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Kalash ~ the white tribe of Hindu Kush

Kalash ~ the white tribe of Hindu Kush 

In the mountains of the Hindu Kush in Pakistan, six thousand or so people live who look and sound very different from their neighbors. They claim to have lived in the area for thousands of years and they look to all intents and purposes, European. Many of the Kalash are blond haired and blue eyed, some believe that that they are descendants of Alexander the Great’s army though their true ethnic origins are still unproven.

They live in Kalasha Desh – which translates as the three valleys of the Kalash – and that is the limit of their people’s range. There are only around five thousand speakers of the language, Kalasha, left which in terms of a language means that it is critically endangered. However, it is thought that the language probably never had more than a few tens of thousands of speakers at any one time.

As their numbers are very small the culture of the people who surround them have had an impact. Many of the Kalash in two of the valleys have converted to Islam, probably around fifty percent. They still practice many of the traditional aspects of Kalash life. In stark contract to the culture of Pakistan the Kalash do not separate the sexes or disapprove of contact between men and women of different families. However, there is the ‘bashelini’ – a house in the village where menstruating women are sent until they regain ‘purity’ and rituals must be performed before she can return to her husband. Elopement is regular in Kalash society and – strangely – it occurs often among married women. The woman herself will write to the prospective groom and offer her hand, informing the new man how much her previous husband paid for her.

The Kalash are protected by the government of Pakistan but their future is uncertain – particularly if the religion declines in to theocracy. There have been recent Taliban incursions and a Greek aid worker was kidnapped in 2009 (she was returned unharmed four months later after an outcry). However, their relative isolation may well ensure the Kalash survive.

Lebojo, Kostas Papantoniou, Marie-Bernard, .t.a.o.n. and 5 other people have particularly liked this photo

 Dave Linscheid
Dave Linscheid
Very interesting history and a great textured portrait.

Group: Strange, outstanding, stunning captures...
6 years ago.
cΨḅǝrJ has replied to Dave Linscheid
Thank you. Hope that such interesting cultures will survive, maybe we can learn something from them in the future.
6 years ago.
 Kalena Reyna
Kalena Reyna
Excellent work and information!!
6 years ago.
cΨḅǝrJ has replied to Kalena Reyna
My pleasure...
6 years ago.

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