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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


 There are also many traditional occupational groups dwelling in Palas valley for centuries. They are performing different type of tasks. These groups have no share in the local natural resources or income from such sources. However, customary law gives them certain provisions and protection. These boundaries are fixed and no one can change them. Here, I would discuss each group in detail.  Their main categories are as following:

            1.         Gujars

            2.         Kandri

            3.         Dekaan

            4.         Payaalo

            5.         Gobaan

            6.         Sarkhalian

            7.         Akhari

            8.         Doom

            9          Shamoga

1.         GUJARS

Among all the above mentioned categories, Gujars are the most significant due to their population size and their deep rooted interrelationship with the local people[1]. They speak Gujjri. Their main livelihood consist of goat raring; sometimes they also look after the others goats as well. The Gujars who are living in Palas for a long period/from generations, have a traditional right to have an access of grazing pastures during summer. The outsider Gujar has to pay; but in most cases, outsiders are not allowed to bring their livestock to the pastures.

During winter, Gujjars come to oak forest Bando for grazing their livestock. At present, before allowing an access to individual Gujjar family, the "price" is fixe between the family and concerned Palasi owner and Gujjar familie.  The rate is mainly depended upon (i) the size of the livestock; (ii) and area of the oak forest. The usual period for winter season is December to April. The charges vary and ranges between Rs.2,500 to 3,000 for a flock of 150 goats. However, it is interesting to note that before the present arrangements, the concerned Gujjar family was bound to stay 10 to 15 days in the agriculture fields of concerned Kohistani family while coming from and going back to the summer pastures. They stay was for the purpose of providing manure to the fields. There was no cash payment for using the oak forest. However, there were certain limitations as well. In case of NOT staying, the concerned Gujjar family was bound to pay Qalang (tax). It was also possible to differ the amount of tax for a certain period. The Gujjar who becomes in debt through this way is called Bandokho.  The creditor cannot ask for free labour from such Gujjar or any other favour. However, if the debt is re-paid, then the Gujjar family can change their concerned Kohistani family which is known as Naaik.

2.         KANDRI

If an oak forest is owned by an individual Kohistani family, then the Gujjar family who rents it for the season is called the Kandri of the owner. It means a person who stays in the area. For easy understanding we can say the Gujjar family as a lease holder. There are also other two types of such lease holders. They can belong to either local or any traditional occupation group. These are: (i) the family or a person who stays during winter season in a house of the owner for protection and clean the snow from roofs or looks after the livestock of the local family. The wages for this task is 7 Khalas (7 X 50 kg. = 350 kg.) of maize. The rate is fixed in whole the valley of Palas. However, on the basis of personal relations, some variation can also occur. (ii) the person who stays in the house of a local person but the livestock is not in the house and he cleans snow from the roof. He is not entitled for any reward in kind; but the owner arranges grass for the livestock of his lease holder for 5 months (probably the months, when the person stays in his house???). If the owner has no grass, then he is responsible for its arrangement or sometime the grass is less than the required, in that case cash amount may also be given.

3.         DEKAAN

According to the informants, the Dekaan system was more prevalent in Palas than it is at present. The main reason, they attributed, was the less opportunities of wage labour or any other type of labour from which livelihood could be possible. They told that though Dekaan are existing now a days, but a difference has come in their compensation and obligations. At present, (i) a Dekaan who cultivates the agriculture land of local people, is responsible all the related tasks. For instance, ploughing, building little walls around the fields, sowing, ripping, and so on. In the return of all this labour, he is entitled to receive 1/4 of the total yield of the crop while seed in-put and oxen are provided by the owner. In other case, (ii), if a Dekaan wants to retain 1/2 share of the yield, then he has to provide/arrange either bullocks for ploughing or seeds for the crop. Moreover, he is responsible to provide 1/2 of the fertilizer, and in threshing, he would pay/bear the half expenses/load of food given to the people who come on Hashar (co-operative labour; which is given free of cost. However, the beneficiary is responsible to provide food to the participants of Hashar). If there is any fruit tree on the land of cultivation, then the Dhakkan is also entitled to received half of its yield. The raw maize flowers are also allowed to eat for the children of Dhakkan. The grass in the crop is 100% owned by the owner of the land.

