Burusho people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Burusho people
Burusho women in the Hunza Valley, Pakistan.jpg
A group of Burusho women in the Hunza Valley, Pakistan
Total population
126,300 (2018)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Pakistan126,000 (2018)[2]
 India300 (2018)[3]
Burushaski, Khowar[4]
Sunni Islam, Isma'ilism and Twelver Shi’ism[5][6][7]

The Burusho, or Brusho, also known as the Botraj,[8][9] are an ethnolinguistic group indigenous to the Yasin, Hunza, Nagar and other valleys of Gilgit–Baltistan in northern Pakistan,[10] with a smaller group of around 350 Burusho people residing in Jammu and Kashmir, India, as well.[9][11] Their language, Burushaski, has been classified as a language isolate.[12]

Although their origins are unknown, it is claimed that the Burusho people "were indigenous to northwestern India and were pushed higher into the mountains by the movements of the Indo-Aryans, who traveled southward sometime around 1800 B.C."[13] The Kusunda language of west-central Nepal is also considered a language isolate but has not been proven to be related to Burushaski.


Prior to the modern era, the area in which most Burusho now live was part of the independent state of Chitral. The state was a hereditary monarchy, controlled by the Karur dynasty, and headed by a mir (a title usually translated as king). In 1947, it became part of Pakistan.

The construction of the Karakoram Highway during the 1970s brought more extensive contact with the outside world. Many traders, preachers, tourists, and others had new access to the Burusho's homeland, and this subsequently altered the culture and local economy of the area.

The Burusho are known for their love of music and dance, along with their progressive views towards education and women.[14]

Longevity myth[edit]

Coat of arms of Hunza[16]

A widely repeated claim of remarkable longevity of the Hunza people[17] has been refuted as a longevity myth, citing a life expectancy of 53 years for men and 52 for women, although with a high standard deviation.[18] There is no evidence that Hunza life expectancy is significantly above the average of poor, isolated regions of Pakistan. Claims of health and long life were almost always based solely on the statements by the local mir (king). An author who had significant and sustained contact with Burusho people, John Clark, reported that they were overall unhealthy.[19]

Clark and Lorimer reported frequent violence and starvation in Hunza.[20]

Upper Hunza, locally called Gojal, is inhabited by people whose ancestors moved up from proper Hunza to irrigate and defend the borders with China and Afghanistan. They speak a dialect called Wakhi, which is influenced by Burushahski and Pamiri languages due to the closeness and contact with these mountain communities. The Shina-speaking people live in the southern Hunza. They have come from Chilas, Gilgit, and other Shina-speaking areas of Pakistan.

Jammu and Kashmir[edit]

A group of 350 Burusho people also reside in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, being mainly concentrated in Batamalu, as well as in Botraj Mohalla, which is southeast of Hari Parbat.[9] This Burusho community is descended from two former princes of the British Indian princely states of Hunza and Nagar, who with their families, migrated to this region in the 19th century A.D.[9] They are known as the Botraj by other ethnic groups in the state,[9] and practice Shiite Islam.[21] Arranged marriages are customary.[22]

Since the partition of India in 1947, the Indian Burusho community have not been in contact with the Pakistani Burusho.[23] The Government of India has granted the Burusho community Scheduled Tribe status, as well as reservation, and therefore, "most members of the community are in government jobs."[9][21] The Burusho people of India speak Burushashki, also known as Khajuna, and their dialect, known as Jammu & Kashmir Burushashski (JKB), "has undergone several changes which make it systematically different from other dialects of Burushaski spoken in Pakistan".[21] In addition, many Jammu & Kashmiri Burusho are multilingual, also speaking Kashmiri and Hindustani, as well as Balti and Shina to a lesser extent.[21]


A variety of Y-DNA haplogroups are seen among certain random samples of people in Hunza. Most frequent among these are R1a1 and R2a, which are associated with Indo-European peoples and the Bronze Age migration into South Asia c. 3000 BC, and probably originated in either South Asia,[24][25] [26][27][28][29] Central Asia[30][31] or Iran and Caucasus.[32][33] R2a, unlike its extremely rare parent R2, R1a1 and other clades of haplogroup R, is now virtually restricted to South Asia. Two other typically South Asian lineages, haplogroup H1 and haplogroup L3 (defined by SNP mutation M20) have also been observed from few samples.[34][31]

