Proverbs from Bannu: Our Afghan Frontier

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Proverbs from Bannu: Our Afghan Frontier, S. S. Thorburn
Published in Khyber.ORG on Sunday, June 15 2003 (

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Proverbs from Bannu: Our Afghan Frontier

S. S. Thorburn

Publishing Date: Sunday, June 15 2003

We all of us know what a proverb is and ought to contain, but few of us could, without much thought, define our conception of it. A definition is difficult at all times; but in this particular case it is specially so, as many sayings hover on the borderland between proverbs, aphorisms, or moral precepts, and fables, so doubtful is the boundary-line between them.

The subjoined collection of sentences - which I venture to call proverbs - are almost all supposed popular truisms, so epigrammatically expressed as to have become household words amongst the people. This is the shortest, but at the same time, widest and truest definition of the term "proverb", which has occurred to me. Until the thought of a community on some social subject, which has become felicitously called "the wisdom of many" has been condensed and dressed by the "wit of one", or the few, into a bright brief sentence, the seedling has not been planted; and until that seedling has taken firm root, and grown up into a great tree, familiar to all within a wide radius of its birthplace, it cannot become a proverb. To attain such honorable distinction, then, a saying, no matter how much of "shortness, sense, and salt" it may contain, requires the sanctity of popularity; and to secure such general acceptation, it ought to be conveyed in simple language, yet with a certain amount of sparkle and jingle about it so that like a popular tune, it may tickle the ear of the multitude, and obtain an abiding place in their hearts. With this end in view, rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, metaphor, and hyperbole have all been liberally indented on in proverbial manufacture.

The essentiality of the "three s's" as "shortness, sense, and salt" have been termed, and of popularity, is universally true of all good proverbs in all countries, and in all languages. Let us suppose a man ambitious of having it recorded on his tombstone, "P.S. He made a proverb" all he has to do, and mighty easy it is, is to take as his ingredients the said "three s's" and mix them judiciously and well. Having done so, he can do no more, but the rub has still to come, for unless the public take the dose readily and pleasurable, no amount of puffing or persuasion can force it into their mouths.

The earliest popular book of proverbs is, I suppose, that common ascribed to King Solomon. Since his time, millions of new proverbs have sprung up, had their day, and disappeared, and millions are now existent, some old, some new; and the more the proverbs of different nations are compared together, the closer does the similarity of ideas on a numerous class of subjects appear, but of this more presently.

This collection is the first yet attempted of Pashto proverbs, and being the first, is necessarily very imperfect; but it contains specimens of prevailing Pashtoon opinions on all important social topics, and as such I trust it will be found valuable. It would have been easy to obtain many hundreds more, and in fact several hundreds were rejected, as being grossly indecent, wanting popular sanction, literal and recent translations from another language, or sayings already recorded in a slightly altered dress. Every endeavor has been made to exclude sayings evidently derived from the Persian or Arabic, but I have admitted them in cases where the derivation appeared doubtful, or the saying was so common that to exclude it simply for want of originality would have been ridiculous. I conceive that what is wanted in a collection of this sort is to obtain an insight into a people's hidden thoughts on their own social condition, and we can best do so by studying them from their expressed thoughts, which in the shape here given below, cannot lie. Every race of man, from the highest to the lowest in the intellectual scale, whose language is sufficiently copious and flexible must have numerous proverbs, which are unwritten and unconscious self - criticisms, accessible to all the world. Through them the innermost secrets of the brain can be exposed as plainly as the physical secrets of the brain can be laid bare by the dissecting knife. A knowledge of the proverbs current amongst uncivilized races is therefore invaluable for the purpose of elucidating their thoughts and feelings. But, in drawing our conclusions from them as to a people's social and intellectual status, we must not forget that as it is the leaders of public opinion who either invent or first give concurrency to a proverb, so the higher-toned proverbs of a people are in advance of their moral condition, and represent rather what their "best selves" would have them be and do, than what they are and do. Where antagonistic proverbs on the same subject are found, some refined and ennobling, others coarse and debasing, the latter will, in most cases, more truly represent popular opinion - that is, the opinion of the masses - than the former. Most of those given below were collected slowly and laboriously, between the autumn of 1872 and the hot weather of 1874; but with the exception of those under the headings of Husbandry, Class and Local, they are not all familial amongst the peasantry of the Trans Indus portions of the District, as some were obtained from Peshawar, Khost, and the Khattak Hills, and some are only current over a very circumscribed area. Nor must it be supposed that most of them are only known in this district (Bannu and environs). If the genesis and method of circulation of a proverb can be examined, with reference to the minds of those who speak them, the reason why many of the classes, which may be styled and ethical and cynical, should be almost universally known, will be manifest. Though mankind is divided into many races, some of which have neither apparent connection, in speech or descent from common parents, nor any sort of intercourse together, yet the Creator has made "the whole world kin" by endowing all men with like minds and passions. And the thoughtful of all races - except perhaps the very lowest in the scale, of the working of whose minds we as yet know little, be they white or black, Aryan or Semitic, civilized or savage - have long since, by the aid of the teachings of experience arrived at similar conclusions on the various feelings and influences which govern the actions of their fellows, and on the whole allow to each conclusion the same weight. The mainsprings of action being similarly judged, the amount of honor or shame attachable to any particular act, although depending to some extent on the degree of each people's enlightenment, is also in the case of many instincts and attributes, estimated alike. Thus we find that amongst most peoples whose language s have yet to be studied , proverbs relating to the passions, bravery and cowardice, goodness and wickedness, wisdom and foolishness, the weakness of women, the deceit of man, and other cognate classes, have a strong family resemblance. Pathans no doubt contrast less with Englishmen than many other races, yet the gulf between them is sufficiently wide to leave room for surprise at the similarity in meaning of many of the proverbial sayings current in their respective tongues.

No other reasonable explanation than that indicated above can, I think, be offered for the remarkable parallelism between the proverbs of different countries. It may be contended that proverbs on such subjects as are in harmony with the fixed belief of the vast majority of mankind (such as the influence and effect of the passions, the uncertainty of life, the existence of a Supreme Being) spread from one center. But though no doubt some few have thus obtained an almost universal circulation, such a hypothesis cannot be entertained for a  moment in respect to the large number of analogous proverbs which exist in all languages of which we have knowledge; and we must fall back on the theory that their genesis is to to be accounted for by the common but independent experience of different minds. So great is the antiquity of proverbs of the description to which I have been referring that few can be traced back to their origin. It may be said of them that they have been for centuries the heirlooms of the whole human race. Still considering the separate generation theory as the true one (although by the way, during the crusades, there must have been a considerable interchange of thought as well as blows between Christians and Musalmans) and applying it in the present case we are confronted by a new difficulty, which is this. The Pathans, being what they are, it is unlikely that they were themselves the creators of all their finer proverbs, for there are in some of them a delicacy of expression, and a subtle knowledge of the finer workings of the human heart - points whose depth and force are but feebly conveyed in my translations - but it could not have been until some stranger - some wandering minstrel, returning pilgrim, or holy Syed or Akhoond fresh from the western schools of learning - had, with the practiced touch of the skillful artist, reduced the loose, struggling utterance into shape, that any of them received the epigrammatic pointed ness which converted a popular truism into a proverb. In the process, the sayings of other tribes were either reproduced bodily, or with some slight but necessary alterations suitable to the special condition of the particular tribe. In support of this theory, I may mention that when I had fairly exhausted the proverbs of the Pathans of this District (Bannu and environs), I received a number from Khost, and some from Peshawar, most of which, on examination, proved with the exceptions previously noted, to have either been already collected or old friends in new dresses.

Proverbs are to a Pathan what Biblical texts are to the Christian - a rule of life or conduct which cannot be gainsaid; and as various shades of meaning are evolved out of one and the same text, so proverbs are applied in various ways. In both there is often a curious antagonism, arising in the latter, case from some cause which I am not competent to explain; and in the former, from the diversity of human opinion, whence arose that now well worn saying "Quot homines Tot Sententiae".

Of the sentences given below, a few of which cannot be classed as proverbs, a somewhat limited number only is common in the mouths of the poorest and rudest Pathans. Still so many as they know are constantly on their tongues, and those whose daily food is assured to them have a large repertory, from which they are always drawing. When we would quote from books, an illiterate people quote their proverbs, and allow the same weight to them as we do to the dicta of some known and trusted author.

Topic: Beggars

Though a man who begs is looked upon as degrading himself, as having lost all sense of shame, still the beggar seldom asks in vain, for go where he may, he is sure of securing a meal and a night's lodging. Those who gain their bread in this way are fortunately few in number and those who do indulge in it throw into the profession a touch of religion, calling themselves Fakeers or religious mendicants, as an additional incentive to the charitable to give. I can however recall to mind no instance of a Marwat, and only very few cases of Bannuchis asking alms from me.

