Uncategorized, Videos

A Brief Discussion with a Classical Wakhi Singer of Northern Pakistan: Late Pir Ali of Hunza Valley

May 26, 2020

By Fazal Amin Beg
A Brief Note
According to his narration to me in February 2009, Late Pir Ali was 76 years old. If this is taken for granted, he was born in 1933. He belonged to Sharisavz , a small village within Chipursan valley of Hunza district, Gilgit-Baltistan Region, Northern Pakistan. Earning a great name in the field of performing arts, he finally passed away in 2014 when he was 81.
He was not only a shining star of his time in the field of singing in Persian and Wakhi but ratehr has also contributed in composition of some Wakhi poetries. It’s important to note that late Pir Ali was blessed with multiple skills and above all, when his attractive and sweet voice would couple in his singing, it would leave a long lasting effect on the hearts of listners. . For such reasons, he was honored as the top singer of the former Hunza State, where he would sing in in the court of the Mir (Ruler). Not only this much but ratehr the last Mir of Hunza, Muhammad Jamal Khan had positioned him within his office as the Singer. Late Pir Ali thus spent over 12 years with the Mir of Hunza (from 1962 to 1974). Late Pir Ali also traveled with the last Mir of hunza to various places in pakistan including Rawalpindi, Karachi, Peshawar, Landi Kotal, Swat and the like.
It was back in February 2009, Afiyat Nazar of Gulmit and I travelled to Chipursan valley. Afiyat had to do his fieldwork around his M. Ed thesis and I around my anthropological contexts. We thus met him in his house and had some discussions with him, though he was not mentally ready to talk much. However, it was encouraging to note that he was so interested in singing the devotional songs but avoided the secular or romantic songs. One of the genuine reasons was his disheartened condition due to loss of his son who was hit by the snow avalanche (along wit other family members and relatives) at Pomiri pastureland in Chipursan valley in September 199.
It is also important to note that I had met late Pir Ali in January 2007 when I had taken Mir Ali Wakhani to Hunza and also visited late Pir Ali and had recorded a couple of songs but unfortunately I could not retrieve yet the data if they are available with me. The videography was made by late Abdul Hameed of Gulmit oneof my classmates and great maternal cousins. .
However, during the visit of February 2009, we were fortunate enough to at least record couples of devotional songs in Persian in addition to my short discussion with him
Here I’m going to present on Eagles World, the brief discussion/interview that I had conducted. Will then also share ahead the recorded Persian devotional songs with the viewrs /audience.

Click on the following link of Eagles World to watch the discussion in Wakhi:

