By: Brian Spooner
The gazetteers provided a data base for the study of the habitat and society of British Baluchistan, and the states of Kalat, Las Bela, Kharan, and Makrān, which is unique for the Iranian area. Since the middle of this century a handful of contemporary scholars have sought to build on this base by applying modern theoretical approaches in new field studies, often asking new questions.
Modern ethnographic work began with Pehrson, who worked among the Marī for six months before he died in 1955. Barth visited the same group briefly in 1960 while editing Pehrson’s work for publication.
Pehrson’s work deals mainly with the social relationships of everyday life in herding communities, including gender relations. From 1963 to 1965 N. and W. Swidler worked among Brahui-speakers in Sarawan and Kacchi. W. Swidler established the connection between ecological conditions, the technological requirements of herding and pastoral production, and the social dynamics of camp and herding groups. N. Swidler reconstructed the political development of the khanate on the basis of a combination of ethnographic observation and a reading of the historical sources. In 1963-67 Spooner conducted a series of studies in Sarāvān and Makrān (Iran). He also worked briefly in the Baluch areas of Afghanistan in 1965, and later in 1982-83 he was able to make several brief tours of Pakistani Baluchistan. He focused on the ecology of pastoralism and the dynamics of leadership in what was effectively a mixed, pluralist society, especially the function of the ḥākom (Ar. ḥākem). His main concern was to work out to what extent ecological explanations might illuminate the history of the Baluch. Salzman worked among the Yār-Moḥammadzay (renamed Šahnavāzī under Reżā Shah) of the Sarḥadd (Iran) in 1967-68, 1972-73, and 1976. He showed how nomads may rely not only on pastoralism but on a variety of unrelated resources and use their mobility to exploit each geographically separate resource at the appropriate season. He has also explored the relationship between ecological adaptation and political organization and the conditions under which nomads might modify their ecological adaptation and become settled farmers, and he applied an evolutionary approach to the analysis of variation in political organization, and investigated under what circumstances a state structure might develop out of tribes and settled life out of nomadism. In addition to pursuing similar interests C. and S. Pastner also investigated gender relations in Panjgur in 1969 and in a Baluch coastal village outside Karachi in 1976. In 1976 also Bestor described a community of Kord during a brief stay at the foot of Kūh-e Taftān in the Sarḥadd (Iran), and Orywal worked for a season among the Baluch in Afghanistan in 1976-77. This final section gives basic information on traditional Baluch society, culture, economy, and habitat, based on the works of the above scholars and the unpublished field notes of the author.
Baluch society is stratified. There are four social classes, which are essentially hereditary and occupational: ḥākomzāt, Balōč, šahrī, and ḡolām; convenient glosses for these terms are aristocracy, nomads, cultivators, and slaves. Ḥākom is the Baluchi pronunciation of ḥākem, the Qajar term for ruler; ḥākomzāt are the extended families of sardars who were able to establish a direct relationship with the governor in Bampūr or otherwise usurp that status. (Nawab and sardar carry similar connotations in Pakistani Baluchistan.) Balōč are those nomads, or descendants from nomadic tribes, who are considered to have been the original Balōč who brought the name and the language into Baluchistan. Šahrī (from Baluchi šahr “cultivated area”) signifies settled cultivator. Ḡolām entered Baluch society as slaves (other terms are also found, such as darzāda, naqīb). Although there were slaves of various origins, physiognomies, and skin color, since abolition only those of African origin are unable to manage any change in their social status. They are now free according to the law of each country, but at least through the 1960s their status and options within Baluch society had changed little. Apart from African ḡolām, mobility across class boundaries is possible but it is relatively uncommon.
Secondary distinctions are also made within these classes on the basis of tribe (zāt), and the relative status of a Balōč and a šahrī varies in practice according to tribal affiliation and the experience of particular communities, since a šahrī community may accumulate wealth and cultivate honor over generations, and a Balōč community may lose its honor. There is a wide range of status within the šahrī category. Some are equivalent to helots. Many are probably descendents of pre-Balōč communities, and have retained relatively large holdings. Although all are now spoken of in tribal terms, it is very likely that this idiom derives from the cultural dominance of the tribally organized Balōč, and that before the Baluchization of the area the population was not tribal. Tribalism seems to have become the pervasive idiom of social organization with the arrival of the Balōč, whose leading families were able to take over some of the settlements and acquire a new basis of power (though they lost some of them to later immigrants). If this interpretation is valid, recent assessments of Makrān as a detribalized part of Baluchistan may be misinterpretations: it is possible that tribalism was always weak or nonexistent in communities that were originally not tribal but only adapted their discourse to the tribalism of their masters. But the tribal ideology, which is implicitly associated with the Balōč, pervades all communication.
