The Baluch (Baloch) are a group of tribes that inhabit the province of Baluchistan in western Pakistan, southeast Iran, and southwest Afghanistan; small groups also live in northeast Iran, northwest Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, northwest India, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and on the coast and islands of East Africa. Of a total Baluch population of 4 million (1992 est.), about 60 percent reside in Pakistan. Numerous Baluch migrations from the early 19th century, primarily for raiding and for employment as mercenaries, have resulted in their present wide distribution across the Middle East. The groups that stayed among the TURKMEN on the northern edge of the Iranian plateau in what are now Afghanistan and Turkmenistan developed the styles of Baluchi rugs for which the Baluch are famous.

  The origin of the Baluch is unclear. Although the name Baluch is known from earlier records in Iran, the present tribes cannot be traced back beyond the 17th century, when they rose to power under their chief Kambar. The Baluch share a common identity based on Baluchi--an Iranian language--and adherence to Sunni Islam. They have never formed a political unit, although the khan of the former Indian state of Kalat, in present-day Pakistan, briefly exerted suzerainty over a large portion of them in the 19th century. Traditional Baluch society consists of pastoral nomadic groups, small agricultural settlements, and remnants of a Negroid slave population that earlier functioned as agricultural serfs and personal retainers for the chiefs. This organization is now breaking down as the Baluch are integrated into the social organization of the countries in which they reside.

Brian Spooner


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History And Culture Of Baloch



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