  • Wherever he is "welcome", the beggar passes the night
    د فقير چه چيري ښه هلته ئي شپه
    A man's home is where he finds his livelihood, or daily "morsel" as the natives say
  • If the beggar would not wander in another's courtyard, the dog would not have designs against him
    که ګدا د بل په غولي غرض نه کړه - سپي به نه که په ګدا باندي غرض
    That is, if a  man minds his own business only, none will interfere with him. We have a saying, "Sit in your place, and none can make you rise." The Pashto couplet is, I am told, from Abdul Hamid.
  • Though dogs fight amongst themselves, still they are at one against the beggar man.
    سپي که په خپل منځ کښي سره خوري خو فقير ته ئي يوه وي
    This is literally true; and if we may regard Bannuchis, forty years ago, as dogs, and Wazirs as beggars, though certainly rather aggressive ones, it would apply to them also, for Bannuchis were never at peace amongst themselves except when fighting their common enemy, the Wazirs
  • Food obtained through begging is licking the blood of the nose
    د سوال خواړه د پوزي ويني څټل دي
    Meaning that begging is a low business
  • To the devil with a brother, who asks a loan from "dums"
    ورک شه هغه ورور چه له ډمانو غواړي پور
    The dum is a minstrel and jack of all trades. In most villages one or more are to be found, maintained at the expense of the community, as village servants. Native gentlemen also generally have one or two in their service.
  • One dog was licking a hand-mill, another was licking himself
    يوه سپي ميچن څټله بل ئي کونه څټله
    Said of a beggar who begs from a man as needy as himself
  • If you have, eat; If you have not, die
    که د وي خوره، که نه د وي مره
    We have cold hard un-sympathizing philosophy here. Let a man enjoy what he has, while may; and when the day of adversity comes, let him bear it without murmuring, not stoop to cringe and beg. Who would help him if he did?
  • A Pathan begs not; if he do, well, he'll beg from his sister.
    پشتون سوال نه کوي او چه کوي ئي نو خور ته هم دريږي
    Means that if he beg at all he will have no shame
  • A hardened beggar is worse than a creditor
    روږدي له پوروړي ګنده ده
    That is, he is more importunate than a creditor

Topic: Boasting

The maxim that "deeds not words prove the man," is fully appreciated in the proverbs here given, which, though few in number, contain various means, from a delicate hint to a coarse rebuff, of "shutting up" men who indulge in tall talking. So far as my experience goes, the Pathan is not much given to bragging, except when speaking of his own clan collectively, or of his ancestors, whose bravery, of course, no words can adequately represent. The case perhaps most familiar to a District Officer, in which the Baron Munchausen style is invariably used to an amusing extent, is when a favour is asked from government, through its representative the Deputy Commissioner, for then the State is sure to be described as being greatly in the petitioner's debt for important services rendered, which as often as not turn out to be purely imaginary, or only so far true that the petitioner or a relation of his once caught a thief, but had, at the time, received a handsome reward for the capture.

  • You will then learn your measure, when you spend a night with your match.
    هاله به ئي زده شي چه انډول په انډول شپه شي
  • Say not thus, "I am," or you will become as I am.
    داسي مه وايه چه زه يم، داسي به شي لکه چه زه يم
    Said by a small man to a great man and a boaster.
  • The frog mounted a clod, and said he had seen Kashmir
    جيندخه په لوټه وخته ويل ئي چه کشمير مي وليده
    Said of small men, in derision of their vain-glorious trumpeting of their own great deeds.
  • Though I am but a straw, I am as good as you.
    که خس يم د تا بس يم
    Pathans act on the principle that "Jack is as good as his master", each believing himself as good as any other man.
  • The slave is down, but his vaunting is up.
    مريي لاندي، غوره ئي باندي
    Meaning the greater the coward, the greater his bragging.
  • Say not, "I am in the world," God has made man above man.
    داسي مه وايه چه زه يم په جهان کښي، پيدا کړي خداي د سر د پاسه سر دي
  • A fly's hostility will be known on the scald-headed man.
    د مچ جنګ به د پک په سر معلوم شي
    When a fly is seen rubbing his two fore-legs together, he is supposed to be regretting that the last scald-headed man, on whose crown he alighted, has escaped him, and to be cogitating that if he again have a chance, he will show him his powers of fighting and irritate him to death. The above is said in derision of boastful cowards.
  • Weep, oh Omar! then you would not eat the thousand-holed food; now you must content yourself with dry Pulao.
    ژاړه عمره ژاړه، هاله د نه خوړي هزار سوراخي اوس د وچ پلاؤ محتاج شوي
    Omar was a Marwat and married well in a foreign country. After a time he became home-sick, longing to see his sandy fields again; and whilst eating dry Pulao, a very dainty dish, repeated the above to himself aloud so often as to arouse his wife's curiosity. "'Tis what I used to eat at home," said her husband, sighing. So she consented to go to Marwat with him, in order to taste the wonderful "thousand-holed" food. When she got there, she found it was only a Bajra Cake, the coarsest of food, and so called owing to the number of air-bubbles which arise in it when being baked. The moral is that every man boasts of his native land, so when telling about it should not be believed.
  • Small mouth, big words.
    وړوکي خوله لويي خبري
    So we say, "Great cry, little wool," and "Great boast, small roast."
  • What is a small hare, what is its load?
    څه سوي ګي څه ئي بار ګي
    Said in rebuff to men who promise what they cannot perform.
  • You have plundered the country, oh Kite! by your blustering; you will not let me seize you.
    وطن دي لوټ که په ټس  او ټوسه، په لاس به را نشي ټپوسه
    The words rendered "blustering" mean literally, the swishing noise made by a large bird when making a swoop. The meaning is, that a cowardly bully robs one, and, before the victim can recover from his first surprise, runs away.
  • Is a dog or a soldier the better? Confound the soldier who praises himself.
    سپي ښه دي که سپاهي، ورک شه سپاهي چه په خپله ځان ستايئي
    Meaning that, in respect of modesty, a vain-glorious soldier is inferior to the unclean dog, which never boasts.
  • He eats greens, and breathes Pulao
    خوري ساګ او پسکئي د  پلاؤ اچوي
    Said of a man who is "vox et praeterea nihil"
  • A great sound is given forth from the empty vessel.
    له خالي لوښي لوي اواز خيژي
    So in English, "Empty vessels make the loudest sounds;" and in the Scriptures, "A fool's voice is known by the multitude of words."
  • Here is a yard measure, and here is some level ground.
    دغه ګز دغه ميدان دي
    Now said to any boaster, when means of testing his assertions are at hand; first said to a Marwat, who was talking of some impossible jump he stated he had done.
  • When a man praises his own greatness, why does he make himself equal to heroes ?
    چه په خپله بډائي که له شاغليو سره څه لره سيالي که
    By doing so he shows he is none, as heroes never vaunt their own deeds.

Topic: Bravery

Admiration for physical courage is as innate in a Pathan as an Englishman. In a Pathans eyes a brave man must possess every virtue, but a coward can possess none. Though the moral tone of the maxims collected under the above heading is high and honourable to the people amongst whom they are current, and I believe most of them are so throughout the whole of Eastern Afghanistan, yet with all his gallantry and talk about brave deeds, the Pathan has no knowledge of "fair play", and would think an enemy, who practised it towards him, a generous fool. So foreign is the idea comprised in the above phrase to his mind, so difficult its conception even, that his language contains no equivalent expression, and, though there is a word of treachery (tagi), still it appears to him in most cases merely a skilful taking advantage of an enemy's mistake or weakness. Two instances of recent occurrence will suffice to illustrate what I have now stated. In June 1870, a sepoy guard was  butchered, the heads of the different Waziri clans settled in the District were summoned into Edwardesabad (Bannu) and it was explained to them that the revolted clan had committed an outrage of the blackest treachery. None of the assembled chiefs would regard it in that light, but held that, as the section was, or imagined itself to be, aggrieved, and had made up its mind to rebel, the blow was well and nobly struck. Again in the campaign of 1873, between the Darwesh Khel and Mahsud Wazirs, a large party of the former succeeded in surprising some shepherds belonging to the latter, and slaughtered them all, including a woman; and the victorious band, on their return to Bannu, exulted over their cowardly deed, as if it had been a glorious feat of arms. Those who think my remarks unfairly severe should call to mind the incidents of 1841 in Kabul.

  • On his forehead is light, whose sword tip is red (with blood)
    ځه د توري ووزي ئي سور وي د هغه په ټنده نور وي
    That is, he who has killed his man is a fine fellow. Good looks and brave deeds accompany each other.
  • One is equal to one hundred, and one hundred to (so much) earth.
    يو په سل، او سل په خاورو
    One brave man is equal to one hundred cowards.
  • Either a brave man wields the sword, or one red from grief (i.e., desperate)
    توري يا با تور وهي، يا ئي له غمه سور وهي
  • When the wolf gets red, he becomes an ugly customer.
    ليوه چه سور کيږي ګنده کيږي
    Bannuchis say this of Wazirs, but its general application is that a bad man, whom one has punished or injured, becomes all the more dangerous.
  • Shoes are tested on the feet; a man in a row.
    پنړي په پښو کښي څرګنديږي او ميړه په بدو کښي بلنګ کيږي
  • Against a sword assume a shield, against words a bold front.
    توري ته ګنډي نيسه ، خبرو ته تندي نيسه
  • Desire a man's disposition, and a lion's heart.
    د ميړه خوي او د زمري زړه غواړه
  • The sword's fellowship is sweet.
    د توري وروري خوږه ده
    One brave man admires another.
  • Look at a man's deeds, not whether he is tall or short
    ميړه په عمل څيروه ، غټ او ووړئي مه څيروه
  • The sword is wielded through family
    توري په پيډ و هلي شي
    That is, its use is almost natural to men of good family, or descended from brave men.
  • To a true man his sickle is an Afghan knife.
    ميړه چه ميړه وي، لور ئي چاړه وي
  • May you rather die in fight, my son, than be disgraced before the enemy.
    په تورو مړ شي ځويه نه چه دښمن ته خړ شي ځويه
  • The tiger rends his prey, the jackal, too, benefits by it.
    زمري ما ته وکه د ګيدړ هم په ښه شي
    The jackal is a tiger's attendant, and eats his leavings. The meaning is that a strong man both maintains himself and his dependents.
  • The load which the ass won't carry, you yourself will carry.
    بار چه خر نه وړي نو په خپله به ئي وړي
    When a brave man can't get assistance readily, he sets to work and does without it.
  • I would rather be a childless mother, than that you should run from the battle-field
    زه د بوره يم خو چه ميدان پرينږدي
    Said by a mother to her son.
  • Other brave men do not seize on the wealth of him who binds on his arms.
    چه و تړي برګونه مال ئي نه خوري نور ميړو نه
  • Who passes through in one (case), becomes a lion in another
    چه په يوه تير شي په بله شير شي
  • Who has the power to fight lays conference aside.
    چه اختيار د جنګ لري پوښتنه په څنګ لري
  • Although there are many roads, for men there is only one (i.e., the straightest)
    لاري ډيري دي خو د ميړو لار يوه ده
  • True men are not God, but are not without God either.
    ميړونه که خداي نه دي، بي خدايه هم نه دي
    That is, though not equal to God, yet receive help from him.
  • The spectator is a great hero (i.e., criticizes freely)
    نند ارڅي باتور دي
  • Though you are of the border, I am of the woods.
    که ته د ور غړ يي زه ده ځنګل يم
    Means "I am as good a man as you"
  • The clod does not miss the dock-eared dog.
    لوټه له بوړي سپي نه خطا کيږي
    Such dogs are the best fighters, and, when barking at any one, approach so near him that a clod thrown at them is sure to hit; whereas, the common village curs keep, when barking, at a respectful distance. The application is that the more reckless of danger a man is, the greater the chances of his getting hurt.
  • For a man, either a swift flight or a swift blow.
    د ميړه يا ترپ دي يا ئي خړپ
    That is, either "discretion" in running away, "is the better part of valour," or a sudden bold attack.
  • If there be not a leader, there won't be a crossing; If there be not Gold, there won't be Eid.
    چه سر نه وي ګودر نه وي، چه زر نه وي اختر نه وي
    Until some man tries the depth and the bottom, whether firm or a quicksand, it is impossible to say where the ford is.
  • See a man all round, a dog of a fellow may be a good swordsman.
    د ميړه خو ډول ګوره، توري سپي سړي وهي
    When forming judgement as to a man's worth, do not regard only one or two points, e.g., his skill with the sword, but study him all round, and strike the balance from the general result.
  • The thorn which is sharp is so from its youth
    اغزي چه تيره وي له کمه ځايه وي
    That is, a brave man, was brave as a boy. "The child is father of the man".

