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Link between Mansi and Kalash??

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  • Link between Mansi and Kalash??

    The Mansi are an ancient group (formerly known as “Vogul”) of Uralic-speaking fishers and hunters on the eastern slope of the northern Ural mountains. 63% of the mtDNA detected in the Mansi falls into western Eurasian lineages while the remaining 37% encompass eastern Eurasian lineages. Among the western Eurasian lineages, subhaplogroup U4 is found at a frequency of 16% along with J2 at 10%, both with the highest frequency in Europe.

    "The Mansi mtDNA pool may contain traces of the ancient proto-Eurasian hunting-gathering populations that originally colonized the trans-Ural region and adjacent part of Siberia. The most distinctive feature of the Mansi mtDNA samples is the high frequency of subhaplogroup U4 which may be indicative of the remnants of Upper Paleolithic populations of Europeans preserved just east of the Ural Mountains". Traces of Early Eurasians in the Mansi of Northwest Siberia Revealed by Mitochondrial DNA Analysis Olga A. Derbeneva et al, 2002.

    In Pakistan, an ethnic community known as the Kalash, long believed to be the stay-behinds of Alexander's army, live in the Hindu Kush mountains. Their population is believed to be around 3,000 only. Recent DNA studies have not found much evidence of Greek haplotypes in Kalash males or females. However, there exists a surprising occurrence of mtDNA U4 and J2 amongst Kalash females, the former at 34% and the latter at 9%. It may be noted that the frequency of U4 occurs in single digit figures amongst a few Pakistani population groups, while J2 is only found amongst the Kalash. While the high frequencies are certainly a result of founder effect caused by a small original population, the concordance with Russian Mansi is something that cannot be easily put down to chance.

    Could it be possible that Mansi and Kalash are linked deep in history, with the Mansi moving north from their original hunting grounds in the Caucasus and the Kalash East? Or, in another scenario, the Kalash splitting from the Mansi in the Urals and journeying South East? How and why they moved would require a PhD thesis but for this post, my 2Ps worth is here.

    Many may not have heard about either the Mansi or the Kalash. My interest in them stems from my matriline, so if there are any experts out there, welcome to comment.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Kaiser
    Many may not have heard about either the Mansi or the Kalash.
    I have often heard of the Mansi. They speak a Finno-Ugric language related to Finnish.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Kaiser
      Many may not have heard about either the Mansi or the Kalash.
      I have heard of the Kalash because they live in Chitral, which I consider to be the easternmost candidate for the original homeland of Proto-Indo-European because of its astounding linguistic diversity (both Indo-European and non-Indo-European):

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khowar_language
      ---
      The Norwegian Linguist Georg Morgenstierne wrote that Chitral is the area of the greatest linguistic diversity in the world.
      ---

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burushaski
      ---
      Calvert Watkins, editor of the Indo-European etymologies in the American Heritage dictionaries, suggested that the word *abel (apple), the only fruit tree reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European, may have been borrowed from a language ancestral to Burushaski [a language spoken in Chitral].
      ---

      In genetic ancestry (e.g., haplogroups), we typically consider the area of greatest diversity to be the place of origin or initial growth. I see no reason to at least consider using the same criterion for language families.

      I am not asserting this view as my definite opinion, but more to illustrate that the original place, as well as time, of Indo-European is still a matter of wide-ranging debate.

      Comment


      • #4
        Etymological studies of the Kalash language (Kalasha) have been conducted by many linguists but its proto-IndoEuropean nexus has not quite been established. By the way, Kalasha is different from Burushaski, the latter being a language isolate like the Basque, and is spoken by the Hunzakuts, another mountain-dwelling people fabled for their longevity. Khowar is a language spoken by people of Chitral, other than Kalash.

