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The Brahui People

 

The Brahui people or Brohi people are an ethnic group of about 2.2 million people with the majority found in Kalat, Pakistan, but also found in smaller numbers in neighboring Afghanistan and Iran. They are closely linked to the Baloch with whom they have substantially intermingled and whose cultural traits they have absorbed. Linguistically, they speak the Brahui language, which is a North Dravidian language, but due to its isolation from the other Dravidian tongues it has considerable Balochi vocabulary and even counting begins with Balochi numbers. There is no distinct indigenous script for Brahui; like Balochi it is written in Perso-Arabic alphabet. Brahui is spoken in the following areas: Merv area of Turkmenistan, Sindh, Zahedan and Zabol in Iranian Balochistan, southern parts of Afghanistan, Pakistani Balochistan and with the bulk in the Jhalawan region.

Origins, geography, and demographics
There are two main theories regarding the Brahui that have been proposed by academics. One theory is that they are an ancient hold-over of some sort of indeterminate Elamo-Dravidian origin that descended from the people of the Indus Valley civilization. Another theory is that they are migrants from northern India who arrived in the region either before the Aryan invasion, but probably before the Baloch. Over the centuries, due to their location, the Brahui have mixed with Iranian peoples as well as the Sindhis and other groups and physically and culturally more closely resemble their neighbors rather than the Dravidian peoples of India. In addition, they are almost entirely Muslim, usually of the Sunni sect.

Generally dominated by various invaders during their history, including the Baloch, the Khans of Kalat, who were of Brahui origin, became rulers in their own right and dominated Balochistan for decades, while holding off the Persians until the coming of the British in the 19th century.

Brahui language:
The Brahui language is mainly spoken in the Kalat areas of Balochistan, Pakistan, although there is a considerable amount of speakers in Southern Afghanistan and Iranian Balochistan. It includes three dialects including Sarawani (spoken in the north), Jhalawani (spoken in the southeast), and Chaghi (spoken in the northwest and west). According to a survey it has about 2,000,000 speakers in Pakistan (1998), 200,000 speakers in Afghanistan and 10,000 speakers in Iran, which would amount to 2,210,000 in the world. Due to its isolation, Brahui's vocabulary is only 15% Dravidian, while the remainder is dominated by Perso-Arabic, Balochi, and Indo-Aryan, while the grammar and overall morphology still resemble other Dravidian tongues. Brahui is generally written in the Perso-Arabic script and there is even a Roman alphabet that has been developed for use with Brahui. In Pakistan when doing a BA (bachelor of Arts) program, the Brahui Language can be taken as a compulsory subject.


Although it is a Dravidian language, it has been heavily influenced by the Iranian languages spoken in the area such as Balochi.

Brahui is generally considered to be a remnant of a formerly more widespread Dravidian language family that was reduced during the Indo-Aryan migration. It is also sometimes speculated that Brahui might be a direct legacy of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Other hypotheses suggest that such languages may have arised through Aryan and Dravidian assimilation during the later phases of Proto-Vedic Continuity

 


 

Tribal dialects:
Brahui, Brahooee, Bravi is a language spoken only by Baloch people. Though the national language of the Baloch race is Balochi, Brahui is their second most commonly spoken language. Some misunderstanding exists in the West that Brahui speakers are different from Balochi speakers.[citation needed] In fact Baloch is a one race with two languages. Those who speak Brahui are known as Brahuis(or Brahui Balochs).

Baloch society is divided in tens of tribes, some tribes speak Brahui and some speak Balochi, and there are many that speak both. For instance, the Langov tribe ,inhabiting central Balochistan in the Mangochar area, speak Balochi as their first language and Brahui as second. The Bezenjo tribe that inhabit Khuzdar, Nal and regions of Makran, along with the Muhammadsanis, one of the largest Baloch tribes, speak both languages. Another example is the Bangulzai tribe which is a Brahui-speaking tribe but the sub-tribe of the Bangulzai, the Garanis, speak Balochi and are known as Balochi speaking Bangulzais. Presently Brahui is spoken in Balochistan (Iran), Pakistan, Afghanistan, northern Iran, Turkmanistan, Sindh and Gulf Arab states.

