Music, Poetry, Literature, Culture
Music, Poetry, Literature, Culture

Zar Sanga

Zarsanga (aka Zar Sanga, The Queen Of Pashtun Folklore, born 1946) is a popular Pashtun singer from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. She is queen of the airwaves on Radio Peshawar,
Zarsanga with their band in March 1991 at Hackney Empire in London
Zarsanga was born in 1946 in a small village of Lakki Marwat, NWFP, British India (now Pakistan). Her father was Zafar Mamakhel. She belongs to a nomadic tribe called Kutanree (Kutan). They travel between Pashto area from Punjab and Sindh. They don’t settle permanently in one place. Their main profession is singing. Their main traveling route is through Bannu Road from Dera Ismail Khan and up to Kohat and Peshawar. Some of them travel as far as Afghanistan and stay there in summer and return to the southern districts of Khyber Pashtunkhwa during th winter.
In 1965, she married Malla Jan, a resident of Sarai Naurang. Lakki Marwat who was also a nomad. Many people believe she is married to popular folk singer Khan Tehsil, but she denies the rumors and to this day says Khan Tehsil is her husbands’ cousin:
Actually I sang with him on many occasions and most of our joint songs got immense popularity. He is not my husband he is just like my own brother.
Zarsanga has nine children including three daughters and six sons. Only Shahzada, her second son, has stepped into the world of music.
She with her three sons, and a daughter-in-law and two grandsons were attacked by unknown men in Nowshera district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Zarsanga and her band in 2015
At the start of her career, Zarsanga would listen to the songs of Gulnar Begum, Kishwar Sultan, Bacha Zarin Jan, Khyal Muhammad, Ahmad Khan and Sabz Ali Ustad.
I liked all of them, but I have maintained my own traditional way of folk singing. The people would earnestly enjoy my songs on both sides of the Durand Line (Pakistan-Afghan border). I got no education so I cannot sing from a written paper. Most often I sing the songs that are composed and created by the common folk. However, my husband also wrote some of my popular songs.
A French researcher, Miss Kia, who worked with Radio France, once said Zar Sanga’s voice was the only mountainous voice in the Pashto language. Kia took Zar Sanga to France for a musical concert. In France, many people were fascinated by her sweet melodies. The Pashto singer described a concert in London: “I was singing a traditional folk song in Pashto about the mountains and gypsy life of the tribals and when I finished it, a British person came close to me and proudly remarked that he was also a gypsy.
The famous musical numbers of Zar Sanga, which she never misses at any musical event she plays are “Da Bangriwal Pa Choli Ma Za”, her only song on radio, “Zma Da Khro Jamo Yara”, “Rasha Mama Zwi De”, “Zma Da Ghrono Pana Yara”, and “Kht Me Zanzeri De”. Zarsanga has been to Germany, Belgium, Iraq, Dubai, United States, and United Kingdom.