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Full Access The Songs of the Taliban: Continuity of Form and Thought in an Ever-Changing Environment

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The Songs of the Taliban: Continuity of Form and Thought in an Ever-Changing Environment

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

The second half of the 1990s saw the emergence of a new, distinctive type of Afghan poetry, the Taliban tarana performed in Pashto by one or more vocalists without instrumental accompaniment and characterised by the melodic modes of local folk music. Over the last fifteen years the tarana chants have gained wide distribution within Afghanistan and Pashto speaking parts of Pakistan, as well as among the Pashtun diaspora. Considering their unambiguous ideological status and their immense popularity within the country of origin they can be regarded as the signature tune of the Afghan insurgency. The present article, which focuses on the literary roots of these songs, attempts to demonstrate that their authors are following century old patterns of Pashto oral and written poetry while adopting traditional material to the needs and the milieu of contemporary Afghan society. The publication is supplemented by a transcription and English translation of five tarana chants.

Affiliations: 1: St. Petersburg State University; 2: Yerevan State University


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