Another interesting fact is that most of the kings/Khans of Balochistan were Brahui speakers but their court languages was Balochi.

 


More detail information about Brahuis from other sources

BRAHUI, a people of Baluchistan, inhabiting the Brahui mountains, which extend continuously from near the Bolan Pass to Cape Monze on the Arabian Sea. The khan of Kalat, the native ruler of Baluchistan, is himself a Brahui, and a lineal descendant of Kumbar, former chief of the Kumbarini, a Brahui tribe. The origin of the Brahuis is an ethnological mystery. Bishop Robert Caldwell and other authorities declare them Dravidians, and regard them as the western borderers of Dravidian India. Others believe them to be Scythians, 1 and others again connect them with Tatar 1 Compare Mountstuart Elphinstone's (History of India, 9th ed., 1905, p. 249) description of Scythians with physique of Brahuis. A relationship between the Jats and the Brahuis has been suggested, and it is generally held that the former were of Scythic stock. The Mengals, Bizanjos and Zehris, the three largest Brahui tribes, are called Jadgal or Jagdal, i.e. Jats, by some of their neighbours. The Zaghar Mengal, a superior division of the Mengal tribe, believe they themselves came from a district called Zughd, somewhere near Samarkand in central Asia. Gal appears to be a collective mountaineers who early settled in southern parts of Asia. The origin of the word itself is in doubt. It is variously derived as a corruption of the Persian Ba Rohi (literally "of the hills"); as an eponym from Braho, otherwise Brahin or Ibrahim, a legendary hero of alleged Arab descent who led his people "out of the west," while Dr Gustav Oppert believes that the name is in some way related to, if not identical with, that of the Baluchis. He recognizes in the name of the Paratas and Paradas, who dwelt in north-eastern Baluchistan, the origin of the modern Brahui. He gives reasons for regarding the Bra as a contraction of Bara and obtains "thus in Barahui a name whose resemblance to that of the ancient Barrhai (the modern Bhars), as well as to that of the Paratas and Paravar and their kindred the Maratha Paravari and Dravidian Parheyas of Palaman, is striking." The Brahuis declare themselves to be the aborigines of the country they now occupy, their ancestors coming from Aleppo. For this there seems little foundation, and their language, which has no affinities with Persian, Pushtu or Baluchi, must be, according to the most eminent scholars, classed among the Dravidian tongues of southern India. Probably the Brahuis are of Dravidian stock, a branch long isolated from their kindred and much Arabized, and thus exhibiting a marked hybridism.

Whatever their origin, the Brahuis are found in a position of considerable power in Baluchistan from earliest times. Their authentic history begins with Mir Ahmad, who was their chief in the 17th century. The title of "khan" was assumed by Nasir the Great in the middle of the 18th century. The Brahuis are a confederacy of tribes possessing common lands and uniting from time to time for purposes of offence or defence. At their head is the khan, who formerly seems to have been regarded as semi-divine, it being customary for the tribesmen on visiting Kalat to make offerings at the Ahmadzai gate before entering. The Brahuis are a nomadic race, who dwell in tents made of goats' hair, black or striped, and live chiefly on the products of their herds. They are Sunnite Mahommedans, but are not fanatical. In physique they are very easily distinguished from their neighbours, the Baluchis and Pathans, being a smaller, sturdier people with rounder faces characterized by the flat, blunt and coarse features of the Dravidian races. They are of a dark brown colour, their hair and beards being often brown not black. They are an active, hardy race, and though as avaricious as the Pathans, are more trustworthy and less turbulent. Their ordinary dress is a tunic or shirt, trousers gathered in at the ankles and a cloak usually of brown felt. A few wear turbans, but generally their headgear is a round skullcap with tassel or button. Their women are not strictly veiled. Sandals of deer or goat skin are worn by all classes. Their weapons are rifles, swords and shields. They do not use the Afghan knife or any spears. Some few Brahuis are enlisted in the Bombay Native Infantry.

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