Kalash women enjoy much more equality. They are unveiled, and dress in bright robes, with elaborate cowrie shell headdresses. A complex system of elopement, with rules on custody of children, means a woman can seek a new husband if she is not happy in a marriage.

At the Joshi or spring festival, which falls in May, men and women circle the charso dancing ground, whilst elders sing tales of the past and the future of the Kalash. The festival culminates in a ritual where sprigs of leaves are waived and cast into the valley below.

The Kalash, who tend to have blue eyes, trace their origins back to the soldiers of Alexander the Great, who passed near the region in 326 BC, although there is little evidence for this.

The Kalash people survive in three remote valleys in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province of Northern Pakistan. Their vibrant and thriving culture puts them completely at odds with neighbouring Muslim communities.Animists, they have a number of lively festivals a year, where mulberry wine is drunk, and women and men are free to dance together: something which could result in death in neighbouring tribal areas.

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The Kalash of Northern Pakistan

Website, Images and text Steve Davey/stevedavey.com 1990 - 2017

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Steve Davey is a writer and photographer based in London. For over twenty years he has travelled to some of the most remote, exotic and spectacular places on earth, photographing and researching a variety of features. Steve is the author of the Footprint Travel Photography and has launched a range of travel photography tours to show people some of the fantastic places he has travelled to whilst improving their photography

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