4.         PAYAALO

There are two customary rule for deciding about the status of shepherd in Palas valley. These rules are based upon the familial background of the shepherd. That is, if he is alone, serving his Kohistani, or with his whole family. In these two instances, the payment and mode of payment are different.

If a shepherd is himself serving his Kohistani patron family, then he is given Rs.3,000 per annum, daily food, 2 pair of cloths (usually old), a coat, a pair of trousers, Bonain (under-garment), and 2 pair of plastic boots. The duration of work fixed in accordance with the season, and contract remain valid from one spring to the other.

On the other hand, in case of family, the contract also remains from one spring to the other. The work of family mainly include goat grazing. The contract is renewable. The use of force from Kohistanis for renewal of contract is totally absent and it mainly depends upon the desire of the concerned Gujjar family to decide whether they are staying for another year, or leaving for another destination or Kohistani family.

The annual remuneration package for whole the Gujjar family contains: 9 Khalas (50 X 9=450 Kg.) of maize, milk of 15 goats from May to November, remaining milk of all the goats which is left over from their kids from December to April, 2 pair of cloths, a coat, a pair of trouser, 2 pair of Plastic boat (these things are only for shepherd), house/ accommodation provision for the Gujjar family during winter, and the patron Kohistani family is responsible for protection of life, property, and honour of their clint Gujjar family.

The duties of shepherd are diversified. However, one regularity may be found. That is, all the activities are directly or indirectly related with the care of goats. Therefore, any task related with this objective is the duty of shepherd. At present, a shepherd/ or his family is performing these duties: to graze the goats' flock, to bring green leaves during winter, to give salt, to care, to clean the goat shed and repair of its roof, and look after the kids (it is usually done by Gujjar women and children). If the flock is "big" (how many number of goats???), then the owner Kohistani also shares work burden (the spheres of burden sharing are not mentioned ????).

The relationship between Kohistani and Gujjar families are very important to understand for an in-depth and holistic picture of Palas social organization. I am of the opinion that these relations are multiple and it would be a futile exercise, if we start to document each and every observable relation. Instead, I purpose that the regularities of the dynamic relation between Kohistani and Gujjar are important to understand. On the basis of my observation and cultural background, I may confidently purpose that the relationship between these two parties is based upon mutual dependency. The Kohistanis are dependent upon the Gujjars for maintaining a big flock of goats, and the livelihood & social survival of Gujjars are dependent upon the prestige and power of Kohistanis. (Powerful Kohistanis===>a large number of goats===>Due to Gujjars===>a large number of goats===>Powerful Palasis). Historical relation between two the groups are in circular form and this cycle is in the process of deterioration mainly due to introduction of cash/market economy in the area. The "Power" package now also contains, an element of cash and Kohistanis are not able to meet with this demand. Market economy has made all of them "poor", by placing Gujjars at the bottom line. I view the forest logging by the Kohistanis as a strategy not only to meet with the demands of cash in day to day usage, but to also maintain their power base in the area. I suggest that Gujjars, if provided alternative livelihood, would trigger a chain of social change with immense momentum. To control the momentum and make it less dereistic for Kohistanis, fully integrative efforts are needed. Please, also see Barth's hypothesis for a "natural" equilibrium of livestock due to its close relation with availability of person labour.

The Gujars are depended upon Kohistanis for aid and loan. If any one from shepherd family fells ill, then the patron family is responsible to take the flock for grazing, or to take the ill person to the doctor or hakim. Moreover the family is also responsible for to arrange money for the treatment, which is treated as a loan.

The Kohistani family is also bound to defend the Gujjar family and does not allow any body to harm them but many time has been observed that this traditional rule is much week.

The personal work of Kohistani family is excluded from the work scope of a Gujjar family. Kohistani family cannot ask from a Gujjar man, or any of member of his family, to do a certain task for them which is related with their personal domain (Iftikhar: here, I think, it would enhance the value of analysis, if a rough sketch of personal work boundaries is drawn by giving precise details of works which are considered to be personal). If the family does not look after goats appropriately, then the owner family also pressurize it (how, please mention the strategies adopted by Kohistanis for pressurizing).

