Shina people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Shina people
Shina language.png
Shina people of Pakistan and India depicted in Dark Orange
Regions with significant populations
Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan
Jammu and Kashmir, India
 Pakistan500,000 (in 2008)[1]
Shina, Brokskat
Predominantly: Islam[3]
Small Minority: Buddhism[3] and Hinduism[3]
Related ethnic groups
Dardic peoples

The Shina, also known as the Shin or locally Dards are a Dardic tribe residing in southern Gilgit–Baltistan, Chitral and the western part of the Kohistan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, as well as the Dras Valley and Kishenganga Valley in the northern region of Jammu and Kashmir, India. They speak an Indo-Aryan language, called Shina, which has varied dialects, such as Brokskat.[4] Although the Yashkuns also predominantly speak the Shina language, they are distinct from the Shin Tribe and they are one of the descendents of the ancient tribe Aśvakan/Aśvakas (Kambojas).[5]


In Pakistan, The Shina is the major ethnic group of Gilgit-Baltistan and Shin language is spoken by an estimated 500,000 people living mainly in Gilgit, Diamer, and Baltistan of Gilgit-Baltistan autonomous region and Kohistan District of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The Shina individuals differ from other Pakistani people on the basis of a different culture, norm, and language.[1] The Shina people are found in Shinkari (the part of the Indus Valley below Gor near Ghorband), Gor, Chilas, Tangir, the Indus Valley below Sazin, and the upper part of the Gilgit Valley above Ponyal.[6][better source needed] Many Shina people have also migrated to Karachi and Islamabad for employment, carrying out business, and education purposes, and many of them have permanently settled in these cities.

In India, the Shina people are found in Guraiz, as well as in Dah Hanu and beyond the city of Leh.[7]


The Shina expanded to the Gilgit region from their homeland in Shinkari sometime around the 9th or 10th century. Soon after the Shina began settling in Chitral, parts of the Nagar Valley, and as far as Baltistan and Kargil.[8]

The Shina people originally practised Hinduism,[9][10][11][3] as well as Buddhism.[3][9][12] However, both Hinduism and Buddhism were regulated to being the religion of the ruling and upper class although Hinduism had more success among the masses.[8] As such, the Shina, particularly the Dangariké caste, were referred to by their neighbours as "cow people".[10][13] Even after the majority of the ethnic group's conversion to Islam, orthodox Shins would continue to neither eat beef, drink cow's milk nor touch any vessel containing it; a dead cow or a suckling calf is considered especially unclean.[14] In Gilgit, Hunza and Nagar, the Hindu Shins formerly practised sati, which ceased before A.D. 1740.[15] 1877, in that region, marked the last year that Shina men underwent Hindu cremation rites.[15]

The Shina were exposed to Islam around the 12th century. Waves of conversions occurred during the 14th, 16th and 17th centuries. By the late 19th century, most Shina were adherents of Islam.[8] Many castes of the Shina people, such as the Açar'îta caste, converted to Islam in the 19th century and this faith is now observed by the majority of the ethnic group;[16] a minority of Shina speakers, chiefly the Brokpa caste, continue to practice Buddhism and Hinduism.[3][12][17]


Shin is an ethnic group comprising following castes:

  • Açar'îta[16]
  • Brokpa[17]
  • Samoon
  • Chillis
  • Dangariké
  • Dharmkhel
  • Gabare
  • Khoke
  • Manake

Genetic origins[edit]

Mah Noor et al. (2019) found west Eurasian mtDNA in 89% (8/9) of Shina samples, which included 11.1% (one sample each) from the following haplogroups, H14a, T1a, H2a, T2, U7, U5b and HV2. Besides, 11.1% (1/9) of the samples belonged to haplogroup M54, which is of South Asian origin. According to the researchers, the high frequency of western mtDNA haplogroups in the Shina samples indicate their West Eurasian ancestral origin. The presence of South Asian haplogroups however reveal minor genetic admixture of Shina with surrounding South Asian groups.[1]

Pre-Islamic Hindu Shin names[edit]

