chitral valley

The Kalash people as an ancient cultural continuum between South Asia and Europe

The Kalash people practice an ancient form of Indo-European [polytheism] in an unbroken tradition having survived against all odds in a remote mountain region of northern Pakistan. The isolated Chitral Valley is home to Dardic people who speak an ancient Indo-European language called Nuristani. This is what remained when the Indo-Iranian and Indo-Aryan subgroups cleaved off after their invasion of the Indian subcontinent. Their religion descends from the Rigvedic period and they have close genetic ties to modern Europeans.

Some of their religious customs echo pre-christian Slavic ones – a cosmic dualism pitting a thunder god against a chthonic rival, a polymorphic fertility deity, animal sacrifice, use of wooden idols and a corpus of nature spirits. Their pantheon even includes a female deity of death named Mara. The women’s clothing bare remarkable resemblance to Slavic folk costume, especially the Ukrainian type. 

Whats more, the Kalash have a winter solstice ritual that may yield precious clues to the meaning behind Slavic yule log (Bozic/Badnjak/Budnik) tradition. Here a young boy assumes the role of the polymorphic solar fertility hero by taking to the hills during summer. He returns to his community and completes the rite of passage during the night of the winter solstice. Per Wikipedia,“This includes the Festival of the Budulak (buḍáḷak, the ‘shepherd king’). In this festival, a strong prepubescent boy is sent up into the mountains to live with the goats for the summer. He is supposed to get fat and strong from the goat milk. When the festival comes he is allowed for a 24-hour period only to have sexual intercourse with any woman he wants, including even the wife of another man, or a young virgin. Any child born of this 24-hour period is considered to be blessed. “


I wanted to do a little feature on Krizmah bags for a long time because they are everything I love in handbags - they tell stories, illustrate a rich heritage and most importantly use women artisans on the ground to not only empower them economically but also allow them to tell their own stories through the images depicted on the bags. 

“Living with otherwise limited opportunities to improve the quality of their lives, KRIZMAH allows these mothers to embroider at home, without neglecting their daily housework and responsibilities. KRIZMAH is also providing scholarships to the daughters of these women, so that they benefit from a stronger education and secure a finer future for themselves and eventually their own families.”

Krizmah roots come from a valley located in Pakistan called, Chitral. The handbags tell tales of the traditions and history of Chitral through illustrations of local customs, beliefs, folklore, and Polo, a game very much part of the culture of Chitral that is still alive in this beautiful mountain valley. Chitral is home to one of the worlds highest polo ground in the world and the people of Chitral breathe this game like others breathe football or cricket. 

“Echoing the unique stories and aspirations of the hands that constructed it, each piece is an absolute original.”

The King Of Darkness - Tirich Mir (7,708 m), Hindu Kush, Pakistan.

Tirich Mir is the highest mountains outside Himalayas-Karakoram Range and the highest mountain in the Hindu Kush Range. It is believed the origin of the name Tirich Mir is “King of Tirich” as Tirich is the name of a side valley of the Mulkhow valley of Chitral which leads up to Tirich Mir. An alternative etymology derives its name from the Wakhi language. In Wakhi trich means shadow or darkness and mir means king so Tirich Mir means king of darkness. It could have got this name as it causes long shadows on the Wakhan side of its face.


The Rise of Trinity - Chitral Gol National Park, Pakistan
June 2014 
Co-ordinates: 35°53'11.83"N, 71°46'4.00"E 

This shot was taken from Summer Palace location near Chitral city which is at an altitude of 8,300 ft ASL and overlooks the whole Chitral Valley on either side. A jeep ride of 1 hour takes you to Summer Palace from Chitral city and forest rest house is further 30 minutes away.

Mobeen Mazhar Photography- Fb