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Northeast Afghanistan and western region of North Pakistan are an old cultural and ethnological retreat, where, in spacious...read more

Northeast Afghanistan and western region of North Pakistan are an old cultural and ethnological retreat, where, in spacious valleys of the Hindu Kush, lived the Kafir (‘unbeliever’) tribes. With their own languages, religion and culture. They were only (forcefully) converted to Islam in the winter of 1895/96 in a military campaign by the Afghan Shah Abdur Rahman. And it was only then that their lands, difficult to access, were renamed Nuristan (‘Land of heavenly Light’). Remaining Kafiristani tribes (the Kalash) could only preserve their old culture in pockets in Northwest Pakistan, around Chitral. When Islam finally triumphed, the old tradition of the kafirs vanished, leaving behind number of artefacts which were increasingly seen as remainders of a bad past. As in Swat valley, Nuristan's woodworkers produce a large spectre of objects. Bols and pots were made with the help of a lathe, deriven in alternative direction with a belt.(see pict. Klimburg 1999, page 211)

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