chitral today

Decline of old Kho domestic activities

Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig     

The older generation of today i.e. above sixty may well remember the days of their youth when our fathers and elder brothers used to travel to Chitral town for sale of woolen products such as Shuqa, Shu, woolen muffler, socks, Chars, etc. and from Chitral bazaar, where then the number of shops were not more than six dozen, bought items like cloth, gurh, salt, tea, soap, kerosene, needles, dyes etc. by carrying them on their beasts of burden or on their own backs.

They stayed in roadside catteries called hotels, paid for the cups of tea in annas. This type of journey was usually undertaken in late autumn after closing their farm works and grinding of cereals which they kept in different chambers made of sheets of stone  called’ Kash’ in the store of the living room called ‘gonj’

 In autumns all kind of farm work products were completely inside their houses. What they had sown, cut and processed was brought into the living room as well as their stores. The grinding was done by rotation as the watermills belonged to the families in the village collectively and rotation system was a convenient way to grind their wheat, barley, pulses, beans, mallet, corn etc.

All the flour was put in separate chambers  and when the grinding was over they were free to collect firewood for the winter. The whole stock of flour thus amassed in the house was called ‘ peshoon’ and it was calculated to last till April or May. Some grain was allocated  to be used for sowing in spring but another smaller amount was kept unground  till April  and to be made into flour at that time by those families who had sufficient amount of yield from their crops but those who had small land produce could not afford it Pehsoon was convenient for high altitude regions but in the low lands of Chitral this was not necessary as the watermill worked round the year while in the higher regions watermills did not work due to freezing of water.

The amount of ‘peshoon’ was a major portion of the whole land produce for the long winter months but it was judiciously used on rationing basis. Every family member received a fixed number of small bread called ‘shapik; and no increase or reduction was allowed to any one of the members by the head of the family. The expected guests had their own allocation and wheat flour was mainly reserved for them. It could be according to an estimate; unexpected guests were also included in their list but visit of relatives, cousins, in-laws, their friends etc. was all in their estimates. Supply of mutton or beef depended on the resources of the family.

A big male sheep and goat were often part of their winter dish but in small amount. Beef was also provided if the number of cattle was enough. The goat or sheep kept for this purpose was called ‘Lashti’ or Dashti in various parts of the mountain community.

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