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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And the country of the Beluch tribes


One

question frequently asked is: "Who owns Beluchistan?" To which one might almost answer: "Yes, who does?"

Like Afghanistan, Nepal, and other such buffer states, Beluchistan is going through a somewhat slow but sure process of absorption. Beluchistan is a mere expression of political geography, and the country called by that name has on the west a semi-mythical boundary with Persia; on the north a real boundary with Afghanistan; to the south the Arabian Sea, and to the west, the Brahuic and Lukhi Mountains, bordering with Sindh and the lower Dejarath.

Beluchistan may be subdivided as follows:--

British Beluchistan, with the assigned districts of Quetta and the Bolan; territories under the immediate rule of the Khan of Kelat.

Sarawan and Thalawan, the lands belonging to the two leading Brahui clans.

The Chiefship of Las Bela.

Makran, Kharan, and the country of the Beluch tribes, such as the Marris and Bugtis, along the Punjab and Sind borders.

Bori and Zhob.

We have certain treaties, engagements and Sanads with the Khan of Kelat and the other chiefs, and the country--again I have to use a paradoxical expression--may be regarded as a sort of "dependent independent"

state. I can find no better way of describing it. We have bought up all the rights held by the chiefs that were worth buying for our purposes, and while, theoretically, the country is supposed to be merely under our "sphere of influence," we might with our fast-absorbing qualities practically consider it absolutely our own.

The Brahui Khan of Kelat is the most powerful ruler in Beluchistan, and the city of Kelat may be looked upon as the Beluch capital of Beluchistan. Quetta, of course, is the capital of British Beluchistan.

The Beluch may be roughly divided into two great classes, the _Brahui_ and the _Nharui_, the latter to be subdivided again into the _Rinds_ and the _Numris_. These classes, however, are again to be split up into a great many tribes of different names.

[Illustration: A Beluch Family.]

The meaning of the word _Brahui_ is said to be "inhabitants of the desert," and of _Nharui_ "men of the plains." The Nharui profess to be of Arab origin, and to have come from the west; and they despise the idea that they are akin to the Afghans or the Turkomans. Their features and habits would support this view, and their language undoubtedly bears traces of strong western influence if not of actual western origin. Their being such much finer specimens of men than the average Persians, may be accounted for by the fact that during the Arab invasion only the fittest and finest survived to get as far as this, and that of these men the Beluch are the present descendants.

Like all nomads the Beluch are most wonderful linguists. I met a great many men who knew three, four or five languages, such as Brahui, Nharui, Persian, Afghan, and even Hindustani, and on experiment they showed remarkable facility for picking up and correctly retaining words of any foreign language.


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