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Dardistan (Perso-Arabic: داردستان) is a term coined by Gottlieb William Leitner for the northern Pakistan, Kashmir and parts of north-eastern Afghanistan. It is inhabited by Dards speaking Dardic languages.


Dardistān, region inhabited by the so-called Dard peoples in the north of Pakistan and northern Kashmir. It includes Chitrāl, the upper reaches of the Panjkora River, the Kohistān (highland) of Swāt, and the upper portions of the Gilgit Agency.


Mentioned by the classical historians Pliny the Elder, Ptolemy, and Herodotus, the Dards (Daradae, Daradrae, or Derdae) are said to be people of Aryan origin who ascended the Indus Valley from the Punjab plains, reaching as far north as Chitral.

Herodotus (III. 102–105) is the first author who refers to the country of Dards, placing it between Kashmir and Afghanistan. It also has reference in Mahabharata where it mentions the tribute of the ant-gold pipilika brought by the nations of the north to one of the Pandu sons, king Yudhishthira.

The Dards are also the Darada of the Sanskrit writers. The Darada and Himavanta were the regions to which Buddha sent his missionaries.

Daritai by H. W. Bellew

H. W. Bellew[1] writes about Daritai - The last of the nations mentioned by Herodotus as composing the eleventh satrapy of the empire of Darius Hystaspes, is the Daritai. They are the Darada of Manu and the Purans, the Derdai of Strabo, the Dardai of Pliny, the Daradrai of Ptolemy, and the Dardu of the natives of our day; a people regarding whom the researches of Professor W. G. Leitner have furnished us with much interesting and instructive information.

[Page-148]: The country of the ancient Daritai may be described as comprising all that cluster of lofty mountains lying directly to the south of the junction of the Tsungling portion of the Himalaya and the Hindu Kush in the great Taghdumbash (Taghnungbash) or " Head of the Mountains," glacier region ; and extending as far south as the watershed range of the Panjkora and Swat rivers, and of the Kanra-Ghorband valleys north of Boner, on the west of the Indus, and to the Pakli district and watershed ridge of the Kishanganga river on its east bank. On the west it includes the Mastoch Valley in the highest part of Kashkar ; and on the east it is bounded by Baltistan, or Little Tibat, if it did not formerly include this tract also. The Dard country, or Dardistan, thus curves round the northern borders of the region we have previously assigned to the Gandarioi of the seventh satrapy, and, crossing the Indus, borders upon Kashmir and Baltistan on the south and north banks respectively of the western course of the Indus, before its bend to the south near Bunji. The country thus defined contains, in its northern half, the districts of Mastoch, Yasin, Ponyal, and Gilgit, together with the Kanjud country of Hunza and Nagar ; all which, along with Baltistan further to the eastward, constitute the Bolor country. In its southern half, it contains the subordinate valleys of Gor, Darel, Tangir, Kandya, etc., on the west bank of the Indus south of Gilgit, and the Chilas, Astor, Kaghan, and Shinkari district of Pakli on the opposite east bank ; all which tract constitutes the Kohistan, or Shinkari territory of the Dard, part of which, on the west bank of the Indus, still retains its independence as a free country. Formerly the whole of the Pakli country seems to have been included in Dardistan ; its southern frontier corresponds to the Darvabhisara of the Rajatarangini, that is to the Dorh and Abhisara districts. From this Abhisara (the country of the Abissares mentioned by Arrian) is derived the modern Hazara, which includes Chach and Pakli.

They were converted to Islām in the 14th century and speak three distinct dialects of Gilgit, Khowari, Burushaskī, and Shina, employing the Persian script in writing.

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