Attan, Folk Dance

Attan, Folk Dance


Most of us know the Afghan nation as warriors and combatants but their traditional folk and national dance Attan tells us about their rich cultural traditions of music, dance, celebration and social events. Afghans celebrate their special days like weddings by public dancing. This beautiful display of the Attan dance in the open air is a symbol of Afghan life since long time. Attan is also the national dance of Afghanistan.

Attan, Folk Dance
Attan, Folk Dance

The historians believe that Attan dance was originated from the Greek Pyrrhic dance, that was executed for the Greek goddess Athena. This was later adapted into a Muslim dance of soldiers to allow the dancers to get ‘closer to God’. And before starting any warlike operation they used to perform it together.

The main musical instrument that is used during this traditional dance is Dhol having a deep and low reverberation sound. Tabla, Rubab (18 stringed), Surnai Flute and Toola (a wooden flute ) are also other instruments are also consisted in this. ¬†When this magical music is started by the musicians who usually sit on horsebacks , the group of Attan dancers begins their show. All the dictation of the dance is given by the Attan Dance leader who starts the dance with tremendous spinning of his body and the group follows his instructions. The Doulchi ‘s (drummer) drum beats are also determined fully by the leader’s directions. The whole dance show is ended when there remains not a single dancer on the floor. The traditional, sequined Afghan dress or regional Pakistani dresses in Pakistan (Pashtun, Baloch or Potohari) are normally the outfits of the Attan performers.

The women Attan dancers in Afghanistan ( Image Courtesy : watanafghanistan.tumblr.com )
The women Attan dancers in Afghanistan ( Image Courtesy : watanafghanistan.tumblr.com )

Attan dance has many forms that vary from region to region. Kochai – Pashtun nomadic style both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghan province of Logar it is known as Logarai and Khostai and Paktiwal in Paktia and Khost provinces. In Pakistan it is world famous with the name of Khattak dance and in Baluchistan (Pakistani province ) as Quetta style Attan.


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