Other Y-DNA haplogroups reaching considerable frequencies among the Burusho are haplogroup J2, associated with the spread of agriculture in, and from, the neolithic Near East,[30][31] and haplogroup C3, of East Eurasian male origin and possibly representing the patrilineage of Genghis Khan. Present at lower frequency are haplogroups O3, also of East Eurasian male lineage, and Q Siberian male origin, P, F, and G.[31] DNA research groups the male ancestry of some of the Hunza inhabitants with speakers of Pamir languages and other mountain communities of various ethnicities, due primarily to the M124 marker (defining Y-DNA haplogroup R2a), which is present at high frequency in these populations.[35] However, they have also an East Asian genetic contribution, suggesting that at least some of their ancestry originates north of the Himalayas.[36] No Greek genetic component among the Burusho have been detected in tests.[37][38]

Influence in the Western world[edit]

Healthy living advocate J. I. Rodale wrote a book called The Healthy Hunzas in 1948 that asserted that the Hunzas, noted for their longevity and many centenarians, were long-lived because they consumed healthy organic foods, such as dried apricots and almonds, and had plenty of fresh air and exercise.[39] He often mentioned them in his Prevention magazine as exemplary of the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. John Clark stayed among the Hunza people for 20 months and in his 1956 book Hunza - Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas[40] writes: "I wish also to express my regrets to those travelers whose impressions have been contradicted by my experience. On my first trip through Hunza, I acquired almost all the misconceptions they did: The Healthy Hunzas, the Democratic Court, The Land Where There Are No Poor, and the rest—and only long-continued living in Hunza revealed the actual situations". Regarding the misconception about Hunza people's health, Clark also writes that most of his patients had malaria, dysentery, worms, trachoma, and other health conditions easily diagnosed and quickly treated. In his first two trips he treated 5,684 patients.

