How past and present religions built a tradition palimpsest in a high valley of northern Pakistan

Chapursan Valley, Pakistan, between Hindu Kush, Pamir and Karakoram ranges is mostly inhabited by Wakhi people, a small minority living in China and in Afghan or Tajik Wakhan. Not surpringly this population share a same faith and same religious traditions regardless the recent (on an historical point of view) borders.

Chapursan Valley, religions, Ismaili people, buddhism, zorastrianism, sufism

1. Documented religions of Wakhi people

Zoroastrianism

Buddhism

Vrang, Tajik Wakhan: Buddhist stupa — Photo by Bernard Grua
Vrang, Tajik Wakhan: Buddhist stupa — Photo by Bernard Grua
Vrang, Tajik Wakhan: Buddhist stupa

Animism

Ismailism

Remains of Qahqaha (Kaahka), on Afghan Wakhan | Yamchun fortress | Photos by Bernard Grua
Remains of Qahqaha (Kaahka), on Afghan Wakhan | Yamchun fortress | Photos by Bernard Grua
Left: Remains of Qahqaha (Kaahka), fortress with a view over Panj River on Afghan Wakhan Supposed to be built by Kushan empire BC | Right: Yamchun fortress — Afghan Hindukush in the background

2. Wakhi shrines evidence the permanence of spirituality and old tradition

Shaman rock,Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal having some common points with a Wakhi oston - Photo Bernard Grua
Shaman rock,Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal having some common points with a Wakhi oston - Photo Bernard Grua
Shaman rock,Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal
having some common points with a Wakhi oston

A place affirming the sacred in the landscape:

There are three sort of Wakhi shrines:

A shrine incorporating a Buddhist religious construction being part of the Jamat Khana compound in Khandut (Afghan Wakhan)

Jamat Khana in Khandut (Afghan Wakhan) — Photo by Bernard Grua
Jamat Khana in Khandut (Afghan Wakhan) — Photo by Bernard Grua
Jamat Khana in Khandut (Afghan Wakhan)
Khandud, dilapidated circular structure within Jamat Khana compound — Photo by Bernard Grua
Khandud, dilapidated circular structure within Jamat Khana compound — Photo by Bernard Grua
Khandud, dilapidated circular structure within Jamat Khana compound
Hunza: Altit Fort mosque | Swastikas on Altit Fort mosque | Hunza: Swatiskas on a Ganish mosque Photos Bernard Grua
Hunza: Altit Fort mosque | Swastikas on Altit Fort mosque | Hunza: Swatiskas on a Ganish mosque Photos Bernard Grua
Hunza: Altit Fort mosque | Swastikas on Altit Fort mosque | Hunza: Swatiskas on a Ganish mosque

The two Panja Shah shrines in Qala e Panja (Afghan Wakhan) and at the entrance of the Wakhi Chapursan Valley (Pakistan) are very similar. They might pre-date introduction of Islam.

Afghan Wakhan: Old fortress (Qala) of Qala e Panja Photo Bernard Grua
Afghan Wakhan: Old fortress (Qala) of Qala e Panja Photo Bernard Grua
Afghan Wakhan: Old fortress (Qala) of Qala e Panja
The oston of Panja Sha at the entrance of Chapursan Valley (Pakistan) Photo Bernard Grua
The oston of Panja Sha at the entrance of Chapursan Valley (Pakistan) Photo Bernard Grua
The oston of Panja Sha at the entrance of Chapursan Valley (Pakistan)
The stone with five claw or finger marks inside Panja Shah oston, Chapursan Valley (Pakistan) Photos Bernard Grua
The stone with five claw or finger marks inside Panja Shah oston, Chapursan Valley (Pakistan) Photos Bernard Grua
The stone with five claw or finger marks inside Panja Shah oston, Chapursan Valley (Pakistan)

The same story of flood, as a retribution of sins, in Wakhan and Chapursan Valley

Chapursan Valley between Sost (on Karakoram Highway) & Irshad Pass (Afghan border)

3. Permanence of religious traditions as a key

Learn more about the Ismailiam faith and tradition in Central Asia with Pamir Trails

Pamir Trails cultural wakhi tours from Chapursan Valley
Pamir Trails cultural wakhi tours from Chapursan Valley
Pamir Trails a Wakhi cultural tour operator from Chapursan Valley

Where to stay in Chapursan Valley

Note:

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How past and present religions built a tradition palimpsest in a high valley of northern Pakistan — Bernard Grua
How past and present religions built a tradition palimpsest in a high valley of northern Pakistan — Bernard Grua

Addendum: myths of Chapursan Valley, a quick presentation

December 17, 2020 update

List of all stories about the same topic, on Medium, by the author

Contributor to French and foreign medias: geopolitics, heritage, history, expeditions | https://bernardgrua.net https://bernardgrua.blogspot.com | FR EN SP GE

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