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Brahui

Brahui

PRONUNCIATION: brah-HOO-ee

ALTERNATE NAMES: Brohi

LOCATION: Pakistan (Baluchistan Province); a small number live in southern Afghanistan and Iran

POPULATION: 861,000 to over 1.5 million

LANGUAGE: Brahui; Sindhi

RELIGION: Islam (Sunni Muslim)

1 INTRODUCTION

The tribes known as the Brahui (also Brohi) live in the rugged hills of Pakistan's western borderland. Various explanations of the name Brahui have been suggested. The most likely one is that it is a variation of Barohi, meaning "mountain dweller" or "highlander."

During the seventeenth century, the Brahui rose to prominence in Kalat, in Baluchistan, a province of modern Pakistan. For the next 300 years there was an unbroken line of Brahui rulers. The British eventually acquired control over the strategically located Kalat, although the state remained independent until it was incorporated into Pakistan in 1948.

2 LOCATION

Estimates of the Brahui population vary from 861,000 to over 1.5 million. Most of this number is concentrated in Pakistan's Baluchistan Province around the town of Kalat. Brahui-speakers are also found in southern Afghanistan and Iran.

The Brahui homeland lies on the Kalat Plateau, where elevations vary between 7,0008,000 feet (2,1002,400 meters). The region is extremely arid (dry), with annual rainfall averaging less than eight inches (twenty centimeters). Strong northwesterly winds prevail through the area, bringing dust from the Iranian deserts and scorching temperatures in summer, and bitter cold in winter. The plateau consists of extensive areas of barren rock, or hills with a thin cover of drought-resistant vegetation.

3 LANGUAGE

The Brahui language is related to the languages spoken in South India. This language similarilty to people living almost 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away has long puzzled South Asian linguists (people who study language). There is no Brahui script. Many Brahui-speakers are bilingual, speaking Baluchi or other local languages.

4 FOLKLORE

A Brahui story tells of Mulla Mansur, an orphan who got a job in the house of a qadi (a Muslim religious leader). The qadi was an insensitive man. Even though Mansur had served him loyally for seven long years, he beat him over a trifling mistake. Mansur left the qadi and took to traveling the world. He met an old shepherd, fell in love with his daughter, and married her. When Mansur and his wife returned to his home, the beauty of his wife caused such a stir that everyone from the qadi to the king desired to possess her. However, Mansur's wife was steadfast in her fidelity to her husband. When the qadi continued to make advances and tried to seduce her, she exposed him publicly. All the people joined in condemning the qadi, and the king banished him from the Brahui lands. This tale presents the Brahui view of the qualities and strength of character desirable in a wife, as well an element of scepticism toward religious leaders who preach purity to the world but practice otherwise.

5 RELIGION

The Brahui are Muslim, belonging mostly to the Sunni sect of Islam. They follow Islamic religious beliefs and practices as set out in the Qu'ran (Koran), though many of their social customs are Indian in origin. Communal worship focuses on the mosque, and mullahs (Muslim priests) see to the spiritual and ritual needs of the people. Reverence for saints (pirs) is also deeply entrenched in Brahui culture. Every family has its particular saint, and women often keep in their houses some earth (khwarda) from the saint's shrine to be used in time of need. The Brahui believe in sorcery and possession by jinn or evil spirits. A mullah or sayyed (holy man) is often called in to read from the Qu'ran or provide charms and amulets to exorcise these spirits. Should this fail, a sheikh, who is known for his power over jinn may cast them out by dancing.

6 MAJOR HOLIDAYS

The Brahui observe the usual holy days of the Muslim calendar. The holiest of all is the eve of the tenth day of the month of Muharram, which is known as Imamak. Women prepare special dishes of meat and rice during the day. The family gathers near sunset in the presence of a mullah (Muslim priest), who reads from the Qu'ran and recites prayers for the dead over the food. Dishes of food are then sent to relatives and neighbors, who reciprocate with their own offerings. The following morning is an occasion for the head of the house to visit the graveyard to pray at the graves of his dead relatives.

