Swat History


Major Henry George Raverty’s brief work with the title, ‘An account of Upper and Lower Suwat, and the Kohistan, to the source of the Suwat River; with an account of the tribes inhabiting those valleys’  was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal  (Volume XXXI, No.I. To V. 1862) Calcutta in the year 1862.  That work of Major Raverty is produced here on this website for the interest of the readers and research scholars. Raverty wrote: (PART 18)

The flocks and herds consist of bullocks, cows, sheep, mules, and numbers of goats. There are also hogs, brorrahs, (a species of wood-louse), and fleas in swarms. Indeed it is said the fleas of this part are more numerous than those of Suwat, from which, Heaven defend us!

The dress of the Kohistanis consists of garments woven wholly from pashm, the peculiar wool or fur of these parts, with which several animals are provided. They do not wear shoes, but twist strips of the leather of cows or goats about the feet and legs as far as the knee, but the feet are protected by sandals, the two great-toes being left bare. The women dress similarly to the men, with the exception of the covering for the legs.

The people are very fair and comely; and the women, who go about unveiled, are very handsome.

The cultivation depends upon rain. They do not use the plough, but a kind of hoe or mattock, to turn up the land with, or otherwise make holes in the ground, into which the seed is inserted. Wheat and barley are by no means plentiful; but joari (holcus sorgum) is. Fruit is more abundant in the Kohistan than in Suwat, but much of the same description. The winter is severe; and snow falls in great quantities.

The Suwatis import grain; and thread, needles, and coarse blue cotton cloths from Peshawar; and salt from the Khattak country is imported into the Kohistan.

The following customs are observed as regards hospitality. Whenever a guest, that is to say a traveller in general, or a stranger, reaches the Hujrah, or apartment set apart for the reception of guests, in the same manner as throughout Afghanistan, it is necessary that one of the attendants who has charge, should warn the person in the village, whose turn it is to supply the guest with victuals; for all have to do so in turn. If the guests should require more than this person has it in his power to furnish, the next party, whose turn may follow, is also warned to supply the guests. Should a great man arrive, such as a Khan or Chief, or a Saiyid, or the like, with twenty or thirty persons in his train, the kettle drum at the hujrah is beaten to give notice that lots of meat and clarified butter are required for their use. On this every person who has any meat of rather too high a flavour to be very palatable to himself, gives due notice that he has some; and this is either taken to the hujrah to be cooked, or the person who supplies it, cooks it, and sends it to the hujrah for the use of the guests. They do not eat fresh meat in the Kohistan, but leave it to hang until it becomes very high, or almost rotten, and then cook it. Fresh meat, they say, is the food, not of men, but of ravenous beasts.

After this long digression we may now return to Pia, the northern most village in Upper Suwat.

As there was no raft at this place, (for such a thing as a boat is not known) we had to return our steps down the river, a short dis tance, to Banawrri where we found one, and crossed over to the village of Landdaey, which is about two hundred paces from the right bank, the breadth of the stream at this ferry being about one hundred yards. The banks were very steep here, and the river was very deep. I observed that where the river was deep, the banks were steep and scarped; but where the water spread out, the banks were like the sea-shore, more sloping, and gravelly.

Reference (Source Details):

‘An account of Upper and Lower Suwat, and the Kohistan, to the source of the Suwat River; with an account of the tribes inhabiting those valleys’  was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal  (Volume XXXI, No.I. To V. 1862) Calcutta, pages 254-255


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