The October 1953 issue of National Geographic had an article on the Hunza River Valley that inspired Carl Barks' story Tralla La.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Burushaski". Ethnologue. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Brusho People". Ethnologue. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  3. ^ "Brusho People". Ethnologue. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  4. ^ "TAC Research The Burusho". Tribal Analysis Center. 30 June 2009. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011.
  5. ^ "PeopleGroups.org - Burusho of Pakistan". peoplegroups.org. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  6. ^ Sidky, M. H. (1 April 1994). "Shamans and mountain spirits in Hunza. (northern Pakistan) - Asian Folklore Studies | HighBeam Research". Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Hunza People, the local population tribes and tradtions of Hunza Valley". travel-culture.com. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  8. ^ Berger, Hermann (1985). "A survey of Burushaski studies". Journal of Central Asia. 8 (1): 33–37.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Ahmed, Musavir (2016). "Ethnicity, Identity and Group Vitality: A study of Burushos of Srinagar". Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies. 3 (1): 1–10. doi:10.29333/ejecs/51. ISSN 2149-1291.
  10. ^ "Jammu and Kashmir Burushaski : Language, Language Contact, and Change" (PDF). Repositories.lib.utexas.edu. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  11. ^ Gordon, Raymond G. Jr., ed. (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International.
  12. ^ "Burushaski language". Encyclopædia Britannica online.
  13. ^ West, Barbara A. (19 May 2010). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. p. 139. ISBN 9781438119137. Another, more likely origin story, given the uniqueness of their language, proclaims that they were indigenous to northwestern India and were pushed higher into the mountains by the movements of the Indo-Aryans, who traveled southward sometime around 1800 B.C.E.
  14. ^ Winston, Robert, ed. (2004). Human: The Definitive Visual Guide. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 433. ISBN 0-7566-0520-2.
  15. ^ "Hunza". Flags of the World. 7 June 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  16. ^ "Flag Spot Hunza (Pre-independence Pakistan)". Flagspot.net.
  17. ^ Wrench, Dr Guy T (1938). The Wheel of Health: A Study of the Hunza People and the Keys to Health. 2009 reprint. Review Press. ISBN 978-0-9802976-6-9. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
  18. ^ Tierney, John (29 September 1996). "The Optimists Are Right". The New York Times.
  19. ^ "Hunza - The Truth, Myths, and Lies About the Health and Diet of the "Long-Lived" People of Hunza, Pakistan, Hunza Bread and Pie Recipes". www.biblelife.org.
  20. ^ Allan, Nigel J. R. (16 July 1990). "Household Food Supply in Hunza Valley, Pakistan". Geographical Review. 80 (4): 399–415. doi:10.2307/215849. JSTOR 215849.
  21. ^ a b c d Munshi, Sadaf (2006). Jammu and Kashmir Burushashki: Language, Language Contact, and Change. The University of Texas at Austin. pp. 4, 6–.
  22. ^ Hall, Lena E. (28 October 2004). Dictionary of Multicultural Psychology: Issues, Terms, and Concepts. SAGE. p. 12. ISBN 9781452236582. Among the Burusho of India, the parents supposedly negotiate a marriage without consulting the children, but often prospective brides and grooms have grown up together and know each other well.
  23. ^ Ahmed, Musavir (2016). "Ethnicity, Identity and Group Vitality: A study of Burushos of Srinagar". Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies. 3 (1): 1–10. doi:10.29333/ejecs/51. ISSN 2149-1291. The community has no contact with their Burushos of Gilgit-Baltistan since 1947, when partition of India and Pakistan necessitated the division of the erstwhile princely state of Kashmir. No participant was ready to move to Hunza/Nagar if provided a chance.
  24. ^ Kivisild, T.; et al. (2003), "The Genetic Heritage of the Earliest Settlers Persists Both in Indian Tribal and Caste Populations", The American Journal of Human Genetics, 72 (2): 313–32, doi:10.1086/346068, PMC 379225, PMID 12536373
  25. ^ Sahoo, S.; et al. (2006), "A prehistory of Indian Y chromosomes: Evaluating demic diffusion scenarios", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103 (4): 843–8, Bibcode:2006PNAS..103..843S, doi:10.1073/pnas.0507714103, PMC 1347984, PMID 16415161
  26. ^ Sengupta, Sanghamitra; et al. (2006). "Polarity and Temporality of High-Resolution Y-Chromosome Distributions in India Identify Both Indigenous and Exogenous Expansions and Reveal Minor Genetic Influence of Central Asian Pastoralists". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 78 (2): 202–21. doi:10.1086/499411. PMC 1380230. PMID 16400607.
  27. ^ Sharma, Swarkar; et al. (2009). "The Indian origin of paternal haplogroup R1a1* substantiates the autochthonous origin of Brahmins and the caste system". Journal of Human Genetics. 54 (1): 47–55. doi:10.1038/jhg.2008.2. PMID 19158816.
  28. ^ Thangaraj, Kumarasamy; et al. (2010). Cordaux, Richard (ed.). "The Influence of Natural Barriers in Shaping the Genetic Structure of Maharashtra Populations". PLOS ONE. 5 (12): e15283. Bibcode:2010PLoSO...515283T. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015283. PMC 3004917. PMID 21187967.
  29. ^ Thanseem, Ismail; et al. (2006). "Genetic affinities among the lower castes and tribal groups of India: Inference from Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA". BMC Genetics. 7: 42. doi:10.1186/1471-2156-7-42. PMC 1569435. PMID 16893451.
  30. ^ a b R. Spencer Wells et al., "The Eurasian Heartland: A continental perspective on Y-chromosome diversity," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (28 August 2001).
  31. ^ a b c d Firasat, Sadaf; Khaliq, Shagufta; Mohyuddin, Aisha; Papaioannou, Myrto; Tyler-Smith, Chris; Underhill, Peter A; Ayub, Qasim (2006). "Y-chromosomal evidence for a limited Greek contribution to the Pathan population of Pakistan". European Journal of Human Genetics. 15 (1): 121–6. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201726. PMC 2588664. PMID 17047675.
  32. ^ Underhill 2014.
  33. ^ Underhill 2015.
  34. ^ Raheel, Qamar; et al. (2002). "Y-Chromosomal DNA Variation in Pakistan". American Journal of Human Genetics. 70 (5): 1107–1124. doi:10.1086/339929. PMC 447589. PMID 11898125.
  35. ^ R. Spencer Wells et al., The Eurasian Heartland: A continental perspective on Y-chromosome diversity Archived 21 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  36. ^ Li, Jun Z (2008). "Worldwide human relationships inferred from genome wide patterns of variation". Science. 319 (5866): 1100–1104. Bibcode:2008Sci...319.1100L. doi:10.1126/science.1153717. PMID 18292342. S2CID 53541133.
  37. ^ Firasat, Sadaf; Khaliq, Shagufta; Mohyuddin, Aisha; Papaioannou, Myrto; Tyler-Smith, Chris; Underhill, Peter A.; Ayub, Qasim (January 2007). "Y-chromosomal evidence for a limited Greek contribution to the Pathan population of Pakistan". European Journal of Human Genetics. 15 (1): 121–126. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201726. ISSN 1476-5438. PMC 2588664. PMID 17047675.
  38. ^ Qamar, R; Ayub, Q; Mohyuddin, A; et al. (May 2002). "Y-Chromosomal DNA Variation in Pakistan". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 70 (5): 1107–24. doi:10.1086/339929. PMC 447589. PMID 11898125.
  39. ^ Rodale, J. I. The Healthy Hunzas 1948. Emmaus PA: Rodale Press.
  40. ^ Clark, John (1956). Hunza - Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas (PDF). New York: Funk & Wagnalls. OCLC 536892.
  41. ^ The Carl Barks Library Volume 12, page 229


External links[edit]