        My idea of the previous post was to draw attention to the genetic linkage between the Mansi and the Kalash based on the high U4 & J2 mtDNA genetic content amongst the two. Another cultural feature shared by the two communities are the wooden effigies shaped like Native Americans' totem poles, which are multi-purpose and serve as village boundary pillars, graveyard memorials etc. The similarity in the carvings is amazing. See here: http://www.folklore.ee/~aado/rahvad/mansingl.htm.

        Like the two-thirds of Mansi who have west Eurasian affinity, the Kalash too have features which are somewhat out of place in Pakistan, what with their blond hair, blue eyes and very fair skins. They seem more Slavic than Greek, although looks are a largely subjective domain, open to more than one interpretation.

        As an aside, the presence of mtDNA J2 in Pakistan (and South Asia at large) is rare, and as stated before, exists only amongst the Kalash. Kalash mtDNA J2 HVR-1 motif is 16069-16126-16193-16274-16278 (which could be a candidate for a new sub-clade) while that of the Mansi is 16069-16126-16193-16301. Mine is 16069-16126-16193 which is J2b2, localised in Anatolian/Caucasus region.
        Last edited by Kaiser; 21 June 2006, 10:44 PM.

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        • #5
          Kaiser:

          what is the relation btw the Kalash and the Afghan Nuristani? I think I have read about the latter. They also have woodden totemlike statues, don't they?

          cacio

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          • #6
            Cacio --- The Kalash were settled in contiguous areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Those in Afghanistan were subjected to a forced conversion program (read pogrom) by the Amir of Afghanistan in the late 19th century. Theses converts were called Nuristanis as their lands were now considered to be "beacons of light" which is what Nur means. Those who did not convert joined their compatriots across the border into Pakistan. Although tolerant of their beliefs, the locals of Chitral named them Kafirs (pagans); one may thus hear of tourists journeying into Kafiristan (---stan seems to have that touch of exotic Kipling-isque Orient). Kalash, incidentally means "wearers of the black robes", 'kala' being black.

            There is some development taking place in the Kalash villages, but at a cost --- loss of their identity. Exogamy is now not unheard of as enchanting facial features are traded off with a good bride price, in what is otherwise a poverty-ridden land. Too much of crass tourism has resulted in Kalash being treated as mere objects than people. It is vital that their heritage be preserved; I would emphasise genetic heritage as these people could be vestiges of proto Indo-Europeans.
            Last edited by Kaiser; 21 June 2006, 11:54 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by cacio
              Kaiser:

              what is the relation btw the Kalash and the Afghan Nuristani? I think I have read about the latter. They also have woodden totemlike statues, don't they?

              cacio
              I know the Kalash very well. I have lived among them and came within minutes of being married to one of them when the marriage ceremony was broken up by the poloce.

              No serious researcher believes that the Kalash are descended from the soldiers of Alexander the Great, although some Kalash have discovered that saying that brings in tourist dollars.

              The Kalash themselves say that they came from a place called Tsyam, but nobody knows where that place is, or whether it is nearby, or how long ago this happened.

              Unfortunately, the Kalash do not have a written language so all of this is passed down by oral tradition. Every year, as more old people die, more and more of this knnowledge is lost.

              It is clear that the Kalash have been where they are now for a long time, thousands of years, and that they were there before Alexander the Great got there.

              Their traditions and religion are very close and in some respects identical to that of the neighboring Nuristanis. They look somewhat similar too but are most likely not closely related genetically.

              Sam Sloan

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              • #8
                Originally posted by SamSloan
                I know the Kalash very well. I have lived among them and came within minutes of being married to one of them when the marriage ceremony was broken up by the poloce. Sam Sloan
                Phew! That was a close one.

                Just to put things in perspective lest one believe that the police determines matrimonial choices in that part of the world, read this: There have been three much-publicised cases of Westerners taking Kalash brides with disastrous results for the girls. The cultural differences are gross and the level of education amongst Kalash is low/nil, these being the main reasons for failure of the marriages within less than one year. In one case the girl was abused to such an extent that when she got back to her village, the locals vowed never to let that happen again. That is why the police may have jumped in this time. This, by no means implies any malafide intent in the case under discussion, and I mean no offence, as I am only trying to frame the incident contextually.