7 RITES OF PASSAGE

The birth of a son is of utmost importance for a Brahui. A daughter is seen as little more than a gift to one's neighbor. When a son is born, the father announces it to the community by firing gunshots in the air. Various rituals are followed to protect the mother and child from the attention of witches and jinn (evil spirits). Sheep are killed (two for a son and one for a daughter) and a feast held for relatives, friends, and neighbors. The child is then named, sometimes after a worthy ancestor. The head-shaving ritual (sar-kuti) is performed by the time the child is two years old, often at the shrine of a favored saint. A male child may undergo circumcision (sunnat) within six months, though the cost associated with the celebrations cause many to postpone it until as late as the age of ten or twelve.

No particular ceremonies accompany the male reaching puberty. An unusual rite is reported to be followed when a girl begins to menstruate for the first time. At sunset, the mother arranges three stones in a triangular pattern on the ground and has her daughter leap over them three times. It is thought that this will ensure that the girl's periods during the rest of her life will last no more than three days. If a girl were not married as a child, she would be soon after puberty.

At death, word is sent to relatives and friends, who gather for the funeral. A shroud is sent for from outside the house, and when the mullah (Muslim priest) arrives, the body is carried to a place of washing. It is washed by the mullah and near kinsmen (or the mullah's wife and female relatives, in the case of a woman), then wrapped in the shroud. The body is taken in procession to the graveyard, with the mourners reciting the kalima, the profession of faith. At the graveside, the mullah offers the prayer for the dead, and the body is given its burial. Other rituals include the singing of dirges (moda), and a death feast (varagh). Another feast is held on the first anniversary of the death.

8 RELATIONSHIPS

On meeting, the Brahui stop, shake hands, and embrace each other. The encounter continues with inquiries after each other's health and then proceeds to an exchange of news (hal) concerning family, friends, cattle, and other matters of interest. Brahui are known for their hospitality to their guests.

9 LIVING CONDITIONS

Brahui settlements essentially reflect the economic activities of their inhabitants. Pastoral nomadism was the traditional occupation of many Brahui: nomadic herders lived in tents and temporary camps, migrating with their herds in search of pasture. Pastoralism has declined in importance in recent years. Many Brahui have adopted a way of life based on a seasonal migration to differing elevations. Villages in the highlands suitable for cultivation are occupied for nine-month growing season. During the winter months, these Brahui drive their herds to the lowlands where they live in tent camps.

10 FAMILY LIFE

The Brahui are organized into tribes, each of which has a hereditary chief (sadar). The tribes are loosely structured units based on patrilineal descent (tracing descent through the father) and political allegiance. This clan system allows for Baluchi and Pathan groups to be incorporated into the Brahui tribal units. Some of the largest Brahui tribes are the Mengals, Zahris, and Muhammad Hosanis.

The favored marriage among the Brahui is with the father's brother's daughter. Marriages are arranged, although the wishes of the couple are taken into consideration. In the past, child marriage was common, though this practice is now banned under Pakistani law. The betrothal and marriage ceremonies are important events in the life of both family and tribe. Disputes within tribes are usually settled at the time of marriages. A bride price (lab) is paid by the groom's family. Although Muslim law allows polygyny (multiple wives), economic realities mean most Brahui marriages are monogamous. Family structure tends to reflect economic systems. The nuclear family predominates among nomadic Brahui, while extended families are common among village inhabitants. Divorce, though simple, is rare. In the past, adultery was punishable by death, although such practices are forbidden by Pakistani law. Widow remarriage is accepted.

11 CLOTHING

A young boy is given his first trousers at about three years of age, and thereafter wears clothes similar to those of adult malesthe kurti (long shirt), worn over the salwar, the loose, baggy trousers found throughout the area. For men, a turban (pag) completes the outfit.

Women wear a long shift over trousers, although among Brahui nomads women wear skirts rather than trousers. Among the Brahui of the Jhalawan region, women's shifts are typically black in color. Women's clothes are embroidered with various patterns and designs in colored thread. Women's ornaments include finger rings (challav), nose rings (vat), and earrings (panara). Brahui settled in the Sind region tend to dress like the Sindhi population.