Of the Shin names a great number have the suffix of Sing, which is retained in spite of the conversion of the people to Islam. These names are never found among the purely Boorish population of Hunza and Nager, but it is to be noted that the Suffix Sing is found among the earlier Makpon Kings of Iskardo. The suffix is the local version of the Hindu Surname Singh which comes from the Sanskrit word Simha meaning Lion. It is generally used by the Kshatriya ruling class.[18]

Male Shin Names[18]

Female Shin Names[18]


Within Kashmir and Jammu administered by India
Religion Population Percentage
Muslim 45,100 93.18%[19]
Buddhist 3144 6.49%[20]
Hindu 133 0.27%[21]


The Shina festival of Chili marks the commencement of wheat sowing, as with other celebrations in the Indian subcontinent, including Lohri and Makar Sakranti. Chilli also formerly had a connection with the worship of the cedar.[22] Cedar worship is prevalent among historic the Hindu communities of Himalayas, from the Hindu Kush region to Himachal and Uttarakhand. It is known as Deodar, which is derived from the Sanskrit word Devadaru, which means "wood of the gods" and is a compound of the words deva (god) and dāru (wood, etym. tree). The Cedar is also sacred in Kafiristan.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mumtaz, Mah Noor; Ihsan, Haleema; Aziz, Shahid; Hizbullah; Afridi, Sahib Gul; Shams, Sulaiman; Khan, Asifullah (2019). "The genetic composition of Shina population from Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan based on mtDNA analyses". Mitochondrial DNA Part B. 4 (2): 3802–3808. doi:10.1080/23802359.2019.1682474. PMC 7710323. PMID 33366198.
  2. ^ "Religion Data of Census 2011: XXXIII JK-HP-ST".
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Religion Data of Census 2011: XXXIII JK-HP-ST — Scheduled Tribes of northwest India: Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh". Centre for Policy Studies. 24 December 2016. Retrieved 22 February 2020. Notwithstanding the roots of these tribes in the Hindu antiquity and persistence of that memory in their language and ritual, they have been all converted to Islam perhaps a few centuries ago. Of 48.4 thousand Brokpa, etc., counted in 2011, 45.1 thousand are Muslim. Of the rest, 3,144 are Buddhist and 133 Hindu.
  4. ^ Crane, Robert I. (1956). Area Handbook on Jammu and Kashmir State. University of Chicago for the Human Relations Area Files. p. 179. Shina is the most eastern of these languages and in some of its dialects such as the Brokpa of Dah and Hanu and the dialect of Dras, it impinges upon the area of the Sino-Tibetan language family and has been affected by Tibetan with an overlay of words and idioms.
  5. ^ O. C. (April 1893). "V. Notices of Books - The Invasion of India by Alexander the Great, as described by Arrian, Q. Curtius, Diodôros, Plutarch, Justin, and other classical Authors. With an Introduction, containing a Life of Alexander, copious Notes, Illustrations, Maps, and Indices. By J. W. M'Crindle. 8vo. Pp. xii. and 432. London : Archibald Constable and Co., Westminster. 1893". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland. 25 (2): 406–407. doi:10.1017/s0035869x0017039x. ISSN 0035-869X.
  6. ^ A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and NorthWest provinces, compiled by H.A. Rose, vol III Page 405
  7. ^ Prakāśaṃ, Vennelakaṇṭi (2008). Encyclopaedia of the Linguistic Sciences: Issues and Theories. Allied Publishers. p. 143. ISBN 9788184242799. Shina (described as spoken in many dialects in Gilgit, Chilas, etc., as far south as Gurez in Kashmir, Dah Hanu in ladakh, and dras in kargil.
  8. ^ a b c Nicolaus, Peter (2015). "Residues of Ancient Beliefs among the Shin in the Gilgit-Division and Western Ladakh". Iran & the Caucasus. 19 (3): 201–264. doi:10.1163/1573384X-20150302. ISSN 1609-8498. JSTOR 43899199.
  9. ^ a b John Biddulph (1880). Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh. Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing. pp. 39, 115. In Nager there is a caste called Shoto, which exists nowhere else; they work in leather, and rank below the Doms, who take daughters from them without giving in return ... like the Shins they have come from the south to settle in these valleys. The names of many of the rules and of a number of places, not only in the Indus and Gilgit Valleys, but also in the Chitral Valley, point to a Brahminical origin. Amongst the names of places may be mentioned Seo (Siva, or Mahadeo), Shogram (Siva's village), Shogoor (Siva's priest), and Swami ... some form of Brahminism was introduced by the Shins into the Gilgit Valley, and, to a greater or less degree, wherever their rule extended. In valleys in which they were outnumbered by the former inhabitants, the result was, doubtless, a mixture of Buddhism and Hindooism, grafted on a form of demon-worship existing in the country.
