Dard people

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Kelaash People.jpg
Kalash in traditional dress
Regions with significant populations
Gilgit–Baltistan (Pakistan)
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pakistan) Jammu and Kashmir (India)
Dardic languages
majority Islam (Sunni, Shia, & Sofia Noorbakhshia), minority Kalash and Buddhism
Related ethnic groups
Nuristani people

The Dard people are an ethnic group found predominantly in northern Pakistan, north west India, and eastern Afghanistan. They speak the Indo-Aryan Dardic languages. The largest populations are in Gilgit–Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan and in Kashmir, India. There are smaller populations in Ladakh, India and eastern Afghanistan.[1] The Kashmiri people are the largest group, with over 5.5 million members.[2]


Parpola (1999, p. 189) identifies "Proto-Dardic" with "Proto-Rigvedic", suggesting that the Dards are the linguistic descendants of the bearers of proto Rigvedic culture ca. 1700 BC, pointing to features in certain Dardic dialects that continue peculiarities of Rigvedic Sanskrit, such as the gerund in -tvī.

Herodotus (III. 102–105) was the first author to refer to Dards (calling them "Dadikai"), placing their location between Kashmir and Afghanistan.

During Swati rule, the Dard people predominantly followed the Kalash religion and frequent small-scale jihad against Dards may have been a routine.[3]


The vast majority of Dardic peoples are Muslim. They follow a number of different sects. The Kashmiri, Pashayi, Kohistani, and Kho peoples are majority Sunni, while the Shina and Burusho peoples are majority Shia Ismaili and Twelver. Some in Gilgit-Baltistan follow Sofia Noorbakhshia, a Sufi order.

A minority in Chitral are polytheistic Kalash.[3][4] They are exceptional in having retained their ancestral polytheistic religion and are officially protected by the Government of Pakistan.

The Brokpa of Ladakh are nominally Buddhists. However, they still retain marked traces of their pre-Buddhist animistic religion, Bon-chos.[4]

Social status[edit]

As of 2001, the Brokpa were classified as a Scheduled Tribe under the Indian government's reservation program of positive discrimination.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "List of Scheduled Tribes". Census of India: Government of India. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  2. ^ http://www.ethnologue.com/language/kas
  3. ^ a b Swat: an Afghan society in Pakistan : urbanisation and change in tribal environment. City Press. Retrieved 2007-08-01. During Swati rule. The pre-Islamic faith of the dards was the Kalash faith which survives today in Northern Pakistan. 
  4. ^ a b The India magazine of her people and culture, Volume 14. A. H. Advani. Retrieved 2007-08-01. Dardic religion in Ladakh, particularly in the villages of Da and Hann, retains marked traces of the pre-Buddhist animistic religion, Bon-chos