November 8, 2011

Burushaski - a unique language & music in Gilgit-Baltistan

The Terrorland Report

BURUSHASKI, according to experts, is a language isolate, not known to be related to any other language of the world. It's spoken only in parts of Gilgit-Baltistan. It has three dialects in Hunza, Nagar and Yasin valley. Rough estimates say there are about 100,000 native speakers known as Brusho or Hunzakuts.

Many people have researched on this unique language including famous orientalists. Among them are two senior local researchers and creative writers: Nasir Hunzai and Ghulamuddin. There are many other writers including Fidaali Aisar, Azizullah Najeeb have enriched Burushaski language.

Mr. Ghulamuddin is the first person to translate the Holly Quran into Burushaski language. Haji Qudratullah’s History of Hunza, which he coauthored with his grandfather in Persian, is a must-read for those who want to research on the region. According to sources, English translation of this classic is being published from Pakistan.

Sufi poet Allama Nasir al-Din Nasir Hunzai had got education up to fifth grade but today, this nonagenarian is author of about 100 books. He is the first poet to have a Dewan (anthology) in Burushaski language. The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, has appreciated his creative genius in a preface to the book. Besides honorary degree of doctorate and professorship from a foreign university, Mr. Hunzai is also a recipient of Pakistan's highest civil award, Sitarah-i-Imtiyaz, in literature.  

Creative people are now using Burushaski not only for religious poetry but also for other sorts of literature. Besides the mass media, currently the youths are using the language for political awareness as well especially the Burushos of Nagar and Yasin valley.

However, there are no female singers, models and actors, not only in Hunza but in the entire Gilgit-Baltistan region. Some females sing only religious hymns. It is really mocking... the so-called literate and liberal portrayal of the region in the national and international media. The performing arts need the attention of the government, NGOs and local intelligentsia in this regard.

Here is a selection of songs which will give you an insight into the unique Burushashki language and people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Happy Eid!


1- Mysticism and Burushaski poetry seem synonymous




2- Sufi song - written and sung by Nasir Hunzai



3- Burushaski traditional poetry sung in villages 



4- Burushaski song dubbed with "dear" models of downtown 



5- Hunza wedding song and dance



Posts on Music Therapy of nations! 

  1. Pashto music can improve Af-Pak-US relations!
  2. Balti music can do what the bloody 'strategic assets' can't
  3. Wakhi music: don't doubt strength of bridge to China & Central Asia 
  4. Shina music & resistance literature in Gilgit-Baltistan

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