From Area Handbook on Afghanistan, 1969

my 11 year old brother was digging through my grandfather’s library of english language books. standard english as a second language books, some stuff on agriculture and trade, and things he picked from his travels to the outside world as a businessman. then he showed me a volume entitled Area Handbook for Afghanistan published in 1969. a gem of a book. i have been reading it intermittently with much interest. so many things have changed, and yet so much has remained the same -this is the reflection i have had on many occasions as i fold the book and put it by the bedside table. so many things have changed, and yet so much remains the same. the general story of this country in many ways.

Area Handbook for Afghanistan

Research and writing were completed on December 1, 1967,
Published in February 1969
US Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. –
Price $3.50.

The following passage is from pages 149-150, under the section entitled ‘The Performing Arts: Music and Dance –

In 1967 the most popular woman singer was Roxane. Sarmand, from Herat, who sings typical Herati songs, is very popular. Purween and Gherla are also popular women singers, as is Sarah Zeland who sings with her husband. Ustand (master) Sheida sings court songs, not folk music.

In the towns after the bazaar closes at sundown, visiting is the only amusement, so the young men gather at friends’ houses to talk or sing folksongs to the accompaniment of musical instruments. They sing alone or jointly. Some songs are the verses of renowned poets set to music; others are original.

In the country the people sing mostly without accompaniment – the farmer on his way to town with his donkey loaded with vegetables, the shepherd with is flock, the young men returning from the teahouse in the evening. The mountain songs are different from those of the city; they are simpler and have undergone little or not foreign influence, whereas the urban songs reflect Indian or Western influences; the mountai nsongs are also pround and virile, strong and clear. Many resembel Moroccan chants or Spanish flamenco songs.


~ by safrang on September 24, 2009.

One Response to “From Area Handbook on Afghanistan, 1969”

  1. Beautiful.. it seems like it indeed is a gem of a book..

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