The Baloch or Baluch (Balochi: بلوچ) are a people who live
mainly in the
Balochistan region of the southeastern-most edge of the
Iranian plateau in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, as well as in the
They mainly speak the Balochi language, a branch of Northwestern
Iranian languages, and are an Iranic people. About 50% of the total
Baloch population live in Balochistan, a western province of
Pakistan; 40% of Baloch are settled in Sindh; and a significant
Baloch people in Punjab of Pakistan. They make up nearly
3.6% of the Pakistani population, about 2% of Iran's population (1.5
million) and about 2% of Afghanistan's population.
Baloch people co-inhabit desert and mountainous regions along with
Baloch people practice Islam, are predominantly Sunni, and
use Urdu as the lingua franca to communicate with other ethnic groups
Pashtuns and Sindhis, as is the norm for Pakistan.
3 Balochi culture
4 Baloch tribes
5 See also
9 External links
The exact origin of the word 'Baloch' is unclear. Rawlinson (1873)
believed that it is derived from the name of the Babylonian king and
god Belus. Dames (1904) believed that it is derived from the Persian
term for cockscomb, said to have been used as a crest on the helmets
of Baloch troops in 6th century BCE. Herzfeld (1968) proposed that it
is derived from the Median term brza-vaciya, which describes a loud or
aggressive way of speaking. Naseer Dashti (2012) presents another
possibility, that of being derived from the name of the ethnic group
`Balaschik' living in Balashagan, between the
Caspian Sea and Lake Van
in present day Turkey and Azerbaizan, who are believed to have
Balochistan during the Sassanid times. The remnants of
the original name such as 'Balochuk' and 'Balochiki' are said to be
still used as ethnic names in Balochistan.
Some writers suggest a derivation from Sanskrit words bal, meaning
strength, and och meaning high or magnificent. An earliest
Sanskrit reference to the Baloch might be the Gwalior inscription of
Mihira Bhoja (r. 836–885), which says
that the dynasty's founder
Nagabhata I repelled a powerful army of
Valacha Mlecchas, translated as "Baluch foreigners" by D. R.
Bhandarkar. The army in question is that of the Umayyad Caliphate
after the conquest of Sindh.
According to Baloch lore, their ancestors hail from
Aleppo in what is
now Syria. They are descendants of Hazrat Ameer Hamza, uncle of
the prophet Muhammad, who settled in Halab (present-day Aleppo). They
fled to the
Sistan region, remaining there for nearly 500 years
until they fled to the
Makran region following a deception against the
Sistan leader Badr-ud-Din.
However, based on an analysis of the linguistic connections of the
Balochi language, which is one of the Western Iranian languages, the
original homeland of the Balochi tribes was likely to the east or
southeast of the central Caspian region. The Baloch began migrating
towards the east in the late
Sasanian period. The cause of the
migration is unknown but may have been as a result of the generally
unstable conditions in the Caspian area. The migrations occurred over
By the 9th century, Arab writers refer to the Baloch as living in the
area between Kerman, Khorasan, Sistan, and
Makran in what is now
eastern Iran. Although they kept flocks of sheep, the Baloches
also engaged in plundering travellers on the desert routes. This
brought them into conflict with the Buyids, and later the Ghaznavids
and the Seljuqs.
Adud al-Dawla of the Buyid dynasty launched a
punitive campaign against them and defeated them in 971-972. After
this, the Baloch continued their eastward migration towards what is
Balochistan province of Pakistan, although some remained behind
and there are still Baloch in eastern part of the Iranian
Kerman provinces. By the 13-14th centuries
waves of Baloch were moving into Sindh, and by the 15th century into
the Punjab. According to Dr. Akhtar Baloch,
University of Karachi, the Balochis migrated from
Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age and settled in
Sindh and Punjab. The Little Ice Age
is conventionally defined as a period extending from the sixteenth to
the nineteenth centuries, or alternatively, from about
1300 to about 1850. Although climatologists and
historians working with local records no longer expect to agree on
either the start or end dates of this period, which varied according
to local conditions. According to
Professor Baloch, the climate of
Balochistan was very cold and the region was inhabitable during the
winter so the
Baloch people migrated in waves and settled in
The area where the
Baloch tribes settled was disputed between the
Safavids and the Mughal emperors. Although the Mughals managed
to establish some control over the eastern parts of the area, by the
17th century, a tribal leader named Mir Hasan established himself as
the first "Khan of the Baloch". In 1666, he was succeeded by Mir
Aḥmad Khan Qambarani who established the Balochi Khanate of Kalat
under the Ahmadzai dynasty.[note 1] Originally in alliance with the
Mughals, the Khanate lost its autonomy in 1839 with the signing of a
treaty with the British colonial government and the region effectively
became part of British Raj.
