Saturday, October 9, 2010

Flying Swords and Khattak Dance

Flying swords
Traditional Khatak dancers (Photo: Jalalspages)


Khattak is a swift martial sword-dance of the Khattak tribe of Pashtuns in Khyber Pakhtunkwa province of northern Pakistan. Khattak is danced to fast music featuring the piper clarion and drums “dhols” beaten with sticks. Dozens of men dance together wielding swords or handkerchiefs, performing acrobatic feats. The Khattak dance has three main forms, Shahdola, Bhangrha and Bulbullah, and their many derivatives. The dance comprises 12 steps requiring great skill on the part of the dancers. The dancers alternate between performing solo and synchronizing with the rest of the troupe.

In the Bhangrah, performed in circle, every member swirls while carrying swords. In the Derabi, two youths, each carrying a sword and a handkerchief, start dancing in front of the man with surnai while the rest of the troupe members wait for their turn. In the Laila, a group of four performers holding two swords each perform stunts while moving in a circle.



Braghoni is the fastest and the most adventurous of all steps, which a single dancer performing with three swords. He swings two swords in the air while holding the third in his mouth. Bulbullah is the last of the twelve steps, staged without swords. The dancers sing a love song at a high pitch. At the end of the song, the drumbeat increases and the dance goes on.

The dancers are dressed in traditional white coloured shalwar kameez (the loose trousers and shirt) with a cloth belt tied around the waist. The dancers also have rather long hair, which when swirling hang out beautifully outwards as do their loose shirts. It is fun watching these men performing this crafty dance with their heart and soul in it.

Video on Khatak Dance: YouTube

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