The unique life of Kalash – Tribe of Pakistan

Several historians have written about the Kalash and most of them have linked them to descendants of the army of Alexander the Great since many of their rituals, customs and traditions are indicative of the way of life of the ancient Greeks.

The Kalash with their unique culture, traditions, rituals, values, festivals and attire are not be found anywhere else in the world. Kalash are considered ‘infidels’ and their habitations are known as ‘Kafirastan’ — the land of infidels — amongst the local Pakistani community. The Kalash valleys are located in Chitral in the northern district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

They lead a centuries-old primitive way of life with a religion which has no name, no written book or prophets and are now concentrated in three valleys which are called ‘Kalash gooni’ among the Kalash and the ‘Kafir Kalash’ (land of infidels) amongst others.

But it is not just the place which fascinates, also the women of Kalash — who legend says are part-fairy and part-human because of their ethereal beauty. Local people say the Kalash woman can make a man lose his religion. As the story goes, when a Kalash woman drinks water, you can see it streaming down her throat. Yet they are considered impure in their own community; they are also called “whiter than the white”.

The Kalash feel threatened by the outside world as their number are dwindling with every passing day. Many Kalash are accepting Islam and the influence of other cultures. With more members of the community getting educated, people are also reluctant to follow their primitive traditions and rituals.

The tribe does not face any threat from militants but the pressure was more from members who are embracing Islam. “Though, no one forces them to convert, they are under constant pressure from their own converts to quit their way of living,”

There are less than 4,000 Kalash left. 3,554 to be precise when the last count was done in 2009

As members of any community, please help spread this message to inform the world of the hidden yet charming community of people whose existence is doubtful in the coming decades. Visit & see them in Pakistan before they are gone…..

On a separate note, hurry up before all their beautiful women get married! Luckily, they belong to one of the few tribal communities in Pakistan where girls are free to choose their life partners without any influence from the male members in the family.

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37 thoughts on “The unique life of Kalash – Tribe of Pakistan

  1. Pingback: The Pagan Tribe Of Pakistan (PHOTOS) | KING.NET

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  3. Kalash people are probably Illyri-Thracians, which are a kin to the Sythians. They share customs similar to those of the Balkan peoples..Macedonians, Illyrians, Thracians, Dacian and Pannonians. Alexander’s army was forged from this group. In fact the word “Kalash” loosely relates to “horseman, horse people” in my language. Im quit sure that the Kalash and the rest of the Caucasian peoples of central asia(what is left of them) share kinship. Archeological digs have proven beyond doubt that Caucasian people stretched throughout Central Asia, China and as far as Japan(Samuraii). So, it is no wonder that pockets of Causacians can still be found even today as the Kalash of Pakistan.

  4. Im always curious about different races of the world yet I didn’t know about these beautiful people pf Pakistan, being from Pakistan. Well I guess Im travelling up to those mountains soon…Texas will be surprised when I come back with a fairy wife.

  5. I was just overwhelmed when I heard about this group. They came so close to complete annihilation. Their close relatives, the Nuristani people were forcibly converted to Islam about a century ago. This kind of destruction of culture is, in my opinion, the worst crime a person can commit. If you kill someone, you’ve just destroyed a generation. But if you kill a culture, you’ve destroyed a thousand generations.

    Their unique culture and religion is so important for those of us interested in the ancient history of the region, prior to the Islamic conquests. I can’t even begin to describe what the world would have lost if these people had been forced to abandon their way of life. And, if I can get on the soap box for just a moment, anyone who believes that their religion is the only acceptable way to live and that they have the obligation to force, coerce, or even just persuade others to believe the same as them, is disgusting and needs to be stopped. We’ve lost so many irreplaceable cultures across the breadth of the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia all because of this brutal notion.

    On another note, I hope so much that Afghanistan can stabilize and become safe and prosperous. There is so much history in that region that I don’t have nearly enough space to describe it right now. We know that numerous great cultures have existed there since prehistoric times, but archaeology has been all but impossible thanks to the dangerous climate there.

    • I could not agree with you more….well said. Our visit in 2007 to the Kalash Valley has been one of them most memorable, yet saddest of all my travels…these people are exploited so much….

    • your words are so true and touching.that line “This kind of destruction of culture is, in my opinion, the worst crime a person can commit. If you kill someone, you’ve just destroyed a generation. But if you kill a culture, you’ve destroyed a thousand generations.” really touched me.

