Used to called NURI, KAFFIR, or KAFIR (Arabic: Infidel), people of
the Hindu Kush mountain area of Afghanistan and the Chitral area of
Pakistan. Their territory, formerly called Kafiristan, was renamed
Nuristan, "Land of Light"
or "Enlightenment," when they became Muslims at the turn
of the 20th century. The territory now forms the northern part of
the Afghan province of Nangarhar and has a population of about 65,000.
Only about 3,000 live in Pakistan.
Their language, Kafiri (or Nuristani), belongs to the Indo-Aryan
subgroup of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language
family. They are nominally Sunni Muslims but continue in many of
their traditional ways dating from before their conquest by the
Afghans in 1895.
Their earlier record was one of brigandage and plundering; they
were, and still are, intensely loyal to their own people and strongly
cherish their independence. They have a clan organization with village
government and are now settled agriculturists. The region as a whole
has a most distinctive culture, and although it is possible to establish
certain cultural differences between the three main valleys, they
share a culture which gives them a unique position within Afghanistan.
The houses in the highest northern regions are built of stone or
clay, but in the forested regions they are mainly of wood, often
(to save space) in several stories, stepwise above each other. The
small enclosed fields (often no bigger than an ordinary floor space),
mostly lying in steep, narrow mountain valleys, are cultivated by
the women, while the men hunt or tend livestock. The main crop is
wheat, with barley, corn (maize), millet, and peas. Grapes and mulberries
are grown in the lower areas. Livestock consists mainly of goats,
with some cattle and a few sheep in the upper, wider valleys. There
are no horses.
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