Topic: Class & Local

The first named are the most numerous, and admirably represent the Bannuchis and Marwats, even when expressing their opinion on classes, distinct from themselves, who live amongst themselves, who live amongst them, or with whom they come into daily contact. As might be expected, Hindus and Hindkais are roundly abused, the former on account of their religion and money-acquiring propensity, and the latter  because of their superior thrift and energy in cultivation. The terms Hindkai, Awan, and Jatt cultivators are used in a wider sense to represent all who talk Hindi Punjabi, or some dialect derived from it. Making allowance for the natural antipathy of a Muslim towards a Hindu, there is a good deal of truth in what is said about him; but as far as I have observed, the Hindkais are most unjustly vilified. Probably motives of jealousy alone have warped the judgement of their former Pathan masters about them. The estimation in which hill men are held was, and is to some extend even now, correct enough, but owing to Wazirs and Bettanis having of late years taken to agricultural pursuits, it will probably not continue to be so much longer. The purely local sayings are very forcible, and contain much sound observation and advice in a few short pithy sentences.

  • He is a Shia's tomb; white outwardly, but black inside.
    دي د شيعه قبر دي، څرګند سپين او په کښي تور دي
    Said of a plausible humbug, with a handsome exterior, and empty head. This is a Bannuchi metaphor. All Bannuchis are Sunnis and no Shia is found amongst them or the Marwats. Thus they never miss an opportunity of vilifying Shias.
  • Though a Khattak is a good horseman, still he is a man of but one charge.
    خټک که ښه سوار دي، د يوه وار دي
    This is a Marwat proverb. It means that the Khattak's may be good at their work but they get disheartened quickly or their potential is not up to mark.
  • Friendship is good with everyone, except a Khattak. May the devil seize the Khattak.
    ياري له هر چا سره ښه دي، بي خټکه پيټ خټکه
    A Khattak is here equivalent to a bad man. This saying is attributed to Khushal Khan Khattak, a celebrated Khattak chief, who lived in the reign of Aurangzeb, and who had reason to curse the faithlessness of his country-men.
  • The Dharamsal's Pillar will not be without a Hindu's loin cloth.
    د دهرمسال مټه بي له چوتي نه وي
    The allusion is to the custom of Hindus, who, after bathing, go direct to their dharamsal, or house of worship, and, after changing their bathing drawers, perform their devotions. Pathans laugh at the tight fitting loin-cloths or drawers, worn by Hindus, as will be seen in Proverb number 18. Here the meaning is that a bad man has bad ways.
  • Who marries not an Isaki woman, deserves an ass (donkey) for a spouse.
    چه نه کړي عيسکئي يا به خره کړي يا به سپئي
    The Isaki women are said to be very pretty. The tribe compose of one of the sections into which the Bannuchis are divided.
  • The Mughal tyrannizes over the cultivator, and the cultivator over the earth.
    د مغل زور په دهقان، د دهقان په زمکه
  • If a Hindkai cannot do you any harm, as he goes along the road, he will leave you a bad smell.
    د هندکي که نور د بدو لاس نه در رسي خو چه په لاري ځي پسکه به در وکي
    This is a Bannuchi saying. Hindkais settled amongst them are mostly Awans, and compose the 'Hamsaya' class. At first, they were entirely dependent on their Pathan masters and very submissive towards them, but being better labourers, and more thrifty, they gradually acquired land and increased in numbers, which, naturally enough, has prevented them from being popular amongst the Bannuchis, or rather Pathan Bannuchis, as 'Hindkais' are now, to all intents and purposes, Bannuchis themselves, having been settled from two to five or more generations in the valley. Their old masters are fond of ascribing to them all those vices which we know they themselves possess.
  • Though you duck a Hindkai in the water, his seat will remain dry.
    هندکي که په اوبو ډوب کړي ، کونه به ئي وچه پاته شي
    So they say in Egypt, "Cast him into the Nile, and he will come up with a fish in his mouth." Means that, do what you may, Hindkais are always lucky.
  • Kill not a black snake, but a black Jatt.
    تور مار مه وژنه، خو تور جټ مړ کړه
    In the word Jatt, the Hindkai in particular is meant, but after him all those cultivators who talk any dialect of Punjabi are included.
  • Who says of 'Uba' as 'Pani', place his head under the stone.
    چه اوبو ته وائي پاني، سر ئي لاندي کړه تر کانړي
    Uba is the pashto word for water. The Hindi word for it is Pani. The Pathans detest those who include other languages in their sentences.
  • What is the Hindu dance but to open and close the hands.
    د هندوانو ګډيدل څه دي، موټي موټي نيول، موټي ړنګول
    Said in derision of the slow measured movements of legs and arms in the 'Nach'. A Pathan dance being all life, hands and feet flying about in all directions like Catherine wheels.
  • Fire and water are in common, but not so with the Hindu
    اور اوبو سره شريک دي خو نه له هندوانو سره
    The Hindu draws his own water, and cooks and eats his food alone, both of which proceedings are considered to be comically stupid by a Pathan, who does the reverse, and likes society at all times.
  • When a Hindu becomes bankrupt, he looks up his old account books.
    هندو چه ديواليه شي، نو زړي پوټي را واخلي
    To see whether there is any little outstanding item, which, with interest added, would not assist him in his difficulty.
  • The Hindus cooking circle is purified with dung.
    د هندو چوکه د لدو په اخيړ پاکيږي
    The dung itself is stinking and unclean, yet the Hindu uses it as a purifier. Means that an unclean man, attempt what he may, cannot cleans himself.
  • A Sikh's origin is his hair
    د سيکه اصل په ويښتو دي
    Meaning that any low fellow can become a Sikh if he lets his hair grow long.
  • If a Wazir makes an attack, he will expose his naked back.
    وزير که منډ که خپله کونه به بر منډ که
    This is a Bannuchi proverb. A Wazir fights behind entrenchments, but not in the open; should he attempt to charge he will, according to the proverb, have to run away defeated.
  • The threads of the cloth have concealed sense from the weaver.
    له جولانه عقل د نانړئي تارو پټ کړي دي
    Owing to their occupation keeping them at home, and their minds fixed on their threads, weavers are considered little better than idiots, and are, as a matter of fact, as a class, remarkably unintelligent.
  • The use of the Hindu's loin-cloth is for cutting his person.
    د هندو چوتي د کوني څيرول دي
  • One hundred Dawarh's (are not equal to) one stick.
    سل دوړ، د يوه لوړ
    Means that a man armed with a good cudgel would defeat one hundred of them. Like the Bannuchis, the Dawarh's are looked down upon by Marwats and Wazirs.
  • The Jadrans, (Zadran) the hill wolves, bring a fine on Bannu.
    جدران د غره ليوان، په بنو راوړي تاوان
    The Zadrans or Jadrans, inhabitants of Shamal west of Khost (said to be Karlanis, though often called by us Ghiljis) come down in the cold months from their mountains to Bannu, where they work as navvies, and return in May with their earnings. They are splendid workmen and inveterate beggars, and are said to bring a fine on the country, owing to the amount of money they carry away with them to their houses, money honestly earned or begged, for they seldom if ever steal or rob.
  • A Shias ablution is not nullified by his passing of wind.
    د شيعه اودس په ټيز نه ماتيږي
    Such an accident renders a Sunni unclean, consequently, when it occurs, he has to perform his ablutions over again before he can pray. The meaning is that nothing will put a shameless man to blush.
  • A hill man is no man
    د غره سړي، نه سړي
    By the dwellers in the plains he is looked on as a wild beast.
  • Don't class 'Sargarai' as grass, nor a hill man as a human being.
    سر ګړي په وشکي مه ګنړه، د غره سړي په سړي مه ګنړه
  • The drum was beating in the plain, and the Bettani was dancing on the hill.
    ډول په سمه واهه شه او بيټني په غره کښي ورته ګډيدل
    This is a Marwat saying, about the stupidity of their hill neighbours.
  • The Pathan eats his enemy, the Hindu his friend.
    پښتون دښمن خوري او هندو سجنړ خوري
    A Pathan thinks a Hindus love of money is so great, that to gain a rupee he would cheat his own father or mother if he could.
  • Peshawar flour won't be without 'Jwar', a Kabul woman won't be without a lover.
    د پيښور اوړه به بې جواره نه وي، او د کابل ښځه به بې ياره نه وي
    Peshawar flour is said to be generally adulterated, I do not know whether there is any truth in the assertion or not. The latter part of the proverb is well known to be true, and is mentioned in Burnes in his "Cabool"
  • Don't trust the Moghul's letters. Of the Mughals first letters, than armies.
    باور مه کړه د مغل په کاغزونو، د مغل اول کاغز، بسې فوزونه
  • What is in deposit with a Hindu, is in a grain safe
    چه په هندو شې، په کندو شې
    It is pleasant to find one proverb even in praise of a Hindu, and here the praise is well deserved.
  • One hundred Bettanis eat one hundred sheep.
    سل بيټنو سل پسونه اوخړل
    Said of men or families whose domestic economy is badly regulated, the Bettanis being very bad managers in household concerns.
  • Get round a Pathan by softy coaxing him, but take up a clod for a Hindkai.
    پښتون ورو ورو غولوه، هندکي ته لوټه څيروه
    That is, with a little reconciliation, not bullying, a Pathan will agree to anything, but a Hindkai requires the reverse treatment. If in Hindkais we include the degenerate Pathans settled in Isa Khel and Mianwali, as well as all the miscellaneous Jatt classes, the methods here laid down for working the two classes deserve attention, owing to their truth
  • A dead Kundi is better than a live one
    له ژوندي کونډي نه مړ کونډي ښه دې
    Marwats look down on Kundis, though connected with them; both being Lohanis. The saying arose owing to a Kundi having been killed by a Marwat, and the murdered man's relations demanding an unusually large sum as blood money. The Marwat paid the money but consoled himself by saying this.
  • A Khattak is a hen; if you seize him slowly he sits down, if  suddenly then he clucks
    خټک سړي چرګ دې. که ورو ئې نيسې کوړککيږي، که په زور ئې نيسې کړککيږي
    This is again a Marwat saying; and means the Khattaks are cowards. The two tribes were old enemies, until the increasing encroachments of the Wazirs in the 1820's gave them both full occupation, and partially stopped their feuds.
  • Keep a Marwat to look after asses, his stomach well filled, and his feet well rubbed (from hard exercise)
    مروت خر به لره په ګيډو به ډک پښې ئي سوده لره
    This is of course a Khattak saying; tit for tat for the last saying. If a Marwat taunts a Khattak for being a coward, a Khattak returns the compliment by calling his enemy only fit to attend asses, little better than an ass himself.
  • If you want to live in peace, don't weigh the cats
    که ګزران د په کار وي، پيشوګان مه تله
    The origin of the saying is as follows. A Bannuchi woman had a lover, to whom she gave all her husband's store of ghi, and, when asked about its disappearance, laid the blame on her cats, on which the unreasonably suspicious husband said he would weigh them. On that the indignant wife replied as above. The moral is, I fancy, that one ought to "live and let live" wink at small irregularities and not be too particular in testing the truth of explanations rendered by one's wife.
  • Karai was a thief, and the Mirakhel was his companion
    کري غل ؤه، او ميره خيل ئې مل ؤو
    The Mira Khel was an honest man, but was thought as bad as Karai; a famous thief because he associated with him. The reason behind his association was, "Tell me with whom you go, and I'll tell you what you are."
  • The Buran is proud by means of strange water
    برنړ په پردو اوبو شيوه کوي
    The Buran is a torrent bed in Bannu, which gets most of its supply of water, except on occasions of heavy rain in the hills, from springs and the Kurram river. The above is said of people who take credit to themselves for work done by others.
  • There is death in the toil of the traveller, his arm becomes his pillow, his mouth gets full of dust. May you not have to travel my friend. When you become a traveller, no one will give you a place (that is, no one will help you)
    د مسافر په خواري مرګه، لاس ئې بالښت وي، خوله ئې ډکه وي له ګرده
    مسافر مه شې زما ياره، چه مسافر شي څوک به ځائ نه درکوينه

