Khattak Dance—The Dance of the Warriors

The dance of the warriors–Khattak Dance. Kattak dance is a well known dance of Khyber PakhtoonKhwa. It is certainly an interesting sight to witness dancers dancing to the rhythm of drums while holding swords.It is called Khattak Dance as it is performed by the well built and energetic tribesmen of the one of the many Pashtoons’ clan, “Khattak”.

Khattak dance has its own history. This sword dance is called a warrior dance as it was performed before wars as a form of warm up exercise. Some historians trace its history back to the ancient Greece. It is thought that ancient Greeks brought a resembling pre-war dance along the weapons when they first reached Afghanistan. Over the period of time, this pre-war dance was forgotten in Greece but survived here.

There can be no doubt that this dance demands lots of physical training, agility and alertness. It sure is a way to demonstrate physical strength. The movements of Khattak dance are fast and the dancer has to hold two or three swords; each weighing around one and a half Kg. The dance typically consists of a five step routine. The number of dancers? the more, the better. Up to 40 dancers can take part. The dance mostly consists of spins, half spins all while holding swords in hands; sometimes behind their backs, sometimes along their sides all the while dancing to a really fast drum beat. The enthusiasm of the drummers is also a treat to watch. Sometimes they also hold swords in their mouths for an effect.

In Khattak dance there are several stages or styles which are a pure delight to watch. Some steps involve whole group of dancers while in other steps only individual dancers show off their skills. In a step called Baangra, the whole group of dancers dances in odd number of circles to medium paced drum beat while displaying their swords and holding them as artillery. The dancers  continually swirl and halt along the rhythm of the drums. Sometimes, individual dancers dance to a very fast paced drum beat swinging two swords in hand while the third sword is in their mouth. Some steps involve waving handkerchiefs as well. Whether an individual is performing or a group is, Khattak Dance is a treat that should not be missed.