Baluch tribal organization is not uniform. Some tribes follow a strict patrilineal reckoning of descent, give no inheritance to daughters, and in assessing social status ascribe little importance to the origin of the mother, while others reckon descent bilineally, give equal inheritance shares (of land) to sons and daughters, and ascribe equal importance to the origin of the mother in questions of social status. (Unlike Persian, Baluchi makes no terminological distinction between matrilateral and patrilateral kin.) The model of patrilineal genealogy is used to model links between groups and to represent political affiliation and legitimacy, and as a means of relating historical events to the present. Where the father is an important leader and it is likely that the eldest son will take his place, it is usual for the father to set aside an extra portion for him before the general division of the inheritance. This must be done with the consent of the other sons and daughters, and is known as mīrwandī.
The tribal ideology extends throughout Baluchistan and beyond, but each family belongs to one or another small community, whose size and stability is related to the local conditions of pastoralism or agriculture. These primary groupings are strung together in chains of hierarchical relations, which integrate the various types of larger grouping. Each community is encapsulated in an asymmetrical model of the larger society, which is rationalized in tribal terms. It may have little or no interest in lineage or genealogy to provide a framework for everyday social relations.
Each individual is identified by membership in a tribal group, and each tribal group belongs to one or other of the four classes. Many tribes, though now accepted as Baluch, are of known recent alien origin—from Iran (e.g., the Nowšērvānī), Afghanistan (e.g., the Bārakzay), Muscat (possibly the Bulēdī), or the Indus valley (the Gīčkī). Most tribes are small, a few hundred or at most a thousand or so families. (The Marī with a population of 60,000 are by far the largest.) Each is generally known as belonging to one of the four classes, and each family has a place in a chain of allegiance or fealty relationships which cut across class categories. Marriage between classes occurs (especially in the few cases where a tribe which is Balōč or šahrī has a branch which has become ḥākomzāt), but a woman should not marry down. In the case of mixed parentage the lowest status prevails. The settled and nomadic communities are closely interrelated economically, and interdependent. Names of the major tribes in each district of Baluchistan are given in the geographical section above. A fuller list may be found at the end of Baloch (1974) and Jahānbānī (1957).
The tribes of the khanate were ranked in two distinct groupings, one of Sarawan and one Jahlawan. The rank was symbolized in a number of ways: Seats in the khan’s council (majles, dīvān) were assigned. Those nearest the khan had the greatest prestige. The Sarawan sardar ranked first and sat on his right; the Jahlawan sardar sat on his left. Then the sardars from Sarawan and Jahlawan alternated according to rank. The presents given by the khan upon the succession of a new sardar also varied according to the position the tribe held in the rank order. The khan would formally recognize a new Zarakzay sardar by conferring on him a Kashmir shawl, a length of brocade, a horse with a silver harness, and a dagger with a golden hilt. A new Mengal sardar would receive the same with the exception of the dagger. A Bīzenjō sardar would receive only the shawl and brocade, plus a broadcloth coat. Similarly, the sum of money given by the khan at the death of a sardar or a member of a sardar’s family also varied according to rank. When a high-ranking sardar died, the khan would personally visit the bereaved family. The death of a middle-rank sardar called for a visit by the khan’s son or brother. For minor sardars the khan would send one of his officials (Gazetteer VI/B, p. 112).
Beside the classes there are other categories of tribe, such as Kord, Brahui, Dehwār, Jat (Jaṭṭ), Jaḍgāl, Lāsī, Lorī, Mēd. In some sense these categories were and are both Baluch and not Baluch, depending on the context, and some were high status while others were low. All these categories, however, as distinct from others that will be discussed briefly below, were essentially within Baluch society because they were incorporated into the political structure of the Baluch polity. While there is presently a tendency to emphasize the ethnicity of these terms, historically their meaning has probably fluctuated and there is some evidence that they have been somewhat elastic categories. It has been assumed generally that the Kord have migrated from Kurdistan, and the Kord themselves currently make the same assumption (for which there seems to be no evidence). The Kūfeč or Kūč of the early Islamic period were considered to be a kind of Kurds (Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 221.1). They are found today in two areas: around Kūh-e Taftān in the Iranian Sarḥadd, and in Sarawan (Pakistan). In status they are equivalent to Balōč. The Brahui are distinguished only by their language, which shares a large amount of vocabulary with Baluchi (which most Brahui also speak). The core of Brahui-speaking areas are Sarawan-Jahlawan, but scattered Brahui-speakers are also to be found in most of the northern districts, including Sīstān and Soviet Turkmenistan. The Dehwār speak a form of Persian, close to Darī and Tajik. They appear to have been the agricultural community of the plateau, in Mastung and Iranian Sarāvān, and could be the descendants of the pre-Islamic agricultural community, when these areas were controlled by