If a goat is about to die due to any reason, then it is the Gujjar family has a lawful right to slaughter it. If the owner is living nearby, then the "four band" (i.e. feet & thigh) are given to the owner and remaining goat is the property of Gujjar. If the owner is far away (if the perception of near and far are explained, then the description would become more comprehensive), then the Gujjar family can retain all the meat. However, the family is bound to provide a "sound" reason of death/slaughter and prove of the slaughtering. Usually, the skin is retained by the Gujjar family, who shows it to the owner in their next immediate meeting. In case of failure to prove either reason or slaughtering, the Gujjar family is bound to pay for the amount of goat/s (Iftikhar:I think, this amount is also treated as loan and it is paid later on at the occasion of account settling, Am I right??).

 5.         GOBAAN

The literal meanings of the word is "Nokar" (servant, domestic worker, etc.). The term refers to a person or a family who permanently lives with any Kohistani family and looks after the livestock, house, and work for them. The authentic information about the returns for a such family or person are not available.

 6.         SARKHALIAN

They belong to the Pathan race or we can say that they are Swati Pathan. Baiscly they belong to the Swat area. During 1700 Century they migrated from Swat to Bafa (Hazara) area and then came to Palas area.

They have no their own land in the Palas area.  They are devided among many Khels of the two mager groups (Darma & Khok mankh). Half Sarkhalis live in Massi village and other in Ghamri area (between Kunsher and Jalkot).

Traditionaly they are responsible to carry arms and food for Palasi fighters if their is any war between Palasis and outer people like Allai wal or Kolai people.  They are also risponsible to carring local massage one to other village or valley.  

 7.         Akhri

The duties of a Akhar include basically manufacturing and maintenance of agricultural implementations. These are: plough, skale, axe, Kassi (English word:probably South Asian Spade???), etc. In addition to these, he also makes supporting pillars for roof, Bardala (??), door, Hamchoor (??), wooden spade, Aarlie (??), Akhor (??), and Madhani, etc. He also makes a wooden fence for the grave.

The wages of these above mentioned tasks are different and depends upon the nature of work. For instance, the Lohaar becomes eligible to claim 50 kg. of maize, if he makes one pair of yoke or plough, if any farmer wants to add a provision of another bullock in the yoke, then the additional work will be done at the rate of 25 kg. of maize per task.

If someone does not hold a pair of oxen, and he takes the services only for making         of agricultural implementations, mentioned above, then he would give only 5 Ori maize. In addition to these returns, the lohaar also has claims over the butter of one day in summer.

The patron of Lohaar may be a whole tribe or any khel. The lohaar cannot work without the consent of their parton, but usually they enjoy liberty.

  The following mentioned things are not included in the package and their wages have  to be paid separately:

 1.         A grind stone for water mill (Wages Rs.800-900)

 2.         Pot of water mill in which grains are kept (Wages Rs.60-80)

 3.         Cheel (another par of water mill) (Wages Rs.40-60)

 4.         The Dabbor (??) of house (Wages Rs.80) and its repair (Rs.40)

 5.         Granaries are made upon the size and per khala costs Rs.100

 6.         The cot (ordinary=Rs.4, leather=Rs.10), stairs for Rs.2. However, they are only responsible to complete the wooden work.


Who were Doms and when were they assigned to the tribes in Northern circles in genral to perform particular services to them? In addition to their ancestral profession, they also served the service of their internal communication.

In Darel these people are found absorbed in Haiti system of the Shin, Yashkun and Kamin castes and they have all the rights in the Wesh system. Mr. Shah Rukh of this caste told me in Darel that their at least 300 families are settled in Darel. A man named Shah Rukh is the representative of their all four castes located in Samigal. He has been a Vice Chairman in the local union council once. He is also responsible to keep an account of the revenues from the timber logging for the castes included in his 'haiti'. In Darel, the Doms are distributed into "Tabar" (households) and sub-branches like that of the Shins, Yashkuns and Kamins. Their branches are described as Basie, Jalbakai, Tagrie, Sunai and Bachai.