12 FOOD

The settled Brahui cultivate wheat and millet, which are ground into flour and baked into unleavened breads. Rice is also eaten, but usually only on special occasions. Mutton and goat are important in the diet of the Brahui. The more-affluent farmers in lowland areas may raise cattle. As is common throughout South Asia, food is eaten with one's hands, and often from a communal platter. Milk is drunk and also made into curds, ghi (clarified butter), buttermilk, and butter. Dates, wild fruits, and vegetables are also part of the Brahui diet. Tea is drunk at meals and is also taken as part of various social ceremonies.

13 EDUCATION

Levels of literacy (the ability to read and write) among the Brahui are extremely low. The 1972 census for the Kalat Division of Baluchistan Province recorded an overall literacy rate of only 6 percent in the population over ten years of age. The Brahui live in areas of Pakistan where there is no access to formal schooling, and even where schools do exist, attendance is low. In settled areas such as the Sind region where Brahui children are more likely to attend school, they are taught in the local language rather than in Brahui.

14 CULTURAL HERITAGE

The Brahuis have an oral tradition of folk songs and heroic poems. These are sung by a class of professional minstrels and musicians called Dombs, who are attached to every Brahui community. Musical instruments include the rabab (an Afghan stringed instrument plucked with a piece of wood), the siroz (a stringed instrument played with a bow), and the punzik (a reed instrument). These have replaced the dambura (a three-stringed instrument played with the fingers) which is found in the more isolated areas. Dancing is an important feature at events such as weddings and funerals.

15 EMPLOYMENT

Historically, the Brahui were pastoral nomads, migrating with their herds of sheep, goats, and cattle from the upland plateaus to the low-lying plains. Today, however, many Brahui have abandoned their pastoral activities in favor of transhumant (seasonal migration between lower and higher elevations) or settled agriculture. In the Kacchi lowlands, river and canal irrigation support cultivation, but settlements in other areas of the Brahui region depend on qanat irrigation, a system of tunnels dug between shafts to carry water.

16 SPORTS

Horse-racing and target-shooting were traditional sports popular among the more affluent sections of the Brahui community.

17 RECREATION

In the past, the Brahui had to depend on their own resources for entertainment and recreation. They found this in their family celebrations, their traditions of folk song and dance, and in the festivities accompanying religious observances. This is still true for nomadic Brahui today. Those settled in Karachi or villages on the plains have access to more modern forms of recreation.

18 CRAFTS AND HOBBIES

Brahui women embroider their garments with colorful designs. Tents and rugs are made from sheep's wool or goats' hair.

19 SOCIAL PROBLEMS

The Brahui tribes inhabit some of the harshest, most-isolated, and least-productive environments in Pakistan. This is reflected in the relative inefficiency of traditional economic systems and the generally low standards of living of the community. Belated government efforts to bring development to the region have done little for the welfare of the Brahui, who are essentially nomadic and rural in character. The Brahui are one of the many tribal minorities in a country dominated by ethnic elites such as the Punjabis and Sindhis. The lack of a written literature (what there is dates only from the 1960s) has hindered the development of a tribal consciousness, and matters are made worse by the declining numbers of people speaking Brahui. The Brahui appear to be rapidly assimilating with the surrounding Baluchi populations.

20 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bray, Denys. The Life-History of a Brahui. Karachi, Pakistan: Royal Book Company, 1977 [1913].

Rooman, Anwar. The Brahuis of Quetta-Kalat Region. Memoir No. 3. Karachi, Pakistan: Pakistan Historical Society, 1960.

Swidler, Nina. "Brahui." In Muslim Peoples: A World Ethnographic Survey, edited by Richard Weekes. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1984.

WEBSITES

Embassy of Pakistan, Washington, D.C. [Online] Available http://www.pakistan-embassy.com/, 1998.

Interknowledge Corp. [Online] Available http://www.interknowledge.com/pakistan/, 1998.

World Travel Guide, Pakistan. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/pk/gen.html, 1998.

