Banned under the Taliban, the centuries-old Afghan dance known as the Attan is flourishing once again. A traditional dance with its origins buried deep within Afghan history, the Attan was once a Pashtun speciality but is now performed by Afghans of all tribes for various occasions.
Zabullah Amiri, Attan dancer, says “In the past when the King wanted to announce important news to the people, he would send out drummers, summoning people to gather in town.
The drummers would bring two types of news, good news and bad news. If the news was good, then the drummers would continue to play and the people would start to dance in celebration. The Attan was also used in the past to invite villagers from one village to a wedding in the neighbouring village.”
Another Attan dancer Masiul Rahman Popal, says “There is only one Attan but within the Attan there are various styles of performing it. We have variations from the provinces of Kabul, Wardak, Paktia, Khost and Logar in Afghanistan.”
Amiri says “We do not do the Attan for the sake of money, we would not sell our dance. The Attan is not for sale because it is our tradition. People should dance the Attan at their weddings and to celebrate during holidays. Attan should be treasured and celebrated in the best possible way.”
“Joining this group, for me, it’s a sign of peace, it’s a sign of unity, it’s a sign of teamwork, it’s a sign of coordination. We really feel proud, each of our team member while we are practising this famous dance, this national dance. Each of us, we really feel proud because it’s a national dance, so we feel proud.
During the Taliban regime as per everyone know this, music and playing music, these were all prohibited in that era.” says attan dancer Ashmat Rahwan.
According to Amiri “Attan is not a dance that was created by any one person, it sprung from the heart of the nation. As a result, all Afghans should know how to perform this dance.”
Popal says “I wanted to revive this old tradition, to bring it back and show the people so that after us it can be passed on to our children. It is important that they do not forget their heritage.”
NATOChannel story by Laurence Cameron