Featured Object: Girl's Headpiece overview image

Featured Object: Girl's Headpiece

  • Post Date7/28/2016
  • AuthorYulia Bezriadina
  • Reading Time2 minute read

This beautiful headpiece is a perfect example of the bright and colorful attire of the Kalash women. The headpiece originated in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It was worn by the local female villagers in the Kalash Valley, a very remote area of the Hindu Kush mountains of north Pakistan. Some oral histories, scholars, and DNA studies suggest that the Kalash descend from the Greeks who reached the area under Alexander the Great. About 3,000 Kalash people, who mostly work with livestock and agriculture, remain from what used to be a very large Kalash Valley culture. They have maintained their rich cultural heritage, including their ancient polytheistic traditions, despite being one of the smallest tribes of people in the world.

Distinctive, brightly colored clothes such as this headpiece are used in the Joshi festival at the end of May, which marks the start of summer with dancing, singing, and celebration. The natural world is an important facet of Kalash culture, and festivals like this are held annually to give thanks for the land. The Kalash women wear new and colorful clothes on festival days like these, often with a large headpiece decorated with cowry shells and colorful beads. The traditional women’s outfits are intricate, including similar headpieces that have long trains covered in bells, buttons, beads, and shells. Cowry shells have become an integral part of headpieces like these since they were introduced to the Kalash people through trade from Karachi, hundreds of miles away on the coast of the Arabian Sea.

  • full sized image of girl's headpiece