Remembering “Professor” Chughbai of Shimshal

“We remember with honour and respect the life of Chughbai of Shimshal who returned to his creator in the month of April 2011 in Shimshal valley.


Chughbai was often referred to as “professor” by researchers and locals alike to honour his expert traditional knowledge of the local cycle of nature, specially the agricultural season ‘traditional agricultural calendar’ which is known as

Late Chughbai

(Diqun-hisoab) in Wakhi language.

The Japanese researchers of Nihone University while working in shimshal on the environmental education program in the 1990s gave honorific title of ‘professor’ to four individuals and Chuhgbai was among them, to recognize their outstanding indigenous knowledge.

He was the epitome of shimshal culture and tradition. Shimshali cultural and seasonal festivals always had his blessings because he was able to relate the seasonal cycles with the symbolic significance of event; that was to be celebrated.

Owning to this knowledge and faithfulness to local tradition he becomes a favored guest speaker of schools in Shimshal. For example, he would explain to school children and teacher the correct relation of livestock movement between the valley and pastures according to the traditional agricultural calendar (Diqun-hisob).

During resilience Ph.D research of Mahjabeen on shimshal in 2007,  Chughbai gave generously of his knowledge future vision of Shimshal ecology and society. He emphasized how important the pasturing cycle is to all shimshal society and the central role of young women’s continuing commitment to this activity.
Chughbai leaves behind him, his wife, six sons and four daughters. Most of his children are resident in Shimshal, and his youngest son is only 14 years of age. “

Contributed by Shimshal Nature Trust (SNT)

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  1. I remember that Japan Global Activity Group (GAG) consists of professors, journalists, researchers from different universities of Japan mainly led by Hedeki Yamounchi from Nihon University formally honored four persons from Shimshal village title of PROFESSOR for their contribution in local knowledge and wisdom. Shireen Baig for his service in livestock mangement, Chugh Bai for local calendar, Ahmmed ullah Baig Maad for History and Genealogy and Qurban Khan for his contribution in local folk lore. All of them have now passed away but thanks to GAG and Yamounchi san for documentation and honoring them. We hope that we all should honor our local knowledge and wisdom heros.

  2. My deepest condolences to the family and relatives of Chugh Bai. His unique personality is deeply missed. His wisdom and knowledge is a treasure. I, along with my wife Kimberley O’Neil offer our prayers that he will remain forever not only a shining light to all who follow in his steps, but also that his soul surely rests at peace in the heavenly abode.
    It was our great fortune that we were able to meet with Chugh Bai and record his words. Hideki, his team and the GAG students of Shimshal were the ones who identified him as a repository of knowledge.
    Chugh Bai was the Shimshal exemplar of the Dehqan calendar. This sytem enabled Wakhi communities in Gojal and in Wakhan to determine significant dates for activity by careful observation of the sun and moon in relation to local landmarks. This is the same system employed by the Isma’ili-Sufi saint Mubarak-i Wakhani in Tajikistan Wakhan, who was a great transmitter of knowledge in the 19th century.
    Muzaffar is right – we should respect and learn from local knowledge and wisdom, and honor the teachers who sustain and transmit these treasures. Chogh Bai was one of these.

  3. Well written!
    Professor Chogbhai’s services for shimshal were indeed venerable and the way he was connoisseur in conniving the local calendar, using the movement of sun as an indicator was a terrific job. He putted effort to erudite some of his sons and other people in local calendar mapping but I think no body can replace him. No body could considerably take on his expertise and it vanished for ever.

    The three other honorary professors were also very exceptionally experts in their fields and unfortunately no body could follow them properly and their valuable knowledge nowhere to be found now.

    We salute their priceless services

  4. Very sad news indeed, may his soul rest in peace. I share John’s and MUD’s views, he was a treasure of knowledge: he taught me about the Shimshali seasonal calendaer, the but-but rao and the coming of the geese.

    My condolensces to his family.

  5. Thanks Muzafar sb and Dr. Jhon for the information shared with all of us.
    For us the question now arises How we preserve these un written areas as co lonked by Dr. Sooheb accross the Boarders for the comming time. Being from Gojal all the description is very new to me. I specially request to SNT to work and through the plat form of SNT, WATCA and other Imamati Institutions should up-date the YOUTH. I specially request to MUZAFAR to narrate all the Work done by these Hon. Professor of their TIME.
    In this way their are personalities with in the area of KVO, we would request to Mr. Raman Posh and his team to serach such excetional quality individual and using the modren technology record them for the future.

    My condolance to the family of Mr. Chughbie.

  6. Nancy, Nina and I are very saddened to hear of the passing of Chughbai, one of our oldest friends and mentors in Shimshal. We remember him as a wise and gentle presence in the community, who treated us kindly and considerately. We offer our condolences to his family and to all Shimshalis, who have suffered the loss of several of the community’s venerable elders in these past several months. With love, prayers and best wishes. David, Nancy and Nina.

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