The Kalasha Mountain People Of The Hindu Kush
Author: Mytte Fentz
As the last Kafirs of the Hindu Kush, the Kalasha still worship their polytheistic religion. In honour of their gods Kalasha celebrate feasts with sacrificing of goats, milk, bread, cheese and Juniper.
They inhabit three narrow valleys of the mountainous area in the northwest of Pakistan, close to the frontier with Afghanistan. The houses are perfectly adapted to the local conditions, clinging to the hillsides to avoid occupying the fertile soil of the valleys.
A defining aspect of Kalasha culture is a gender based dichotomy, which pervades everyday life and is inexxtricably linked to the people's concept of their universe and religion. While irrigation agriculture is managed by the women, who also grind wheat and maize in numerous watermills scattered all over the valleys, the men attend to the transhumance goal husbandry in the high pastures.
In a society without a written language the kazi or Guardian of Tradition is in charge of important aspects such as rituals and local laws. The kazi is also the legend teller embracing the Kalasha history. Being a minority under the Islamic Republic of Pakistan the Kalasha, however, have to continue defending their language, unique culture, and traditional religion.
The Kalasha have long attracted international scholars and this lavishly illustrated book continues a widely acclaimed tradition of danish research into Central Asia.
Mytte Fentz, who holds an M.A. in Medieval Archaelogy and Ethnography from Aarhus University, Moesgaard, Denmark has worked and published in both fields. She has over severel years lived for long periods with the Kalasha, sharing their daily life with its joys and hardships. Based on a large amount of collected fieldd data, her dual academic disciplines provide a new approach to the description of this remarkable mountain people.
In 1990 Mytte Fentz attached the British architect John Harrison to her project. Being a specialist in vernacular architecture he has documented and pictured the unusual Kalasha architecture as villages, watermills and fortification towers in the book.