Mirshikar

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Mirshikar
Regions with significant populations
Languages
Religion
Islam

The Mirshikar are a Muslim community, found in North India who were traditionally hunters and trappers of birds and small animals. This should not be confused with the title of the same name used for the high position of "chief huntsman" in the courts of Persian and Mughal rulers.[1][2]

History and origin[edit]

The word Mirshikar is a combination of two Urdu words, mir meaning lord and shikar meaning a hunt, and their name means a leader of a hunting party. They are mostly concentrated in the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar pradesh. The Mirshikar speak a dialect which is a combination of Urdu and Hindi. Mirshikars in Bihar hunt both by day and night and work alongside other trapper communities like the Mallahas.[3] In some parts of Uttar Pradesh the tribe name is reduced to maskar.[4]

Practices[edit]

In one Mirshikar community in Bihar, young men needed to prove themselves fit for marriage by catching a loha sarang, the black-necked stork known for being vicious. The practice was stopped when a boy was killed in the process.[5]

Ali Hussain from a mirshikar community in Manjhaul in Begusarai is acclaimed for his work as a bird trapper for the Bombay Natural History Society. He worked with Salim Ali and many other ornithologists to aid the marking and study of birds. In 1998 he was flown to Jackson County, Mississippi and during his 1-week visit, he demonstrated his clap-trap and noose-trap techniques and helped capture 10% of the sandhill crane population of Mississippi.[6] His method is now a standard in crane research.[7] In 1998, the Indian government Films Division recorded a documentary featuring Ali Hussain.[8]

Present circumstances[edit]

The Mirshikar are scattered are across Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. They are an endogamous community, marrying close kin.[citation needed] The majority are landless agricultural labourers.[citation needed] There has also been a steady emigration of the Mirshikar to other states of India, where many are now found. A few are also involved in the manufacture of bamboos flute.Just like other Muslim community in India they are also an extremely marginalized community, with a poor literacy rates. The Mirshikar are Sunni Muslims, and are fairly orthodox.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bernier, Francois (1916). Travels in the Mogul Empire. A.D. 1656-1668. Translated and annotated by Archibald Constable in 1891. (2 ed.). London: Humphrey Milford. p. 182. 
  2. ^ Phillott, D.C. (1907). "Note on the Shungar falcon". Journal and Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 3: 113-114. 
  3. ^ George, P.V. (1964). "Notes on migrant birds of north Bihar". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 61 (1): 370–384. 
  4. ^ Crooke, W. (1896). The tribes and castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh. Volume 1. Calcutta: Government Press. p. 105. 
  5. ^ Grubh, B.R.; Shekar, P.B. (1968). "Blacknecked Stork (Xenorhynchus asiaticus) and the marriage of Mirshikars". Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 8 (3): 1–2. 
  6. ^ Hereford, S.G.; Grazia, T.E.; Nagendran, M.D.; Hussain, Ali (2001). "Use of traditional Indian trapping methods to capture sandhill cranes". North American Crane Workshop Proceedings. p. 220. 
  7. ^ Parker, Jeannette M.; Folk, Martin J.; Baynes, Stephen B.; Candelora, Kristen L. (2008). "Use of Clap Traps in Capturing Nonmigratory Whooping Cranes in Florida". North American Crane Workshop Proceedings. Paper 196. 
  8. ^ "Birdman. News Magazine. 370. Directed by Shankar Patnaik. Produced in 1998.". Films Division, India. Retrieved 16 September 2016. 
  9. ^ People of India Bihar Volume XVI Part Two edited by S Gopal & Hetukar Jha pages 686 to 688 Seagull Books