The Hunza
Back to tribes

The Hunza

Mountain Farmers

Mountain Farmers

Hunza or Burusho or Brusho, or Botraj. The name Hunza seems to be of German origin and means "Heaven on earth".

The Hunza are a population living in the northern Pakistani valleys of Hunza, Nagar, and Yasin. There are also over 300 Hunza in Srinagar, India.
Snapshot

Snapshot

  • Region is Northern Asia

  • Climate here is Mild

  • The challenge here is Medium

  • This trip has been rated 5 by other travelers

Life

Life

The Burusho engage in small breeds of cattle, yaks, goats, and sheep, wild ducks, golden eagles, crows, vultures, chickens, pheasants, pigeons and, doves are hunted. Agriculture represents the primary Burusho subsistence.

Fields are terraced on the mountain-sides and irrigated by a well-thought system of drainage conduits.
Home

Home

Villages are built on shelves above the Hunza River gorge, and consist of a variable number of houses constructed one beside another. Homes are never built on arable land, and construction local materials consist of stone, rock, or clay. Wood is used for doors, roofs, and supporting pillars. The lower floor of a home has two sections: an open courtyard for animals and a living space for human use.

Culture

Social Structure

Burusho society contains five classes: the Thamo (royal family); the Uyongko/Akabirting (representatives in offices of state); the Bar/Bare/Sis (land cultivators); the Shadarsho (servants); and the Baldakuyo/Tsilgalasho (bearers of burdens).

The Burusho Indian blacksmiths and musicians maintain their own customs and speak their language (Kumaki) and are an essential part of the Burusho social structure too.

Religion

Most Burushos are Ismailis, a sub-sect of Islam. Religion and prayer are lived intimately. There is no trace of superstition, nor of beliefs concerning the evil eye, magic, as for neighboring peoples.

Traditions

A variety of natural herbs is used for medicinal purposes, but access to scientific medicine is also available.

When spring comes, families, and especially older, carry young children on their shoulders to welcome the new season and pray for their future.

Language

The Hunza language can not be connected to other neighboring and non-existing or extinct languages.

Art

Embroidery and wood carving are their visual art.

Dancing, music, and dramatic art are attested. Burusho oral literature includes folklore, anecdotes, and songs.

Burusho are known for their convex iron grills used for cooking, wooden trays, goat's-hair products, animal-skin boots, handiwork realized with stone, bone, and horn, moccasins, woolen garments, baskets, woven cloth, blankets, and various utensils.

Celebrations

Hunza usually celebrate significant events on the day of the winter solstice with dances and music performed by béricho, musicians of Indian origin.

There are various festivities and propitiatory rites linked to sowing or harvesting, like the one celebrated on February 6th for the planting of barley.

There is also a carnival that they celebrate at the beginning of February.
Further knowledge

Further knowledge

A curiosity: Hunza people are also passionate and skilled polo players.

The valley is known for its delicious fruit, terraced fields, and longevity of local people. Autumn in Hunza valley is an unforgettable experience: for sure, the best time for exploring the beautiful Hunza valley.



Photo credit: Kunza valley
iStock.com/tahir abbas

Photo credit: Hunza woman traditional dress
iStock.com/Skazzjy

Photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license:
Hunza woman / jonmartin () 

Photo Credit: Baltit Fort in Kunza valley
iStock.com/Lukas Bischoff