The Brahui are a group of tribes who live primarily in Baluchistan and Sind provinces of Pakistan. Their numbers have been placed at anywhere from 861,000 to 1.5 million in Pakistan with about 200,000 in Afghanistan and 10,000 in Iran. Brahui is a Dravidian language and, as such, is distinct from the languages of the neighboring Pathan, Baluch, and Sind peoples. It is reported that many Brahui are bilingual in Baluchi and that Brahui contains numerous loanwords from Baluchi and Sindhi. The heart of Brahui territory is the district of Kalat, in Baluchistan. Politically, the Brahui are best described as a loose confederation of tribes, which was ruled from about 1700 to Pakistan's independence in 1947 by the Ahmadzais dynasty. Tribal membership is based on patrilineal descent and political allegiance, although both membership and alignments are somewhat fluid. Tribes are governed by the sadar, a hereditary chief, who today plays the role of intermediary between the largely rural population and the national government. Since independence, the Brahui have been slowly drawn into the national political and economic systems, though these integrative processes are far from complete.
The traditional economy for many Brahui was based on pastoral nomadism, with a shift to transhumant pastoralism beginning about 100 years ago, and more recently a shift to settled agriculture. As nomads, they dwelt in tents made of goat hair, and lived chiefly on the products of the herd. From March to October they grow cereals, fruits, and vegetables; in November they move south to sell cattle and handicrafts, or work as seasonal laborers. Many have settled on irrigated land in Sind.
The Brahuis are nearly all Sunni Muslims. Some of them take multiple wives, and divorce is unusual. Men prefer to marry a brother's daughter. Women are not strictly veiled. The men are often armed with rifles, swords, and shields.
Swidler, Nina (1984). "Brahui." In Muslim Peoples: A World Ethnographic Survey, edited by Richard V. Weekes, 177-180. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Wilber, Donald N. (1964). Pakistan: Its People, Its Society, Its Culture. New Haven: HRAF Press.
SAIDEH MOAYED-SANANDAJI AND SARWAT S. ELAHI