Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 132


The ignored Dardic culture of Swat

Zubair Torwali
  • Zubair Torwali
  • Bahrain Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 13 January 2015
  •  Accepted: 28 March 2015
  •  Published: 30 June 2015


The Greek historian Herodotus of the fifth century BC used the term “Dadikai” for people now known as Dards or Dardic. He placed the land between Kashmir and Afghanistan as Darada. “Darada” is the Sanskrit term used for the inhabitants of the region. In Pakistan the region is rarely called Dardistan or the people Dard, a Persian word derived from the Sanskrit “darada.” A linguistic and ethnic mystery shrouds the term Dardic. The termed was coined and used by colonial scholars. It was first used by the British orientalist Dr. Gottlieb Welhem Lietner (1840-1899). But no one in the region calls himself/herself Dard, as Dr. John Mock has noted in his paper, “Dards, Dardistan, and Dardic: an ethnographic, geographic and linguistic conundrum.” The Dard or Darada land in Pakistan includes Chitral, Swat, Dir, Indus Kohistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. The people spoke Dardic languages, one of the three groups belonging to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family of languages. The Dardic languages include Dameli, Dumaki, Gawri (Kalami), Gawar-Bati, Gawro, Chilsoso, Glangali or Nangalami (Afghanistan), Kalasha, Kashmiri, Kashtawari (Kashmir) Khowar, Miaya (Indus Kohistani), Pashai (Nuristan, Kunar, Laghman, Kapisa Nangarhar in Afghanistan), Palula, Shina, Tirahi, Torwali and Wotapuri and a variety of minor languages. The Darada people of the region are the least explored. Mainstream Pakistanis do not know about the unique identity, culture and languages of these people. No mainstream research by Pakistani scholars is available on them. The only exception was the late Dr. Ahmad Ahsan Dani who did some archaeological research in the Karakorum Range in his famous book ‘History of Northern Areas (Dani, 1989). Today the idyllic valley, Swat, is known all over the world as an Afghan or Pushtun Yousafzai society but fewer know the Dardic origin of Swat. Archeologists have since long focused their research on the popular Buddhist civilization, however, the Italian archeologists have recently pointed towards the Dardic origin of Swat. In main Swat many people think this a totally new discovery of an ‘extinct’ community in Swat which was known as Dard or Darada. They probably do not know that descendants of this unique extinct community still live in upper Swat—in Swat Kohistan—with the names of Torwali and Gawri, the two living Dardic communities in Swat.

Key words: Dardic, Swat, culture, community.