  10. ^ a b O'Leary, Clare F.; Rensch, Calvin Ross; Decker, Sandra J. (1992). Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan: Languages of Chitral. National Institute of Pakistan Studies at Quaid-i-Azam University. Phalura had previously been Hindus like the Shin. He referred to the area around Chilas, south of Gilgit, as Dangaristan and discussed how the term Dangarik has been applied to the Shina-speaking people.
  11. ^ Hastings, James; Selbie, John Alexander (1917). Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics: Mundas-Phrygians. C. Scribner's Sons. p. 606. But the Shins have the characteristic Hindu aversion to eating the flesh of milk (or even ghī made from the milk) of the cow, and eschew fowls and fish. The former language of the people was Sanskrit, and the dialect now in use is called Shina. The basic element in the people is thus probably Indo-Aryan, and their festivals preserve many traces of Hindu beliefs.
  12. ^ a b Hattaway, Paul (2004). Peoples of the Buddhist World. William Carey Library. p. 46. ISBN 9780878083619.
  13. ^ Morgenstierne, Georg (1941). Notes on Phalūṛa: an unknown Dardic language of Chitral. J. Dybwad. p. 8.
  14. ^ A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province: L.-Z. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. 1997. ISBN 978-81-85297-70-5.
  15. ^ a b John Biddulph (1880). Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh. Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing. p. 114. Women's urns are readily distinguished by a number of wooden spindle whorls, mixed with the bones. ... in Gilgit, Gor, Hunza, and Nager, that suttee was formerly practiced. The dead man, with his finest clothese and his weapons girded on him was plpaced on the pyre, and as the fire burnt up, the woman arrayed in her jewellery and her richest clothes, leaped into the flames. The burning of the dead ceased to be practised more than sixty years ago. ... in 1877, a very old man in Darel scandalised his neighbors by calling his sons to him on his death bed, and after having his arms and valuables brought to him, desiring to be burnt with them when dead ... He and a man of Gor, who died twenty years ago, are known to have always refused to be circumcized, or to call themselves Mohommedans. They were probably the very last Hindus in Dangaristan.
  16. ^ a b Schmidt, Ruth Laila; Kohistani, Razwal (2008). A Grammar of the Shina Language of Indus Kohistan. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 11. ISBN 9783447056762. The Açar'îta themselves told Strand that they have been living in Ashret for "for these approximately eight of nine hundred years as the Shina tribe... We are still making our lives in this homeland, and our language is Shina. We are one people from Chilas; originally, we are from Chilas." ... Biddulph mentions that many Muslims Shins had the surname "Sing". It is also a Rajput name, and the earlier form siṃha is a frequent element in the colophons of the Gilgit Manuscripts (dateable to probably not later than the 9th century C.E.). Bota/bôTâ appears to be a cognate with Bóṭi. The conversion to Islam among the Açar'îta appears to have taken place, according to Strand, between 1820-1840 C.E.
  17. ^ a b Sir George Abraham Grierson (1903). The Languages of India. Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, India. These are the Brokpa of Dras, which differs little from Gurezi, the Brokpa of Skardu which is the same as Astori, and the curious isolated colony of Shina, spoken near the frontier line between Baltistan and Ladakh called the Brokpa of Dah and Hanu.
  18. ^ a b c Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh John Biddulph Sang e meel Publications Page 99
  19. ^ "Religion Data of Census 2011: XXXIII JK-HP-ST".
  20. ^ "Religion Data of Census 2011: XXXIII JK-HP-ST".
  21. ^ "Religion Data of Census 2011: XXXIII JK-HP-ST".
  22. ^ The making of a frontier Five years' experiences and adventures in Gilgit By Algernon George Arnold Durand Page 210
  23. ^ The making of a frontier Five years' experiences and adventures in Gilgit By Algernon George Arnold Durand Page 209