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Picture It: The Polytheistic Kalash Tribe of Pakistan

When I ran across these jaw-droppingly striking pictures, I couldn't believe I'd never heard of the Kalash Tribe — and I wanted to rectify that immediately. The tribe lives nestled in the North-Western Province of Pakistan. Protected by the Hindu Kush mountain range lives this culture of people Muslims call Kafirs or “infidels”.

Among the region known as Kafiristan lies the town of Brir, considered one of the last remaining settlements of the Kalash — or “wearers of black." Its inhabitants consider themselves the direct descendants of Alexander the Great. The 3,500 souls are the last enclave of pagan tribespeople.


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Incredibly, the Kalash have not changed much over the centuries. They make their own wine, elevate animals to religious status and believe in mountaintop fairies. To find out more about the tribe,

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Their gods, like those of the ancient Greeks, are split up into male and female deities and they claim they once belonged to highly literate culture until their books were burned by barbarian tribes. Shown in these pictures celebrating their annual Spring festival, the Kalash still maintain a fertility rite where a teenage boy is sent alone into the surrounding woods for a year and when he returns is treated to a feast and the mating rites to as many of the Kalash women he chooses.

They struggle to preserve their identity from encroaching Islamic rule, deforestation, and entrepreneurs who take advantage of their simple natures — as well as the assault of the Justin Timberlake/cell phone/jeans avalanche of the modern world. Here's to hoping they resist — I'm so taken with the fact that real diversity still exists in our ever-shrinking world.

Have you heard of the Kalash? Have you ever seen such beautiful pictures? Is it possible to maintain an untouched culture in our modern age?