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Brahui

Brahui

ETHNONYMS: none


The Brahui are a group of tribes who live primarily in Baluchistan and Sind provinces of Pakistan. Their numbers have been placed at anywhere from 861,000 to 1.5 million in Pakistan with about 200,000 in Afghanistan and 10,000 in Iran. Brahui is a Dravidian language and, as such, is distinct from the languages of the neighboring Pathan, Baluch, and Sind peoples. It is reported that many Brahui are bilingual in Baluchi and that Brahui contains numerous loanwords from Baluchi and Sindhi. The heart of Brahui territory is the district of Kalat, in Baluchistan. Politically, the Brahui are best described as a loose confederation of tribes, which was ruled from about 1700 to Pakistan's independence in 1947 by the Ahmadzais dynasty. Tribal membership is based on patrilineal descent and political allegiance, although both membership and alignments are somewhat fluid. Tribes are governed by the sadar, a hereditary chief, who today plays the role of intermediary between the largely rural population and the national government. Since independence, the Brahui have been slowly drawn into the national political and economic systems, though these integrative processes are far from complete.

The traditional economy for many Brahui was based on pastoral nomadism, with a shift to transhumant pastoralism beginning about 100 years ago, and more recently a shift to settled agriculture. As nomads, they dwelt in tents made of goat hair, and lived chiefly on the products of the herd. From March to October they grow cereals, fruits, and vegetables; in November they move south to sell cattle and handicrafts, or work as seasonal laborers. Many have settled on irrigated land in Sind.

The Brahuis are nearly all Sunni Muslims. Some of them take multiple wives, and divorce is unusual. Men prefer to marry a brother's daughter. Women are not strictly veiled. The men are often armed with rifles, swords, and shields.


Bibliography

Swidler, Nina (1984). "Brahui." In Muslim Peoples: A World Ethnographic Survey, edited by Richard V. Weekes, 177-180. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.


Wilber, Donald N. (1964). Pakistan: Its People, Its Society, Its Culture. New Haven: HRAF Press.


SAIDEH MOAYED-SANANDAJI AND SARWAT S. ELAHI

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Brahui

Brahui (brähōō´ē), Dravidian language of Baluchistan. See Dravidian languages.

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Brahui

Brahui

PRONUNCIATION: brah-HOO-ee
ALTERNATE NAMES: Brohi
LOCATION: Pakistan (Baluchistan Province); a small number live in southern Afghanistan and Iran
POPULATION: 2.3 million
LANGUAGE: Brahui; Sindhi
RELIGION: Islam (Sunni Muslim)
RELATED ARTICLES: Vol. 3: Baluchi

INTRODUCTION

Among the rugged hills of South Asia's western borderlands lives a group of tribes known as the Brahui (also Brohi). Various explanations of the name Brahui have been suggested, the most likely being that it is a corruption of Barohi, meaning "mountain-dweller" or "highlander."

The origins of the Brahui remain unclear. The Brahui language belongs to the Dravidian linguistic family, and this has led some writers to argue that the Brahui are survivors of the peoples who developed the Harappan civilization. Others have argued that the Brahui and the Baluchi are one and the same, and that the term Brahui designates status rather than any ethnic differences. If this were true, then the Brahui would have been part of the Baluchi migrations into their present region between the 5th and 7th centuries AD. During the 17th century, the Brahui rose to prominence in Kalat, in Baluchistan, when Mir Ahmed Khan I acceded to the leadership of a confederacy of Brahui tribes in AD 1666. For nearly 300 years from that time, an unbroken line of Brahui rulers held the Khanate of Kalat. British expansion westward from Sind, and their interest in the Afghan border regions, brought them into conflict with the Khans of Kalat in the middle of the 19th century. The British eventually acquired control over the strategically located Kalat, although the state remained nominally independent until it was incorporated into Pakistan in 1948.

LOCATION AND HOMELAND

The current estimate of the Brahui population is 2.3 million people. Most of this number is concentrated in Pakistan's Baluchistan Province around Kalat, the historical focus of Brahui territory and power. Brahui-speakers are also found in southern Afghanistan and Iran.