                As I had mentioned in an earlier post, exogamy is not unheard of and some Kalash girls are marrying outside their kin, clearly cases of 'social mobility'. As often happens, they end up converting with consequent erosion of their rich cultural traditions.

                It is time the Kalash were spared their tranquil and serene lifestyle in the scenic Hindu Kush mountains which have also a been "refugium" for, who knows, millennia maybe. Besides being cultural and linguistic isolates, their 'rainbow' genetic constitution is indeed fascinating. Their womenfolk include: U4 (34%), pre-HV1 (23%), U2e (16%), J2 (9%), HV (5%), H (5%) and T* (5%), J1 (2%); Lluıs Quintana-Murci, 2004. Their men include L3 (25%), G2 (20%), H1* (20%), R1a (20%), J2a (5%), R* (5%); Sengupta, 2006.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by SamSloan
                  The Kalash themselves say that they came from a place called Tsyam, but nobody knows where that place is, or whether it is nearby...
                  Looking at the genetic composition, one can posit that the Kalash originated in the Anatolian/Caucasian/Levant region. IF that is true, could not Tsyam (pronounced Shaam) be Syria, which is Shaam in Arabic? Things do get a bit complicated as Arabic belongs to the Afro-Asian Family while Kalasha belongs to the Indo-European (Indo-Iranian) Family. But, just as haplogroups have common roots, so do languages converge back in time.

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                  • #10
                    Kaiser:

                    interesting point. I had not looked at the genetic composition of the group. Is U4 more European or Indian? The male composition doesn't look particularly Western. L and H make up more than 50%, and R1a is typical in India as well, so apart from the high fraction of G (which may be due to the small sample size), it seems typical Indian, that is, a mixture of original haplogroups plus a strong (Aryan or otherwise) influx of R1a. As for the mtdna, I know much less. pre-HV if I recall is indeed very middle eastern, right?

                    I don't think Syria ever spoke a Indo-European language. Arabic was spoken by the Bedouins in the desert, but the other languages were semitic nonetheless (Aramaic etc). Some of the peoples that conquered it in ancient times were Indo-European speaking groups from Anatolia/Caucasus (eg the Hittites and the Mitanni). I don't think the origin of Indo-european languages has been solved (or will be soon), but as you say, the candidates are Anatolia (and would relate their dispersion to agriculture) or the Russian steppes (horse riders/Kurgan culture or the like). I believe though that the Aryan invasions seem more likely from the Russian steppes rather than from Anatolia. (Although of course Anatolians may have brought Indoeuropean languages to Ukraine etc first, and then the Aryan migration happened later).

                    cacio

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                    • #11
                      Cacio: U4 is a West Eurasian mtDNA haplogroup, with a somewhat Slavic bent. Its distribution in Europe is ~ 3% except for the Mansi who show up at 16%. Outside Europe, U4 is rare in the Mid East, though in neighbouring Caucasus region it is around 5%. Within South Asia, U4 is non-existant in India, while in Pakistan it occurs at around 7%, with two exceptions: the Parsis (of Iranian origin) have a frequency of 13% while the Kalash have a whopping 34%. In fact U4 could be considered as the defining haplogroup of Kalash females.

                      Besides U4, all other Kalash mtDNA haplogroups are of European and/or Caucasian origin; the exception is the undifferentiated pre-HV and HV which are found at low frequencies in Mid-East.

                      Now your very incisive point about the sexual assymetry amongst the Kalash - 50% of Kalash males being of indigenous South Asian origin (Haplogroups L, H & R*) compared to 100% females of West Eurasian origin. This aspect has been dealt with in several anthropological studies whereby 'different'-looking (beautiful?) females are taken either by force by the majority-group males (with the consequent 'elimination' of the local males) or the majority-group's economically advantaged males wooing off the pretty ones. (Sam Sloan almost did!).

