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The origin of Kalash

The Kalash people of Chitral live in three small valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur.

The valleys are bounded in the northwest by Badakhshan and in the southwest by Noristan province of Afghanistan. Dir and Swat districts of Pakistan are located on the south of the valley while Gilgit-Baltsitan’s Ghizer, Goopis, Hunza and Gilgit are on the east. It was a princely state up to 1969 when it was formerly merged into Pakistan as a district. Though Chitrali culture itself is very rich and attractive the culture of a small group of people within the district, 

Kalash, is more attractive for people around the world. Total population of Kalash is 2,500 to 3,000 and they live in three small valleys. The Kalash people respect their cultural heritage left to them by their ancestors and they retain a clear memory of their rich heredity, traditions, language, stories, songs, dances, rituals and a number of festivals. The origin of the Kalash is uncertain.

The most common theory about their origin is that they are the descendants of Alexander the Great, when he (Alexander) passed through this region in 327 BC, some of his soldiers settled here so probably Kalash people are the ruminants of the Greece army. But Archaeologist Prof. (Dr.) Ihsan Ali is against this theory and he is of the view that Kalash are indigenous people of this area and are most probably descendants of the Aryans because neither Alexander nor his forces have touched this particular valley Chitral.

To prove this theory and to trace the origin of the Kalash people Dr. Ihsan Ali and his team have conducted excavations of the Gandharan graves in upper and central Chitral district. Human remains unearthed during the various excavations conducted in the area are in the process of examination by the DNA and radio carbon dating experts from international institutions like Leicester University UK and California University Bakersfield USA.

Seven samples of human bones collected during the excavations were submitted in 2007 to the University of Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, Hamilton, New Zealand. These included six samples of inhumed bone from Singoor and Parwak Villages and a single sample of cremated bone from a cist grave at Gankoreneotek near chitral air port.

Excavation of burial site at Gankorinio Tek, Singore Chitral. Period of the age of remains from Gankoreneotek, Singoor and Parwak range from 1000 BC to AD 1000. On the basis of these dating results and the large number of ancient graves found in the area, having similarities with the burial style of the Kalash people are the facts which support the theory of the Great Though because of the efforts and support of Prof Ihsan Ali, research work in shape of explorations, excavations and dental casting by national and international institutions has been done in the past but more research work in this context is direly needed in order to find out exact profile of the unique Kalash people.

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