    Bannuchis and Marwats are great stay-at-homes.
  • Though pleasures become many, none will equal milk
    که ډيرې شي شادي داسې به نه وي لکه پئي
    This is a Marwat saying, a draught of fresh milk being thought by such a simple people perfect nectar.
  • From their not being men, Balo became a chief
    له نه وو ميړو، ملک شو بلو
    When a weak man is appointed a village or parish head man, the selection is criticized by the people at large. Who Balo was is now forgotten.
  • Until he get over the small pox, parents do not count their child their own
    تر څو پورې چه څوي اولور په کوي تير نه وي مور او پلار ئي خپل نه بولي
    This proverb owes its origin to a time when small pox was much commoner than now.
  • An abandoned Gomal is better than a dead brother
    له مړه وروره پريښي ګومل ښه دي
    This is a Powenda proverb. The Gomal is the pass or rather torrent bed, by which the Powendas enter British territory and in the spring return to their homes. During the passage, they have to defend themselves against the attacks of the Mahsuds and Suleiman Khels.
  • Had rice (cultivation) been easy, Manja would have eaten it
    که شولي اسانه وي، نو مانجه به خوړلې
    This saying has roots way back to the 1830s. Manja; who was an enterprising Marwat dug a small canal from a stream called the Lorah and attempted rice cultivation. As his canal failed, he was ruined. The proverb is now said when friends wish to dissuade a man from any difficult undertaking.
  • The waters of Seli, the wheaten cake of Marwat
    اوبه د سيلي، نغند د مروت
    Seli, or Soheli, is a torrent bed near the village of Kundi, in Dera Ismail Khan. Its water is said to be very sweet and wholesome, and the wheat of Marwat is considered very superior.
  • The day of Bannu, the night of Marwat
    ورځ د بنو، شپه د مروت
    The former is cool by day, owing to the country being well irrigated, and the latter is cool by night, owing to its being an open sandy country, and subject to cooling southern breezes.
  • A sun-stricken man recovers, a moon stricken man does not.
    د نمر تاوهلي رغيږي او د سپوږمئي تاو وهلي نه رغيږي
    This is a Marwat superstition. It is supposed that moonbeams cause sickness and calamity, consequently Marwats are averse to sleeping in them without covering their faces.
  • Niazis like rows.
    نيازي په بد راضي
    This is Marwat saying and is targetting the Niazis. In old times, opponents would arrange their armies in ranks when at war. The Niazis, now settled in Isa Khel, were forcibly expelled from Marwat by the Marwats between two hundred fifty and three hundred years ago (The author writes this in 1870s so he is probably referring to period between 1570 - 1620). From the date of expulsion until ten or fifteen years before the annexation of the Punjab (NWFP was annexed from Punjab in 1901), they were constantly fighting with the Marwats.
  • He won't be a Dawarh whose fringe is not greasy
    هغه به دوړ نه وي چه پلو ئي غوړ نه وي
    The inhabitants of the Dawarh valley, a fertile, independent tract in the hills, about two marches west of Bannu, are well off, and liberal in their expenditure of Ghee. They often anoint their guests with Ghee as well. At the Eid festival, their Maliks put roasted fowls on their turbans and let any one who can carry them off. When a plot of land becomes exhausted, they are said to sometimes kill a traveller on it - the holier the man is, the better - and convert the spot into a shrine, in the hopes that through it a blessing will accrue. The application of the proverb is that a man who has not the outward signs of wealth, will not be wealthy.
  • Have you become Khan Mir Khan that you muzzle a young camels mouth ??
    څه خان نور خان شوې چه د جونګيو خولې تړې
    Khan Mir Khan was a tyrannical chief in Marwat, who carried his brutality so far that he used to muzzle young camels. No one since has ever done such a thing. Above is said of a weak man, who attempts to do something outrageous.
  • Though a Hindkai be your right arm, cut it off.
    هندکي که دې ښي وزر وي، پريکوه ئي
  • Go inside with a fan, outside with a blanket.
    متوزه له بوزي سره وزه له شيرک سره
    That is, being sleeping inside your house while it is still so hot that you require a Pakai (fan), i.e., about the end of August; and begin sleeping outside whilst you still require a blanket, i.e., early in May. These two rules embody the health code of all Marwats and Bannuchis, if not of Pathans generally.
  • Jealousy ate up the mountain, taxes the plain
    غر ننګ اوخوړ، دامان قلنګ اوخوړ
    This is an old expressive saying. In the hills, rivalries and feuds ruined the people though they were free and independent; and in the plain, the heavy arbitrary taxation imposed by the Government ruined the people.
  • Though the army be one's father, it is bad.
    لښکر که د پلار وي، هم بد دې
    Means that a number of men, be they a regiment on the march or a Deputy Commissioner's camp, wherever they stop, are a nuisance, as they eat up everything and do a lot of damage. This feeling is common everywhere.
  • Bang won't become wood; and a Bangi Khel won't become a man.
    بنګ به لرګي نه شي، بنګي خيل به سړي نه شي
    Bang is the hemp plant. And Bangi Khels were formerly great thieves
  • Though your father was a Jatt, you are a Jatikin
    که پلار دې جټ ؤه، ته جټکي يي
    Meaning your father was a fellow of the baser sort, but you - you are immeasurably more despicable. Pathans look on Jatts with the same lofty contempt with which some Englishmen regard many of the native races - say Bengalis.
  • The full stomach speaks Persian.
    ډک نس فارسي وايي
    Those who spoke Persian were formerly either fat priests or Ulema (the religious clergy), or in Durrani times representatives of the ruling power who visited the valley. All such were, compared with the inhabitants, rich and well fed men, and consequently arrogant. The meaning now is, that good feeding makes a man proudful.
  • The diminisher of faith is lies, of mulberries butter-milk.
    د ايمان زوال دروغ دي، د تو تو زوال دوغ دي
    Mulberries are ripe in Bannu in April or May, and as the tree is common on every road, the fruit is plentiful. During the season the Bannuchis and their village dogs even gorge their full, and drink butter-milk afterwards to promote digestion. The saying, as noted, is common but silly.
  • Become a thief, may God be with you.
    ځه غل شه، رب دې مل شه
    Said by the Marwats, of what the Betani says to their children when they are born. The Marwats have always accused the Bettanis for grabbing land from them, for highway robberies, and of course kidnappings. These accusations are even touted in today's time. If the Betanis have a problem with the government, they block the roads passing through Marwat territories to show protest. Hence, the Marwat resentment.
  • Big Eyed
    غوټ سترګي
    The Bettanis in turn laugh at the Marwats for having big eyes. Marwat lands seldom see any rain and are therefore mostly dry and sandy whereas its people searched all of the heavens but still didn't find any rain; hence they remained big eyed. The Bettanis reply saying since they don't have any thing of value in their fields, why complain about us grabbing them.

