Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Burusho are a mountain people living primarily in the Hunza valley, but also in the Nagar and Yasin areas, in the Gilgit district of the Northern Areas of Pakistan. They earn their living by combining animal husbandry with the cultivation of crops, vegetables and fruits. Most fields are located on hillsides and require extensive terraces and a complex system of irrigation and drainage.


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Asia --South Asia



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The AV07 Burusho collection consists of 9 documents, including this culture summary, all in English language, except Lorimer (1935, no. 4) which provides both original text in Burushaski and its translation into English. Four of the documents are by David L. Lorimer, a British political agent who lived in Hunza from 1920 to 1924, and his accompanying wife Emily O. Lorimer. The works of David Lorimer (1931, nos 3 and 4), focus on folklore, local traditions and linguistic issues, while his wife provides accounts of their travels and her own impressions of the Burusho (Lorimer, 1938, no. 1, and 1939, no.2). John Tobe’s work (1960, no. 7) tries to correct popular western views which wrongly regarded Hunza as a paradise where people live extraordinarily long healthy life. John Clark (1963, no.8) compliments Tobe’s work by listing the many cases of disease which he encountered while maintaining a general dispensary in the area in 1948-1951. The remaining two documents discuss economy, ecology and social organization (Sidky, 1993, no. 9 and Frembegen, 1992, no. 10). It is evident from these documents that Burusho livelihood strategies and socioeconomic organizations are closely attuned to the harsh and resource-poor high-mountain environment they live in.

Bitaiyo (diviners) - use- 791 "MAGICIANS AND DIVINERS" or 787 "REVELATION AND DIVINATION"

Bopfau (see scattering ritual) - use 788 "RITUALS", possibly with 241 "AGRICULTURE"

Chawkinda (village headmen) - use 622 COMMUNITY LEADERS

Mir (hereditary autocratic ruler) - use 643 "CHIEF EXECUTIVE"

Princely State - use- 642 - "TYPE OF GOVERNMENT"

Thumuschelling (a nocturnal torch-lighting celebration on Winter Solstice) - use 527 "REST DAYS AND HOLIDAYS"

Water Monitoring Committee - use 624 "LOCAL OFFICIALS," with 312 "WATER SUPPLY"

This culture summary is adapted from the article "Burusho" by Hugh R. Page, Jr, in The Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 3, Paul Hockings, ed., Boston, Mass: G. K. Hall and Co., 1992. The sections on demography, death and afterlife, synopsis and indexing notes were written by Teferi Abate Adem in May 2005.

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