This site contains previously unpublished material on the linguistics and ethnography of Nuristān and neighboring regions, collected and analyzed by Richard F. Strand over the last thirty years. Funding for the author's field research in Nuristān, Afghānistān, and Pākistān was provided in part by the following institutions: the Fulbright Foundation (1991-92), the Smithsonian Institution (1980, 1984-85), The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (1972), Brown University (1971), Cornell University (1966-69, 1970), and Teachers College, Columbia University (1967-69 ).
All contents of this site are Copyright © 1997-2004 by Richard F. Strand. No part of these contents may be reproduced or redistributed by any means without written consent of the author.
The region called Nuristān is one in a chain of ethnic refuge areas that line the mountains of the Indian Plate collision zone from Afghānistān to Southeast Asia. Nuristān lies in the Hindu Kush mountains of northeastern Afghānistān, spanning the basins of the Alingār, Pech, Landai Sin, and Kunar rivers. It is the homeland of a unique group of Indo-European-speaking tribal peoples, now called Nuristānis, who fled and resisted Islām as it spread eastward. In 1895-96 the Nuristānis were finally conquered by the Afghān armies of Āmir Abdur Rahmān Khān, and the people were obliged to abandon their ancient religious beliefs in favor of Islām.
Nuristānis are today such devout Muslims that they were the first citizens of Afghānistān to successfully revolt against the communist overthrow of their government in 1978. Their success inspired others throughout the country to rise up and bleed the Soviet Union to death through thirteen years of war. The straw that broke the Soviet Union's back sprouted in Nuristān, and we must acknowledge the pivotal historical role that the Nuristānis played in nurturing the seed.
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