FAB: Cum sol’nev tu sa’sht k̃he yanev ra Mir-e darbor ce rek̃htu, bayd k̃hẽnaker?
FAB: How old were you when you’d gone to the court of the Mir for singing?
LPA: Dishma.
LPA: I don’t know.
FAB: Wist sol’nev tu, wist-e panz̃ sol’nev tu a?
FAB: Were you 20 or 25 years old?
LPA: Yan, tum’rem tu.
LPA: Yes, this much I was.
FAB: Dẽ kum Mir-e dawr tu?
FAB: Which Mir’s period was it?
LPA: Dem Jamol khonen. Dem’nem rek̃htu.
LPA: In the period of Mir Jamal Khan. I had gone with him.
FAB: Ra jaytes̃h haldi a?
FAB: Did you stay there with him?
LPA: Yan, ra jay’nes̃h halde. Ram yi dhasbu sol a cum’rem ra halde. Mirig̃h reg̃hde k̃he yanem wezde.
LPA: Yes, I was there (at Baltit). For over 10 or 12 years, I lived there and returned home after the end of the Mirdom.
FAB: e, Mirig̃h reg̃hde k̃he yandi?
FAB: When the Mirdom finished and then?
LPA: Yan. Yan’mes̃h da’n reg̃hde Karachi, reg̃hdimes̃h Landi Kotal, reg̃hdimes̃h Swat. Dam’v-e Mir’v en qiti, z̃ereng.
LPA: Yes, I would then accompany the Mir to Karachi, to Landi Kotal and to Swat, along with the rulers of those areas. Well, it was so.
FAB: he, k̃hat’tes̃h j̃akht a..
FAB: well, did you play yourself (the music)?
LPA: Yow-e jand̃a [parcham] dẽ spo mist u. kuyen ta’m chiz k̃hẽnak-e chora ne tu. Yow z̃ereng wakht tu.
LPA: His [Mir’s] flag was ahead of us. No one would dare say anything to him. It was such time.
FAB: Sozetes̃h kum j̃akht. Kum chiz tu, rabob a sitor a ney chiz tu?
FAB: Which instruement did you play? Was it rabob or sitor?
LPA: Ney, yow yow ney, z̃i skẽ g̃has̃h bayd’mes̃h k̃hat, haz̃eng.
LPA: No, there was no musical instrument. I would sing orally (with out music).
FAB: Yowes̃h K̃hikwor disht a?
FAB: Did he know Wakhi language?
LPA: Yan, dishtes̃h. Rikard̃es̃h kert. Woz z̃eng ki Mast̃er Samarqand ce tu,yetes̃h maz̃h ra, Angrezisht’ves̃h wezde ra, yowes̃h ra Rest̃haws (Resthouse). Rames̃h bu sad, tru sad, cẽbũrsad ripya, yan ripyay qiymat tu, z̃ereng ripya’mes̃h dez̃hd.
LPA: Yes, he did know Wakhi. He would record the songs. Furtehremore, Master Samarqand would take me to the Rest House where the forigners would come. I would thus earn Pakistani Rupees in such manner: 200/- or 300/- or 400/–. During those days, there was high value of the currency.
FAB: he, chiz cereng ey bech, Karachi’v cum loy reg̃hde, dẽ Mir en qiti?
FAB: Well, uncle, for how long you did go to Karachi with the Mir?
LPA: Karachi’m bu gũdor reg̃hde.
LPA: I did go to Karachi twice with the Mir.
FAB: Woz digar jay’vev?
FAB: And to other places?
LPA: Digar jay’vev, Landi Kotal’nes̃h har ror reg̃hde, chiz cẽ bur or en, tru ror en.
LPA: We would go to Landi Kotal in two or three days break.
FAB: Oww…
FAB: Okay, ….
LPA: Yan.
LPA: Yes.
FAB: K̃he yan yow cereng tu, yowes̃h saver chiz rat? Byd’ves̃h dam en har wakht z̃ereng k̃hatet tag̃hdives̃h?
FAB: Would he [the Mir] remunerate you for singing while travelling with him for such occasions?

