Water People Crops Fields

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Closely following on the Niazis, came the Marwat immigration. Driven from Shalgarh, they too had first settled in Tank alongside of their Niazis brethren. Both clans acknowledge Lodi as their common progenitor; and whilst in Tank, there was goodwill between them. Time went on, and the Niazis spread into present Marwat area, which was then a nameless sandy plain. Several more generations passed before the Marwats, taking advantage of internal conflict amongst the Niazis, swarmed northward and drove them away east of Darra Tang. They erected their black tents on the banks of the Kurram and Gambila and squatted there as graziers. For some time they mainly confined themselves to pastoral pursuits. By degrees, as their numbers increased, groups of families went forth from the central settlements to seek new homes for themselves about the plain, but each within vague limits of the allotment of the section to which it belonged. Such groups in turn became centres from which other migrations took place. Thus in process of time, the whole plain became occupied, and a large proportion of the Marwats settled down into agriculturists, each community holding and cultivating its lands according to the ‘wesh’ tenure. During Mughal times, the Marwats, being little interfered with, and being strong and united enough to resist encroachments by surrounding tribes, enjoyed the singular good fortune of being left to themselves, and thus developed and worked out their olden communal institutions. Meanwhile the Mughal Empire, which had long been declining, received its deathblow from Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1756, so far at least as its Indus provinces were concerned,; and soon after the whole of what now is the Bannu district was incorporated into the newly risen kingdom of Kabul. Marwat area was never regularly occupied, but in good years, if the required amount of tribute was not forthcoming, a force was marched into it and exacted what it could. During such visitations, the material loss was not great, as those who led a pastoral nomadic life retired with their flocks and herds to the hills, and those who tilled the soil either remained and compounded with the royal tax-gatherers or fled to the hills. Thus beyond the partial destruction of his crops, no Marwat lost much, as the stay of the Kabul troops was never long, and the burning of his house only gave him the extra trouble of procuring a few ox-loads of reeds from the marsh and twigs from the jungle, and running up a hut with them again.

Like other Pathans, the Marwats are divided into numerous Khels, the most important of which are:

1. Musa Khel with sections Takhti Khel, Januzai and Pasanni

2. Achu Khel with sections Begu Khel, Isa Khel, and Ahmad Khel

3. Khuda Khel with sections Sikandar Khel, and Mammun Khel

4. Bahram Khel with sections Umar Khan Khel and Totezai; the latter with sub-sections Tajazai, Dilkhozai, Landi and Ghazni Khel, and lastly Tappi.

To the above may be added the Abba Khel Sayads, who are affiliated to the Dreplara Tappa, also the Michan Khels and other Sarang Niazis scattered throughout Marwat. Though all such are now to all intents and purposes called Marwats, they have been shown under their proper ancestral headings in the Settlement Report of 1877-78. The tribe thus collectively occupies the whole of the Marwat Tehsil which was territorially divided into three great tappas, during the British rule viz., Dreplara, Musa Khel-cum-Tappi, and Bahram. The latter is subdivided into two minor tappas, viz., Umar Khan Khel and Totazai.

Taken as a whole the Marwats are as fine and law-abiding a race as any to be found in Pathans. They are a simple, slow-witted people, manly, most favourably with the Bannuchis. In the past, they were strongly attached to their homes, and were very averse to travel or to service out of their own country. As of the climatic influence due to canal irrigation and marshes had affected the Bannuchis to their detriment, so here, a sandy soil and dry air had an opposite result on the Marwats, for hard fare and despite poverty, they had been healthy, happy and light hearted. They are Pathans of very pure descent, and as such are naturally proud and fiery. Their passions when once aroused are not easily soothed, but feuds among them are said to be now of rare occurrence. They are tall and muscular, and have almost ruddy complexions.

