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 27)

Out of the bounds of Lower Suwat are the Doshah-khels to the west of the river, and the Utman-khels to the east; and beyond the bounds of Upper Suwat are the Akhund-khels, the descendants of Akhund Darwezah, who are Tajiks, that is to say, are not Afghans. These two khels, however, are, not considered as included in Suwat. The Doshah-khels are located on the west side of the river, beyond the bounds of the Khwado-zis, of the Khadak-zi clan. When the Doshah-khels, who formerly dwelt in the hills behind or to the north of the Khadak-zis, descended from their hills, from time to time; they, by paying money to some, practising deception with others, and, according to the Afghan custom, taking by force in other cases, succeeded in acquiring a few villages and some lands, which, had they been wholly in the plain, and not in the hills, I could have visited. The lands they thus acquired they have not built villages upon, but have set them apart for cultivation only. Three of their best villages are, Ttala, Bagh, and Pingal.

All to the west of Tutakan and Matakani is out of Suwat and is called the country of the Utman-khel. The village of Hissar, also, is not considered to be in Suwat.

Beyond the bounds of the Ba’i-zis of the Janak-khel, in Upper Suwat, to the north-east, lies Buner, which belongs to other branches of the great tribe of Yusufzi. On the opposite side of this part of the valley, beyond the mountains, lies the valley of the Ushiri river, belonging to the Malizi branch of the Yusufzs, known as the tribes of Panjkorah. Beyond the mountains bounding the Kohistan or upper valley of the Suwat river, the country of the Yasin prince lies, and the Gilgittis, who, also, are not Afghans.

It was a natural consequence in the distribution of the lands of Suwat amongst his people, by Shaykh Mali, that some would have good land whilst others would have inferior; and that sagacious chief foreseeing that disputes would arise in consequence, instituted the peculiar custom of an interchange of lands, after a certain number of years; and to which the name khasarrni and wesh was given, from the mode of drawing lots amongst this simple race of people, by means of small straws of different lengths. To this custom all the tribe agreed; and from that time, varying from periods of ten to twenty, and even thirty years, the lands are redistributed amongst the different Khels or families, together with the dwellings thereon, by drawing lots for the different portions. This custom is, with a few minor exceptions, in full force at the present time.

Some fifty years since, each tapah district or division was drawn lots for; but at present, this is done away with, and the people of each tapah draw lots amongst themselves in the following manner. First the people of each village draw lots for their lands and village, which when determined, the people of each street or division of a village draw lots for their portion; and, lastly, the families of each street or division draw lots for their portions. For example: we will suppose the village of Kabul which I have been holding with my clan, falls to you, who have been holding the village of Kandahar. On the re-distribution I get Kandahar and you get Kabul. We afterwards cast lots among our own clans, and I find the house you occupied falls to my share; and the house I occupied falls to yours. On becoming aware of this, we examine the two houses, and if they are about the same size and value, we exchange on equal terms; but if one house be better than the other, one of us must pay something for the difference. If this is not agreed upon, we remove our effects from each, take away the doors, remove the grass and rafters from the roof, and leave only the bare walls standing, otherwise a feud would ensue; for such is the bull-headed pride and obstinacy of the Afghan race.

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 270-271.


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