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 28)
When Khan Kachu or Kaju, Rarrni-zi, became chief of the Yusufzis, he decreed that the chief of Suwat should not be required, on a re-distribution of the lands, to vacate the town or village, in which he dwelt, on any occasion. At this time he himself dwelt at Allah-ddandd, so that town was exempted accordingly; but notwithstanding that rule, the lands were, and still are, included in the re-distribution as well as others. This was also confirmed by Hamzah Khan when he succeeded to the chieftainship.
The houses of Suwat, generally, consist of four walls built of mud mixed with sand. On the top of this a few rafters are laid, and dry grass spread over them; and over this a layer of plaster is laid of the same materials as the walls. They rarely last more than a few years; but this is of little consequence when they have to vacate them about once every three or four. The mosques, and houses of the Hindus, are built of stone in a substantial manner; but those of the Afghans are all alike. The residence of Mir Ealam Khan of Tarnah, and that of the Chiefs of Allah-ddandd, were similar to the house I occupied near you, whilst at Peshawar in 1849, but that had white-wash, and theirs had not.
Some peculiar customs are observed in Suwat, which appear to be very ancient.
In all suits and disputes, contrary to the Sharia or orthodox law of Muhammad, which is observed by all tribes of Afghans, as well as other Musalmans, in Suwat the plaintiff, instead of the defendant, is put on his oath, as in English courts of justice.
When a person may have had anything stolen from him, he calls upon the person or persons whom he may suspect, to give him a saed that is to say, as they understand the word, to produce a respectable person who knows him (the suspected party) and get him to swear that he (the defendant) has not stolen the property in question. If the suspected party can produce a saed who swears to the above effect, he is considered innocent; but if a saed, so produced, will not take the required oath in favour of the suspected thief, he is considered guilty, and has to make good the property stolen. These two customs have been handed down from the time of Shaykh Mali.
Another curious custom, and a very good one for such a primitive state of society, is, that when two Khans or Maliks chance to fall out, or have any dispute, the people expel both parties from the place. The two disputants are then termed sharruni or, the Driven Out, or Expelled, from the Pushto verb sharral, to drive away, &c.; and in this state they are compelled to seek shelter in other villages, and are obliged to live on the charity of those who will take them in ; for they lose all civil rights on such occasions, and have no claim to wife, or children, dwelling, cattle, horses, or anything whatsoever. Some continue in this helpless state until they can come to an accommodation or reconciliation, which, often, does not take place for years. In Upper Suwat they are even more severe than this; for there they expel the families also, and confiscate the property of the disputants altogether. One would imagine such stringent rules would tend to keep the peace, if any thing would; yet these people seem to be always at feud, notwithstanding.
Whenever two Maliks or headmen of a village quarrel, the strongest, or the victorious one, if they come to blows, drives the other out of the village. After some time, the fugitive manages, by bribes and other means, to gain over to his side some of the friends and supporters of the successful party, and all the discontented flock to him. After a time he finds an opportunity, when his own party is strong and the other is weak, to enter the village and drive his rival out. This is enacted over and over again, now one is a fugitive, now another; and this it is that causes such contentions in these parts. The disturbance I previously referred to as having taken place in Lower Suwat, after I left the valley, extended as far up as Chhar-bagh. The whole of the Rarrni-zis girded up their loins to destroy Tarnah; and from Chhar-bagh to Lower Suwat, all were ready for this purpose, and two battles were fought, one to the north of Tarrnah, and another further south. The Tarnah people, however, were victorious, having obtained assistance from their clansmen of Buner.
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 271-272.
TO BE CONTINUED..