Balochi Literature بلوچی ادب > بلوچستان Balochistan/Balooshistan

Baloch Society & culture

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مير چا كر MirChakar:
Cultural
Facts

Cultural facts about Balochistan Language:
Balochi is the major language of Balochistan. It is spoken over extensive areas of the province. It is also rich in poetic and romantic literature. Besides, other languages which are spoken in Balochistan are Brahui and Makrani. Brahui is spoken in Qalat areas while Makrani is spoken in Makrani, the coastal region of Balochistan.

Food:


Their dry fruits are also very popular all over the world. Their special item, Sajji is very famous in Balochistan and also all over the Pakistan. They also eat roasted lamb sand mutton.

Dress:


They wear shalwar qamees and turban. Women wear embroider frocks and shalwar. They also wear jewelery made of metals. This jewellery is also very famous among the women of Pakistan. Women also wear long dress with long sleeves.

Festival:


Wrestling, horse-racing, religious feasts are the recreational and the seasonal functions. In the Makran region, the seasonal harvest of the date palms is an occasion for the rejoicing and reunion of friends and relatives who return home for the harvest.

Crafts:


Balochistan has a strong individual character. Its varied landscape includes deserts plains, and mountain. In fact northern Balochistan is a perfect maze of mountain. The country experiences great fluctuation of temperature caused by extraordinary differences in the elevation of land. Balochistan is mostly barren, with scanty rainfall and great water deficiency.

It has few large towns. The population is thinly scattered over a large area. Their crafts to have a strong individual character. Balochistan processes skins and hides and manufactures goods in leather, wool and goat's hair. Two raw material's, typical to Balochistan are crude clay; and the dwarf palm. The first is used to make coarse, green glazed earthenware, such as hookas, bowls, and platters. The latter are commonly available in the Kandhari Bazar in Quetta, and largely used by the local population. Secondly the dwarf palm, which grows wild on the Sibi frontier, is used for making prayer mats, matting for stone shelters, sandals, shoes and now also ladies hand-bags. Women also participate actively in the practice of crafts. Women do all embroidery work and most of the work in wool and goat's hair.

Leather works:


Most of Baluchi leatherwork is embroidered upon. Lehri refers to the application of chain stitch in colored silk, to leather. The motifs and designs in leatherwork and specially embroideries, are different. Products of Balochistan, the distinctive Balochi stamp on them. Leather is produced almost everywhere in Balochistan. However it may be localized in the Kachhi district where the raw material for manufacture is largely available. The work consist chiefly of saddles, horse gear, embroidered shoes and sword belts, all of which are made in Muhammadpur in the Nasirabad tehsil and Lahri, further north.

The sword belts made in Lahri have considerable local repute and are extensively used by Balochi and Brahui tribesmen. The leather used is of dark red color, ornamented with green and embroidered in minute circles placed between parallel lines. The work is in yellow golden yellow silk, minutely embroidered in chain stitch, similar to Lahri. This stitch, originally used on bedspreads and the top of the Peshawari sandals, is now employed for leather book covers, wallets, belts, ladies hand-bags and cushions.

Goat hair works:


Goat hair is woven chiefly in the border hills in Darajat and in Marri and in Bugti country. The coarser forms of this pastoral craft is rough goat's hair ropes, the crude cloth on which grain is winnowed and cleaned, corn sacks and camel bags. The more refined forms are saddlebags, nosebags, and astringes or multicolored rugs. The saddlebags have a fine woven pattern, round the neck. In addition they are ornamented with tassels and risottos, with little shells sewn to the borders.

مير چا كر MirChakar:
Traditionally the name of a child was chosen a few days after birth, mostly on the sixth. The child was given a name of some worthy forefather who was not alive. But at the first instance, he was given an alternate name. As the Baloch had great respect for their departed elders, they gave names to the children formally, but in the meantime alternate names were chosen because the children by those would be receiving rebukes,which was considered an insult even to those names and alway avoided.

The Baloch borrowed names from animals, trees, plants, colours and even parts of the body. Names were also derived from the name of week days.

Father's name was sometimes added to the actual name, as Chakar-e-Saihakk (Chakar son of Saihakk) or Haibitan Murad (Haibitan son of Murad). This practice most probably has crept into Baloch culture through Arabic influences at a much later stage.

مير چا كر MirChakar:
PRONUNCIATION: bal-OOCH

LOCATION: Pakistan ( Province of Balochistan ; Iran ; Afghanistan ; Turkmenistan ; Oman ; East African coast )

POPULATION: 15 million (References http://en.wikipedia.org)

LANGUAGE: Balochi

RELIGION: Islam (mostly Sunni Muslim; also the Zikr i sect)

1 . INTRODUCTION

The Baloch are a semi nomadic people (they travel with their herds on a seasonal basis but also have a home area where they grow some food crops). They live in the southern mountains and coastal regions of South Asia's western borderlands. Their traditional homeland is divided among Pakistan, Iran , and Afghanistan .

