Baloch people

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Total population
10 to 15 million[citation needed]
Regions with significant populations
 Pakistan approx 6,900,000 (2013)[1]
 Iran 1,557,000[2]
 Oman 434,000 (2009)[3][4][5]
 Afghanistan 300,000 (2009)[6]
 United Arab Emirates 100,000 [7]
 India 60,000 [8]
 Turkmenistan 30,000 [9][10]
Brahui, Persian, and Arabic are also spoken depending on area of residence.
Predominantly Sunni Islam[11] but also Mahdavi(Zikri),Sufism, Shia with minorities of Christianity and Zoroastrianism
Related ethnic groups
Other Iranian peoples

The Baloch or Baluch (Balochi: بلوچ) live mainly in the Balochistan region of the Iranian plateau in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

They are an Iranian people and mainly speak Balochi language which itself is a branch of the Iranian languages, and more specifically of the Northwestern Iranian languages. The Baloch population worldwide is estimated to be in the range of 10 to 15 million. They make nearly 4% of the Pakistani population and live in the Pakistani provinces of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab. They make up 2% of Iran's population (1.5 million). There are many Baloch living in other parts of the world, with the bulk living in Arab states of the Persian Gulf (Eastern Arabia). However, the exact number of Baloch and GCC citizens of Baloch ancestry is difficult to determine.

About 50% of the total Baloch population live in East Balochistan, a western province of Pakistan.[12] 40% Baloch are settled in Sindh and also a significant number of Baloch people in South Punjab of Pakistan. Many of the rest live in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, India and in some parts of Africa, namely Kenya (Mombasa, Malindi, Nairobi and Lamu), Tanzania (Rujewa and Tabora have a large community, Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia Island), Uganda (Kabramaido, Kalaki). Small communities of Baloch people also live in Europe particularly Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England and in Perth, Australia, where they arrived in the 19th century.[citation needed]


Iranian Baloch khans in Qajar era, c. 1884
Baloch of Nimruz Province, Afghanistan

The first settlement of the Baloch people is Aleppo from where they migrated to Iraq where they remained until, siding the sons of Hazrat Ali and taking part in the Battle of Karbala against Yazid I, they were expelled by Yazid, the second of the Umayyad Caliphs, in 680 AD. Thence they first went to Kerman, and eventually to Sistan where they were hospitably received by Shams-ud-Din, ruler of that region. According to Dames there was a Shams-ud-Din, independent Malik of Sistan, who claimed descent from the Saffarids of Persia who died in 1164 AD (559 AH) or nearly 500 years after the Baloch migration from Aleppo. Badr-ud-Din appears to be unknown to history. His successor, Badr-ud-Din, demanded, according to eastern usage, a girl from each of the 44 tribes of the Baloch. But the Balochs had never paid tribute in this form to any ruler, and they sent therefore 44 boys dressed in girls' clothes and fled before the deception could be discovered. Badr-ud-Din sent the boys back but pursued the Baloch, who had fled south-eastwards, into Kech-Makran where he was defeated at their hands. At this period Mir Jalal Khan, son of Mir Jiand Khan the first, was the ruler of all the Baloch. He left four sons, Rind, Lashar, Hooth, and Korai, and a daughter Jato, who married his nephew Murad MirJat. These five are the eponymous founders of the five great divisions of the tribe, the Rinds, Lasharis, Hooths, Korais,Kubras and Jatois.[13]


Baloch and Alexander's empire
The Achaemenid empire at its greatest extent, including the satrap of ancient Maka
Baloch and Alexander's empire
Baloch tribes and the paths that Alexander the Great took.
Gwadar in Makran
View of a beach in Makran region.

Maka is mentioned by Greek historian Herodotus as one of the early satraps of Cyrus the Great, who successfully united several ancient Iranian tribes to create an empire.[14][15] In the Behistun Inscription, Darius the Great mentions Maka as one of his eastern territories.[16] Darius is recorded to have personally led his elite Immortal forces, whose ranks were restricted to those with Persian, Mede or Elamite ancestry, to fight the invading Scythians of Asia[17] and then led the conquests in South Asia,[18][19][20] where he conquered Sindh in 519 BC, constituted it as his 20th Satrapy, and made use of the oceans there.[21][22] Darius wanted to know more about Asia, according to Herodotus; he also wished to know where the "Indus (which is the only river save one that produces crocodiles) emptied itself into the sea".[23]

The present region of Makran, which is inhabited by Baloch people, derived its name from the word "Maka". The Babylonians made voyages using Maka to communicate with India.[24] Maka communicated with Euphrates, Tigris and Indus valley; objects from the Harappan culture have been found in modern-day Oman, other archaeology suggest that Maka was exporting copper. Herodotus mentions the inhabitants of Maka as "Mykians" who were previously involved in several conquests with Cyrus the Great. After the conquest of Egypt with Cambyses,[25] they went to Sindh in command of Darius I and took in army of Xerxes the great at the battle of Thermopylae, where they were equipped the same as Pactyans, Utians and Paricanians, the tribes adjacent to the Mykians. The word Maka later became Makran as it is common in closely related ancient Avestan and Old Persian languages to use "an" and "ran" at the end of plurals,[26] which then translates as "the land of Mykians". They are mentioned as "the men from Maka" in daeva inscriptions. The "daeva inscription" is one of the most important of all Achaemenid inscriptions; in the Baloch language, dêw translates as "giant devil or monster".

Mykians were responsible for many inventions, such as qanats and underground drainage galleries that brought water from aquifers on the piedmont to gardens or palm groves on the plains. These inventions were important reasons behind the success of the Achaemenid Empire and survival of Mykians in their largely harsh natural environment. Other inscriptions record that gold, silver, lapis lazuli, turquise, cornalin, cedar wood, wood and the decoration for the relief at Susa were from Maka.[27] The Mykians of the other side of ancient Maka, the present-day region of Balochistan and Sindh, had later taken independence because they are not mentioned in the book written by Arrian of Nicomedia about campaigns of Alexander the Great. He only mentions the Oman side of Maka which he calls "Maketa". The reasons for this may have been the arguably unjust rule of Xerxes.[28][28][29] Historical evidence suggests that Baloch people were the ancient inhabitants of the Maka satrapy in the Achaemenid empire and Baloch were part of the army of Cyrus the Great and Darius I.

Baloch in Persian means rooster's comb or crest and since the Baloch troops who fought for Astyages of Kai Khosrow in 585-550 BC were wearing helmets with a rooster's crest, this is how they got the nickname of the Baloch. While listing the warriors of Kai Khosrow of Achaemenid empire, Firdowsi mentioned the Baloch in Shahnameh ("The Book of Kings") under the command of general Ashkash As follows:

Next after gustaham came shrewd askash
Endowed with prudent heart and ready brain,
his troop was from the wanderers of the koch and
Baloch wearing exalted roosters comb crests very rams
To fight,no one had seen their backs in the battle or
One of their fingers bare of armour,their banner was a
Pard with claws projecting,akash felicitated Kai
Khusrau at large upon the happy turn of fortune

Firdowsi, Shahnameh

Ferdowsi described the Baloch as part of the army of Cambyses (Siahwash), son of Kay Khosrow of the Achaemenid Dynasty. Baloch were also part of the army of Humayun under the command of Mir Chakar Rind against Suri Afghans in Delhi in 1556. Khan of Kalat Mir Muhabbat Khan Baloch provided fighting contingent on the demand of Nadir Shah on many occasions during the reign of Mir Muhabbat Khan Ahmedzai Baloch as the Khan,the Baloch forces accompanied the army of Nadir Shah on his campaigns in Afghanistan,Sindh,Punjab,and Delhi. Baloch were also part of the army of Ahmed Shah Durrani against Persians in Nishapur and Mashhad in 1751 and 1770 against the Marathas in Battle of Panipat (1761) and against Sikh in Punjab in 1765 under the command of Khan of Kalat Mir Noori Naseer Khan Baloch.

