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 29)
When fighting amongst each other, the Afghans of these parts never interfere with, or injure the fakirs or helots of each other ; nor do they injure their women, or children, or their guests, or strangers within their gates; and such might serve as an example to nations laying claim to a high state of civilization.
The people of Suwat are said sometimes to observe the same custom, as practised by the Afridi tribe of Afghans, viz., that of selling, or rather bartering their wives, sometimes for money, and sometimes for cattle or other property they may require or desire. But having witnessed the complete system of petticoat Government under which the Afghans of Suwat, like the English, are content to dwell, I cannot place much faith in their having the courage to do so. The women in this valley enjoy more liberty, and rule the men to a far greater degree than is known amongst other Afghans, who are so very particular in this respect. I will mention one instance as an example. The Khans or Chiefs of Tarnah, who are the highest in rank and power in the valley, permit the females of their families, in parties of fifteen or twenty at a time, consisting of young girls, young married, middle-aged, and old women, to come down to Mardan in the Samah, some thirty or forty miles distant from home, without a single male accompanying them, on pleasure or visiting excursions. They stay at the house of the head man of the village; and return home after the third or fourth day. At the very time I was proceeding into Suwat with the Khan Sahib, we fell in with one of these pleasure parties of that very family, some twenty in number. They staid the first night at Kasamaey, and the next at Jamal Garraey, at the residence of Muhammad Afzal Khan, Khattak, the chief of that place, and the next day started for the place they were going to remain at for a few days. Although there is no fear of evil consequences arising from these excursions ; yet the Afghans, generally, never, for a moment, allow their females to go out of their sight, for three or four days at a time, without a single male relation to take care of them. It therefore seems almost impossible, that men, who are so much subject to, and so obedient to their wives, would venture to sell them, or even dare to make the attempt.
The Afghans of Suwat, like others of their countrymen, are very hospitable. When strangers enter a village, and it be the residence of a Khan or Chief, he entertains the whole party; but if there be no great man resident in the place, each stranger of the party is taken by some villager to his house, and is entertained as his guest.
As respects the physical constitution of the people of Suwat, I should say that the men, for Afghans, are weakly, thin, and apparently feeble, whilst the women on the other hand are strong, stout, and buxom. I know of no aboriginal people of Suwat still existing in the valley under the simple name of Suwatis. The Afghans of this part are dark in colour, short in stature, or rather of middle size, generally thin, and if stout, they have, usually, large puffy stomachs and buttocks like fat Hindus.
The Gujars are graziers, and are to be found in the Peshawar valley as well as in Suwat and other hill districts of this part of Afghanistan. They speak Panjabi amongst themselves; and they, probably, are the remains of the aboriginal people of these districts, who were conquered by the Afghans when they first made their appearance east of the Khaibar in the fifteenth century of the Christian Era, and not before the time of Alexander of Macedon, as the oracle of the “News of the Churches,” and his compeers are foolish enough to attempt to make people believe, contrary to historical proof.
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 273-275.
TO BE CONTINUED..