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nasipjan nasipjan 7 years
je suis allée au pakistan en 1992 et en 1994 , j ai vécu avec une famille Kalash deux hivers et un printemps (une année en tout). j' étais au paradis ,le décor ,les enfants ,tous, des personnes adorables ,pures. Je participais ou assistais aux rites. J'étais proche de la nature et du ciel.Dans mon coeur,ils sont ma famille ,ils m ont donné plus d amour que ma propre famille. Je les aime pour toujours .Ils représentent tout ce que nous avons perdus
daijoubo daijoubo 7 years
wow so there like the original Greeks.the Modern Greeks today are very different from ancient Greeks.mainly because invaders choose to put a bit of their culture among the Greek people.
alexandros1 alexandros1 8 years
Fyromians and any neutral trying to undersant the dispute should see this video with english subtitles. No greek lies, only FYROMIANS speak: http://youtube.com/watch?v=aWIKDhhTvnU
Rocket-Bunny Rocket-Bunny 8 years
This is an amazing story.Thank you
ladychaos ladychaos 8 years
And Zenobia, using the word primitive implies that their belief system is beneath those that are more modernized.
ladychaos ladychaos 8 years
I have never heard of this tribe, but they are some of the most beautiful people I have seen!
maryam-mannan maryam-mannan 8 years
interesting read...
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 8 years
I DONT GET IT
Zeinobia Zeinobia 8 years
You know they are not the first tribe in the world to live in B.C eras during our modern age. BBC got a wonderful TV show called "Tribe" where the host goes and stays in a lost tribe in a very far away place in the world you got people like them in the Amazon ,in Africa , in India so what is the big issue here And just little piece of history ,a real one in South America pagan tribes were prosecuted by the Spanish invaders ,so if this pagan tribe made through all those year under the Islamic the rule then it is something that should be recorded for Muslims , yes there are growing tension and radicalism in Muslim countries ; the Sunni kills the Shiite but please if you are going to mention the prosecution of minorities and unbeliever through our history then please mention Christianity and Judaism along with Islam to be fair and honest Now about the tribe and how it stands against time I think it is their location and the fact that their belief system is primitive , I mean believing in fairies and all other rituals they do not break does not give you the freedom to think more freely I think that this tribe for sure like any other primitive tribe has out casted through all those years its members who called for change I do not know if religion plays a factor here more about their traditions they inherited and how they preserved, religions can change but traditions and early believes can still there standing as a barrier of time advance For example and I think it is very powerful in my country Egypt up till this moment the people in Upper Egypt whether Muslims or Christians still believe in magic despite both religions prohibit magic , one of the major obstalces that stand against the development and improvement of this part of Egypt is their traditions and early believes system they still are holding on
hassantariq hassantariq 8 years
hahahhaha...most of the people who r making comments and even the person who wrote this artical do not about kalash and pakistan....AS a Pakistani and right now Student of Purdue University in USA let me explain.....people think Pakistani goverment and Islam is comming in there way of life this is compleatly wrong.... Pakistan take them as great cultral heritage...one ammazzziiiinnggggg thing about there cloths they all are HANDMADE even the cloth....
Jillness Jillness 8 years
"must be theam dumb ass democrates speaking again."..."the last time religon got mixed with politics my people got burnt at the steak." Hysterical. If you can't tell why...
nomadichigh nomadichigh 8 years
Hello, Please be informed that the Kalash people or as we Afghans call them Nooristanis, are from Afghanistan and since Pakistan was never a country before the British divided our people and land and created this so called country Pakistan. The Northwest Frontier is the land of Afghans and it has been so for thousands of years. The Pashtoon tribes and Tajik tribes of Afghanistan were forced to live apart from their tribes for decades by the Durand line. After the Russian invasion of Afghanistan most of the Afghans including the Nooristanis had to live on the Pakistani side of the border for better security. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuristani_people Notice how these so called Kalash people and Pashtoons are similar in features. http://n.l.bliss.googlepages.com/nationalgeographic Notice the girl in National Geographic magazine with the haunting eyes. Well she is pashtoon. For centuries either Iran or now Pakistan claim our culture and our history. It was enough that the Pakistanis destroyed our most beautiful statue of Buddah. Rumi was born in Balkh (modern day Mazari-Shareef) and Iranians claim that he was from Iran.
trademark2000 trademark2000 8 years
Authors quote: "Here's to hoping they resist — I'm so taken with the fact that real diversity still exists in our ever-shrinking world." That is not objective writing.
generalzod generalzod 8 years
There was a BBC documentary back in 1998 by Micheal Woods called the footsteps of Alexander the Great. Kalash tribe is also mentioned in this documentary. It's quite amazing that after so many years that this tribe still worship Hellenic God's and Goddesses..
DocOne08 DocOne08 8 years
GREAT POINT, Humbled.
DocOne08 DocOne08 8 years
GREAT POINT, Humbled.
DocOne08 DocOne08 8 years
And one more thing before I leave, a good writter knows that to be a good writter you need to be open minded to try and not offend the public who is reading the article. Now you will ALWAYS get and its obvious some have already gotten pissed about the article, you will always get the few you find the negative in things. Yes what they do in our cizilized eyes is wrong, but they author can not give his opinion in this case it is not an argumentive article it is an informative objective article. So to those who are angry and upset, uderstand that this is his job to be objective and if you have taken any english you would not be so ignorant and know this already.
Humbled Humbled 8 years
Photos are lovely. Did someone say that Cromwell killed more Irish than Hitler killed Jews? I thought that the population of Ireland and northern Ireland combined is not that much more than 6 million people. Horrible things have happened to people of different cultures, ethnicities and religions all over the world since the beginning of time. Horrible atrocities have been committed by people of different cultures, ethnicities, and religions all over the world. It's not a contest. Suffering is suffering. Why is it necessary to claim that any one group has suffered the most? Any group of people or individual who are caused pain by another group or individual is worthy of our compassion and help.
Humbled Humbled 8 years
Photos are lovely. Did someone say that Cromwell killed more Irish than Hitler killed Jews? I thought that the population of Ireland and northern Ireland combined is not that much more than 6 million people.Horrible things have happened to people of different cultures, ethnicities and religions all over the world since the beginning of time. Horrible atrocities have been committed by people of different cultures, ethnicities, and religions all over the world. It's not a contest. Suffering is suffering. Why is it necessary to claim that any one group has suffered the most? Any group of people or individual who are caused pain by another group or individual is worthy of our compassion and help.
DocOne08 DocOne08 8 years
I do believe these photos are spectaular and the fact that in this day in age, the fact that they can keep their culture alive is AMAZING to me. AND with as many christian missionaries that there are out there trying their damnest to convert everyone and everything to their beliefs amazes me even more that they have keep their culture alive and well
DocOne08 DocOne08 8 years
To us what their culture does is inhuman and unethical. But to them that is their way of life and how they celebrate things. Who is to say the women of his choice are not ok with this celebration? Have you thought of that. I am an american women who is well educated and has traveled the world and has served our country. That is what they do and to be honest I can say since that is their culture so be it. We have our beliefs and so do they. Beautiful or not!
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