  6. I’m Mat, or Aemathia as it was in times of Alexander the great. Even thought that because of the name of the province, have received the name “GREAT”. The Albanian language “Aemathia” is like saying “great”. In this region lie the cities of “moo”. And “PELL-a”, in Albanian, with accurate dialektoren matjane (Mat Province), called the forest. Locals still say: “We make shku in Pella (forest) to cut wood.We still have a lot Mat topunime city, town, which gives to understand that “moo Cities”, cities were spread in a forested area. So “Pella” is simply an Albanian word, a word is not Greek, or Slavic languages ​​from the old as Sanskritishtja. Albanian is the only way to explain the words people speak KALASHIT. And his word “Fortress + sh” in the Albanian language understood immediately, and means Castle.But, as The more of them around the civilized world today do not recognize the value of the Albanians will say one thing to be interesting. ART keyword all know that there çkuptim. If you do not know a great truth. The word ART is the source of the Albanian language. Many scholars, not taken into account the Albanian language, try to understand the old words from Arabic, Latin, Ancient Greek, Sanskritishtja, Hindi …., also make many mistakes, or not at all approaching the truth. AR + t we mean AR Classifieds, ie gold. We slip it is also the root for some other word, but this will be a deep study of those who are interested …! So when the Pelasgians, the ancestors of Albanians today, saw that the inside of some people leave a precious value that tjetersohej in painting, sculpture, music and other things, they compared with the precious material that came from the earth, then to gold. Many scholars, not known Albanian, and left without a proper understanding of ART keyword, to only the simple fact that it is a creative human activity. At the end of this commentary, I want to tell all thosethey like to approach the truths of this world, to take seriously the existence of language and traditions of the Albanians, that soon will realize that it would be an inalienable help to understand the past of white people. Albanians today, we still preserve their traditions of elements that we find since Homer, the Spartans, Trojans, Etruscans, Thracians and other people who have left their stamp of human life on this earth. For these reasons I think it is important that due attention be paid to this nation, which has suffered heavily in its existence as a nation (and not tjetersua, even when they had to fight for 500-years with Turkey).
    Find me at: sulafitim@yahoo.com

    • Albanian nationalism is ridiculous. It claims all the Pelasgians who where speaking different non-indoeuropean languages and were spread across the Aegean and Minor Asia. The only surviving words from the different Pelasgian languages can be found in Greek since the Pelasgians had been the substratum of the Ancient Greeks. On the other hand, the Albanians are mention for the first time in history in the 10th century AD and their language in the 14th century AD. Many historians connect the Albanians with the Avars who arrived in the region of Illyria in the 7th century AD from a place in Caucasus that was called (guess what….) Albania, so actually Albanians are a century younger in the Balkans than the Slavs.

  7. There are many opinions on the etymology of Pella (of course none of them suggests that it is of albanian origin). It might be from the word Pellas which in the local ancien greek dialect means stones or the colour “Pellos”

    Kalash is not a greek word, but it is not albanian either. in their location there are mountain valleys and no castles…

    Is good to have developed imagination but not so good to present it as fact…

  8. The Kalash are a beautiful, hospitable and rugged people. My family and I had the good fortune to stay at a hotel called the “Hindu Kush Heights” in the city of Chitral, and on one of our excersions we visited the Kalash Valley….one of the most picturesque areas in the world! The gentleman who drove us up insisted that we visit his relative, who was from the Kalash tribe. Once there, we were offered apples that has been plucked off the tree in our presence,which were very sweet, moonshine that was made in their home, and as we talked to members of the Kalash household, the ladies of the house were knitting belts using twigs….when we left their house, each one of us recieved a ‘belt’ around our necks and a hug from them….their generosity and warmth has become a cherished memory.
    We visited a museum in the valley dedicated to the Kalash people’s history; looked after by a Greek gentleman who spent 6 months physically living there so no one looted the museum. The other six months while he was in Greece, local Kalash elders would donate their time to stay at the museum to protect their relics. They have a picture language which is still being pieced together; most of their stories stay alive through drawings or by oral tradition. A few years ago they stopped burying their dead in the traditional manner; dressing the corpse in colourful clothes, and adroning it with jewelry. The body would placed in a wooden box above the ground; unfortunately ‘tourists’ were helping themselves to ‘souveniers’ off the bodies . They are an unarmed, peace loving people who have been caught in the crossroads of civilization and religious fanaticism.

