PESHAWAR: Da Stargo Tora, the black of my eyes, is a proverb in the Pashto language used to express love and affection for lover. There has been a tradition in Pashtun society to use khol “Raanjha” to beautify eyes.
Raanjha is mostly used by women however, men also use it often Kohl eyes give much beauty and known as the realm love. Poetic and aesthetically minded writers always admire eyes decorated with Kohl, which lost the lovers in wonder.
Kohl is an ancient eye cosmetic, which is widely used in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia as eyeliner to contour the eyes darken. Today, in this Industrial Age khol is available on fingertips, however; most of the people still prefer it in the traditional way, away from the intervention of machines.
The Qissa Khwani Bazaar in heart of Peshawar is famous for many of its attributes, that’s from storytelling to traditional craft and foodstuff, however, it is also known for the quality of its Khol, which attracts its lovers from across the province.
In a narrow street in front of Masjid Qasim Ali Khan, each day starts with the selling of this magical powder for eyes, most of the traders here hail from Shabqadars’ Dildar Garhri village, located at a distance of 25 km away from Peshawar They are known for their profession of selling Khol since their forefathers.
For decades, these families spread out their Khol business to various areas of the province, However, Qissa khwani Bazaar is considered hub of their business. Sabir Lala is one of the sellers of Khol family who sets in a small cottage decorated on a footpath of Qissa Khwani. Lala is in his early sixties who come every day from Shabqadar with a leather bag, specially designed for Kohl.
He says most of his customers are female. “I am attached with this profession since I was 12-year-old,” said Sabir “there is no side effects of Khol, as I never received any complaints about the vision problem from my customers, rather it sharpens eyesight.”
Sajid Gul, a resident of Dir lower is a regular customer of this market, who buy khol and special Dandasah (extracted by peeling Nut tree, and use to clean teeth’s) from the market, whenever he is visiting Peshawar. To Gul, he takes Kohl from the market for their family; the quality of which has no match elsewhere.
To Gul, Kohl does not make just eyes black, but it is also part of the Pashtun’s tradition. It’s used by children, girls, and elderly alike. He added that Kohl has also religious importance. According to traders the Kohl are imported from Egypt, however, there is no proper machinery with them to grind it, therefore the local traders mill it in a stone basket.