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The Descendants of Alexander the Great

Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 5:48 AM

This story—via Americablog—is utterly fascinating...

Today there are an estimated 3,000 Kalasha left in three remote and steep valleys in Chitral in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. The children wear their hair in orthodox Jewish-style ringlets and sport bright coloured topi hats. The women occasionally have tattooed faces, wear long black robes with coloured embroidery. [They have unique] festivals and rituals, which include a rite of passage in which a prepubescent boy is fattened in the mountains over a summer and then when he returns is allowed to have sex with any woman he chooses.


Married Kalash women are able to elope with other men if the object of their desire accepts a written proposal and agrees to pay double her dowry to the abandoned husband—often in cows.


The Kalash are the descendants of the armies of Alexander the Great. They live in North West Pakistan, have blond hair and blue eyes, drink alcohol, smoke cannabis, and keep to themselves in their hard-to-reach valleys. Sounds idyllic—well, except for that rite-of-passage ritual for young boys, which sounds like my worst nightmares realized. ("Wait a minute—I have to get fat and have sex with a woman?") But Islamic militants have declared war on the Kalash because, you know, there is no morality without religion,  Islam means peace and, gee, atheists are so intolerant blah blah blah.

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