Veteran folk singer of Chitral, GB dies

Shams Uddin

Mir Wali of Kuragh village, a revered figure in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan for his mastery of Khowar folk music, passed away at the age of 80 on June 7, 2024.

Known as “Mashter,” a title reserved for true experts, his deep, resonant voice and emotive sitar performances weave spellbinding magic on his audience.

In an exclusive interview with this writer early this year, Kuragho Mashter shared his reflections on the past and present: “I often compare the simplicity of bygone days with the complexities of today. While there are merits to the present, we seem to have lost genuine love, humanitarian values, and the carefree spirit of yesteryear.”

He lamented the erosion of traditional values due to modern development, particularly in diluting the richness of Chitral’s folk music, inspired by the beauty of nature. Mashter reminisced about the days when the melodies of pasture flutists echoed through the valleys, infusing life with the sounds of nature.

He expressed concern over the current trend in folk music, noting a shift towards faster rhythms and foreign influences, straying from the slow, classic tempo of Khowar music. Despite this, he praised Mansoor Shabab as a noteworthy contemporary singer, suggesting he broaden his skills to include sitar playing.

Mashter’s deep attachment to Khowar folk songs was evident as he dipped into their meanings and messages, not just their melodies. His favorites included Baba Syar’s “Yarman Hameen” and “Lasprikan Sum Bol Boghe Tan Nano Zhan Nan Gherum.”

Having featured in a Lok Virsa documentary in 1982 and performed in cultural shows across the country, Mashter remained committed to preserving Chitral’s cultural heritage through his music, undeterred by his advancing age.

May his soul rest in eternal peace and may his legacy endure for generations to come!

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