Kho people

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Kho people
Khanak-Chitrali Wooden palate.JPG
Wooden untensil use by kho tribe of Chitral
Total population
229,200 (2011)
Regions with significant populations
Chitral District, Badakhshan Province
 Afghanistan 14,700[1][2]
 Pakistan 214,500[3]
Ismaili Islam (majority)
Kalash religion (minority)
Related ethnic groups
Kalasha people

The Kho people (Khowar: کھو, meaning "people"), also known as Chitralis (چترالي), are a Dardic ethnic group located primarily in South Asia. They live primarily in Pakistan, with a small population living in Afghanistan.[4] They speak the Dardic Khowar language.


The Kho community reside between remote valleys from about six thousand years ago, the historian Herodotus mention in their book that a group of people living in high mountains of Khot valley, most of them are shepherds and mountaineers.


The majority of the Kho people live in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a smaller number also live in Ghizer District of Gilgit Baltistan (including the Yasin Valley, Phandar Ishkoman and Gupis. They are also found in northern Afghanistan, the majority living in the northern provinces of Badakhshan, Kunduz, Balkh, and Takhar.


The haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA) is found at a frequency of 80% among the Kho people. Many are in Paragroup M343, also found in some Central Asian peoples.


Kho culture is one of oldest cultures which places heavy emphasis on poetry, song and dance. Kho people also have a great respect of law and order. Much of this can be attributed to Chitral being a stable kingdom for most of its history,[5] where the rule of law and the will of the ruler came before tribal concepts such as revenge and isolationism.

Because of Chitral's location at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia, the Kho display a wide variety of cultures, largely depending upon their ancestral ethnic group and family history.


Khowar is Indo-European dardic branch of language spoken by about 247,000 Kho people in northern Pakistan.[6] They also used Pashto and Urdu as second language.

Folk music[edit]

Folk singers and reed instrument players have a special respect in the Kho society and are featured in their festivities. The most common instruments are Surnai Shehnai, Sitar, and reed instruments. The Kho sitar is a popular musical instrument in Chitral. It is made out of mulberry wood with five steel strings arranged in three courses, the outer ones have double strings, tuned in unison, while the inner course is single. Popular music of the area includes:

  • Shishtoo-war (Sauz) , a popular folk music played with shehnai on happy occasions, mostly at marriages.
  • Shab-daraaz (Dani) is a sad tone based on heartbroken love poems.
  • Ghalhwar is a combination of Dani and Sauz. This is a mixture of fast and classical music played at the starting of a polo match.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kho". Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  2. ^ "Khowar language, alphabet and pronunciation". 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  3. ^ Joshua Project. "Chitrali in Pakistan". Joshua Project. Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "chitral". 1937-06-01. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  6. ^

External links[edit]