LPA: Ney, bayd’nes̃h tam chiz k̃hat niya, dam’nes̃h z̃i reg̃hde k̃he wezines̃h.
LPA: No, we would sing in his (house) while we traveled with him freely.
FAB: kuy kuy’ves̃h vite sasht damen’ves̃h ce z̃ereng reg̃hde? Tem gnan’en woz be kuy tu a? tem spo palween woz be kuy tu a? tem G̃har K̃hidh en?
FAB: Who else were the people from this area travelling with him? Who were they from Gojal?
LPA: Ney. Tem en lol Bari tu.
LPA: No, from our area, there was brother bari only.
FAB: Yũw bech Bari viti, yũwev sasht vite, woz?
FAB: One was uncle Bari, another one was you yourself. And who else?
LPA: wozev z̃i khalgisht tu, Virchikisht.
LPA: Other people were the Burushaski speakers.
FAB: Hara’es̃h mir-e kum bayd ghafch khus̃h kert ey bech tinen? Kumd ghafch khus̃h tu, ghafch’tes̃h yo’r ce k̃hat?
FAB: What was the favorite song of the Mir when you’d sing? Which one would you sing more than others?
LPA: Az̃i chiz be k ice. Yandi wog̃h z̃hũnen khũshruy tu, niya. Bayd’mes̃h be ghafch k̃hat.
FAB: Any song I wished. At that time, my voice was also so attractive and would sing more songs.
FAB: Yowi niv be ti sudo ghafch khũshruy .
FAB: Your voice is still so attractive.
LPA: Yan, nivem yav rũms̃hetk.
LPA: Yes, I’ve now forgotten them.
FAB: Forsiyes̃h ghafch khus̃h a ney K̃hikwor ziyot?
FAB: Which songs Did he prefer between the Persian and Wakhi?
LPA: Forsi yo’r ghafch khus̃h tu niya.
LPA: He would prefer Persian more.
FAB: K̃hikwores̃h cumer khus̃h kert …
FAB: How much he would appreciate the Wakhi?
LPA: K̃hikwor yan, qasoyid, haz̃ereng.
LPA: Yeah, Wakhi devotional and the like. .
FAB: Qasoyid’tes̃h be k̃hat a?
FAB: Did you also sing devotional poetries?
LPA: Yan, qũsoyid be bet. Az̃i Shingshalik’ves̃h Shingshalisht ghafch bayd’ves̃h k̃hat niya.az̃i ret. Hara …
LPA: Yes, devotional poetries as well. The Shimshali people would sing more songs there.
FAB: Yasht kuy kuy tu ey bech?
FAB: uncle, who were those people?
LPA: Ra ney…
LPA: Not there [at Baltit].
FAB: Yan, temev kuy kuyisht tu, haraves̃h ki ne wezde?
FAB, well, who were they they would sing here (Gojal) and won’t come there (Baltit)?
LPA: Ra, dishma, yav-e nungihstes̃h ma’r ne wizit.
LPA: I don’t remember their names. I’ve forgotten them.
FAB: Chiz tu a, bech Qũrbon Khon?
FAB: Well, what was his name, uncle Qurbon Khon?
LPA: Qũrbon Khon? Ney, yow ne tu.
LPA: Qurbon Khon? No, he wasn’t.
FAB: Ali Sher? Yow-e tat?
FAB: Ali Sher? His father?
LPA: Ney, yow be ney? Digar khalgistev tu…
LPA: No, he was also not there? They were others.
FAB: Ya pup Big Dawlat?
FAB: Was he grandpa Big Dawlat?
LPA: ney, yow be ney.
LPA: no, he wasn’t, too.
Habib: Muhabat Khoni ki tiwetk? Muhabat Shoh.
Habib: He might have been Muhabat Khon? Muhabat Shoh?
FAB: Muhabat Shoh? Yow tek kher niv wakht’ni. L
FAB: Was he Muhabat Shoh? Well, no, he was of the recent time.
LPA: Ney, yow ney.
LPA: No, he wasn’t.
FAB: Kum ghafch khus̃h baydi wũrek̃hk, tower ghafch pasandi wũrek̃hk? Haya khuz̃hg bayd kumd ki K̃hikworer tey?
FAB: Which song did you like more among others that was your favorite in Wakhi?

