Galchas - Encyclopedia

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GALCHAS, the name given to the highland tribes of Ferghana, Kohistan and Wakhan. These Aryans of the Pamir and Hindu Kush, kinsmen of the Tajiks, are identified with the Calcienses populi of the lay Jesuit Benedict Goes, who crossed the Pamir in 1603 and described them as "of light hair and beard like the Belgians." The word "Galcha," which has been explained as meaning "the hungry raven who has withdrawn to the mountains," in allusion to the retreat of this branch of the Tajik family to the mountains to escape the Tatar hordes, is probably simply the Persian galcha, " clown" or "rustic," in reference to their uncouth manners. The Galchas conform physically to what has been called the "Alpine or Celtic European race," so much so that French anthropologists have termed them "those belated Savoyards of Kohistan." D'Ujfalvy describes them as tall, brown or bronzed and even white, with ruddy cheeks, black, chestnut, sometimes red hair, brown, blue or grey eyes, never oblique, well-shaped, slightly curved nose, thin lips, oval face and round head. Thus it seems reasonable to hold that the Galchas represent the most eastern extension of the Alpine race through Armenia and the Bakhtiari uplands into central Asia. The Galchas for the most part profess Sunnite Mahommedanism.

See Robert Shaw, "On the Galtchah Languages," in Journ. As. Soc. Bengal, xlv. (1876), and xlvi. (1877); Major J. Biddulph, Tribes of the Hindoo-Koosh (Calcutta, 1880); Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone, An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul (1815); Bull. de la societe' d'anthropologie de Paris (1887); Charles Eugene D'Ujfalvy de Mezoe-Koevesd, Les Aryens (1896), and in Revue d'anthropologie (1879), and Bull. de la soc. de geogr. (June 1878); W. Z. Ripley, Races of Europe (New York, 1899).

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