Attan

WHERE THE ATTAN IS PRACTICED

STORYTELLER PROFILE

WHERE THIS STORY

WAS SUBMITTED FROM:

Kabul, Afghanistan

STORYTELLER'S AGE:

30

STORYTELLER'S

GENDER:

Male

STORYTELLER'S

ETHNICITY:

Hazara

ATTAN DESCRIPTION

Attan is basically a dance style that is practiced by not all of the Pashtuns but a part of Pashtuns in Paktika and Pakhtia provinces. It’s considered a national dance style. But most but non-Pashtun people do not practice it. They believe that this is not a national dance style. It was publicized by the Pashtun community. I bet you that you will find just a couple of people, just very very few people, non-Pashtuns, who would be able to practice perfect and professionally Attan. Both men and woman practice it.

I heard different stories and I again bet you that very few people may have understanding of the story or the philosophy behind Attan. I was told by different old Pashtuns that once upon a time, it was a monster coming into Paktika and Pakhtia. People have no idea how the picture, or how the body of the monster looks like, but it was a big monster, a giant, and trying to kill everybody in the area. But once upon a time, or lets say suddenly, someone came from, maybe came from heaven, or the people believe that he was a hero, a national hero whose name was “atal”. “Atal” is the same word with the similar sounds so close to “attan.” “aTAhL” “AtTANn.” “aTAhL” is a Pashto word that literally means hero. And the dance was for the first time practiced by atal. They were trying to surround the monster, and all of a sudden a couple of people circled around the monster, and the monster was kind of arrested by the local residents. It was like a big circle, in the middle with the monster. And then people started just having swords and the people used the swords, pushing into the body of monster and then they tried to smash their swords into each other’s as a sign of happiness. Then they did a three hundred sixty degree turn and again pushed their swords into the monster’s body, and again smashing their swords. The other stories say that they were all drunk the heroes, the warriors were all drunk and they were all moving their heads, their hair just swirling. They were drunk. This was also a sign of happiness. And you have the monster that became shorter and shorter, eventually falling to the ground with the people still kind of dancing by smashing their swords and then swirling again. This is the story that I heard. It was basically being practiced in Pakhtia and Paktika, but since Karzai’s regime came to power, the dance has been publicized a lot more in other parts of Afghanistan.

The really good Attan dancers that are men have long hair so that when they turn, their hair sort of swirls behind them. Men also wear loose pants and shirts. If women dance the Attan now, they wear colorful dresses. The colors depend on which region they are from.

ATTAN PHOTOS

Attan
Attan

The Institute for the Preservation of Arts and Culture in Landi Kotal dance troupe performs Attan at at Kuch Khaas in November, 2011. Photo by The Express Tribune.

Attan
Attan

Afghan national soccer team celebrating a victory with the Attan. Photo by Edmund Chow

Attan
Attan

Attan in Kandahar. Photo by Reuters.

Attan
Attan

The Institute for the Preservation of Arts and Culture in Landi Kotal dance troupe performs Attan at at Kuch Khaas in November, 2011. Photo by The Express Tribune.

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