LPA: Nek, nivi yow da z̃hũ zehn nast, wuz cereng go’m?
LPA: Well, I don’t remember them now. What could I do?
FAB: Yi band .. rost ki yi band?
FAB: One stanza only? Only one stanza?
LPA: chiz, dẽ fawj tu niya. Pokistone,
LPA: He was in the military, in the armed forces of Pakistan.
FAB: Armi?
FAB: Was he in the Army?
LPA: Ney, NLI? Armi (army)?
FAB: No, then was it NLI, or the Army?
LPA: Ney, armi en be hara.
LPA: No, even ahead of the Army there.
FAB: Owoy ey, SSG, kammando?
FAB: Okay, then it may be SSG, Commando?
LPA: Ara tu, chiz Karachi. Yandi dhasbu soli servis kert k̃he chũt̃i wezde. Chũt̃i wezde k̃he, tret Koyta tum yandi, chuti wezde drem k̃he, kifch peter z̃hũnen nokar tu niya. K̃he weze drem, yandi yem fawjisht paydo vite, chiz Angrezisht. Yow dam’v en reg̃hde tret. Maz̃h k̃hat ki tra me rec̃h, ripyayi kam a chiz? Yowe k̃hat ki ney z̃i sayl carem. Reg̃hde tra k̃he wezde drem k̃he reg̃hde tet Pomiri nung jay, tet s̃hot yav dik̃ht.
LPA: He was there at Karachi. He served for 12 years and was here on holydays. He was in Quetta and was on leaves here. Both of my sons were employed. When was on holydays, in the meanwhile some military people, no rather forigners, came to this area. He chose to go with them to Pamir. I advised him not ot go. I asked has he any money problem yet? He told me that he wanted to see the area. Well, he visited Pamir and returned. In the aftermath, along with other people, he did go to the Pomir (a pastureland in Chipursan). Unfortunately, the snow-avalanche hit them and he passed away.
FAB: Yan ey bech…
FAB: Yes, uncle.
LPA: Ti khur wocem k̃he, s̃hot yav dik̃ht k̃he trem khun en z̃hũ bu khiryan, Khalifa’n bu peter, yi nũpũs, tra z̃hũ Mũrod Ali petren yũw. Hayavev z̃ereng chiz gok̃ht k̃he bas, da’n z̃hũ hũsh reg̃hde. Yan, Imomi tey. yan woz ma’r bayd kum en wizit? Inson-e khũshig̃hes̃h dẽ chiz en wost niya, petr en. Bas az̃erengem vite k̃he baydem sof romos̃ht. Yanem lekert yow, chiz bet.
LPA: (With a high level of humbleness ), they were hit by the snow-avalanche. From the other house, I’d two nephews, two sons of Khalifa (Asmatullah) and a grandson, then Murad Ali’s son had also one. All of them died in such situation. I thus lost my sense. Believe me now, with the name of Imam as witness, how could I remember or know the songs. A human becomes happy with his son. In this manner, I forgot the songs and how could they come to my mind. The (tragic) story was in such manner.
FAB: Chiz luset be yow k̃hetu a?
FAB: Had you composed or sung any lament on him (your son)?
LPA: Ney.
LPA: No.
FAB: Luset yow ne k̃hetu a? Matalabi yem niya bech ki ghames̃h ki khalger wizit, ghafch dares̃h ki khalger wost, yanes̃h yemisht be wezin. Yemi be tey niya.
FAB: Had you no lament (greif song) on your son? What I mean to say, uncle, when someone entraps in grief, such type of poetries also emerge. These are also some of the realities.
LPA: ney, lusem ne k̃hetk. Haz̃i bayd maydem yan lekert maz̃he. Basem kert.
LPA: No, I didn’t compose any lament. I don’t sing. Instead, I gave up singing .
FAB: Pardin ce drem westu k̃he yi baydet skamev k̃hẽnetu,haya baydes̃h be t’or ne wizit a?
FAB: Last year, when we visited you here in your house, you’d shared with us a lament. don’t you remember it now?
LPA: Yow ce sokht baydem k̃hẽnetk, dishma.
LPA: What type of song that would have been? I don’t remember.
FAB: Ayet, sket spo vũrũtev.
FAB: That was focused on our brothers (hit in the snow-avalanche).
LPA: Kumdi ko tiwetk dishma…
LPA: Which one it could be, I don’t know.
FAB: Ska k̃hũ petr et skamvev ce tu?
FAB: As that was focused on your late son and others.
LPA: Hayowes̃h niv dem z̃hũ yod ne g̃hird. Rũms̃̃hetkem ya. Ce’s̃h k̃hanem, ya z̃hũ petr cẽ dũnyo’en ce reg̃hde, bas maz̃her yi chiz vite, yanem yav romos̃ht. Tagem chiz ne ̃k̃hat.
LPA: I don’t recall it now.I’ve forgotten it. as I shared with you, after my son’s departure from this world, unfortunately, I forgot all of them. I never sing.
FAB: Cum sol’nep hũmũy ey bech? Yem wakht cum’rep ti ũmer hũmũyd ey bech? Cẽ z̃hũ tat en lupet ney?
FAB: Uncle, How old you may be at present? You may be older than my father?
LPA: Z̃hũ ũmrep ma’r sũdhũyd ki tru wist et dhas shadh sol viti a.
LPA: I think, I may be 76 years old.
FAB: Cẽ z̃hũ tat en lupet a ney z̃aqlayet?
FAB: Are you older or younger than my father?
LPA: Dishma.
LPA: I don’t know.
FAB: Yower cẽbũr wist sol qirib vite. Cẽbũr wist soler yi sol kam.
FAB: he is becoming 80 years old now. One year leeser than 80.
LPA: Ye bas, yowi cẽ ma’n lup. Ti tati lup. Wuzem woz ca’n z̃aqlay.
LPA: Alright. He is than older than me. You father is older than me and I’m younger than him.

My special gratitude to late Pir Ali for sharing the information and devotional songs with me. Though, he is no more with us in this world today, his great contributions to the community will remain alive. I’m grateful to his family for hosting us. Thanks to mukhi Dad Ali of Ghalapan for driving us to Chipursan in his jeep when there was snow on the land and no other car could go except for him.
I’m grateful to my friend Afiyat Nazar for enabling the environment on the subjet matter and also my thanks to Mazdak Jibran Beg for all the painstaking in editing and technical support.

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply