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For the Arabic calligraphic form, see Mashq. For the village in Iran, see Mashk, Iran.

A mashk (Hindi: मश्क) - (Urdu: مشک) or mashq (मश्क़, مشق) is a traditional water-carrying bag, usually made of waterproofed goat-skin, from North India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.[1]

Mashqs can vary in size, from a hand-held bag, which was often used to carry liquids such as alcohol, to a large man-sized bag that comes with shoulder strap. They usually have only one narrowed opening. A person who is carrying a large mashq is called a māshqi (माश्क़ी, ماشقی). Traditionally, in the northern part of the South Asia, the larger mashq was associated with the Bhishti (भिश्ती, بهِشتی) subcaste who were employed as water-carriers by all other sections of society and often seen dispensing water (for a fee) in public places, gardens and construction sites.[2]

Since water came as a great relief to people and plants during the hot summer in the northern Indian plains, the term Bhishti derives from the Persian root word bahishti, meaning heavenly.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ John Lockwood Kipling, Rudyard Kipling, Beast and man in India: a popular sketch of Indian animals in their relations with the people, Macmillan and Co., 1891, "... When filled with water merely, the goat-skin or "mashk" is a characteristic object ..." 
  2. ^ J. I. Abdul Hakim, Modern Colloquial Hindustani, Kessinger Publishing, 2005, ISBN 978-1-4179-6144-3, "... Water-Carrier - Bhishti ... ek mashk kitne ko ata hai ... Get the bhishti to pour some water ..." 
  3. ^ The Times of India directory and year book including who's who, Volume 28, Bennett and Coleman, 1941, "... Bhishti" Water-carrier, lit. "heavenly" or "man of heaven ..."