Swat History

SWAT IN THE YEAR 1862, AS DESCRIBED BY MAJOR HENRY GEORGE RAVERTY (PART 24)

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 24)

The Suwatis of Lower Suwat sow all the available land near the river with rice ; and that nearer to the hills with joari (holcus sorgum), cotton, tobacco, mash (phascolus max), urrd (phaseolus mungo), and palez, consisting of melons and the like. The higher ground, still nearer the hills, they have appropriated to their villages and burying grounds; and numbers of villages, for this reason, have been built close to the hills. However, where the river, in its windings, encroaches more on one side than the other, that is to say, when the river approaches the hills on the light, or lanwdah side of the valley, the left, or wuchah side is more open and expansive; and here the villages will be found lower down towards the centre of the valley. These villages lying lower down have from the windings of the river, and the different branches into which it separates as already stated, streams of water running through them, very often, indeed, more than there is any need of. The villages at the foot of the different hills also, have, generally, small streams flowing close by towards the main river.

From Allah-ddandd to Chhar-bagh on the wuchah side of the valley; and from Chak-darah to Banddi or the lanwdah, which places face each other, the villages are small and very close together; i whilst lower down the valley towards the south-west, and higher up towards the north-east, the villages are larger, and at a greater distance apart, often from two to three miles.

In the more elevated parts of the valley, where rice is not cultivated, the land lying between the villages and the rise of the mountains, is set apart for wheat and barley, and is dependent entirely on rain for irrigation.

 The Afghan tribes, like all Muhammadans, have a great respect for the last resting-places of their own dead, at least; but the Suwatis seem to feel little compunction or respect on this head. I have already mentioned that the strip of land lying between the villages and the rise of the mountains, is set apart for the cultivation of wheat and barley, and that, in that land also, their burying grounds are situated. After a few years they allow these fields to lie fallow for some time and plough up all the burying grounds, and, in future, bury the dead in the fallow land! This may be consequent on the small quantity of land available for purposes of agriculture; but still, it appears a very horrible custom.

On such occasions as I have referred to, they get as many ploughs together as the village contains; and preparatory to the commencement of operations, it is customary to cry out to the dead: “Look to yourselves! tuck up your legs: the plough is coming!” after which they set to work and plough up the whole. They, however, appear to have some respect for persons who may have been of any repute among them, and do not disturb their graves; neither do they disturb the graves of those who may have been slain whilst fighting against the Kafirs or infidels; for such are held in the light of martyrs.

There appears to me to be no particular reason why the graveyards should be disturbed, in this manner, save on account of the paucity of land for such a large population, and the avarice of the Suwati Afghans ; for they have more grain than they can consume, since they export large quantities. Another reason may be their stupidity ; and a third, that they are of so many different clans, and do not respect the dead of others as much as their own. When the lands are redistributed, and a clan removes to another place, the new comers do not consider the dead as theirs, and hence show no compunction about disturbing them. With my own eyes I saw ploughs which were just passing over a grave. I asked those who were guiding them: “ Why do you thus disturb the dead in this manner.” I received this reply: “ That they may go to Makka the blessed.” What can be expected after this?

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 264-266

The Chief Editor of the website (www.swatencyclopedia.com) is Jalal Uddin. He hails from Saidu Sharif, Swat. He is M.phil Scholar and his research field is Swat State. He regularly writes on Swat State and its various aspects.
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The Chief Editor of the website (www.swatencyclopedia.com) is Jalal Uddin. He hails from Saidu Sharif, Swat. He is M.phil Scholar and his research field is Swat State. He regularly writes on Swat State and its various aspects.
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