By Balach Qadir

Mashk is still in use in many parts of Balochistan including Gwadar.

You will be surprised to know that the tradition of using ‘Mashk’ (goatskin used as water bag) is still alive in many parts Baluchistan. In Gwadar like a few other cities, Mashk water is preferred over fridge cooled water for its taste and moderate cool as it doesn’t pinch the throat.

Historical Background:

A sheep or goat skin used as a water bag is called ‘Mashk’ in Baluchi language. Its usage dates back to ancient times. According to certain folk traditions, it has been used by Baluch people for thousands of years. Dan Kahda Ilyas, an old historian of Baluch culture says, “The tradition of Mashk has a long history and its emergence cannot be traced precisely in the history. However, our forefathers have been using it for thousands of years”.

Baluch writers have also written about the importance and utility of Mashk and termed it a cultural heritage of the Baluch people.

Famous scholar and journalist Mohammad Hassan spoke to Pak Voices saying, “The Baluch Community owns a strong cultural tradition and Mashk cannot be excluded from their culture.”

How it’s made:

The traditional mashk is made from the skin of of the goat. However, some also use tubes, which are much cheaper, for storing water.

Mashk is made of leather, mostly a goat skin. The empty skin is dried in the sun for several days until it is completely dry. Then Kikar (Acacia) tree bark is boiled in water which is later utilized to color the skin.

Regarding this, Gulaton Bibi a Mashk maker says, “Goatskin is boiled in water along with kikar (Acacia) tree bark so that it becomes stronger and it doesn’t leak”.

The skin is boiled in water with acacia tree bark from 20 to 25 days. Then it is sewn with a silk string. At last, its mouth is designed for in and out water flow.

Laleen, a blind woman, who makes Mashks told Pak Voices, “Mashk price depends on its quality. It varies according to the size, skin type and technique. We sell home made Mashks from 1000 to 3000 rupees”.

Akbar Jangian, member of Baluch Club (an institute that promotes Baluch culture) and a young Baluchi poet said, “Mashk is a fridge for Baluch people. As people in other countries take pride in their technical inventions, similarly we are proud of our cultural heritage”.

Qadir Balach is working with PakVoices as a citizen journalist from Gwadar. 

Translated by Tariq Mahmood