, green or blue colours to denote that she is a happy wife. `Gaj', a bodice of red velvet is a common dress. It fits the form as tightly as possible, as is fastened behind the termination of blue silk or satin. Widows generally wear a simple white dress.

The shirt of Sindhi woman is long, and reaches the knees. A woman, in addition to the two indispensable garments, wears a covering cloth for the head, which takes the form of a thin veil. They call it `Chunni'.

The Brahui women wear a gown of blue or red material with a typical kind of Brahui embroidery with red thread. A Jat woman wears a long gown with a very rich typical embroidery. Similarly, the costumes of Kolhis, Bhils, oda and some other tribes are very peculiar. Most of the Sindhi woman also use `Ajrak' when they go out of their homes to cover their body and faces.

Sindhi woman's shoes are very typical. Their slippers do not fully cover the toes. They have a very thin and narrow sole, and the woman just drag it. The upper side of the toe of the slipper is covered with multi-coloured tufts of floss silk, which is stitched to it.


The people of Sindh whole - heartedly celebrate the fairs and festivals at shrines, melas (fairs) and malakharas (wrestling festivals) are the most popular recreation. Malh is the distinctive style of Sindhi wrestling, and the training of horses and camels to run in different styles is a typical of Sindhi riding and sport. Falconry is a time honoured pastime. The method of catching the pall fish in the Indus by floating on an earthen pot is the distinctive technique of Sindhi fishermen. Bullock - cart racing and cockfighting are popular in some areas.

Sindhi people are also fond of listening to music and epic poems and enjoy taking part in folk dances. Muslims and Hindus celebrate their festivals with great gusto. The festival can be classified as seasonal festivals, religious festivals and cultural festivals. Every new season is celebrated. For instance, the monsoon season, the coming of rain is celebrated with songs throughout Sindh in general and by the people of Thar desert in particular.


Marriages are arranged by parents or relatives, who select the match for their children. Marriages are encouraged among relatives or within the tribe. The ideal match for a young man is to marry his first cousin. If there is no girls among the relatives, then he will marry girl from his clan or tribe. The daughter of Sayyid can marry only a Sayyid.

There is also a custom of arranging the betrothal of a boy or a girl in their infancy. It is also a custom to arrange the betrothal of children before they are born. Sometimes the age of a bridegroom is 6 years old and that of a bride just 10 years old, and sometimes it is vice versa. Marriages are also arranged on an exchange basis or sometimes on a cash payment basis.

A divorced woman or a widow is allowed by Sindh Muslim society to marry again, and there is no bar on the marriage of a divorced woman or a widow. But in Sindhi Hindu society it is forbidden.


Naming Immediately after the child is born, the father, or in his absence an uncle or other elderly relative, recites in the newborn child's ear the words of the call to prayer beginning with `God is great' (Allah-o-Akbar) in order that the name of God may be the first sound the baby hears in this world. Immediately after that, the father or the relative who recites the `call' give the baby its name.

Akiko On the 7th, 14th, 21st or 40th day after birth, the child head is shaved. Goats are sacrificed and their flesh is distributed among relatives and friends. The bones are buried in a selected spot along with the hair of the child. The hair is first weighed against silver or gold, which is given in charity.

CIRCUMCISION This ceremony is performed either just after the birth of a male baby or on the 6th day after his birth. After the procession the rite is performed by a barber in the presence of relatives and friends. The barber's reward is placed by the father of the child under the boy's right foot in addition to which he (the barber) gets the boy's clothes and the whole or a part of `Ghora' which relatives and friends have turned round the boy's head for good luck.


The residence and dwelling of the people reflected the economic condition of the owners and the geo-physical conditions pertaining in the different regions.

The houses in towns were constructed of locally available timber which was generally of a tortuous appearance and mud. In big towns houses comprising of fifteen rooms constructed of burnt bricks and stairs of yellow porphyry existed. They had plenty of space for courtyard and also had rooms for serving as stores for merchandise. All these houses generally possessed badgers (windscoops).

The houses for the poor, called `japars', were in the form of thatched huts generally confined to the suburbs of the city. The lake dwellers lived in huts built on rafts of reeds. The bigger rafts, called `madu' were woven in the form of mats whose cavities were filled in with reed. Desert people built them of tree branches, leaves, grass and mud in the form of beehives.


The staple diet of the people of Sindh is `Shali' (rice) and fish such as `palla' and `parkali'. However, evidence suggests wide variations in their dietary habits conforming to difference in their economic conditions and the nature of food available in their region.

The upper classes had a rich food consisting of wheat, rice, sugar, mutton, chicken and fish in the cities. They enjoyed a drink made from salob which was served like Coacoa and was very nourishing. The people living in the country and the desert such as farmers had a diet consisting of millet, rice bread, dried fish, milk curd etc.

But the very poor people subsisted on the roots and seeds of aquatic reeds through out the year. These seeds generally belonged to `nilufar' (hyacinth) known as `biha-kum' (in Sehwan) `napa' (in Thatta) and its roots called `lakh'. the rots of the reeds such as that of `diri' was gathered in winter. It was baked and ground and served as staple food for the poor of siwistan all the year round. It was known as `bud'.

  1. Ansar Zahir Khan, History and Culture of Sindh,( Karachi Royal Book Company, 1980).

  2. Charles Elison Bates, A Gazetteer of Kashmir and the Adjacent Districts of Kishtwar, Badarwah, Jammu, Naoshera, Poonch and the Valley of Kishen Ganga, (Lahore: Sang-e-Meel, 1991).

  3. Herbert Risley, People of India (1977).

  4. Imperial Gazeteer of India: Provincial Series, Baluchistan (Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications, 1981).

  5. Isobel Shaw, Pakistan Handbook,( Hong Kong, The Guidebook Company Ltd.,1989).

  6. Kashmir, Imperial Gazetteer of India, Provincial Series (Lahore,Al-Biruni, 1977).

  7. Lubna Saif and Javed Iqbal Pakistan Society and Culture (Islamabad, Allama Iqbal Open University, 1988).

  8. M. Sardar Khan Baluch ,A History of the Baluch Race and Baluchistan (Quetta: Gosha-e-Adab, 1977).

  9. M. Sardar Khan Baluch, A Literary History of the Baluchis (Baluchi Academy, 1977).

  10. Mushtaqur Rahman, Land and Life in Sindh  (Lahore, Ferozesons (Pvt) Ltd. 1993).

  11. Olaf Caroe, The Pashtuns 550 B.C.-A.D. 1957 (London: Macmillan, 1965).

  12. Pakistan, (Lahore: Ferozsons, 1988).

  13. Pakistan: Past and Present (London: Stacey International, 1977).

  14. Sean Sheeban, Cultures of the world: Pakistan.( Singapore, Times Book International, 1994).

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