                      Now why did the 'outsider' males stay back amongst the Kalash, rather than the brides moving out to their new homes? The answer can be found in the idyllic setting of the Kalash land which is a Garden of Eden, of sorts. The folks are simple, life is refreshing on a daily basis and every one is high-spirited (pardon the pun)! So who would want to go back to the drudgery of the mundane?

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                      • #12
                        Kaiser:

                        interesting thing about the mountain Eden. Did I hear correctly that many Bollywood movies end with a honeymoon in the mountains? (actually shot in even more verdant Switzerland). For Europeans, of course, Eden is not a mountain valley, but a warm tropical island.

                        I wonder also if it is the case that some locals fought back those nasty R1's to get their fair northern women.

                        On a more serious note, I wonder how much the composition is due to the fact that it is a small group with significan drift and/or founder effects, and how similar they are to the nuristani.

                        cacio

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by cacio
                          On a more serious note, I wonder how much the composition is due to the fact that it is a small group with significan drift and/or founder effects... cacio
                          Cacio: As you said, founder effects are always evident in small population groups and this would be particularly true in a small ethnic group like the Kalash. The more intriguing issue of sexual assymetry has been addressed briefly by me in the previous post.

                          Just for general interest, there are two more ethnic communities in Pakistan where sexual assymetry is extreme: Parsis (fire-worshippers of Iranian origin) whose males are largley of West Eurasian stock, while their females are mostly of South Asian origin -- possibly a result of male-dominated migrations from Iran to India-Pakistan, followed by marriages with local women. The second case is that of the coastal Makranis whose males are of West Eurasian and South Asian origin whereas their females are overwhelmingly of East African lineage -- a result of female slave trade amongst the Arabs, including Omani Sultans who ruled a few coastal pockets in Pakistani Baluchistan in the 16th century.

                          PS: The Garden of Eden, tropical as it may sound, was just a figure of speech, denoting serenity and tranquility. Shangri-la could have been a better choice.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Kaiser:

                            interesting info about the Makrani and the Parsi. As you point out, the Kalash doesn't really fit in this scheme, unless of course one assumes that the dominant group there was the Indian. But then, we know almost nothing on the composition of Afghanistan, in particular the mtdna composition. For all we know, Afghanistan may have originally been inhabited by more Western and Caucasian groups (and may still show overwhelming European mtdna haplogroups), while the Indian Y and mtdna groups may have stopped at the Hindukush. Later, after the Aryan invasion and the development of the Indian civilization, Indians (now a mixture of R's, L, H etc.) may have moved back into those lands as a dominant group. (In which case the male Kalash would have taken the local, still Caucasian, women). Just a thought. Without data on Afghanistan, it's hard to say of course (I don't remember the data about the Afghan living in Pakistan, eg how about the Pashto mtdna?)

                            cacio

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                            • #15
                              Cacio: While Afghanistan has apparently not been studied due to ongoing conflict for decades now, anthropological studies clearly define several population groups with links in neighbouring countries. Broadly, the Pathans (or Pakhtuns) form the majority, with the rest evenly split amongst Hazara (Mongols - C3 types) and a smattering of Uzbek, Turkmen and Tajik peoples. Now all these ethnic groups have been studied fairly extensively and their genetic composition is well recorded. I know, for instance, that Pathans in Pakistan and those in neigbouring Afghanistan belong to same/similar surname lineages, and are culturally and linguistically virtually identical. There may be pockets of small communities (like the Nuristanis who, I believe, are of similar Kalash stock) which have not been studied well, but to think of Afghans as a distinct 'nation' in a genetic context would be a mistake. They are a motley of nationalities, just like the Pakistanis are made up of Pathans, Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluchis and many other smaller ethnic groups.

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