the provincial ruler of Sīstān. They have been important in recent history as the ūlūs (Baluchi olos) of the khan, forming both his peasantry on the plateau and his bureaucracy. (Ūlūs, which has been used as the name of a Baluchi magazine, also includes Baluch who for one or another reason have lost their tribal connections.) The relationship between the khan and his ūlūs differs from that between a sardar and his tribesmen. In the latter case both are members of the same kawm (Arabic qawm), related by ties of kinship and the obligation to share in the common weal and woe (šādī-ḡam). No idiom of kinship or shared honor obtains between the khan and his ūlūs (N. Swidler, p. 151), and they were not subject to military service. Under the khan, therefore, the Dehwār had a separate non-Baluch status. Their status under the Bārakzay in Iranian Sarāvān may have been similar, but currently among the Iranian Baluch they enjoy a status similar to šahrī. Jat, Jaḍgāl, and Lāsī (assumed to be related to the Jats of India) all speak related forms of Sindhi. The Lāsī are the peasants (ūlūs) of the jām (hereditary ruler) of Las Bela. The Jaḍgāl are the population of Daštīārī. The Jat are the peasants (again, the khan’s ūlūs) of Kacchi. The Lāsī and Jat have a relatively low status within the ūlūs of the khan and the jām, but the Jaḍgāl of Daštīārī enjoy a higher status because of their local autonomy under their own ḥākom. Finally, the Lorī and the Mēd are despised and barely differentiated from the ḡolām. The Lorī are gypsies who wander throughout Baluchistan, entertaining and performing other services. The Mēd are the small fishing communities that live on the beaches of Makrān. There is some evidence that these sub-ethnic identities are not absolute even where they involve the use of different languages. Morgenstierne (p. 9) first noticed the evidence suggesting that some communities had switched back and forth between Baluchi and Brahui (a Dravidian language) at least once. In seems likely on linguistic grounds that the original Brahui probably migrated from south India around a thousand years ago (J. Bloch apud Morgenstierne, pp. 5-6, and Elfenbein, personal communication). Baluch and Brahui were not mutually exclusive identities (as has been claimed by some both among the Brahui and among writers such as Rooman). Similarly, we should not assume that the Jaḍgāl are necessarily descended from the Jat or Lāsī because of their language. The Mēd probably represent a pre-Islamic population that may be descended from the Ichthyophagi encountered by Alexander’s fleet. The Jat and Jaḍgāl (literally “Jaṭṭ-speakers”), and the Zott (referred to in early Islamic sources), could be descendents of the Yutiya or Outii of the Achaemenian empire, and represent an earlier settled population of Indian origin (cf. Brunner, p. 772). The remaining ḡolām were brought in through the Muscadine trade mainly in the 13th/19th and early-14th/20th centuries.
The relationship between the Baluch and the Pashtuns also deserves some attention. Pashtuns constitute a very large minority in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Most of them live in the northern districts, which were never occupied by Baluch, but there are also Pashtun entrepreneurs and traders elsewhere in the province. In the northeast there is some evidence that the Baluch-Pashtun relationship also is less absolute than at first appears. Barth (1964 explains the relationship by contrasting the structures of the two societies, Baluch and Pashtun. He shows that the cultural border between Baluch and Pashtuns in northeast Baluchistan (Pakistan) has moved slowly and intermittently northward at the expense of the Pashtuns, without any associated movement of population. Groups known to have been formerly Pashtuns and Pashto-speaking were, when he was there in 1960, Baluchi-speaking and fully accepted by themselves and others as Baluch. Others have suggested that the Marī may be of Pashtun origin because of similarities in their tribal organization. Although several factors suggest that the border would move in the opposite direction (e.g., relative population growth rates, comparative affluence and aggressiveness), this Baluch assimilation of Pashtuns could have been predicted on the basis of a comparison of the ways their social and political relations are organized. The structure of Baluchi-speaking society is better adapted to the problems of incorporating refugees. Owing to the disorder that had been chronic in the area for over a century before its incorporation into India, many whole communities disintegrated into bands of refugees. The model for the whole Pashtun system might be characterized as a group of brothers, each of which expects to be equal with the others. But Baluch society, though ostensibly derived from the same concepts of kinship and descent, is not based on an egalitarian council. Defense of honor is important among the Baluch, but the essential model for their society is the relationship between a father and his sons. In Baluch society, everyone knows implicitly where he stands in relation to everyone else—in terms of authority and loyalty, status and honor. Equality of authority and honor do not have to be upheld in every interaction. Refugees in Baluch society find a secure position by operating in Baluchi. By speaking and doing Baluchi they come to be assimilated into the Baluch polity. (Other explanations of the apparent assimilation of Pashtuns by Baluch are of course possible. For example, Pashtuns could have become Baluch simply as a result of being isolated from their main polity. The phenomenon of change of identity and its relation to change of language and change of social status requires more careful investigation.)
