Jat of Afghanistan

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The Jats or sometimes pronounced Jots are members of an ethnic group of itinerant travelers found in Afghanistan.[1] They are a marginalized and stigmatised group, and considered "as blots on the ethnic landscape."[2] The term "Jat" is an exonym, never used by what are disparate and distinct ethnic groups.[3]

Origin[edit]

In Afghanistan, the term Jat does not refer to a single ethnic community, but rather to a number of disparate groups who practice a peripatetic lifestyle. Groups who are generally referred to as Jat have their own self-designation, and often resent being called Jat, and being called a Jat is an insult in Afghanistan. In Dari dialect of Kabul, shrewish women were often admonished not to be quarrelsome like a Jat. A comparison would the use of the word Gypsy to refer to the Romany and the word Zott to refer to similar groups in the Middle East.[4] What is unclear is how these distinct groups acquired the name Jat. In neighbouring South Asia, the term Jat refers to a large cluster of agriculture castes, some especially in the Balochistan are connected with camel breeding and herding, and it is possible that the Afghan Jat are descended from peripatetic communities that entered Afghanistan in the company of these nomadic Jats, and acquired the name by association.[5]

Social characteristics[edit]

Generally, what defines groups that are generally known as Jat is a nomadic lifestyle, with their main occupation being the provision of services such as the manufacture and sale of agricultural implements, bangles, drums and winnowing trays as well as providing entertainment such as performing bears and monkeys, fortune-telling, singing and occasionally prostitution. Most Jats have a network of clients and customers scattered over a broad region, and they migrate between these known clients clusters, occasionally adding new ones. Secondly, each Jat group specializes in a particular activity, for example the Ghorbat of western Afghanistan are sieve makers, shoe repairers and animal traders, while the Shadibaz peddle cloth, bangles and haberdashery.[6]

Other Jat characteristics include speaking their dialect or language, and practising strict endogamy. Most Jat are however multilingual, speaking both Pashto and Dari, and often a Turkic dialect as well.

Ethnic groups[edit]

Below is a brief description of the main groups which fall within the Jat category:[7]

[8]

Ethnic Group Region Economy Language Religion
Ghorbat found throughout Afghanistan makers of sieves and rums, shoe repairers, animal traders, haberdashery, cloth peddling and bangle selling Ghorbati Shia
Shadibaz eastern and northern Afghanistan peddling cloth and haberdashery, sale of perfumes; leading performing bears and monkeys Hindko Sunni
Vangawala eastern and central Afghanistan including Uruzgan, Bamiyan and Dai Kundi peddling cloth and haberdashery, sale of perfumes; sale of miscellaneous objects; jugglery and snake charming Hindko Sunni
Baloch, also known as Herati and Jat-Baloch 1 northern, western and southern Afghanistan prostitution, occasionally music and dance Balochi Sunni
Jalali western and northern Afghanistan, mainly in Heart, Farah, Baghlan, Kunduz, Talogan and Badakhshan provinces musicians, leading performing monkeys, occasionally begging Hindko Sunni
Pikrag northern and western Afghanistan animal trade, religious mendicants, women sell bangles Hindko Sunni
Jogi northern Afghanistan begging, preparing and selling herbal medicine and begging Uzbek and Dari Sunni
Mussali eastern Afghanistan winnowing Hindko Sunni
Kutana eastern Afghanistan winnowing Hindko Sunni
Shaikh Mohamadi throughout Afghanistan peddlers Hindko and Pashto Sunni

Notes:

  • 1 these Baloch should not be confused with the Baloch ethnic group of pastoral nomads and sedentists[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rao, Aparna (1986). "Peripatetic Minorities in Afghanistan—Image and Identity pages 254 to 283." In Die ethnischen Gruppen Afghanistan, edited by E. Orywal. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert. ISBN 3-88226-360-1
  2. ^ Edited by Richard F. Nyrop and Donald M. Seekins Afghanistan Country Study Foreign Area Studies, The American University. January 1986
  3. ^ Rao, Aparna (1986). "Peripatetic Minorities in Afghanistan—Image and Identity." In Die ethnischen Gruppen Afghanistan, edited by E. Orywal. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert. ISBN 3-88226-360-1
  4. ^ Rao, Aparna (1986). "Peripatetic Minorities in Afghanistan—Image and Identity pages 254 to 283." In Die ethnischen Gruppen Afghanistan, edited by E. Orywal. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert. ISBN 3-88226-360-1
  5. ^ Persian Jats by Percy Sykes in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society 1910 3(4):320
  6. ^ Rao, Aparna (1986). "Peripatetic Minorities in Afghanistan—Image and Identity pages 254 to 283." In Die ethnischen Gruppen Afghanistan, edited by E. Orywal. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert. ISBN 3-88226-360-1
  7. ^ Olesen, A. (1987). "Peddling in East Afghanistan: Adaptive Strategies of the Peripatetic Sheikh Mohammadi pages 35 to 63." In The Other Nomads: Peripatetic Minorities in Cross-Cultural Perspective, edited by Aparna Rao. Cologne: Böhlau Verlag ISBN 3-412-08085-3
  8. ^ Rao, Aparna (1986). "Peripatetic Minorities in Afghanistan—Image and Identity." In Die ethnischen Gruppen Afghanistan, edited by E. Orywal. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert. ISBN 3-88226-360-1
  9. ^ Rao, Aparna (1986). "Peripatetic Minorities in Afghanistan—Image and Identity pages 254 to 283." In Die ethnischen Gruppen Afghanistan, edited by E. Orywal. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert. ISBN 3-88226-360-1

External links[edit]