Peripatetics of Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey - History

Little is known for certain about the past of these communities; the history of each is almost entirely contained in their oral traditions. Although some groups—such as the Vangawala—are of Indian origin, some—like the Sheikh Mohammadi—are most probably of local origin; still others probably migrated from adjoining areas. The Ghorbat and the Shadibaz claim to have originally come from Iran and Multan, respectively, and Tahtacı traditional accounts mention either Baghdad or Khorāsān as their original home. The Baluch say they were attached as a service community to the Jamshedi, after they fled Baluchistan because of feuds. The earliest author mentioning peripatetic communities in this broad region is the Persian Ḥamzah al-Isfahani (d. A . D . 972). He refers to the fifth-century A . D . Sāssānian king Bahrām-i-Gor as having requested of the king of India that he send him 12,000 Kowli as musicians. These, wrote Ḥamzah, were the forefathers of the Zott, who were still to be found in Persia in his day. Ottoman documents mention one such community, the Tahtacı, from the sixteenth century onward; the Tahtacı consider themselves to be Turkmen.

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