"I dedicate this page to my good friend, M. Bugi, his family, and to the Kalash people ('mountain people') high up in the Himalaya Mountains.."

Kalash Literature

in Urdu

Khowar is the language of the Kalash tribe, spoken in Chitral, which is in the far Northwest corner of Pakistan; a beautiful valley in the Hindukush range of Mountains. Khowar is classified as an Indo-European language of the Dardic Group. However, only Kalashamun is closely related to Khowar. It is spoken as the primary language by 250,000 people in Chitral. There are also pockets of speakers in Gilgit. It is clear that the current Chitralis have lived in their mountain home for 3,000 to 4,000 years.The people of Chitral are called Kho. Traditionally they are peaceful and law abiding citizens.

Khowar has 42 phonemes. Several of these are not found in any other language of the region. The letters /t/, /th/, /d/, /l/, /sh/, /ch/, /chh/, and /j/ all have two different forms, one retroflexed and the other dential-veolar non-retroflexed. Every Chitrali who learned the language on his mother's knee can readily distinguish these forms, whereas others can never learn them, regardless of how long they have lived in Chitral.

Khowar does not have a written form in common use. Before 1947, written communications in Chitral were in Farsi, which - explains the large number of Farsi loan words. Today, written communications are in Urdu. Several attempts have been made to introduce a Urdu or Roman based writing script into Khowar, but these have never gained widespread acceptance.

Alexander the Great encountered them when he visited the area. The proof of this is that in the histories of Alexander the Great it is written that he encountered strange wooden boxes, which his troops chopped up to be used as firewood. These "boxes" were actually coffins for their dead following the custom of the Kalash Kafirs of Chitral.

Indigenous Peoples' Literature Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Compiled by: Glenn Welker
ghwelker@gmx.com

Copyright @ 1993-2016

This site has been accessed 10,000,000 times since February 8, 1996.