Topic: Cooperation
ملا تړون

The maxim, "Union is Strength" is so generally admitted to be a truism, even by the less intelligent classes of natives, that were an observant agriculturist asked the secret of our strength in India, he would reply, he supposed it was "Ittafak" and "Intizam", two very expressive words, the former meaning union or concord, and the latter management or organization. Were a thoughtful Pathan asked why his country was poor and torn with domestic dissensions, he would tell you it was owing to their want of the first of the above two requisites for strength, without which the second cannot exist. Though the advantages of cooperation are acknowledged, as well in the every day business of life as in matters which affect the general weal, no attempt to practice it in anything is made - custom, want of energy, and any special incentive, such as competition, combining to prevent it.

  • When they take their meals apart, their aimes and objects become separate
    چې نسونه ئې ګوښي وي، نيتونه ئي ګوښي وي
    That is, when men cease to eat together, which here means dissolve partnerships, they fall out.
  • What dust will rise from one horseman ?
    د يو سواره به څه دوړه وي؟
    Another like this is, "One horseman does not raise a dust cloud." Similarly, we say, "One swallow makes not a spring, nor one woodcock a winter."
  • The ox works on the strength of the grass, and the plough on the ox's neck
    غوئيې د وشو په زور چليږي، او هل د مټ په زور
  • If you and I agree, what is the lawyer wanted for ?
    چه زه او ته راضي، نو څه دې قاضي؟
  • Though a month be a unit, its days are many
    مياشت که يوه ده ورځې ئې ډېرې دي
    Said to remind a man that his greatness depends on the support his friends give him.
  • One can be kept well by a hundred, not a hundred by one.
    يو په سلو لرلې کيږي، نه سل په يوه
  • You cannot clap with one hand alone.
    د يوه لاس ټک نه خيژي
    That is, great results cannot be obtained without cooperation. Similar is, "One hand may wash the other, but two the face."
  • When thatch huts are being run up, there is a great hubbub.
    چه څپرونه درېږي، غوريږونه کېږي
    That is, no great work can be done by one man unassisted or quietly

Topic: Cowardice

In this group, the man is held up to scorn who cries out before he is hurt; who, like Falstaff, waxes brave after the fight is over; who uses his strength to crush his own kith and kin; and who, though armed to the teeth, yet calls out he is defenceless. The term of abuse more likely than perhaps any other to be answered by a Pathan with a blow is "Na Mard", "Coward", literally "un-manly", and "impotent".

  • He had burnt his mouth with the porridge, and was making death gasps.
    خوله ئي په اوګره سوي وه او زګروي ئي د ځان کندن کاوه
    Said of one who makes a fuss about nothing, or thinks himself, when slightly indisposed, at death's door.
  • When cowards obtained horses, they rode them first against their own villages.
    چه نامردو اسونه وکړل، اول ئي په خپل کلي وترپؤل
    That is, when such men have means, they injure their own people instead of the enemy.
  • When the fight grew cold, the slave grew hot.
    چه جنګ سوړ شه، مريي تود شو
  • Cowards cause harm to brave men.
    نامردان د ميړو لاري وهي
    Thus a coward in a village may, through some wrong deed, bring down a fine on the whole community.
  • A dog when surrounded turns tail, a man fights.
    سپي چه هسار شي غل کوي، ميړه چه هسار شي توره کوي
    Here the dog means a coward.
  • Though an army be numerous, it is nothing without a head.
    لښکر که ډير وي، بې سره هېر وي
  • When the friendless man passes beyond the deep place, what is his fear?
    خوار چې له ژورې تېر شي، بيا ئي څه ډار دې؟
  • Since you have changed colour at a tale, don't go to the fight.
    چه رنګ دې په قصه زيړ شه، تورو ته مه ځه
  • The fox said he would rather suffer one hundred hungers, than meet a dog's face.
    تروړئي ويل چه سل قحطئي به په ځان تيرې کړم او د سپي مخ به ونه ګورم
  • Though you swoop down on chickens, O Kite! you have not thereby become a hawk.
    که غوټې کړې په چرګوړو، په دې به باز نه شې جوړ ټپوسه
  • Neither the master was aware, nor the dog barking, yet the thief ran away at nothing.
    نه څيښتن خبريده او نه سپي غپيده، هسې غل  و تښتيده
    Means, a guilty conscience does make cowards of us all.
  • Who today is disgraced, tomorrow will be lost.
    چې نن سپک شي، سبا ورک شي
  • The owner is alive, his property is inherited.
    څيښتن حيات، مال ئي ميراث
    That is, though the rightful proprietor was alive, another enjoyed his estate as if he were dead. Such cases do occur.
  • With a sword under his arm, he wants a club.
    توره ئي په څنګ کښۍ، کوتک غواړي
  • Neither has a brave man a fault; Nor a coward ignominy.
    نه ده ميړه تور شته، نه د نامرد پيغور شته
    The latter being what he is, cannot feel any shame.
  • The fakeer's ass died, and each village cur claimed it.
    خر د فقير مړ شو، او پرې ويران د کلي سپي شول
    The base will fight amongst themselves for what none of them has any right to do so.
  • Fear and shame are father and son
    ډار و شرم ځوئ او پلار دي
    If a man is a coward, he will soon be disgraced.
  • Lark! at the first throw thou hast gone ?
    خراړي له يوه ګزاره لاړې
    This is said of a faint hearted man whom a small difficulty frightens. The lark is regarded as a particularly timid bird.

Topic: Custom

Hindus consider "the breach of custom is the breach of all", and Pathans, though by no means servile followers of it, do not readily break through its shackles, as the sayings here given, which fairly represent public opinion, will demonstrate. On the whole, however, except on subjects connected with their religious beliefs, most Pathans are liberal minded and will discard an old practice for a new, when convinced they will, gain by so doing.

  • Forsake your village, but not its ancient usages.
    له کلي وتښته، له نرخه ئي مه تښته
  • Innovations, through an old way (are best)
    نوي چارې په زړې لارې
    Though you introduce something new, stick to the old procedure, so that the change may be less perceptible.
  • Wherever you live, you will observe their customs.
    چې چېرې اوسې، په مزهب به د هغو شې
    The meaning is not "Do in Rome as the Romans do," but that if a man leaves his home, he will, through the force of circumstances, adopt the manners and customs of those with whom he lives, which is to be regretted. A Muslim in this District (Bannu and environs) seldom misses praying five times in the day, and always does so in as public a manner as he can; but once well sway from his own people, where he thinks no tale-bearing eye is upon him, he forgets his beads and his genuflexions.
  • Don't go on that road on which neither your father nor your mother goes.
    مه ځه په هغه لار، چې نه دې مور پرې ځي نه پلار
  • A different country, its customs different.
    بيل وطن، بيل ئي چلن
    So we say, "So many countries, so many customs."
  • Go with many, eat with many.
    له ډيرو سره ځه، له ډيرو سره خوره
    That is, don't be singular, do as others of your tribe do.
  • You have now followed a novelty, which neither your father nor your grandfather knew.
     نه دې د پلار او نه دې د نيکه ؤو، اوس دې نوې ونيوه
    A wrathful father is lecturing an erring son, and this is the climax of the address.
  • Though the head should go, a habit goes not.
    سر که لاړ شي، عادت نه ځي
    Habit is a second nature, and so strong in a man that he would lose his head rather than break off from it.
  • One camp's migration draws another
    يوه کډه د بلې کډې زړه کاږي
    Said with reference to the force of example. When one Pathan clan seeks a new home, temporary or permanent, others are sure to follow it.

Topic: Death

Almost every thought here below expressed is familiar to us; for peoples who believe in a God and a future state of reward and punishment have necessarily a similarity of ideas on death. Christian and Musalman, both feel that it is unpleasant to leave this beautiful world, and the ties that bind them to it, but they know that the severance must come, and reconcile themselves to the inevitable by the reflection that an all-wise God pre-ordains for every man his span of life. While the former often lives and dies unhappily, racked with doubts and fears as to the state of his soul, the latter passes his life with mind at ease, never letting such thoughts disturb him, and meets his end with cool indifference. The reason is to be found in the different religious beliefs of the two, which for the former is, in many material points, perplexing, incomprehensible, and inexplicable; but for the latter, simple, intelligible, and precise. Thus it is that on his death bed a believer in Islam has a lively assurance of salvation; but an ordinary Christian can have none such, unless possessed of a vast amount of faith, which perhaps too often arises from unwarranted self-satisfaction.