There are also other groups that live in Baluchistan and are not considered to be part of Baluch society or capable of assimilation. The most significant of these are Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Ismaʿilis, and Bahais, who have traditionally formed small trading communities around the forts of sardars and in the ports. In what is now Pakistan these were encouraged and protected by the British as well as the sardars. Partition saw a significant decline in these communities on the Pakistan side. In Iran the Bahais have been generally free from persecution in Baluchistan. There are also communities of Hazāras, especially in Quetta, who migrated from Afghanistan in the late 13th/19th and early 14th/20th centuries. Finally there are Persians (mainly Yazdis) and Pakistanis (mainly Punjabis) who moved to Baluchistan as civil servants and bought land and stayed.
The most important event in the life of a Baluch is marriage. Even in the relatively small number of cases where a man marries more than once, the first marriage is the most important socially. It gives him a new set of relatives, or (if the marriage is to a close cousin) rearranges his existing kin ties and establishes his social position for the rest of his (and her) life. The main prestation associated with the event is the Islamic mahr, which is high. It was rials 10,000 (about $130,00) for poor Baluch nomads in eastern Iranian Makrān in 1964. For ḥākomzāt it was reckoned as 75 percent of the expected patrimony of the groom, as a way of ensuring that at least three quarters of his property would be inherited by the bride’s children. However, in most Baluch communities divorce is rare.
Weddings are the classic celebration, among the Baluch (see Gabriel, 1935, pp. 233-61 for an example). Details vary from place to place but the following are standard practice for relatively affluent Baluch. The rite and the celebration take place in the bride’s community and are accompanied by music and dancing; by tās-gardēn, passing round the bowl to collect toward the expenses; by ceremonial washing of bride and groom, separately, the groom preceded by dancing musicians to a convenient stream; by ḥannā-gardēn, circulating the henna (with which the nails of the bride are tinted) for a collection for the bride’s nurse; by čam-dīdukānī, literally “eye-seeing,” a toll taken by the bride’s old nurse from the groom for the right to see his bride’s face as he enters the ḥejla (bridal chamber). (For examples of songs sung at each stage, see Morgenstierne, 1948, p. 278.)
Much of Baluch culture is not unfamiliar to students of other tribal populations in the Iranian world, but there are a number of distinguishing features. One of the more obvious distinguishing features of Baluch society is the high respect accorded to status and authority and especially to the authority of the sardar or ḥākom. Marī talk about the pāg-wāja (Pehrson, p. 26), the “turban-chief,” and to confirm a man in the position of sardar is to tie the turban on him. A sardar (and even more so a ḥākom or na(w)wāb, or the khan himself, who had managed to establish a supra-tribal status for themselves) was based in a fort in the main agricultural center under his control. His income depended more on what he could control than on what he owned. It consisted of the produce of land personally owned by him (worked by ḡolām who received their keep, or local šahrī who took a share of the harvest or some other compensation such as use of the ḥākom’s water for their own land); a tithe (dah-yak) on all agricultural produce of the šahrī whom he controlled (this included all in his center plus a hinterland which varied according to his strength and prestige); service (Baluchi srēnbandī) from all Balōč who acknowledged his position; tax (mālīyāt) from both šahrī and Balōč (originally tax due to Qajar, khan, or British representatives). These are Baluch revenue concepts—practice varied from place to place. Basically the ḥākom relied on the labor of his subject peasant population for income and on the allegiance of nomadic pastoralists for physical strength. The sardar is obliged to make himself available to his tribesmen, to hear disputes and petitions when they are brought to him. Informants talk about this in terms of mardomdārī. Each person has the right of direct appeal, and a good portion of each day the sardar is in residence is spent holding court (Swidler, 1977, p. 113). One of the more common words in Baluch usage is kamāš, which denotes senior. In any social situation someone is implicitly recognized as kamāš (whether inter pares or not), and there is never any doubt about who it is (except in cases of open conflict). The rulers of agricultural settlements vie with each other for the allegiance of the nomads. In their forts in the agricultural settlements they are able to store grain, which they can then use to finance a militia. Such militias were used to impose a tithe and other contributions on the agricultural or pastoral populations they could control. The nomads are egalitarian, but they are encapsulated in a hierarchical system.
