Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
Anthropology of Baluchis
Pirmohamad M. Zehi
by: Shapour Suren-Pahlav
Baluchis are the ancient genuine Iranians who have their exclusive and special
celebrations and feats.
first moved to the region in the twelfth century. During the Moghul period, this
territory became known as "Baluchistan."
name, "Baluch/Baloch," is shrouded in controversy. Some say it means
"nomad," while others claim that it is an Aryan (Old Persian) word
meaning "the cock's crest."
language is spoken in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, the Persian Gulf
Arab-States, Turkmenistan and East Africa. It is classified as a member of
the Iranian group of the Indo-European language family which includes
Kurdish, Persian, Pashto, Dari, Tajik, Ossetian. Baluchi is closely
related to Kurdish and Persian.
are two main dialects: Eastern and Western. It is difficult to estimate
the total number of Baluchi speakers, but there are probably around six
million, most of whom speak Western Baluchi, which is also the dialect
that has been most widely used in Baluchi literature. Within the Western
dialect are two further dialects, Rakhshani (in the northern areas) and
Makrani (in the south). The areas where Eastern Baluchi dialects are
spoken (the north-eastern areas of Pakistani Baluchistan, Punjab and Sindh)
are in many ways less developed, especially when it comes to education,
which accounts for why it is little used in the written form.
a curious visitor who arrives in ancient province of Sakestan, or today
Sistan va Baluchistan, the first interesting issue
that attracts the attention most is the way Baluchis are dressed up.
Baluchis have preserved their way of clothing with a slight change.
Men wear long shirts, loose pants resembling Partho-Sasanid outfits, added
by a turban around their heads while
women put on loose dress and pants with needle works that are special of
the people of the area and is not common in other parts of the country.
The upper part of the dress and sleeves are decorated with needle works,
an artistic work that is specific of the clothing of the women Baluchis.
They cover their hair with a scarf that is called `Sarig' in the local
Baluchi women usually put on gold ornaments such as necklace and bracelet
but their special jewelry is `Dorr' or heavy earrings that are fastened to
the head with gold chains so that their heavy weight will not cause the
tearing of the ear. They usually wear a gold brooch called `Tasni' that
are made by local jewelers in various shapes and are used to fasten the
two parts of the dress over the chest.
Apart from the dressing style of the Baluchis, there are interesting
points in the way they live and in their traditions and customs that this
article tries to illustrate in parts. Indigenous and local traditions and
customs were of greater importance to the Baluchis in the past as
apparently up to about half a century ago when the central and provincial government
chieftains were imposed as the individual dictatorships.
Therefore, it can be concluded that there were no formulated laws and
regulations in order to regulate social behaviors. Under such circumstances, traditions
and customs in fact filled the vacuum caused by the absence of laws which
were used in the regulation of many social relations and therefore enjoyed
special credit among the Baluchi tribal people.
Abdolghaffar Nadim in his book `Gashin' that is written in Baluchi
language says: "The Baluchi folklore is being inspired by the Baluchi
way of life and, therefore, could have addressed many needs of the tribal
people who were forced to settle their disputes on the basis of their
traditions and customs in the absence of a powerful central
Here, it is only enough to review the Baluchi traditions within the two
categories of cooperation and feasts:
1. Beggari: This is a custom specific of the time when the Baluchi
youth reaches the age of marriage but apparently his family cannot afford
the marriage expenses due to their economic condition. Under such
circumstances, the youth would go to his relatives and friends and would
discuss with them his decision about marriage and would ask for their `Beggari',
or in other words, their contribution.
Such a tradition is so strongly respected that even the poorest member of
the family cannot remain indifferent towards such a demand and feels
obliged to pay a certain amount of money in cash or offer material aid.
Lack of participation in such a benevolent affair will cause humiliation
Therefore, although Beggari is a voluntary contribution, however, a social
compulsion can be traced in it somehow. Even in the case of those who have
no children and cannot benefit from the advantages of Beggari in future,
participation in this benevolent act guarantees further social credit. As
a result of this, marriage is being made more easily among Baluchis as the
community is meeting the cost.
2. Hashar: This is a custom that is applied when an individual
cannot perform a task alone and needs help of the others.
money is not customary, and those who need help would go to
their relatives and friends and would inform them of their decision to do
a special job on a specific day and for that purpose they need a certain
number of work force. Under such circumstances, as many volunteers may
join the collective work without being paid.
If the work is accomplished within a day, the only thing that the employer
has to do is to prepare lunch and dinner for the workers by usually
slaughtering a sheep for making the required food. If the work takes
longer, more preparations will be made and new volunteers will substitute
the previous ones.
However, there would be enough volunteers to complete the work through
collective cooperation, as it is not customary to give a negative response
to the call for contribution.
Such a habit is mostly customary in rural areas where people are mainly
engaged in agriculture where Hashar is being practiced in various stages
of the work from cultivation to harvest. It is also widely practiced in
building rural houses and bridges and in collecting dates. Such a habit is
still practiced given its positive social effects despite the fact that
paid work is gradually established.
3. Bagi: This custom was widely practiced in the past while these
days it is losing importance in areas going through the trend of
In the practice of such a
tradition, people are used to cook
extra food and would distribute it among needy people in their
neighborhood. Those who were well off and could have better nutrition
would carefully observe this.
The positive social impact of such a tradition has removed the negative
feeling of humiliation as receiving Bagi is not tantamount to receiving
donations but rather is some sort of contribution among neighbors and is
not limited to a specific person or a specific family.
Bagi is not merely
confined to consumption but is performed in a wider dimension that forges
greater convergence among neighbors and minimizes probable disputes. At
the meantime, it helps fair distribution of limited facilities.