Baloch inhabiting Sistan and Baluchestan Province , Nimroz south of Helmand lower areas of Kandahar and coastal areas in the region of Makran, Chabahar, Gwadar, Gulf of Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain) and Karachi, and other parts of Sindh as Talpur Baloch Conquered and ruled Sindh from from 1783 to 1843.The Sindhi Baloch tribes including the Jatoi, Mirani, Rind, Bizenjo, Brahui and Gabol are highly skilled in designing boats, fishing and other skills required to survive in their environment. Herodotus mentions that Darius had made use of the ocean in this region of Sindh. The Sulemani Baloch who inhabit the Balochistan region including Makran for example, tribes including the Domki, Marri, Dashti, Bugti, Buzdar, Lund, Ranjhani, Ahmedani, Mazari, Mengal, Denari, Jiskani, Laghari, Chandio, Muhammad Hassani, Nausherwani, MirJat, Rind, Mandwani, Bizenjo, Zehri, Dehwar, Changwani, Raisani and others—carry different skills to survive in their mostly mountainous environment and have a history of aggressive behavior towards invasions. These tribes are not confined to one specific location as they also contain sub-tribes and can be found all over the region.

Balochi culture[edit]

A traditional Balochi dress worn by a teenage girl.

Balochi customs and traditions are conducted according to codes imposed by tribal laws. These strong traditions and cultural values are important to Baloch people and have enabled them to keep their distinctive ancient cultural identity and way of life with little change to this day. The culture and traditions of the Baloch have historically been passed down from mother to daughter, and from father to son.

Balochi culture is mentioned in the Pir M. Zehi's account of his travel to the province of Sakestan, or the present-day Sistan province of Iran, which holds strong significance to the culture of Baloch people. Baloch people have preserved their traditional dress with little change over the centuries. The Baloch men wear long shirts with long sleeves and loose pants. The dress is occasionally accompanied by a pagh (turban) or a hat on their heads.

The Balochi costume varies from Iran to Pakistan. Iran Baloch dress code is more conservative in sense of length and material. Some Baloch women in Iran also cover their faces with thick red color wools (Burqah) and wear a (Sareeg) which is the head scarf and (Chadar) which is a long veil.

The dress worn by Baloch women is one of the most interesting aspects of Balochi culture. They are of strong significance to the culture of Iran and hold a special place in the society. The women put on loose dress and pants with sophisticated and colourful needlework, including a large pocket at the front of the dress to hold their accessories. The upper part of the dress and sleeves are also decorated with needlework, a form of artistry that is specific to the clothing of the Baloch women. Often the dress also contains round or square pieces of glass to further enhance the presentation. They cover their hair with a scarf, called a sarig in the local dialect.[30]

These customs are unique to the people of Iran and the art of this needlework on women's clothing may provide one with a picture of the freedom and high status of Baloch women in Achaemenid era.[31]

Gold ornaments such as necklaces and bracelets are an important aspect of Baloch women's traditions and among their most favoured items of jewellery are dorr, heavy earrings that are fastened to the head with gold chains so that the heavy weight will not cause harm to the ears. They usually wear a gold brooch (tasni) that is made by local jewellers in different shapes and sizes and is used to fasten the two parts of the dress together over the chest. In ancient times, especially during the pre-Islamic era, it was common for Baloch women to perform dances and sing folk songs at different events. The tradition of a Baloch mother singing lullabies to her children has played an important role in the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation since ancient times. Apart from the dressing style of the Baloch, indigenous and local traditions and customs are also of great importance to the Baloch.[32]

Truthfulness , Honesty , Loyalty , Generosity , Justice , Hospitality , Intolerance to any kind of Supremacy , giving Refuge to the guest Fulfilling the Promise and Revenge are the basic ingredients of Baloch Social Conduct .

