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Homepage of Razwal Kohistani

Lesser Known Tribes of Indus Kohistan

Home Tribes

Shin Tribe Yashkun Tribe Kamin Tribe Chilis Tribe Gabara Tribe Marooch Tribe Other Cast


The branches of the KamiNs, who are formally associated with the Shin groups and tribes in Kohistan, are satra, Rama, BatiRa, Thakra, shatie and sesi. Their many branches are found in Harban and Shatial also. They are mostly found in Chillas, Harban, Tumar, Sazin, Darel and Tagir. Those who are found in Kolai, Palas and Jalkot, are merged in the traditional organizational hierarchy of the Shins and are their associates. The KamiNsin the upper areas beyond Kohistan, are out of this hierarchy of the Shins.

The relevance of the Kamins has always been connected or sought with the "Kamis" in the Punjab when they have nothing to do with them. This view was first introduced by the English historians such as Lietner, Biddulph, Drew, Durand and finally Karl Jettmarr. Moreover, a local researcher, Mohammad Shuja Namoos, also derived most of his conclusions from the Westerners.

Some historians have written the word "Kamin" as "karemin" also. Shaw has connected it with the Persian word "karam" whose meaning is told to be the work. One has not heard the word "karemin" from any locals. There has always been a confusion owing to the words of "kami" and "kamin" in considering about KamiNs. There is no mutual linkage between the words of 'kami", "kamin" and "kamiN. I would like to present two examples here clarifying this misconception. Karl Jettmar writes on Page 41 in his book "Bilor and Dardistan" that:

"Kamin is the term for a low caste of tenants and craftsmen in the Punjab and in the corner between the River Kabul and the River Swat."

It is not true of him that the term KamiN prevails in the Punjab. It is the word "Kami" which is customary there while between River Kabul and Swat, which is mostly Pukhtoon land, this term is not used. Nor is it a Punjabi region.

Among the Kamis in the Punjab, the dominating castes are the Musalli, Mirasi and Dom in regard to their professions who are related to the Darawars by race. Their skin colour and physique is quite different than the KamiNs of the Northern Pakistan. The Kamis of the Punjab have not been merged into the structural circles of the castes in the Punjab. Besides Jettmar, the view of my colleague and honourable teacher, Schmidt, about KamiNs is that:

"Kamin people don't have own land, houses or property in Palas or Jalkot, because the people of Palas and Jalkot reckoned as out side the Shin lineages."  (Schmidt & Zarin, Discussion with Hariq. p 12)

"In Kohistan the term Kamin is used to describe all non-Shins including Yashkun, Gujjars, blacksmiths, weavers and Doms. This is in Palas only a binary sociological division (Shin, Kmin)."  (Schmidt 1985. p 68)

I have found in my studies conducted in Kolai, Palas, Jalkot, Darel, Tagir and Harban that KamiNs are fully incorporated in the local Wesh system. It is not true that in Kohistan, the term KamiN covers all the non-Shin population.  Jahn Biddulph has expressed his opinion about the KamiNs as:

"The Krammins, who are millers and porters, are most numerous in Darel, and do not exist in Junza or Nagir. They do not intermarry with any other caste. Their name is probably derived from the persian Kamin, "mean people" though Mr. Shaw in his paper on "Stray Aryans in Tibet," suggests that the name is derived from Kuram, 'work." (Biddulph 1880 A.D. p 39)

Dr. Mohammad Shuja has also expressed his doubts about KamiNs saying that very little is known about the Shin invasion and about their coming into Pakistan.


However, the KamiNs in the Northern Pakistan are described to be related with the ancinet inhabitants of the sub-continent. But it is only an assumption based on the view held in the plains of Pakistan about Doms, Mirasis and Musallies. One must bear in mind here whether the non-Aryan linguistic characteristics are found in their native language to indicate them the ancient castes and not Aryans because the ancient castes in India were non-Aryans.

Surprisingly their population is going down now in Kohistan and the Northern Pakistan. They are migrating to urban areas and are giving up their traditional profession. Their numerous families are now found in the districts of Muzaffarabad, Mansehra, Abbott-abad and Haripur. Very few families of theirs are left in Kohistan who have also given up their ancestral profession. They beat drums in the past at the time of invasions to entice men to fight. It was customary in Kohistan until 1950. Their mother tongue is called Domakhi which is now spoken only by a small group in Hunza valley. Everywhere else they speak Shina and have forgotten their mother tongue.

Dr. George Buddress says that they migrated from the South around two hundred years ago. In my opinion, they came even much earlier than this, probably even before the Shin tribes because in 1500 A.D during the separation of the Wesh system between Kolai Palas and Jalkot, a few "shoodars" might have come from the Indian tribal areas with the Doms and engaged in the professions of "kamis" (Kamin castes), p 50.

The local KamiNs are accommodated in the social pattern of the Shin tribes and in their traditional Jirga system. Moreover, their women have equal rights to other Shin and Yashkun women which proves that the KamiNs are also "ulsia" and hence they are not related at all with the "kamis' of the Punjab.

There are some such branches of the KamiN whose names reflect the existence or the coincidence of their some relationship with the Indian tribe in western Bengal, GoRa, like the tribe of GuRie in Chillas. In this region since there have been migrations of the numerous tribes via Gandhara, Kashmir, Chitral, Wakhan and Swat, it would be better to keep the names and mobility of these tribes in view in the historical perspective.

Few Kamin Branches and their present areas


KamiN Branches


Shamnae, Aebeka, Jugre


Sardarey, Rorey, Haebeta


Salmae, Hare, Rashmalikae,


Mizshae, Sheae, Dansheae, Beyke, Barle,


Palse, Birme, Ghalamzae, Halmate, Phaqamrae, Balsane


Rule, Phate, Sanke, Matcha, Sharpae, Leye, Karimae, Kare, Jakbike


Thakra, Rama,


Satra, Baera