The Brahui homeland lies on the Kalat Plateau, where elevations vary between 2,135 m and 2,440 m (7,000–8,000 ft). Running roughly north–south through the region is the Central Brahui Range. West of these mountains lie the uplands of Jhalawan and Sarawan. To the east, the land descends to the alluvial lowlands of Kacchi. This is an extension of the Indus plain that runs northward towards Sibi and the Bolan Pass. The region is extremely arid, with annual rainfall averaging less than 20 cm (8 in). Strong northwesterly winds prevail through the area, bringing dust from the Iranian deserts and scorching temperatures in summer and bitter cold weather in winter. The plateau consists of extensive areas of barren rock, or hills with a thin cover of drought-resistant vegetation.

LANGUAGE

The Brahui language is a Dravidian tongue related to the languages spoken in South India. The existence of this isolated pocket of Dravidian speakers almost 1,800 km (1,000 mi) from the main area where Dravidian languages are found is a problem that has long puzzled South Asian linguists. Brahui contains many loanwords acquired from the Indo-Aryan languages (e.g., Baluchi, Sindhi, and Persian) spoken by the peoples of the surrounding region. There is no Brahui script. Many Brahui-speakers are bilingual, speaking Baluchi or other local languages. Those Brahui settled in Sind tend to speak Brahui at home but use Sindhi (or in Karachi, Urdu) in dealings with others.

FOLKLORE

The Brahui language is rich in oral literature, the various genres including stories and tales, proverbs and riddles and songs. Brahui folk stories are mostly created by nomads, shepherds and farmers for the entertainment of their children and immediate family members. Mothers, for instance, tell their children legends about the mammā, a large apelike creature known for its physical strength and resemblance to humans, and once thought to be quite numerous. Other stories criticize the sardārs (hereditary tribal chiefs) and landowners from the point of view of the oppressed classes.

In Brahui, as in Baluchi, proverbs tend to have background stories. There is, for instance, the saying Balwān nā barām ("This is like the marriage of Balwān"), which is often used when plans are too complicated or never come to fruition. The story goes that a simple, but foolish, man Balwān (or Balo Khān) was engaged to be married. His greedy father-in-law-to-be asked Balwān to bring him the required bride-price to marry his daughter. So, Balwān went to his relatives and collected the required amount of money. But when he went back to his father–in-law, the latter asked for more money. Balwān returned to his family to obtain the extra funds, and this situation continued for many rounds, so that Balwān never succeeded in marrying and died single. Hence the proverb.

Another Brahui story tells of Mulla Mansur, an orphan who got a job in the house of a qadi (a Muslim religious leader). The qadi was an insensitive man. Even though Mansur had served him loyally for seven long years, he beat him over a trifling mistake. Mansur left the qadi and took to traveling the world. He met an old shepherd, fell in love with his daughter, and married her. When Mansur and his wife returned to his home, the beauty of his wife caused such a stir that everyone from the qadi to the king desired to possess her. However, Mansur's wife was steadfast in her fidelity to her husband. When the qadi continued to make advances and tried to seduce her, she exposed him publicly. All the people joined in condemning the qadi, and the king banished him from the Brahui lands. This tale presents the Brahui view of the qualities and strength of character desirable in a wife, as well an element of skepticism toward religious leaders who preach purity to the world but practice otherwise.

RELIGION

The Brahui are Muslim, belonging mostly to the Sunni sect of Islam. They follow Islamic religious beliefs and practices as set out in the Quran (Koran), though many of their social customs are Indian in origin. Communal worship focuses on the mosque, and mullahs (Muslim priests) see to the spiritual and ritual needs of the people. Reverence for saints (pirs), a characteristic of Islam in South Asia, is also deeply entrenched in Brahui culture. Every family has its particular saint, and women often keep in their houses some earth (khwarda) from the saint's shrine to be used in time of need. For example, a little earth may be fed to a sick person along with prayers to the saint for a cure. Sacrifices of sheep or goats are performed at the shrines as an offering to the pir or in fulfillment of a vow. Many take their children to a shrine for the first shaving of the head or, failing that, place a little bag of the hair in the shrine, where it is hung from a pole. The Brahui believe in sorcery and possession by jinn or evil spirits. A mullah or sayyed (holy man) is often called in to read from the Quran or provide charms and amulets to exorcise these spirits. Should this fail, a sheikh, who is known for his power over jinn and casts them out by dancing, may be used.