Balochi music[edit]

Main article: Balochi music

Folk music has always played a great role in Balochi traditions. Balochi music belong to the same branch of Iranian music performed by many other Iranian peoples including Persians, Kurds, Lurs, Tajiks and others. Traditions like the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation by singing lullabies to children and praising warriors also have a significant role in Balochi music traditions. The fact that both men and women participate in folk music reflects on the pre-Islamic significance of folk music in Balochi culture. Many years of invasions, wars and later adopted religious values have prevented Balouchi music from prevailing further in the 21st century. However, a Swedish folk band, Golbang and Padik with the lead singer Rostam Mirlashari originally from Zahedan & Lashar in Balochistan, has made progress in introducing Balouchi folk music to the Western world. The most commonly used instruments in Balouchi folk music are tanbur, long-necked lutes. Lutes have been present in Mesopotamia since the Akkadian era, or the 3rd millennium BC. The dohol, a large cylindrical drum with two skin heads, is the principal accompaniment for the surna, an ancient Iranian woodwind instrument that dates back to the Achaemenid Dynasty (550-330 BC). The ney is also commonly played, using single or double flutes. The Suroz, a Balochi folk violin, which is considered as the official instrument of the Baloch. Other Baloch musical instruments include the tar and the saz.

Cuisine of Balochistan[edit]

Main article: Baloch cuisine

Geographic distribution[edit]

See also: Baloch diaspora

The total population of ethnic Baloch people is estimated to be around 15 million worldwide. However, the exact number of those who are Baloch or claim to be of Baloch ancestry is difficult to determine. As of 2012, the Baloch are 7.11% of Pakistan's 177 million people

Major ethnic groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the surrounding areas, 1980. The Baluch are shown in pink.

Baloch ancestry is also claimed in the neighboring areas that adjoin Baloch majority lands. Those who speak Brahui are known as Brahuis.[33] Many Baloch outside of Balochistan are also bilingual or of mixed ancestry due to their proximity to other ethnic groups, including the Sindhis, Saraikis and Pashtuns. A large number of Baloch have been migrating to or living in provinces adjacent to Balochistan for centuries. In addition, there are many Baloch living in other parts of the world, with the bulk living in the GCC countries of the Persian Gulf. The Baloch are an important community in Oman, where they make up a sizable minority.

Many Baloch over the years have migrated to Punjab for its lush green fertility and they can be found in large numbers in South Punjab, Central Punjab and in Lahore but most of them identify themselves now as Punjabis. There is a small population of Baloch in several Western countries such as Sweden and Australia. Some Baloch settled in Australia in the 19th century; some fourth-generation Baloch still live there, mainly in the western city of Perth.

Baloch in Oman[edit]

The Baloch in Oman have maintained their ethnic and linguistic distinctions. The Southern Baloch comprise approximately 25% of the country's population. The traditional economy of Baloch in Oman is based on a combination of trade, farming and semi-nomadic shepherding.[34]

Iranian language tree
Iranian languages family tree
language family tree
Indo-European language family tree

Balochi language[edit]

The Balochi language is spoken in Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf Arab states, Turkmenistan, and as far as East Africa and some Western countries. It is classified as a member of the Iranian group of the Indo-European language family, which includes Kurdish, Persian, Pashto, Dari, Tajik and Ossetian. The Balochi language has the closest similarities to Kurdish, Avestan, old Persian and other Iranian languages.

Two main dialects are spoken in Sistan va Balochestan and Balochestan: Eastern and Western. The exact number of Baloch speakers is difficult to know, but the estimated number could be around 15 million. The majority speak Western Balochi, which is also the dialect that has been most widely used in Balochi literature. Within the Western dialect are two further dialects, Rakhshani and Nousherwani (spoken mainly in the northern areas) and Makurani (in the south).[35]

The Baloch have several tribes and sub-tribes. Some of these tribes speak Brahui, while most speak Balochi. Multilingualism is common, with many Baloch speaking both Brahui and Balochi. The Rind Marri, Magsi, Domki, Umrani and Bugti tribe speak Balochi. The Mengal tribe, who live in the Chagai, Khuzdar, Kharan districts of Balochistan. the sarpara tribe, who live in kardigap, Meskan Qalat/Kharan, Larkana, and they speak both Brahui and balochi, The Meskanzai (sarpara) tribe who live in the Meskan Qalat kharna, and Quetta, and they speak Balochi and Brahui. and in southern parts of Afghanistan, speak Brahui. The Muhammad Hasni tribe speak Brahui, Balochi and some other languages according to the area they are living. The Lango tribe, who live in central Balochistan in the Mangochar area, speak Brahui as their first language and Balochi as their second. The Bizenjo tribe speak both languages. The Bangulzai tribe mostly speaks Brahui, but has a Balochi-speaking minority known as Garani.

