Pashto Language Blog

Attan, the Afghan National Dance Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

Attan, the Afghan National Dance

Attan which is referred to as the Afghan National Dance is the very famous Afghan group Dance in Afghanistan. Attan is a very old traditional dance. It is said to have been one of the religious traditions of  the pagans living in the area that  is called Afghanistan today. This dance later became part of the Pashton Muslim  tribes’ tradition.

The dance is preformed to Dohul, which is a big barrel two-sided drum, and usually accompanied by other musical instruments like flute, however today the electronic musical instruments are also used to produce the music for Attan. The dance usually starts with a small group of men, dancing to a slow beat of the drums, and more people join the group as the dance progresses. The person with the best dance skills leads the team dancing in a circle. The dance gets faster little by little reaching to a point where the number of people in the group decreases and those with the most skills usually remain the last people in the groups.  The Attan gets most exciting when it gets to the fastest point where the remaining Attan dancers show their skills and moves. The lead of the team controls the drummer signaling him the number of beats and the types of beats he wants.

Afghans Perform this Dance to celebrate various occasions like weddings, national holidays, victories and other happy occasions. It is also a good party-dance with friends.  Both men and women perform Attan, the only major difference is that men perform the Attan in both public and private but women perform it in private such as weddings and parties where the audience is only women.

The following are some of the related vocabulary

Dool                ډول           drum

Toola              توله            flute

Atann              اتڼ        Attan dance

Natsaa             نڅا         dance

Mili                 ملي          National

Mili atann ملي اتڼ           National dance/National Attan dance


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About the Author: Sayed Naqibullah

Sayed Naqibullah speaks Pashto and Dari as his native languages. Since 2004 he has been teaching Dari and Pashto and working as cultrual advisor to NGO workers, foreigners who live, work, or are visiting Afghanistan. Sayed has worked as a linguist for several companies that produce language course-ware. He has worked as a guide, interpreter and translator of a number of NGOs working in Afghanistan. Sayed is also a blog writer on Afghan culture and languages. He is the author of a Dari language textbook called “Dari as a Second Language”.