The kât'a

Central and Western Kâta Region

Native Name: kâtʹa. The population of the řâmgʹal and kulʹem Valleys in western Nuristân were sufficiently propagandized at the time of their conversion to Islâm to renounce their native name as synonymous with "infidel." They now prefer simply to be called "Nuristâni."

Other Names: kântozi (Pashto name), "Katir" (Robertson [1896]), "Bashgali" (from Khowar bašgali 'Nuristani; person from bašgal [the lanḍai sin Valley]').

Location: the ktʹivi (Kântivâ) Valley in central Nuristân, the řâmgʹal and kulʹem Valleys of upper Laghmân (western Nuristân), the upper lânḍâi sʹin basin of eastern Nuristân, and pockets along the Afghanistan border in Chitral District, Pakistan.

Population: perhaps 30,000 – 40,000.


Eastern Kâta Region

Language Name: kâtʹa-vari. Non-indigenous names include "Bashgali" (from Khowar) and "Kati" (Morgenstierne 1926).

Linguistic Position of Kâtʹa-vari: Kâtʹa-vari is a dialect of Kâmkʹata-vari, which forms with Vâsʹi-vari the Northern Group of Nuristâni languages (see the Table of Languages). Within kâtʹa-vari there is a division between Western kâtʹa-vari, spoken in ktʹivi and řâmgʹal, and Eastern kâtʹa-vari, spoken in the Lanḍai Sin Valley (except in the village of pʹeřuk, where they speak the řâmgʹal dialect). The dialects of ktʹivi and řâmgʹal are separated by minor differences. Being somewhat isolated, speakers on the Pakistan side of the boundary diverge slightly from the dialectal norms of their more numerous cousins in Afghanistan.

Fârsi (Persian) from the neighboring Panjshir Valley has displaced kâtʹa-vari in the villages of kivʹiṣṭ, basʹaidar, âćʹagar, and gulnʹaṣo in řâmgʹal.

History: The Kâta were apparently the core group of early Nuristâni refugees from the Ghaznavid depopulation of Kâmâ. Following the Pech River, they settled the area around ktʹivi (Kântiwâ) in central Nuristân. From there they spread out to occupy the upper Lanḍai Sin basin in the east and the valleys of řâmgʹal and kulʹem in the upper Alingar basin in the west.