The Mazari tribe, Talpur, Mastoi, Jatoi, Wahocha, Gabol, Chandio, Mirani, Nutkani, Ahmedani, Jagirani, Marri, Khushk, Magsi, Domki, Khosa, Bozdar, Jiskani, Bijarani, Hesbani, Leghari, Lashari, Muhammad Hasni, Kalpar, Korai, Zardari, Rind, Mandwani or Bhurgari, MirJat, Jakhrani, and other Baloch tribes that are settled in Sindh speak Sindhi, Balochi and Seraiki. The Gadi and Qaisrani Baloch living near Taunsa Sharif in the Punjab province of Pakistan speak Seraiki and Balochi, while their clansmen living in Dera Ghazi Khan tribal areas speak Balochi. The Lund Baloch living in Shadan Lund speak Sindhi, Seraiki and Balochi.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ethnic Groups (Pakistan), CIA World Factbook
  2. ^ Iran, Library of Congress, Country Profile . Retrieved December 5, 2009.
  3. ^ Joshua Project (2006-10-28). "Baloch, Southern of Oman Ethnic People Profile". Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  4. ^ Languages of Oman, . Retrieved December 5, 2009.
  5. ^ Oman, CIA World Factbook . Retrieved December 5, 2009.
  6. ^ Afghanistan, CIA World Factbook . Retrieved December 5, 2009.
  7. ^ Languages of United Arab Emirates, (retrieved 5 December 2009)
  8. ^ Baloch, Eastern of India Ethnic People Profile. (2008-08-01). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  9. ^ KOKAISLOVÁ, Pavla, KOKAISL Petr. Ethnic Identity of The Baloch People. Central Asia and The Caucasus. Journal of Social and Political Studies. Volume 13, Issue 3, 2012, p. 45-55., ISSN 1404-6091
  10. ^ Baloch people in Turkmenistan (1926–1989),
  11. ^ {{cite web|url= of Religion in the Gulf|work=Mehrdad Izady|year=2013}}
  12. ^ Blood, Peter, ed. "Baloch". Pakistan: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1995.
  13. ^ [Encyclopaedia Of Untouchables Ancient, Medieval And Modern By Raj Kumar, page no. 337]
  14. ^ "Iranica Articles". R. Schmitt. December 15, 1983. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  15. ^ "5th century BC 499-400". Archived from the original on 6 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  16. ^ "The Behistun Inscription, translation". Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  17. ^ "Iranian Provinces: Sistan and Balochistan". Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  18. ^ "Persia". Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  19. ^ "Iranian Provinces: Sistan and Balochistan". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  20. ^ "Ancient Persia". Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  21. ^ "Darius the great". Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  22. ^ "The largest empire in ancient history". Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  23. ^ "History of Herodotus by Herodotus - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)". Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-11. 
  24. ^ "The history of antiquity". Max Duncker. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  25. ^ "History of Herodotus - Book 3". Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  26. ^ "Iranians and Turanians in Avesta". Ali A. Jafarey. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  27. ^ "Some Royal Achaemenid Inscriptions". Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  28. ^ a b "The History, by Herodotus (book7)". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  29. ^ "Maka". Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  30. ^ "People of Iran: A Cultural Anthropology of Balochis". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  31. ^ "The World of Achaemenid Persia". Retrieved 2010-09-13. 
  32. ^ "Baloch Society & culture". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  33. ^ Well Come to Pasni Online - The Brahui People. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  34. ^ "Joshua Project - Baloch, Southern of Oman Ethnic People Profile". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  35. ^ "Languages of Iran. Iran at Middle East Explorer". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 

External links[edit]