CHITRAL, Dec 14: Most traditional musical instruments of Chitral are no longer in use. Ironically, the youths, by and large, are unaware of their names.
Rahim Khan of Mulkhow valley told this correspondent that Chitrali sitar, gharba, chhang, jighikin, ormachi, daf and flute were the traditional instruments of Chitral but youths had little or no knowledge of them. He said in the past, every youngster had an instrument in hand after the spring season set in, but these days, the cellphone had taken the place of the instrument. Mr Rahim said Chitrali sitar was the only musical instrument, which continued to be used by the locals, but the number of such people was rapidly decreasing.
He said the most of these instruments were made of hides, wood of certain plants and bones of birds. According to him, daf is a disc-shaped instrument, which is made of a membrane of sheep skin tied to a circular frame with a diameter of three to five feet.
“The resonating sound of daf used to echo in the entire village on festive occasions but the instrument is now an antique item for the new generation,” he said. Sardar Khan of Sonoghur village said use of flute was on the decline.
He said flute was once used by the people of both sexes and that the valleys reverberated with its mellow notes during the spring season, but it was no more the case. He demanded preservation of Chitral’s traditional musical instruments by the government.
Former president of Anjuman Taraqi-i-Khowar (Chitrali language) Dr Inayatullah Faizi said National Institute of Folk Heritage based in Islamabad, prepared a documentary about Chitrali sitar in 1983 but did not continue with its programme to preserve other musical tools. He alleged that the institute was highly politicized by the successive political governments, which used it for their own specific political agenda. Dr Faizi said Chitrali music could be preserved if the government organizations showed seriousness in this respect.
He said the provincial government had established the culture department but it had failed to pay heed to the rich cultural biodiversity of Chitral. Rehman Ali, a local musician, said there was not a single shop in the district or town, where local musical instruments were available. He said the government should support and patronize the large-scale making of musical instruments by the private sector.–Dawn