    • Hello Habiba,
      I found pictures of these wonderful people as I was researching a certain camera. This led me to
      this comment page & your entry. Your comments are very touching & sad. What a beautiful people!
      After viewing quite a few photos of the Kalash & reading your comments, I hope that more than any-
      thing that the Kalash will left alone to live their lives. It is unfortunate that cultures so rich in history are
      threatened with extinction. I just don’t understand why a fraction of the wealth that sponsor incursions
      throughout the planet won’t see to it that struggling peace loving cultures are preserved.
      Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
      Mike

    • Hello Habiba,

      I am lost in words. We human has moved so forward in achiving God knows what that the real value of beauty is fading. Alexander the Great married once and some historians belive that his wife was from Kelash. He had seen the Europian, and Persian beauties earlier and had the power to acquire but could not be improessed. My sincere thanks to you for writing about them.

  9. It is good that there are brave Greeks who look upon these people, but honestly the Kalash to me no more Greek than a welshman.

    If one looks at their genetic isolation, isolated language and culture; leftovers from Alexanders pursuits in the area does not seem plausible. The population of Greeks post Alexander in the region was comparatively tiny, and by all accounts assimilated into the native population to help hold to their tenuous power. Pashtun people would likley have more Greek blood than Kalash.

    If one wants a clearer picture of the Kalash; the Kushan are far greater candidates. Tsiyam in no way would ever translate into greece; but as a homeland of ancient people driven out by Xiong Nu, whose 4,000 year old ancestors still lay in said lands, yes.

  10. They are good people, I got married there in Pakistan, and it took 2 years for her to come over to UK, Due to my solicitors messing my payslips up. We hold Kalash events where all of us have a gathering food, drinks and women dance. We have that in Leeds and we are trying to get Leeds or Bradford festivals. Next month wife and I going to Pakistan as she wants to see her family and take stuff over.

  11. hi All,

    I strongly feel that they are somewhere related to India and Hinduism because I researched about Kalash language and it is very much nearer to Sanskrit directly. In fact the word Kalash itself has a meaning in Sanskrit which means a beautiful pot which we can relate to the beautiful valleys that they live in. The Kalash may be are a result of collaboration Indian/ancient Hindu way of living, culture, celebration of life with Greek ethnicity. They are unique because they are a mixture of Indian and Europeans and they live in cold valleys which is rare in Middle Asia. And yet they are beautiful because this mixture of two of the finest races of Asia and Europe that are Indian and Greek.

    Coming to their culture, they celebrate life without forcing/harming any others (Living in union with nature) which is the core theme of Sanatan Dharm – Hinduism. All these kind of tribes are to be protected against these fanatic conversions. Conversion should happen only if one person is completely willing to accept other religion. Not to be forced by anyone. This is just taking away the basic rights of humans. Well, there is nothing much we can do than to hope that Middle East and Central Asia will be stabilized and the Kalash are protected.

    • they have nothing to do with hinduism! my fathers best friend is kalash. kalash comes form the word HELLAS which means Greece. people’s idea that others are threatening the identity of kalash is just a pure form of racism. racism in two ways, against the mainland pakistanis because they are brown and muslim and racism in general because anyone can marry anyone they want! protection for what? this idea actually means that you want kalash to marry within their own tribe for the only reason to maintain their identity and presence as a people because they have light to blonde hair and colored eyes? thats preposterous! how come no one cares about the untouchables of india, the tribes of africa, the palestinians? they are peoples in danger. and how many other unknown tribes of the past have vanished or dwindled due to intermarriage or voluntary acceptance of other ways of life? who cares? life is life and its not upto anyone other then they themselves to decide whether they marry each other or not, or what they religion they choose to be accept. what does this have to do with protection?? its not as if a genocide is going on. this is about white people fascinated with another white race who are not muslim but living in a muslim country. i dont care what anyone says but ultimately this is all based on physical characteristics.

      • It’s not about racism, it’s all about facts muslims are invading other cultures and people this is the ultimate fact. I doubt that you might be a convert or brain washed muslim. Fuck the religions, long live cultures and people. Organised convertions is a crime that continously happens in islamic areas, just an example from hisorty : Zoroastrians in Iran, minority muslims became majority in few decades. They call it revolution but everyone knows it was well executed ethnic cleansing.

