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0072 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 72 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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into which the main trade route turns a short distance above Chitral proper, and by which after a couple of marches the Dorah Pass is gained. The latter, practicable to laden animals for nearly half the year, offers an easy approach to the valley of Zebak by which, as seen above, the fertile tracts of Badakhshan and Wakhan on the uppermost Oxus lie equally open.

Compared with the route across the Dorah, the one which ascends the Chitral or Yarkhun river to its headwaters near the Baroghil, and which I myself followed, can never have been of more than secondary importance. For until the modern mule-track was constructed, the precipitous rock-slopes of the gorges, through which the river has cut its way between Chitral and Mastûj, almost closed it to laden traffic, while higher up during the summer, a season otherwise favourable, the floods of the Yarkhûn rendered access to the Baroghil and the Ab-i-Panja branch of the Oxus difficult.

The facility of communication with Badakhshan and the Oxus regions is reflected alike in trade, political, and other relations. The Chitralis themselves do not appear to have ever been traders, if we except only the export of slaves in which their rulers indulged until comparatively recent times. But their country has probably seen for many centuries past a brisk flow of the traffic which is still carried on extensively between Indus and Oxus by the enterprising Pathan traders of Bajaur, whose colonies are to be met with both east and west of the Pamirs. The dues collected on this trade have always formed a considerable source of revenue for the Chitral rulers.3 That the rulers were at different periods themselves of northern origin is proved not merely by the acknowledged Iranian descent of the Katiir-Khushwakt dynasty, which still holds Chitral and Mastûj, and of the numerous privileged clans forming the Chitral aristocracy, but also by the traditions about repeated conquests from the Oxus side which, however vague chronologically, are yet plainly historical.4

But even more significant is the fact that in a great portion of the Lutkhô Valley, to the south-east of the Dorah, the subject population consists. of Badakhshi immigrants, known as Yidghah (Fig. 2 z), whose speech is practically identical with the Eastern Iranian language of Munjan, a hill district north-west of the Dorah. The presence of a Persian-speaking colony of Badakhshis at Madaglusht near Kala Drôsh, the wide diffusion of the Maulai sect which has its modern home on the upper Oxus, and the increase in the number of settlers from Wakhan are additional evidence of the strong Iranian influence to which the autochthon population of Chitral must have been exposed from early times.6 It is, therefore, easy to understand why the physical characteristics of the Chitralis (Fig. 7), as far as I could judge by appearance, seemed to me practically indistinguishable from the Homo Alpiuus type, which is uniformly represented by the Ghalchah or Iranian-speaking hill tribes in the Oxus region and around the Pamirs. The expert analysis, undertaken by Mr. T. A. Joyce, of the anthropometrical materials I collected during my stay at the Chitral capital may be expected to show to what extent that impression was true.' The evidence would be still more conclusive if it

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3 See Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, p. 66. For detailed references as to this trade in the eighteenth century, cf. Raverty, Notes on Afghanistan, pp. 153, 157 sq., 161.

• See Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, pp. 63, 15o sqq. ; also below, p. 28 sqq.

6 See Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, pp. 63 sq.

  • Mughul Beg, extracts from whose surveys about the close of the eighteenth century have been published by Raverty, calls Kashkär or Chitral a territory inhabited almost exclusively by the Tâjzfk race'; Notes on Afghanistan, p. 152 sq. It is a significant statement, especially as the author is not likely to have been

influenced by either historical or philological considerations.

7 For some description of the physical features of Chitralis cf. Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, pp. 72 sq. ; also Desert Cathay, i. pp. 32 sq. Colonel Biddulph, a well-qualified observer, points out ' that a strong bond of kinship exists between all the Dard and Ghalchah tribes '. But he also rightly draws attention to the special good looks of the Khbs of the "Fakir Mushkin" class in Chitral, who show certain physical peculiarities not shared by the other Dard tribes'. [Cf. now Joyce, Notes on the Physical Anthropology of Chinese Turkestan and the Pamirs, in J. Anthropol. Inst., xlii. pp. 453 sqq.]

Ethnography of Chitral.