Balti Culture 

Centuries of Tibetan, Islamic and Indian influence have shaped the Balti culture into its modern form. Islam plays an important role in Balti culture.

Tibetan influence can be seen in its architecture, where houses with flat roof painted white and sloping inwards are built, and the most notable artifacts of the Balti/Ladakhi architecture include Kharpoche in Skardo, Khapulo Khar in Khapulo, Chakchan and Shigar Khanqah and Baltit fort of Hunza. Like the Ladakhi Muslim architectures, older mosques show a mix of Iranian and Tibetan architecture, although strong Iranian and modern influences can be seen in the newer mosques.

Little remains of the pre-Islamic Buddhist culture of Baltistan, largely destroyed and supplaced by the dominant Punjabi and Iranian culture which arrived with Islam; this can be evidenced in the near-extinction of traditional Balti festivals such as Mephang, Mindok Ltadmo and Srup Lha. Folk literature such as those of Lha Kesar and works of Ali Sher Khan Anchan prevail among the Balti literature, which has experienced a revival in recent years.

Although climatic conditions are harsh and inhospitable, the village people of Baltistan are among the most friendly and hospitable of mountain peoples in Pakistan. Evolved out of 106 years of slavery under the Dogra rulers and innumerable decades under local despotic Rajas, the predominant population of today’s Baltistan is religiously and ethnically homogeneous.

Baltistan is proud of her thousands of years of rich civilization. Her architecture, costumes, cuisines, festivals, dances, language, script and epics make her unique among her neighbors, especially within the contemporary Northern Areas. The local culture is a blend of that of Ladakhi and Islamic rituals. Since partition, the residents of Baltistan have remained essentially people of Baltistan’s soil. They are devout Muslims, and in effect including two generations borne since the annexation and occupation of Baltistan by India have never distanced themselves from the cultural and linguistic ties to what ninety percent of the Baltis regard as Ladakhi cultural and linguistic heritage.

Of late, modern Balti scholars such as Ghulam Hassan Lobsang, Ghulam Hassan Hasni, Syed Abbas Kazmi and Mohammad Senge Tshering Hasnain have contributed greatly to the re-discovery of the Balti culture. Plans for the excavation of an ancient monastery and the preservation of the Buddha rock are planned, as the Balti go through a process of merging their culture with those of their brethren in Ladakh.








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