Western Baluch of Turkmenistan
The various Baluch groups are distinguishable by their languages. These languages have been divided into three branches: Eastern, Western, and Southern Baluchi - each of which are distinct from the others. Baluchi belongs to the Indo-Iranic language family, and is related to Kurdish.
Their name, "Baluch," is shrouded in controversy. Some say it means "nomad," while others claim that it is an old Persian word meaning "the cock's crest." Their history is just as mysterious. Some have traced their origins to Nimrod, son of Cush (Noah's grandson). But while some things are uncertain, we do know that they first moved to the region in the twelfth century. During the Moghul period, this territory became known as "Baluchistan."
What are their lives like?
The Baluch traditionally earn their living by a combination of farming and semi-nomadic shepherding. They usually raise sheep, cattle, or goats. Agriculture is limited because of the harsh climate; nevertheless, it plays a large role in the economy. The chief crop is wheat. To aid in the household economy, some farmers raise chickens. They also depend on wild fruits and vegetables. One wild plant, called the "dwarf palm," is used as a dietary supplement. The meat of the palm is eaten, and the leaves are used to make ropes, shoes, mats, and tents. Though their survival techniques may vary, each community tries to keep a wide variety of animals and grow many different crops. If the local economy does not provide adequate job opportunities, the young men often move to the cities in search of work.
Village settlements are clusters of mud houses, loosely organized around the home of the local chief. They live in these permanent mountain and valley settlements in the summertime. However, in winter, they migrate to the plains and coastal areas, seeking green grass for their livestock. During this time, they live in tents, and move freely across the landscape as weather conditions dictate. These temporary settlements are smaller, consisting of closely related kin.
Within the family, the entire household is responsible for tending the family's herd. Women work in groups, threshing and separating the harvest; while plowing and planting are done by the men. Traditionally, land is not privately owned but belongs to the whole tribe.
What are their beliefs?
What are their needs?
Very little missions work is taking place among the Western Baluch of Turkmenistan. The Jesus Film and portions of the Bible are available; however, there are only three known believers among them. Since illiteracy among the Baluch is very high, Christian workers might find open doors into Turkmenistan as teachers.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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