The Baloch believe they are descendants of Amir Hamza, an uncle of the Prophet Muhammad. They settled in their present homeland sometime between the fifth and seventh centuries AD. Persians, Arabs, Hindus, and others have laid claim to parts of Balochistan, the traditional Baloch home-land, at various times. Conflict within tribes and rivalries between tribes were frequent throughout the region. The reason was often competition for land, money, and resources. In the eighteenth century, almost all of the Baloch tribes were loosely united.

In 1843, the frontier of British India bordered Balochistan. By the early twentieth century, the British had control over much of the region. The British Province of Balochistan passed to Pakistan when that country came into being in 1947. Pakistan also inherited the problems of the region. Opposition to the central government led to brutal battles with the Pakistani military in the mid-1970s. The military bombed villages and civilians in an effort to subdue the Baloch rebels. Today, the Baloch see themselves as a neglected minority in a country whose government is controlled by non-Baloch ethnic groups such as the Punjabis.

2 . LOCATION

The Baloch population today is estimated at 15 million. In addition, there are many more people who are Baloch in culture but have adopted the language of their neighbors.

The traditional homeland of the Baloch extends west from the borders of the Punjab and the Sind (a province of Pakistan in the valley of the Indus River), across a small section of Afghanistan, to the areas of the Iranian Plateau southeast of Kirman. The southern boundary is defined by the coast of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.

3 . LANGUAGE

The Balochi language is an Indo-Iranian language of the Indo-European family. Modern Baloch shows borrowings from Persian, Arabic, Sindhi, and other languages. No written form of the language existed before the early nineteenth century. Persian was used for official purposes until that time.

4 . FOLKLORE

The Baloch respect bravery and courage. Many tribal heroes are honored in folk songs and ballads.

Doda, for example, is remembered for defending the principle of ahot, or protection. Legend tells of a wealthy widow, Sammi, who sought protection in the village of Doda Gorgez. One day, Beebagr, a relative of Sammi's deceased husband, carried off some of Sammi's cows. Even though Doda had just been married, he pursued the thieves because he was honor-bound to safeguard the property, as well as the life, of the widow. Doda was killed in the battle that followed. In keeping with Baloch tradition, Doda's death was eventually avenged by his brother Balach.

5 . RELIGION & SECT

The Baloch are Muslim, mostly Sunni, but also including members of the Zikri sect. Zikris (pronounced "ZIG-ris" in Baloch) are estimated to number over 750,000. They live mostly in southern Pakistan. They are followers of a fifteenth-century MAHDI, an Islamic messiah, called Nur Pak (Pure Light).

6 . RITES OF PASSAGE

The birth of a child is greeted with rejoicing, music, and singing. Food and sweets are prepared and given out. The birth of a boy is cause for greater celebration, and some groups barely recognize the arrival of a girl. Names common among the Baloch include Lalla , Bijjar , Kannar , and Jihand .

Other ceremonies mark occasions such as the circumcision of boys, the time when a child begins to walk, and the first wearing of trousers. This last event, occurring around the age of fifteeen, was traditionally an important stage in a boy's life. It marked his becoming an adult and the time when he took up arms and joined his people in warfare.

7 . RELATIONSHIPS

When Baloch greet each other, they normally shake hands. However, if an ordinary tribesperson meets a religious leader, the tribesperson reverently touches the leader's feet. A meeting usually begins with inquiries after health (durahi) and then goes on to an exchange of news (hal). It is considered the height of rudeness not to ask for news from the person one is meeting.

The Baloch are guided in their daily lives and social relations by a code of conduct known as Balochmayar, or "the Baloch way." A Baloch is expected to be generous in hospitality to guests, offer refuge to people who seek protection, and be honest in dealings with others. A Baloch man must be merciful to women and refrain from killing a man who has found sanctuary in the shrine of a pir (Sufi saint). He is also expected to defend his honor (izzat) and the honor of the women in his family, and his other relatives.

8 . LIVING CONDITIONS

Baloch nomads live in tents (gidam) made of palm matting stretched on poles. A coarse goat-hair carpet forms the floor of the tent. There are permanent settlements to live in during the summer months. More recently, houses have been built of sundried brick. They are scattered along narrow, winding village lanes. Both old and newer houses have an open courtyard in front, enclosed by a low mud wall or palm fence.

10 . GENERAL LIFE

Baloch women are seen as inferior to men and are expected to be obedient to their husbands. However, Baloch women are less restrained than women among other Muslim peoples in South Asia . Traditionally, the custom of purdah (seclusion of women) was not followed. But some upper-class families have now taken up the custom.

