Tara Khel nomads

Nomad woman of the Tara Khel tribe of Pashtuns, eastern Afghanistan. Photograph by Josephine Powell

Tara Khel pastoral nomads belong to a group of short ranging true nomads who spend their winters in the lowlands of eastern Afghanistan – Laghman. Kunar and Ningarhar – and their summers near Kabul and in the adjoining areas. The economy of the Tara Khel is primarily based on pastoral activities. They keep goats (or sheep) and cattle to be used for milking and slaughter. Oxen (or cows) and asses, and nowadays camels on rare occasions, are used for transport. They also have chickens and dogs. Through the year the Tara Khel nomads are in close contact with the surrounding settled population and co-operate and exchange products and services with them. Their winter quarters are permanent and consist of stone-walled huts or flat-roofed houses, situated at the foot of the mountains some three to eight kilometers away from the settled area. One of their main occupations during winter is to supply the villagers with firewood which they gather from the adjoining mountains. During summer they stay in their black tented camps in Dasht-i Deh Sabz, the plains east of Kabul. Their main income, besides that from occasional day labour, comes from selling cheese in the Kabul bazar. The proximity to settled agricultural areas and cities and to the major transport route between Kabul and Jalalabad makes the Tara Khel habitat very advantageous. [“Folk: dansk etnografisk tidsskrift”, Johannes Nicolaisen, 1982, Vol-24, p-65]


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