The overwhelming majority of Baluch are Hanafite Muslims. Although there is wide variation in the degree of religiosity, being Muslim is for these an essential component of being Baluch. There are, however, two important non-Hanafite communities. The first of these is the Bāmerī community centered on Dalgān west of Bampūr, who are Shiʿite—probably as a result of their location, which put them in close contact with the Qajar authorities. (However, it is not known when they became Shiʿite, and it should be remembered that some of the early Islamic sources suggest that some of the Baluch were Shiʿite.) The second was in the 12th-13th/18th-19th centuries a relatively large community in Makrān, Māškay, and the coast of Las Bela, who called themselves Ḏekrī (Zikri, Bal. Zigrī). Zikrism appears to have begun as a branch of the Mahdawī sect which was established late in the 9th/15th century by Sayyed Moḥammad Kāẓemī Jawnpūrī (847-910/1443-1505, q.v.), who proclaimed himself mahdī. The leaders of the sect in Makrān are said to have books, including Ṣafā-nāma-ye Mahdī and Tardīd-e mahdawīyat. Moḥammad Jawnpūrī was expelled from Jawnpūr; went to Deccan where he converted the ruler, but on the outbreak of a religious rebellion he was driven out. Eventually with a small group of followers he arrived in Sind. Again he was expelled. He went to Qandahār, where Shah Bēg Arḡūn, son of Ḏu’l-Nūn Bēg is said to have become his disciple. But the people and mullas demonstrated against him there as well. Next he went to Farāh, where according to the Tardīd he died. However, the Makrān Ḏekrīs allege that he disappeared from Farāh and after visiting Mecca, Medina, Aleppo, and other parts of Syria traveled through Persia by way of Lār to Kech, where he settled on the Kūh-e Morād outside Torbat. He preached there for ten years, converted all Makrān and died. The sect appears to be the remnant of the Mahdawī movement which assumed a definite shape in India at the end of the 9th/15th century through the teaching of Sayyed Moḥammad but died out early in the 11th/17th century. It was most probably introduced into Makrān by his disciples. As noted above, there seems to have been some connection between the success of Zikrism and rise of Bulēdī power. At the beginning of the eighteenth century when Mollā Morād Gīčkī (who has a special place in Ḏekrī history) ousted the Bulēdī, Zikrism was advanced again. (There is no evidence of any connection between this and the supposed Sikh origin of the Gīčkī tribe in Makrān.) Mollā Morād may have introduced the idea of Kūh-e Morād as substitute for the Kaʿba, and he may have dug the well known as čāh-e zamzam in front of the Torbat fort. Naṣīr Khan I sought to wipe out the heresy, and attacked and defeated Makrān partly for that purpose during the rule of Malek Dīnār, the son of Mollā Morād.
The principal doctrines of Zikrism are: that the dispensation of the Prophet has come to an end and is superseded by the Mahdī; that the Prophet’s mission was to preach and spread the doctrines of the Koran in their literal sense, but that it remained for the Mahdī to put new constructions on their meaning (the Mahdī is ṣāḥeb-e taʾwīl; ḏekr replaces namāz (ritual prayer); the fast of Ramażān is not necessary; the šahāda (confession of faith) is changed to “lā elāh ella’llāh wa Moḥammad Mahdī rasūl Allāh;” zakāt (alms tax) is replaced by ʿošr (tithe); and, finally, this world and the goods of this world should be avoided. Religious observance takes the form of ḏekr and keštī. Ḏekr is performed at stipulated times throughout the day, similarly to namāz which it replaces, and keštī is performed on specific dates. Ḏekr is repeated in two ways: ḏekr-e jalī, the formula spoken aloud and the ḏekr-e ḵafī formula is said silently. The ḏekrs are numerous, and each consists of ten or twelve lines. They are said six times a day: before dawn, early dawn, midday, before sunset, early night, and midnight. Keštī is held any Friday night which falls on the 14th of the month, and during the first ten nights of the month Ḏu’l-ḥejja, and the day following the ʿīd al-żoḥā. Principal keštī is held on the 9th night of Ḏu’l-ḥejja. It is also performed at births, circumcisions, and marriages, and in pursuance of vows. Performers form a circle, as for a typical Baluch dance. One or more women with good voices stand in the center, while the men circle round. The women sing songs praising the Mahdī and the men repeat the chorus. The ceremonies continue into the night. Ḏekr is held in places set apart as ḏekrāna. In settled communities the men and women are segregated, but not among nomads. There is no burial service. The Ḏekrī are said to hold their mullas in greater respect than Muslims (Gazetteer, VII, pp. 116-20). Since Naṣīr Khan’s crusades in the 12th/18th century, and more especially since the increased association of Islam with the ideas both of Baluch autonomy and of Pakistan, the number of adherents appears to have declined. The practice of taqīya makes it difficult to assess the number of adherents. In Iran it may have died out completely, but it appears still to be significant in Pakistani Makrān.
A number of factors seem to have led to an increase in Islamic consciousness among the Baluch in recent decades. The power of the sardars has suffered at the hands of the state in all three countries. The mawlawī (religious authorities educated in India) have taken the place of secular sardar authority in many communities—especially in Iran, where they also represent Baluch Sunni Islam, as distinct from the Persian Shiʿism. With the increase in Islamic awareness there has been an increase in the practice of secluding women among the higher classes in settled communities. However, the type of religious interest that made many Baluch susceptible to Zikrism is still in evidence in the widespread use of shrines (which may be developed out of graves or simply from natural features such as trees or hills), and the attention given to wandering dervishes (religious mendicants). It may be significant that dervishes wear their hair long, and it appears that it was customary earlier for all Baluch to wear long hair (see two photographs of Mīr Ḵodādād Khan, the tenth khan of the Baluch who ruled 1857-93 in Baluch, 1975, after p. 108).
