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.
- 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 ..."
- 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 ..."
- 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 ..."