  • Though a grave be a jail, it is unavoidable for the corpse
    که ګبر زندان دې، د مړي ناکامه ده
    This is from the Persian
  • Death is certain, but a grave and a shroud are doubtful
    مرګ حق دې، خو ګبر و کفن په شک دې
    This is from Persian also
  • Who dies, has lost
    چې مړ شو، هغه پڼ شو
    So our "Death's day is doom's day"
  • When there is death, there is no happiness
    چې مرګې شته، نو ښادي نيشته
  • Until a man is under the sod, he won't become concealed
    پټ به پاته نه شي، چې تر خاؤرو لاندې نه شي
  • Everyone thinks his own grave is too narrow
    خپل ګبر هر چا ته تنګ ښکارېږي
    Refers to a man never being contented
  • Death is not for the young, nor for the old (but for all)
    مرګ نه په واړه دې، او نه په زاړهSo our "Death devours lambs as well as sheep"
  • Until the one dies, the other won't be satisfied
    چې يو مړ نه شي، بل موړ نه شي
  • But for death on everyone would be his own roof
    که نه وي بير مئي په هر چا به ابادي وي خپلي بسييئي
  • The dead wish the judgement day to be even sooner
    مړي په وړاندې قيامت باندې رضا وي
    That is, when a man must go through a certain ordeal, he desires it as soon as possible, as anything is better than a lot of suspense.
  • Asses can't be tethered to heaven
    په جنت کښۍ خر تړلي نه شي
    Although there will be room to spare in heaven, it is for men only, not for asses.
  • I shall then call my mother good when she has had a happy death-bed
    ادې به وروستو ايمانداره بولم که ئي ځنقدن په خير تير کړه
    During his last moments, the angels are supposed to show the dying man his "A'mal Na'ma" or "character book" after which he either dies peacefully or in terror. The meaning is, that until a man is put to test his character cannot be gauged.
  • Even death is a covering for many
    مرګ هم د ډيرو پرده ده
  • Paradise is a good place, but the getting there is by lacerating the heart
    جنت ښه ځائ دې، خو ورتلږ د زړه چاؤدل دي
    That is, there is no pleasure without a corresponding amount of pain, "No cross, No Crown"
  • Death on a full belly is better than a life of hunger
    په ډک نس مرګ ښه دي، له هغه ژونده چه په لوږه سر وي
  • My father died and his fever ended
    بابا مړ شو، تبه ئي پرې ورک شوه
    So our "Death settles all debts"
  • Don't die till death comes to you
    په خوا له اجله مه مره
    So our "Never say Die"
  • When he dies then only is a man lost (or beyond hope)
    ورک خو هغه شي چې مړ شي
    Corresponding to our "While there is life, there is hope"
  • The earth says, "If you are not a criminal don't fear me"
    مزکه وائي که په تا کښۍ ګناه نه وي له ما مه ويريږه
    That is, a good man should not fear death, for it "hath nothing terrible in it but what life hath made it so"
  • Priority is good in all things but death
    زاړي هر څه ښه دي، بې له مرګه
  • When the world is passing from me, O God! give me not wealth
    چې ځما تر سر شي تيره، خدايه مه کړې دنيا ډيره
    Meaning, give it to me now when I can enjoy it, not when I am dying., or it could also mean that at the time of death, It is not wealth that I need, but your forgiveness.
  • Mayest thou (God) not leave my children to any one, nor any one's children to me
    مه مې چا ته پاتې کړې، مه د چا را پاتې کړه
    That is, may I not die until my children are grown up and able to take care of themselves
  • Should you live one hundred years, at last you must die, my love
    که دې عمر شي زر کاله، آخر به مرې ځما لالا
  • May God not even give a man a narrow grave
    تنګ دې خدائ قبر هم د چا مه کړه
    Whether a man's grave be narrow or wide matters little; still, may God give a man a wide one, that is, plenty of everything both in life and hereafter.
  • If you do not die of poverty, at last you will die of old age
    که له خوارئي نه مرې، آخر به د بډاتوب نه مړ شې
  • The fly said, "Had I died on the maiden's face, it would not have been death"
    مچ ويل که د پيغلې په مخ مرم، مړ به نه يم
    That is, a honourable end deprives death of its sting. The origin of the saying is said to be this:  a fly alighted on a girl's face, and the girl flipped it off with her hand, and slightly hurt it, whereon another fly condoled with his wounded brother, but was met by the above gallant little reply.
  • A sleeper is a brother of the dead
    خوبېدلي د مړه ورور دي
    Shelley writes of "Death and his brother sleep". To many a Bannuchi, this saying has proved literally true, for stabbing during sleep is the commonest form of assassination practiced in Bannu.

Topic: Enmity

Were a Pathan not a good hater and an unscrupulous partisan, he would fail in two very marked characteristics of his race. Though all cannot afford the luxury of having a blood feud, still, two cousins, being necessarily rivals, are always at enmity, for a house not divided against itself is a thing unknown.

  • A cousin's tooth breaks on a cousin's
    د تربور غاښ په تربور ماتېږي
    Cousins are generally rivals and enemies
  • Though your enemy be a rope of reeds, call him a serpent
    دښمن د که د لوخو پړې وي، مار ئي بوله
    That is, do not despise an enemy, be he never so contemptible
  • Who has fallen from the top of a high mountain recovers; Who has fallen from the heart's anguish recovers not.
    راليويدلې د غرو به روغ شي،خو نه روغېږي چې د زړه تر آزار پرېوتې وي
    This is from Mullah Abdul Hameed
  • A stone will not become soft, nor an enemy or a friend
    کانړې به پوست، او دښمن به دوست نه شي
  • Whilst he is little, play with him; when grown up, he is a cousin so fight with him.
    چه کم وي، لوبوه ئي، چه لوې شي، نو تربور دې جنګوه ئي
    Father and son often quarrel, the latter wishing the former to give him his share of the inheritance. The story goes, that Khushal Khan Khattak, when in confinement in Hindustan, was offered his liberty by the Emperor Aurangzeb, on a ransom of three thousand rupees, but refused it, saying that, though he would have paid the amount willingly a few years before, his son Bahram was now grown up and conspiring against him. He then repeated the above proverb to the Emperor.
  • If there were nine, then all nine are my sons; if there was one, one even is bad
    که نه ؤو، نه سره مې ځامن دي... که يو ؤو، يو هم بد دې
    The play of words here, as elsewhere, is lost in the translation. The meaning is, that if a man is not at enmity with you, he is as your son.
  • Speak good words to an enemy very softly; gradually destroy him root and branch
    بد سړي ته ښې خبرې وايـه پــــه ورو ورو
    بيخ بنياد ئي وباسه له سرايه په ورو ورو

    That is the precept which still guides Pathans in working out revenge or destroying an enemy. The Italians say, "Wait time and place to act thy revenge, for it is never well done in a hurry."
  • The master's food is being cooked, and the slave-girl's back aches (from spite)
    خواړه د څيښتن پخېږي، او کونه د وينڅي خوږېږي
    That is, the base cannot bear seeing others enjoy what they themselves do not share in.
  • Kill a snake through an enemy
    مار هم په دښمن وژنه
    If he kills it, you have one enemy the less; if the snake kills him, all the better for you. The Spaniards say, "Draw the snake from its hole by another man's hand."
  • A Pathan's enmity is like a dung-fire
    د پښتانه بدي د سرې اور دې
    That is, it smoulders and burns for a long time, and is not easily quenched. The Italians say, "Revenge of one hundred years old hath still its sucking teeth."
  • When a family becomes at variance, its whole crops become black oats
    چه کهول شي بې فرمانه، تول ئي واړه شي کر يانړه
    Black oats appear as a weed on poor land intermixed with the wheat and barley.
  • When the one profits, the other's house is ruined
    چه د يوه سود کېږي، د بل کور نړېږي
    This is a common saying amongst Bannuchis and Wazirs, neither of whom can bear seeing a neighbour prosperous.
  • Whose son and brother have been murdered, who has restrained his hand?
    چه ځوئي ورور ئي وي وژلې، د هغه لاس دې چا نيولې
    Amongst Pathans, the avenging of blood is regarded as a sacred duty, or, as the Italians put it, "A morsel for God." Every family of note has its blood feud, and every individual in it knows the exact number of members of the hostile family who have to be killed before the account, which may have been running for generations, can be balanced, and a reconciliation attempted. Sometimes, a nominal settlement is effected by the payment of blood-money, or so many young girls for each murdered man, whose account has not been closed by an equivalent murder. In the Frontier Regiments it is by no means uncommon for a Pathan soldier to cut his name, or take leave with the avowed object of pursuing to the death his father's or other near relative's murderer.
  • An enemy is a thorn in the quilt
    دښمن د کنجړ اغزې ده
    The quilt is the only covering used in bed. An enemy like a thorn in it, must be got rid of.
  • The fellowship of thieves is sweet, but quarrels ensue on division of the plunder
    د غلو وروري خوږه ده، خو په ويش باندې جګړه ده
  • Enmity with outsiders disappears, but not with one's relations.
    د باهر بدي ورکه شي، او د کور بدي نه ورکېږي
  • He (an enemy) will say sweet words to you, and lead you into a pit
    خواږه خواږه به درته وائي، او ژورې ته به دې بيائي
  • When two fall out, a third gains by it
    چه د دوه سره جګړه شي، د درېم په کښۍ ښه شي
    So we say that "Two dogs fight for a bone, and the third gets away with it"
  • The shelter of a tamarisk is (equal to) that of a mountain for a man who fears not God
    چه د خدائ ويره نه وي، د غزه پناه د غره پناه
    The idea is, what restrains a man from sin is the fear of God. Once that restraint is gone, the Godless man can go on in his wickedness with little fear of detection and punishment from his fellow man.
  • When the village becomes two, it is good for backbiters
    چه کلي دوه شي، د چغلو ښه شي
  • Lending is the seed of enmity
    پور د بدي تخم دې
    So we say, "He that doth lend doth lose a friend."
  • The family, in which there is an informer, becomes scattered
    چه څرګ ئي له کوره وي، خو نه ئي خوره وي
    The nearest approach to this, which occurs to me, is "It is an ill bird that soils its own nest"
  • That man will be your bane who enters not into your thoughts
    چه نه دې وي په خوا، هغه تا ته شي بلا
    An enemy springs up against a man from a quarter where he least expected one
  • Keep a cousin poor, but use him
    تربور خوار لره، خو په کار ئي لره

Topic: Family

Pathans are generally very exclusive and great believers in the maxim "noblesse oblige". Each petty tribe prides itself on the purity of its descent from some possibly imaginary ancestor, and each man in the tribe thinks himself as good as his neighbour, for with all his exclusiveness, the Pathan is at heart a rank republican. As, however, experience has taught him that in every community, there must be a responsible chief, a nobility has arisen, and so long as the head of the family for the time being, whose ancestor was originally elected to his leadership for personal qualifications, is fairly capable, a ready obedience is shown to him in all matters in which by custom the tribe allows him authority.

