Balochi Culture

The Baloch or Baluch (Balochi: بلوچ) are a tribal society and an ethnic group who are native to the Balochistan region in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Southwest Asia. The Baloch people mainly speak Balochi, which is a branch of the Iranian languages, and more specifically of the Northwestern Iranian languages, that is Kurdish and other Iranic languages of the region. It also contains archaic features reminiscent of Old Persian and Avestan. [8] They inhabit mountainous terrains and deserts, and maintain a very distinct cultural identity. The Baloch-speaking population worldwide is estimated to be in the range of 10 to 15 million. However, the exact number of Baloch and those who are or claim to be of Baloch ancestry is difficult to determine. In the Punjab province of Pakistan almost 10% of people are Balochi. Most of them speak the Seraiki language. It is possible that there are more Baloch than simply those who claim Balochi as their mother tongue. This, however, raises the question as to who is and is not a Baloch, as many surrounding peoples claim to be of Baloch descent but do not speak Balochi. The Brahui, having lived in proximity to the Baloch, have absorbed substantial linguistic and genetic admixture from the Baloch and in many cases are indistinguishable. Despite very few cultural differences from the Baloch, the Brahui are still regarded as a separate group on account of language difference. The higher population figures for the Baloch may only be possible if a large number of "Baloch" are included who speak different languages like Saraiki, Sindhi, Punjabi and Brahui, and who often claim descent from Baloch ancestors. Many Baloch outside of Balochistan are also bilingual or of mixed ancestry due to their proximity to other ethnic groups, including the Sindhis, Brahui, Persians, Seraikis and Pashtuns. A large number of Baloch have been migrating to or living in provinces adjacent to Balochistan for centuries. Balochs make up 2% of Iran's population (1.5 million), there are many Baloch living in other parts of the world, with the bulk living in the GCC countries of the Persian Gulf. About 60% percent of the Baluch live in East Balochistan, a western province in the Pakistan.[9] Around 25% percent inhabit the eastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the Islamic Republic of Iran, about 35 to 40% Pakistani Sindhis are of Baloch origin[citation needed] and are settled in Sindh and also a significant number of Baloch people in South Punjab of Pakistan. Many of the rest live in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and in some parts of Africa, namely Kenya, and Tanzania (Tabora has a large community). Small communities of Baluch people also live in Europe particularly Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England and in Perth, Australia, where they arrived in the 19th century.

Origin

Like other middle eastern ethnic groups, the Baluch claim Arabian extraction, asserting that they are descendant of Amir Hamza, a paternal uncle of Islamic Prophet Muhammad and from a fairy (Pari). They consistently place their first settlement in Aleppo, where they remained until, siding the sons of Ali and taking part in the Battle of Karbala, they were expelled by Yazid, the second of the Omayyad Caliphs, in 680 A.D. Thence they first to Kerman, and eventually to Sistan where they were hospitably received by Shams-ud-Din, ruler of that country. According to Dames there was a Shams-ud-Din, independent Malik of Sistan, who claimed descent from the Saffarids of Persia who died in 1164 A.D. (559 A.H.) or nearly 500 years after the Baloch migration from Aleppo. Badr-ud-Din appears to be unknown to history. His successor, Badr-ud-Din, demanded, according to eastern usage, a bride from each of the 44 bolaks or clans of the Baloch. But the Baloch race had never yet been tribute in this form to any ruler, and they sent therfore 44 boys dressed in girls' clothes and fled before the deception could be discovered. Badr-ud-Din sent the boys back but pursued the Baloch, who had fled south-eastwards, into Kech-Makran where he was defeated at their hands. At this period Mir Jalal Khan, son of Jiand, was the ruler of all the Baloch. He left four sons, Rind, Lashar, Hot, and Korai, and a daughter Jato, who married his nephew Murad. These five are the eponymous founders of the five great divisions of the tribe, the Rinds, Lasharis, Hooths, Korais, and Jatois.

Baluchi culture

Baluchi customs and traditions are conducted according to codes imposed by tribal laws. These strong traditions and cultural values are important to Baluch people and have enabled them to keep their distinctive ancient cultural identity and way of life with little change to this day.

The culture and traditions of the Baluch have historically been passed down from mother to daughter, and men from father to son. Baluchi culture is mentioned in the Pir M. Zehi's account of his travel to the province of Sakestan, or the present-day Sistan province of Iran, which holds strong significance to the culture of Baluch people. Baluch people have preserved their traditional dress with little change over the centuries. The Baluch men wear long shirts with long sleeves and loose pants. the dress is occasionally accompanied by a pagh (turban) or a hat on their heads.

The Baluchi costume varies from Iran to Pakistan; the above pictures and description are for Pakistan Baluchi tribes. Iran Baluch dress code is more conservative in sense of length and material. Some Baluch women in Iran also cover their faces with thick red color wools (Burqah) and wear a (Sareeg) which is the head scarf and (Chadar) which is a long veil. No pictures are available. The dress worn by Baluch women is one of the most interesting aspects of Baluchi culture. They are of strong significance to the culture of Iran and hold a special place in the society. The women put on loose dress and pants with sophisticated and colourful needlework, including a large pocket at the front of the dress to hold their accessories. The upper part of the dress and sleeves are also decorated with needlework, a form of artistry that is specific to the clothing of the Baluch women. Often the dress also contains round or square pieces of glass to further enhance the presentation. They cover their hair with a scarf, called a sarig in the local dialect.[28] These customs are unique to the people of Iran and the art of this needlework on women's clothing may provide one with a picture of the freedom and high status of Baluch women in Achaemenid era.[29] Gold ornaments such as necklaces and bracelets are an important aspect of Baluch women's traditions and among their most favoured items of jewellery are dorr, heavy earrings that are fastened to the head with gold chains so that the heavy weight will not cause harm to the ears. They usually wear a gold brooch (tasni) that is made by local jewellers in different shapes and sizes and is used to fasten the two parts of the dress together over the chest. In ancient times, especially during the pre-Islamic era, it was common for Baluch women to perform dances and sing folk songs at different events. The tradition of a Baluch mother singing lullabies to her children has played an important role in the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation since ancient times. Apart from the dressing style of the Baluch, indigenous and local traditions and customs are also of great importance to the Baluch. Baluch people are culturally and traditionally regarded as secular. However, Baluch people are a minority, and growing Islamic fundamentalism in the region is seen as a threat to Baluchi culture.