MAJOR HOLIDAYS

The Brahui observe the usual holy days of the Muslim calendar. On the eve of most high festivals, respect is paid to the souls of the dead. The holiest of all is the eve of the tenth day of Muharram, which is known as Imamak. Women prepare special dishes of meat and rice during the day. The family gathers near sunset in the presence of a mullah (Muslim priest), who reads from the Quran and recites prayers for the dead over the food. Dishes of food are then sent to relatives and neighbors, who reciprocate with their own offerings. The following morning is an occasion for the head of the house to visit the graveyard to pray at the graves of his dead relatives.

RITES OF PASSAGE

The birth of a son is of utmost importance for a Brahui. A daughter is seen as little more than a gift to one's neighbor. Barrenness in a wife is a cause for reproach, and in the past female circumcision is reported to have been secretly practiced to try to remedy this situation. A craving for earth, and earth-eating, among pregnant women is also reported. When a son is born, the father announces it to the community by firing shots in the air. Various rituals are followed to protect the mother and child from the attention of witches and jinn (evil spirits). For the mother, the period of postnatal impurity lasts 40 days. Sheep are killed (two for a son and one for a daughter) and a feast held for relatives, friends, and neighbors. The child is then named, sometimes after a worthy ancestor. The head-shaving ritual (sar-kuti) is performed by the time the child is 2 years old, often at the shrine of a favored saint. A male child may undergo circumcision (sunnat) within 6 months, though the cost associated with the celebrations cause many to postpone it until as late as the age of 10 or 12.

No particular ceremonies accompany the male reaching puberty. An unusual rite is reported to be followed when a girl begins to menstruate for the first time. At sunset, the mother arranges three stones in a triangular pattern on the ground and has her daughter leap over them three times. It is thought that this will ensure that the girl's periods during the rest of her life will last no more than three days. Childhood did not last long in traditional Brahui society. If a girl were not married as a child, she would be soon after puberty.

At death, word is sent to relatives and friends, who gather for the funeral. A shroud is sent for from outside the house, and when the mullah (Muslim priest) arrives, the body is carried to a place of washing. It is washed by the mullah and near kinsmen (or the mullah's wife and female relatives, in the case of a woman), then wrapped in the shroud. The body is taken in procession to the graveyard, with the mourners reciting the kalima, the profession of faith. At the graveside, the mullah offers the prayer for the dead, and the body is given its burial. The traditional period of mourning was 11 days for a man and 9 for a woman, but this has been reduced in modern times. Women weep and wail, covering their faces in mourning. Other rituals include the singing of dirges (moda), and a death feast (varagh). Another feast is held on the first anniversary of the death.

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS

The Brahui share their forms of greeting with the Baluchi. On meeting, they stop, shake hands, and embrace each other. The encounter continues with inquiries after each other's health and then proceeds to an exchange of news (hal) concerning family, friends, cattle, etc. Brahui are known for their hospitality to their guests.

LIVING CONDITIONS

Brahui settlements essentially reflect the economic activities of their inhabitants. Pastoral nomadism was the traditional occupation of many Brahui, and nomadic herders lived in tents and temporary camps, migrating with their herds in search of pasture. By contrast, in the Kacchi plains Brahui live in permanent villages that differ little in form and function from their Baluchi neighbors' settlements. Pastoralism has declined in importance in recent years, and many Brahui in the upland areas have adopted a transhumant economy. Transhumance is based on a seasonal migration to differing elevations. Highland cultivating villages in the Korat Plateau are occupied for nine months of the year. During the winter months, however, the inhabitants drive their herds to the Kacchi lowlands where they live in tent camps. (This pattern is the reverse of transhumance in Europe. There, settlements are at lower elevations, and animals are taken up to alpine pastures during the summer months.)

