|Regions with significant populations|
|• Pakistan • India • Nepal|
|• Urdu • Khari boli • Hindi • Punjabi|
|• Islam 95%, Hinduism in Nepal•|
|Related ethnic groups|
|• Chhimba Darzi • Chhimba • Shaikh|
The Darzi (Urdu: درزی or Darji (Hindi) are a Muslim community, found in North India and Pakistan. Darzi means tailor in Urdu. A small number are also found in the Terai region of Nepal. They are also known as Idrisi or Idrisi Shaikh. The Buddhist Dorji tribe of Tibet and North-East India are also called Darji (found in the name of Darjeeling).
History and origin
The word Darzi literally means tailor in the Urdu language. It is said to be derived from the Persian word darzan, which means to sew. This is also the commonly accepted derivation of the name of the non-related religion Druze. The Darzi claim descent from Idris, (Enoch) one of the biblical prophets. According to their traditions, Idris was the first person to learn the art of sewing. They are said to have settled in South Asia during the early period of the Sultanate of Delhi. They are also divided on a linguistic basis, with those of North India speaking various dialects of Urdu, while those of Punjab speaking Punjabi. The Punjabi Darzi, are said to be converts from the Hindu Chhimba caste, and have several territorial divisions. These include the Sirhindi, Deswal and Multani. The Punjabi Darzi (Chhimba Darzi) are almost entirely Sunni.
The Darzi, or Shaikh Idrisi, as they prefer to be known, are still essentially involved with their traditional occupation of tailoring. Many urban Idrisi have now opened shops, or are employed in the textile industry, while in rural areas, many are now subsistence farmers. They have a traditional community council, that still exercises some control over matters of social behaviour.
In western Uttar Pradesh, Osmania Turks or Osmania Turk sheikhs are also engaged in this profession. They are of Central Asian Turkman (Uighur) origin and are actually descendants of the Turkish sultanate in India. They are mainly settled in the western Uttar Pradesh districts of Bijnor, Moradabad, Shajahanpur, Amroha, Etah, Aligarh, Bulandshahr, Meerut and Muzzafarnagar. Most Darzi who migrated to Karachi are Turki sheikhs who had taken up the profession out of poverty and lack of proper professions. They are still called Turki in local areas. Turki or Turki Darzi are very fair and have Uighur genetic make-up. Their women and men still look like Central Asians, with little beards, sharp features, and deep low eyes. There are also mixes of Moghuls and Turks in India. Most Turki have now left this profession in order to become highly-paid professionals like doctors, engineers, and professors. They also run large garments businesses in Noida, India. Normally, they use "Osmani" or "Uddin" as their surname, but recently, due to the benefits in India quota system, they have also started using "Idrisi".
In Bihar, the Darzi are known as Idrisi, and claim descent from the prophet Idris (Enoch). They are found mainly in the districts of Bhagalpur, Chhapra, Siwan, Gopalganj, Muzaffarpur, Madhubani, Darbhanga, Munger, and Patna. The Idrisi of Jharkhand have a common origin with those of Bihar, and intermarry. The community speak the Angika dialect of Hindi. Most Idrisis are still engaged in tailoring, but many Idrisis, particularly in Jharkhand are now farmers. Their customs are similar to other Bihari Muslims.
In Pakistan, the Darzi are, in fact, two distinct communities, the Delhiwal Idrissis, who are found among the Muhajir ethnic group, and the Chhimba Darzi, who are ethnically Punjabi. The former are immigrants from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in India. They are concentrated in the port city of Karachi. Like their North Indian kinsmen, many have now opened small shops and businesses, although many other members of the community work for other Idrissis. They remain divided by sectarian divisions, the Sunni Idrisi not marrying into Shia Idrisi families. The community claim’s itself to be of Shaikh status.
In Punjab, the Chhimba Darzi are immigrants from East Punjab. Many in rural areas of Punjab have taken to cultivations, while those in urban areas have opened up small businesses. The Chhimba Darzi claim to belong to the Muslim Rajput community. They are entirely Sunni, and many belong to the orthodox Deobandi sect.
- People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 412 to 415
- People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Two edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 413
- A Glossary of the Tribes & Castes of Punjab by H. A Rose page 228 Low Price Publications
- People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das page 415
- People of India Bihar Volume XVI Part One edited by S Gopal & Hetukar Jha pages 392 to 394 Seagull Books
- The Migration Process: Capital, Gifts and Offerings among British Pakistanis by Pnina Werbner Berg publications