The women are attractive, fair and pretty. In manners they are frank and open, simple and yet manly. For natives, they are remarkably truthful. Their women enjoy great social freedom; they seldom conceal their faces. Upon them, however, fell the labour of water-carrying in the past, which by no means was light. Accompanied generally by a man as an escort, they had been going in troops of ten or twenty to fetch water from the Gambila, often a distance of ten or twelve miles. The Marwats were, at British annexation, nomad graziers, wandering about with their herds and camels, and lived chiefly in temporary huts of branches of trees, with a wall of thorns and a roof of straw. Even in 1877-78 when they had very largely settled down in permanent villages, the houses were constructed of reeds, twigs, and the branches of trees, the whole village being encircled by a hedge of thorns. This fact they had been assigning, and probably with truth, to the scarcity of water that had been rendering the construction of mud huts impossible. During the last quarter of 19th century, in dress, the only noticeable peculiarity was among the poorest classes, whose sole garment consisted of a single large woolen blanket, half of which was worn round the legs like a petticoat (laang) usually with no underwear, while the other half was thrown over the shoulders, a hole being slit in the blanket for the head to pass through. Chocolate-coloured turbans were also largely worn by the Marwat peasantry. In the first and second quarters of 20th century, the Marwat Malluks had been wearing fine texture white turban, white laang, long white shirt and pawrheyn. Large of them were attacked by a water borne disease (a long thin thread type warm that lived in their flesh of feet) while drinking stagnant water of ponds that used to be consumed by cattle as well.

Clans affiliated with the Marwats

The following clans are also commonly known as Marwats and live in the Marwat tract; and though not Marwat by origin, have by association and inter-marriages become so assimilated as to be practically identical with them. 1. Mula Khels descended from Hazrat Bilal, a Habshi saint. They have houses in every village in Marwat, and also two villages of their own. 2. Michan Khels who are Sarang Niazis descended from a saint called Michan. His descendants are considered holy and to possess charms against snake bites. Haji Murid, a descendant of Michan, is a saint of great repute, and his tomb is on the bank of the Kurram near Lakki. Michan himself is buried at Wana in the Waziri hills. 3. Mirza Khels of Wali who are really Khataks and Utman Khels.

Bitannis of Marwat

Two more Afghan tribes require mention, the Bitannis and the Bhangi Khel Khattaks. The former occupy the eastern and southern slopes of the hills between the Gabar mountain and the Gomal valley; and possess some small hamlets on the Marwat border. They have only appeared as permanent squatters inside British territory within the last 180 to 200 years, and their cultivation consists mostly of patches of stony land, near the mouths of the different passes leading into the hills from Marwat. The latter are a strong united little section of the great Khattak tribe, and seized or spread into the hilly country north of Kalabagh known as Bhangi Khel, about four hundred years ago. The Bitannis are rude people who emerged from barbarism. But those who had taken to civilized ways showed themselves to be keen-witted, and perhaps more energetic and desirous of making 'money than their Marwat neighbours. A portion of the tribe was located in British territory in 1866. Prior to that time they had been great raiders and cattle-lifters, and had acted as guides to Waziri marauders, who could only gain access to the southern portion of the district through the Bitanni passes; but of late years they had been very orderly. They did not take service yet under Government. They occupied the lower hills just beyond the border of Marwat from the southern slopes of the Gabar Mountain to the Gomal valley. Since the transfer of Mulazai to Dera Ismail Khan in 1875, the Bain Pass terminated the connection of this district with them. The British had mostly to do with Danna and Wurgara Bitannis. The latter were often termed a fakir kaum, and are the descendants of the clan which held the Bitanni hills before the conquering influx of the Danna Bitannis. The Dannas are divided into two clans, Boba and Bobak. Their united number inside, and immediately beyond the Bannu border is small. The Wurgaras may be numbered more. About seven-eighths of their whole numbers visited the plains in the cold weather.


Special Thanks

Special Thanks for Prof:Samsher Ali Khan and Jahangir Khan Sikandri for history Information

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