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Pakistani folklore: Wikis


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A page from Kelileh va Demneh (dated 1429, from Herat, a Persian translation of the Panchatantra) depicts the manipulative jackal-vizier, Dimna, trying to lead his lion-king into war.

Pakistan has a wide variety of folklore, mostly circulated regionally. However, certain tales have related variants in other regions of the country or in neighbouring countries. Some folktales like Shirin and Farhad are told in Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, and almost all nations of Central Asia and Middle East, with all having claimed the folklore to have originated in their land. Pakistani mythology here means the myths and sacred narratives of the culturally and linguistically related group of ancient peoples who inhabited the ancient Pakistan and its borderlands.


Provincial folklore

A depiction of Nasreddin

The provinces of Pakistan are known by the love stories in their folklore that have been immortalized by singers, reciters and storytellers of the regions.


Baloch folklore

Balochi folklore is alive with the love stories of Hani and Shah Murad Chakar, Shahdad and Mahnaz, Lallah and Granaz, Bebarg and Granaz, and Mast and Sammo, among others. The war tales of the Baloch are equally stirring. The chap, a Baloch style of dancing, has a curious rhythm distinguished by an inertial back sway with every forward step. Baloch music has a unique flavour of its own.

Kashmiri folklore

Kashmiri regions in the north are equally rich in folklore.

Pakhtun folklore

In the Pukhtun areas of the northwest, the North-West Frontier Province is the home of energetic warlike dancers, the most prominent being the Khattak dance, which bears the name of the tribe that dances it. The romantic tale of Adam Khan and Durkhanai features a lute player (rabab) whose music earns the love of a beautiful girl, although she hasn't seen him yet.

Punjabi folklore

Many folk tales from Punjab have been disseminated worldwide by the Punjabi diaspora, especially in the UK and USA. The tale of two lovers, Heer and Ranjha, is based in the Pakistani part of the Punjab, in a city called Jhang. Today it is celebrated in songs, movies, theatre, and quotations. One may call a romantic person a Ranjha, meaning he is a devoted lover. Similarly a girl in love may be called "Heer." Apart from the epic of Hir and Ranjha, the Punjab has a rich tradition of ballads, folk tales, folk music and dance. The folklore of the Potohar Plateau of the north shows a local variant, while the lush green irrigated agriculture of the central plains is home to more sophisticated forms of folklore. The oldest living urban centre of Multan in the south is home to gentler forms of music and dance.

Saraiki folklore

Saraiki areas in the south are equally rich in folklore.

Sindhi folklore

Sindh in the south is equally rich in folklore. The love story of Sassi, who pines for her lover Punnu, is known and sung in every Sindhi settlement.

Cultural folklore

Arabic manuscript of One Thousand and One Nights dating back to the 1300s

The Muslim high culture of Pakistan and rest of South Asia emphasizes Arabic, Persian and Turkish culture. Islamic mythology and Persian mythology is part of Pakistani folklore, as Islamic religion and Persian culture dominate Pakistan. The Shahnameh, One Thousand and One Nights and Sinbad the Sailor were part of the education of Muslim children in Pakistan before English education was imposed by the British colonialism.

See also



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