Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Khattak Dance – The Flying Swords

Flying swords

Khattak Dance is a swift martial sword-dance of the Khattak tribe of Pashtuns in Pakistan. Khattak is danced to fast music featuring the piper clarion and drums beaten with sticks. Dozens of men dance together wielding swords or handkerchiefs, performing acrobatic feats.

The Khattak dance has three forms, Shahdola, Bhangrha and Bulbullah. The dance comprises 12 steps requiring great skill on the part of the dancers. The dancer alternates between performing solo and synchronizing with the rest of the troupe. In the Bhangrah, 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 performs 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. And so does the frenzy. One really has to watch it live to enjoy.

Two years back, I had a chance to watch the dance live at a re-union with old veterans at Abbottabad and was fascinated the way these dancers took the audience along. And then a time came when everyone joined in to enjoy the fasting picking rhythm and drumbeat. The photo above was taken on the occasion - I purposely edited the photo in black to spotlight the dancers. It was simply magical and awe inspiring.

My Photography (Taken from Flickr: Jalalspages )


Daggers said...

they shows fantastic looks and terrific talent in there each dance i love khattak dance. thanks for sharing this article with us..

Jalal HB said...

Thanks Daggers