The primary values of Baluch society are those of the pastoral Balōč, and Islamic precepts tend to be suppressed where they conflict. The Baluch are proud of their code of honor, which embodies the following principles: to avenge blood with blood; to defend to the death anyone who takes refuge in one’s dwelling; similarly to defend any article of property that is entrusted to one’s safekeeping; to extend unquestioning hospitality to any that seek it and to defend one’s guest with one’s life so long as he chooses to stay, escorting him to one’s borders (if necessary) when he chooses to leave (however, a guest who chooses to stay more than three days becomes a client and is required to explain his situation); never to kill a woman, a minor, or a non-Muslim; in a case of homicide or injury, to accept the intercession of a woman of the offender’s family; never to kill within the ḥaram of a shrine; to stop fighting if a mulla, a sayyed, or a woman carrying the Koran on the head intervenes; to kill an adulterer. None of these principles differs essentially from the similar code held by the Pashtuns and by other tribal societies in southwest Asia. They are obviously not the principles of a society with a centralized system of social control.
Other values which are prominent in Baluch discourse about the ideal Baluch society include the principle that Baluch do not engage in trade and especially that though they may sell grain and meat that they produce, they would not sell fruit or vegetables. It is the right of any traveler to sate his hunger on growing crops as he passes by. The underlying principle of the relationship of the Baluch to his land is that this territory (that all outsiders despise as waterless mountain and desert) is the ideal country, and it is up to the Baluch to adapt themselves to it, to know its resources and enjoy them. The Baluch is first and foremost a warrior and a pastoralist, and serves his community by being unquestioningly loyal to his sardar; though he may take up many other activities, he does not forget what makes him Baluch. Many writers have remarked on Baluch inattention to matters of hygiene and prophylaxis—an attitude that may derive from these principles.
The idea that Baluch society is a society of travelers is highlighted by the importance given to the institution known as ḥāl. This is a ritual of greeting and exchange of information that is enacted in various degrees of formality whenever two or more Baluch meet, whether as host and guest or away from village and camp. In the classic case, two groups of riders whose paths cross in the desert, first dismount, shake hands, and sit facing each other. Then they determine who is kamāš, who ranks senior among them. Usually this is obvious to all, or can be accomplished by a nod. The kamāš then “takes the news”—presides over a session in which each asks after the health of the others and their families and recounts what is newsworthy in their recent experience. The ritual may or may not include real or important news. It is carried out even if both sides have met recently. It is often done in Baluchi, even by travelers who have another native language. Most of the phrases are stereotyped and given in a peculiar intonation. The right to take the news is the test of social rank in Makrān.
The code along with these other related values constitutes the ideal against which Baluch-ness is measured. In practice there is much deviation. In the case of vengeance killing it is interesting to see how some of those interested in establishing some degree of centralized authority in Baluch society (not only the khan) modified the code. The Marī tribal council recognized a graded scale of blood compensation for men: sardar or other member of ruling lineage, Rs 8,000; wadēra (leader of a section of the tribe), mukaddam (Ar. moqaddam, leader of a community), and other prominent men (muʿtabarē mard), Rs 4-7,000; kawmī mard (commoners), seyyāl (other Baluch, Pathans), Rs 2,000; women and non-Baluch, Rs 1,000. In western Baluchistan there was a traditional blood price alternative to vengeance killing, which varied from tribe to tribe, generally between twelve and eighteen thousand rupees earlier in this century. For instance, for the Rind it was Rs 12,000: if a Rind were killed by a man from another tribe Rs 12,000 would have to be paid to the dead man’s family to settle the feud. However, it was not usually paid in cash, and the interpretation in kind varied according to circumstances. Furthermore, before settlement could be made the two parties had to be brought together, which would be difficult unless both parties acknowledged the same sardar. If they did, the sardar would exact a fine from the offender (say 500 rupees) and attempt to bring them to agreement. For instance, in an area where donkeys were valued, a good donkey might be accepted as the first Rs 1,000. If the settlement was earnestly desired by the injured party, Rs 100 might be accepted for another thousand, and so on. If agreement could not be reached, the close relatives of the dead man (father, brother, son, uncle, or cousin, according to age and means) would seek to kill the killer, or, in some cases a comparable man from the same tribe. Such a second killing again would require settlement in the same way and negotiations would reopen. Once the settlement was made the offending party might give a woman (of suitable social status) in marriage to a close relative of the dead man to seal it. Alternatively, the killer would go to the home of the killed according to the refugee principle in the code of honor. But he would be likely to do this only if the killing had been accidental, or if he very much regretted it. He would normally take with him a shaikh (religious man) or other kamāš. The Bārakzay, who aspired to create a centralized Baluch state, claim that they had no hūn (Persian ḵūn “blood”); they would either kill or forgive.
