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BALTI MUSIC AND ART
It is said that the Persian Art and music found their way into Baltistan prior to the advent of the Mughal Rule in India. A Balti version says that the Mughal Princess Gul Khatoon better known in Baltistan as Mindoq Gialmo (Flower Queen) brought with her musicians and artisans into Baltistan. The musicians and artisans propagated Mughal music and art under her patronage. Musical instruments such as the ‘Surnai’ , ‘Karnai’ , ‘Dhol’ , ‘Chang’ etc. found their way into Baltistan.
The very terms such as ‘Muqamat’ , ‘Usul’ , ‘Gosha’ , ‘Rawani’ etc. of Persian music are also used in Baltistan.
The classical music or ‘Ragas’ are known as ‘Harib’ in Baltistan. Some of the ‘Haribs’ or ‘Ragas’ that are found in Baltistan are the following
4. Du – Gah
5. She – Gah
6. Chahargah Author being Amir Khusro 1253 – 1325 A.D.
11. Mukha – Lif
12. Amar – e – Sad
13. Ajam or Nauroze – e – Ajam
15. Aamal – e – Sal
16. Hazar Dastan
18. No – Shah
19. Pish – Chumber locallay called Duldul Saqala
20. Daur – e – Saqia
22. Dabar Mala locally called Daur – e – Maula
23. Bodhi She – Gah
26. Sukna She – Gah
28. Chhogho Khorchhos
30. Senduri or Shamdurikh
38. Dev – Kandhar
39. Nauroz Saba
42. Sunduh – Re
43. Sa – Rang
45. Ashi – Ran
46. Nauroz – e – Arab
53. Baha Kar
62. Sahar – Agah locally composed
63. Streqpa NGO fochos locally compose one
64. MAYON TSANG KHRIS locally composed
65. Saz – e – Hindi locally composed
The majority of the above are Persian classical ‘Ragas’. Hindi ‘Ragas’ such as DABAR MALA, are also included in the list. A very few ‘Ragas’ or ‘Harib’ have been composed locally.
In imitation of the Mughal Court, ‘Nobat – Khanas’ were constructed in the vicinity of the places where ‘Nobat’ was played five times a day especially on the occasion of Nauroz or New Year i.e. 21st March when all the musicians in the realm took part in this musical concert. The Harib ‘Nobat’ was played on the occasion of the Nauroz only.
The present position of classical music or ‘Haribs’ is deplorable. For want of patronage, which invariably came from the ruling families couples with the spread of influence of the religious leaders during the last twenty years, this art is fast vanishing. There is hardly a musician now who remembers more than twenty-five ‘Ragas’ or ‘Harib’. The day is not for off when this art will die forever. We are making arrangement to tape and preserve whatever little of the music is left.
The engineers and Sculptors who were brought into the land are credited with construction of the Gangupi Water channel, the Marble Palace, the Mindoq Khar Palace and the Hilal Bagh which was fitted with marble fountains. The art of woodcarving was at its height in those days. The carpenters used to decorate Verandas and Ceiling by carvings known as ‘Panjra’ and ‘Hatamband’. This art is said to have come to Baltistan from Iran by way of undivided India. The following are the names of ‘Panjras’ , ‘Hatambunds’
2. Chahar – Sar
3. Shash – Sar
4. Hasht – Sar
5. Dawaz – Dah – Sar
6. Shans – Dah – Sar
7. Shasht Roomi
8. Shasht – Zavia
9. Jan – e – Shireen
10. Shash Tek
11. Hasht – Tek
12. Pusht – e – Mahi or Pushte – Mah
13. Band Roomi
14. Ab – Shar
15. Moj – e – Darya various kinds
16. Moj – e – Haider
17. Moj – e – Hasan
18. Moj – e – Bist – o – Yak
19. Moj – e – Asghar
20. Kaghaz – Gar
The above can be made into Panjara or Hatambund but the following can only be made into Hatamband.
1. YUNG – DRUNG
2. TUMARCHA (various kinds)
This art was patronized by the Rajas and the nobility. As patronage is not forth coming any more, this art is on the threshold of extinction.
The classical and other dances are displayed on the occasion of nawroze (21st March), and on the marriages of Rajas etc. These can be classified into Sword Dances, Broqchhos and Dewan or Ghazal.
The following are the names of the sword dances:
- CHHOGHO PRASUL
It commemorates a great victory by the Maqpon Rajas over their enemies. As a mark of respect the musician who plays on the drum or ‘DANG’ stands up and goes on playing on it for sometime. It is worthy of note that the Maqpon princes would sometimes dance when this tune was played.
- GASHO – PA
This sword dance is associated with the Gasho Dynasty of Purik (Kargil) who loomed large in this region one time. It is also called ‘GHBUS – LA – KHORBA’.
- MINDOQ HLTANMO OR FLOWER DANCE
It commemorates the advent of spring.
- SNEOPA OR THE MARRIAGE PROCESSION DANCE.
This dance specifically performed on the occasion of the marriages of Rajas. In it the PACHONES or twelve Wazirs who accompany the bride take part.
- JING HRCHES OR THE NECK DANCE
In the early stages the dancers move their necks to and fro.
In the above dances seven or more persons take part.
- THEN – KAR
Only two persons take part in this dance.
This is one man’s display of dance with two swords one in each hand.
Next to the Sword dances comes BROQCHOS which include ‘FURGON KAR’ or Pigeon dance, CHURUKPA, HLANO KAR or Fairy Dance and SHOLI are well known. The dance that is played to the tune of the ‘GHAZAL’ is called DEWAN.
MAQPONI FUTUNG KAR or Maqpon’s Sleeve Dance is a dance that is displayed to the tune of the folk – lore called Amir Haider depicting the downfall of the Maqpon Dynasty in 1840 at the hand of the Dogras. This dance is specially displayed at Khaplu to perpetuate the memory of indignities suffered by the Maqpons. This tune is not played in the presence of any Maqpon prince.
This dance commemorates the victory of Yabgo over Raja Ghori Tham. It is confined to village PHARWA.
It may be mentioned that there are certain tunes which are played on special occasions. CHILAHO tune is played when the royal bride is taken out from the palace. LAMSNA tune is played when the Raja goes out in procession ‘BAM’ is a war tune.
From the statement of eye – witnesses it is confirmed that as late as 1910 women took part in dances along with men in the valley of Khaplu. But this custom has now come to an end. In the past there used to be dancing girls called ‘BEKARMO’ and ‘MALAKH ANMO’.