FAMILY LIFE

The Brahui are organized into tribes, each of which has a hereditary chief (sadar). These are unlike the clans of the Rajputs with their elaborate genealogies; rather, they are loosely structured units based on patrilineal descent and political allegiance. This allows for a considerable degree of fluidity, with Baluchi and Pathan groups incorporated into the Brahui tribal units, and the movement of sections between Brahui tribes. Some of the more numerous Brahui tribes are the Mengals, Zahris, and Muhammad Hosanis. The Khans of Kalat were of the Ahmedzai tribe. The Brahui tribes are further divided into descending kin-groups down to the level of the immediate lineage.

The favored marriage among the Brahui is with the father's brother's daughter. Marriages are arranged, although the wishes of the couple are taken into consideration. In the past, child marriage was common, though this practice is now banned under Pakistani law. The betrothal and marriage ceremonies are important events in the life of both family and tribe. Disputes within tribes are usually settled at the time of marriages. A bride-price (lab) is paid by the groom's family. Although Muslim law allows polygyny (multiple wives), economic realities mean most Brahui marriages are monogamous. Family structure tends to reflect economic systems. The nuclear family predominates among nomadic Brahui, while extended families are common among village inhabitants. Divorce, though simple, is rare. In the past, adultery was punishable by death, although such practices are forbidden by Pakistani law. Widow remarriage is accepted.

CLOTHING

A young boy is given his first trousers at about three years of age, and thereafter wears clothes similar to those of adult males—the kurti (long shirt), worn over the salwar, the loose, baggy trousers found throughout the area. For men, a turban (pag) completes the outfit.

Women wear a long shift over trousers, although among Brahui nomads women wear skirts rather than trousers. Among the Brahui of the Jhalawan region, women's shifts are typically black in color. Women's clothes are embroidered with various patterns and designs in colored thread. Women's ornaments include finger rings (challav), nose rings (vat), and earrings (panara). Brahui settled in Sind tend to be indistinguishable from the Sindhi population in their dress.

FOOD

The settled Brahui cultivate wheat and millet, which are ground into flour and baked into unleavened breads. Rice is also eaten, but usually only on special occasions. Mutton and goat are important in the diet of the Brahui, with the flesh of animals that are sacrificed at various rituals and festivals distributed to the community at large. The more-affluent farmers in lowland areas may raise cattle. As is common throughout South Asia, food is eaten with one's hands, and often from a communal platter. Milk is drunk and also made into curds, ghi (clarified butter), buttermilk, and butter. Dates, wild fruits, and vegetables are also part of the Brahui diet. Tea is drunk at meals and is also taken as part of various social ceremonies. Opium is also used.

EDUCATION

In general, levels of literacy among the Brahui are extremely low. The 1972 census for the Kalat Division of Baluchistan Province records an overall literacy rate of only 6.3% in the population over 10 years of age. The Brahui community is essentially rural in nature and lives in areas of Pakistan where the social infrastructure is poorly developed. Nomadic groups have no access to formal schooling, and even where schools do exist, attendance is low. In settled areas such as Sind where Brahui children are more likely to attend school, they are taught in the local language rather than in Brahui.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

The Brahuis have an oral tradition of folk songs and heroic poems. These are sung by a class of professional minstrels and musicians called Dombs, who are attached to every Brahui community. Musical instruments include the rabab (an Afghan stringed instrument plucked with a piece of wood), the siroz (a stringed instrument played with a bow), and the punzik (a reed instrument). These have replaced the dambura (a three-stringed instrument played with the fingers) that is found in the more isolated areas. Dancing is an important feature at events such as weddings and funerals. The local country dance known as chap has largely been abandoned, however.

WORK

Historically, the Brahui were pastoral nomads, migrating with their herds of sheep, goats, and cattle from the upland plateaus to the low-lying alluvial plains. Today, however, many Brahui have abandoned their pastoral activities in favor of transhumant or settled agriculture. In the Kacchi lowlands, river and canal irrigation support cultivation, but settlements in other areas of the Brahui region depend on qanats. Qanat (or karez) irrigation is found over a wide area of Iran and Southwest Asia and even in the Turfan Depression of Xinjiang Province of China. It involves sinking a line of vertical shafts and then tunneling horizontally at the bottom of the shafts to create an underground passageway to carry water from its source to the fields.