The material culture and technology of the Baluch also differ little from those of their neighbors. The dress of men is wide baggy trousers drawn in at the ankle and tied at the waist, a long shirt, and turban. But women’s dress is distinctive—a full shift with a deep front center pocket. The women’s dress still (and the men’s dress previously) is distinguished by embroidery. It is not clear to what extent the ornateness of men’s dress until recently was a function of the pomp that developed around the khan of Kalat under the British, and may have been derived from India. But although they are generally geometrical (like, for example, those of the Turkmen) it is difficult to trace the designs of women’s embroidery to non-Baluch origins. Carpets (see v, below) do not appear to have been woven in Baluchistan until very recently. The only textiles of any significance produced traditionally in Baluchistan, other than clothing, were a coarse thick one-sided flatweave, and the dhurrie that was woven in Las Bela. Other handicrafts that deserve mention are the products of the ubiquitous pīš. Nomads weave the dried leaves into matting and elaborate basketry and even spoons and water pipes; they twist them into rope from which they make sandals (Baluchi sawās) and harnesses. There is also local pottery made by specialists in a few village communities. The subject of dwelling construction requires a special note. Beside goat-hair (black) and pīš-matting tents and mud-brick and adobe houses, there are a number of dwelling types in Makrān that are less mobile than tents and less permanent than mud. One of these is a frame constructed of date-palm leaf stems tied with pīš rope and covered with pīš matting in the shape of an egg cut lengthwise. Another type is domed; the dome is covered with pīš stems, the walls built of reeds or date palm stems, covered with mats and sometimes roughcast with mud, resembling a yurt. There are also flat-roofed shelters without walls (Baluchi kāpar, Persian kapar), and the water-cooled ḵār-ḵāna, in which an opening on the windward side is packed densely with camel thorn (Alhagi camelorum) and kept wet. Most of these types are also found elsewhere in southern Iran (see Gershevitch, 1959, passim, with illustrations).
The material culture and technology of Baluch pastoralism emphasize accommodation to the variation in natural conditions. Apart from their seasonal movement between pastures, and their movement from camp to camp in the continual reshuffling of camp-communities, nomadic Baluch are always on the move. They need to travel widely in order to cultivate small plots of land, to find stray animals, to keep up visiting obligations, to purchase grain and other nonpastoral commodities, to make pilgrimages, and to cultivate political connections. They live in a mētag or halk (ḵalq “camp”); typically they cooperate with kin and affines in the management of one or more flocks; they cultivate small plots which provide fruit and vegetables and sometimes a little grain or a fodder crop, and they have a reciprocal relationship with a farming community which allows them to participate in the date harvest in return for sharing their milk and dairy products in the spring. In the summer of 1964 a typical area for Makrān mountain nomads (Salāhkoh) contained 72 tents in an area of some 400 square miles. They were distributed in twelve encampments of two to nine tents each. The camps move irregularly according to rainfall. Rains produce various effects: a slow steady rain resuscitates the range, but does not produce runoff to irrigate a crop; a flash flood often alters the configuration and depth of a torrent bed and the subsequent availability of surface water, and affects rights to agricultural land. Beside different combinations of agriculture and pastoralism, the Balōč run varying numbers of camels, sheep, goats, cattle, and even water buffalo, with the addition of donkeys for transport, and in some parts mules or horses for prestige riding. Their nomadism allows them the flexibility not only to exploit the best pasture within reach, but to integrate other resources into their annual cycle. They think of their society in terms of a community of camps rather than a collection of separate camp communities. Although there has been a tendency toward sedentarization since the 1960s, it has been stronger in the Sarḥadd, Sarawan-Jahlawan, and the northeast than Makrān, where it continues to be possible for nomads to offset drought years with earnings in the Persian Gulf states.
The main fixed point around which the annual cycle revolves is āmēn (Persian hāmīn), the date harvest, when all (except a minimum number of shepherds who remain behind with the flocks) move off to the vicinity of a large date-growing area. For while the greater part of the date crop is probably grown by šahrī settlements, dates are of no less importance to the Balōč than to the šahrī. Āmēn is looked forward to as the axis of the annual cycle. Prophesies are made of the exact day when the dates will turn color (which happens a month before ripening). Everyone talks about how much fruit the palms will bear this year, and later how the season is progressing, and takes samples from community to community for comparison. There are no other essential agricultural or pastoral tasks. Āmēn is the season for visiting and all forms of celebration that do not have to be held at another time of the year.
Many nomads spend a disproportionate amount of their time on band cultivation. A band maximizes the use of irregular and ephemeral stream flow or runoff and at the same time accumulates and evens out soil deposits in mountainous or undulating terrain, where either soil or soil moisture would otherwise be insufficient for cultivation. It is a dry stone or earthen structure built across the course of drainage in order to hold the water while it drops its silt and sinks slowly through the accumulated deposit. As a low investment technology in isolated mountainous areas with sparse population such as Baluchistan, and especially Makrān, it provides them with the capability of raising small quantities of fruit and vegetables and supplementary crops of grain. It may have been more important in pre-Balōč times (Raikes, 1965).
