Tom Crowley is a PhD Candidate at the University of Cambridge, whose research concerns Kalasha perceptions of heritage and cultural change. He has been visiting the Kalash
Valleys of Pakistan since 2006.
These five drawings were made early in 2018 while on fieldwork in the Kalash Valleys, Pakistan. They are illustrations for a short story written by Sikandar. When published the story will be the first book to have been produced by someone from his community, a group who call themselves the Kalasha and who have their own language and religion. The story follows a teenage girl’s attempt to put a halt to the local logging industry which in recent years has contributed to a succession of devastating floods. Bound up in Sikandar’s narrative are Kalasha beliefs and practices which he fears are disappearing and which have also helped people maintain a balanced relationship with their environment.
I wanted my drawings to have meaning for Kalasha readers of the book, all of whom would know of Sikandar and some of whom would know me. So I decided to include real people and places. Amim Khan is one of the last people who still consult supernatural beings through bow reading. Sikandar’s brother Gul Khan is a respected local policeman who shares his concern over deforestation. The tree he is sitting under is famous, known locally as “Pehlwan” or the wrestler because of its massive trunk. Finally, the girl on the roof looks towards the border with Afghanistan, an ominous prospect as over that high pass come both the storms which bring the floods and the threat of attack from the Taliban.