  • Don't expect good faith from a low-born man; Reeds will never become sugarcane
    له نا اهله د وفا طمعه مه کړه؛ ګنده نل به نيشکر نه شي هرګز
    This is a couplet from Abdul Hamid, an old Pashto poet, few of whose poems have yet been printed.
  • If you do not marry a gentle woman, she will not bear you a gentle son
    چې نه اوکړې پېډي؛ ځوئې به نه راوړي هوډي
  • An Iraqi horse shows his breed with dirty trappings
    عراقي اس په خړو جامو کښۍ ښه ليده شي
    The Iraq here spoken of is a territory in the northern portion of the Arabian peninsula, famous for its breed of horses (Iraq: Country)
  • Though the slave be of gold, his back is of copper
    مرئي که د سرو زرو وي، کونه ئي د سور ؤلو وي
    That is, though a low born man may have many good qualities, he will not be thorough all through.
  • Where a low fellow eats, there he eases himself
    کم اصل چې کوم ځائې خوري، هلته خړي
  • I am a poor of crops, but not of good birth
    د فصل خوار يم، د اصل خوار نه يم
    The poorer a man is, the more he prides himself on the greatness of his ancestors, for decayed gentility is fond of living in the past.
  • Don't expect a sweeper to be a true believer, even should one hundred cycles of years go by.
    په کوټه نړي که سل قرنې تېرې شي، د مسلمانې اعتبار پرې مه کړه
  • From good parents a black calamity was born
    له ښه پلاره و ښې مورې نه بلاؤز ؤ له توره
    It does not follow that clever parents beget clever children, and so on. The English proverb, "Many a good cow hath but a bad calf" is similar.
  • The slave brings close to you his heel, the gentleman his ear
    مريي پونده ور وړي، او اصيل غوږ ور وړي
    Meaning a low fellow tries to gain his end by fighting and force, but a gentleman by persuasion and courtesy.
  • At last the wolf's cub becomes a wolf
    عاقبت به د ليوه ځوئې ليوه شي
    An instance of "nature will out". There are proverbs of similar meaning in Latin and Greek, as well as in most living languages. In Latin one runs - "Lupus pilum mutat, non mentem" (The wolf may change his hair, but not his nature)
  • The thieving dog's pup may not be a thief yet, but he will sniff about (for something to steal)
    د غله سپي ځوئې که غل نه وي څوسن خو وي
    That is, a bad man's son will do wrong as soon as he gets an opportunity.

Topic: Fate

With the exception of the first, all under this head teach a doctrine familiar to us as one of the canons of belief of all Musalmans, namely, that whatever befalls a man was his destiny, with which there is no striving. Though all natives are fatalists, still I think the limits to which their fatalism is supposed to lead are often mis-understood. It is only the spiritless and disappointed who resign themselves to their "Nasib" and ascribe all their failures in life to it; but it is not so with others, who hold, with most of ourselves, that, though everything that occurs was fore-ordained, that is, that God in his omniscience and prescience knew what would happen, still man is in a great measure a free agent, and "himself can change or fix his fate". The first proverb, which is now a household word to many, asserts this pretty plainly.

  • Destiny is a saddled ass, he goes wherever you lead him
    نصيب يو کنه کړې خر دې؛ چې چېرته ئې بيائې هلته به ځي
    This dictum is a contrast to those following it. He must have been a bold man who first asserted it.
  • Though you go to Kabul, your appointed lot will follow you there.
    که ته لاړ شې تر کابله برخه به ځي در پسې خپله
  • Man's lot is (fixed) from the creation, it is not (attained) by force of competition
    برخې ازلي دي؛ نه په زور او نه په سيالې دي
  • Had your pen been in my hand, I would have marked you "fortunate"
    که ستا قلم ځما په لاس وې، ما به ستا ليک په نيکبختي وهلې ؤو
    That is, I would have done so, had I at your birth had the filling in of your destiny in the Book of Fate
  • Without destiny, food is difficult
    بې نصيبه خواړه ګران دي
  • The inevitable laughs at man's schemes
    تقدير په تدبير پورې خاندي
    The same as our "Man proposes, God disposes"
  • The goat was fleeing from the wolf, and spent the night in the butcher's house
    ؤزه له ليوه تښتېده او د قصاب کره ئې شپه شوه
    That is, he went "out of the frying pan into the fire" in trying to escape his fate
  • I was escaping from Ram, and fell on hard work
    له رام رام نه تښتېدم او په کام ؤاوښتم
    The story goes, that a Muslim king ordered a Hindu to repeat "Ram Ram" daily when attending his person, but the Hindu, thinking this is tyranny, absconded, and was captured and sold as a slave. The meaning is the same as the last proverb.
  • Were the whole world to turn physician, the cure rests entirely with fate.
    که ټول جهان طبيب شي، چارې واړه په نصيب شي
  • There is no fleeing from one's lot, there is no sharing it with another
    له خپلې برخې تيښت نه شته، او له پردې برخې ويش نه شته
  • If the night is to be spent at home, it won't be in the grave, and if in the grave, it won't be at home
    شپه چې په کور وي، په قبر به نه شي؛ او چې په قبر وي، په کور به نه شي
  • Let not the horseman say, "I shall not become a footman" nor the footman, "I shall not become a horseman."
    سپور دې داسې نه وائي چې پلې به نه شم؛ او پلې دې داسې نه وائي چې سپور به نه شم
    That is, let no man predict his own betterment or debasement, for there is no saying what fate has in store for him.
  • What God does will take place, nevertheless tie your camel's knee tight
    چې خدائې کوي، هغه به وشي؛ خو د اوښ ګونډه ټينګه وتړه
    So that the camel may not wander or be stolen. Though God disposes all things, man must use his best endeavours to effect what he wants. The proverb is adapted from the Persian, and is a very familiar one amongst all. We say, "God helps them who help themselves."
  • If retching come on you by destiny, close your teeth on it (i.e., accept it)
    که په نصيب کښۍ درغلې، غاښ پرې ټينګ کړه
    Meaning, be content whatever happens to you.

Topic: Friendship

The tone pervading most of the following is in general pure and elevated, and has a decidedly English ring about it. A man is not to be hasty in forming his friendships, but being formed, he is to hold his friend's honour as his own, and be willing to make any sacrifices for him, for "a world in purchase for a friend is gain." The distinction between true, luke-warm, and false friends is pointed out, and an occasional sly hit is dealt at the not altogether disinterested affection of relations, especially cousins and brothers, for each other.