    • then thats so sad .a pakistani does not even know about this.i was always interested in history specially this section of history,so i know about this even though i am from india.there is more to this then just the people who are termed kalash .

  12. This is old but whatever.
    Funny how everyone who is NOT Muslim is classed as beautiful by westerners. Pathetic really. Either way, these people are Pakistanis. They are as beautiful as the rest of the Pakistanis. They are not any more beautiful than others just because they are more fair in colour. I’m fair and I’m not from the Northern side of Pakistan. I’m from Lahore. I don’t look upon at brown or black skinned people as inferior. Whoever does is backward. I wouldn’t choose a blonde haired, blue eyed over anyone with black eyes and black hair. Everyone is beautiful. Most westerners can not see this. Also, it never says in the article that the people are being forced to accept Islam. They are doing is off their own will and are encouraging others to do the same. That’s their choice.
    I have dark brown eyes and dark brown hair and I’m NOT from the Northern side of Pakistan and I’m a Muslim.. let’s see the westerners call ME beautiful. Of course not.

    • I think people are so fed up of hearing about the beautiful ancient cultures that have been destroyed by waves and waves of Islamic invasions. Do you think Pakistan was like it is now? Islam is so dominating that you must have arabic names, dress like an arab etc etc. It completely wipes the native culture. It is unacceptable that the beautiful and ancient culture of these people will be taken over by a religion which is causing world wide aggravation and frankly does not even stand up to scrutiny. Other than that, I agree with you on the beauty part.

  13. Y-chromosome study does not link the Kalash people to Greek influences. The Y-chromosome (inherited through the male line), is less mutable than the mitochondrial link on the X (inherited from the female line). This does not preclude that the Kalash did not migrate from further west – or were part of the great influx of peoples from Central Asia 7,000 years ago. Nor are there strong links to the Persian influence that many Pashtuns show – and indeed, those of Northern Pakistan.

    There are links in Afghanistan (limited) but none in Pakistan.

    http://euroheritage.net/greeksinasia.shtml

    @ Mazy – I think you are showing a cultural bias every bit as prejudiced as the catchall phrase “Westerners”. All societies have these prejudices, just as the Pashtuns look down on the tribes of the Plains (yet were only too willing to sweep down and seize their goods and their women). Wherever you go you will find that xenophobia. It is evident between the northern Italians and those from the far south (Calabria); the northern European tribes and the southern; between the Dogras and the tribes of the plains; between the Sinhalese and the Tamils; the Punjabis and the Sindhis; the Persians and the Arabs; the Turks and the Greeks; between the Chinese and Indians. This list is endless and has nothing to do with West or East, North or South, it is endemic to our tribal past. It is instinctive (but not compulsory), for like to be attracted to like.

    Neither you tribal origin nor your religion has any bearing on your beauty as a human being.

  14. Hi,

    Make sure to say the truth who are the Kalesh people. As is clear descent of Alexander the Macedon which clear the mixed of his people and local came the Kalesh. In Macedonia language Kalesh means “kind of brunet skin” as the Macedonians are towards white blond skin.
    The clothing topical from my village or from the Agea part of Macedonia the part that in 1913 was given to Greece. Keep your history clean and be proud. The Greeks stole from us and will do same to you. Thank you

  15. Macedonians by race are Bulgarians and the Bulgarians are of Iranic origin that lived in the Pamir region of Hindokush before migrating to Europa and sabsecuently are ethnically close to Kalash peoples. The so called Macedonian language is a dialect of the bulgarian language. the Bulgarian language is a mixture of slavic and old-bulgarian – iranian language.

    • FYROM has nothing to do with Ancient Macedonia. All the slavic people entered the Balkans in the 6th century AD and not before. Of course, the Bulgarians where originally a tribe that had more common things with the Khazars and the Turks.

  16. Wow this is really unique. I think the Kalash people should stick with their culture and the Pakistani government should do something for their welfare. They are really beautiful people and definitely carry the Caucasian genes.

  17. Imagine trying to recreate Greek life high in the mountains for 2000 years or is it 2700 years? Definitely European features but not pure. Some mix with locals is obvious as of course alexander and his men were only men. Where were the women from? Captured from Persia?

    Usually it is in language analysis that native tribes anywhere can be traced back but now we have DNA testing. I wonder if the Kalash would be happy to find out that they belong in a country full of great debts and Zorro dancing and retsina and spanakopita?

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