Swat History

SWAT IN THE YEAR 1862, AS DESCRIBED BY MAJOR HENRY GEORGE RAVERTY (PART 30)

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 30)

The females of Suwat are not veiled. When they meet a man advancing along a road, they look down modestly and pass on; But the younger women turn their backs generally, and come to a stand still, until the man has passed by. They are, however, very plain, but still look like Afghans ; But the men bear little resemblance to that fine and handsome race in form and feature ; for they are dark in complexion, and emaciated in appearance. During our journey this was frequently remarked; for they appeared more like the Gujars of the Samah or Plain, below the mountains. If  Durkhana’i was at all like the present race of Suwati maidens, we must suppose Adam Khan to have been crazy to have fallen in love with her. I was told, however, by travellers, who had resided in the valley for some time, that, now and then, some very beautiful countenances may be seen; but I place little faith on what they say; for, when I have inquired what they consider beautiful, I never found their ideas come up to my standard of good looks.

In the morning, the Suwatis breakfast on a dish called aogrrah in Pushto, which is made by boiling rice to a dry state, and then mixing buttermilk with it until it assumes the consistence of porridge. It is eaten with a spoon. In the middle of the day, they make their dinner off unleavened bread, and greens sprinkled with a little salt; but use no clarified butter. In the evening they again take aogrrah for supper. Clarified or other butter and meat they do not eat, unless a guest or a stranger should drop in, and then not a mouthful scarcely; for they only kill a fowl for six persons! If such, be the criterion in the house of a Chief, as we found, nothing but aogrrah, dry bread, and greens, without butter, can be expected at the board of the humbler villagers. This may account for their weakly looking appearance.

The lower ranges of hills, on both sides of the valley, are destitute of trees, but are covered with grass; and viewing them from the central parts, one would fancy they were covered with velvet, they appear so beautiful, The next, or highest ranges on either side are covered with forests, which may be seen from the lower part of the valley every here and there, overtopping the lower hills. These forests chiefly consist of the jalghozah or pine, and the zaitun or wild olive. The chinar or plane flourishes also. The trees are, generally, of large growth, and bear marks of great antiquity. In fact there are planes on the banks of the main river and its tributaries, about the mosques, in the fields, and in the villages, indeed, in all directions, save the lower part of the valley where they are few. The husbandman’s home, from morning until night, when working in the fields, is the plane tree, under which, in the cool shade, he rests himself, and where his family bring him his food. The other trees I noticed are the willow, the bakayarrn (melia sempervirens,) and the palma christi. The great subject of regret there is, that Suwat has no flowers.

I have mentioned the names of nearly all the different trees; but in a country where the grave-yards are not allowed to remain undisturbed, it is not likely that there would be much in the shape of thickets, brakes, or weeds or brambles left.

The principal fruits consist of grapes, green, and not very sweet; figs, dark in colour and small in size; apples, of large size and fine flavour and colour; the tangu, a fruit in shape like an apple, but in flavour like a pear; the mamusa’i, a species of pear, a winter fruit; the amluk (a species of Diospyros) also a winter fruit, but not produced in any quantity; the ddanbarah, another winter fruit; the jalghozah or chalghozah or pine nut, in immense quantities; the sanjit, or makh-rurna’i (in Pushto signifying, shining-face, honest,) a species of Eleagnis, but growing generally near burying-grounds along with the wild olive; peaches in great quantities ; mulberries ; and pomegranates.

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 275-276.

TO BE CONTINUED..

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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