Jat - Settlements

The Jat as a whole are predominantly rural. Depending on whether they are sedentary or nomadic, the Jat of various regions live in permanent villages or temporary camps. Over the last 200 years there has been increasing sedentarization of nomadic Jat; this trend began in the last decades of the eighteenth century when many pastoralists settled in the central Punjab under the auspices of Sikh rule there, and it continued over a very large area with the expansion of irrigation in British imperial times. With the consequent expansion of cultivation all these pastoralists are facing increasing difficulties in finding grazing lands for their herds. The buffalo breeders face the maximum difficulties in this respect, since their animals need to be grazed in areas with plentiful water, and these are precisely the areas in which agriculture has expanded most. They still live in the moist region of the Indus Delta, but many have had to settle permanently. Formerly the camel breeders migrated over larger areas, but increasingly they are restricted to the delta region of the Indus River, the desert areas of the Thar and the Thal, and the semideserts stretching west of the Indus to Makran and Baluchistan. The camel drivers were, at least a few decades ago, fairly widespread in most parts of Sindh and the western Punjab, and Kachchh. While in some less densely populated areas each Jat clan has a compact geographic area of its own, elsewhere several clans may inhabit the same village. Most Jat peasants live in flatroofed houses made of baked or unbaked bricks in large compact villages, with few open spaces within the inhabited area; all villages have cattle sheds, village commons, and wells or ponds. Depending on the region and the precise community, Jat nomadic pastoralists use a variety of huts, mostly made of reed mats and wood, that are fairly easy to dismantle. The reed mats are woven by the women.

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