YAIN (Water Mill) A Socio-Economic Agency of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral

By: Abbas Ali

YAIN (Water Mill) was a manifestation of the local wisdom and innovation while modern technological revolution was not known for the people living in Gilgit-Baltistan. Perhaps YAIN was the only industry which was operating on the best known technological knowhow of its time.

Photo By: Muhammad Fayaz

Many of us may well remember while special preparation were made to take wheat, Maze, Barley and many other types grains to be milled in the YAIN. It was like a festivity at home. Looking at YAIN and its function may be seem a simple basics mechanics, however, analyzing its role in the socio-economic context of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral sketches an important symbolic expression of the way of life of the people.

It helps to trace the food items used by the people, it does not only help to highlights some of the very important food items,  it also help us to trace the processes involved in preparation of food items. The grains processed through YAIN was used for bread (Shapic, Khamali, Qistam, Giyaling, Khamishdoon,  shuroo, Fiti, Shiroo, Khamoloot, Baroo-e-giyalin, duldoongi, Diramp hiti, Diram Khamishdoon) [Names are in Burushashki] and these many varieties of bread were used to make further a huge variety of dishes from Guhmaldi to Tarbatiti.

In terms of economy the owner of the YAIN was the prosperous industrialist of his own time. Everyone who was milling anything in the YAIN was supposed to give a certain amount of the flour to the owner and it was called FEE. On times where the cultivatable land was very small, productivity of the land was perhaps at its minimum and there was a highly level of scarcity of the grains, the owner of the YAIN was getting enough to be self-sufficient rather at times of need he was lending to others because he was accumulating enough through FEE.

Preparing the grains to be taken to YAIN was one of the major agencies for the socialization of women, particularly young women. Cleaning grain was the responsibility of women. Cleaning enough like 80 to 100 KGs of wheat grain take almost a day for three to four women. Women used to gather for helping each other to fasten the process of cleaning the grain, three to four women used to gather for the purpose of cleaning the grains, while their hands and eyes were busy in cleaning the wheat grain, their minds and lips were used to discuss a lot of personal issues and issues related to society of the village under supervision of an old lady. During these times the women were used to brainstorm, develop their opinions and frame their minds to look at individual and social context.

YAIN at the same time shades light on the level of technological knowhow of the people, the economic status of the area, as well as a significant benchmark to look at transition from the traditional means of technology to the new area of hi-tech technology.

In a way the YAIN could be seen as an agency in the pre 1980s time period of the societies of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. Although, many of these agents of the past do not survive any more but it would be highly appreciable to preserve some of the these as one of the important parts of our collective identity and our progress.


3 Responses to YAIN (Water Mill) A Socio-Economic Agency of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral

  1. Rahim Khan says:

    This is unique technology which our forefather invented century ago. This is an example of an indigenous knowledge which needs to explore and educated our young generation.

  2. Reshma says:

    I remember the days in these KHUDURGS with my mother…… ..

    we need to rethink about its re-utilization as an indigenous technology becasue other machines have replaced it. we should discourage the machine practice and encourage using khudurgs.

  3. Beautifully illustrated and featured report ever I read on regional blogs. Thanks Abbas Bhai for educating us about the hydro technology invented by the aborigines of Gilgit-Baltistan for grain crushing processes centuries ago. Unfortunately, lake of opportunities for the potential minds of this region whether in pure science or engineering research has had served to overshadow their genius.

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