Voice of the Mountain People


Lok Virsa documents Wakhi people in Chitral


ISLAMABAD: A team of professionals from Lok Virsa’s National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage undertook a field research to Chitral and upper border areas for documentation of Wakhi people and their lifestyle.

 A three-member team of National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage comprising a video producer, craft collector and cameraman, undertook a field research to Boroghil valley and Lashkargaz in northeast of Chitral for documentation of Wakhi people. 
The Boroghil Valley is nearly inaccessible in the extreme northern border of Pakistan. It is located in the Pamir mountain ranges with Wakhan Corridor in the west and Gojal in upper Hunza on the east. 
This isolated valley is sparsely populated with a population estimated around 11,000. The valley is known for embroidered socks, sweaters, spinning wool, handmade shoes and sheep coats. Buzkashi and yak polo are the favourite traditional games. 
On the way the team stayed at Chapari village in Mastuj Tehsil of Chitral and interviewed elders, storytellers, folk artists and also covered wedding rituals, traditional dances and folk songs. The tea also documented artisans involved in local crafts like weaving ‘palisk’ (floor rug), rope making and sitar making. 
During their stay at Lashkargaz, a village at Yarkhun Valley near Wakhan Corridor, the team produced video documentary on Buzkashi, (goat snatching) a traditional sport of Central Asia, played on horse back. They also made video documentation on lifestyles, traditions, rituals, customs, people, folk games, handicrafts, food, etc. of Wakhan people. 
The team also undertook study on traditional houses and collected artifacts for reproduc
ing a three dimensional creative display in the Heritage Museum at Islamabad. 
The Wakhi Pamiri people live around the Pamir knot that overlaps four countries – Gojal, Ishkoman in Gilgit-Baltistan and Boroghil valley in Chitral district, the Kohistani Badakhshan Autonomous province of Tajikistan, Wakhan Corridor of the Badakhshan province in Afghanistan and Xinjiang province of China. The region serves as a confluence for some of world’s highest mountain ranges and being the territory through which the ancient Silk Route passed it has also been a place of cultural cross currents. A very rough estimate of the population of Wakhi (Xhik) people is over 100,000 worldwide. 
Wakhi people have a unique and rich culture, lifestyle, language and social set-up. 

Historically these areas have remained isolated from the rest of the world, their life confined to raising livestock and agriculture. In the face of rapid developments in information and communication and interaction with the outer world, there are opportunities as well as threats for marginalised cultures like the Wakhi which has been victim of neglect and apathy on the part of successive governments and other institutions. No single authentic book or document has been published on the history, language, culture and folklore of Wakhi people. 
On the one hand while it is important to be part of the mainstream development process it needs to be ensured it is not at the cost of the values and identity of the Wakhi culture which must be saved from extinction. 
For this it would be necessary to end its marginalisation. There is concern, however, among people that the cultural values, norms, traditions and perspectives are not lost in their exposure to the big world outside. 
Lok Virsa in this regard has undertaken various projects to preserve, document and promote the unique culture and lifestyle of Wakhi people. 
In this regard, Lok Virsa has joined hands with Gojal Educational and Cultural Association (Geca) for the preservation and promotion of Wakhi people. A week-long festival in this regard was to be held last year but due to security reasons it was postponed and will now be held in the last week of October at Lok Virsa. 
The association in collaboration with Lok Virsa has also made a documentary on the lifestyle, culture and folklore of Wakhi people living in Gojal valley upper Hunza.


Courtesy Dawn


Editor’s Note: The GECA news team will highly appreciate articles, photographs, videos and other sources of information that can help us know more about the scattered wakhi population living around the Pamir plateau.

5 Responses to “Features”

  1. Nadeem Aman Rumi said

    Hi all!

    its pleasure to see another news blog.
    i just wanna say that to change the slogan of the blog .
    means(Just another weblog).this is the sample. need to be change.
    and i think u should add ur contact in the blog, so the youth can share their articles,news and other infos with this blog.

    except that all u have done is superb.

    i pay my best wishes to all ur team.

    Nadeem Aman Rumi

  2. Gilgit Tribune said

    Thanx Nadeem for you appreciation and your valuable suggestions. As u know that this news blog is still in its initial stage, so there may be some loopholes but this is not an excuse, we would try our best to improve it further and run this blog professionaly and we believe that the contribution and healthy comments from our readers would help us alot in this regard.
    Thanx once again

  3. JoJo said

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  4. Jon said

    Nice site – Here’s wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year !

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