Learn more about the Kalash society July 20, 2010Posted by Yilan in Afghanistan, Macedonia.
Tags: Afghanistan, Kalash, Macedonia
A woman has to move to Bashali to give birth and has to stay there for at least 10 days. Even if a boy is born, he is not considered a ‘man’ until he is six years old. The boy has to live with women and he is not allowed to wear pants or pyjamas for six years since his birth. A big celebration is held when a boy turns six and wears a ‘shalwar’ or pants. After that he eats only with men and not with women. A goat is also sacrificed to mark the occasion and the meat is eaten only by the men.
Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), who conquered the Persian empire and annexed it to Macedonia, is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times. In the winter of 327 BC, Alexander passed through what is now Pakistan during his campaign to invade the Indian subcontinent. It is not known exactly where he crossed, but it’s believed that he went up the Kunar River in Pakistan, close to where the Kalash live now, and crossed a mountain pass into what is now Bajaur Valley.
The Kalash are known for their unique way of dressing, especially the attire of their womenfolk. All women wear black robes called ‘Piran’ and it takes at least nine metres of cloth to make one dress. With the passage of time, the black robe has started drawing on diverse fashion influences and has come to be decorated with accessories and colourful embroidery coupled with beads, shells and coins. The Kalash attire is centuries old and has not changed much from its original form. As the belief goes, the women of Kalash started wearing black in honour of a prince called ‘Kala Shehzada’ (black prince) who ruled them centuries ago.
The women wear an extraordinarily large headgear called ‘Kopus’ embellished with buttons, beads and shells, which in some cases tops two kilogrammes in weight. The cost of one dress varies from 2,500 rupees (Dh110) to 6,000 rupees (Dh180), which is a lot of money for the average Kalash.
Robes and belts
Women’s robes cover the entire body right down to the feet and are tied around the stomach with a belt called ‘Chehare’. The average Kalash goes in for four or five dresses a year to coincide with festive occasions. Kalash men normally wear Shalwar-Kameez, a combination of long tunics and trousers, with Chitrali caps that could be black or white.