Attan is a traditional Afghan dance. It is said to be one of the oldest forms of Afghan Pagan dance. Some identify Attan as a religious ceremony of early Zoroastrians placing it at 2000 BCE, while others have placed it at an even older time going back to King Yama's celebration of Nowroz and warriors dancing and circling around the fire. This was later modified into an Islamic dance to allow the dancers to get "closer to God." This virtual Attan practised by many Afghan poets and mystics had even reached to corners of Turkey, known in Europe as the Rumi Dance. It is usually performed with a Dhol, which is a double-headed barrel drum. The dance can be anywhere from 5 minute to 30 minutes long. There are many different regional variations of Attan, the most famous being Kabuli, Paktiyaya, Mazari, Shenwari , Kandahari, Sistani, Herati, Pashayi, and Nuristani. During King Yama's time, Attan was performed before going to a war because it used to give the army the confidence that they could win the battle.
Performers often wear traditional, sequinned Afghan dress. The men wear the traditional outfits, such as the pakool (thick wool hat) or the waskata (thick wool vest). Men also tend to wear suits and ties. Women tend to wear thin wool dresses and scarves with tiny mirrors on it.
The Attan is performed differently in many of the different Pashtun tribes. Some styles of Attan portray themes of war while others portray celebration, especially for events such as marriage, engagements, family gatherings and also as a prelude to the arrival of spring. Different kinds of Attan are danced with the various drum beats; all differ in style. Dum, the beater of the drum (Dohl), can instantaneously change the rhythm and is circled by the performers.
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