SPORTS

Horse-racing and target-shooting were traditional sports popular among the more affluent sections of the Brahui community.

ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION

In the past, the Brahui had to depend on their own resources for entertainment and recreation. They found this in their family celebrations, their traditions of folk song and dance, and in the festivities accompanying religious observances. This is still true for nomadic Brahui today. Epic poems are performed by specialist poets known as Lorî, who are considered as belonging to the lower-status groups in Brahui society. Their traditional occupation was to serve the Brahui at marriage ceremonies, playing the dhol (drum) at festivities and at funeral ceremonies. Folk songs are most often sung by the Brahui without musical accompaniment, although both men and women play musical instruments such as the sironz (a fiddle) and the dambura (a plucked string instrument). Women play the daira (tambourine). The Brahui settled in Karachi or villages on the plains have access to more modern forms of recreation.

FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES

Like other women of the region, Brahui women embroider their garments with colorful designs. Tents and rugs are made from sheep's wool or goats' hair.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

The Brahui tribes inhabit some of the harshest, most-isolated, and least-productive environments in Pakistan. This is reflected in the relative inefficiency of traditional economic systems and the generally low standards of living of the community. Belated government efforts to bring development to the region have done little for the welfare of the Brahui, who are essentially nomadic and rural in character. The lack of a written literature (what there is dates only from the 1960s) has hindered the development of a tribal consciousness, and matters are made worse by the declining numbers of people speaking Brahui. The Brahui appear to be rapidly assimilating with the surrounding Baluchi populations. Apart from their language, which gives them a sense of cultural identity, the Brahui lack a sense of identification with their country and have very little representation in the political arena. They still tend to function on a tribal basis, dealing with the government through their sardars and other tribal leaders. The Brahui remain one of the many tribal peoples of Pakistan who remain "outsiders" in a country dominated by ethnic elites such as the Punjabis and Sindhis.

GENDER ISSUES

Brahui women face the same gender discrimination that women do in all Muslim societies. Brahui women, for instance observe purdah, i.e. the segregation of women to ensure that family honor is maintained. This means that women live in compounds behind mud walls where they are virtually hidden from view. Women must avoid being seen by strangers, especially strange men. Access to compounds is restricted and a woman's mobility outside the compound is controlled by her husband and male relatives.

Most Brahui women are engaged in agricultural labor. During the productive season from March through mid-November, a woman may spend as much as 60% of her time in her agricultural role. A typical day for a Brahui farmer's wife is seventeen hours long, but her work is sheer drudgery because the labor she performs is merely repetitive and requires no decision-making as to how land and other resources are to be utilized—this is the prerogative of the males in the family. Women are responsible for transplanting, weeding, harvesting, and collecting fuel and water. Official statistics grossly under estimate the contribution of women to the agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) in rural areas of Pakistan. Very few government departments or even projects collect gender disaggregated data, and most development projects are geared towards men.

In addition to the payment of bride-price and the custom of purdah, Brahui women are subject to all the ills of women in Pakistan—domestic violence, rape, "honor killings," acid attacks, and trafficking. Proof of rape generally requires the confession of the accused or the testimony of four adult Muslim men who witnessed the assault. If a woman cannot prove her rape allegation she runs a very high risk of being charged with fornication or adultery, the criminal penalty for which is either a long prison sentence and public whipping, or, occasionally, death by stoning.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ali, Shaheen Sardar Ali and Javaid Rehman. Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities of Pakistan: Constitutional and Legal Perspectives. London: Routledge Curzon, 2001.

Bray, Denys. The Life-History of a Brahui. Karachi: Royal Book Company, 1977 [1913].

Irons, William and Neville Dyson-Hudson. Perspectives on Nomadism. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972.

Mills. Margaret A., Peter J. Claus and Sarah Diamond, ed. South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Rooman, Anwar. The Brahuis of Quetta-Kalat Region. Memoir No. 3. Karachi: Pakistan Historical Society, 1960.

Swidler, Nina. "Brahui." In Muslim Peoples: A World Ethnographic Survey, edited by Richard Weekes. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984.

—by D. O. Lodrick

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