Gold ornaments such as necklaces and bracelets are an important aspect
of Baloch women's traditions and among their most favoured items of
jewellery are dorr, heavy earrings that are fastened to the head with
gold chains so that the heavy weight will not cause harm to the ears.
They usually wear a gold brooch (tasni) that is made by local
jewellers in different shapes and sizes and is used to fasten the two
parts of the dress together over the chest. In ancient times,
especially during the pre-Islamic era, it was common for Baloch women
to perform dances and sing folk songs at different events. The
tradition of a Baloch mother singing lullabies to her children has
played an important role in the transfer of knowledge from generation
to generation since ancient times. Apart from the dressing style of
the Baloch, indigenous and local traditions and customs are also of
great importance to the Baloch.
See also: List of Baloch tribes
Afghan Baloch men in Zaranj, Nimruz Province
Jalal Khan was the ruler and founder of the first
Balochi confederacy in 12th century. (He may be the same as Jalal
ad-Din Mingburnu the last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire.) Jalal
Khan left four sons - Rind Khan, Lashar Khan, Hoth Khan, Kora Khan and
a daughter, Bibi Jato, who married his nephew Murad.
Traditionally, these five are claimed as the founders of the five
great divisions of the Baloch: the Rind, the Lashari (Laashaar), the
Hoth, the Korai and the Jatoi.
As of 2008 it was estimated that there were between eight and nine
Baloch people living in Afghanistan,
Iran and Pakistan. They
were subdivided between over 130 tribes. Some estimates put the
figure at over 150 tribes, though estimates vary depending on how
subtribes are counted. The tribes, known as taman, are led by a
tribal chief, the tumandar. Subtribes, known as paras, are led by a
Baloch tribes derive their eponymous names from Khan's children.
Many, if not all,
Baloch tribes can be categorized as either Rind or
Lashari based on their actual descent or historical tribal allegiances
that developed into cross-generational relationships.
This basic division was accentuated by a war lasting 30 years between
the Rind and Lashari tribes in the 15th century.
Iranian Balouch man
Violent intertribal competition has prevented any credible attempt at
creating a nation-state. A myriad of militant secessionist movements,
each loyal to their own tribal leader, threatens regional security and
political stability. Nationalist groups like the Baloch Students
Organization, composed of armed rebels, and the Baloch Council of
North America, made up of educated expatriates living in the United
States, have simultaneously denounced Balochistan's traditional rulers
and Pakistan's national government.
Baloch tribes are
markedly less egalitarian than Pashtun tribes. Balochistan
National Party, a group that engages in politics and violence, makes a
point of advocating on behalf of the tribally distinct Baloch
Iran and Afghanistan.[self-published source]
There are 180,000
Bugti based in Dera
Bugti District. They are divided
between the Rahija Bugti, Masori Bugti, Kalpar Bugti, and Daiga
sub-tribes.[full citation needed] Nawab Akbar Khan
Tumandar until his death in 2006. Talal Akbar
the tribal leader and President of the
Jamhoori Watan Party from 2006
until his death in 2015.
There are 98,000 Marri based in
Kohlo district, who further divide
themselves into Gazni Marri, Bejarani Marri, and Zarkon Marri.
Hyrbyair Marri has led the
Balochistan Liberation Army since his
brother's death in 2007.
Bharary is also one of the
Baloch tribes settled in Barkhan district
of province Baluchistan, a fewer families of bharary Baloches are also
settled in Bhakkar and jhang districts of the province Punjab, and
Dera Ismail Khan of KPK.
The Zehri are based in Zawa,
Jhalawan where they are the largest
tribe. Sanaullah Zehri, the Chief Minister of Balochistan, is the
Zehri's tribal chief. The Zehri have
The Hooth tribe is led by Abdul Malik Baloch, the last Chief Minister
Mengal tribe has the Shahizai, Zagar and Samalani sub-tribes.
Mengal leads the
Baloch people in the United Arab Emirates
^ A number of unrelated tribes with the name Ahmadzai exist. There
Pashtun tribes who are unrelated to each other with this name:
the Ahmadzai who are a Waziri tribe and the
part of the
Ghilzai confederation. However, the Ahmadzai Khans of
Khalat were neither of these and belonged to a Brahui
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University of Balochistan
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