The man in the picture is Madad Ali from Mominabad, Hunza and I am here to tell you why he is a significant individual.
If you are looking for a recipe to prepare a diverse group of people, both in culture and language, within an area, then Hunza is your cookbook—the royalties go to Pakistan.
Kudos to Pakistan for keeping it’s figure slender, for it has given it a unique and varied landscape, from the deserts down south to the seven-thousanders up north; it is this that attributes to something that happens only in Pakistan.
Hunza is situated in the mountainous north of Pakistan, where before the construction of roads and mule tracks, people were cut off from one group of villages to the next and between them were high rising mountains and insuperable passes, so that each group of villages developed their own language; majority of these weren’t dialects but distinct languages, each capable of baffling the linguists.
Domaaki is one of those languages; the Domaaki speakers traditionally were either musicians or blacksmiths but they now hold various professions.
At present, unfortunately, there are fewer than 350 Domaaki speakers present in the world and the language is on the brink of extinction!
Madad Ali is one of those rare Domaaki speakers but he is a standout amongst them too, as he is one of the few who continued with the traditional artisan-ship of his forefathers—that of a blacksmith.
It is a craft that ran for generations in his family. What made his forefathers take up this craft was the basic necessity of food and shelter but not for him; his devotion to this arduous craft over years has been fueled by his aspiration to educate his children and see them flourish in the modern world.
Despite the hardships of his trade, I picture him being at peace with his reality. Why would he not be? For his children are going to be part of a modern educated world and he might actually live to see them become something other than a blacksmith.
See, his legacy isn’t his craft but it is his children.
The picture was taken by Zakir Ali Khan, a photographer by passion from Altit, Hunza.
Make sure to visit his instagram profile if you want to see Hunza through the native eye.