  • Make a friend; test him for a year: if he be proof, embrace him cordially; if not, cut his acquaintance
    يار نيسه، تر کاله ئي نيسه؛ که برابر شه، غېږ ورته نيسه؛ او که نه شه، ځان ځېني نيسه
    Polonius, in Hamlet, gives his son Laertes much the same advice in the lines beginning, "The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul."
  • Who forms a low friendship will light a fire on his own forehead
    چې بې زاته آشنائي کړه، اور به بل په خپل تندي کړه
    That his, will harm himself.
  • Pass by your acquaintance in the street; forget his appearance
    يار په کوڅه تېر کړه، رنګ ئې هير کړه
    That is, do so when it is to your advantage to drop his acquaintance.
  • Friends are serpents, they bit; Strangers are best, friends deceive
    ياران ماران دي خوړل کوي؛ نا آشنا ښه دي، آشنا ټګل کړي
    The false friend is here referred to.
  • Mayest thou be damned O Blanket! which art neither for wind nor for rain
    ورک شې کمبلې چې نه د باد ئې نه د باران
    The lukewarm friend is here spoken of.
  • Give good words to others, but good food to your friend
    ښه قصه بل ته کوه، ښه خواړه خپل ته ور کوه
    Be civil to all, but keep your substance for friends and relations
  • Let a man have a dear friend, though he be in a foreign country
    يار دې وي، په بل ديار دې وي
  • A son is the heart, a brother the eye's pupil, a grandson the bone's marrow
    ځوئې زړه دې؛ ورور ليمه دې؛ نمسې د هډ مازغه دې
    This gives the three degrees of affection.
  • A son is from the heart, wealth from the liver; Wealth is dearer than a son
    ځوئې له زړه، دنيا له پرينه؛ تر ځوئ لا دنيا شرينه
  • Who speaks of his friend, speaks of himself
    چې د يار وائي، له ځان وائي
    A man's friends are reflections of himself. "Tell me with whom you go, and I'll tell you what you are."
  • The medicine for asking is giving
    د غوښتو دارو ور کړه دي
    A Spanish proverb runs, "When a friend asketh, there is no to-morrow"
  • If you would keep friendship for your friend, don't regard his faults.
    چې له يار سره ياري لرې، عيب ته ئې مه ګوره
    Cassius spoke similarly to Brutus in Julius Caesar - A friend should bear a friends' infirmities.
  • The friend appears in hard times, not at big dinners
    دوست په تنګسه کښۍ څرګندېږي، نه په خورنه کښۍ
    In most languages there are similar proverbs: thus in English we have "A friend in need is a friend indeed."
  • When there was an earthquake, you would not give me the staff, now give it to your mother.
    چه زلزله وه ټنډئي دې رانه کړه، اوس ئې خپلې مور ته ور کړه
    This was the reply of a man to a false friend who had refused him the loan of a stick when he required it, and afterwards, when it was no longer wanted, pressed it on to him. It is now generally applied to friends who fail in the hour of need.
  • Bear witness for God's sake, use a stick for a friend's
    ويل دې خدائ ده پاره کوه، او لوړ د يار د پاره وهه
  • In what is fitting between you and me, What matters distance or propinquity?
    چې ځما اوستا بائده دي لرې او نژدي څه دي؟
  • It is well to have your ass tethered, if you have a thief for a friend
    خپل خر تړلې ښه دې، که غل آشنا هم وي
  • A friend will cause you to weep, an enemy to laugh
    خپل به دې ژړوي، او دښمن به دې خندوي
    That is, a true friend will always tell you your faults, an enemy will flatter you.
  • Don't say O Brother! to him who is not (the son) of your mother
    چې نه دې وي له موره، داسې مه وايه چې وروره
  • I will be your sacrifice, when free from business.
    هاله به در څاريږم، چې له چارې وزګارېږم
    That is, "Business first, friendship afterwards."
  • Be either friendly or downright displeased
    لا يار شه، لا بيزار شه
  • Its good to have a friend, though he be a ravenous dog.
    آشنا ښه دي که خوړونکښۍ سپي هم وي
  • If I am good, it is owing to my friends
    که ښه يم، له يارانو سره ښه يم
  • The brother is not of use to the brother, but the friend is to the friend.
    ورور ورور ته نه ګټي، خو مل خپل مله ته وګټي
    Brothers are often at variance, consequently, a man requiring help should apply to his friend rather than to his brother.
  • I was with you to your house, but not to the grave.
    تر کوره اوم در سره، تر قبره نه يم در سره
    This is a rebuff to a presuming friend who asks too much.
  • When the white cow licks the black, and the black does not return the favour, may her mouth rot! (literally "dry up")
    چې سپينه غوا ئې څټي او توره غوا ئې نه څټي خوله ئې وچه شه
    This is sometimes applied in cases where a rich man seeks a poor man's daughter in marriage, and his suit is refused. Generally, it means that favours must be reciprocated; if not, the person obliged deserves all manner of pains and penalties.
  • Lighten if you are going to lighten. When Bada falls over the cliff, what will be the use of lightening?
    برېښوه که ئې برېښوې، خو چې بډه تر کمبر پرېوځي بيا به ئې څه ته برېښوې؟
    Bada; a Marwat, on a dark night is supposed to have thus addressed the clouds to give lightening. The meaning is, unless assistance is timely, it is of no use.
  • A cousin is he, who in the morning sees your household's state, and in the evening your hearth fire burning.
    تربور دې هغه دې، چې صبا دې کور ځيروي، بيګا دې اور ځيروي
    That is, he first looks to see what you have in your larder, then drops in about dinner time. This is not very complimentary to the sincerity of a cousin's affection for his kindred.
  • Friendship is good with the noble, not with the base.
    آشنائي په اصل ښه دې، نه په بې اصل
  • A clever enemy is better than a stupid friend
    له کم عقله سجنړ نه هوښيار دښمن ښه دې
  • If your relation kill you, he will bury you in the shade
    خپل دې که مړ کړي، سوري ته به دې واچوي
    That is, though you have a blood-feud with a relation and he will kill you, still he will see that your corpse gets a decent burial, but another would not do so. Blood is thicker than water after all.
  • The nail and the flesh about it do not separate
    غوښه او نوک نه سره جلا کيږي
    Meaning amongst other things, that relations stick by each other.
  • Who disregards the advice of his friends, will always carry on his head a load of anxieties.
    چې نه مني د يار، پندونه په سر به تل وړي د غم بارونه
  • If you do not vex your own heart, you will not make another's happy.
    چې خپل زړه بد نه کړې، پردې زړه به ښه نه کړې
    That is, you must put yourself to inconvenience if you wish to be thought an obliging man.
  • For a friend, the Hindu has eaten the flesh of a cow.
    د يار د پاره هندو د غوا غوښې خوړلي دي
    The cow is a sacred animal amongst Hindus. Meaning is, that to serve a friend a man would do an unlawful act.
  • Though your cousin be an ass, don't throw your leg over him.
    تربور دې که خر هم وي، لته مه پرې اړوه
    That is, don't mount him, don't bully him, as he has it in his power to annoy you.
  • Though the maiden be black, may my house be a sacrifice for her
    پيغله که توره وي، هم کور مې تر ځار شه
    That is, a man will sacrifice his all for what he loves, be the object insignificant or not. A corresponding proverb in Syriac is, "I love my friend, though he be a black slave."
  • My friend is black, but so is black molasses, which is the best medicine for the wounded
    يار مې تور دې، خو تورې ګوړې لا تورې ګوړې د پرېکړيو دارو د وينې دې
    This is similar to the preceding proverb. Old black molasses is given for spasms, coughs, and other diseases, the cause of which is supposed to be an internal cut or wound.
  • Be it gram, let it be with love
    چنډه دې وي، خو په مينه دې وي
    That is, a small favour graciously bestowed is as good as a great one.
  • A strange horse is ridden half a stage.
    د پردي اس سواري تر نيمه منزله وي
    That is, being lent gratis, it will be a sorry mount. Refers to a casual acquaintance who is asked to do a service before acquaintance has ripened into real friendship.
  • The heart is a unique thing when it becomes vexed; it is not a sheep to be slaughtered.
    زړه خو يو دې چې ملال شي، پسه نه دې چې حلال شي
    A man's affections are not to be trifled with; he is not like a sheep which you may slaughter and make an end of.
  • The man who knows you eats you; the dog who knows you does not
    سړې چې د وپيژني اوبه دې خوري، او سپي چې دې وپيژني، نه به دې خوري
    Many a false friend will live on you, eat you out of your house and home; but a dog, unclean though he may be, is faithful to you to the last.
  • A bear's friendship is to scratch and tear
    د ايژ دوستي څيرول دي
  • In friendship the composite bracelet always breaks
    په ياري کښۍ تل څولي ماتېږي
    The 'Tsulai' is a cheap and very brittle bracelet, made up, I believe of clay and wax, and consequently easily broken. The meaning is, that friends must expect to make small sacrifices for each other.
  • Would you look after yourself, cherish your friend; consider him not less than your brother
    ځان ته ګوره، ملګري ژغوره، کم ئې مه بوله له وروره
  • Though you are an infidel, you are my liver
    که ته کافر ئې، ځما څګر ئې
    The liver here is the centre of affections. Religious differences do not interfere with true friendship.
  • Two will become friends, if a third do not come between.
    دوه به سره خپل شي، که درېم په مينځ کښۍ نه وي
  • A friend wishes you well in body, a brother in property (to which he hopes to succeed some day)
    يار دې د سر خير غواړي، او ورور به دې د مال
  • At a public entertainment even may your friend be present
    په پنډه کښۍ دې هم سجنړ اوسه
    That is, at an entertainment open to all, to which the poorest and meanest go, may you find a friend for a friend is good under all circumstances.
  • Every one is a dear friend in prosperity (literally "a good day")
    هر څوک په ښې ورځې کښۍ دوست دې
  • If rain falls on you, drops will fall on me
    که په تا باران وشي، په ما به څاڅکي پرېوزي
    That is, a man's good fortune is that of his friends.
  • Who loves, labours.
    چې ياري کوي، هغه خواري کوي
    Said originally of love, but in a wider sense of friendship.
  • One doubt your love for me? No one has arrested Aba Sind ("father of waters, i.e., the Indus") with great dams.
    څوک چې ستا په مينې کښۍ و مــا ته که پندونه
    نـــــــه دې چــــــا نيولي ابـــــاسيند پــه لوې بندونه

    Used to express unlimited trust.
  • Be intimate with a thief; take care of your ox.
    له غله سره پالي لره، خو خپل لنډي خوندي لره
    Meaning he will steal it if he can, friend though he may be; for a vicious man cannot be cured of his evil ways.
  • Some one said to the woman, "Your lover is dead." She said, "Of which street?"
    لوئې ته چا ويل چې يار دې مړ شو، ويل ئې چې د کومې کوڅې؟
    Who is everybody's friend, is nobody's true friend.
  • Brotherly love is all very well, but let there be some sort of account kept
    وروري وروري خو حساب له ميانه
  • Until there be a rattle in the grain safe, there is no use in going and coming.
    په تله را تله نه شي، څو درز د څټي نه شي
    That is, there is no object in intercourse until one or both can benefit from it.
  • I sweep the doorsteps of the Daramsal for my friend
    د يار له پاره ځه درمسال جاړو کؤم
    Daramsal is referred to as a Hindu Temple. The friend in his devotion says he can even sweep the doorsteps of it
  • The affection showed be a donkey is a kick
    خره مينه لګته وي

Topic: Guests

Pukhtoon have been described as one of the most hospitable peoples of the world. They consider Melmastiya or generous hospitality as one of the finest virtues and greet their guest warmly with a broad smile on their faces. A Pukhtoon feels delighted to receive a guest regardless of his past relations or acquaintance and prepares a delicious meal for him.Guests are usually entertained in a Hujra (village meeting place), where guests are entertained and routine meetings of the elders are held. Each village contains at least, one Hujra.Pukhtoons feel happy over the coming of the guests and greet them with traditional slogans, "Har Kala Rasha" and "Pa Khair Raghley" and "Starrey Mashey" i.e. may you often come, welcome and may you not be tired. He also exchanges such courtesies with the guest as "Jorr Yai" (are you well) "Kha Jorr Yai" (are you quite well) and "Takrra Yai" (are you hale and hearty). The guest gratefully acknowledging these forms of welcome by saying "Pa Khair Ossey", (may you be safe) "Khudai de mal sha" (May God be with you) "Khushal Ossey" (may you be prosperous and happy) and "Ma Khwaraigey" (may you not be destitute). This way of greeting full of friendly gestures reflects the warmth with which the guests are received.

  • When the Bread is Less, Blame the wife, When the broth is Less, Blame the guest
    چۍ مړئي کمه وې، کور واله  ګرموه؛ چۍ لمده کمه وې، ميلمه ګرموه


  • نيستې پاکه بادشاهې ده،   دولت مند يې له خوند خبر نه دې 
  • غر ننګ اوخوړو او د امان   قلنګ اوخوړو 
  • چې نن سپک شې، صبا ورک   شې 
  • خدائي خبر دې چې تره يې   کافر دې
  • چرګ خو يو مارغه دې، چا   چې اونيؤ د هغه دې 
  • په ګوهار کښې به يې سخې   وې، وائي به زمونږ د کلې ګوهار هغه دې 
  • خره ښکر ګټل، غوږونه ئي   اوبائيلل
  • څوک وائي چې څه اوخرو،   څوک وائي چې څه سره اوخرو 
  • اباسېن هم چې په کاشو شې،   نو اوچ به شې 
  • د زورورو اوبه په لوړو   خيژې 
  • چې اوښان ساتې، ورونه به   دنګ ساتې 
  • خر يې په رشې پورې اوتړو   او ورته وائي څه مه خوره 
  • خاورې راغلې ايرو له،   ايرې باد يووړل 
  • خوار څادر نه موندولو،   چې اوئيمندو نو په ژړه شو چې دا خو دولس ګز نه دې 
  • د باچا زوئ ته چا ويل چي   قحط دې، خلق له وږې مرې، د ويل چې وريژې او غوړې ولې نه خورې 
  • چه خوارانو روژي اونيولې،   ورځې هم سترې شوي 
  • خر ته چا وئيل زوئي دې   وشو، ده وئل څه يې کړم؟ هغه به خپل بار ورې ځه به خپل 
  • اوږې ته چا وئل دوه او   دوه څو کيږې؟ هغه وئل څلور ډوډئ


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Proverbs from Bannu: Our Afghan Frontier, S. S. Thorburn
Published in Khyber.ORG on Sunday, June 15 2003 (