Throughout most of Baluchistan direct rainfall is of negligible value for agriculture, but one of the most important sources of water for irrigation is the runoff and wadi flooding which are the immediate results of rainfall. With little assistance the runoff from a whole catchment is gathered by the nature of the terrain itself and directed onto prepared fields, along with its invaluable sediment. However, although a considerable volume of water is thus made available, the supply is extremely irregular, and will not generally support permanent settlement. In some parts wells are operated by hand by means of counterpoised water-lifts (see ābyārī). The most important example is probably in the Dalgān, west of Bampūr. In places where there is a shallow water table with a large catchment these can be reasonably reliable, but nevertheless do not provide enough water to justify permanent agricultural settlement. In the mountain ranges which cross the southern part of the area many of the larger river beds retain flowing water in parts throughout the year. Staple crops include wheat, barley, millet, sorghum, rice, beans, onions, and dates, but pomegranates, bananas, papaw, mango, and many other fruits and vegetables are also grown.
The conditions of irrigated agriculture in settled communities in Baluchistan are very different from the cultivation of nomads. Communities vary between a few hundred and a few thousand, but conform mostly to a recognizable pattern: The cultivation is done largely by serfs or helotized smallholders; in the center is a fort—often high and imposing; the fort was traditionally occupied by a ruler, who by means of various forms of taxation or ownership effectively commanded the greater part of the agricultural production, and used his position to build and rebuild networks of alliances with similar agricultural centers and with the nomads who controlled the expanses of mountain and desert between the settlements. Although most holdings in Baluchistan were small compared to the more fertile part of the plateau, some sardars accumulated considerable estates. The most significant were those of Mīr Aḥmad-Yār Khan Aḥmadzay, Ataullah Khan Mengal (the sardar of one of the largest tribes), Qaws Bux Bizenjo, Qaws Bux Raisani, Dōdā Khan Zārakzay, Nabī-baḵš Zehrī. Similarly, in Kharan the Nowšērvānī, especially Ḡolām Moṣṭafā Nowšērvānī; in Makrān the Gīčkī; in Sibi the Būgṭī, especially Nawab Moḥammad Akbar Khan Būgṭī, and the Marī, especially Nawab Khair Bux Mari, and in Chagai and Afghanistan the Sanjarānī, Jamāldīnī, and Bādīnī. In Iran the Bārakzay had by far the largest holdings, but the Bozorgzāda, Bulēdī, Sardārzay, and Šīrānī were also wealthy.
Despite these large holdings, Baluchistan is extremely arid, and for the most part suited to only the most extensive forms of resource use, such as goat or camel husbandry. Perennial irrigation on any significant scale has until recently been available only at Bampūr. Other historically important agricultural areas are Kolwa, Dasht, Las Bela, Daštīārī, and Kacchi (the last three of which have been developed recently to varying extents); but these depended traditionally on seasonal flood diversion and were less reliable. Otherwise, reliable cultivation is supported only in a certain number of well-defined locations, where cultivable soil and an accessible supply of water suitable for irrigation coincide, mostly in river valleys, especially the valleys of the Māškīd and its tributaries, the Kech and the Sarbāz. Investment in qanāts (Baluchi kahn; the standard term in Pakistan otherwise is kārēz) irrigation, which has always been important in the Māškīd and Kech basins, possibly from the earliest times, began to be expanded in the last century. Since the middle of this century irrigation has expanded again as a result of the availability of cheap energy for pumping ground water—diesel in Iran and the national electricity grid which has been extended into Sarawan in Pakistan. Kārēz building is being expanded again in Makrān, financed by remittances from the Persian Gulf.
Final remarks. Compared to most of the other tribal or ethnic minorities of the Iranian world the Baluch (in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) are probably more linguistically diverse and stratified and pluralistic. The nature of the topography has made communication difficult and the paucity and sparseness of natural resources have limited the size of settlements. Potential leaders have been unable to build up large confederacies or otherwise extend their authority beyond their immediate constituencies. Pashtuns, Punjabis, Sindhis, Bashkardis, Sistanis all experience natural conditions similar to those of their nearest Baluch neighbors. Apart from the use of Baluchi as a lingua franca and a particular hierarchical type of political structure, most Baluch cultural features are also shared by their neighbors. Similarly, the history of most parts of the world is to some extent a function of interference from outside. The geography and ecology are directly related to the settlement pattern, which places special constraints on political development and others particular opportunities to outside influence. The structural factors are a function of both the settlement pattern and the cultural history of the populations that came to the area. The final result could not have come about if the history of Iran and India had not led to particular types of interference and withdrawal at particular times. What distinguishes the Baluch (as distinct from the Balōč) from their neighbors is presumably, therefore, the peculiar combination of their geography, culture, and dependency which has led them to subscribe to a common language and set of political ideas.