4. Divan: Settlement of disputes in their
everyday life is of great importance. In order to solve problems, people
would gather in a place and while studying various aspects of disputes,
they try to find the best possible solution in an effort to secure
satisfaction of the parties involved. The place in the local dialect is
called `Divan' and is normally a house that belongs to the eldest member
of the community.
Of course Divan is not merely exclusive for the settlement of disputes but
is also used for exchange of information and consultations for the
coordination of affairs. However, the significance of Divan at the time of
the settlement of disputes lies in the fact that although decision-making
at Divan is not legally valid, however, it is applicable and is rarely
ignored by the parties to the dispute.
The reason is that presence of the gathering at the place is to some
extent the executive and moral guarantee for the parties to the dispute
and if one party for any reason ignores the agreement reached at Divan, in
fact it would damage its own social credibility. If Divan fails to settle
the dispute, the case will be solved on the basis of the rules of the
The tradition of Divan is being gradually forgotten in both rural and urban
areas but it is still being enforced among some tribes. A unified Judicial
system in fact
have substituted traditional Divan and the elderly people are still settling
regulations in rural and urban areas but not completely as in primary
stages attempts are made to resolve the disputes through local traditions
and at the Divans of the elderly.
5. Mayar: The habit is inspired by a social reality and need for
the support of the oppressed against the oppressor. When a powerful
individual is oppressing a powerless person for any reason, the former can
seek help from a stronger person who has enough power to defend his right.
Given the undertakings that the host feels towards the person who seeks
help as `Mayar', he is free either to accept the demand or deny it.
But, as soon as he accepts, the social tradition puts the responsibility
of the Mayar's defense on the shoulder of the host. Of course, the
importance of the tradition becomes further evident when the person who seeks
help is not guilty and whose rights have been trampled upon. However, when
the person seeks help according to the tradition of Mayar, he becomes a
member of the family and tribe of the host and can enjoy his support until
his problem is solved.
Sometimes the situation will remain unchanged forever and the person who
seeks help will remain in the new condition. Therefore, it will become
part of the responsibility of the host to find a job for the person who
seeks help and puts enough capital at his disposal. This will help enable
the powerless people to defend themselves against the oppressors.
6. Karch-va-Kapon: This tradition is practiced when a person for
any reason kills someone else, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Under such circumstances an unreasonable feeling of revenge will afflict
the Baluchi tribes to the extent that no matter to what tribe the murderer
belonged, if he is out of reach, a member of his family or one of his
relatives can be killed in his place or, in other words, take revenge.
Under these circumstances many innocent people will become victim of such
a revenge merely for belonging to a certain family or tribe. At this
moment, in an effort to prevent further bloodshed, the elderly members of
the family resort to the custom of `shroud and knife.' They send the
murderer together with a knife and a piece of white cloth to the family of
the person who has been killed and they are free either to punish him or
However, punishment of the murderer is not a proven act from social and
scientific points of view while forgiveness is the manifestation of
For this reason, the murderer will be forgiven and returned to his family.
Sometimes it may happen that in order to remove all the hostilities and
misunderstandings, the two families prepare marriages as a means to put
aside differences. Of course, sometimes ransom would be demanded. In that
case the family of the murderer or the tribe to which he belongs will pay
Although prosecution of the murderer falls within the authority of the
law, however, there are still evidences indicating that tribal people are
willing to safeguard the tradition of `shroud and knife'.
7. Patardeyag: This tradition is practiced when there is a quarrel
between two or more members of a tribe. The side that is guilty of
fomenting the quarrel accepts to apologize but not verbally rather through
a mediator who is usually an elderly of the tribe. No matter how deep the
difference, the other party usually accepts the apology, as its rejection
will cause criticism of others.
Following the acceptance of the apology, the side that had fomented the
quarrel will invite the other party to a dinner party through the mediator
and a sheep is slaughtered on the occasion. There is no need for verbal
apology and normally no word would be said about issues causing the
dispute. Holding the Patardeyag ceremony implies acceptance of the apology
and removal of all differences.
1. Mangir: The important Baluchi traditions are mainly in
connection with their ceremonies and feats.
The marriage ceremony stands prominently among such festivities as it goes
through different stages starting from engagement to the wedding ceremony.
Public participation in the wedding ceremony is normal as in other parts
of the country but with slight differences. But there is one exclusive
difference in the wedding ceremony and that is the Mangir
It seems that the ceremony is a custom acquired by the Baluchi tribes from
other customs. Mangir is the ceremony for the simultaneous mass
marriage of several couples for various reasons, notably economic
What further supports the idea is the holding of mass wedding ceremony
among lower class people of the society. This would not only reduce the
costs but would also economize in time as in the past wedding ceremonies
used to last for seven days.
2. Sepat: Festivities that are held in Baluchistan at the time of
the birth of new babies are called Sepat. Some parts of the ceremonies are
influenced by superstitious presumptions believing that both the baby and
the mother are threatened by a genie called Aal as it awaits the
opportunity to seize and swallow the liver of the baby and the mother.
Therefore, in order to prevent such a happening the relatives of the
mother and the baby stay awake for several nights and pray to God and seek
His help in order to protect the mother and the baby against the genie.
However, there are good and bad customs among the Baluchi tribes that
demand more research works and studies.
same as other Iranians are known for their
cultural specifications such as hospitality, bravery, generosity, faithfulness, and moral
commitment and mostly Iranian nationalism.
Baluchistan, Baluchestan, Baloschesta,
Baluchistan, Baluch, Baluch, Baluchi, Baloch, Baloschi, Baloshi
is the Light on the Path to Future"
British Institute of Persian Studies