In addition to household chores, women share in tending the family's herds. The gathering of wild plants, water, and firewood is designated as women's work.

Baloch have strong prohibitions against marrying outside the Baloch community. Marriages are arranged, and it is common for first cousins to marry. Divorce occurs for reasons such as the inability to have children, but it is considered a matter of great disgrace. A widow returns to her father's home on the death of a husband, and she is allowed to remarry if it is acceptable to her family. Inheritance of property goes from father to son.

11 . CLOTHING

Traditional clothing for the Baloch man is a long, loose shirt (jamag or kurta) that reaches below the knees, worn with baggy trousers (salwar), and a turban (pag). The turban is a long cloth wound around a turban cap on the head. Leather shoes or palm-leaf sandals are worn. A shawl or wrap (chaddar) provides extra warmth in winter but can also be used as a towel, sash, or headcloth; it can be used to carry things.

Women wear a long shift (pashk) reaching to the ankles, with a wrap used to cover the head, shoulders, and upper body. The wearing of trousers under the shift has been restricted to women of high status. Bright colors are usually avoided, but scarlet is popular among girls of marriageable age. Widows wear black. Women wear an assortment of jewelry, including rings (nose rings, earrings, rings on fingers and toes), necklaces, bracelets, and hair ornaments. Jewelry is made of gold or silver, depending on what a person can afford.

12 . FOOD

The Baloch have two meals a day, in the morning and evening. The food for the whole family is cooked together. The most important grain is wheat, but millet and rice are also eaten. Grains are ground into flour and made into unleavened bread (flat bread, without any ingredients to make it rise), which is baked in mud ovens.

Meat is an important part of the Baloch diet. Sajji is a favorite dish that is often served to honored guests. A sheep is killed, skinned, and carved into joints. The meat is sprinkled with salt. The pieces of meat are spitted on green twigs, which are stuck into the ground in front of a blazing log. Once cooked, this dish is eaten with a knife, although Baloch usually eat with their hands.

Milk is drunk and also made into fresh cheese, buttermilk, and butter. In summer, a sherbet (lassi) is made with milk, molasses, and sugar. Dates and wild fruits and vegetables also form an important part of the Baloch diet.

13 . EDUCATION

Baloch have little opportunity for formal education. Only an estimated 10 percent to 35 percent of Baloch children attend school, mainly in the more settled areas of the country. For this reason, illiteracy (the inability to read and write) among the Baloch is high.

14 . CULTURE

The Baloch have a rich tradition of storytelling. Poets and storytellers are traditionally held in high respect. The oral tradition conveys the theme of Balochmayar, the Baloch code of honor. Among the more popular of these poems recount the legendary exploits of Mir Chakur, a sixteenth-century Baloch warrior and chieftain of the Rind tribe.

Music plays a role in all ceremonies except death rituals. Dancing accompanies many events, such as weddings and other festivals. Men's dances reflect the warrior traditions of the Baloch. The drum, the lute, and the shepherd's flute are the most common instruments for accompanying the singing and dancing.

15 . EMPLOYMENT

The traditional economy of the Baloch combines cereal (grain) farming and the seminomadic herding of sheep, goats, and cattle. Some Baloch communities along the coast make a living from fishing. Baloch think of formal trade and business as unworthy occupations.

16 . SPORTS

Popular games include chauk, a type of checkers played with wooden pieces on a cloth divided into squares. Moves are directed by six or seven cowrie shells, thrown onto the ground like dice.

Ji, a game of tag, is played by village boys and young men. Games such as wrestling and horse racing are useful in developing the skills that young men will need for warfare. Shooting and hunting are favorite pastimes among the wealthier people. Card games and gambling are also popular among some groups.

17 . RECREATION

Baloch living in Karachi and other towns of southern Pakistan enjoy all the recreational facilities available to the city resident. Those who follow a traditional, seminomadic way of life in the remote Baloch heartland rely on festivals, music, dancing, and folk culture for their entertainment.

18 . CRAFTS AND HOBBIES

The Baloch are not known for their folk art or crafts. However, the women are skilled at embroidery and decorate their clothes with elaborate geometric and abstract designs. They make felt from sheep's wool, and also weave rugs for their own use and for sale.

19 . SOCIAL PROBLEMS

The Baloch do not live well in modern Pakistan. They are viewed as virtual "savages" by the ruling majority in the country. It is little wonder that the Baloch do not have a very strong sense of identity with Pakistani nationalism.

This situation is not helped by the government. It has failed to promote economic development in Balochistan, one of the most underdeveloped areas of the country.

Even in major cities such as Karachi, Baloch children are at a disadvantage. Although they speak Baloch at home, at school they have to struggle with Urdu, Sindhi, English (the language of business and university education), and Arabic or Persian. Few Baloch advance beyond high school or low-status jobs.

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